Why I don't plan to go back to Manila, Philippines

Why I don’t plan to go back to Manila, Philippines

Have you ever had a lacklustre time in a destination, and felt like you needed to go back to try and figure out why people think it’s so great? Unfortunately that was my experience with my trip to Manila Philippines, after staying there at the tail end of a spectacular few weeks exploring the islands of Boracay and Bohol.

Harbour square in Manila Bay.
Harbour square in Manila Bay
Malate Church in Manila
Malate Church

I guess the trouble with our Manila trip started when our cab driver from the airport had a ridiculously hard time finding our hotel, and drove in circles before we finally spoke up over fears he was simply trying to run up the meter. After a few phone calls he finally ‘found it,’ and it turned out we had been about a block away nearly the whole time.

While there were no complaints at all about our hotel which was located in a ‘good’ area near the popular shopping centre Robinsons Place Manila, that’s about where the enjoyment ended.

Fresh off the heels of several weeks backpacking southeast Asia, we felt well-travelled enough to explore Manila on our own, but began seriously doubting that decision as we kept stumbling into suspect alleys that were rather unnerving. While we were just a couple of blocks away from the main thoroughfare, the unwelcoming looks we got from those holed up in the ramshackle buildings we passed made our spidey-senses tingle, and we couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

In an effort to calm our nerves and build up my mom’s souvenir mug collection, we headed to a nearby Starbucks. That’s when we were accosted by begging children, who were relentless in following us down the street with their hands stretched out while their parents silently watched just steps away.

It broke my heart that the beautiful little children spent their days harassing foreigners for change alongside a busy roadway, instead of playing games or doing schoolwork.

We continued on to Rizal Park, which is a beautiful area dedicated to Filipino hero Jose Rizal that’s considered one of the top places to go in Manila. Monuments dot the sprawling lush green lawn, and you can often find men in the middle of a chess game or people strolling through the park.

Men play chess in Rizal Park, Manila. philippines
Men play chess in Rizal Park.

But as I took photos, the extent of the city’s poverty became even clearer. Some smiling boys happened to be in front of a monument I was taking pictures of, and when I put my camera down and began to walk away they followed us demanding money. It seemed that no matter where we went, we were purely seen as a payday.

manila philippines rizal park

We found some relief when we stumbled into the Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion, which is full of fragrant flowers including—you guessed it, orchids—as well as little ponds and a ‘Trellis of Waves’ made of hanging vines. The quiet space was a peaceful respite from the chaos of the city, as well as the soaring heat, and made for a nice stop on our Manila itinerary.

After enjoying the gardens then passing the grand National Museum of the Philippines, we decided to forgo the walk back in lieu of a typical Filipino experience: hopping on a tuk-tuk. The brightly-coloured electric trikes grabbed my attention, and I thought it would be a fun way to get back to the hotel. Well, I’ll say this: it was memorable.

manila philippines jeepney
Jeepneys in Manila.

My heart pounded as our driver made quick maneuvers through the clogged traffic, having countless near-misses with huge trucks and Jeepneys before it inevitably happened: he actually hit someone! Fortunately we weren’t going too quickly and the poor pedestrian was only bruised, but that was enough to convince me that Manila was officially not my favourite place in the world.

manila philippines taxi tuk tuk
It’s all fun and games until a pedestrian gets hit…

It pains me to share that I had such a negative experience in Manila, as many of the Filipinos I met during my time in the Philippines were incredibly sweet, and who am I to judge their country?

There is no question that for every story like mine, you’ll find someone else who thinks the city is fascinating and enjoys the fast-paced environment and culture.

That being said, I can only speak to my experience, and as much as I fell in love with the Philippines’ stunning islands, I’ll likely skip the stopover in Manila next time.

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

Manila day trips

The good news is there are some awesome Manila day trips you can book to enjoy an incredible experience away from the city. Here are a few to consider:




This post was originally published in August 2015 and updated in February 2020


This post may contain affiliate links, which Globe Guide receives compensation for at no additional cost to you.

200 thoughts on “Why I don’t plan to go back to Manila, Philippines”

  1. Pingback: The beautiful beaches of Boracay, Philippines

  2. That’s a shame to hear that, I would love to take the kids to the Philippines but wouldn’t like them to experience something like that. If we do go I will make the stop in Manila an overnight one at most. If only they realised what good the tourism market could do for them. Seeing how kids are treated is the hardest thing about travelling in some Asian countries.

    1. Hi Sally, yes it’s definitely an interesting place to see, but there are so many incredibly beautiful spots throughout the Philippines that it would be much better to spend time on the islands instead of the congested city.

    2. I’m really sorry for saying this, but going in the Philippines with some kids would not be very responsible. I would never encourage someone to do this. There are many things there that western kids don’t need to see. Trust me about this. There are many great spots in the Phils but these places are hard to access and we must to pass by bad places to get there. Things can go very well as they can go terribly bad. Being white in the Philippines is a big deal. Families of white people are often perceived as targets to make money. Scams are unlimited, and cops are corrupt. Any easy and simple process can escalade into a conflict with the natives. Many Filipinos are great for manipulating tourists. I have been followed and harassmed by strangers many times.

      1. Yes I agree with you. I have lived in the Philippines for many years and frankly, can’t wait to leave. The country is crumbling now with the longest lock down in the world, shortages of imported goods, constant blackouts, and poor communications. It is a nightmare!

        1. Same here. I’ve had the “pleasure” of dealing with Filipinos on the higher level and seeing how completely rotten and corrupt it is. If you are still in the Philippines without many obligations, RUN from the country, don’t walk.
          People who say this country is even comparable to any western country don’t know what they’re talking about. Philippines is at least 200 years behind any western country in mindset, methods and understanding. No amount of Fortuners and big houses will hide this fact.

          1. Cherry ann Villanuevaaydin

            If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it. Why deal on the negative? Foreigners appreciate Philippines more than you are. Instead of building Philippines down you are tearing it down. I cannot wait in going back to Philippines to give back. My husband loves the Philippines. If you are Filipino go out if the country. You’ll appreciate it more once you leave I guarantee you. Philippines gave me education equivalent to 5 million peso for free and above USA standards. I belong to a family of public servants don’t insult them .

          2. I’m a filipino but not sure if pure filipino blood I’m so sorry for your bad experience to our country, I will not deny that Manila is place of all kinds people so you must be smarty there, I suggest try some provinces for vacations, I have some foreign friends like German and black American and also Australian I said to them if they want to go back to their country they said I love to stay here,

          3. Miguel Balisi

            Your comment is perhaps something that was experienced by you. And you cannot be blamed. However, what you said is belied by so many foreigners on the contrary. Where ever you’re from, the same can be heard and said of that place for we both know that no place is perfect. The US and even many European nations have their own negatives that were experienced by their tourists, no matter how few experiences there may have been–they were experienced also. And your unkind comment is one that does not reflect your high intellect and heart for I believe you have a heart and does not want to be insulted by anyone based on some of your own imperfections.

          4. I am happy to tell you that in San Francisco, California – locals or tourists get mugged or robbed for money to buy fentanyl or drugs or desperate to buy food, homeless are shameless to pooped on the streets within sight of standing tourists, cars parked were smashed, under the hood of the vehicles and electricals lines are taken for copper sales at the expense of property owners…you name all the crimes in your head, it existed in this innovative and expensive zip in the world.
            And I wonder, why are these tourists (faux-journalists) never come in California’s most important city and criticize its chaotic situation ?
            I could only described the author in one sentence “The author is not a J-Lo from the Block” but a provincial woman who embarked on travelling to a city that her meager budget could only afford!

    3. I’m sorry that you have a rather unpleasant experience visiting Manila. There are so many amazing places to visit if you know where to go. I recommend finding a guide who can take you to the right places. The city of Manila is old, congested and spotty so it really helps to know where to go, or maybe venture in Makati/Global City and the Mall of Asia and Ayala Alabang area where there are nice hotels and restaurants. I have visited a few times and really enjoyed our stay at Diamond Hotel, Solaire, Shangri-la, among others. I hope you do your research and find a good guide to take you around.

      1. Yes, this review is total crap. This person doesn’t know anything about Manila. I agree with you that Makati and BGC are awesome and there are so many cool things there. I stayed in that exact area for over two months and did not experience much of what she said. Children do beg in their organized by adults to milk money out of you so that is a problem but it stops there. I stayed in Birch Tower and in Alpha Grandview in airbnbs and I loved it. I had dental work done in Robinson’s place and I’m very happy with my experience all the way around.

        1. Just because you had a pleasant experience does not mean everyone who visits Manila do too. Like she said, this review is based on her experience, and you have no right to invalidate her claims.

        2. I agree with John Eberhardrt. At the end of the day, we need to do correct diligence wherever we go we can fully understand the country we are visiting and can plan accordingly when we can venture on our own or need to hire a guide. On the negative comments….I think you need to tone it down in light f what is going on around the world now… covid19.., delta or whatever else is coming our way….

        3. Anyone who calls a tike/tricycle a “tuk tuk” should be suspect. It is obvious that they expect an Asian country to be like other Asian countries

        4. Joseph Papsidero

          Actually, this review is spot on. I just returned from that part of the world and while Makati and BGC are of first world standards most of the remainder of the capital region is quite third-world like, both in appearance and in the attitudes of the people. In fact, it reminded me of an Asian version of Mexico, only somewhat worse. Hell, even in Mexico you don’t see guards with shotguns standing outside banks and I have never been bothered by begging children or stray dogs in Mexico. My negative impression started immediately upon arrival at NAIA with indifferent immigration clerks, indifferent currency exchange workers, two women who tried to hustle me to take a more expensive alternative to a metered taxi ( and laughed at me when I turned them down), and the taxi dispatcher who yelled at me because he needed my name and I didn’t pronounce it distinctly. And it’s always endearing to get hard looks from 5’4′ males who think they are intimidating as they pass you on the pavement. Intramuros is an absolute waste of time outside of briefly visiting the two churches; Fort Santiago is OK but the rest of it is a waste of time. Perhaps someday I will check out Boracay and these other places that are well-though of. The capital region outside of Makati and BGC is an absolute waste of time.

          1. I’m in Manila right now. i have experience in Mexico and The Philippines. They are not comparible. Mexico, the food is better by 3 letter grades, you still need to plan where to go or not go, but overall feels much safer. The Mexicans have great pride of ownership in their cities. Most Mexicans are friendly toward foreigners. I don’t get that feeling in Manila. Filipino overseas OFW’s are the nicest bunch of humans I have ever met. Back neighborhoods in Manila, different feeling altogether. I did like Cebu better than Manila. Next I’m headed to the beach islands, Puerto Galara, and more to get a feel for the quieter parts of the country.

      2. There’s a few nice places, like Korean spas. But the city on a street level is a disaster. And you say Manila is old? 95% of Metro Manila has been built in the last 50 years. It’s in fact very new, many of the building that look ancient are actually from the 90s. The “quality” in the Philippines is below any standard.

      3. Yes. There are other places in metro manila. I dare say, don’t stay in the city of manila. It has been a playground for local politicians. The city of manila is a vast pay parking area, which adds to traffic congestion.

      1. It’s not 80 Languages / am pretty sure you probably thinking 80 Dialects or even more. Philippines has 7000 something Island.. So, if I was a tourist to tour a Country that I don’t know, I definitely will get me a guide. Even Pilipinos themselves have to deal with the same problems.. So, sorry that you had this experience..

      2. Really? Have you even been there? I lived there for about 9 months both before and during the lockdowns. Before the lockdown I got my implant done at Robinson’s place. I toured intramuros, I went to Ocean Park, Mall of Asia, Lunetta Park ( which she calls Rizal but nobody that lives there calls it that) and took long walks along Manila Bay during sunset. It’s an awesome place Makati is wonderful and so is BGC. Definitely also check out the greenbelt area as they had free concerts on Friday and Saturday nights. It was just awesome. Obviously some people should never come here and not give advice to others.

        1. Do you understand that other people are not an extension of you? She related her experiences in the Philippines. In addition, I have been there more than once and I agree with some of her observations.

      3. This blog/article seems like it wasn’t written by a well-versed traveler, or at least someone who doesn’t know culture shock or take the time to learn about destinations.

        I have traveled around the world multiple times, and have gone to the Philippines numerous times. The very first time I definitely experienced culture shock. Eventually I grew to like it and miss it, and even stayed for several months before the pandemic.

        First, it is known that the cab drivers will run up the meters. Some even have a switch to change the rate of the meter. You may have heard the term “foreigner tax.” Download the Grab app, which is the Philippine version of Uber/Lyft and use that instead. It is also risky getting a cab from the airport since some may bring you to a secluded place and rob you.

        Children begging at mall entrances are part of a crime ring. The money they collect go to the adults giving the instructions. If you give money, they talk to each other and try to get more from you when you leave.

        The children who wanted money after you took the pictures I haven’t experienced before, but it is more common in other countries where they want to charge you for the pictures you took.

        The experience in the tricycle (it’s not a Tuk-Tuk) is somewhat regular in the Philippines. There are really no traffic rules. A 4-lane road is oftentimes filled with 6 lanes of traffic. If you can fit in a space, even in a car or truck, you are good to go and take up that space, even if it’s over the lane markers. Driving there is an experience: you will never move an inch unless you are a very aggressive driver.

        With that said, Manila is quite different than the rest of the country. I have visited so many places in the Philippines, and would rather spend my time outside of Manila.

          1. I think it’s the same in any place with high percentage of poor people, you could have mentioned that instead of targeting a specific country and city. And tourist scams happen everywhere.

    4. Now I’m filipino and I actually live in Manila and while reading I do agree with most of the things you said but the part when children would ask for money. Now the Philippines sadly have a lot of homeless people estimating to 4.5 million including children. These people are just trying to make a living. Just that feeling to eat thats what they want. To go home to their families with food. Everyday its a grind just to eat. Even though you want to spend money to go to beautiful places don’t ignore the people that actually might need it.

      1. Leisurely Lani

        I would rather attempt to help this children out on the street begging for money to buy food. Than our panhandlers here who also gets a EBT food card and also we have homeless shelters here and they beg money to buy drugs or alcohol.

        I agree with the tourist who wrote this blog. But I sense a bit of anger, not just disappointment. More or downgrading. Someone like you may not need to explore a 3rd world
        country. If so, best to know where you’re going and friend a Filipino perhaps one of your Filipino friend in the US could have referred you to a relative to be your tour guide.
        If I knew you. I would send you to Davao City, Cebu, Makati for a better crowd.

        You have the right to express your experiences. But may want to review before you post, you come across as bashing. I know tons of Americans who would go back to Philippines anytime. Check youtube Americans in Philippines, connect with them, they love it there.

        Any 3rd world Country, even Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba its best to find a friend to take you to the right places.

        Too bad you had a bad experience.
        That’s not how the country would want you to feel. Too bad. Imagine if you went to the right places.

        Some Places is not for everyone.
        Glad you got to visit. Too bad it wasn’t as you expected.

        1. Unless you have Family in the Philippines or have a very specific hobbie/interest, then avoid the Philippines. Save your time and your money and go elsewhere.

    5. Cherry ann Villanuevaaydin

      Why shelter your kids. I immersed my kids when they were growing up especially to those areas for their sake. We went to Honduras , Ecuador abd El Sakvador for medical missions. Also to Bangladesh and the Philippines. My son is now a nursing student and my daughter now gained her masters in Public health at Boston University as a result .Now working in Boston University as a biostatistician. I wanted her to go to the Philippines but she said America is a bigger country and that whatever contributions she does with regards to research will eventually be applied to other countries. There are beggars just by 7-11 alone. Like one travel blogger say” You have to risk it to get biscuits’

      1. Bobbie Davies

        Thank you for saying this. I strongly agree children should not be “sheltered” from the real lives that these other children are experiencing.

    6. You really needed an experienced Philippine guide who could have helped keep your safe and help get rid of the beggars. That’s what I would do.

  3. Similar experience for us in Morocco. I will never go back there. Shitty people in general (although there some bright exceptions) and shitty culture.

      1. To calm your nerves about Morocco I just spent an amazing 10 days there. If you are concerned about traffic and getting ripped off, head to the coast somewhere like Essaouira where you will have a fantastic time!

        1. My daughter travelled around the world alone for 12 months started and finished in Manila and thought Morroco was the highlight of her trip
          I’ve lived in the Philippines and agree it has it’s child
          beggars that are forced to beg by a kind of mafia outfit,
          Boracay Palawan islands and parts of Cebu are all safe and beautiful
          Manila traffic is very congested it’s hot noisy and dirty but it does have it’s safe spots for tourists Makati with its up market hotels shopping and. restaurants for one
          Do your homework before visiting any country

          1. Filipinos can never live without throwing garbage all over, pissing in the streets,,, korokes, screwing up the traffic, changing lanes 30 times a block, smoke belching cancer causing vehiscles,,, stray dogs all over

          2. Thank you for your very fair comments Terry. Whoever is into negative comments… please do your due diligence before you travel and understand the history, culture etc….

      2. Yeah I have travelled a hella lot- will hit 40 countries in 2 weeks and plan to do 10 new ones a year- and it was my worst experience. Particularly as a woman. You are basically dirt in their culture. Ughhhh

        That said, GO to Chefchaouen in the north. I wish we had started there first, rather than our last stop, because it was lovely. I might have had a different view of Morocco then.

      3. This is what happens when ignorant people travel and then give their advice to others. I am from the UK and lived in Manila for a year. If you know where you’re going then it’s an amazing place. Don’t diss what you fail to understand.

        1. Hi Antony,

          I’ve travelled to nearly 70 countries, am an award-winning journalist and have a university degree- the last thing you can try and accuse me of is being ignorant. If you scroll through the many comments, you’ll see that my opinion is shared by a large amount of people including Filipinos and others who actually live there. You have a right to disagree with others, but name calling is juvenile and won’t be permitted further in this space. Thanks.

          1. Vicson Torres

            I am a Filipino and there’s literally nothing in your review that’s unfamiliar to me. Orphans are not only from Manila, they’re widespread almost all over the Luzon region. It’s just Manila is considered the most advanced city in terms of economy, that’s why some fellow Filipinos from the south (mostly rural areas) go there with a goal to find a decent source of income. Unfortunately, most of them just end up in the streets like the ones you encountered, and they share their sufferings with their children as they are forced to beg for spare coins.

            Bonus: tricycle drivers most likely do not have a legitimate driver’s license, hence accidents are bound to happen.

        2. Thank you for your fair comments Antony. I just moved back to the Philippines after living and working in the US for 35 years. I can’t wait to explore the islands once it is safe to travel. Safe travels everyone!

      4. I have to say, I was so impressed with Morocco. The government has put a stop to the extreme sales bargaining… I was not bothered at all. The old market in Marrakesh was a fantastic experience

      5. Cherry ann Villanuevaaydin

        I loved Morocco and will go back again. Don’t let other peoples shifty experience influence you. Read guides to have an uneventful experience.

    1. I did not have her experience there. It is not a shitty place. The people are fantastic, yes children do beg and they are organized by adults often to milk money from tourists but I wandered down many alleyways in that exact area and never felt threatened. The place is wonderful. I’m sure there are some places you shouldn’t go as there is in any city. That being said, I have been in 42 of the 50 states and I felt much much more afraid in just about every large American city than I have ever felt there in that city. In the US, people hit me up for money all the time. When I was in Orange county California jogging a guy jogged up next to me and tried to beg money from me, so there is that. People are slaughtered in mass shootings every other day here so think about that when you’re in Manila next time.

    2. I am a Filipino and, though it pains me, I would say that your observations are correct. Those are all the products of the greed and selfishness of our politicians who are there only to serve their interests and not our people, so majority of us are so poor. Poor internet conmection, constant power outages are just a few of how they allow companies to make money without investing in their facilities as long as those companies fatten their wallets.

  4. I think your experience in Manila is spot on. Even a Filippino friend of mine avoids Manila when she visits her homeland, saying it is dirty and crowded. Unfortunate about all the begging.

    1. I totally disagree. Stay in Makati or BGC then. Malate or Ermita just aren’t for you. I personally love those areas and I spent three months in that exact area and I found it to be just fine.

    2. Cherry ann Villanuevaaydin

      Grown adults beg me everytime at seven eleven here in America. What’s new. In NY City alone by the corner there are beggars with placards asking for money. Also my tenants who has work is milking the government and ask assistance for$ 25k to pay their rent and can’t even evict them with this moratorium. To think they may be illegal aliens they are still entitled.

      1. Begging in America at 7/11 is way different that children begging in Manila. The United States has a social structure that can support the homeless here. Manila poverty is on a different level. These are people that don’t know when they are going to eat next. A child begging in manila is out of pure survivor.

  5. Manila is definitely not a great place to walk around in. It’s Philippines’ capital city, yet it’s where you see poverty at its worst. I live in Baguio City, north of Manila, and everytime I go there I always have an awful experience. But that’s just Manila. When you look around the archipelago, the stunning views and nature will blow your mind.

      1. Dr maria virginia

        Hi from chaos to order. thank youfor the truth. But metro manila
        is now being modernized w fast train subway qnd electric transport. Social order is being put in place now. Like elsewhere
        The right leadership is also in place.

        1. Is it? I’m researching about doing a Southeast Asia trip soon (hopefully once restrictions in the region are lifted, and once I get my vaccine shot), but from what I hear from the news and friends about Manila is that it seems to be having trouble containing the spread of Covid due to – the way an expat friend of mine living in Manila puts it – the policies being a “joke”, with one rule (something about motorcycle shields or something) being implemented, then pulled out the week after.

          I’m inclined to put Manila out of my list based on research so far, though I’ll probably put Coron, Boracay, and Cebu in my list.

  6. I love your unabashed feeling about your experience in Manila. So many people are afraid for to recount their negative experiences in a foreign country in fears of backlash. This article definitely gave me an insight into Manila culture and I’ll be sure to not give money away in guilt when I’m there.

    1. Thank you! I definitely took my time publishing it and even debated whether or not I should, but as you said I think it’s important to share the bad experiences along with the good, and I hope I was fair in my judgements.

      1. Not to mention the opportunistic traffic enforcers who try to get you for the smallest infractions (and for which there are inadequate signs) if you drive there. I live about 19 miles outside of Manila and always get a little anxious whenever I have to go there.

  7. Hi I’m Hana. I’m a Filipino and it saddens me to say that everything you said about Manila is true. I live in Laguna, and it’s quite far and very different from Manila. Even I try to avoid going to Manila. Im just really happy that you liked our islands. It’s true that people should who plan to visit our country should just head straight to our beautiful islands instead of staying for a few days in Manila.

  8. Welcome to a developing country. If you go to a country knowing full well its developing, none of this stuff should be a surprise.

    1. I have nothing at all against developing countries- in fact, I prefer getting off the beaten path (see my post on Uyuni, Bolivia which doesn’t even have roads)! I can only speak to my experience, and there was just something about the energy of the city that I wasn’t drawn to.

    2. Sitara – Philipines is not at all a developing country. You should see what they have achieved in building BGC in 5 years and nearby Makita. It is just that the people and most of Manila is a letdown

  9. Pingback: Top 5 things to do in Bohol, Philippines

  10. I am an expat living in Manila, and I live in an upscale area. In more recent months, there have been children around our neighbourhood asking for money or food. While there have been many times I’ve found this annoying, I continue to remind myself to keep perspective. What is annoying to us – with our travel luxuries, lifestyle advantages, fortunate circumstances – is a livelihood to many that live here, and not one that happens to be chosen. It is truly heartbreaking, as you mentioned, that children are not in school or playing games, that the poverty is endemic. Take everything with a grain of salt, thank your lucky stars, and consider that people merely do what they feel they must. While you have the opportunity to build a Starbucks mug collection, many Filipinos are struggling to fulfil the basic human necessities, such as eating every day. And perhaps consider that the “unwelcoming looks” you got came from a place of despair, from recognizing that you have so much, and that they, simply, do not.

    1. Zandra Grace Hodson

      The best comment! It is all about perspective. I am a Filipina married to an American lived in the USA for quite a while and I was not that fascinated with the place. Sure it’s modernized but the feeling of discrimination is a sad experience and more…left the US went back to the Philippines with my husband and we are very happy and contented with life. My suggestion to those who plan to visit the Philippines, research and find a Filipino tourist guide.

  11. When traveling to the Philippines we avoid Manila it is dirty and crowed and does not represent the rest of the Philippines. It would be like trying to the judge the USA by visiting New York City. In stead of flying in to The old dirty airport in Manila we fly into the newer International airport on Cebu much better experience . Cebu and the next island Bohol are both nice to visit lots to see and do from there you can fly or travel by speed boat to many great places and see the real Philippines.

  12. Pingback: Tamara Elliott, AKA Globe Guide: 20 things you might not know about me - Globe Guide

  13. Im a Filipino but it’s been 20 years since I left the country for Boston. I went back there last month to attend a wedding then I stayed few days to enjoy the city I grew up with but it’s no longer enjoyable for me cause I feel unwelcomed, total stranger and very polluted. I got sick from the food I ate for two days. When I was withdrawing money from Banco De Oro ATM i didnt realize 6 children were standing behing me and start begging when I got my cash. I couldn’t help to scream and my friend came to the rescue.

  14. It’s easy to understand the plight of Manila, considering the history of the last century. one day after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Imperial Japanese (NOT the Japan of today…in 1940’s Japan was still coming out of their feudal structure, and somehow installed some outrageously cruel and dictatorial leaders) attacked the Philippines and bombed Manila into oblivion, before invading and occupying the city previously known as the “Jewel of the Pacific”, and abandoned the city at the close of the war, effectively leaving it in shambles, which it has never recovered. The horrific occupation of the P.I. is well-known, and is evident even now, in places like Manila. The U.S. threw enormous economic and rebuilding support to Japan, under MacArthur’s lead, but very little reconstruction was supplied by US.
    In a country of 7000 islands, I am amazed that the Philippines have progressed as far as they have. Best to look at Manila with a perspective that takes it’s history into account.
    2 hours to the north of Manila, the province of Pampanga is the “food capital of the Philippines”, where chefs from all over the world come to invent, using the foods grown locally, the best fare in the Pacific. Hard to imagine that was the end of the “trail of tears”, the Bataan death march, where 10000 filipinos died in that disgusting piece of history. Across Manila Bay from the city is Cavite, which has grown with more of a plan, and is a great place to mix with the locals.
    I would imagine that the tourists who love the Philippines have approached this tropical paradise with some idea of the history, and an appreciation of what the people have endured and become a most determined people in the face of adversity.
    South of Manila are the reknown beaches and small towns, where filipinos and the rest of the world mix.

    1. What I don’t understand is why the US came rushing to Japan’s aid after WWII (after they dropped those bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and in 1946 came out with Congress’ Rescission Act that nullified aid to the Philippines which was an important ally in WWII…and the result is history..promises, promises…so don’t be too surprised of the result…and how about this: “I would rather see the Philippines run like hell by (crooked) politicians than by Americans…” so in other words, the Philippines was already doomed from the start.

      1. I just saw a rerun of a documentary The War by Ken Burns. Tens of thousands of Americans died to save the Philippines from the Japanese. I encourage you to watch that. More Filipinos could have died in the hands of the Japanese and the Philippines would have been under the Japanese imperial rule. For all its worth, I’m thankful. Sometimes, an understanding of the history helps to change our perspective.

        1. History depends on who is writing it. The philippines was never in war with Japan. Indonesia and malaysia in the south was not attacked. The philippines was attacked because of a war that americans started. Hundred of thousands of men, women and children died in a war that they did not even started and was not suppose to be involved in. After the war america poured billions of dollars to rebuild japan and spare change for the people who died fighting their war. Despite that the philippines is the most american loving nation in the world.

          1. The Japs started the war by bombing pearl harbor, (after invading, until then the US was not officially in WWII. Japan launched its attack on the Philippines on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after its attack on Pearl Harbor.

          2. imthegreastest

            good grief where did you learn history from, a back of a Kellogs cereal box? LOL

    2. Kano! Pera! Give me money!

      Oh please. Much of Europe and Japan was bombed to rubble. Many large cities were flattened completely. Now every city looks beautiful.
      Filipinos love to blame foreigners, outsiders and the war. In reality the blame lays with themselves, the culture and mentality.

  15. Yes, Manila is a cesspool of beggars, hustlers, and criminals, not to mention the horrendous traffic, and vehicles parked across sidewalks. It is much better in the provinces, like Cebu or Davao City.

    I lived in the Philippines for seven years on the Island of Mindanao, first in Butuan City for a year then in Davao City for six years. Davao City was a great place to live — far better than Manila, mostly due to the then Mayor (now President) Rody Duterte’s insistence that criminals either reform themselves, or die.

  16. Pingback: Manila through the eyes of Cole Sprouse and other international stars | Interaksyon

  17. I live up north and I used to travel to Manila everyday to work. The reason I gave up is not because of the stress from work itself, but the hellish traffic I go through everyday. I worked as a call center agent so my schedule was usually a night shift and I had to leave during rush hour. The supposedly 45 minutes to 1 hour travel time becomes 2 to 3 hours just because of the heavy traffic and you almost have no energy left for work when you haven’t even started yet.

    It’s such a shame that a lot of people have to waste 5 to 6 hours of their lives everyday sitting in a van or a bus just to make a living. Manila is just too overcrowded. I now have an online job and I swore to never work there again unless things get better, which I highly doubt. Maybe not today.

  18. Easy to avoid Manila all together now and see the real Philippines there are International airports on Cebu & Bohol where you can enter the country . They are clean and modern both islands offer lots to see and do , friendly people and not any thing like Manila . Hate for people to judge all the Philippines for what they see in Manila . The new international airport on Bohol just opened a few months ago , hope to use it this summer. There are also speed ferry boats that travel from island to island. Been going for years but try to skip Manila it is large , over crowded , over run with poverty and crime.

  19. Emmanuel Ikan Astillero

    What can I say? I live in Metro Manila, and the observations of the pretty tourist are correct, true. But since I’m Filipino, I make it my day, everyday, to live through it, with the minimum of stress and disturbance. I’m quite successful!

      1. This!
        Unfortunately, sometimes the change that happened was not the change that we wanted. As I see it, the islands as well as the different ethnicities made Filipinos different from each other in perspectives. Because of this, politicians keep on dividing Filipinos and other governments outside PH who are interested in its resources.
        The economic benefit of tourism is a great opportunity for Filipinos but unlike the Thais, Filipinos are so diversed, thus, hard to get united but definitely, you get the benefit of communicating to an English-speaking people.

  20. I’m sorry to hear that/read about this, I can’t blame you for what you’re going through. I’m a Filipino (from another province) who had been staying/working in Manila for years & longing to move back to Cebu. Back then I was so naive to believe that all the opportunities existed in Manila, since my folks won’t allow me to work abroad. Going back to those child beggars; I think maybe because most especially those who were not educated has this tendency/mentality to believe that any foreigner who visits are considered as “loaded”, but don’t take my word for it, I could be wrong or outdated. Thanks for taking the time to experience at least some other parts of our country that we’re known of. Cheers!

  21. Sorry to hear about your bad experience in Manila. I am a traveller myself but if I end up in a bad area, I normally attribute it to my lack of research. Either you got a wrong advise or you became a victim of the confusion between Manila and Metro Manila. It is easy for someone to say Manila when they actually refer to the nicer areas in Metro Manila, like Makati CBD and now BGC. If I have business to do in “Manila”, I make sure I am staying in those two areas.

  22. I found Manila the most disturbing horrible place I’ve ever experienced. It was dirty and begging everywhere. I was with a Native. It was begging or someone was trying to steal from you. Going out felt like hell. If it wasn’t begged then it was someone trying to steal from you or the traffic was really bad. My girl friend lives there and the family where wonderful. Yes you can stay in a couple of areas that are nice. I found it very hard to find anything nice or beautiful in Manila. I don’t think I would have coped by myself. Once I went out by myself to change money. People stopped my begging for money, I guy tried to steal from me and I became so lost and confused. If you try to catch a taxi they will ask for tripple the fare. I asked a security guard how to get back to the hotel and he pointed to the wrong direction. I went by gut instinct and found my way back. All the guards and security have guns fir a good reason. The only reason I would go back is to see my girlfriend and even then it’s for two days only. The rest of the Philippines is beautiful. Manila is hell and again the worst place ever ever visited.

    1. As a half Filipina I totally agree. Manila is horrendous, and Filipinos do little to nothing to change.

  23. Been to Manila 3ice, even got married there. I hate it, it broke me the last time I went in 2016 and would want to avoid that city at all costs when I return to Philippines. Much better to avoid that city and go straight to another city’s airport then on to the beautiful islands

  24. Pingback: 10 tips for backpacking southeast Asia

  25. Hi there. I did not spend much time in Manila but mostly in a remote area in Leyte. They call it ‘provinces’. Provinces and barangays are even more primitive than Manila. It’s obvious that people who grew up in the Philippines had a very poor parental image. There are no strong landmarks nor references to show them good examples of how to be smart and civilized. They end up lost and often take bad directions. Many enter in cults like iglisia ni cristo, cockfights, alcoholism, drugs and many shenanigans. On a big scale the results are disastrous.

    Being nice and generous spontaneously is not a good idea in the Philippines because some people will try to take advantage of this. Not all of course but scams, solicitation and harassment are very common. When we observe Filipinos dealing with each other they are generally very cold and only communicate with short sentences. Long sentences are perceived as confusing so we need to keep everything simple. They tend to pretend they understand but then they do the complete opposite of what we agreed. It’s imperative to speak slowly, stay calm and patient all the time. Never point out their mistakes or they will losetthe face. Just rub them the right way. If it’s for important deals, forget about it and ask to a local Filipino you trust to deal it for you or you will find yourself in a nightmare. It’s always better to be a bit racist and staying away from “complicated things” than imagining that we can make miracles in their country. None of us can change their mentalities.

    1. Hi there. This is an extremely ignorant take. If you’re going to spend time in a foreign country, maybe go with an open-heart, and open-mind, and compassion. They aren’t some science project that you “observe” and “change”, these are people who unfortunately aren’t as fortunate as many westerners are. I’m not supporting the fact that many people cope with unhealthy choices, but many people cope with trauma, pain, hunger, and poverty, in ways that they are able to.

      If there is miscommunication, maybe learn their language before going? Assuming that any sort of dialect in the Philippines is not your native language, why do you go not learning their languages fluently? If you’re going to visit any foreign country, learn THEIR language and culture.

      “It’s always better to be a bit racist…” Shame on you. That’s all you had to say for everyone to know what kind of person you are. Don’t go to another country thinking you’re going to be their superior saviour. Stay home and maybe read a book sometime.

    2. This is one of the most true comments here. Being a half Filipina and spending as much time in Manila as I do in Europe – these words are fact. Sat in a makati hotel right now watching Filipino TV programmes and laughing my face off at this rubbish.

  26. Have you ever thought a smart thought in your life? What kind of messed up mind do you have to have to consider asking for alms harassment? How could you say that these children should be in school while doing absolutely nothing about it do you realize what it means for you to say that? Privileged whites like you all should honestly, sincerely truly THINK about how you americans live in THE highest ranking country in terms of economy and there are countries like ours who you have to visit to realise “the extent of poverty” and STILL do nothing about it do you think you have a right to talk about my country like this???

    1. First off she’s not american, and you are generalizing western people as “privileged whites” which is a bad look for us Filipinos. Im Filipino as well, but her takes and opinions are based on her experience and its just practical criticism. I do not find her take as a sign of ignorance nor is it offensive. REMEMBER people live in different countries, so it is expected that people would have different take on some things. First off, don’t get defensive or offended when people talk shit about your country, if you think they are being ignorant about it, then you’ll automatically think that he/she is wrong. Instead of doing that, look on why they said that and think whether is it true or not. In this case, all of what she mentioned reaply happens in the country and I can’t blame her for saying those things. Drop your nationalism for a minute and think about it rationally. Second, the part where she says she felt uncomfortable near the alms children is not because she feels a general disgust against them but because there’ just way too many of them especially in Metro Manila. To be frank, I agree with her, not all people would be comfortable giving alms every fucking time they see one of them and its honestly disheartening to see their parents allow these thing to happen especially when the parents should be the one working and getting money for their children. The uneasiness against alms children is not a first world thing, its just a privacy thing

  27. Michael Figueiredo

    I went to Manilla, last year. It was absolutely beautiful! In my experience, everything he said is bullshit. I’m a Caucasian Canadian. I never felt that the locals looked at me as a, “payday.” It was exactly the opposite. People were so friendly and warm. Don’t take cabs, use the Grab Car app. (It’s just like Uber) This article is really unfortunate because it could turn people away from what would otherwise be an incredible vacation. Yes, Manilla has poor areas and beggars. So does every American city. I feel like this, “journalist” had a bad experience and now he’s trying to make the place look bad. This is really embarrassing, as a North American to read. Such an arrogant and ignorant person. Stay in America, asshole.

    1. Amore Ivanova

      It is not only her experience. They don’t see only White people as their “Pay Day” but all of the foreigners for them is “Money” no matter if those foreigners are international students studying with government scholerships, a tourists or regular mid-wage workers sent by few multinational companies (they barely make 15000 PHP/month). It is not mentality of just poor and uneducated Filipinos who are less fortunate. I lived there for 5 years staying in 3 different cities of Metro Manila during that time. Which has given me extended view of how I was being treated as a foreigner that includes charging 2x times more rent for apartments which were owned or operated by so called EDUCATED owners/ property managers just because I was an Alien to them. And one of them stole my passport to make me pay about 60000 PHP on a made up damage bills in the apartment. I wasn’t an expat there who was living on a fortune of making about $100000/year. I was a student whose tuitions were paid by student loans and living expenses were sent by parents by making a large cut on monthly/yearly budget. So, it doesn’t justify that I should be thanking for having fortune, while I rant for their poor people. I never let those kids go empty handed. But, I always used to buy them few sandwiches from nearby 7/11 stores as there are almost one at each end of a street. Their parents don’t say them anything because, if you handover them money, they’ll end up using that on smoking and drinking by the end of the day. So, give those kids some food instead.

      100 Islands, Tagaytay, Bicol, Ternate, Palawan, Ifugao Rice terraces etc. are few of the great places to visit.

      Rizal Park was my usual hangout site. I never had experience like she described in this article.

      I’m not ranting country’s good tourist places, but poeple who would be your medium to visit there for example tuk-tuk, vans, cabs, jeepneys or even Grab/Uber are disghusting money hungry hynas. Grab drivers were used to ask us on the face for tips not less than PHP 100 or they’ll cancel the trip. And if few trips gets cancelled, Grab suspends your accounts; which makes you rely on metered Taxi which will be horrible. I have few friends and few other elders who are still like family. But, over all educated or uneducated – people disghust you over there in Metro Manila.

    2. Kano! Pera! Give me money!

      As an European who has been to America and the Philippines. I never saw areas as bad as Manila anywhere in US. Not even close. Doubt you actually left BGC or Makati.

  28. I spent 2 months in Manila and I didn’t find it too bad. I’m tall and I’m white so i definitely stick out! Granted, my wife is Filipina so i might have been spared some harassment. Yeah, there’s traffic, there’s poverty, beggars, prostitutes, shady looking folks, and scammers. but definitely not the worst place I’ve been too! Manila airport seemed fine to me!

  29. Their are a few nice parts of Manila, but 90℅ of the city stinks of raw sewage and shit. On one side of the sidewall u have a shopping malls, and across the street their are gaping hole 🕳️in the sidewalk. Most of the time it smelt like I was walk in side a public toilet.

    You can literally see the raw sewage through the hole 🕳️in the sidewalk, that shit just get up your nose, and not good for my digestive system after a meal. But aside from the people of the Philippines are extremely welcome and warm-hearted, with the exception of a few bad apples.

  30. When you care barely feed yourself or put a roof over your head, the very last thing you should be doing is having children. Why world leaders never want to say this is beyond my comprehension.

  31. Gregorio Pelaez

    You call your trip backpacking and then complain about the bad experiences in Manila. Lol… Experiencing the bad and the good in every place you visit is what travelling and backpacking is all about.

    1. Adam Thomas Drewry

      To be fair to the lady though, manila is a particularly tough place for a white backpacker, compared to many many other cities, even in poor countries. It isnt popular with travellers for that reason. I love php and manila, its my second home, but the city can be hell. I have backpaked around the world and manila isnt a great city for travellers at all

  32. Michael Stephen

    Having been to Manila many time and also far away from the city, all I can say is that the farther you are away from Manila, the chances of you having a good time increase. But even being in Manila is ok, as long as you keep your head about you, be polite and respectful and quick with a smile, and most of the time you will receive the same treatment. Some of the bad experiences many Americans face is that they think they are in just another extension of the USA where they can get away with bad manners, superior and condensating attitudes, arrogance, etc. Then you will very likely not have a good time there at all. Try to visit some of the islands and areas far away from Manila if you can, and do not forget that being poor is not a crime in the Philippines, however, being an asshole tourist, thinking that you have the “right” to be an asshole, will not make you very popular. Try to stay away from certain parts of the southern Philippines, do not stray too far off the path if you make remote visits to the interior, and always try to have an honest native guide with you, even if you think you may not need one. Do not talk down to any Philippino because while many there do not have much money, they do have their pride, and if you insult them with the way you act while living in the USA, you will quickly become unwelcome. Yes, you are viewed as being rich because you had the money to get there. Yes, there will be beggars and thieves, but we have those in the USA as well. The main thing is to be polite and respectful, even if you feel you are being cheated, because the chances are is that there may be just a misunderstanding, and that their culture is worlds apart, so learn it first and then visit. Dress casual, do not flash money and gold rings and jewelry, be careful about your belongings, do not become intoxicated by yourself in remote bars and remember that a even small tip can go a long way, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The main point is to just use common sense and courtesy and you will find that the vast majority of philippinos better to you than people in your own native land… yes, even in Manila. Just keep your head about you and remember that you are not in the USA and it is up to you to adjust to their ways and customs, not for them to adjust to your ways. The Philippines is the best place to be, my brother has lived there, he is married to a wonderful Philippina and never a problem because he knows how to act without being taken advantage of or insulting others.

    1. Kano! Pera! Give me money!

      I like it that tourists who are clueless to the realities of life try to give advice. Pure gold. It does not matter how nice you are to Filipinos, most will take advantage of you when given any chance. Stealing and lying (usually with a smile) is completely normal, an everyday thing for Filipinos. So either you start playing their game or remain honest and decent – in which case you will lose your belongings and eventually your sanity.

    2. You are a perfect fit for Philippine Travel – Manila ed. lecturer or the spokesperson in one of those Welcome to the Philippines videos.

  33. Adam Thomas Drewry

    My wife is from manila. So my experience is different in some ways. Firstly, as long as I stay around her area, I am in a safety bubble of her huge family who live around the local streets. I love the hustle bustle and the people are the friendliest in the world and that’s a fact. I’ve traveled a lot. Manila can be hell, even for Filipinos. But, and this is important, the history and the harsh economic and political realities means that any white person is considered wealthy and able to help. You will get pestered and you may even be a victim of crime as a white person in one of the poorest cities in the world. That’s why i love to get out of manila and into the provinces, so many beautiful provinces, where you can also have a tough time as a “wealthy” foreigner but a hell of a lot less. Regardless of the island or province though, if you truly understand the country and the history it is truly heartbreaking, from the effects of colonization, international companies destroying the natural landscapes and stealing the resources to the corrupt political situation that just repeats over and over, you understand why Manila is in such a mess. If you go to any place in the world where poverty is rife you will have negative experiences. The hardest part for a foreigner is constantly having to be on your guard and haggling etc, but hey thats poor countries for you

  34. If Philippines is your next destination spot, and you want to have a great experience then avoid the inner streets and neighborhoods of Manila and Quezon City. Theres a huge difference from visiting a place for a vacation compared to staying in the city. The Dos and Donts.

    I’m an expat. From California, I decided to live here in 2016 with my wife. At first, it was pretty cool for the couple of months. Explored different places of Manila, made friends easily, got my documents squared away, and enjoyed my time with my wife inside Makati and BGC area.

    However, don’t expect your vacation to be as halfway decent and exciting as for someone who lives in Manila… It won’t happen. As a tourist, you need to go where the tourist go. For example, Makati and BGC are nice places to go to. Great food, shopping centers, corporate business buildings, stop at Starbucks, or just a bite to eat at MC. Donald’s. Another spot for tourist is Palawan, Cebu, Thousand Islands, pagudpud, And many more.

    Enjoying Manila is possible. You have to know where to go, like anywhere else. People are people, more so in a 3rd world country and Co dependent on other countries investments for Capital gain. Stay away from the inner streets and poor “ghetto” neighborhoods and you’ll be OK. Lastly, be street smart. Pay close attention to your surroundings. Watch, observe and never travel alone.

  35. helen anderesen

    Man this blog reeks of privelege. Filipinos are the friendliest people out there and even the poor, they’d let you in if you needed help. Don’t judge them if they are asking for alms, you can just politely refuse.

    But yes Manila is tough city to navigate but hey fortune favors the bold.

    And I don’t get why this is even updated for 2020. This is outdated, you went there five years ago.

      1. I got ripped off by a taxi driver in Rome.

        I got harassed at the Montmartre/Sacred Heart Church in Paris.

        Madrid has plenty of Roma beggars.

        San Francisco streets are littered with beggars who appeared to be strong enough to do a decent job.

        I almost got mugged in New York.

        I got pickpocketed while on board a subway train in Paris.

        I got scammed in Beijing.

        By the way, I’m Filipino and I live in Metro Manila.

        1. Benedict Mary Ambos

          I love your comment! They do stereotype Filipinos as beggars and criminals not knowing that these kind of people are everywhere.

        2. And I may add not all Filipinos are poor. I know quite a lot of people who are rich and they live amazing lives in the Philippines they wouldn’t want to live in the US but visit. Just like anywhere else, stereotypes and perspectives can be a problem.

  36. Lol what a funny read. Obviously the writer appears to live a privileged life. First of all there are no tuk tuk in the Philippines. No clue where you got that from. Child beggers are common in every country in the world. All you have to do is simply is extend your are and wave your hand in left to right motion and the kids and adults would simply leave you alone.
    Why shelter your kids from seeing this? Let them see the harsh reality of life. Let them learn to appreciate their ivory towers.
    No country is perfect.
    True Manila is a cesspool. Thats why you go to better places.

      1. However, they exist. You can’t take away someone’s struggle/ reality just because it’s not something that you experience.

    1. Kano! Pera! Give me money!

      No country is perfect but Philippines is especially bad. One of the worst places in the world. And no, there are no child beggars in 95% of the countries in Europe, not even one.

  37. How do you tell which food court restaurant is good? Go to the one that is crowded or has a line up. If we look at tourist arrivals by nation we can see that the Philippines has comparatively few tourists. More than half of those the Philippines receives are from East Asian nations. The population as a whole knows what is good and what is not good. Most tourists don’t go to the Philippines because the Philippines sucks for most tourists. The nation caters to niche markets.
    Personally, I would never go to the Philippines again. You say Filipinos are nice? If that is true then why are tens of millions in abject poverty and millions more trapped as sex slaves. For such to exist the Filipinos must be very cruel to each other. What we experience is the second face. I lived in Japan. I said to my Japanese coworker that the Japanese were nice. His reply was, “NO! It is because you are a foreigner. The Japanese are terrible to each other.” Two faces. They will never show you their true face until they capture, rule or control you. Enjoy what is coming.

  38. I spent about 5 months in the Philippines with my Filipino wife in late 2018 to early 2019. We lived in Gilmore Towers, New Manila, Quezon City. New Manila is not Makati, or BGC, but it is relatively upscale by Manila standards, and we we’re maybe a ten minute walk from Robinson’s Magnolia, a nice mall with a lot of restaurants, shops, grocery store, theater, medical clinic, salons, etc.

    My wife’s family had a nearby house in San Juan, and we would often go to visit them. I remember my first time riding a tricycle. My wife and stepson told me were we going to take the train to the family house in San Juan, so I assumed we would take it the whole way. Except we got off and then lined up on the sidewalk to take a tricycle. It was night, and I was scared. But eventually I got used to tricycles and jeepneys and didn’t think a thing of it.

    I have to say that for my first week or so in Manila I was a little depressed but I adjusted quickly. It probably helps that I was there for the long haul and had a whole family of Filipino’s to take me around, plus my wife’s many friends. Perhaps partly too it was a little adventure for me to live in a large city, because my life to that point had been exclusively spent in small towns, with no more than a few days at a time in a few large American cities. Plus, I do believe I have a high tolerance for what others would consider inconveniences, and I am also fine to let other people lead me around. My whole time in Asia I almost never planned anything, but rather just let my wife and her family and friends take me where they pleased.

    Yes, there are beggars in the Philippines, but I take a traditional approach to the problem. In pre-modern times, in multiple societies, beggars were actually seen as doing a service, the service being that they give you the ability to exercise a little charity, mercy, and selflessness. So when a barefoot little kid would ask me for money I would take it not as an annoyance but would rather see him as doing me a favor, helping me to be less attached to money.

    Again, it surely helped to always be surrounded by Filipino family and friends when I was in the PH, but I loved the Philippines, and to be honest I enjoyed both Manila and my wife’s hometown out in “the province”. I generally found the Filipino people to be warm, friendly, and welcoming. So I will just end by saying “Mahal ko ang Pilipinas!”

    1. Kano! Pera! Give me money!

      Quite typical of someone who had a 5 month holiday in the Philippines. You didn’t really see anything real but just the minor inconveniences which anyone can handle. When the stealing, lying and cheating starts, things go downhill fast.

      Giving beggars money is making the problem worse. When a foreigner walks around, they’re all surrounding him because they know it’s easy money. So thanks a lot for making it worse for everyone else.

  39. One of the biggest mistakes we can do with Filipinos is to rely on what they are saying. The Filipino mentality is a mentality that allows lie. Filipinos are a bunch of liars, bluffers, pretenders and cheaters. I did not read the comments they wrote here but I know exactly what to expect if I read them. Many will try to blame you for what you saw and wrote in your article. Many others will try to pretend that the problem is Manila and that in their city/province/barangay life is so much better. Some other ones will try to make you believe that Duterte fixed everything since they admire authoritarian leaders no matter how stupid and incompetent they are.

  40. As a Filipino myself, some of these comments are pretty racist! Like dude, huh?? There are many beggars, hustlers, whatever because mind you, the Philippines is a DEVELOPING country and NOT as privileged as some of the countries you guys probably live in. I live in Canada so I know I am very privileged myself. At least I can acknowledge it. Whenever I go to the Philippines, I can’t begin to fathom the terrible poverty my people go through. Y’all are so privileged, it hurts to see it. Simply put, do not stereotype a whole entire nation of people because you can’t acknowledge your own privilege and cannot comprehend that not everyone is as privileged as you. You don’t like seeing poverty and the harsh reality people have to call life? Cool, go to another country then.

    1. I see, so you’re one of those people that attack individuals who expressed their thoughts and call them priviledged just because their opinions don’t align with yours.

      I should tell you that it’s one thing to be born poor, but it’s another thing to die poor.

      People aren’t obligated to pity individuals who see themselves in a boxed perspective and are blaming the system they’re in. What can your pity even do to them? It’ll just influence them to remain as beggars and poor for the rest of their lives.

      Luck isn’t a major factor that determines a person’s success, it’s their choices.

      Beggars annoy me. They could literally do something else, but they chose to be lazy about it and just beg.

      I’ll just be frank with you, Apryl, pitying people isn’t going to change their life. They should change their mentality and act smarter to be successful.

      Don’t give someone fish, teach them how to fish instead, so they can feed themselves for the rest of their lives.

      1. Thats well put, but I think its a government issue overall. The government needs to use some of their foreign aid to put people to work, get them to did huge holes and bury all that crap. , then build affordable housing and create jobs to build the economy.

    2. Kano! Pera! Give me money!

      There’s plenty of money in the Philippines. Houses going for 10-20 million pesos without issue ($200k-$400k). There’s no lack of money in the Philippines at all, especially considering the prices. Poverty is caused by people themselves. The “privilege” you talk about is because people elsewhere built their countries up over generations, reducing corruption and generally being decent people.
      Meanwhile Filipinos squandered anything they had and everyone stole funds left and right. Poverty goes with dishonesty, thievery and poor work ethnic. Philippines is a great example.

    3. Let us look at your statement whereas you mentioned that the Philippines is a DEVELOPING country and NOT as privileged as some of the countries you guys probably lived in. I am a Filipino who has never lived abroad nor worked abroad and I tell you that your statement of yours constitutes a defeatist attitude.

      Do you know why many Filipinos are poor? It is also because many of them end up making the wrong choices. I completely agree with Angelica, because giving them instead of teaching them how to stand on their own enforces their beliefs that they will remain perpetually dependent throughout their lives. For instance, many poor Filipinos would keep having many children despite that they have meager resources. Squatters who were at some point provided by the national government with free housing would end up selling their free houses and will again resort to professional squatting. While some of them do deserve to receive assistance, especially those who work so hard to make a decent living, there are also many among the poor who take advantage of the assistance they receive and would expect that they are entitled to it for life. In Manila, many people who ventured out there are those who came from the provinces who thought life in the city will be so much better but have no apparent plans on where they will stay and what they will precisely do by not being fully calculative of their choices. There are always two sides to every story and the one thing that disgusts me is that you have stereotyped as well that the poor are weak and good and the privileged are selfish. You don’t know that the culture of poverty is likewise vicious and parasitic. The best way to help is not to feed the but to teach the how to feed themselves.

      1. But deep down inside you know that you will NEVER succeed in the Philippines if you don’t have connections. Nepotism is worth it’s weight in gold. Is that why you left the Philippines?
        Anyway, everyone else should avoid the Philippines at all costs. There’s nothing there to see and the food is an acquired taste. Who has the time? Spend money on Hawaii instead. Practically the same island surrounding except clean, orderly, and American.

  41. Yes Manila it’s self can be a tad over rated, pretty much like many other capital cities around the world.
    But if you venture out into the provinces and islands you’ll find a whole different experience, and venture a little further you’ll find the real Philippines not just the tourist version of the beaten track somewhere.

  42. Manila is a dying city. I studied and worked there for a time and was able to adjust but afterward, I decided to return to the province because it is beyond repair. For all that you experienced, all the dirt, the filth, the squatters, the children begging on the streets, the smell of smog, and the putrid odor of streets hold true. Only a few Filipinos would dare admit the truth about Manila for all its hellish structures and uncontrolled population. What used to be a city that was long ago considered the Paris of Asia, has become the worst of the worst, having been left behind by Singapore City, Seoul, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. Even Ho Chi Minh City is way cleaner and more organized. Cleanliness and discipline is inherently non-existent in the Filipino way of life. On the other hand, there are many places in the Philippines that are far more superior than Manila, cities that are at the corridors of the capital, and in the far-flung islands. Decades of uncontrolled migration, the lack of political will, and the failure of the national government to decentralize economic hubs brought the city to its worst form. Unfortunately, many Filipinos are also pathetic when it comes to handling negative feedback when it is actually the truth. Chaos is the way of life among Filipinos and it will always be. The airport alone already hearkens to the harsh realities that the Philippines is a has-been. It was only during the recent years when economic opportunities are gradually being situated outside of the capital.

    1. Cal Bon Valenzuela

      best explanation about the situation of the poor capital. decentralization is the only way i see to “revive” the cursed city. manila really lost its soul after it got annihilated by the second world war and it never truly recovered and the urban planning shows.


    Manila is a big City, it really depends on the area and where you will stay. I guess you chose to be in the heart of Manila where most of the historical sites are. Expect the unexpected. Prepare your itinerary and do your homework before hand. Use Grab taxi instead, it is safer. But in fairness, not all metered taxi drivers are scummers. It also depends on your demeanor, scummers have a good sense, they can tell which ones are easy to prey on.

  44. Manila is a good place to stay if u get hassled by the street kids just say ur phoning the barangay they will soon disappear

  45. Sad to say, all you said about Manila is true. By the way I’m from Mindanao and the first time i came to Manila, i can say its not a really good place to stay. Crowded and dirty. There are many islands in the Philippines which has so much to offer. Or if you want you can go to Makati or Bonifacio Global Center. Or better stay in the islands like boracay, palawan or cebu.

  46. Hi, I’m an African-American man married to a Filipina. We’re planning a trip to the Philippines once the COVID travel restrictions end. I’m retired military and have traveled the world and have seen the good and bad in places like NYC, LA, London, Paris, Seoul, Frankfurt and in Italy. I’ve read some interesting comments about Manila, like most large cities you can always find the worst places but I do believe if you plan accordingly, you can make the best of your travels. I know the Filipinos in general to be warm, friendly and willing to give you the shirts off their backs. I’ve learned as a American when traveling abroad to lay low and not bring the Americanisms with you. Be polite, try to learn a little of the language and try to kill them with kindness and not arrogance. No, everyone won’t return the favor and yes you’ve gotta watch out for the scams and beggars, it’s the same here in the states.

  47. I couldn’t agree more, Mark. Each country has its good and worst places. This is why traveling requires careful preparation, it’s important to know where you’re headed. Learn a little bit of their culture and geography. Every detail, itinerary must be calculated and adhered as possible. The fact that there are massive information available online, there’s absolutely no excuse for someone not to be informed. If you’re a woman or an elderly, it’s always best to have a legit local/tour guide so you won’t get lost and get scammed.

    Lastly, the worst thing that could ever happen to someone who’s traveling alone, in an unfamiliar country is not to be chased by beggar kids, seeing lots of trash in the street or getting stucked in traffic, but getting abducted. I could care less on those little issues that could hassle my trip, so expect the worst and always be prepared. The most important thing is to enjoy the memories, good things that has happened, be grateful that you’ve been given an opportunity to visit their homeland and you’re safely heading home.

    1. You guys are being very optimistic and idealistic. Being in the Philippines nothing is straight forward. To make a travel plan is a good idea for anywhere else, but here you need to triple plan and add another few contingencies. Because no matter what – NOTHING is straight forward. Having travelled to over 43 other counties to plan for the Philippines is not the same as other countries. I’m a half Filipina half Swiss. I have lived in 4 countries and have spent much time in my fathers country, the Philippines. If you don’t agree with the ‘negative’ comments here about Manila you’ve either not been around Manila enough to see how it really is, or are just kidding yourselves. To the Filipinos here who are being triggered by the negative opinions of others – I get it. You’re only trying to defend your country. However, call a spade a spade. Manila has a loooonng way to go to get anywhere close to international standards

      1. Kuya Pemberya

        Agree. I’m not sure what some are smoking here saying that Manila or the Philippines is comparable to any developed country. Sure, you can find spaces in Makati and BGC that are decently done but those are relatively small areas. A few streets away is always a ghetto or worse.

  48. As the author said, it really depends on individual experience. I spent one month in Bonifacio High Street in Taguig city, Metro Manila and I have to say that I had mostly positive experience. I like skyscrapers so I really enjoyed it there, and the city is really very clean, much cleaner than some European cities. But also there I came across begging kids.
    Anyway, it depends on where one decides to stay in Metro Manila. There are amazing spots to see. If I get the chance to go there again, I would like to explore it more.
    But if someone has a limited time to spend there so of course best decision to do is to go directly to some island with nice beaches or some mountains or volcanos.

    1. You are absolutely correct. It depends where you stay. I had a wonderful experience there. There are begging children in the United States and there are mass shootings here also. I found Manila, particularly the areas mentioned of Malate and Ermita, much better than similar sized cities in the United States.

  49. Batumbakal Dimagiba

    Visit other places like Baguio, Vigan, Subic, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Cebu, and, even Davao or any other place that isn’t Metro Manila really and you will probably have a better experience. Our capital city and its greater area is a living shithole unfortunately (except maybe for the central business districts since those place are more “civilized”). Manila’s tourist attraction are overrated anyway, the best place for tourists are the small islands, beaches, and the mountains. That’s where the true beauty of the country can be found.

  50. Arma blanca spectacular

    No child beggars in most of America bud. I say most because there may be one or two somewhere at any given time. Here, if your kids were out begging, the police and the child protective services would be called. It would be determined where their parents were and why they aren’t being supervised, if the parents were allowing their kids to beg, or are otherwise not seeing to their needs and safety, the parents risk having their kids taken and being jailed for neglect. In severe cases the parent looses all rights to their children for not taking care of them and the kid is placed in a group or foster home, until such time as another family member or adoptive family proves they will care for the child adequately. If noone does the child stays in group homes until they are of age. Its not ideal, but they still recieve a 13 year education (⅓ of each year not in attendance) they recieve sufficient food of reasonable quality and diversity. Clothing, shelter,medical care, they are even assigned workers to help ensure they have opportunities to find work when of age. None of our children are beggars sir, its simply not allowed, the people you might see begging on the street are addicts. Almost every single one. Of the 10 i know personally, all 10 are addicts.

  51. Yep that is my country, quite normal like that… i suggest visiting if you want to see how the third world is really like, im honest enough to admit thatI do not recommend it as touristy kinda place, lots of crime and no emergency health service… if you are african you can get teased, if you are caucasian they might think you are rich, I put blame on lack of education and corruption… the 2 things my country is slowly fixing… only then you can go… sorry to my countrymen but the truth hurts, when we accept this we will heal together

  52. Kudos to the blogger for the attention-grabbing headline but I must say the compliment ends there. Always research your destination and plan your itinerary before your trip even if you’ve been to several other countries. I have traveled to various places in about 40 countries. I visited Manila for the first time in 35 yrs (pre-pandemic) and was amazed by its modernity (better than most US cities!) True, there are some parts of seediness and squalor, as in many other cities. But despite the crowds and traffic, I found it easy to get around especially with Grab. Great food, shopping and entertainment. I went to places where locals go. At NO point was I harassed in Manila or any other place in the Philippines.

  53. i have met plenty of people who say “forget Manila and travel to the islands instead”, usually citing the tourist traps of Cebu etc. These are the types of people who ruined the world in the 2010s by over touring it. But actually the unknown beach place that is off most overtourists’ radar is Northern Samar, which has unbelievable beaches and westerners hardly ever go there. I have been quite a few times as far back as 2003.

    With regards to Manila. The city is like this: impossible to find a bargain of any kind – if you try to cheapskate the place or do it on a budget you get exactly what you pay for….inferior quality. The ONLY way to enjoy the city is to pay top dollar and stay in one of the 5 star hotels or find a decent serviced apartment. You will be okay then, however as this city is expensive for acommodation, you will find that most of your budget goes on that.

    Manila since the 2010s totally changed. Before that it was still pretty the old way and a far flung place for tourists to go to. With the advance in tech duirng the 2010s and more money flowing around, the city experienced a boom and locals started to experience a better standard of living for the first time. Unfortunately this fed greed and that is why it is impossible to find a bargain anywhere in Manila.

    If you go to Manila (post covid) you will be face with even more rules than before. What people do not realise about Manila is there are lots of rules for things you would not expect. Some are quite frankly absurd. Rules seems to be something that the city really likes to subject people to and you can be sure that the accommodation sector will take full advantage of the covid situation to enforce even more of them.

    It is this mentality: no this no that for nearly everything in Manila that makes it such a disappointing place to go to nowadays. It never used to be like it but as I say, the place really changed at the start of the 2010s. The case in point being the shutting down of Roxas Boulevard bay strip, which was a very cool place.

    Final comment is this: when I first went Manila back in the old days I absolutely hated it. However with reason to go back again I found once I got used to the place it was OK. I have stayed in top notch places in Malate and Makati there as well as some real backstreet ghettos up in Valenzuela and Nichols. I do plan to go back to Manila once they re-open the borders but I fully expect to be limited ever further about what is allowed in the accomodation there.

  54. Filipino-Portuguese

    I don’t know but I guess there should be a better way to write the bad experiences in the places we visited to. I mean for example what you have experience on your cab ride, maybe at least don’t end it like there’s no other choices. Some travelers might think that this will possibly happen to them as well. You should have mention that they can maybe use a mobile app to book a cab to secure safety, what do you think? Your statement is just open ended for me (not a professional writer).

    Next, your statement on street children “harassing foreigners” for a change. First and foremost, the choice of word, harassing, is kind of a little off and for me it sounded too aggressive like the children is forcing you to give them money. Sure, there are street children that are very determined to follow you until you give them money but MOST of them will leave you if you say I don’t have a cash (if you’re not really into helping) or maybe give at least a quarter of dollar (10 PHP will not break your bank!)? Secondly, they ask money not just to foreigners but to EVERYONE they see. You have to understand that they don’t have a choice. They need to eat and they need to survive the day.

    You know, it is really hard living in a third world country added with corrupt government but I think people from the first world countries should open their eyes that these unfortunate situations exist.

    Again, I am very sad to what you have experienced in Manila and as a Filipino I would like to send my sincere apology. But this article is lacking of research and sympathy. I hope you still visit the Philippines! We have 7,640 islands to choose from, skip Manila to make your travel experience to the fullest.

    Looking forward to read more of your travel experiences, not just here in the Philippines but to other wonderful places too! Stay safe!

    1. very well said, i have the same sentiments. im not currently living in Manila right now as i am in Canada but not every foreigner will experience the same thing in Manila. So to generalize that you will always be harrassed by beggar kids is simply sad. There are other areas in Manila which are not as bad as it may seem. Obviously if you go to a slum area there wont be any good experience, but isnt it like that for any other city who have poor people?

  55. I’m unhappy by your review but that could be because it’s where my family is from. I have been there five times and I love it. I guess it’s easier for me because I have family there and I don’t have to pay for a hotel. I think tourists have a hard time there. But it’s not just foreigners: if you’re a visiting Filipino, especially from the States, you are also targeted. But i enjoy going there, bit getting there is expensive and exhausting.
    So I wouldn’t say I disagree with your review, just disappointed.

  56. Roberto Fernandez

    I beg to disagree.. Philippines,my country is advancing when it comes to technology.we are a country of hospitable and beautiful people,in fact we also have the most numbers of Miss Universe title plus,most of your ceo’s and directors,nurses,doctors are from the Philippines or have Philippine roots.
    If you will visit the Philippines, please get in touch FIRST with legal guides since you’ve been to your country which has snow and Disneyland.remember, Philippines is a tropical country and we have a vast line of shores so I’m sure you will also enjoy our beaches here.remember also that your country is not perfect.as the saying goes,LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH.
    Roberto Fernandez

    1. Here we go again with the good old “we’re not perfect” typical Pilipino excuse. I’ve heard that one thousands of times. It’s the ultimate excuse to justify mediocrity to survive and spread up. Who’s talking about being perfect? We’re talking about decency and I’m afraid the Philippines is very far from being decent. It’s indecent, immoral and chaotic. There is a big mistakes Filipinos still commit and never learn from: They let idiots with corrupt mentalities managing things. In the Philippines, people who have very little intellectual skills have total control and take very important decisions. They screw up everything and nobody tries to stop them.

      About the beaches you’re talking about, they are very far and very hard to access. The ones I saw were not nice at all. They were very dirty. I was disappointed. There’s no notion of respect for the environment in this culture. I even saw buses dropping people RIGHT on the beach just next from the water lol. They’re too lazy to walk few feet. I could not believe that. Is there one thing that’s not too scandalous in that culture? I’m really curious to know. Give us a break with your Miss Universe bullcrap and start focusing on REAL things. I doubt you understand what I mean since you people don’t give a flying f$%k about anything else than afternoon shows, birthday parties and beauty queen contests.

      1. Finally!! Someone else who’s willing to speak the truth and not fall for the “veiled” glamour that is projected to tourists.
        This place is overflowing with scammers. These people are greedy and VERY selfish. They don’t even care about each other!! The only time they are kind and helpful is when money is involved.
        I have never had an invite somewhere, or assistance with something, or sometimes not even a conversation, without having to pay or gift something.
        I live here now because it’s for my wife and son, but I avoid 95% of the people here. I have met a very few decent people that have never asked me for anything, so there’s a super small circle I talk to.

  57. Fetid sewage on every street, wild dogs using those same streets as a toilet. Men urinating in public as a cultural norm, too. Virtually the worst traffic and worst airport in the entire world (no hyperbole). Try and ask the expats there a few years, long out of any tourist bubble. It takes hours there to complete routine tasks that take minutes in the U.K. On a positive- the people are overwhelmingly very nice. Cheers.

  58. WOW. This blog post reeks of PRIVELLEGE! If you travel to a developing country, expect to see dirt, poverty, and misery in the streets. Manila is a terrible city, just like almost all overcrowded cities in poor countries.

  59. So this was actually a trip made in 2015? Manila is a very old city that is thankfully rehabilitated by it’s Mayor now. It is however, just one of the cities that makes Metro Manila so to tell you the truth a small part of the bigger picture. You can have a good time in Metro Manila, too: https://youtu.be/k0k-sqEYBI0 or https://youtu.be/UTY9uxoXRKc Or even vloggers like – ttps://www.youtube.com/c/MakingithappenVlog/videos – have decided to be permanent residents because they love it so much. Sorry, you had a bad experience! But imo, what happened to you could also happen in any other major city in the world… Safe travels! As for me, I am excited to be able to go back to Metro Manila. It has become one of my most favorite places to visit.

    1. You can’t force westerners to have the opinion you want. These videos are click bates. In reality the Philippines is overpopulated and salaries are too low to offer decent lifestyles. Lying to yourself won’t help you for the long run. I’m very worried about the future of the Philippines.

  60. I visited Manola with my Filipino husband to meet his family.
    Being American, it was a total culture shock.
    It’s a Third World Country, so you are going to see much poverty, filth, starving beggars, disabled beggars, stray animals everywhere starving with injuries, fleas, etc.
    It’s hot and humid, very polluted, congested, noisy.
    Iended up with a salivary gland infection right before we left.
    It’s traumatizing the first time there.
    The next time we go, I will be more prepared now that my eyes are opened. I know now what to expect.
    My advice is go with an open mind and prepared to see a lot of squalor everywhere you look. Most homes are in disrepair from typhoons that have hit.
    These people don’t have government assistance or home owners insurance like we do here. They do their own clean up after devastating floods. My husband’s family home has been flooded more than once, and they had to clean it up themselves
    Much of the structure has been destroyed.
    People in average neighborhoods are living in “shelters” that are basically concrete slabs with some bricks and chicken wire, metal roof.
    Under the interstate are the “garbage people” who live on mounds of trash.
    The upside is the shopping. The American dollar stretches far, & the malls are reminiscent of the 70s and 80s,- so much good merchandise and the BEST customer service!!!
    The restaurants are very good. The Filipino people are friendly and loving.
    We all need to experience riding in a Jeepney or motorbike with sidecar, lol 😆
    You need to be willing to get sweaty, dirty.
    Wear old, light clothes, a hat, sunscreen, and a pair of old tennis shoes you won’t mind parting with. It’s also a good idea to cover your mouth with a mask when out in the city.
    If you can wrap your mind around the fact it’s NOT Europe or America, it’s Asia Third World Country.
    Be willing to have an adventure and not afraid to “get your hands dirty”..

    1. Ha!! You “visited”…..let’s see if you still have those same ideas after a few more “visits”. I used to think like you,…….wait for it. Hahaha.

  61. Foreign visitors mostly miss to recognize that Manila is different from Metro Manila. The “Manila” where you went to is an OLD city. Metro Manila comprises of many different cities and one of them is Manila. If you want to experience a clean, modern, and beautiful Metro Manila, you should have visited Makati or BGC, which is within Metro Manila. Next time you visit Metro Manila, skip Manila, instead go to BGC and Makati to stay and visit. This is why it is also impt. to do you homework or research when visiting a new country.

    1. Makati isn’t modern nor clean. I lived in Makati for years, many parts have street kids, trash on the street. Of course most of it is covered in diesel sut and oil. BGC is somewhat modern but it’s just a big commercial area, not a real city.

  62. The Philippines is a wonderful country- beautiful and full of resources. The only problem with the Philippines is it’s full of Filipino’s. The first couple times I visited here, I was like many foreigners visiting the sights and see what a “tourist” see’s. Then the more visits and now living here for over a year, I have to say these people the most selfish and greedy people. They pretend to come off as friendly inviting you to dinner or to their house, but they don’t tell you that they expect you to pay.
    I have to say 5 out of 7 days a week someone asks me for a gift, or money, or even alcohol. 90% of them I don’t even know their name! They have literally walked up to me without even and introduction and asked for something.
    They all assume if your a foreigner, that your rich and should treat them to something and if you don’t they spread in the community that your not a good person. (They did this to an Australian guy in our area). And just fyi, I’m not even white, I’m a African-American, so the stereotypes they have aren’t just for white people, it’s ANY foreigner.
    And for as poor as they all claim to be, they will not miss out on their alcohol, cigarettes, clothes and cell phones. IF you decide to come here, DON’T GIVE THEM ANYTHING!! You have been warned. It will open a floodgate and they will say kind things about you, only to hold out their hand for their share.
    NOTHING here comes without a string attached.

  63. I visited Manila twice, 10 & 8 years ago, on layovers. I would like to go there again. There is extreme poverty in Manila, true. One block of cave like houses I walked by was made from bails of garbage. Not recycled material, but shrink wrapped garbage “bricks” containing all sorts of stuff. The Manila people seemed cheerful, kind of happy go lucky, even if they only had enough food or money for one day. I got a buzz cut, excellently done. It was so cheap I tipped the barber the same amount he had charged me. Afterwards, a man driving a dump truck smiled & saluted me. This made me smile. Delicious mangos & stately mango trees, palms swishing under a clear blue sky the day after a storm (prior to it the air was quite polluted), tropical flowers, women weaving palm fronds into decorations (for sale) before Palm Sunday, kind people, Makate, the Chinese Cemetery – these are some of my nice memories. Though the skin & bones stray cats & dogs (of which there are many) are very sad to see. Saw a super skinny tired dog with puppies chasing her trying to reach her nipples to nurse. No spaying/neutering. Much of Manila is dirty & congested. This is true. Though the same is becoming true of Seattle, where I live, too. I did have a currency …converter rip me off badly (Taiwan dollar to PP). And a taxi driver did too. Wouldn’t answer my question when I asked the price. Kept saying “Just a moment.” Then he finally gave me a placard with grossly inflated prices from airport. I demanded he stop & I got out, but he still demanded $5 US dollars in PHP. I told him he was a terrible taxi driver. But a coworker happened to be in town visiting her brother. They showed me around, drove me to a neighboring provence, and it was a lovely day. She & her brother were very kind to me. I also met kind Filipinos just walking on the street. I’d say Manila is colorful, dirty, hectic, interesting, sad, happy, old & new. It’s quite a place.

  64. Sorry for your bad experience in Manila. I’m born and raised in Metro Manila, and even us not only foreigners are target of beggars. You don’t need to give but if you have “barya” or Philippine small coins, it wont hurt that much. But it’s okay if you don’t want to give. Personally I hate this too but I learned to cope. I really don’t give to beggars since I’m not rich too 😄 I just told them, sorry I didn’t bring money, maybe next time. 😊
    As a Filipino from manila I can give you an advice. Research your itenary if you want to visit. Don’t ride a tricycle but instead, ride a jeepney and be ready to walk your way a little, use google map a lot, ask street vendors or much better to guards in any establishments if you are english speaking. I love walking around manila actually as a young college student before. If you can afford, hire a professional tourist guide so that you will also learn a little info about Manilas way of living and history. I actually consider Manila a better place to live IF only those negative will remove by the government. When I say negative,il it doesn’t mean only beggars, I don’t mind them as long as they aren’t doing crimes but sadly crimes begin with poor people. 😔 Manila is convenient for me, because everything I need is there and I can get it cheaply, I can easily commute cheaply no need for taxi. If you want to visit Manila, prepare. Prepare to be adventurous and be a cowboy and consider yourself to be one of the locals, it will be a lot easier and fun as well. Manila has it’s own PERSONALITY. It is easy going, rugged and true to itself. You also have to adapt that personality if you’re there 😊 Don’t expect too much but be ready for real adventure to the jungle city of manila.

  65. I came to the Philippines expecting to get a great time in a tropical country but sadly what l got instead was a really hard time dealing with the police. I got robbed almost estabed . It was l really nightmare nad that was in the very first week l mean l just arrived and got problems then the police weren’t really helpful they didn’t want to do anything.All what l wanted was exchange some money and l had my passport on me the guy who put a knife on my friend took even my documents I wonder why the fuck he would need a someone else passport and since there is not an official embassy from my county there ,because there are not Manny people” if not any” from my country, to get a new passport will take a while and then migration made a huge problem of it and treat me as if l was a freaking delincuent made me pay a lot of money just to get out of the country and if that wasn’t enough l was now blacklisted and banned for the country WHY?!! I still wonder why ..for being a turist? Idk l fell really bad and regreat going there don’t get me wrong l know there some good people out there most of the Filipino people are friendly ..well to resume l went there for a “month” and l got stuck there for half years because of inmigration and my passport and the police etc sad that l didn’t really get to see the good side of the Philippines l wanted to go to Bohol but l couldn’t will l go back ? Don’t get me wrong but l don’t think l’ll go back but it’s a fact that most of the Filipino people is really warming and friendly.

    1. Never Go There Again

      I’ll tell you why. Filipinos are super friendly and also super corrupt. There’s nothing they won’t do for money. They use the written laws to make money out of it. The authorities you mentioned pretended to be mad to put pressure on you.

  66. I’m a Filipino and I think this blog is spot on. Don’t listen to comments saying you don’t appreciate the country, they are most likely rich or brainwashed into thinking that “it’s more fun in the Philippines.”

    I live in BGC which is a high-end business district in Manila. I moved here last year, and living here sometimes feels like a simulation. Far different from the rest of Manila. Just a few blocks away from our condominium is a residential area which shows that behind the glitz and glamour of BGC lies a poverty-stricken country controlled by a corrupt government who’s been stealing from us for decades. What’s worse? They have absolutely no remorse about it.

    So what can we expect? Filipinos just learned how to deal with it while being “resilient” in order to get out of poverty. Then they blame fellow Filipinos for not working hard enough instead of asking for an accountability from the higher ups. The traffic, kids constantly asking for money in streets, heck, even adults–this is an everyday nightmare in Manila, it’s almost a lifestyle. And I’m not saying this just because.

    I used to live in Sta. Mesa and Blumentritt areas of Manila, and if you’re a Filipino reading this, you would know that the standard of living in these places is very different from that of BGC. So I know how it is to be out there. I didn’t grow up rich, and I’m just lucky that I am now able to afford a better lifestyle. I may be able to get out of this godforsaken country soon with my foreigner fiance, but sadly, this is not the case for everyone. Not all people have the same privilege.

    Many people in the Philippines live in minimum wages–overworked and underpaid–while the rich continue to load up their bank accounts. The system here just doesn’t work, not for an ordinary citizen anyway. We paint Philippines as a fun country where locals are friendly, resilient, and always happy. Somehow, we Filipino ourselves believe this and that’s maybe why we manifest it and you would meet a lot of friendly and happy Filipinos. But in reality, most of us are likely unhappy and struggling too and, in fact, are being taken advantage of by those in power. Manipulated into thinking that we are “happy” despite living in poor conditions while receiving the bare minimum by those who control us. Fed with slave mentality so that the rich can stay rich and the poor stay poor. That’s why we are so far behind most countries, and I realized this only when I heard stories about other cultures from my fiance who’s had the chance to live in four different countries. Philippines so far has been the worst for him, and there’s no way I can blame him.

    Philippines will be more fun when there is a better system that works for everyone and not only for the rich and in power. I’m not sorry for speaking facts so if you read this and got offended then ig stay pressed bestie 🤷🏻‍♀️

  67. My wife hates it when I refer to her birthplace, The Philippines, as “Third World” but it sure seems that way. We left Manila, January 6, 2023. But my experiences there are mostly positive. Renting a car and driving around can be a major challenge, but that’s all it is, a challenge. I’ve been there twice and we will be back to visit her mom and family. Next time we will visit Subic Bay and go the Rice Terraces up north. I’m willing to drive anywhere!!!

  68. I think that some foreigners land in Manila, and then they will judge the entire country based on what they see there. Foreigners tend to visit Manila or the tourist trap of Boracay. There are many other places throughout the country to visit that don’t seem to suffer from the excessive traffic, over crowding, beggars, and other issues.

  69. The defensive comments from nationalist Filipinos in this comment section is the extract reason why the nation will always be poor and irrelevant.

  70. An important articles that exposes an ugly truth without addressing it head-on. Every year thousands of Filipinos remain in the U.S., where they have been educated in the application of much-needed, even llife-saving, medical skills. Understandably, they do not wish to leave their profitable jobs for public-service jobs back home, so they send back money and gifts, often in abundance. But isn’t it better that they return to help their destitute, even desperate, former neighbors in their homeland? During a delicate examination,, a Filipino G.I. specialist lost control of his stethoscope, which then “shredded” the esophagus of his patient (my wife). Fortunately, we immediately found a thoracic surgeon, who attempted an emergency repair of what was a self-admitted “operator’s error.” The 2nd surgeon’s work saved her life== but not her digestion since her vagus nerve was severed. She died following almost 7 years of searching for doctors to repair previously “botched” attempts at a repair. Today I’m left with many “what ‘if’s,’ most centering on the first Philipino gastroenterologist. Had he passed up the gifts and offered his skills to the poor people back home, might he not have profited in experience and cases far in excess of the isolated profitable ones in the States? And, of course, that experience would have removed him from the office to which my wife was sent–or at least delayed his appearance, perhaps until he was competent to perform such routine yet delicate invasive procedures. I am no longer impressed–other than in a negative way–by the reports of successful U.S. Pilipinos sharing their wealth with relatives back home. Why not instead share their skills for the betterment of their country and its people? Once that work is done, the more profitable work in the U.S. can be next up on their case loads.

  71. I can’t read all the comments, but I assume most of them will be negative. I’m going to say that I loved Manilia personally, I loved the hussle of the busy chaotic life there and i only saw opportunities to help people in need. You have to remember that most people on average make pennies a day, no free healthcare and life is hard. Very hard. Most tourists who complain I will assume only have high expectations and a privileged life.

  72. Annie De La Cruz

    The Philippines is the US empire—hustlers, hucksters, and fast food fetish. Obesity, type 2 diabetes , and heart issues galore. It’s sad bc of the Pilipino mentalities and (lack) of culture. Poorly dressed with old us basketball t shirts and bland/uninspiring to be kind…food. Fatty protein and rice with donuts, burgers, fried protein, and rice. ‘Thank’ the yanks for capitalistic greed

  73. Annie De La Cruz

    Are Pilipinos nice or polite? Those are 2 very different things. The best thing to do is to enjoy the resorts and réalise that not much has changed since us empire occupation- and the populace is ok with that.

  74. I agree with some of the information about manila but some of the provinces near it has beautiful nature

  75. Hello! Filipina here. My hometown is in one of the islands south of Manila, tho I have lived there for a few years. I even stayed in a place near Robinsons Ermita.

    I feel like most are valid reviews of the city but also a bit exaggerated… for one, if your hotel was nearby robinsons place ermita, i really doubt youre one “block” away from the airport. NAIA is like what, 13 km ? From robinsons? And tuk-tuk? I have never heard anyone refer to tricycles as tuk-tuk in the Philippines, I live here and travel regularly through Manila.

    That being said, I feel like this is still a decent review. I dont like staying in Manila either or be accosted with beggar children. I also pick the streets I walk on very carefully. As a rule, I only stay with main streets and not go through routes I am not used to.

    The kids jumping into pictures and charging you, I think, is something you will also expect in other countries.

    It kinda feels like your stay in Manila wasnt properly researched. Maybe next time read a lot about what to expect in Manila, especially the cons. Also, if youre not ready to experience the stark reality of a poor, developing country, stay in places where tourists will go or at least the “pretty” places like Ayala or BGC.

    1. Hi Rin, thanks for your response. I did not say that our hotel was one block from the airport: I said that the driver got ‘lost’ while driving us from the airport, and it turns out we were only about a block away from our hotel and he had been circling it the whole time while ringing up the meter. I have also been to 80+ countries and can’t recall anywhere else that children have jumped into my pictures and tried to get me to pay them for that, but perhaps that is a practice in some of the countries I haven’t been to.

  76. “.,…stay in places where tourists will go or at least the “pretty” places like Ayala or BGC.“

    What? Those places are not pretty at all Po.

  77. It is a sad place. Some happiness – the mangos and bananas-sarap.
    Riding a moto, taking a jeepney, we make due. We have to take orders from America , especially for all their military bases. Also—that’s why wages are very low- to buy their bad quality “foods” and be cheap labor for call centers. It is sad. We can do it and maybe someday we will rise up against our colonial overlords.

  78. Manila is an acquired taste, like all cities, and it’s not an exception. I would have to say, if you can survive in Manila, you can survive anywhere else.

  79. I have a condo in Ortigas Center Pasig, Metro Manila. The traffic is the worse part especially on Friday afternoon rush hour. I’m glad not every foreigner likes Manila and/or the whole Philippine Islands. We have enough people already. As for the poor begging kids, well they are poor, can you blame them? There’s a native Philippine tribe name Badjao, they are very poor sea dwelling people which I donate some amount monthly for the kids education hoping a kid will be successful someday. I would walk at night from food shopping or a restaurant back to my condo, in the overpass crossing one night I saw a whole family laying on the floor begging. I passed by them and handed some coins. But I stopped thinking you can’t get much food with coins, so I handed the mother a bill. She said “thank you very much” in tagalog. Hey for one thing, I’d rather walk around at nights in Ortigas Center than in cities like New York City subway, Seattle, San Francisco or even worse south side of Chicago.

  80. This is so true-I had the same experience! I grew up in the Philippines and migrated to the US. After living in the US for 9 years, I decided to visit last February 2023 and stayed in Pasay rental condo (5mins from Mall of Asia). The moment I landed, I already knew it won’t be a nice vacation. It was sooo hot/humid and traffic was terrible. I felt like a tourist in my own country. I’m so terrified to pass the pedestrian lane. The 25minutes taxi ride lasted for 2 hours under traffic. Kids/beggars everywhere grabbing your drinks/food and following you. Prices aren’t cheap either. I’d skip Manila next time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top