Friday, January 6, 2012

3 Things That Come To Mind When I Think of Manila

          [Hello, I'm back from the 32nd Worlds Debate Tournament that took place in the Philippines over New Year's. Thanks for waiting patiently for me to update. I have more things to write about than is enjoyable to read, unfortunately. So here I offer the highlights of my first time experience in Manila. I might cheat and have a follow up post  though. Enjoy.]

          Filipinos are sincere. I must mention this first because it really impacted my stay in the Philippines. From the runners in the debate tournament to hotel staff to employees at any kind of store, they all treat you like an honored guest. Every night when I would return to the hotel exhausted from debate rounds, runners who should be as equally exhausted would be waiting to greet and assist me. And they would do so without the indication that it was simply part of their job description. In the morning, they would be up early to shepherd debaters from Sofitel to the university - which is no easy task because debaters are lazy and uncooperative in the morning! They deserve more credit for coordinating with the hotel to come up with a solution for elevator traffic. Speaking of the hotel staff, they really go the extra mile. For instance, in my experience with hotel buffet chefs who cook or cut for you on demand, they usually just follow your order without any engagement, which is totally fine. But at the Sofitel in Manila, more than once did a chef make unique comments to me. Also, the hotel got us an awesome private driver one night who found us a Korean BBQ place to eat when most places were closed at that hour, especially around the holidays.  As for Filipino waiters and store clerks, they are genuinely friendly and helpful. The difference between them and their counterparts in regionally similar nations (eh hem, like the one I live in) is that their sincerity is wholesome and consistent. You especially notice this when you leave a place. How they give you a goodbye and thank you is as if you've made a lasting impression on them. That you're not just another forgettable customer.

          I'm referring to the totality of video, music, and graphic accommodations in the tournament. Moving short films put together within a day. A creative triplet of songs played during each team match-up session to hint motion topic. (Example: "Get Back" by The Beatles to hint a motion about immigration.) A funky live band for comedy night. A world class strings ensemble to play "The Sound of Music" for team Monash's stage entrance. The "voice from the sky" giving us the dos and don'ts in the auditorium. UPSTANDING QUALITY.
          Here's the video they put together for the Championship Dinner, after 8 grueling days of brain-racking:

          Many things to note. Firstly, I'm very impressed about the reading society in the Philippines, more specifically an appreciation for comic books. The National Bookstore, a stationary shop, is quite prominent in malls. Smaller, independent bookstores can also be found within any mall. This is my hope for Thailand. Another thing to note about malls is the fastfood. I would say that the Philippines is more similar to the West than East in this category. Lots of burger and pizza places, and even an El Pollo Loco! But most impressively, they've got Seattle's Best in the Philippines. If only I could find it... Had to settle for Starbucks:
My Starbucks alias.


  1. The short-order cooks sound really awesome. How was El Pollo Loco?! :D

  2. Reading this blog totally changed my idea toward Philippines! The whole trip sounds so impressive and memorable. Thanks for sharing :)