After going through the hassles of my flight itinerary to Manila, I finally arrived home. It was past midnight when I was able to get out of Ninoy Aquino Airport and went straight to finding a place to stay. I was able to get a room in an apartelle in Quezon City which I would say is not bad at all considering that the rate is really cheap at 680 pesos a day (CAD$15 at prevailing exchange rate).
The apartelle had been my address in Manila whenever I’m in the city.
For the discriminating traveler, this is not a place to stay. But, as an avid backpacker, a place like this is heaven enough. And also, I’m in search of the cheapest, airconditioned place to rest only, so why complain? You get what you pay for, right?
The next 3 days after arriving was the busiest of my visit. I tried to follow my to-do list, but as in any schedule, some changes are unavoidable and I would just have to deal with it. For instance, the temperature suddenly was unbearable because of the hot weather condition. What used to be a once a day shower suddenly was 2 times or more per day. Manila’s traffic was chaotic and it takes longer to go to places that you’re supposed to visit. Even the roads leading to the countryside was no different. Different modes of transport crisscross the roads and intersections without regard to safety.
Tricycles (a motorcycle with a side car) unmindful of the dangers of running alongside big trucks, buses and cars compete with its bigger counterparts for road superiority. Watching all this kind of indiscriminate driving, only now did I realize how bad a driver I once was when I was still driving in the Philippines! Not that I improved my driving lately. But concern of getting a ticket everytime I get a traffic infraction make me think twice before doing anything foolish while driving anywhere in North America. And paying more for insurance for every ticket.
And the smog that blankets a big portion of Manila makes getting around very difficult for me. Living for a long time in Toronto had made breathing pollution very difficult. He he. I used to be one of those who can stand environments like that. Maybe if I stayed longer, my body will adapt again to this kind of sorrounding. Who knows.
But, no matter how difficult, I tried to live the lives of the average Pinoy, taking the jeepneys to get from place to place (for short rides its just 7 pesos or CAD$0.16), getting used to the heat (feels like 40C) and chose a not too busy time to go to Quiapo to avoid too much diesel smoke.
This is home, I said to myself. I have to get used to it again. Although I know, 10 days is not enough to adapt again.
Manila was very different now than it was 10 or so years ago. This is the first time I noticed how progressive it became since I left for Canada. I wasn’t mindful of this changes when I came to visit in 2004.
The people are more sophisticated. Technology wise, I noticed Filipinos are not far behind the west. Their communications system may not have advanced infrastructure than say Canada, but the average person will not notice any difference. Using your cellular phone, one can talk to or send text messages anywhere in the world. Although calling rates cannot compete with the west, it’s reasonable enough to make short phone calls. You can even access the internet with your cellular phone much like what we already have in Canada.
The Philippines already have wireless internet access much like what Bell and Rogers are offering in Toronto, where you can bring a modem anywhere with you and have instant internet access. Wifi signals are also being offered for free at some establishments, like Burger King in Timog and most Starbucks outlets and many other mall coffee shops.
Internet cafe rates are very cheap as well. I frequent one close to Tropical Hut in Quezon Avenue and they only charge you 25 pesos/hour (CAD$0.50). I heard other places offer as low as 15 pesos/hour (CAD$0.20)! Learning that, one will wonder how this businesses ever make money.
On my 3rd day there, we drove early to the countryside to have meetings with internet marketing colleagues. It was a long drive north, about 4 hours, just to have a 2 hour business discussion. It was very tiring but a very satisfying trip. For one, I got to meet in person friends and kababayans who were low profile internet marketers. All of them were making real money online that even managers in large Manila offices would envy.
I wondered why most of the successful Filipino money makers on the internet were based in the countryside. I also know of some Manila based marketers but they’re not as successful as those living outside of the city. I can’t back it up with any proof, though, but it’s just my observation.
After the meet, we went to Mt. Samat for a short visit. After about an hour or two of stay, we then proceeded to Alaminos, Pangasinan and stayed there for 2 days and 3 nights. We stayed at a motel-like inn that’s located in the city of Alaminos, and mind you the rates are also very cheap, much like what I paid in Manila.
Then again, it’s worth repeating that the places I stayed in both places will not suit other travellers. Travellers who are not picky and just wanted a bed to rest may consider staying in those inns that I mentioned but not everyone will.
I’m scheduled to go up to Baguio, but canceled it because I need to meet more colleagues in Manila for some very important discussions. So, from Pangasinan, I decided to come back to the city and conclude the remaining meetings in my schedule.
In the next postings, I’ll write about my trip in sections so as not to prolong this post. I’ll include photos and contact information of those inn that I mentioned for the benefit of those who might want to consider staying there.