With my mom attending a Manila conference last week, coupled with my sister Bernadette yearning for a break from Hong Kong, and my weekend suddenly having cleared up, an impromptu family reunion in the Philippines was made possible! It really was one of those “nothing much” trips, just a time to get away and and gain some much needed perspective. Living in Hong Kong, decisions about having to escape are made that much easier by the vicinity of travel to Asia and the many options of getting there at extremely more than reasonable prices. That past weekend Priceline Hong Kong was selling Manila-Hong Kong Roundtrips quite cheap, at about 200USD in total with tax. The price was beyond reasonable and there was no question that I was going to have a last minute Manila trip!
The view from my mom’s hotel close to her conference. Surprise Surprise… it’s a Mall. Which is very typical of Manila.
To be fair, this was the other view… Sunset at Manila Bay poolside, which alone made the decision to come here… priceless.
While Manila trips for me are always connected to a family obligation (ie. a refrain from blogging), “Wanderlisting” for the first evening in the city turned out to be inevitable since I was with my very chic graphic designer cousin, Kara, who agreed to play host to my sister and me for a “Manila-By-Night” Itinerary. The itinerary thankfully involved all the things that we love here at theWanderlister+ Asia. We’re talking feasting on amazing cuisine, checking out the latest in the city’s art scene, and sipping cocktails in fabulous bars.
+ 8PM FOOD // DRAFT Gastropub at The Fort
The traffic wasn’t easy, but after a two-hour drive from our hotel, we finally made it The Fort Complex’s newest gastropub, DRAFT. Kara is a self-proclaimed connoisseur of beer and apparently DRAFT has some of the best selections of foreign and local beers on tap. It’s a bit like the Manila version of Hong Kong’s The Globe, a favorite of mine. Additionally we were also rushing because, surprise surprise, they were going for the trendy “No Reservations- First Come, First Served” policy.
When we got there, we were told that we only could sit at the bar or sit outside because all the tables were taken and the restaurant was full. I’m from Hong Kong. I know what a “full” restaurant is supposed to look like. Does this look full to you Hong Kongers?
One booth had one guy sitting there for two hours and a few 4-seaters had only a couple of people occupying each table setting (see above). Another booth that could clearly fit 6 only ended up sitting a “VIP” couple, which had a “RESERVED” plaque sitting there prior. NOT COOL Manila.
So after an hour of sitting at the bar drinking blondies, I had enough of staring at empty tables and actually complained. When I went there, no one was at their booth, so I checked out a list to see what number we were, and surprise, surprise the list was actually two lists, one that said “Reservation Guests” and the other that said “Non Reservation Guests”. The list was weird for a “First-Come-First-Served” Restaurant, but not weird because we were in Manila where you always have to pull something like a “Media” card or a “politics” card to get a table. Guess which card I was forced to play? We immediately had a seat after.
DRAFT Gastropub at the Fort, Interiors.
I hated pulling that “Media” card, but for the Philippines, you just have to. Note to DRAFT, do what they do at Linguini Fini and Yardbird in Hong Kong, no reservations applies to everyone, even the media and the bosses’ friends AND wait until all parties arrive, then they get to sit. Please do not let one customer hog up a whole table for 6 people waiting for his friends. SERIOUSLY.
Now that we’re done with the lowlights, lets focus on DRAFT’s highlights, and thank goodness we’re talking about the dishes served by celebrity chef, Carlo Miguel.
Cauliflower and Cheese. Crispy at the top, cheesy in between, and fresh steamed cauliflower within. HMMMM…..
The best fried calamaris… in the world.
Angry Drunk Mussles in garlic with fries.
And THE Best Chicken Tenders. Ever.
Sausage and Mash.
A healthy enough Burger.
and of course greens, soaked in Garlic Butter.
We ate more than what can fit in this blog post, but these were the best of the batch. Overall we were a happy bunch because the food was really amazing, but they really should work on their restaurant policies. It’s pretty uncool.
Me, Kara, and Bernadette with our huge beers below.
DRAFT Gastropub / Fort Strip, Taguig City / Tel: 846-9725 or 0906-248-1214
+ 10:30PM ART // Vinyl on Vinyl at The Collective
Because Kara has plenty of friends in the art, fashion, and design circles, she and her mates took us on our next stop, an opening for a graffiti pop artist exhibit at Vinyl on Vinyl at The Collective, which is Manila’s newest compound for all things art, music, bars, and fashion, all under one roof.
Oops what did we get ourselves into?
Basically The Collective is a big factory-like shed, where inserted are a series of intimate spaces that run as shopfronts, work areas, coffee shops, bars, and galleries. Anything goes.
I felt so voyeuristic.
I think we’re almost there.
The room was really floor to ceiling stuffed with characters both real and imagined by graffiti artist and illustrator, Jovencio Tiu Mayor III or Ungga as he is more commonly known.
According to Vinyl on Vinyl, “Graffiti” in Manila has evolved into a new form of art, and deviating away from what used to be vandalism. Some artists choose spray painted tags, installation art, stenciled imagery, while others opt for the immediacy and aging characteristics of stickers and paste ups. Through “Graffiti” art, Ungga saw an opportunity to express himself, and his new love for creating public art attempts to bridge the gap between the urban art scene and traditional art and representation in the Philippines. His vision is to “create art that society will accept. Armed with a spraycan, a bucket of paint and a blank wall as his canvas.”
Ungga’s works filled the whole gallery.
Someone who I thought had amazingly cool hair checking out the work.
Turned it out it was the artist, Ungga, shown below left with the rest of the crew from Vinyl on Vinyl.
More artists from the gallery.
Kara’s gal pals, Paulina (left) and Mikki (right).
Paulina checking out the melting popsicle.
We had a great chat with the team of Vinyl on Vinyl and then we had to go to our next venue because my sister wanted to dance. On the way out we passed by all these hidden restaurant and cafe stalls at The Collective. If only we weren’t crazy full from DRAFT.
This one was Japanese.
This other one was Pizza and Beer. I really recommend checking out The Collective the next time you’re in town.
Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery at The Collective / 7247 Malugay Street, Makati / www.vinylonvinylgallery.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / +63-922-8487427
+ 12:00 AM DRINKS // Robot
Since my sister really insisted on dancing, Kara’s friend suggested that we check out a certain “edgy” DJ Buzz at Robot. Well, “edgy” in Manila terms is quite far from what I would call edgy, unless playing ABBA, then N.E.R.D., then BoyzIIMen, in a row for no rhyme or reason and without mixing was edgy to YOU. In any rate, Robot was still a great time nonetheless.
The interiors for Robot are inspired by Japanese anime and Japanese pop-cultural influences. For me, the whole interiors was all fun and very much a techno-fantasy come to life. It was very Blade-Runner-esque.
I love the wavy cieling and the space’s vertical lines.
And the transparent floor with white pebbles. A bit of old and new Japan in a very red space.
They had all the standard cocktails. I settled for a Bailey’s and Coffee.
I love Manila. It’s fun in it’s own special way.
Robot Restaurant Lounge / 7912 Somerset Building, Makati Ave. corner Sto. Tomas St., Makati City, Philippines / Phone: (632) 8128800 / email@example.com / www.robot.ph
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