Holiday trip to Manila to learn about the history and present of Philippines

Manila is the capital of Philippines and they have gone through the colonization from the Spanish and American. The worst is the Spanish which until today some of them still hate Spanish even though most of them carries Spanish word in their own name. That's the contradiction. Anyway, flying in to Manila is not a problem transferring from the airport to your next destination is a nightmare. Fun fact: Their national airport is known as Ninoy Aquino International Airport and there is 3 terminals on the airport so you need to make sure which terminal your plane is going to land. 
They do not have MRT or LRT line to the airport. The nearest station to the airport is the Baclaran station. It is easy for you to take a taxi from the airport to the Baclaran LRT1 Line Station. But it is very hard in vice versa. There are no proper taxi station you wait for the taxi even you hitch a taxi they can easily mark up the price from 200php onwards. They will not use their taxi meter. Please take note that the actual distance is just 10 minutes away. However, the traffic will make it more than 30 minutes distance. Fun Fact: The moment I landed, I can feel their air is so limited which makes you feel very stuffy. The weather here is humid, dry and hot!
The traffic in Manila is horrible and almost a nightmare. You can easily stuck in the jam for hours without any reason. The real issue is the locals able to get a car so easily with even nothing upfront payment required. So you know what will happened when everyone has their own vehicle and the government is too slow in response on widening the road. So my advice is just take their MRT and LRT service. Stay away from their road. Not even taxi or bus. Warning: Take care of your belongings at all time. Don't expose yourself by becoming the target of opportunity for the pick pocket.
If your destination is not accessible through MRT or LRT line, try to reach to the nearest MRT or LRT station an hop on to a Jeepney. Jeepney is a modification from the jeep that is used in the war during the American occupational in Philippines. After the world war II, the American started to leave Philippines and started to abandon or sell their military supplies surplus including jeep through the black market. Just the jeep alone, there are more than hundred thousands sold or given away. So right now it has becomes one of their public transport. It is so cheap which just starts from 7php only! Most of them are without air-conditioner but there are a few ones installed it.
Fun Fact: Please do not carry luggage or shopping bags in the Jeepney because there is absolutely no room for them. Carry in light or else take a taxi instead.
When you are asking a local where to go in Manila, it is about the same you are asking a person in Kuala Lumpur for the same question. Basically the tourist spots for Manila is just the same like Kuala Lumpur which are shopping malls, monuments, museum and anything historical. The only difference that Malaysians are proud of is their skyscraper buildings which are opened for public. They are known as KL Tower and Petronas Twin Tower.
We are proud of our skyscrapers and they are very proud with their malls. I have to admit they got a lot of malls. Yeah, you may say we got a lot of malls just in Klang Valley alone but the mall in Manila is not just a lot but there are super HUGE! We may say our biggest mall in Malaysia are at MidValley and 1 Utama. I can assure you that the combination of the size of MidValley and The Gardens are not even half the size of their gigantic malls in Manila.
One of the gigantic mall is at the Makati City which is known as Greenbelt. This mall is like a combination of Pavilion and Star Gallery Mall in Malaysia. I mean the concept and not the size. You have double up the size. Fun Fact: The sky is getting dark by 6.00pm everyday
Greenbelt itself has separated into 5 buildings. They are targeting middle class to high class visitors in this mall. 
The best part in this mall is they work on their landscape around the mall. It was done very well. I still prefer our KLCC park somehow but this is not bad either.
It is common to see dog wandering around publicly in Manila and even inside the mall. However this is a K9 unit which is guarding the some of the main entrance of the Greenbelt malls. Yes, you heard it right. All the entrances in the mall, buildings, airports and even MRT or LRT stations will have the entrance checkpoint with the body scanner system and stuff. This is one thing about the Philippines which they are very serious in preventing any act of terrorism in the public area. Fun Fact: Please do not travel around the city with big backpack and luggage. You will get annoyed but keep stuck at the entrance for the security check. Yes, they need you to open up your bag or luggage every time you enter. Just imagine just Greenbelt alone has 5 separated buildings, so you need to open up your bag/luggage every time you enter each building.
To get to Greenbelt, the fastest way by avoiding those unnecessary traffic is to take the MRT line to Ayala Station. From the station, you will pass by two big shopping malls which are The Landmark and Glorietta Mall before you reach the Greenbelt. It only takes about 10 minutes. However, I am not sure how long you are going to take if you are stuck in that two big shopping malls with the attraction in it. Haha!
The most iconic mall in the Philippines is the SM Mall of Asia which is known locally as SM MOA. It was built on a reclamation land of Pasay and opened on 2006. In 2012, it has became the third-largest mall in the world but today it had become the 11th largest mall in the world. It is not about the mall you have to focus on here but the man behind it, 
He is known as Henry Sy who is a Chinese migrated to Philippines to open a business by selling shoes. Soon after that he opened the first standalone departmental store in Philippines which later brings him the fortune today where he has opened lots of SM Mall around the country and 13 of the malls can be found in the top 100 largest mall in the world and he got 3 malls in the top 5 largest mall in the world. 
SM MOA is more popular is because of this entertainment park just beside the sea and it only opened at night. On the Saturday, you will get to see the fireworks display from here.
SM MOA is slightly smaller than 1Utama in Malaysia with the same target market which is the middle income visitors. The expansion still ongoing and I am sure they can easily surpass 1Utama when it is done. Fun Fact: Everyday before the mall is opened for public, the mall will play their national anthem. Not just in SM MOA but it is a custom in all the malls in Philippines. 
They even have a public transportation hub here. To get to here, you can travel using the LRT1 to EDSA/Pasay station and take a 7php Jeepney to here. There are a lot of Jeepney available every 5 minutes. You do not have to wait for long.
Shopping for branded stuff in Manila is slightly cheaper than Malaysia because of our currency superiority is slightly better. Fun fact: When you are shopping there, you will notice sentence such as "Buy 1 Take 1". You must be thinking, of course if I buy 1, I will only take 1. Please do not misunderstand. The meaning of "Buy 1 Take 1" is actually the same concept like our "Buy 1 Free 1". 
The food here is so expensive. It is easily more expensive than Kuala Lumpur. Please do not be surprised. Just a normal sandwich like this already cost RM30.00. Fun Fact: Their elderly and disabled citizen will automatically get 20% off for all their food and public transportation
Their drinks are still the same in Malaysia. We are famous with our sirap bandung and they are famous with their gulaman drink which is just RM1.00 per cup. Fun Fact: You do not say "take away" food here. They do not understand. They only know "take out".
One of the most economical way to spend in your food is to go to their local fast food chain store such as Andoks, Jollibee, Mang Inasal and many more. My personal recommendation is to dine at Mang Inasal which is a roasted chicken rice shop with more local flavor in it. You will just spend less than RM10.00 per meal and you get to eat their unlimited rice until you are full! Super worth it. Their roasted chicken is super delicious which you wouldn't mind to eat it every single day! But only if...I do not have to queue up for too long. As you can see the crowd here, it is fully packed!
We can easily access our roadside hawker stall for a cheaper food but over here, the hygiene issue and security issue are much worse than Kuala Lumpur. You do not feel safe at all. No matter what, do not hesitate to try their local Tau Fu Fah which has some jelly bits in it. It is really delicious and only cost 10 php!
Do not miss their traditional Hilot massage! It is using banana leaves and burn with candle before applying them on your body. It is super hot for the first few seconds, after that you will not feel anything at all. Just try once for the experience but I would still prefer Thai traditional body massage. Fun Fact: The locals second language is English. You will not have any problem communicating with them with English.
Enough of the modernized Philippines and we study a little bit about the history of Philippines. That's all about when you are travelling to another country. It is to learn about their history, culture, demographic and geography.
This is Lapu Lapu is the first hero of Philippines that stop the invasion of the Spanish empire in 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan who is a Portuguese whom found this land and try to claim it for Spain. The famous battle is known as Battle of Mactan and the aftermath of this war is the death of Ferdinand Magellan and temporary delaying the invasion for more than 40 years until 1565 when Miguel Lopez de de Legazpi arrived Philippines from Mexico to begin more than 300 years of colonization by the Spaniards.  
In the Rizal Park which is known as the Heroes Park where all the acclaimed heroes were placed around the park. Most of the heroes were dead because of revolution against the Spaniards. There is a Japanese Garden here which you need to pay for 100 per person to visit. The garden is small and mostly people are lying on the grass or sleeping on it. As if they are here to camp.
They also have Chinese garden too. However, the closest tie they have historically is with the Korean because Philippines Army helped the Koreans by joined the famous Korean War.
There are a lot of conflict about the locals claiming their heroes as their national hero. I really do not understand why they have to argue to select only one historical person as their national hero and not just select all. Anyway, in the end the government agreed that Dr. Jose P. Rizal as one and only National Hero of the Philippines. That is why the Rizal Park and Rizal Monument are created. 
I will briefly explained about their National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. He is originally an ophthalmologist or known as a doctor who specialized in performing eye surgery. After that, he became a writer and also a key member of the Filipino Propaganda Movement as he wrote a lot of poems, essays and novels about the anti-colonial revolution which got the attention of the Spaniards and executed him for the crime of rebellion. He was not active in planning or conduct the revolution but because of his death had started the spark of revolution in the country in 1896.
At the Rizal Park, you will have to pay for 150php to enter the exact place and how he was killed. He was killed by 5 Filipino Soldier of the Spanish Army at gun point by a backup regular Spanish Army if the executioners fail to obey orders. So he was killed by his own people as what the Spanish want the local to know. Not really sure what happened to the executioners later on, some sources said they were executed by the Spanish later on. Some said they quit their job. Not sure which one is right.
5 shots fired but only 3 bullets that managed to hit the target. That's exactly how Jose Rizal died. He was documented every detail in the process of the execution. He died on 30 December 1896 and that day has becomes the public holiday for the Philippines. The Philippine revolution has succeeded in defeating the Spanish 2 year later on the 12 June 1898 which is also the Independence Day of Philippines. The Spaniards lost easily because they were distracted by the Spanish - American War in Mexico.
If you can notice, he lost one of his shoes here. It was not stolen during the execution but it has a secret within it. He wrote his final letter to hint his sister to look into his shoe. It took almost 2 years for her sister to notice it and it was a little too late when his shoe had been disintegrated and whatever left in his shoe is gone.
This is the Rizal Monument with two guards standing throughout the day under the hot sun as you can see on the picture above. I am not sure how frequent they will change the guard but there is a short marching ceremony during the guard changing session. You are not allowed to get close to the guard or the monument because it was secured. The first Philippine independence was shorten by disapproval of the American. Due to 1898 Treaty of Paris, Philippine should be belong to the American. War started between Philippine - American has begun and American won on the same year itself and continue suppression until the World War II when Philippines fall to the hand of Japanese. After the Allied won the World War II, the Americans left the country and with Filipinos suffered more than 1 million casualty throughout the war. After that, the Philippines got on hold of the country once again.
The independence for this country did not come easy. A lot of bloodshed and sacrifices have been made. From the history, they really do hate the Spaniards a lot but the Spanish has injected cultural, religion, social and demographic into the country throughout the 333 years of reign. Even the word Philippines itself comes from the Spanish. Philippines does not hate the American for not recognizing the nascent First Philippine Republic after they were fighting hand in hand against the Japanese Army. Even after Japanese invasion, the Japan has becomes the biggest contributor of official development assistance to the country is thought as friend. It was a mind blowing and eye opening experience for me during my stay in Manila. I am glad to know about the country before and after. This country is a beautiful country and I will not hesitate to keep visiting this country.

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