Inside Fort Santiago, Intramuros ( Credit: Hitokirihoshi)

MJ Gonzales │

A lot has been said against the City of Manila and perhaps half of those claims are true.  Thus, it is easy to  conclude for some to just  visit  Palawan, Boracay, Davao, Ilocos Sur or other famous destinations in the Philippines.  However, if you’re really want to discover the naked truth about the old Philippine history and its old glory, its still superb move to tour around in Manila City.

Instead of going solo, join travel groups.   To keep you safer in your Manila tour, better to avail inexpensive packages. Some agencies include food and transportation in their travel so that extra hassle-free travel for you.   But actually, there groups that offer travel by foot tours like the Postal Heritage Walking Tour by Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club and  Manila By Night Photowalk of Powerhouse G5.

Schedule your tour carefully, avoid rush hour.  Yes traffic is everywhere in Metro Manila and you’ll experience it more if you go outside during rush hour.  The solution is either go early (5am to 6am) your destination or wait a little bit later.  There are places that already open and actually cool to visit in the morning like Luneta or Rizal Park and Intramuros.

Paco Church ( photo:  Hitokirihoshi)
Paco Church ( photo: Hitokirihoshi)

Map out your itinerary.  Manila is like a maze, there are many routes and roads that will lead you somewhere far from your destination. But if you know the shortcuts and how to commute you also save time, money and energy.  In fact, you can even visit San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral, Binondo Church, Sta. Cruz Church, Quiapo Church, San Sebastian Church, San Beda Church, St. Jude Shrine, and San Miguel Church by just walking and without asking any passerby.

Be humble and alert, stay casual.   Whether you’re foreigner or not, it’s good to wear a casual and comfortable outfit since Manila has, most of the time, humid weather.  Unless you’re there for photo shoots, casual t-shirt, pants or shorts will be good.  You can bring accessories for extra fashion sense like headdress, bandana, and necklaces; but avoid wearing gold jewelries and especially in public.  Some travelers also advise not to wear backpacks so it’s safe to have body or mailman’s bag then.

It’s also recommended to keep your mobile phones and cameras inside your bag while you’re in a public place.  This tip is not only to make you safe from thieves, but also to be alert where to go next.  Yes, you can ask the drivers to tell you where you go down, but it’s good also you are looking around too in case they forget about you.  One last advice for this item, bring and pay smaller bills for your fares.

 Don’t compare, instead enjoy Manila’s distinct qualities.  Setting high standards and comparing your other travel experiences before and while you’re touring around are the best ways not to enjoy Manila.  Manila’s beauty is like watching a contestant in a reality show, there’s no fancy and almost back to raw. But if you’re only open-minded to discover her innate grandeur, then that’s the time you’ll experience her one-of-a kind cultural and historical wonders.