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June 17, 2011

I was called to go to Manila last week on business.

Manila is the closest city to Guam – 1600 miles west.  The locals consider going to Manila the same way Key Westers make runs to Miami.

The difference?  Same amount of time – but one does it in a plane.  It’s the beginning of monsoon season in Manila; they receive, on average, about a foot and a half of rain each month of the monsoon season. They average 23 days of rain a month during the ‘wet’ season.

Suffice it to say it was raining when we arrived – and remained so most of the time we were there.  One leaves Guam in the evening, arriving in Manila quite late.  By the time one gets to the hotel, checks in and gets settled, it’s close to 2:00 AM Guam time.

Morning light provides the first impression.

Monoliths rising from the jungle floor.  Metro Manila is a huge metropolis; one of the most densely populated cities on earth – 15,500 people per square kilometer; over 20 million total, ranking #11 in population worldwide.  In the short time we were there – it had a gritty yet elegant feel – not unlike Chicago, albeit with lush tropical growth.

I was booked into the Peninsula hotel and the joint was pretty posh.

It was quite pleasant, inside and out.

Filipinos appear to prefer ostentatious presentation; most everything we saw could be characterized as over-the-top.  The service was amazing – staff assigned to opening doors.

The flip side?  Security.  Every major facility we entered had its own security force, replete with barricades, bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors.

I received more pat downs in Manila in one day than I have had in a decade of air travel.

Sadly – this is the sort of thing in store for us as the world winds down; the gulf between the haves and the have-nots guarded by gates, security and guard dogs.

I guess if that’s what it takes – one must go along.

There’s quite a bit to Manila, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

My favorite thing?  Jeepneys.  They define Manila like nothing else.

These are not Jeeps, by the way – they’re converted Toyota trucks.  After WWII, Filipinos converted Jeeps into buses by stretching them and adding benches – then they ‘customized’ them to attract attention.

As the Jeeps wore out – they made their own by recycling trucks.

No two are alike.

Filipinos seem to jumble everything together.  Before leaving for Guam on an 11:00 PM flight, we stopped for dinner at a combination hotel complex, restaurant mall and casino.  Once again – quite posh, once one gets past the metal detectors and the dogs.

Yes – Manila is worthy of further investigation.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2011 5:38 am

    I am really enjoying your blog.
    Key West

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      June 17, 2011 6:35 am


      Glad you like it. We are in Tokyo right now; it’s HUGE!

      Missing Key West, to be honest.

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