13 Recommended Activities for your Japanese Friend Visiting Manila in the Philippines

2:00:00 PM Pinoy Boy Journals 2 Comments

This is a very late post but nonetheless a very memorable one. Rewind to July 2009, i met a Japanese traveler in Saigon, Vietnam when i was backpacking there. He was traveling in Saigon for three days and two nights. Flew in straight from Tokyo and back. Wow. Whattafasttraveler!!! We met in one of the Mekong River boat rides. After which, i tagged him with us wandering around the city the next few days. Grabbing dinner, getting lost in the lingeries street of Ho Chih Minh City and losing in translation ordering fried spring rolls and Saigon beer - a very very funny incident. I need to meet up with you to tell the actual story. 

A few months later, we got in touch and he told me he was coming to the Philippines. Before i left for Thailand in February he said he is booked and flying to Manila a few days after i arrive from my own backpacking trip. Heck, this was fun. It will feel like i never stopped traveling at all. So here comes Yoshi, my Japanese friend getting lost in the middle of Terminal 2 where international flights arriving in the Philippines are located. If you have a Japanese friend coming over, try to assist them because English is quite a problem with them. Good thing my buddy went to the US for a while just to study conversational English.  Me and my friend were waiting for him for close to an hour and a half and still no sign of him. People around know what time JAL flights arrive in Manila so basically, it's either we lost him and he's left already or he didn't make the flight. Of course he did. He just got lost. Getting out on the second floor where the expensive taxis are. 

T'was a long time last seeing each other but nothing has changed. We're still same old, same old funny and random people. Yoshi is the kind of guy you know you're rest assured he's not gonna bring you trouble. Little background, my good friend works in the weather station in Tokyo. So it's safe to say he's the Japanese version of Kuya Kim.

We got him a loft type bedroom near my home in Quezon City so it's easier to hang out for us. Also, in case he needs anything, we're fifteen minutes away from him. Dropped his bags. Exchanged gifts and we're off to drink. He is only traveling in the Philippines for about four days. Two days and one night will be spent in Banaue studying the crops and agriculture. His thing. So that leaves little amount of time exploring Manila. The night is young! Off we go!

For those who have foreigner friends visiting Manila, read the following itinerary on traveling around Manila for one whole day. It just took my Japanese friend one day of hanging out with a mad man like me, and in the end he was getting more and more Filipino.

Step 1. The National Sport of the Filipinos is "Gulp"! 
So we grabbed a few beers in a favorite bar of mine - where you don't have to get really dressed up to get in, where you don't have to pay P120 (almost $3) for a beer and where you can laugh as loud as you can. The name of the place is 77. I introduced Yoshi to my best friend for life (BFF) San Miguel!

Step 2. Introduce Filipino Food Little by Little
You know what most people say about Filipino food. Weird. Whatever. So we were looking at the menu what to eat. He wanted to eat pizza. Why not Longganisa (Chinese sausage) Pizza? It was great! Mix of West and Filipino. Good choice. 

Left the place around 4AM. Whattanight. The next day my friend MM and Yoshi met up and went around Manila while i was still having a really good sleep.

Step 3: Filipino Time (Don't Know if This is a Good Tip)
Got up by noon and immediately set off to meet up with Yoshi at Manila Ocean Park. I am not a big commuter but apparently i was eager to try the hard way going here. MRT, jeepney, taxi when i got there, it felt like i didn't shower at all. But that's another story. I was three hours late. Sorry. Hello Manila Bay!!! Nice to see you again!!! 

Step 4: Manila Sunset
When you're in Manila Ocean Park, don't forget to check out White Moon and order a bottle of beer while checking out the gorgeous bay. They say sunsets are killer around the spot here.

Step 5: Introduce Local Transportation
The National Car of the Philippines - the famous Sarao Jeepney. Read the history of the Jeepney below to find out how Jeepneys were invented with so much craftsmanship and genius.

There's no better souvenir for my Japanese friend than a photo of him riding some pimpin' jeepney! Which i tried also... haha

Step 6: Cool Off
If you still didn't know, it's scorching hot in Manila. And what better way to cool off than to order everyone's childhood love,"dirty ice cream". Unfortunately there's none being sold at the park. Although a good substitute is eating the "Halo-Halo", a Filipino dessert made up of milk with crushed ice, coconut, beans, and assorted fruits. We had that in Chowking,a local Chinese fast food, a few hours after.

While Yoshi was getting more Filipino by the hour. We were enjoying Japan's gift to the world. Arcade and Video Games, of course. It's surreal that he was translating everything to us. And this particular text below is not right.

Step 7: Filipinos are Big on Spas
While walking around the Ocean Park, we noticed many people around one miniscule pool. Well, it is the Fish Spa. A growing trend around here in Manila. Where people can dump their feet on the pool and let the fish scrub out dead skin cells. WTF. Just went for a look, i don't really recommend it. Just not interesting to me. But it might be fun to some.

Meanwhile to the right of Spa... we spotted some angry creatures... Hey, Jaws 1 and 2! 

Step 8: Make a fool of yourselves.
We Filipinos are one of the happiest people on earth because we don't take ourselves seriously. We love life. We love to laugh. We live to enjoy life. What better way to show Yoshi that attitude than posing in front of a photo booth looking like clowns. FOR FREE!

Before the shots were taken...

After the shots were taken. We were all laughing so hard at what we just did. Gave the copy to Yoshi. Good souvenir of the fun times in the Philippines and will make a very nice display in his office too.

Step 9: Attack the Mall
If you're a Filipino and not doing anything for the day, there's a 80% chance you're headed to the mall. Right? Right! Some even go to the mall everyday: to eat, to watch a movie, to hang out, to shop, to have a haircut, etc. This is Mall of Asia, not the biggest mall in the Philippines - only second to SM North Edsa and one of the biggest in the world.

This was the view from inside the mall. WOW!

Step 10: Beautiful GirlHands down!!!

The Globe of "Mall of Asia". The whole time we were there, i was just singing... Mall of Asia... Truly Asia!

Step 11: The Best Place to Go to in Manila is the Baywalk
It is the home to one of the world's most famous sunsets, home to where families gather, lovers express their love and poets like me love to write. The viewing deck to dying sun.

Looks like Yoshi is slowly becoming more at home in Manila. What's nice around Mall of Asia  complex and around is that it's slowly now becoming more open to advertising tourism. 

Step 12: Buy Filipino 
Yoshi also bought a good pair of cargo pants from Bench which he can use for work. It is not only cheap but of good quality. Support Local products.

I know my Japanese friend really enjoyed his visit in Manila Bay, just wandering around the huge complex, he could see the sights and different colors and he could feel the energy and warmth of the people. This is Manila. I am very proud and happy to be touring him around a city i fuckin' love.

"Some tourists going to the Philippines may find Manila stressful after a few days but for those who chose to stay, they are rewarded with an unbelievable energy that will change their lives forever!"

Step 13: Chat up and drink some more
We Filipinos love talking. Conversations last from an hour to a day. So we took Yoshi to one of the last remaining oldie bars/restaurants in Malate and ordered Sisig (don't ask me about its English translation, better left unknown), buttered chicken, garlic rice and three buckets of San Miguel. And started chatting up till the wee hours. 

It was fun hanging out with Yoshi here in Manila. He's my first Japanese traveler friend. Wandering around Manila with him felt like i was traveling, too. And as much as i wanted to go with him to Banaue because i haven't been there, i was a good son and obeyed my parents. I think he understood. That's the way it goes around here in the Philippines. Family is important to us Filipinos. And whatever decision we make, we always consult our family. 

So off we go to drive Yoshi to the bus station bound for Banaue. When we got to the station, we saw a few passengers seated already, most of them foreigners like him eager to discover the 8th Wonder of the World.

Armed with one whole day of experiencing the Philippines, i bet he has enough confidence to rule Northern Luzon. Cheers!

Up next: When Yoshi was in town he came bearing gifts!  


Eric said...

Nice story...natatawa ako..may pagka joker karin pala. proud that you do that...honestly, I didn't recommend Manila to my Polish friends here in Poland and even to those other travellers that I met around Warsaw..sorry.Hindi ko kasi alam na may mga bagong tourist safe places jan sa Manila.

@Eric Manila kasi isn't appealing at first glance but if you happen to stay longer, you will find it hard to resist na. Manila is a hit or miss just like any other city. But it has its charms, you just have to look harder. :)