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How to survive the streets of Manila

Updated on January 13, 2011

Can you survive the streets of Manila?

Visiting Manila anytime soon?

So you think you can handle almost anything that comes your way. If you're like me and love the adrenaline rush that you get from an occasional adventure. You don't have to go very far to get that daredevil rush that you're craving for.

In the event that you find yourself in the Philippines, all you have to do is get out the comforts of the house you're staying in or hotel, then go on an adventure in the streets of Metro Manila.

Commuting in Manila

Walk and Commute on the wild side.

Preparation is the key before you go out for an expedition around Metro Manila. Here are some helpful tips that might help you endure the beautiful chaos that awaits you when you go around this bustling city.

If you're going somewhere in Quezon City, Makati City, Alabang or at The Fort in Taguig, you don't have to worry so much. Because you will blend in just perfectly. And feel free to make yourself stand out!

BUT, when your Filipino spouse tells you that he or she is bringing you to Divisoria, Baclaraan or ANYWHERE downtown, follow these like your life depended on it.

  1. Dress Wisely. If you're not of Filipino blood or you are Filipino, but you don't look like a local, wear clothes in muted colors. Try your best to blend in the crowd, where denim jeans and shirts is the norm. For women,  dress a bit more conservatively than usual and toned legs, to avoid any "ogling" incidents. 
  2. Always carry your bags IN FRONT OF YOU. Even if it's a backpack, make sure you carry it in front of you. Where you can see it all the time. Keep your wallet close to your body. And don't show off all your cash when paying for something. Have a coin purse handy for easy access.
  3. Wear comfortable and sturdy shoes. And shoes that you don't mind getting dirty. Walking around is awesome, but your shoes will get filthy. If you like to wear flip flops or sandals, be prepared to have stinky, sweaty and dirty feet at the end of the day.
  4. Show Confidence. You know you're scared as hell because you don't know where you are and have no idea on what your getting yourself into. Never show FEAR. Ask with authority. Almost everyone on the street can speak and understand english. Just don't talk too fast if you're asking directions. Be authoritative, in a nice way... Smile, but don't smile so much.... Know what I mean? Because there are times if people sense you're too nice - you will be taken advantaged off. 
  5. Ask your Filipino friends for basic words, phrase and sentences that you need to know. So you can be at least self-sufficient, when you suddenly find yourself alone.

Books about Manila

Getting Through Driving in Manila.

Raring to test your driving skills? And perhaps you want to challenge the Evil Knievel in you.

  1. Drive Defensively. Just because it does get a bit crazy on the road. Always keep your guard up, and anticipate the crazy nut driving the bus like a sport car.
  2. Keep car doors LOCKED. You'll never know when someone suddenly jolts your door open and grab your precious bag, watch or anything a would-be thief can get his hands onto. This kind of things happen, most often in the middle of a jam-packed traffic.
  3. Be prepared to get lost. It is inevitable. It will happen. Have a pen and paper to jot down the directions the guy on the corner will tell you. Do you best not to laugh or snicker when the guy that you ask points the direction with his mouth.
  4. Merge your mind and soul with the car. The best way to steer your car around Manila, is to drive the car, like it was an extension of you. It gets a bit crazy here, and if you drive this way. You'll be more aware and alert.

Enjoying Manila Safely

I am not painting an ugly picture of Manila here. These simple tips can take you a long way, even if you go ANYWHERE in the world. Just remember to enjoy your stay when you do come and visit. And keep these in mind, so you can come back another day.


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