Welcome back to normal life those of you who have been off partying for Christmas and and New Year’s.
Unspun spent the holiday in Manila and constantly wondered how a basket case, politically, like the Philippines can have a better and cleaner roads than Jakarta.
Other observations about Manila:
- They have great, cheap medical service – Unspun’s boy was down with high fever and we suspected dengue. So we admitted him into Makati Medical Center for two nights. The staff there were professional, informative and very helpful. So were the doctors and nurses at the pediatrics section of the emergency ward. The hospital was a bit old and was being refurbished but still it was clean and well kept.And it was inexpensive. Compared to Jakarts. Cost of two nights stay and tratment in a private ward, including medication, doctors fees and blood testa -less than Rp3 million. Try getting something even close like this in one of the better hospitals in Jakarta.
- Food was good. Try Abe’s for some yummy Filipino food at Serendra, a outdoor strip of shops and open spaces at the space where the Bonifacio military base used to be. It’s just about 10 minutes from Makati. Unspun particularly liked the Crispy Pata, the baby squid in shrimp paste and the chicken with glutinous rice. Incidentally, when the Americans decamped the Salim Group and a local dealmaker bought up the place and had grand plans for its development. Then they were it by the Asian Monetary Crisis. (see here) The area is now springing to life.
- Filipino salespersons seem more articulate and polite than their Indonesian counterparts but they are similarly vacuous when it comes to product knowledge
- Philippine Airline’s checking in facilities and staff at the Manila airport suck. They are s-l-o-w. If you’re checking in Unspun suggests you go real arly. It took us 45 minutes of lining up before we reached the check in counter. Then it was another 15 minutes of mucking around. The immigration guys are no better.
- There’s a lot of shopping malls in Manila. You wonder if Manilans do anything other than shopping as a past time in the city. Come to think of it that’s what Jakartans do.
- The historical sites are not much better maintained than Jakarta’s. Both suck. Unspun visited Intramuros, the old quarter of Manila and the thought that kept creeping into his mind, as he passed the maintained fort where the Philippines national hero Jose Rizal was incarcerated and executed, was: what would Rizal say if he came back and saw how badly maintained the place was. I wasn’t dirty or anything, just unexciting and reeked of neglect.