Travel Postcard: 48 Hours in Manila

Fri Sep 4, 2009 3:50am EDT
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By Michaela Cabrera

MANILA (Reuters Life!) - The capital of the Philippines is not the kind of place you fall in love with at first sight: the Spanish colonial-era mega-city is home to around 12 million people, congested, polluted and often chaotic.

But amid the confusion, there is a lot to see. Reuters correspondents with local knowledge provide hints to help visitors make the most out of a short stay in the city.


6 p.m. - Take a jeepney, the country's iconic mini-bus, to Quiapo Church in downtown Manila to see Catholics attend Friday mass in the thousands. Devotees flock to the church to revere the Black Nazarene, a 400-year-old statue of Christ from Mexico believed to be miraculous. A plaza outside bustles with stalls selling candles, flowers, herbal medicines and potions.

8 p.m. - Start your Friday night at the financial district, Makati. Young professionals hang out at Greenbelt, a leafy outdoor mall with a cinema and a park. M Cafe makes excellent cocktails -- ask for the citrusy Sunset Sake.

9 p.m. - Dine at Sentro restaurant, also in Greenbelt, and order Filipino favorites such as adobo (pork and chicken stew), sinigang (beef in tamarind broth) and crispy pata (pork knuckles).

10 p.m. Take a cab north to the gritty side of town and head to Cubao X, a cul-de-sac of curios shops, art galleries, funky bars and cozy restaurants. Mogwai Bar screens classic Filipino films from the 1940s and 50s, and nearby Black Soup Gallery exhibits cutting edge visual art.

Also, check out the local music scene at 70's Bistro at nearby Anonas Ave., a popular watering hole for artists, activists and journalists. Bands belt out original music and a bit of The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and Sting.   Continued...

<p>Tourists take a stroll on Jupiter street, known for lively night life in Manila's Makati financial district August 30, 2009. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo</p>