Good ol’Manila, Philippines, my birthplace.



It’s been awhile.  I’ve been so busy everyday is like a marathon.  I’ve also been helping clean our rental house when I have the time.  Guys, I did mention that our neighbor contractor  said we’d be out $20 K  easily .  He underestimated the cost of renovation.  It’s now inching towards $30 K. My heart goes out to my parents.  I was with my  mother when we bought new fridge, oven, and dishwasher.  We also renovated the two bathrooms . All floorings are new, from kitchen to bedrooms and of of course , the bathrooms.  aaargh.. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.


We  already bought the plane tickets for our Philippine vacation in February , 2020.


I’ve been watching YouTube videos of what’s going on in the Philippines. Thre’s   a massive clearing up operations going on  ….City authorities  are basically getting rid of illegal vendors  and structures on public properties.  .  The capital city of Metro-Manila , Manila, has a new mayor, and it looks like he’s very serious in cleaning up the city.  Metro-Manila is comprised of 16 cities and Manila is the capital,   the centre of government  but  due to decades of  neglect,   it’s  become a cesspool. The city  has been invaded by squatters and illegal vendors. I’ve been watching the massive clearing-up operations againt  illegals…… I’m sorry, but I have little  sympathy for them. I am not anti- poor, but damn,  enough is enough !  !  These illegal vendors  have totally occupied major streets , avenues, and sidewalks ……and not only that,  they leave so much garbage on the streets….. it’s anarchic and  almost criminal. Manila traffic  is one of the most chaotic  in the world because only 60%  are passable.  The new mayor, Francisco Moreno, has vowed to do the right thing .  So far, so good.  Mayor Moreno has now become a Rock Star in Pilippine politics. .



Illegal vendors obstruct traffic on secondary and tertiary roads. No vehicles can pass anymore.









Above is a major road in Manila,( Divisoria) one of many, that has been fully occupied by vendors.  Thieves,  ruffians,  street children ,   “solvent”  boys , snatchers, and  riff raffs mingle with shoppers,  unfortunately. .  I don’t know how  shoppers protect  themselves from these bad elements  of society.


And the photo below is how  the same road looks like  when it was cleared , just a bit… Holy cow, , there’s a 6 lane road under all that rubble ! !  Freakin’ hell !







I hope Manila will look nice and clean  when we get  there. My co-worker  ‘s coming with me.  I don’t want my co-worker to have WTF moments during our vacation. But  we’re going to Divisoria to shop.   We’ll be  moving targets of  pickpockets…. . My  co-worker is  white .  And even though  I look like them,  for some reason, Filipinos  can recognize a non- citizen .  Or , am I just being paranoid ? We’ll hold on tight  and close  to our purses , no expensive watches and jewellery on us, either.

We did go to Divisoria  in 2014.  Everything was dirt cheap, so freakin’ cheap !     Haggling though  is ” de rigueur ”  in  Divisoria.  My accent was a give -away so my cousin did much of  the obligatory haggling for me. No tourist price, please.


Haggling  goes like this:

You buy 3 T-shirts, I’ll give them to you for  450 pesos, Ma’am.  ( $ 9.00 )

I can get that for 300 pesos  (  $6.00 ) at WalMart.  ( I lie.)


Ma’m , that’s below my capital….  I can give it to you for 400 pesos. ( $8.00 )


Is that the last price ? How about 350 pesos? ($3. 70)

375 pesos,  last price Ma’m.


Okay, sold.  ( My haul :   $7.50 for 3  nice T-shirts.  $ 2.50  each …..  Yay !  My awesome haggling power ! ! )

Then I saw similar T-shirts  at next store for 95  pesos each .(  $ 1. 90  )




What can we buy in Divisoria? Everything, including wedding gowns.






The truth is, Manila is a beautiful city.  It has the biggest urban park in Asia, it’s full of trees, and  has that old ,charming colonial ambiance . Filipinos , by the way, love fountains and water features…… Manila has lots of  these all over the city. If you’re a tourist, just avoid  places with bad reputation, like Tondo, Divisoria, and areas north of Pasig River, the main river artery of Manila. It’s sad because these places  are the old , historical Manila. The problem is,  that’s where the “have nots”  had congregated, while  the “haves” left  to live in gated subdivisions in the suburbs…… and where new , modern, clean cities  subsequently sprouted around them… Makati City, Bonifacio Global City, Newport City, etc. … these cities are so  clean one can eat off the streets. Sadly, there’s  an invisible wall that separates these areas from the “Great Unwashed” that is Manila..   For example, jeepneys and tricycles ( mode of transportation of the poor ) are not allowed into these cities… the ban  is  as  subtle as a battleaxe , no ?  ” Keep off  our  beautifully manicured lawn. .”  That’s what that ban means.  Well,   I don’t blame them.  Let one in … the next morning you’ll find hordes of  illegals selling their wares, peeing and pooping  everywhere, letting their minor children roam the streets, knocking on car windows begging for money , and if  you don’t give , they’ll  kick your car or scratch it with a rock…..they also   dump  garbage on the streets.









Beyond words.   The LEFTIST activists are saying the mayor wants Manila to become another place for the ELITES. ….. This is the reason why my politics  radar is inching from the left  towards the center. I ‘m into social justice, but despise lawlessness.

But the truth is,  even though BGCity, Makati City, and the rest  of the metropolis have all the beautiful skyscrapers,   Manila is still  the centre of commerce in the Philippines.  Manila is the depository of all goods that come  from all over the Philippines and the world, and it’s been like that since 1500 ( Spanish galleon trade ) .  Ironically, Tondo , a scary place today,  was the center of commerce  , even during  pre-colonial times.

Below  are photos of Bonifacio Global City and Makati City.




Below is the Trump Tower in Makati City










Above is Tondo in Manila…. that’s reality… I’m  not hiding it, folks. … To be honest, this is even the “better ” slum area.  I don’t want to show anymore the worse of the worst.


But,  even though Manila has been left behind by neighboring cities, there’s one thing  other cities do not have……character.


Below is the statue of the country’s national  hero, Dr. Jose Rizal , located at Rizal Park ( or more commonly called Luneta , the largest  urban park in Asia )



Intramuros , or Walled City  ( Fort Santiago entrance photo, built in 1571 )



Charming old colonial architecture  , cobblestones…..








Manila Cathedral




Below is University of Santo Tomas, built in 1611, the oldest university in Asia.  Next photo is Manila Baywalk..







Intramuros (2)

















The National Museum






And of course, the official residence of  the President of the Philippines:







Roxas Blvd. along Manila Bay, with world famous Manila Bay sunset.






The new mayor of the capital city… Francisco “Isko” Moreno



By the way,  my photos here are messed up.  Some are  cut off, and others turn out too small. I can’t fix it, sorry.


The new Manila mayor  loves to dance. Ha ha… Awesome.









A young and idealistic politician.  I hope he keeps his promise to bring  back the old glory of  the Queen City of the Orient.


Below is the Manila Post Office Building.






That’s it….  I know  this post seems random and unorganized.  There are just  so much to talk about  that I don’t even know where to start , and how to end my  thoughts.

Anyway, to see is to believe , and I’ll see it 6 months.  Manila is my birthplace. I love the city, warts and all.

PS…. There will be a series of posts about the Philipines, especially about the dangers of  forcible  taking of  a group of small Philippine  islands on West Philipine Sea or ( South China Sea)  by you know what country….  This country wants to  own and dominate the seas  …..   and mess up the most protected  site in the world, the Philippine Tabbutaha Reefs.   The whole world should take note and pay attention ! !!    Please .














41 responses to this post.

  1. Manila looks like a very beautiful city.

    Very sad how the illegal vendors made a mess of parts of it.

    Hopefully you won’t run into any problems on your trip.


    • DVH, it is a beautiful city. I think in any big city around the world, areas like these exist. Corrupt officials tolerated the presence of these illegal vendors because they wanted their votes.

      No problem. Our house is in the suburbs, ha ha. And we won’t go to these places. Metro-Manila is amazingly beautiful , modern and clean. I’m sure my co-worker will be amazed , as well. When my cousin and I went to Manila on vacation in 2014, we felt like a couple of hillbbilies walking around in a very modern metropolis.


  2. i am glad of your features of UST (my alma mater) and all the squalor and the beautiful buildings of Manila in general. We have lots of historical sites in this area. And Makati Avenue and BGC of course are the best places for commerce. Mayor Isko is bent on clearing and improving the city of Manila. Welcome home to the country…. 🙂


    • Oh, yeah, Tita Arlene…. we can’t hide the squalor anymore. Filipinos from countrysides should stop emigrating to Manila if they have nowhere to live or if there’s no work waiting for them.

      Watching the videos, it feels like it’s a game between cat and mouse.. I hope the new mayor has the political will to solve this gigantic problem.

      I also hope the mayor employ more street sweepers, guards , and the like. My parents say the mayor should not depend on the barangay because it is part of the problem. Barangay officials are extremely corrupt.

      Is success a possibility, Tita Arlene ?


      • I am sure Mayor Isko is of different breed. he has done a lot to clean the city of Manila in one month. I believe in those young mayors who were elected, the likes of Mayor Vico in Pasig, our mayor here in Cainta who is in his third term now, the Mayor of San Juan City who defeated the Estradas. We also have the youngest mayor in in of our towns in Pangasinan who is likewise dedicated to his job, he is only 22 years old. Perhaps you’ll wonder why these efficient and responsible people were chosen but the 12 opposition senators didn’t make it. That seven-hour glitch is the culprit. Nadaya sila so to speak.
        I agree, barangay officials are corrupt but I think that could be curbed if the mayor is working and doing his job . When there is control, they won’t succeed.


        • That’s true.

          But who was it who said… ” So young , yet so corrupt” , referring to a particular Filipino politician. How about the children of Joseph Estrada and the Revillas ? However , listening to Mayor Isko Moreno since July 1 , I can feel in my bones this man is truly sincere.

          I hope he runs for Presidency in2022. What do you think?


  3. The high-rise buildings in one of your photos (re: HSBC) are in Ayala Avenue, Makati City. I used to work at BPI Head Office (the one with the red sign) from wayback.


  4. Wonderful post. Glad I found your site. The last time I went home in 2007, the traffic in Manila was a nightmare. The pictures of squatters remind me of those in California.


    • It’s improving they say. Metro Rail Systems and ” Skyways ” have improved the traffic situation, although in 2014, we left Greenhills Shopping Centre at 5 PM, and arrived in our house in Paranaque ( just after Magallanes Village ) at 9:30 PM . Here in the US, that distance would only take 30 minutes.


  5. Hiya Ren,

    I know the illegal street venders were and still are a problem, but forcibly removing them is just moving the problem elsewhere and creating more issues. I mean, how many of those people will turn to crime (or worse types of crime) to make ends meet? The local politicians have basically brushed it elsewhere and left the mess to fester, which it will.

    It would have been better, though probably very politically and financially difficult, to acquire some land in the city for these venders to sell their products, an area where they’ll be subject to public health inspection and trading standards… forcing them to go legitimate.

    However, I think many in the Manila authorities don’t want these people in the area at all, especially as Manila is becoming more modern and the land in the area will sell for millions in the future.

    Something similar happened in the part of England I live in. It used to be post-industrial wasteland with very few economic opportunities and a lot of criminality. That was until they started gentrifying in the 90s and 2000s. Local authorities not only flogged public land to developers who had zero intention of producing a percentage of social housing (which they were supposed to) they purposely push the local residents out – and are continuing to do so to housing over-spill on the edges of the County, where there’s even few jobs.

    I understand the Manila authorities need to clear the city up and open up to traffic, but moving people along is just confining them to the dustbin and condemning the cycle to repeat. People need opportunities, that won’t happen by just pushing them out of sight and replacing them.

    Unfortunately that’s unlikely to happen as that’s just the way both our societies, as well as others, are.

    Sorry, that was depressing wasn’t it? Don’t mean to bring you down, just saw the parallels with parts of the UK and my own area.

    Anyway, I’ll stop now. I hope you have a good holiday 🙂

    – Phil


    • Hiya, Phil.

      70% of the illegal vendors sell merchandise such as clothes, sneakers, cell phone accessories, etc…… they are not small food vendors , and they have abused the government’s and the people’s patience and tolerance for far too long already. Don’t pity these vendors… they re very arrogant and disrespectful. Ask them how many children they have… they’ll say 10. Manilenos have already reached the end of their tether. That’s why, the new mayor is super popular. Like, Go get them, mayor ! ! We have your back. These illegals are now aware they are not welcome anymore, and everyone’s against them, and don’t care about them anymore.

      Here’s the thing ( about acquiring areas for them ) They have been given so many places where they can sell legally, but they go back to the streets in no time It’s useless. To them, it’s a way of life. .

      Gentrifying is not what the city aims for…. I’m in awe that what the city wants are the roads and sidewalks which these illegals have occupied, FOR FREE ! ! ! . Can you imagine ” storerooms” , stockrooms, etc permanently built on sidewalks, then , in the daytime , they occupy the entire avenue…. Phil, there are no words to describe it.

      As I said, people don’t care about them anymore.

      Phil, you do know how the poor can be arrogant, too, right ? Like, the whole world owe them something. Give them a helping hand, and they’ll grab your whole arm, and your other arm, too. I’ve had it.


  6. I wonder how far these vendors and such are being moved on, my guess is not towards the fancy parts. It will be nice for traffic to be moving in Manila, it will make the flight to provinces more easy and I am always glad of that.


    • It’s become a game of cat and mouse, SteJ ! ! 90% of them are ambulant vendors, using carts with wheels. It’s become like this because this has been tolerated for 2 or 3 decades. I don’t know where they’ll go. They should move back to the provinces, I think ? Well, SteJ, you know exactly what it’s like , right? You’re almost “local ” now. ( shakes head ) It’s almost hopeless.

      Nooo, definitely not towards BGC, lol.


  7. Many thanx for sharing the awesome photos and info on Manila. By the way, my father was from Ilocos Norte… and my stepdad from Hernani Samar. Peace.


  8. I think you should find a local that will go with you to Divisoria. Just to be safe. Enjoy your vacation here! Thanks for featuring UST. I’m a proud Tomasian.😊


    • Your school is even older than Harvard. Awesome. You should be proud.

      My Mom will go with us, of course. No problem. Our only problem is parking. In 2014, we discovered a pay parking area somewhere in Divisoria that is “motorized” to go up, just like some parking areas in San Francisco, California. I wonder if it’s still there

      However, that’s still up in the air. My mom ( me, too) prefers to shop at Greenhills.My co-worker /manager wants me to buy pearl jewellery , so it’s gonna be Greenhills. Our time in the Philippines is limited, just 9 days. Actually , this is an official family trip, something to do with properties.

      Still, it’s more fun in the Philippines, yeah? Yay !


      • Oh. I am. Very very proud. You should park at at the new mall near Divisoria. Lucky Chinatown mall. I park there when I go to Divi. Greenhills is okay too. But too many people. Sometimes it’s hard to find parking spaces. Specially during weekends.
        I hope you and your family enjoy your stay here. Stay safe!☺️


  9. […] via Good ol’Manila, Philippines, my birthplace. — renxkyoko’s space […]


  10. Re your “politics radar is inching from the left towards the center,” I think leftists have their hearts in the tight place, but like extremists on the right (who have no heart) , they think they have a monopoly on truth. Both sides are so stuck in their ideologies that they can’t compromise for the common good. Countries desperately needs more moderates to govern, but too often voters are conned into electing those who tell them what they want to hear rather than what is needed to make life fairer and better for all.


    • That’s true. They are so stuck in their idealogy so much so that they don’t recognize and acknowledge its flaws anymore… worse, they intentionally ignore them.


    • PS… US politicians should also reform the welfare system. I have witnessed how the system has been abused by so many. I can give so many examples of people taking advantage and gaming the system.


  11. Correction: I meant “hearts in the RIGHT place” (not “in the tight place”) in my comment. Pardon the typo.


  12. I went back to the Philippines last September- a first in 7 years. I landed in Manila and booked a flight to Cebu right away. It’s so busy and chaotic. It’s so hard to get from point A to point B. Amazing photos you’ve showed of how bad it has gotten over the years.


    • I was in Manila in 2014, and stayed for 30 days. Traffic was chaotic, of course. We did go to Divisoria ( out of curiosity ) and , omg, it was hideous. Here’s the thing, though…… if you’re right there on the ground, you won’t notice it. It just looks crowded, that’s all. In fact, my young cousin and I were mesmerized by it all. Everything is there. ( well, they’re not selling coffins, thank goodness, but in the future, who knows? ) ..Oh, wait, you’re from Cebu ? I heard Cebu’s starting to turn into mini-Manila. .. thousands of poor folks from the provinces who are settling illegally , aka squatting, on public lands, building shacks and patchy -patchy houses.


  13. Salamat for the post, “Socorro” Iglesias. 😉
    Some of pictures remind me so much of Mexico city. Particularly the street vendors.
    (And the haggling!, Well)
    At least I am happy about one thing, from what I understand you managed to get rid of your tenants? Great news.
    And, though your trip is till a few months ago, I’m sure it will be a fantastic trip.


  14. Just set your friend’s expectations about places like divisoria and other places that are somehow “unsafe” to say the least.

    True, I hope Mayor Isko will be able to sustain all these good changes that he has started. My Team from work just visited National Museum, Rizal Park and Binondo last Saturday. It was great to be reminded of our colorful history through these places. And Binondo food are the best.
    I wish all city officials in the Philippines will do their parts too.

    Have fun in PH. Traffic is really bad in the metro so better plan your destinations.


    • Yes, ” sustained” should be the operative word. I’ve been watching the clearing operations videos from Day one. But it seems some places are extremely problematic, like Taft Ave. , Kalaw Ave., United Nations Ave. , Quiapo, and Divisoria areas. Obstructions and illegl vendors just come back, sometimes on the same day as soon as the DPS workers ‘ leave. They really should confiscate the vendors’ merchandise. People say these vendors can build a kariton in one hour.


  15. You’ll be surprised to see changes in Manila when you go there. The new mayor of the city has been trying his best to CLEAN the city and modernize it.


  16. Hope you are doing well and enjoying your time. Always remember you. Stay happy always.


  17. Wow those pictures are amazing!


  18. Nice report. I was there 9 years ago and I am looking forward to seeing what Divisoria and Manila Bay look like after the cleaning up. I managed to survive walking alone in Quiapo by night….but I can speak Tagalog and it helps


  19. I was there in 2010 and 2014. Except Divisoria and Intramuros in 2014, I didn’t get to see the rest of Manila. We spent our vacation time in Paranaque where our house is located, and Makati…and Boracay Island. We left the Philippines when I was about 7 years old, so I was quite shocked to see on YouTube what Manila looks like, in real time. My parents say Manila wasn’t like that before. Migrants from the countrysides who have very little education and skills over-populated the city….poor people with nowhere to go … and since city officials are corrupt and barely govern, they ignore that shanty towns are growing and getting bigger aand bigger and bigger, and those whose only skill is to sell something on the streets have spilled over from their shanty towns in Tondo to the ” nice ” parts of Manila, ( south ) , like the Rizal Park and vicinity, so much so that newly developed cities , like Bonifacio Global City, and others south of Manila have literally banned tricycles , jeepneys and buses, the poor’s mode of transportation, to enter the cities. It’s appaling, but what else can they do? Lamborghinis, Ferraris , and other luxurious cars are parked on their streets. The sidewalks are vacuumed, and so clean one can eat off the streets. Hence, keep off the lawn… and don’t pick the flowers.


  20. Posted by chryanvii on December 3, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    This is great. I’ll be heading to Manila next month. Please check out my blog at it’s all about fascinating and unique places found around China, Asia and even some US. Feel free to comment!


  21. Initially it does indeed come across a bit random, but it’s a very clear, descriptive and accurate description of Manilla. Without sugarcoating or bashing the place. And though Manilla (Imus) get incredibly humid hot and crowded as vehicles, tricycles, jeepneys and people on foot take over, it’s a very amiable place. You write with much character and I enjoy reading it!


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