A long time ago, Manila used to be the crowning jewel of the Philippines. Reigning with its beautiful structures and architecture, the city bustled with light and tourism like no other. As time goes on and advancements went by, Manila was outshined by other cities that welcomed more industries and investors, leaving Manila to become one hell of a history. But they knew that they are not going down without a fight. With Erap leading the city’s administration, they promised to promote and bring back the life of the city’s bustling streets. And this December, together with Ermita Malate Business Owners Association (EMBOA), they took a step further by promoting more of Malate, Manila, bringing in bloggers to create a buzz for their cause. I was one of the lucky people who got invited to experience what the place has to offer first hand. I was never really familiar with Manila as I’ve always been always a Pasig girl at heart, but thanks to EMBOA’s invite, I finally had the chance to have a quick peek of what the Malate area has to offer.
We started out our tour by dropping by on EMBOA’s event, ‘Maligayang Pasko, Handog Pasasalamat‘, which was held at Remedios Circle. Hundreds of residents gathered in the area, together with the 500 indigenous kids that will benefit from the event. Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito-Estrada was also present, supporting performances from various universities.
We left soon after and proceeded to visiting places that were part of the EMBOA itinerary. The stops are mostly hotels, and the tour was a rather fleeting experience, with bright lights just passing through as we hop in and out of the van. I honestly wished that we could’ve went around more, as I felt that Ermita has more to offer than what we’ve seen, but I guess I’d have to save that for next time. 🙂 Also, I hope that I could actually visit more of the food scene in the area! There are a bunch of Japanese and Korean restaurants that looks authentic (I honestly hope that they are). We’ll see.
Our first stop was Rosas Garden, which is one of the most trusted hotels in the area. Aside from offering shelter to tourists, the hotel is also an art market, where you can buy crafts that are proudly Filipino made. They have impeccable wooden embellishments at the lobby area, welcoming guests with an artistry that’s very Filipino.
As much as I wanted to offer you photographs from their room, we unfortunately didn’t had the luxury to explore more of the area.
Next stop was the Where 2 Next Hostel, a part of the booming hostel industry in our country. Owned by an Australian national, the hostel in Ermita was the first of the two branches available in the country. Welcoming mostly foreign and local backpackers, the hostel has a vibe that emits that certain kind of warmth that the traveling community has to offer.
They also had huge graffiti designs on the walls and on each of the rooms, which gives it the more ‘street’ and ‘urban’ vibe. They have various rooms available, from dorm rooms to double occupancy. Rooms are air conditioned and prices starts at PHP 500/night. What I like about Where 2 Next is that they offer free tours around the area, which pretty much includes a food trip at Binondo (I dig that!), and even home cooking lessons at the hostel itself. As expected from a hostel, its target market is definitely travelers on a budget, and they offer services that caters to this people.
Our last stop was Bellagio Square, which honestly reminded me of Metrowalk, only that this one is more affordable. They have various bars inside, an open area, and a stage. You can easily spot this when you’re coming from Robinson’s Place Manila, as this is the only “gimmick” area that’s blasting with music and lights. It’s usually flocked with young people, and most of its market are of the masses.
All in all, the tour was pretty insightful, but it wasn’t enough to actually let us experience what Ermita life really has. It really was just a glimpse, a view of the tip of the iceberg, but this definitely sparked my curiosity, and I’d like to know more about the place soon. At least now, I get to know that Malate, Manila is actually more than the usual connotation of being a red district of the city.
I saw a couple of promising looking food places. I’m eyeing you. See you soon.
PS: Thank you to the people from EMBOA and Christian Melanie for inviting us over. Congrats for the event! 🙂