Celebrating the Lunar New Year in Manila with some good company and good times.

All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces…

I was excited to hear that the NY homies Mike and Annie were going to be in the Philippines for a wedding and some island hopping adventures in Palawan while we were backpacking in South East Asia. Although it took a bit of effort to sort out flights, we managed to rearrange the rest of the trip to rendezvous in Manila with minimal fuss.

The neon glow of Makati’s red light district.

It’s always a fun time to hang out with friends internationally, but we also landed just in time to ring in Annie’s birthday weekend. And how better to celebrate than the Filipino National Past Time– karaoke! Funnily enough, we had no idea that we were staying in the literal epicenter of the red light district. Thanks for the neighborhood recommendation, Mike!

Manila Nights in Makati City

I’m a Filipino starboy (ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha).

I can’t write enough about how much I love the food of my people! Mostly everything is deep-fried, such as the lumpia shianghai, prawns and fish pictured above. Also near and dear to my heart is sinigang, a bitter and sour soup containing green beans, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and either beef, pork, or seafood. I would be remiss to forget to mention the ever popular bar snack pork sisig, fried pork served on a sizzling platter with a raw egg cracked on top and sprinkled with lime. It pairs perfectly with a cold San Miguel Light. Divine!

Soaking in Some Filipino Culture

The National Museum of the Philippines.

Spending an afternoon perusing the National Museum of the Philippines’ fine arts collection was a very eye-opening experience. Not only did I see some amazing works on display by the likes of Juan Luna y Novicio and Vicente Manansala, but I also got a chance to learn a bit more about Filipino history and culture.

“The Burning of Manila” by Fernando Amorsolo.

The piece above depicts the tragic burning of the city during World War II, in which all of its precious art and historical records were completely destroyed. It’s a saddening thing to learn that a country’s rich heritage can be wiped out in a single act of violence.

I said, war, good god, now, what is it good for?
Absolutely, nothing
Say it again, war, what is it good for?
Absolutely, nothing, listen to me
War, it ain’t nothing but a heart breaker
War, friend only to the undertaker, war

– Edwin Starr, “War”

“Spolarium” – a national treasure of the Philippines.

Same Same, But Different

Words of wisdom found on a wall mural in the business district of Makati City.

There’s a funny saying found on t-shirts filling souvenir shops across South East Asia: “Same Same, But Different”. And while I’m still trying to get to the bottom of the meaning of the phrase (I suppose I could just Google the answer but I’m much too lazy at the moment), it does seem quite apropos currently. It’s interesting to visit a country where all of the people look exactly like me but have very different life experiences and moral values (the Philippines is very much a religious Catholic country). That being said, it’s reassuring to see that for the most part, we are a happy, proud and laid-back people.

Salamat po!