Living in Manila


"Call me old-fashioned or call me out of my mind but I still wanna see Manila with houses that has Capiz window shells, wooden furniture, paintings and arts that represent our culture and heritage in any private and public establishments. If my idea sounds not pushing our image of globalization – I think not because it is only a matter of mix and match like matching your newly bought blouse to your old favorite maong. So if you are one of me – call me maybe (parang kanta lang) let’s have a tea for this and  do  collaboration."

A Catholic school on top of a hill is where I had my first job as a Records clerk after I graduated from college. I only stayed there three months for two reasons. First I was the youngest at 21 and I find it hard to join my officemates’ daily conversation of being a wife/husband and having kids. Second, I work so close at home that I felt the urge to exercise my right to freedom away from my parents’ sight. So when I heard about this opportunity in Legazpi where I spent my three college years I grabbed it. As expected my late dad is against the idea but my mom was very supportive.

My wish to exercise my right partly came true. I was away for five days and occasionally I would go home on weekends carrying a backpack full of dirty clothes which my mom would wash for me. After a year the company decided to transfer its operation to Manila. My parents felt a bit sad while I am rejoicing for a guaranteed 100% freedom it will give me. I first stayed in Pasig inside a dormitory where I share a double deck space together with other girls in a very big room. I was a certified provenciana then. The only place I knew is the nearest church and mall in the area. I did not make lots of new friends because I was spending a lot of my time to my fellow dormitory buddies.

After a year or so we have to transfer to Makati. Together with my three officemates we rented a two-bedroom and two-storey apartment there. This is when I started going out. I would always hear mass at the Greenbelt Chapel. I felt a bit “attached” to it that even I no longer live in Makati I still find myself going back there on Mondays. I love the atmosphere in Greenbelt because it is not crowded. My favorite spot there is near the fountain where Starbucks, CafĂ© Breton and Seattle’s Best converge. I think I have drank almost a barrel of chamomile teas there with my friends. At random times you’ll see me sitting there in the cemented bench with my legs curled up doing nothing just watching the fountain or sniffing some free wifi in the couches of Greenbelt 5.

After two years we have to move again in Boni, Mandaluyong which is only 20 minutes to Makati until now. I still share with my officemates a place in the 24th floor which is located along Edsa Ave that I have no problem to go out and go home ANYTIME I WANT. 

Then I got into blogging and social media which literally changed my life. To fight my inborn shyness which until now I haven’t defeated it totally I joined events and meet bunch of people and a few good men I was inspired in one way or another. I became aware of the historical places here in Manila which most of them are on the verge of irreparable loss. Knowing these places and discovering the stories behind made me aware of where I came from.

In my four years of stay here in Manila I hate the traffic, air pollution and the inefficiency of the local government in some areas of responsibility. Countless condominiums and buildings are being built like mushrooms sprouting everywhere but still squatter areas of illegal settlers those who do not have decent jobs remain very visible. Manila for the foreigners is only a gateway to reach other islands of the Philippines. But Manila to most of the Filipinos is still the prime place to fulfill their dream jobs. 

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