June 9, 2012

Urban Wandering - Manila and its lessons in life.

Ever had a time when you looked at you camera and shoes? And it was all dirty and dusty, it lacked care and love? Then you realize that you haven't traveled for a long time? So you grabbed your camera and shoes, cleaned it up but also realized you had not much money?

Yes, again and again it usually happens to me, most of the time it kills me to stay inside the house and watch National Geographic and let them explain the world to me. I always say to myself: "No! I have to be there! Anywhere!" - I miss wandering around.

A kid on his Battleship floating around Pasig River.

For me, it's best to wander around if you have these things ready. Of course you wouldn't just go out with a few cash in hand, you have to be ready too for everything, remember that you're going wherever your feet takes you. Or is it just me?

1. Camera - Any camera will do, as long as the quality of the photo is good. It will later serve as your photo memory. 

2. Cash and Cash in Card - I usually have a initial PhP300.00 ($6) budget for the day, then if I had to spend more that's when I withdraw my extra stash. ATMs are all over Manila City so don't worry. When I didn't have a card before, I used to hide my money in 3 different parts of my body - In my Wallet, inside my shoes and in the pocket of my Boxer Shorts.  

3. Extra Clothes - I prefer to travel with a backpack with clothes in it, you'll never know when the sky decides to be emotional. But please, don't dress to kill while you're wandering Manila, you'll end up being a target of not-so-friendly elements present in each urban city in the world.

4. Music Player/Ipod - Music while walking around really takes away the feeling of getting tired. I listen heavily to the Beatles, Coldplay, Lights, Up Dharma Down, and Michael Jackson - but be sure to be more alert while crossing the streets of busy Manila.

5. Water, water, water -  When in Manila, you'll perspire like a dog's mouth so be sure to drink at least 2-3 liters of water while traveling.

Feast of the Black Nazarene, I was on top of a waiting shed. 

Why do you want to wander around? - This is the most asked question thrown to me, and my answer is simple: Because I want to think about life. The thought of seeing different things and experiencing it makes my life a bit more sensitive to others and realize that most of the time, people don't have what I have and I don't have what they have.

I realize that sometimes, the best isn't really the best out there, it's the right things for you that come into play. Wandering around made me realize that my life didn't suck as much as I think it is. I see people living in cartons and card boards with no clean clothes. I've seen a lot of things I thought I would never experience in life, one is being chased by a scavenger I tried taking a photo off, man I ran like I was The Flash.

Then there's things that make you feel how selfish you've been so far in your life. Children in the streets carrying their baby siblings asking for silver coins in hopes of surviving another day in Manila. They're merely SURVIVING, not LIVING. These things make me sit down for a while and just stare at them. Manila made me more sensitive to the truth of living in its city.

An old man in Quiapo begging for food.

But sometimes things are just plain fun and random, you feel you could do anything, like lie and relax under the shade of the trees. I'm a slow wanderer, taking each meaningful step and sometimes I sit for hours just watching people, couples - young and old, running people trying to make it on time in their workplaces, vendors, the local chess players in the park, and self proclaimed prophets.

Here's me at LRT Tayuman Station at 3:30AM, experiencing Manila in a whole new perspective.
Locals riding out in their 4-wheel Kalesa-Slash-Pedicab. I was stunned when I saw this it almost got away from my camera.

Manila is everything stuffed in one city, that's how it is, it brings you drama, love, comedy, suspense, and sometimes "What the Fuck?" moments in life. I did my wandering around this Dirty-Smelly-But-wouldn't-be-beautiful-without-it-horse-dung-included city and here's my story, what's yours?

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