50 Reasons to Love Metro Manila

It may not always feel like it, but there are so many ways that Manila rocks. We list some of them.


(SPOT.ph) While 2015 may have gone by too quickly, we still found plenty of things to love about this city. We've listed down the many things that make Metro Manila awesome: great food, fun entertainment, and new places to see. We give you only the best from 2015...and here's to an even better new year!




Honey Creme


The Asian Dessert Detour

From Korean soft-serve ice cream and Japanese kakigori to Korean bingsu and Japanese cheesecake, our fascination for sweets took an Asian turn this year. This isn’t to discount our local delicacies. We may be lining up by the droves to imports like Milkcow, Honey Crème, Café Seol-Hwa, and Paper Moon, but we love home-grown interpretations like Ikigai Kakigori.



An assortment from Tori Tori Kushiyaki


Food on a Stick

Pinoy BBQ, Japanese yakitori, Persian kebabs, popsicles, corndogs—there is really no style of eating more convenient than eating on a stick (Read: Top 10 Great Places to Get Food on A Stick). We love it so much that even ice cream whiz Ian Carandang started offering cheesecakes on a stick, while a mall stall is now creating the easiest way to enjoy pizza—as Pizzacles!


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Din Tai Fung's xiao long bao


Global food brands became even more easily accessible

The number of international franchises setting up in the Philippines increases every year. Apart from the influx of Japanese brands, we saw several other restaurants from other countries. You have big names from the U.S. like Applebee’sBuffalo Wild WingsRita’sNobu, and The Halal Guys, but there is also Casa Italia from Singapore, Honey Crème from Taiwan, and, of course, Din Tai Fung.



The Bottle Shop, Bonifacio Global City


Craft Beer

It sounds like beer has always been the Filipinos’ drink of choice, but it’s only now that we’ve established our need to find the best ones. We’ve probably all had our fill of those session beers (you know, the kind that you just drink like water), so that now we’ve become more particular about the types and flavors that go into each bottle. It’s amazing (but we probably shouldn’t be surprised) that there are so many kinds of local craft beer out there—made in different parts of the country by brewers who, just like all of us, wanted a different experience of their favorite drink.


Cocina Peruvia


Ultra-bright Flavor Combos

Zest was the flavor of 2015. Our beloved calamansi played a starring role in many trending desserts—from local concepts like Crisp on 28th (cake), Crumbs List (bars), and 5 Loves & 2 Fish (torte) to international brands adapting this tarty fruit into their own items. Australia’s Pie Face and London's Costa Coffee feature it in pies!



This year also welcomed Peruvian cuisine into the mainstream. Restaurants like Nikkei, Cocina Peruvia, and Mantaro detonated big blasts of bright, acidic, peppy flavors via ceviches and sauces like we’ve never tasted before.




Toppings Galore

Just how to make your dish stand out amid all the restaurants in Manila? Throw lots of stuff over it and praise its craziness! The results are mixed, but they definitely make for a great Instagram snap. From pimping milkshakes to primping waffles to preening cookies, those who do know how to marry impact with flavor include Milkbox, Dolcelatte, Eighteen Bistro, The Bunny Baker, The Lost Bread, and Crisp on 28th. We’re excited for a new dessert concept, Carousel Creamery, which opened in December.



Slurp will keep you up all night.


Coffee Any Way You Like

The coffee culture in the Metro only expanded this year. Not only was cold brew a huge hit (a great compromise between caffeine hard-hitters and the tropics!), more craft coffee shops have also begun offering coffee packages for customers to brew at home. Brands like UCC, Craft Coffee Revolution, EDSA BDG, Kape Maria, and Yardstick have been doing this for ages, but we’ve seen new players in bazaars and weekend markets, like Slurp, Current Swell, Kape Buendia, Di Bella, and YDG.


Genki Sushi


The Japanese Invasion

Filipinos have long embraced Japanese food and we’ve even come up with ways to “Filipinize” it. This year, we’ve seen a number of Japanese brands open in the Philippines (Read: 10 New Must-Try Restaurants from Japan). Okonomiyaki favorite Dohtonbori, noodle shop Ramen Kagetsu, and kawaii chain Genki Sushi also managed to catch up before the year ends.



Home-grown Japanese restaurants are making their own mark, as well. The Moment Group and Bruce Ricketts’ Ooma has kept busy since it opened back in July; Chef Kiyoshi Ogawa came out with his exquisite little slice of Japan, Ogawa; WabiSabi’s Ibarra Padolin arounded up his Japanese obsession with Ikigai Kakigori; yakitori go-to Tori Tori Kushiyaki is never without a customer; we found a quiet chicken sensation called Chibi's Karaage; there’s the steak and ramen duo Buta + Wagyu and Butamaru; and Chef Jacob Bautista puts the spotlight on tempura with Asakusa. Whew.


The second Gourmand Market


Food Markets and Bazaars

Remember when there were only four weekend markets clamoring for your attention? This year, we've witnessed so many of them. There were one-time events like the Lilac Food Fest and the Foodgasm on Maginhawa, but there are more recurring franchises like Gourmand Market, Agora Food Market, 35 Abada, and Mandala Park.



We’ve also noticed that more and more empty lots are being put to good use. We love food parks like StrEat on Maginhawa (which will soon open a version on Kalayaan), Box Park Manila on Congressional Road, and Gastro Park in Kapitolyo. We love how these venues highlight small and local business owners!


Uke Box Caffe


Themed Cafés

If last year was the year for dog cafes, 2015 decidedly catered more to cats. But we’ve seen many other quirkier approaches to standing out. Caffera opts for a camera theme; Uke Box Caffe flaunts a ukulele motif (plus, they also sell “selfie coffees”); The Nook is your little piece of Hogwarts in Quezon City; The Smoking Joint goes for, well, you know; while 5 Loves & 2 Fish is an homage to the grace of God.



A peek at Drive-By


Street Tacos

Taco Chingones took street tacos quite literally in their quaint Makati food truck, but they’re not the only ones who are fueling our obsession with this Mexican snack.


For one night only, Chef Bruce Ricketts converted Mecha Uma into a delicious taco shop called La Chinesca En Mecha Uma. He made the most delicious tacos using chewy masa dough and explosive toppings. It felt a bit like dangling the dream, but we’ll always have that memory as one of the best food experiences this year.


For something more stable, there’s Taco Vengo. Set in a container van, it’s one of this year’s Instagram favorites. The owners don’t hide the fact that their items aren’t authentic, but those flavors are bold and true. The tortilla is specially made and such a great canvas for their out-of-this world filling. Did we tell you that there’s a sous-vide egg on their nachos? That’s not the best part though. You have to try the Chwaffle.


Down south is Drive-By Taco Shop, a tiny nook on Aguirre Avenue. The seating is only as wide as the bar, but it’s worth the wait. Drive-By also uses corn flour, which really adds dimension to their recipes. Every ingredient is painstakingly fresh (owners Mikey San Miguel and Mai de Guzman set out for the market every morning), which may explain those bright and big flavors.


If you’re in Quezon City, there’s Guisados at Box Park, Quezon City. You’re going to be eating tacos to your heart’s desire.



On the next page: DO + SEE




TV and Social Media

It's safe to say that 2015 was the year of hashtags. Whether it was a noontime show or a primetime drama, every new episode was punctuated with a new hashtag where viewers could express their excitement or livetweet the show via Twitter. It’s a game of who can "trend" faster, longer, and better, but no other show has used this to their advantage better than Eat Bulaga. Ratings weren’t the only numbers where AlDub skyrocketed; daily hashtags broke Twitter records—enough for a Twitter executive to call them a "global phenomenon" and for international news sites to take notice.




Telenovela Remakes

We’re no strangers to remakes in the local entertainment industry; for instance, back in the day, TV remade the popular Asianovelas with our own Pinoy flair. These days, we saw remakes of classic and beloved Pinoy telenovelas, like ABS-CBN’s Pangako Sa ‘Yo and GMA 7’s Marimar (which is essentially a Pinoy remake of a Pinoy remake). The former also remade FPJ’s 1997 movie (Ang Probinsyano), which now stars Coco Martin and Maja Salvador, as well as the sexy Mexican telenovela, Pasion de Amor (starring Jake Cuenca, Coleen Garcia, Ellen Adarna, and Ejay Falcon). We’re excited for an even bigger remake next year: Encantadia!



Indie movies meet the mainstream

Pinoy independent films took center stage this year, particularly with Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna, which made a massive box-office comeback after initially being dropped by theaters. The film went on to make over P300 million (enough to guarantee a trilogy), and was submitted for consideration in the Foreign Film category of both the Oscars and the Golden Globes. Meanwhile, other indie movies also earned local and international recognition, including Lav Diaz’s Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon, Brillante Mendoza’s Taklub, Jun Robles Lana’s Anino sa Likod ng Buwan, Paul Soriano’s Kid Kulafu, and Erik Matti’s Honor Thy Father.



Photo by Ryan Ong


International acts hit the local stage

Skyrocketing ticket prices haven't stopped Pinoys from heading to concert venues and seeing their favorite musical acts live and in the flesh. Manila audiences braved the traffic to see Katy Perry at the Philippine Arena; powered through a One Direction concert without Zayn Malik; waited patiently for the rescheduled return of Sam Smith; sang along to Ariana Grande’s ridiculously high notes; rejoiced at the return of Maroon 5; and swayed to Ed Sheeran's serenades. Music fans also trooped to this year’s Wanderland Music and Arts Festival to watch RAC, Augustana, and Kid Cudi. We’re already looking forward to quite possibly 2016’s biggest concert: Madonna!




Local Rom-Coms

2015 was the year of...well, feelings. A lot of them. Manila audiences had their fill of heartwarming love stories and hugot quotes that spoke to all their heartache. Angelica Panganiban made us laugh and cry in That Thing Called Tadhana; John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo reunited to our collective delight in A Second Chance; Toni Gonzaga and Coco Martin made us LOL in You’re My Boss; Derek Ramsay and Coleen Garcia surprised us all in Ex With Benefits; and Sarah Geronimo and Piolo Pascual had us singing along in The Breakup Playlist. This year’s MMFF is also chockful of flicks that will have Manila viewers swooning, whether it’s director Antoinette Jadaone’s romance ensemble or Jennylyn Mercado’s new (and hilarious) rom-com.



Film Festivals

Remember when avid movie fans only had Cinemalaya and the MMFF to look forward to? This year, it was almost hard to keep up with the roster of film festivals to check out across the Metro. Shangri-La Plaza played host to a number of international festivals, including the Spring Film Festival in February; the French Film Festival in June; the Silent Film Festival in August; and Cine Europa in August. There were also plenty of local film festivals for Manila moviegoers, including Brillante Mendoza's Sinag Maynila back in March; QCinema in October; and Cinema One Originals in November.




TV, Movie, and Music Streaming

This year was all about quick and easy access to our favorite programs, films, and music. Although Spotify was launched in the country last year, we now have more music streaming options with the release of Apple Music. We also saw the rise of TV and movie streaming a la Netflix, with inexpensive and convenient choices like HOOQ, iflix, and HBO Go. Now if only we could get faster Internet connection!




Celebrities and Social Media

It’s not just local TV that made full use of social media. Whether it was sharing gorgeous travel photos, posting sweet messages for their significant other, or showing off adorable photos of their little ones, there was no shortage of your favorite celebrities on social media. After all, it’s the easiest way for celebrities to connect with fans and share tidbits about their lives behind the cameras. Then again, it wasn’t always a good thing: Just ask Kris AquinoJames Reid, or Gab Valenciano.



Social media got even more social

If 2014 was the year of emojis, 2015 is all about the stickers. Yup, we're talking about all those fun and colorful characters you can send to your friends via Facebook, Viber, and other social media channels. Facebook, in particular, launched a different series of stickers depending on the biggest topics of the year. Last year, they released LGBT stickers to promote Pride Month. This year, they launched pop culture-themed stickers from Inside Out to even Star Wars: The Force Awakens.




The literary scene continued to blossom

Even if coloring books have their own shelf in all major bookstores now, the literary scene is still flourishing in the country. The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd that swarmed the Manila International Book Fair and the Philippine Literary Festival proved that. When National Book Store announced its warehouse sale, people completely lost their chill, because the smell and texture of books will never be replaced by screens.


Although we love Penguin classics, local books hold a special place in our hearts. Nothing is funnier than Pinoy humor, and Bitoy’s The Bubble Bible and Chico, Delamar, and Gino’s The Best of The Morning Rush Top 10 had us laughing for hours. If you need a good cry, open the pages ofThe Heartbreak Diaries by Pierra Calasanz-Labrador. Learn about the fulfilment of giving in Jenny Santi’s The Giving Way to Happiness. And oh, One More Chance is a movie-turned-book now.



Local Comics

It used to be just Komikon, an annual convention featuring local comic book artists. But this year saw the birth of Komiket, an event that aims to highlight the talents of graphic artists, crafters, and sculptors at a weekend market where they can sell their wares. We wrote about 11 local comic books worth reading in 2013, but it was in 2015 when the industry exploded. In their October 2015 catalog alone, says Komiket organizer Mark Navarro, they included 22 new comics by local artists, widening a local talent pool that includes must-read artists like Carlo Vergara, Gerry Alanguilan, Arnold Arre, and Budjette Tan.


Photo from @philartvenice Twitter page


Contemporary Art

It was indeed a good year for Philippine contemporary art. After a 51-year hiatus, the Philippines returns to the Venice Biennale in May, arguably the most celebrated contemporary art exhibition in the world. In November, Maria Taniguchi won the 2015 Hugo Boss Art Award for emerging Asian artists. The award honors internationally notable contemporary art. International auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s have recognized the increasing value of Philippine art. Some of the highest-priced paintings that have gone under the hammer are works by Filipino contemporary artists like Ronald Ventura and BenCab.




Art and Design Fairs

We believe that there should be weekly art fairs in the country. (There’s a bi-weekly one, though: the Saturday Future Market at Escolta.) But this year saw a growing appreciation for art, evident in the overwhelming attendance and support for fairs such as Art in the Park, Art Fair Philippines, and ManilART. For design enthusiasts, there's Manila FAME. It’s also a great chance to spot not only celebrities, but also the artists themselves, from the established ones to the young bloods. 



Photo from artbgc.com


Public Art

Museums and galleries aren't the only places to find art these days. Everyone who lives here knows that art can be seen along highways, unexpected alleys, in schools, offices, coffee shops, on walkways, at the airporteverywhere. Business districts are made more pleasant through art, like the Art BGC project that launched in May and the murals along Makati CBD walkways and underpasses. In Tondo, international graffiti artists called Outsiders Krew left colorful murals around the Gagalangin area for their ‪#‎ShareTheWordProject. This Christmas season, SM Aura collaborated with artist Leeroy New for "Astreopora," a lights and sounds show installation for the public.


Photo from primer.com.ph


Museums and Galleries

Still craving culture and creativity even with all the public art around you? There's an abundance of all that and more in Manila with our galleries and museums, big or small. The National Museum opened its doors for free for the whole month of May, and because of the good response from the public, they extended it until June. Ayala Museum also welcomed visitors for free on July 25. In October, all national museums offered free admission in celebration of Museums and Galleries Month.



This year also saw the opening of Art in Island, an interactive museum where you are part of the masterpiece, and photography is greatly encouraged. Now you don’t have to go to neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea to experience trick art murals.



The Local Design Scene

Manila’s design scene is having a moment. It’s no longer just about the service or food, because people love Instagram-worthy spots. There are beautiful restaurants like Rambla and The Early Breakfast Club, and cute cafes like The Bunny Baker Café and Tweedle Book Café. Concept stores have upped their retail game with the likes of Adora, Univers, and Ralph Lauren, even collaborating with local designers to achieve a look that reflects its patrons. Staycation is more fun in Manila with well-designed boutique hotels that make R&R also a charming visual experience, such as Azumi Boutique Hotel, Luneta Hotel, and The Henry. 




Local illustrators take centerstage

It’s such as good time to be a Filipino illustrator right now—not that we're saying it wasn’t before. Illustration art made waves this year. Mawee Borromeo, Tokwa Peñaflorida, Arlene Sy, and Tippy Go (Googly Gooeys) are only some of the many inspiring and talented Filipino illustrators today. Meanwhile, the playful drawings of Rob Cham are seen in the prenup photos of Jim Bacarro and Saab Magalona.




Spoken Word Poetry

There were hardly any performance spaces for poets a decade ago, but this year more than ever, the demand for hugot voices to be heard was strong enough for establishments to include spoken word poetry on their offerings. Entertainment is not only restricted to song and dance numbers, events like CCP’s Performatura and Intramuros’ Intramuros Rising featured spoken word poets in their programs. We have our very own Phil Kaye in Juan Miguel Severo, thanks to groups like Words Anonymous and White Wall Poetry. The poetry even made it onto our television screens—On the Wings of Love features poetry sessions that are relative to the feelings of the characters.



Local Theater Groups

The performing arts is more alive in 2015 than it has ever been in the city and our favorite local theater groups made that evident. This year we laughed with PETA’s Arbol de Fuego, took off to Neverland with Ballet Philippines’ Peter Pan, and peeled sadness away in Repertory Philippines’ 4,000 Miles. After Red Turnip’s 33 Variations made us want to listen to Beethoven again, the group took us to much more intimate spaces for This Is Our Youth, where New York felt closer than ever. This smaller-scale production is created with the intent of making theater more accessible to the public. It’s true that nothing beats the real thing, more so if it’s homegrown.




Outdoor Leisure

More and more establishments are making an effort to take visitors closer to nature, and by nature, we mean open air, more greens and space. Capitol Commons made noise from their Food Truck Park back in 2013. Fast forward to 2015, people flock here to dine in the line of restaurants and Estancia Mall, which opened in December 2014. There’s always Bonifacio High Street, Greenbelt, and Eastwood where you can shop and dine with your dog (or dogs, or cats).


The newest development and entertainment playground sits in the south of Makati: Circuit Makati (formerly Sta. Ana racetrack). It has evolved with al-fresco dining spots at Circuit Lane. It also opened Power Mac Center Spotlight, a 300-seater performance theater. We're excited to see more retail shops and the major theater venue that are in the works!



Dreamplay, City of Dreams Manila (Photo by Ian Santos)


Interactive Play Centers for Kids

While there probably should still be more outdoor parks in the Manila, there was no shortage of new places to try for kids and kids-at-heart. It used to be that kids would have to go to Disneyland or Universal Studios (which meant having to fly out of Manila) to get that theme park experience, but these days, families have a number of kid-friendly options that will take the children away from their iPads—even just for an hour or two. Kidzania lets them play adult, while Dreamplay brings them closer to their favorite movie characters (like Shrek!). Just recently, Future Park opened at Century City Mall to create a new environment for kids to be able to interact with technology.


Cristal Glass Project


Upcycling and repurposing helped us find new meaning in things

Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery has been upcycling since 2010, but this year showed us a few more ways that people are giving new life to old—or seemingly useless—objects. Habil Crafts, which is fast becoming a bazaar regular, uses moss to create wall art. But we’re especially intrigued by the creations of the Cristal Glass Project, which turns old bottles into lamps and liquid soap dispensers with edgy personality. 



On the next page: BUY + TRY




Adult coloring books became a thing

You didn’t need to be an artist to buy into the coloring books trend that happened big this year. While at first there may have been only a few titles available locally, today they’re usually the first things you see by the entrance of every bookstore. It sometimes feels like there’s too many of them to choose from, whether done by foreign illustrators or local ones. It doesn’t end with just choosing one coloring book to help relieve stress or bide the time—we all had to choose the perfect coloring materials to go with them, too.




Guy stores popped up left and right

The shopping scene grew for the male population, with guy stores opening left and right. The Cut, a concept lifestyle store by Felipe & Sons, launched in Makati in the first half of 2015, and it's a modern-day gentleman's little haven. Signet, men's specialty lifestyle store opened in the CBD, too. Sneakerheads were in for a treat, too as Commonwealth, a U.S.-based specialty boutique (also known as a sneakerhead's haven) opened in Manila (it's actually the first store outside the U.S.) while Capital, a brand new lifestyle sneaker store first launched in UP Town Center. For cap fanatics, New Era also got its own space in SM Megamall.


Pulseras By Kim


Locally Made Jewelry

It seemed at first like something only your lola would be interested in—until they started popping up at weekend bazaars and craft fairs. With modern designs like Pulseras By Kim’s and quirky ways to personalize like hand stamping by Istorya, local handmade jewelry suddenly became accessories fit for any millennial…that even grandma would appreciate.




Coveted British brands kept coming

Yup, 2015 really is the British Invasion—and it's not just because U.K. artists like One Direction, Bastille, Sam Smith, and Ed Sheeran held concerts in Manila. A lot of British brands became locally available, too! John Lewis now has a cozy spot in department stores while Kurt Geiger opened a glamorous shop in Estancia Mall. British fashion brand Joseph, known for its sleek tailoring and crisp silhouttes, opened shop in SM Aura. On the other hand, U.K. home furniture brand Habitat found its home in the heart of Bonifacio Global City and it's everything a home design lover dreams of. Even Sleek MakeUP, a well-loved makeup brand from the U.K. found its way to local shores!




Home stores made us want to redecorate

This year was a good year for home design lovers. Home stores opened one after the other: West Elm launched their first store in Manila the same time PB Teen did, both located in Estancia Mall. Crate & Barrel opened their flagship store in SM Makati. Habitat, a home furniture brand from the U.K., also opened their first store in Manila in Bonifacio Global City. John Lewis home items are now also locally available through SM Home in SM Makati.



Lifestyle stores reinvented shopping

All the things you love in one store...that's a lifestyle store. It doesn't necessarily carry just sneakers or just backpacks—it can carry both, and even more. This year, a new concept lifestyle store Capital opened its doors as well as Commonwealth—both carry products that cater to those who are into street style fashion. The Penthouse is another lifestyle store that opened in the south this year, and they carry a wide range of fashion products from homegrown online stores—the same goes with Zaril Lifestyle Store, which is located in Maginhawa. UP Town Center officially became a new lifestyle hub when they opened their new wing this year.




Out-Of-The-Box Shopping

Who knew that a beer festival and a fashion bazaar would go so well together? The people behind Brewfest MNL and SuperSale Bazaar proved that drinking and shopping can go hand in hand! Also, a travel and fashion expo was made possible by the Trendsetter's team. A travel sale and a fashion bazaar in one event? A genius shopping formula! The Zalora Pop-Up Store also made waves in the shopping scene especially for people who are iffy about online shopping because now they can fit the clothes before making a purchase. The second Clothes Buffet happened this year, too—and it's exactly what it says it is. A buffet of clothes. 




We experimented with crazy hairstyles

People took ombre to the next level. People became very experimental with their tresses this year—split hair (click the link, it has nothing to do with split ends becoming a trend...it's not going to happen, btw), to unicorn hair, to pearlescent hair to dying majority of it (if not whole) a bold color...and people setting their locks on fire. By now, you probably feel like hair aficionados have tried it all, but we're guessing it's only going to get crazier next year. Also, check out this medieval hairstylist who uses swords and a blowtorch to cut people's hair! Yes. Swords. Amazing. 



Natural beauty, finally

#IWokeUpLikeThis beauty looks were all the rage this year. Everyone was in search for the perfect nude lippie to create that my-lips-but-better look, plus everyone started to embrace their naturally bushy, unkempt brows—because it's easier to style them like Cara D's. Gone are the days people painted their faces with bright colors because neutrals are in—from nudes, to nude-pinks, to browns, it looks like people were all for natural beauty this year. 




Quirky Socks

Socks are always big in Manila despite the tropical weather. They're fun and fashionable, and it gives your look a lot of personality. We rounded up some of the cutest socks ever, plus even found a couple of Star Wars-themed pairs. Also, Stance Socks unveiled their NBA collection (they're the official on-court socks, btw) so fans can have the same pair as their favorite NBA stars!




Filipino designers continued to go global

Remember that tentacle-y heels that made rounds on the Internet this year? It was designed by Kermit Tesoro, a Filipino designer known for his outrageous footwear designs—outrageous enough that Lady Gaga chose to wear his designs twice! Meanwhile, Ericka Del Rosario, a young Filipina designer (19-years young, if you were wondering), is "revolutionizing menswear" with her own brand Kakaslok. Did we mention that she was already able to work with Alexander Wang at such young age? Plains & Prints also expanded to Singapore this year!



Online Shopping and Shopping Apps

Shopping became super convenient to shoppers this year. With Zalora opening a pop-up, now people can shop online without worrying about purchasing ill-fitting pieces! Snipe also became available to the public, which makes scoring deals and sale items a lot easier. Gifted.ph also makes gift-giving a breeze by allowing users to send their friends gift cards from different brands!



Earth Japan Surplus, Marikina City (Photo by Kathleen Valle)


Bargain Hunting

For a city that’s always riddled with too much heavy traffic, it’s surprising how much patience we all have for getting a good deal. Weekend sales, promos, and bazaars are always a welcome habit, especially during the holiday season, but there were definitely a lot of them this year that made our wallets a bit happier. Bookstores had warehouse sales left and right (never mind the endless lines), and surplus shops gave shoppers more affordable options. Whether it’s clothes, shoes, furniture, makeup, or something else, shopping was and still is one of the city folks’ favorite pastimes.



Electric Studio, Bonifacio Global City


Spinning Classes

It’s perhaps the type of fitness regime that’s been around in local gyms for a while, but only this year did it feel like everyone was getting into indoor cycling, also known as spinning. With the opening of Electric Studio, Saddle Row, and soon Ride Revolution in Manila, the exercise has branched out on its own and gained a new set of enthusiasts ready to hop on a bike and get a fully body workout. There’s a lot of music and motivation to go around, which sounds like the type of exercise to encourage people to get fit even after the New Year.




Despite our love for food, plenty of us still worked hard to burn off calories with old and new fitness trends that mushroomed all over the Metro. Crossfit, indoor cycling, and women's lifting were all the rage in 2015, and it looks like marathons are still going strong (Rexona launched their first-ever Fitness Festival this year). Meanwhile, 24/7 gyms (like Anytime Fitness) also opened across Manila to accommodate folks who are too busy to get fit during the day. On the other hand, the new Curves gym in Eastwood promotes a rigorous 30-minute workout without mirrors...or men! But if you want to incorporate a bit of fun and adrenaline into your workouts, the Flying Trapeze School might just be up your alley.




Uber made it easier to get around

For those who’ve felt the burn of rejection from one too many cab drivers, it was a godsend. Imagine: a car service available within minutes with just a few taps on your phone. Uber has had its share of hurdles to jump this year from both competitors and government agencies, but if there’s one point it’s driven home, it’s that people are willing to shell out a little bit more for better service and reliability.  





Arts and crafts enthusiasts found their passion in the form of crafting this year, and it’s not surprising why. Even if it requires specific skills, workshops brought out our inner crafters. Maybe it’s the old-school cred of doing something analog at a time when digital is king, but more and more people wanted to do something with their hands other than typing or tapping this year, and Manila’s creative culture is all the better for it.


Covering soul-nurturing pursuits like calligraphy, hand lettering, and watercolor painting, artists like Alessandra Lanot and Mansy Abesamis shared their talents in workshops all around the city, and we were only too eager to learn. Homegrown stores Common Room has opened, as several online stores, to cater to the demand for crafting supplies. Brands like Craft MNL and Hey Kessy, who have been in the industry for quite some time now, have started to offer more workshops.

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