Manila is not a popular city among travelers. Everybody has to pass through it, because it is the gateway to the Philippines. But practically everybody gets out as fast as possible. It’s a chaotic, crowded, confusing place.
I met a traveler on a bus who was quite enthusiastic about Manila. He spent a month there doing street photography. Cities are, after all, where people live, and hence the best place to photograph them.
That encounter encouraged me to give Manila a chance, and not just flee. I spent a couple days visiting the main site, the Spanish colonial Intramuros, and wandering the neighborhoods.
The thing that stood out in my days of wandering was that Manila is not really a city. It is a collection of towns that have merged together. Each one has a different character. There is sparkling new Makati, residential Malate, gritty Ermita, bustling Chinatown, and countless others that go on seemingly forever.
Getting around was a pain. There are only two light rail lines, and they are always packed. Jeepneys ferry the locals around, but they are inscrutable to foreigners. Bicycle taxis rip off foreigners. So I walked. A lot.
In my days of wandering I only photographed the sites. I didn’t really capture any of the daily life in the city. But I think it would be an interesting place to return to and explore more thoroughly.