Stop. Breathe. Let’s fall in love with this city again.
Most of us have a love-hate relationship with Metro Manila and we all have our own reasons; it could be the stressful traffic or the flood-prone streets, the extreme heat or the public transportation. Foreigners almost always want to skip this city and head straight to the pristine beaches of Palawan, Boracay or Cebu. But here in R2R, we like to look at the good things despite the extreme difficulty! We think there are still so many things to love about Metro Manila and we don't even have to look that hard to see it.
We’ve curated this list for both tourists visiting Metro Manila for the first time or for those living in the city for so long but are looking for reasons to fall in love with it again.
A tour of the Philippines’ capital isn’t complete without a visit to Intramuros, the Spanish colonial city at the heart of Manila. It’s at the top of many lists and we’re sure you know why. It’s amazing how this walled city has stood for almost 500 years, amidst natural disasters and war. It carries so much of history and beauty that it’s best to cover as much ground as possible! This is where Bambike’s bike tours come in.
Bambike is one of our favorite social enterprises at the R2R HQ. They work with the villagers of Gawad Kalinga to create handmade and sustainable bamboo bikes and now they do educational tours around Intramuros. It’s a new, exciting, and engaging experience – very different than going around the usual way in a calesa.
Photo from the Bambike website
If you want a crash course in Philippine history, the Ayala Museum’s Diorama Experience (complete with the audio tour) is the best way to do it! It features the major events and themes that happened in the country’s history, from the pre-historic times to the first People Power Revolution. And that’s not even our favorite part – it’s the amazing fact that all 60 of the dioramas were carved and painted by the artisans of Paete, Laguna. (We love and respect everything handmade!)
Photo from airwaysandtravels.com
This piece of advice should be in every guidebook for travelers: To understand the zeitgeist of a country, watch a local theater production. We learned this personally while traveling to other countries and it shouldn’t be any less true for the Philippines!
One of the performing groups you can watch out for is the University of the Philippines’ official theater organization, Dulaang UP. For 40 years, they’ve been staging stellar performances and producing the best minds in Philippine theater. We promise that whatever play you catch (they stage at least four every academic year) will be great!
Photo from GMA News TV
Locavore Kitchen x Drinks prides itself in being locally grown, locally produced, and locally made, and we’re already in love with the concept! But what makes Locavore a strong contender as a representative of Filipino cuisine is that the food is playful, well-thought-of, and – best of all – mouthwatering.
They have the most fun dishes like kare-kare wings, oyster sisig, and their bestseller, sizzling sinigang and serve them with locally brewed beers or Filipino-inspired cocktails. They’re located in Kapitolyo, home to other excellent homegrown restaurants!
Photo from the Locavore website
We’ve already mentioned some of our favorite local and social enterprises but we also take a lot of pride in our own products. We truly believe that our handwoven, handmade bags are wonderful representatives of our country’s heritage; we try our best to showcase the artistry of our artisans, the excellence of Philippine innovation and design, and the tricky balancing act of style and sustainability.
And we swear it – they make the best souvenirs or pasalubong to tourists! And best of all, you can easily find us all over the Philippines.
The country’s entrepreneurial landscape is bursting with fresh ideas and passionate people and there’s no other way to keep the momentum up than to support these proudly local and sustainable brands. For this holiday season, we’ve curated more local products that you can give as meaningful gifts for this season of giving. Here are some of our favorites under the fashion and beauty brands category.