Impressions of Mexico City

I planned of going to Mexico City more than 6 months ago.  I purchased my airfare and booked my hotels about the same time.  Problems arose along the way especially regarding the online travel agent I got who cancelled and refunded my 6-month old plane ticket 10 days prior to the actual flight and have yet to inform me the reasons for such cancellation.  Two days after such cancellation, I still decided to still push through with the adventure by courageously buying a Turkish Airline ticket bound for Mexico City.

Prior to me leaving for Mexico City, lots of friends and colleagues are questioning me why I chose to do a solo travel in such a dingy and dangerous place.  They relayed that they have read and heard a lot about Mexico City being precarious, unsafe and pick-pocket infested.  But since it is one country that welcomes me without having to apply for a tourist visa (since I am a US and Japan multiple entry visa holder), I did not listen to friends and relatives and still push through with my journey.   

Now, I am here in remarkable Mexico City, spending almost two weeks already – not that I am asking – yet I have yet to feel and experience the worry and uneasiness that my friends and colleagues has informed me.  I must admit that I was a bit worried at first, but all these anxiety and fear were totally erased once I walked the busy streets of the city.  This was fully reinforced when I survived a train ride during a rush hour!  Besides, I grew up in a similarly perilous and dodgy City of Pasay in Manila, thus, I can actually use my innate and fully developed skill in dealing with the crooks, the felonious and the delinquents.

Similar to Metro Manila, Mexico City is vast and humongous!  But I personally prefer the weather of this city as compared to the Manila weather.  Mexico got 4 seasons, Manila got 2.  You can never let me wear a jacket outdoors in Manila, because it is either hot or very hot!

I hate to compare but the architecture in Mexico is a bit better as compared to the structures found in Manila.  Metro train system in Mexico City is of course more intricate and more reliable as compared to the rundown, often-busted and politically-exploited metro train in Manila.  And though Philippines and Mexico similarly experienced more than 300 years of Spanish rule, Mexico seem to have maintained its Spanish roots because they seem to possess more European looking buildings.     

The similarity between Manila and Mexico City I guess would be regarding cleanliness and the people.  There are lots of people everywhere and both cities needs to improve a lot concerning cleanliness! Another similarity would be the traffic.  Though Mexico has intricate and more developed metro train, its traffic is as bad as that of Manila.  Both cities are traffic-infested!

Mexico City love art!  One noticeable person printed on their money (500 Mexican peso denomination) is an art goddess, Frida Khalo.  Also, I was actually surprised to find out that this city got the most number of museums.  And even on the street, people tend to express themselves through art.  Humongous mural arts, lots of colorful graffiti and numerous art performances can be seen on the streets of the city.      But I guess the one thing that Manila is better as compared to Mexico would be the smile.  Though Mexicans tend to be more passionate and expressive – there’s lots of sensual kissing inside the train, amatory hugging on the streets and even lgbt members freely holding hands while walking – we in Manila smile more, we seem kindlier and seem gentler as compared to the fierce and audacious people of Mexico City.

If you would ask me if I will go back and revisit Mexico City.  I would definitely will!

Di naman nakaka-shokot… Biba Meksiko!

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The Food at Apartment 1B

A friend learned that I dined at Apartment 1B of The Henry Hotel and suspected that the food must have been no good that is why I did not write or post about it in this blog.  But since now that I am writing about it, it only means that I indeed enjoyed the food that they served us.

The selfish in me actually wanted the restaurant of The Henry Hotel to be a secret, but since friends learned that I dined there with Nengkoy and family, might as well spill the sumptuous beans! 

apartment 1b got some delicious secret…
beef burger with australian cheddar cheese and bacon
whole wheat spaghetti with grilled veggies (my personal favorite)
baby back ribs with honey bourbon sauce
croque madame! 
main course number 1: white toblerone cheesecake with rapberry coulis
main course number 2: carrot cake 
with nengkoy (of course)

I have nothing bad to say about the warm service, the appealing food and the relaxing ambiance.  The food at Henry Hotel actually was a big positive surprise!  I never expected it to be so good.  Their well-presented dishes were amazingly fine and delicious.

I have nothing but alluring and charming praises for the food served at Apartment 1B.  I will surely be back!

Angcharap!

A Rare Retail Experience in Pasay

I grew up in one of the most notorious and crime infested cities of the world, Pasay City.  The gang-infested town of New York, the dynamic human trafficking in Belize and the exploits of crime at the favelas of Brazil seem all so tame and subdued if to be compared to the felonies and transgressions that occur in my home city.

That is why I was so surprised to find out that right in the middle of dangerous Pasay, runs a rare and unusual Honesty Shop.  Honesty stores and shops (unmanned establishments in which the stores cash sales are relied upon the honesty of its patrons) thrives in some of the most nonviolent, remote and/or progressive spots in the world.  In fairness, there are actually 2 stores that I know that runs an honesty shop here in the Philippines, one is at the remote and peaceful province of Batanes while the other one is at the high-end and affluent university here in the Philippines. 

henry hotel

Enough with the topic diversion!  The store in Pasay that I am talking about is Honest Henry, an  honesty shop inside a compound where Henry Hotel is located.  I found this place when I and my family was about to have a hearty lunch inside Henry Hotel. 

nephew luis checking out the stuff inside the store 
proudly philippine made! 
stuff for sale!
this is how you do it!

The even rarer fact about this store is that it is not just selling cheap snacks and knickknacks.  It is selling locally-made pricey-looking crafts and souvenirs.  I was so surprised when I was checking all the merchandise!  Those were not cheap, shoddy and substandard! 

Honesty Shop at Henry Hotel was something so pleasing and refreshing for Pasay City.  It gives me the positive feeling and perspective that there still exists some glimmer of hope to the city where I grew up.

Anesti is the best palisi…

Harrison Plaza

The Philippines boasts of its humongous shopping malls.  Two of the biggest in the world can actually be found here (SM North Edsa and SM Mall of Asia).  But there’s one mall I grew up going to.  It’s Harrison Plaza.  Growing up, this has been my family’s mall of choice during the 70s and 80s because of its accessibility since it is simply just at the borders of Pasay and Manila cities.

I am writing about this mall because I happen to bumped into a photo of how glorious Harrison Plaza was in the 70’s…

harrison plaza during the '70s
harrison plaza during the ’70s

This one-stop retail center is the first shopping mall in the country.  It opened in 1976 and up until now is very much operational.  Though it obviously needs some serious refurbishing to bring back its glory, Harrison Plaza is actually even older than the world’s worst airport NAIA Terminal 1 by 6 years.

harrison plaza today
harrison plaza today

Obviously, time has changed.  It is no longer the mall of choice by the Filipinos.  But going to Harrison Plaza does not entail and pressure a person to primp and gussy up (like when you would go to Rockwell, Greenbelt or Resorts World).  You can simply go sporting your casual house clothes.

It is no longer the mall of the well-heeled and A-listers.  Yet being so near to one of the Ivy-League-like universities of the land (De La Salle University), Harrison Plaza for sure has been visited at least once by these privileged souls.  I suppose this is one place every Green Archer can’t inevitably get rid of during his fun yet busy college life – may it be a simple need for a cellphone fix, a school requirement purchase, a cheap lunch or a societal immersion to a lower to middle class bracket of the population.

Now that I am living 3 minutes away from Harrison Plaza, this mall has been my most convenient place in resolving my addiction to rash and unnecessary purchasing binges otherwise known as “shopping”.

Bakit walang estatwa o rebulto si Francis Burton Harrison sa mol na ‘to?

Narnia is in Pasay

Though considered as the major gateway of the Philippines to the world, Pasay is one of the oldest cities in Metro Manila that has yet to turn around its bad image and reputation.  Mind-boggling traffic… squallid slums and squatters… horrible roads… ambulant vendors with unsanitary eateries… dirty politics… and of course garbage… Name it, my beloved Pasay has it.  This terribly polluted city has yet to change its impression to the public.

But boyoboyoboy, Pasay is where the magical world of Narnia is!  It is specifically located at Newport City Complex right across NAIA Terminal 3.

When you reach this highly urbanized city complex, it feels like walking into the magical wardrobe from a grim surroundings and then whoosh, you stepped into a portal to end up at a totally different spectrum!  It suddenly becomes a fairyland dimension of luxury, of high-end fashion and of lavishly-furnished space.

Me and Karen (my usual tour buddy) just had a delightful experience of a totally different Pasay.  We stayed overnight at the impeccable suite room of Maxims Tower; had sumptuous breakfast buffet at Impressions; had splendid Cantonese dimsum buffet for lunch at Passion; dipped into their elegantly styled infinity pool; drooled over the dazzling array of high-fashioned boutiques; and, won a couple of bucks at the grandiose casino.

with karen and baby : )
the lost siblings of peter, susan, edmund and lucy

We were treated like royalties by the butlers, I thought me and Karen were the missing-but-now-found crowned royal siblings of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia.

At dahil dyan, may pag-asa pa ang Eym Hay Pasay…