Anyone that is local or even an outsider that has been here before will be saying to himself, “Tell us something we don’t know” as they read this. However, I’m addressing this to the many that are at home outside the Philippines, have never been here and have no idea what to expect. Stay with me as I tell what the rest of us know, but think back to your first visit and remember how bizarre much of it seemed.
It’s a new blog and I’m in danger of boring some to death with information they already have, especially if you live here, or more so, a Filipino. I beg patience from that group of readers as sometimes, the obvious needs explaining to someone that has little idea of what the Philippines is all about.
The first place a visitor is likely to see is Metro Manila. Most flights land in Manila (NAIA), you can catch another flight to another island, or travel to another part of Luzon by road and even the Visayas via the San Juanico Bridge. So your first impression is usually Metro Manila.
That first drive through the city will be quite an eye-opener and the hectic nature of the capital will catch your attention. The traffic is chaotic, the infrastructure run down abysmally although improving slightly, and everywhere is overcrowded and manic. On the other hand, it could be described as vibrant, lively and exciting, it really depends on the individual and how they relate to it. No revelations in that statement, I know.
One thing about Metro Manila is that it’s never quiet. You will see sights and behaviour that is alien to your own experience and the best way to describe that first trip through Metro Manila would be to say its jaw-dropping.
Sidewalks are taken over by traders making it difficult to walk around if you’re not used to it. In many places, everything seems completely disorderly and out of control. A little mayhem gives birth to chaos and you just watch people that are totally used to it managing it without too much agitation or fuss.
They are simply making a living. Concerning themselves with small matters, such as suitable locations are secondary; everyone just wants to make a living. Naturally, you will be forming early impressions and most likely be a little bewildered at all you are seeing.
Try hard not to assume anything at this point of your stay. Just watch, learn, listen and smell whilst considering that it’s nothing like where you have just flown in from.
First impressions are not always misleading. It looks manic; it is manic. It’s Manic Manila! You best grab a rest as you are going to need it. You soon come to understand that although seemingly insane, there are reasons as to why. Not often logical ones, but reasons nonetheless. Hold on to your seat belt.