I finished half of Metro Manila from Feb. 8-13. The first two days I over extended myself covering a lot of ground quickly; the next few days were better paced. Aside from the first night at SOGO motel, I stayed with family and friends. It has been difficult to keep up with navigating, taking photos, and keeping up with the experience. The documentation aspect is challenging and I feel like I'm not able to capture as much as I want to. This trip is supposed to be an ocular of sorts, so I know I can return to those places which need more time and further research.
My main observations so far:
- everyone is biking! everywhere I go people are biking to work, school, market, for recreation, for exercise, for fun. the demand is there.
- pollution sucks. the roads might be fine, not too much traffic, but it takes just one truck, jeepney, or tricycle to come by and spew exhaust all over the place to completely ruin everything.
- the barangay is key. so many decisions about planning space are made at the very local barangay level. we need to be working more closely with these 1,706 neighborhoods and not just at the Mayoral, City Hall level.
- outside of the CBDs density quickly drops and there are underutilized lands, especially on the waterfronts which can be potential new areas of growth
- there are many assets in Metro Manila- from the talented people (guys making low rider bikes in Las Pinas) to the unique landscapes (Manggahan Floodway, Coloong fish ponds) to the untapped potential (water culture) which need to be better connected and considered as a network of places at the Metro Manila level.
I start the next half of my journey Feb. 16-Feb. 21.
From Day 1:
While young couples check into a motel for the Sunday night 3 hour special, I check in alone for the full 12 with my bike. It's typical of the Philippines that no one bats an eye about unmarried couples checking in with membership cards but everyone is worried about the single, foreign older woman staying there alone.
I got distracted on my first day and didn't start looking for a place to stay until 5:30pm. I had to backtrack a bit towards Monumento where I thought Id have more options. I tried small alleys around the circle looking for lady bed spacer dorms. I found a few but they wouldn't admit me for only on night. A helpful neighborhood guy knocked on a few doors of people he knew had rooms to rent but it was Sunday and everyone was out. Other people looked at me bizarrely when i asked for only one night and asked if I would be alone, which I later realized was because of the nature of the hotels in the area.
I ended up surveying hotels around Monumento. Note: promo deals are Mon-Thurs only, so avail of the 295-400 peso deals during the week but be prepared to spend 620-800 for a full night the rest of the week. Unless you are one of the many couples checking in with me Sunday night for the 2-3 hour specials.
I stayed at a SOGO. It was clean, had hot water, wifi, and TV. I negotiated a discount because I had a bike (?)...I think just ask for a discount nicely and they might grant it. They also have membership cards for regulars.
It's good that I had a folding bikebecause they would have made me lock it in the garage otherwise .
Near an LRT stop and at the cross roads for jeep and bus routes Monumento has several hotels including Astrotel, SOGO, Nice Hotel, Chill Hotel, and some others. They are all in similar price range. I find it interesting that there weren't more bed spacer places or dormitories. It doesn't seem to be a hub for students and transient workers despite it's prime location. Apparently it's more popular for one-nighters.