5 Things I Miss Most In Manila

Saturday, December 29, 2018

I’m currently at NAIA Terminal 1, waiting for my flight back to Singapore. Since my move to The Lion City in June, I’ve been home thrice and the time spent there is always never enough. I know OFWs who live farther miss home so much more than I do – but in reality, I still do. Even if the flight time takes only 3-4 hours, I still get enthusiastic thinking about going home, seeing family, friends, and familiar faces, and lying in my own bed!

But don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the convenience that Singapore brings, three of which are the high-speed internet, convenient means of transportation, and almost zero crime rate. However, there are things I just miss about Manila that I didn’t think I would.

1. Restaurants

Max’s, Army Navy, Gerry’s Grill, Yakimix, Yabu, Jollibee, Tokyo Tokyo, Chowking, Pancake House, S&R New York Style Pizza, Yellow Cab, Ramen Nagi, Matam-Ih, Pallete Cafe – these are just common restaurants found back home, but once in a while, I crave for their food!

I cook Filipino dishes at our place in Singapore, but sometimes, you just want to satisfy your taste buds with dishes you’re already familiar with. Even Jollibee’s burger steak tastes different back home. This might not sound appealing, but sometimes I kinda look for the salty, oily, and sweet Filipino dishes.

2. Cheap Food and Services

Restaurant food in the Philippines is much more affordable, say SGD 6-7 cheaper for a bowl of ramen in Ramen Nagi or Ippudo. I can buy a filling merienda in Manila for SGD 1.32 (pancit bihon) or a stick of squid ball worth only SGD 40 ¢.

How about services? Still definitely way, way cheaper in Manila. In Ang Mo Kio where I live in Singapore, the average full body massage price costs SGD 50 (for an hour). I can get the same service for SGD 11 (tip included) in Manila. Despite my busy schedule and commitments during the holiday break, I was able to squeeze in a haircut from my stylist and a full body Swedish massage.

3. SM

OMG I MISS SM, SERIOUSLY. And it’s not even the big ones, but only SM City Bicutan where my house is located nearby. It’s true when the pambansang mall says, “We’ve got it all for you!” because they really do!

In just one location, you have everything you need: a supermarket, a chain of restaurants, cinema, clothes shops, photography center, courier services, shoe and bag repair, school and office supplies store,etc. And the best part of all – they have THE SM Department Store. I realized how convenient it is to have access to the department store when I needed cost-efficient Halloween costume or when I intend to find affordable clothes and footwear.

4. Makati

For 10 years of being in the workforce, Makati had been my second home. I had worked in Makati CBD ever since I graduated from college. When the time comes that I need to go back home, I’d probably choose working in Makati again.

I still like strolling along the elevated walkways and the stretch of Ayala Avenue, only riding the jeepney on rare occasions. One Saturday, my husband and I had brunch at Pancake House in Greenbelt 1 and I still found comfort in the familiar scenery around Greenbelt, Landmark, Glorietta, and SM Makati, until we reached the UV Express terminal in Park Square. I miss my daily route, but I still hate the long queue, waiting time, and the traffic jam especially in the south.

Best part of all, I miss visiting the Greenbelt Chapel (Sto. Niño de Paz Chapel) on weekdays. It had been a daily devotion of mine to visit (whether in Greenbelt, Landmark, or in RCBC tower), to thank God and talk to Him as I start or end my day, whatever state of my life I’m in. I need to bring back that daily habit, and hopefully, I could find a nearby church or chapel in my current workplace soon.

5. Holiday Season

I’ll be a little biased here, but I feel like going home to Manila (or to the Philippines in general) during Christmas is unbeatable. We don’t spend the holiday season extravagantly, but being surrounded by family is the best gift I can ever ask for. Plane tickets are so expensive during this season, but spending time at home is priceless. We don’t have snow in this tropical country that’s beaten yearly by typhoons, but you’ll feel the spirit of Christmas, not just in the decors or holiday sale, but most importantly with the Filipinos exuding warmth and generosity at this time of year.

Plus we have lechon, simbang gabi, bibingka, puto bumbong, queso de bola, ham, and THE best and bonggang Christmas party ever!

So with a slightly heavy heart, the first time OFW need to go back to reality. Like the rest of us who are taking a risk overseas, we leave the motherland once more, looking forward to the next time when we will be home again.

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