Dang is Manila Bound!

You can never fully appreciate a huge painting, if you're just inches away from it. You need to take a few steps back and marvel at the whole picture. Or something poetic like that. This is exactly how I view Manila. Having lived in the Metro my whole life, and finished college in the walled city of Intramuros, visiting Manila for pleasure is far down my list, if it's actually there at all.

But a failed trip to the beach during the long weekend - thanks to the rain - left me with no choice but just drive around to keep me sane and keep the thoughts of surfing lessons or kayaking from haunting me. To my surprise, I found myself seeing Manila in a whole new light, and decided to take on a challenge. Together with my trusty driver and travel buddy (hello, S!), I decided to survive Manila and enjoy it with only Php 1,000 (about 22 USD) in my pocket.

Since this is an impromptu trip, I failed to bring a decent camera so please bear with the photos, some of which I had to borrow.

See where a thousand bucks took me!

1. Cartimar - Leveriza, Pasay City

Cartimar is truly a pet lover's haven. You can find rows upon rows of pet shops selling all kinds of animals, from birds, snakes, rodents, cats, sea creatures and of course, dogs! I visit Cartimar once in a while to buy cheaper pet supplies for my furry friends. I was able to score dog food, vitamins, grooming tools and toys for about 10-20% less than mall prices. I don't like going to the zoo for personal reasons, and walking the aisles of Cartimar with adorable pets waiting for their destined handlers feels so much better. Since it can get hot inside the alleys, I got myself a big cup of Nescafe Ice from the numerous food carts inside.

Total cost: PhP 35.00 (shopping excluded)
FREE entrance
PhP 35.00 - Nescafe Ice

Via All Things Manila

2. National Museum and Museong Pambata 

I only have faint memories of these museums from my elementary field trips, and a documentary show featuring the scarce resources of the supposedly premier museum in the country stirred my interest to visit National Museum again. For one, I wanted to support the establishment that struggles to keep Filipino art and culture in tact, and second, it will be nice to see different collection of paintings, artifacts, fossils and pieces of history with my adult state of mind.  Picture taking is allowed but strictly no touching and no flash photography. The National Museum is so huge with several collections namely Fine Art, Archaeology, Ethnography, National History and more. Divisions include Anthropology, Zoology, Botany, Geology, Archeology, Arts etc. We arrived a little late and was only able to check the Fine Art collection and some Zoology collection. The building is old and obviously needs refurbishments, several rooms are also closed for renovation, but we had a good time seeing the works of heroes and National Artists, where we were awed once again by the sheer vastness of Spoliarium by Juan Luna. We are scheduling another visit to complete the tour, and I suggest you do the same and help our National Museum build funds for upgrading and maintenance. FYI, some rooms are not air conditioned (which is very bad for the artifacts/art pieces) due to lack of funds to pay electricity bills.

National Museum - P. Burgos Drive, Rizal Park Manila
Tuesday to Sundays 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Free admission on Sundays
Total cost: Php 100/adult

VIA witsandnuts.com

VIA www.pinoyfestival.com

Museong Pambata - Roxas Boulevard, South Drive 
Open Tuesdays to Sundays 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Total cost: Php 140.00
Php 100/entry 
Php 40 parking fee

The Museong Pambata is a hands-on discovery place for children, hoping to answer questions of young minds and stimulate them to be more inquisitive. The museum is well-maintained and each room/section is air conditioned. My favorite section is the writers/illustrator's room, where walls are painted with stories and vivid characters illustrated by successful Filipino writers and cartoonists. The only disappointment is that my then favorite section (I had my picture taken here when I was in Grade 4), the Environment, is closed for renovation. :(

Dang the Giant
See the similarities?

3. Walled City of Intramuros and Manila Cathedral

It's great to be back in Intramuros, its walls bring back a lot of happy memories back in college when my life was as simple as walking along the walls with my friends while waiting for our boring desktop publishing class which starts at 7:00 PM! I didn't have the chance to sit on the walls and wait for sunset this time since we have to catch a show, but driving around the walled city brings this nostalgic, calming effect of Old Manila on me. :)

Total Cost: FREE 

Manila Cathedral


4. Ballet Manila Show "Maynila ni Juan" at Star Theater

Who says you can't watch a ballet show without breaking the bank? Aside from my nieces' ballet recitals in CCP, I'm always on the lookout for the complementary ballet shows of Star City featuring no less than the Ballet Manila. Ballet Manila was founded 16 years ago by the country's Prima Ballerina, Ms. Lisa Macuja-Elizalde. They perform in Star Theater every Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 PM. The shows will run for a couple of weeks and its themes are seasonal. It's my third time to catch them, and they have a new offering "Maynilad ni Juan", a comic ballet/musical show featuring life in Manila. It's light, fun and offers a breath of fresh air from the Hollywood movies and mainstream shows that bombard us everyday.No picture taking allowed, but I snapped one from my phone, no flash I promise! 

Star City also has shops selling toys, clothes, knick knacks and souvenirs. I was very tired and hungry and so we munched on some jumbo TJ hotdog sandwich, fruit shakes and ice cream and call it a night.

Total cost:Php 205.00
Php 60/entry to Star City (show is complementary)
Php 45 TJ hotdog sandwich 
Php 75 fruit shake 
Php 25 ice cream

To sum up, we were able to enjoy Manila without spending too much. Here is the breakdown:

Php 35.00 -Cartimar 
Php 100.00 - National Museum 
Php 140.00 - Museong Pambata 
Php 205.00 - Star Theater (Ballet Manila)
Php 300.00 - Gas from Las Pinas-Manila-Las Pinas
Php 48.00 - Toll Fees

TOTAL : Php 828.00

Not bad, right? If you have more moolah to spend, I highly suggest you take the Walk This Way Tour by Carlos Celdran. I joined the Intramuros and Imelda walks on a different occasion which cost me Php 800 per tour back then. You have to join and see for yourself why it's really worth it! If you do, make sure to wear comfy clothes and shoes and apply sun protection.
That was a long post, thanks for keeping up with me! How about you, how did you enjoy the long weekend? And are you ready to be Manila bound one of these days? :)

From the Nook,