Free Culture: Where to Get It

In Manila, some of the best things are literally, free.



Film, art, literature and new ideas don’t always have to come full-price. ï¿½ If you know where to look, Manila is brimming with films waiting to be seen, music to be heard and cultural enclaves to discover. ï¿½ Here’s a list where you can get your dose of free culture:

1. ï¿½ ï¿½ ï¿½ Foreign films at Instituto Cervantes. ï¿½ Brush up on your basic Spanish or ï¿½ tune-out on the subtitles, but either way, foreign films are an ultimate source of free language lessons and a great way to soak up a different country’s culture. Seats are on a first-come-first-served basis so best to swing by the Instituto well before showtime. Film screenings this June include "The Uninvited Guest" on June 13, Saturday and "REC" on June 20, Saturday .

Instituto Cervantes is located at 855 T.M. Kalaw Street, Ermita Manila with telephone numbers 526-1482. ï¿½ Check out the June screening schedule at

2. ï¿½ ï¿½ ï¿½ Dialogues at your neighborhood Starbucks Café. The best conversations go well with a cup of strong, piping hot coffee. ï¿½ Starbucks hosts an afternoon of Dialogues with topics that range from Creative Entrepreneurship to Food Writing and Blogging. ï¿½ Inspiring personalities, meaningful discussions and new ideas come together in one hour of coffee and conversation. ï¿½ Entrance to the Dialogues is free, ordering a cup of joe is optional.

For updates on the next Dialogues event, check out the Dialogues Facebook page, Dialogues@Starbucks or get in touch with Ms. Zarah Perez, Global Responsibility Manager at

3. ï¿½ ï¿½ ï¿½ Start on art. It’s never too early or too late to learn artspeak and local galleries offer the best expressions and exploration of culture, identity and artists’ innovations. ï¿½ Take a stroll at the Artwalk of Megamall’s Fifth level and ogle at the art produced by contemporary artists, visit art galleries that dot Manila’s maps and learn how to get started on your own collection or pay homage to non-traditional art at Cubao X, where shoe-making has given way to bohemia, all without the hefty price tag.


Artwalk is located at the Fifth Level of SM Megamall, EDSA corner Julia Vargas, Mandaluyong City.

Cubao X houses galleries such as Pablo Gallery and the White Box Gallery.

4. ï¿½ TV on the Internet. A speedy internet connection and your trusty laptop (or ï¿½ desktop) is all you need to watch engaging and entertaining shows on Tune in to local rockstars dishing out live sessions, catch an episode of experimental documentaries or be one of the first to watch your favorite band’s music video or that concert you missed, most of which aren’t even available on local free TV. ï¿½ Best of all, you can watch them over and over again (TiVO not needed).

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5. Be a litcritter. ï¿½ Join the Litcritters, a group who reads various fiction (sometimes, their own) and discuss ideas, views and reviews about the stories. ï¿½ This June, the group will meet at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on June 13, Saturday at 2 p.m. ï¿½ Check out the reading list at, all works can be downloaded on the Internet.


Artwork by Warren Espejo.

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