I believe everyone has their own city, one that they are super into and fits their lifestyle needs. What I realized when I went to Manila is that I know for sure that it’s not the city for me.
Manila is crowded. The view from the plane’s window showed an endless landscape of buildings and urban decay. Although it is the capital of the country, I felt like it lacked urban planning and proper use of space. There are also a lot of people from various parts of the country who decided to try their luck in the big city. This meant that the population is sky-high. Pollution and poverty can be seen everywhere. Rule of law seems to be nonexistent and the thought that I could be mugged or kidnapped anytime was never removed from my mind.
On a good note, I was very happy because I was able to visit UP Diliman. To me, it seemed like our version of a Central Park in Manhattan. It was a pocket of green in an area full of concrete, glass and/ or metal. Going inside the campus felt like going to my hometown province, it gave me that sense of serenity and peace that I only feel when I’m at home. Well, as an alumna, maybe I am (in an alien-finding-the-mothership kind of way). One good thing that this trip brought was me seeing Dara again. It has been a long time since I saw the 1/5 of Duma and I miss our resident miming (cat) friend.
Manila has developed a bad reputation as a city — worst traffic, high crime rate, etc. As the plane descended altitude, I saw the city and thought, “well, this was exactly what I had in mind”. I was picked up at the airport by my uncle and as soon as we joined the main road going to their house, we felt the infamous traffic. Cruising the NCR roads, I saw the good, the bad and the ugly.
If you made it in Manila, I salute you!