Manila Finale: Slum Visit and Mabini Shrine

The last leg of my free and easy Manila trip was probably the best one as I enjoyed the simple home cooked food and light hearted company. I had the experience of living life the humble filipino way and found out that no matter how bad times were, there was always hot delicious food going round everyone's tables (or rather houses)! But put your typical Singaporean here and I swear they would run far far away. A slum is a slum afterall and the living conditions were not what normal Singaporeans would be used to. Toilets were considered holes in the ground, shelters were built right beside smelly drains and roofs were just zinc plates joined together.

the slum living room where all families from different houses would come together and share a common TV!
Into slums we go

We had a short visit to Mabini shrine after Taal Volcano and the ladies picked some wild cranberries... I had fun writing my name and website on the Mabini shrine guest list!
Free entry!

raw cranberries are sour but refreshing
This particular slum had a slipper "Factory" which was a low tech slipper production line. I had some good educational insights on how the business was run and this was extremely interesting for me.
They worked hard here which was a good thing!

Levis showing me around the production line
The next morning was a different story as we visited the markets along the slum area for some supplies. We got ourselves some eggs, chicken wing wings (yes the wing wing's!), fish and some noodles. We were going to have a home cooked meal that day and everyone was invited! I also got a chance to try a favourite pinoy snack - Hot Pandesals! They were around $0.10 SGD and looked awfully plain but tasted like pinoy heaven! I couldn't believe that after filling myself with at least 10 buns, it was a mere $1 SGD. It costs much more in Singapore to be satisfyingly full!

a sweet potato snack!

Get your hot pandesals!
the pandesal up close!
talk about bird flu man...

dried mango, beef ribs stew and fried fish! not forgetting my favourite chilli padi!

fried chicken wings wings and necks! extremely tasty!
awesome decent bee hoon!
When we got to the slums, I was a little shocked that drinking water had to be bought in the form of jerry cans! Apparently, these were considered luxury and my nanay's family had invested in the water and a fridge. The business? Chilled water sold by 1.5 litre bottles and ice cubes in plastic bags! Dozens of houses and neighbours all relied on this little fridge for this privelege often taken for granted back in Singapore. This put humble thoughts in my big head and Singaporeans have to see the world before we complain about trivial things.

little girl knows her job. of course i helped her too later on.

wire drums as seats?

On the last night, my nanay's family were very excited at having me spend the night at the slums so they brought me out for some sightseeing. They brought me to this place they call "the lookout" and the view was simply amazing. One could see the whole of Manila from this "lookout". They couldn't afford the bill though and I myself ordered a mango dessert as the rest of them just asked for plain water. We crammed ourselves into a small corner and chatted about... This was a defining moment in my assessment of these people. Although they share their food and spend their money without thinking about future costs, they know how to treat guests and they know their manners. Knowing that they couldn't afford anything and if they ordered, poor Nigel would have to pay, these people did not order and simply said they were not hungry. Good people.

The view from this picture is under rated

good people
Later on, I was pleasantly surprised by my new found pinoy friends when they did something that touched my heart. They made me and family some slippers from their slum shoe factory. The slippers were also very good quality and definitely not the china made slippers you commonly see! After chatting with them, I also realised that they were also very angry with the chinese because made in china slippers had eroded their slum business and they didn't know how to cope even though you can visibly see their quality of slippers is much more superior!
definitely better quality
Slum time isn't complete with slum beer though and I asked around before Levi's recommended me some good old "strongmen" beer which Levis explained to me was what strongmen like him drank. It was strong beer that wasn't luxurious nor branded but meant to give these strongmen the kick of alcohol. We had a couple of beers as Levis hummed along his favourite tune and talked about his good old days.
strong slum beer for strongmen
It was also during this time that I tried out the infamous Filipino Balut. As the chants of "Balut Balut" were heard outside our shelter, I couldn't resist it anymore and it was one of my goals when coming to Phillipines anyway!
peeling the bugger and drinking the juice!

nom nom nom

feeling the stim

getting the hang of it!
I was skeptical at first and a little queasy but I later on found out that these things were tasty! You're supposed to peel the Balut and dip it in some sauce which I think was vinegar. The soup of the balut tasted like an extra charged chicken esscence from brands! I loved the unborn foetus chicken head and body though. These tasted like chicken but with a kick to it! The egg white was a little boring though as it was tasteless and hard. Awesome snack at just $0.40 SGD per pop!

After that we had to leave for the airport but not before I passed my foster family (during this trip) some cash incentives which would definitely go a long way in helping them tide over bad times. It was not because they asked for it but because I wanted to give. And what I had seen over the past few days and what I had received from them (although not monetary) was more than I bargained for!

I will see you guys again soon!
my foster "family"
This ends the Baktao Manila experience that I hope readers would find useful if they want to plan any holidays to Manila! Next up will be the Baktao's experiences to Thailand and things/attractions to do there!


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