Manila, Manila

Manila, Manila

I keep coming back to Manila

There’s just no place like Manila

Manila, I’m coming home


I love the city of Manila. I grew up here, and will always cherish fond memories of the place. 

You see, once upon a time my family lived in my grandparents’ compound. My mom’s brothers, my uncles, lived with us too which made us one giant family unit. If you think about it, this really isn’t common in the Philippines (especially back then). Children tend to live with their parents well into their adulthood, and sometimes even after getting married and having children of their own. It’s just the way it is. Call it a serious case of separation anxiety, but the Filipino family seems much happier (and way more chaotic) when their lives are intertwined with each other. 

So when my parents were at work, it meant lots of quality time with my “Mommy” (my grandmother was called Mommy by everyone) and Lolo. Mommy would help me with my homework after school, and Lolo would talk to me about life. I really loved my grandparents. They enriched our lives in many ways, and we as kids saw the world in a different way. 

My siblings and I were never sheltered. We took public transportation if we needed to go somewhere (as kids of course we went with a grown-up) and walked around the neighborhood if we wanted to buy something. Mommy was a pharmacist and my grandparents owned two botikas or drugstores at that time, so I pretty much grew up around that kind of environment. I sometimes did my homework at the botika, and would help out in any way I could. This meant getting basic medicine for the customers and giving them their change. But most of the time, I watched over the telephones. This was an extra at the botikas. People were allowed to make calls (three-minutes for P2; .50 cents per succeeding minute), and it was my job (at least when I was there) to count how many minutes the caller was on the phone. (What a job, right?) Needless to say, being around all this taught me early on about the value of money, and really, at a young age I took pride in my “job”.

Going back to Manila brings everything back—all the highs and lows that came with growing up. I remember my Mommy and Lolo and how they took care of us when my parents were busy. I remember how my family was while my siblings and I were little. I remember all the games I loved playing with my neighbors (mataya taya, langit lupa, Chinese jackstones, Barbie, Chinese garter or 10/20 and cops and robbers). I remember what made me laugh and cry, and what I thought was so important at that time. I’m glad I had a fun childhood, as I was able to run and play and get dirty. 

I admit I don’t get to go to Manila as often anymore. It’s just too far; there’s just too much traffic getting there. But when I do come home to Manila, its just different. Suddenly, I know every street corner. And I am flooded with memory after memory after memory. It really is a great feeling: to remember your childhood so vividly. It feels good to come home. 

This building has been around since I was little. I never actually got to go inside. Or maybe I did but I forgot. It had a restaurant or events place at the bottom.

I used to always pass by this temple, but never thought to go inside and see what’s in it.  I should go in one of these days.

Usual traffic at Taft Avenue. That’s Philippine Women’s University up ahead. 

Philippine Women’s University or PWU. Growing up, I was always here as I studied elementary at Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, which was under PWU. 

My classmates and I would share ghost stores about PWU so wherever I would go there I would get scared. I remember I hated being in dark classrooms or corridors when I was here.

Philippine Women’s University.

This church was behind our house. I could see this big cross from my old room.

This funky building was where one of two of our drugstores was located. We closed down the business when Mommy passed away.

I walked by this area everyday.

This was where University Drugstore used to be. It is now called K2 Drugstore.

Just across from the botikas was Philippine General Hospital. 

Manila Medical Center. I was born here, and later found out my fiance was born here too.

Paco Fire Station. This is just across Paco Park, which was where we used to go to mass. My parents got married at Paco Park.

I haven’t taken a pedicab (or tricycle) in years. I took this with my fiance because the traffic was just horrible and we needed to get to our destination ASAP.

Those are my sparkly shoes.

St. Vincent de Paul Parish near Adamson University. I think I went to mass here once or twice with Mommy.

Manila Yacht Club. The smell of Manila Bay is just so familiar (no matter how gross it is haha). I used to go to ballet class every Saturday morning at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). I hated ballet, but it was a treat that after my sister and I would go biking around CCP or walk around the bay area. 

Manila Bay.

Its good to see Manila Yacht Club maintained its cozy atmosphere.

Merienda time at the Yacht Club.

Manila back (way back) in the day.

An illustration of the Battle of Manila.

The famous Manila Bay sunset. Still beautiful. 

**There are so many more places linked to my childhood that need to be photographed! On my list: CCP, Manila Film Center, those bikes beside CCP for rent, JASMS, that bowling alley near JASMS, Harrison Plaza, De La Salle University, LRT station nearest my house, Robinson’s Place, University of the Philippines Manila, Leon Guinto Street, St. Scholastica’s School, Padre Faura Street, Girl Scouts of the Philippines Head Office, Singalong Street and many more. 🙂 

  1. Paruparo (@paruparo07) Reply

    Hi Kelly. I read your blog about Manila. I experienced heavy traffic when I drove the streets of Manila. The bad experience I was extorted by the members of Manila Traffic and Park Bureau (MTPB) along Rizal Avenue in Sta. Cruz, Manila. Flash floods since typhoon Ondoy paralyzed the entire city of Metro Manila. Traffic is still heavy, you know, Metro Manila is overcrowded and overpopulated city.

    Visit soon here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and compare the traffic situation there and here in Toronto.

    1. kellymisa Reply

      Unfortunately, Manila has worsened over the years. Back when I was a kid it was still generally safe, although flooding has always been a problem. We had to move from our ancestral home in the early 2000s because of crime and traffic, which we didn’t think could get worse. Sayang ang Manila. As for Toronto, I really want to visit Canada soon! I hear its a lovely place–I have a few friends who live there. Thanks for leaving a comment! 🙂

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