MANILA, Philippines - Your itinerary was simple: catch a flight to Manila, stay overnight at a hotel near the airport, then fly out to a gorgeous Philippine beach early the next day.
However, the heavy monsoon rains and the fact that most of Manila floods within just 30 minutes of non-stop rain has literally put a damper on your Philippine holiday.
What else can you do to make the most of your stay in Manila without endangering yourself?
Here are a few tips:
1. Before anything else: check in with your embassy
It’s always best to first check in with your embassy to let them know you’re safe. Get information on any travel advisories or updates they may have for citizens of your country.
If there are other hotlines and emergency numbers you should know, ask and take note. For a list of embassies and consulates in the Philippines, click here.
2. Acquaint yourself with Philippine history, arts and culture
If you’re fortunate enough to be stuck within the Makati Central Business District, you can safely hop over to the Ayala Museum [G/F Greenbelt 4, Ayala Center, Makati City] for a good, flood-free introduction to Philippine history, arts and culture.
Be sure to get admission to all floors [P425 or approx US$10]. Start with the historical dioramas at the second floor, go through all the collections and ongoing exhibitions, then have an awe-inspiring finish with the Gold Collection at the 4th floor.
[Museum hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am to 6pm. For more information, visit the Ayala Museum website.]
If you’re in the Ortigas Central Business District, visit the Lopez Museum [G/F Benpres Building, Exchange Road corner Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City] to view a good collection of paintings by 19th-century Filipino masters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, as well as collections based on the country’s national hero, José Rizal, and its modern painters.
The Lopez Museum library is also a great resource for any history lover.
[Museum hours: Mondays to Saturdays, 8am to 5pm. For more information, visit the Lopez Museum website.]
3. Sample Filipino cuisine
When there’s nothing else to do, there’s always good Filipino food nearby. Your hotel is bound to have some Filipino staples such as adobo [braised pork or chicken], sinigang [pork, fish or seafood in tamarind soup], kaldereta [beef, lamb or goat stew] or pinakbet [mixed steamed vegetables with shrimp or fish paste].
Check out our adobo recipes:
If you feel adventurous, go for the exotic-looking dishes in the menu. It will taste great either way.
4. Take time to recharge mind, body and spirit
After enjoying a hearty Filipino meal, take time to work out at your hotel gym, or swim once the weather clears up. [Haven’t you been looking for time to work out? ]
Some hotels also offer yoga and pilates classes, and some will offer the traditional Filipino massage called hilot.
If you want to dig deep into the Philippines’ colonial roots through the eyes of the country’s national hero, Dr. José Rizal, bring home a copy of his controversial first novel, "Noli Me Tangere."
5. Have more fun in the Philippines
Be a volunteer. The best way to get to know Filipinos is to see them in action for the service of fellow Filipinos.
If you’re on Twitter, follow the hashtag #rescuePH to see how you can help encode for the database of www.rescueph.com.
Follow the hashtag #reliefPH to see how you can help pack or distribute relief goods in one of the nearby schools, churches or city halls in your area, or mobilize foreign donations for organizations and communities in need.
There’s a reason why people believe it when we say “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Rain or shine, we Filipinos will find reasons to be grateful and to celebrate the gift of life and its many miracles.
As another saying goes: “The Filipino spirit is waterproof.” By taking time to get to know Filipinos at their most resilient, you just might come away with something more valuable than beach souvenirs. - Rappler.com