Philippines, Pilippines, or Filippines: Part 2 Manila

Christmas tree at People's Palace, a Thai restaurant in Greenbelt in Makati
Designer Christmas tree at People’s Palace, a Thai restaurant in Greenbelt in Makati
Continuation from

Sagada was a great experience. Matthew and I  jumped back on the bus and this time we knew what to expect in the torturous ride so it wasn’t as bad. I found a somewhat comfortable position and since it wasn’t too late I stayed awake by playing a few games and reading a book I previously downloaded on my i-pad; although I wish I had wi-fi access so I could play an online game or something on a site like to distract myself from the 10 hours of remaining boredom. We reached Manila by 2am, saw a few cabs lined up and tried to get in one of them to hear Joseph our tour operator then say “I reserved taxis for the people who requested me too”.  Apparently that wasn’t a group discussion and he didn’t think that the only two non-Filipino  people that were with him might need a taxi. But it all worked out, Matthew was able to grab us a taxi off the street within a few minutes. We got back to the apartment to finally get some real sleep. We were in Makati from December 30th – January 2nd. While we were there, Cynthia, Daniel and their baby Noa arrived so we went to a few of Cynthia and Daniel’s favorite restaurants.  We also decided to check out a few places that Cynthia’s friend Margaux recommended.

Legazpi Market

Legazpi Market market that is open in Makati on Sundays mornings and closes around 2pm.  It’s a small market; however, it does have quite a variety of international food options, local artist, clothing, and crafts. We decided to try a Filipino “healthy” pork dish at Diana’s Special Bibingka in Legazpi Market. It was pretty tasty.


Chinatown aka Binondo, is said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world. Everyone there was preparing for New Year’s Eve. Apparently there is a tradition of putting a pineapple with limes circled around it on your door for good luck. People were selling these, some type of root, and fireworks everywhere. I tried to ask about the pineapple charm but the most information I could out of anyone is that it was for good luck (FYI the majority of Filipinos speak fluent English, especially in Makati). We also ran into a pretty nice dragon =)



Intramuros is a colonial fort/city built in Manila when the Spaniards colonized the Philippines. It is a nice walk once you find the wall, which you can walk on top of.  I call it “The Great Wall of Manila”.



The spirit of Christmas was still in the air when we arrived back to Manila, so there were still tons of angels, trees, and Christmas lights all around. There are tons of Malls in Manila, quite a few of them are interconnected so you never have to step outside. We got a chance to visit quite a few of them including: Greenbelt 1 -5, Greenhills, SM Mall Makati, SM Mall of Asia (one of the largest malls in the world with one of the worlds largest 3D IMAX theater screens), Gloreita, The Fort (Bonifacio High Street), Market-Market, and Rockwell. My favorite was Greenbelt 1-5 for walking around, people watching and restaurants.  SM Mall was the most crowded mall I have ever been too, it was pretty much overwhelming on New Year’s Day.

Makati City’s New Year’s Eve Countdown

I’ve never been to a city street countdown, I am glad that I had the opportunity to join the Pinoy’s of Makati for theirs. Their firework display  was the most amazing one that I’ve ever seen. I’ve usually watched fireworks from a distance, these fireworks were just a few feet above us compared to other shows that I’ve seen.  Here’s a video that I found on YouTube of the show we saw from the same view-point  After that we headed to Rocket Room,  where Daniel’s friend Edge was DJing to celebrate.

A few restaurant recommendations:

Manila Maki - nilasing na hipon with mango and kani salad in garlic sushi rice topped with fresh tuna and a special mango dressing. This is another brilliant creation and equally good as the other Fil-Japanese creations.Photo and caption via-
Manila Maki – nilasing na hipon with mango and kani salad in garlic sushi rice topped with fresh tuna and a special mango dressing.
Photo and caption via-

Manila is filled with an array of international food options. While there make sure you try some of the Filipino dishes such as adobo (which comes in a variety of styles based on regional flavors), sigsig (fried pig face), halo halo (dessert), and beef tips.

  • Bizu Patisserie- A lovely European cafe with a delectable brunch in Greenbelt
  • Kitchen- A Filipino fine dining experience in Greenbelt
  • Manila Maki- Filipino Japanese fusion restaurant with Sushi and meat eater options in Makati’s Salcedo Village district.
  • People’s Palace – A great Thai restaurant in Greenbelt

Cheers and Happy New Year!

To be continued – Part 3 Boracay ….