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(SPOT.ph) Pockmarked by decay and distress, many say it's hard to love Manila. But once you do, once its chaos becomes its charm, and its madness becomes its magic, you know it's true love that you have for the city, baby! People are warm and kind and happy. And while we keep on complaining about the glare of the sun, we know it's part and parcel of what makes this city so loveable.
Like any other place in the world, there are things about Manila that you’re not likely to find in any guidebook. To give newbies an easier time and help locals rediscover the city, here's a list of things to expect when you find yourself on its crazy streets:
People shouting on the street is normal.
Especially on busy streets where there is what looks to be a jeep or a bus stop or where people are hailing cabs. Do not panic when you hear people suddenly shouting at your ears. "Kasya pa dalawa! Kasya pa dalawa!" Or "Sa ilalim ang daan!" Or "Maluwag pa dito!" That is not Tourette’s, mind. And that's not gibberish, either. They are barkers trying to fill up a jeep or a bus, or hailing a cab for a waiting passenger. Hide your surprise or your fear and walk away. Or better yet, laugh it out—that's what locals do.
Cab drivers expect tips.
The flag-down rate for cabs is P40. From Ortigas to Makati, you can expect to shell out about P85 pesos, which in Manila, really means two things: P90 if you have a fifty and two twenties on you. Or P100 if you don’t. It’s pretty much understood that taxi fares are rounded off to the nearest ten or twenty. Drivers call it tipping, passengers call it convenience—it is rather difficult to fish for change, isn’t it? Despite this...
... Be ready with some change.
You’ve just handed the cashier a 500-peso bill to pay for a P110.65 purchase and she makes a face, then asks if you have smaller bills. Or 10 pesos and 65 centavos. Is it because they’re too tired to count out your change? Maybe it’s something they learn in training: a conspiracy to irritate customers they don’t like (in other words, everyone).
Traffic—heavy traffic—is an everyday occurence.
You will probably experience it less than five minutes after you've left the airport. With little care for traffic rules and tiny roads—some say traffic rules really are just traffic suggestions— we sometimes wonder how we manage to get anywhere without being involved in a five-car pileup every single time we're on the road. Traffic stretches for miles on the highway, cars bumper to bumper with the occasional street vendor and morotcycle in between. Forget using main roads on rush hour, you're better off getting squeezed into the crevices of the MRT and possibly getting your eyes scratched out. Hence, a strengthened sense of Filipino Time.