Cerebral Shangrila

Friday, November 21, 2008

An outsider's view of Manila, Philippines

I am in Manila, Philippines this week on a business trip. Some quick observations on the city, people and the culture :

a) There is nothing fake about Manila. Its a city of contrasts where the huge shopping malls rub shoulders with poor slums, Merc cars share the road with Jeepneys where 20 people cramp into a small vehicle, Private gated communities of rich people vie for land with poor slums with dense population.

b) One can find American food chains everywhere. There is a McDonalds, Pizza Hut or KFC everywhere together with local giants such as Jollibee. All have one thing in common - serving junk food ! Philipines also has a wide variety of international cuisine - Japanese, Korean, Mediterranean. The prices at most of these places would make one swoon ! An average meal in a good restaurant would cost at least 500 pesos ( Rs.500) per person.

c) The transportation options are mind boggling. Plush taxis, ordinary taxis, Jeepneys ( Think of it like a Delhi Fat-fati), FX ( Shared Toyota Qualis), LRT, MRT, Buses. Traffic jams are a way of life. Anytime, anywhere, anyday.

d) Filipinos are some of the nicest people I have met. Very hospitable and friendly. I am doing field research here meeting 4-5 IT cos every day. Not a single meeting has been postponed or delayed. They are always there - accomodating and helpful.

e) The Lifts have operators in most buildings. Haven't seen this in a long time.

f) Manila has 3 of the 10 largest shopping malls in the world. They are huge ! For most people, Malls are an escapism from everyday oppressive life and humid weather ( yeah, all malls have AC's !).

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