The Philippines has more than 7,100 islands and countless cities and Manila is just one of them. Our CitySlickers are here to explore them with their analogue ammunition and to document their adventures through their wistful words! Here is Angel, one of Manila’s CitySlickers, and her introduction on her beloved city!
Name: Angel Trinidad
City: Marikina (Metro Manila)
Occupation: Cultural consultant, Scandinavia-expert!
Hi everyone! I’m Angel from Manila. Well technically, I’m from Marikina, since “Manila” is actually a giant metropolis of 10 million people divided into smaller cities. And Marikina, a quiet city in the east cradled by the mountains of Antipolo and the Marikina river, is one of them. It’s the country’s shoe capital and home to the Shoe Museum where Imelda Marcos’ infamous shoes are on display. (Want to know a secret? I tried out a pair of her Chanel’s while no one was looking, we’re the same size!)
I have been living in Europe the past three years and people often ask me what it is like living in Manila. It’s always a challenge for me to describe it, because I grew up here and consider everything normal. But through these conversations, I realized some special things about the day-to-day life in the city:
For example, we don’t have a city center. It’s a mash up of cities upon cities: you can work in Makati but live in Marikina, do your shopping in Ortigas and hang out in Cubao, etc. And because of this, it usually takes a long time to get from Point A to Point B because of the traffic and the lack of an organized public transportation system. Commuting is always like an action-adventure movie sequence, where you have to survive the rip-roaring jeepneys, rattling tricycles and jam-packed MRTs.
Another thing I realized is that you can eat anywhere in Manila because eating out is cheap! We rarely cook ourselves and almost all our social activities are centered on eating. Our Christmas celebrations are huge and families and friends meet up to eat, if nothing else. I don’t know if that’s a good thing.
For me, the most special thing about Manila is the people. Gung-ho and relaxed, creative and full of life. There’s an energy here that I haven’t really seen anywhere else, a certain pulse. Life never really becomes dull here. Maybe because it is a country constantly living on the edge, a country that is continuously plagued with typhoons, natural disasters, corruption, pollution and poverty.. I guess that makes everyone here somehow tougher and at the same time always moving, developing, striving for something better. But what is extraordinary is that Filipinos are ever so positive and happy, warm and smiling despite the circumstances. As if to say “Life is good and there is always room for you.” And that’s what makes them special.
Ultimately, Manila for me are the people I love and the moments around them. The friends I had since I was a kid, my best friend’s house and trips to the beach. Manila is my favorite cousin and hanging out in the roof, watching the golden sunset and the city lights in the distance, wishing upon airplanes. Manila is my mother, riding in cars and motorcycles and finding our new favorite coffee place.
I just arrived back a couple of months ago, and found myself trying to ease into a place I know and not know at the same time.. Manila is rip-roaring and static, tough and friendly, gritty and dreamy, but always full of loving people. Maybe you’ll get to meet the city one time. Don’t forget to smile!
Stay tuned for our Manila Cityslickers’ analogue adventures as they roam their cities with their film ammunition!