Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Philippines - Makati, Ayala Museum & Batangas

Makati - Thursday 13th December -  
Our last day in Manila and we had to vacate the Airbnb apartment by 11am. 
We would have to stay in Manila until late in the evening though, to pick up daughter Karina's in-laws who would be arriving from France via London and Hong Kong.

We managed to be packed and ready by 10am and walked to the nearby SM Mall of Asia where we could store our luggage.
Husband Jose wanted to do some shopping, so after sorting out the luggage storage we went to the SM Store, a department store chain that sells clothing, beauty products and home goods.
After trying out 6 or 7 short sleeved shirts Jose chose 4, paid for them and we retrieved our luggage.

SM Mall of Asia, a nice coffee cup light fixture, a pet shop

In the shopping centre was surprised to find a pet shop that even had little prams for the dogs. I had already seen 2 fancy ladies wheeling a dog pram, how extravagant when there are so many stray dogs all over Manila. 

We then caught a taxi to the Makati financial district where I had been with Karina a few days before when she was looking for her wedding dress.

Karina had searched online for luggage storage in Makati and found a sort of "Storage Airbnb" and the taxi dropped us at at the BSA Tower. It turns out it was an Airbnb apartment , whose renters would only arrive late evening, so they maximise the rentability by hiring it for luggage storage for a few hours! Clever idea!! 

The owner was waiting for us and after ascertaining what time we would be back we left and walked to Ayala Centre in the Greenbelt Gardens 500mt away and looked for a restaurant to have our lunch.

Ayala Centre at Greenbelt Gardens - restaurants and high-end shops

After perusing some menus on the outside of the restaurants we settled for Mesa Restaurant with modern Filipino food. Service was good, our choice of food was good and tasty, although I only remember the baked scallops with garlic butter we ordered for our entree and it was delicious...

Our baked scallops with garlic butter

After lunch we walked around Greenbelt gardens to the Ayala Museum just around the corner.

Greenbelt Gardens - lake, Chapel and statues

The Ayala Museum is privately run by the Ayala Foundation and houses ethnographic and archeological exhibits on Filipino art, culture and history.
There is a floor with an indigenous textile collection and a collection of pre-Hispanic gold jewellery and other gold objects on display. On another floor there was an art exhibit by Filipino masters - Luna and Amorsolo, which couldn't be photographed.

The Caravelles during the Spanish colonial period

The historical exhibition was amazing with about 60 huge dioramas depicting the most important historical moments of the Philippines.

15 Nov 1935 - Manuel Quezon is sworn in as President of the new Commonwealth of the Philippines

American High Commissioner Paul McNutt lowers the Stars and Stripes as President Manuel Roxas raises the Philippine flag among cheers from the crowd on Independence Day 4 July 1946.

It was almost 6pm and the Museum was about to close by the time we finished our worthwhile tour of the Museum.
The sun sets at 5.30pm so by the time we left the museum it was already dark. 

Outside the Ayala Museum in Makati

Outside we caught a taxi to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) 7km away, hoping to make it in time as Thomas's (my future son in law) parents would be landing at 7pm.
Traffic was chaotic again but the driver weaved his way through a whole lot of side roads and we made it to the airport in just over 1 hour! 
At the airport we had a laugh when we saw this taxi decorated with Christmas lights.

Taxi lit up as a Christmas tree

At the arrivals hall we met up with the driver that Thomas and Karina use, that had driven up from Batangas (80km south of Manila).

Thanks to Whatsapp messages we already knew that Benoir, Thomas's brother hadn't boarded the same flight as his parents, as before boarding from London to Hong Kong he had lost his passport.
The airline had to unload his suitcase (they actually unloaded his parent's suitcase too) and he retraced his steps to see if he could find his passport. He found it at the Security where it had stayed in one of the trays. But either no one had announced that they had found a passport or because their English isn't the best they hadn't heard it.
At the best of times it's difficult to make out those announcements at the Airports anyway!

Isabelle and Max arrived well, but didn't know their suitcase hadn't travelled with them so waited at the carousel for a while. Eventually Max connected himself to the internet to let Karina know they were still waiting for the bag and she told them to come out as their bag would come later with their son.

Benoir in the meantime had boarded another flight 2 hours later and would be landing at 9pm.
Karina decided that because it was late and Isabelle and Max were tired, we wouldn't wait for possibly another 3 hours and would go home with the driver that had come to get us.
She called Thomas to arrange for another driver to be sent to the airport to pick up Benoir.

And so we climbed on the van, strapped ourselves in, and two hours later we arrived!
It took 2 hours to travel 80km, mostly on the highway, where the top speed is 80km and was chock a block with traffic.

We arrived in Batangas close to midnight, and sat down to have something to eat before taking a shower and going to sleep.
We had already gone to bed when Benoir arrived at 2am.

Batangas - Friday and Saturday 14th and 15th December 

The next morning after breakfast we took a walk around the Shell compound where Karina and Thomas live. It comprises about 50 houses, a small apartment building for the single people, golf course, swimming pool and a community house/pub where they hold events like Christmas, New Year or game nights.
The city of Batangas has about 300 thousand residents, so a big contrast to Manila with its 16 million!!

Karina's house (top left) golf course, mountains and bay (bottom right) the best garden in the street (bottom left)

Just down the street from Karina's house this strange "thing" on a tree caught our eye.
It was a weaver ants nest, where the thousand of ants construct nests weaving together leaves using larval silk. These ants can inflict a painful bite if disturbed and often spray formic acid on the bite wound resulting in intense discomfort.

Weaver ants nest

The sky was getting darker even though it was the dry season and eventually the rain started falling hard and we sprinted the last few metres to the house.

Later in the afternoon the family of 7 was driven in two trips to the SM Mall of Batangas.
As Karina and Thomas only have 1 car, first the ladies were dropped off and then Thomas drove back home and picked up the men.
We explored the shopping for a while and then Karina suggested we go and have an espresso coffee at Brewista Coffee & Hookah Loungea very cute coffee shop across the road. 
Apparently they are just about the only ones that can make a good espresso. Not being a coffee drinker I had tea.

SM Mall

I had already seen the lack of road rules in Manila, but even here in a smaller town of 300,000 people the same happens. No helmets, people clinging to the outside of the jeepneys, kids on bikes, answering mobile phones, looking at facebook at the traffic lights...

child standing w/dad on motorbike with no helmet, hanging on to jeepneys

The ever present jeepneys and the tricycles 

At night, after dinner we sang Happy Birthday to Benoir (Thomas's brother) and had a slice of chocolate cake which was delicious.
And so ended our first day in Batangas.


  1. How fun and I love that taxi all decorated. Way clever.

    Have a fabulous day and week. ♥

    1. Thanks Sandee, yes that taxi was funny :)

  2. It's those models of the ships that particularly draw my eye.

  3. A dog pram?! Grteat idea indeed with the storage, we did that, too, when we were stuck in Nürnberg on the way back from Italy.
    To imagine to be on a ship like that... I wouldn´t be brave enough. Oh, I love dioramas.
    "Just" over an hour for 7 km... But the Christmas taxi is great!
    Oh my, it sounds exhausting and chaotic, I hope our flights will be uneventful...
    The traffic sure is scary there!

    1. First time ever I saw dog prams! I have used proper storage facilities in Sydney but not like an airbnb storage. Yes, traffic is crazy, but the drivers there seem extremely patient.

  4. Those Greenbelt Gardens look pretty appealing to me. I am sure there would have been a few birds there to keep me happy!

    1. Can't remember seeing birds there David, but I'm sure there would be some. I saw ducks and small turtles in the Greenbelt pond.

  5. My wife Daisy would really like that giant husky statue.

    1. It was a cute statue Adam, and huskies are fabulous dogs too :)

  6. Very enterprising to use Airbnb for luggage storage. Worked out well for you.

    It sounds very incompetent of someone to not alert check in or boarding about Benoir's passport.

    It sounds like a hectic couple of days for you all and the second time with flying troubles messing up plans. Plenty to talk about later, no doubt.

    1. Enterprising indeed Andrew, a great way to make extra money.
      I agree on the passport loss at London airport, they could very well check where he was flying to and alert that boarding lounge.

  7. O que impressiona mais nas Filipinas, e em muitos outros países asiáticos, é o contraste entre os muito ricos e os muito pobres.
    O fosso é brutal!

  8. Um país que gostava de conhecer, aproveito para desejar a continuação de uma boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

    1. Obrigada Francisco. Pode ser que um dia se realize o seu desejo.

  9. There's a dog in my neighborhood that looks EXACTLY like that doggie in the window. I greeted him the first thing this morning, as a matter of fact. :-)

    1. How cute, huskies are beautiful dogs, say Hi to him from me too :)

  10. I have no idea what happened, but this is the THIRD time I've tried to leave a comment. The first two were much longer, so I'll just say I enjoyed the paintings, the ships, the Husky, and felt the chaos of the traffic.

    1. Sorry about that Elizabeth, I wonder what went wrong, they're not in the spam folder.
      Thanks for persisting anyway :)

  11. So different and interesting place! The traffic seems chaotic and very unsafe and Surprising how it kind of works anyway.
    I heard recently about Airbnb luggage but I was not sure about it and didn’t try it. Now I know how it works!

    1. Somehow the chaotic traffic works as they have to ride so slowly not many accidents happen. Just motorbike accidents. But no respect for rules, no helmets, they talk on the mobiles, they check facebook...
      The airbnb luggage worked well for us, and we could do our sightseeing without having to lug our bags with us.

  12. Dearest Sami,
    Sounds all so familiar to us!
    Jakarta is as crazy and busy as Manila is and the road rules all over Indonesia, and India are very much the same. Safety is a word they yet have to grasp!
    Oh, sweet traveling, what a fate to loose the passport.
    But it makes for sweet dreams when finally arriving at the destination and finding a good bed!
    You all had quite some adventures. The population density is also a huge difference!!!

    1. Thanks Mariette. Even though the traffic is crazy, the Filipinos seem very calm and relaxed through it all. But of course not much regard for road rules :)
      Have a lovely weekend.

  13. The Ayala museum looks fascinating. I love spots like that. And your food, divine. Those scallops just jumped off the page to me! I'm sorry you had to deal with the rain -- looks like it was really coming down -- glad you were close to home!

    1. We were very impressed with Ayala Museum for sure, very informative.
      I love scallops and ate them often in the Philippines.
      Thanks Jan.

  14. I got to as far as 'baked scallops with garlic butter; then for a moment I was lost savouring the taste...

    … reading on, another lovely post such a good read and wonderful photographs - but the chaos of the traffic came through!

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan, the scallops were delicious, I ate them often, they were always good.
      Traffic was awful but the drivers seemed very calm and took it all in their stride. Us Westerners would be having a raging fit if that happened in our countries.


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