Culture,  Lifestyle

The City Series: 3 Things I Miss About Manila

It’s been eight years since I’ve been to my own passport country – the Philippines.

It was where I lived for the first six years of my life before my family migrated to Taiwan. Today, it’s the only place in the world where I can live in and work as a citizen, not as a foreigner.

Yet so, my homeland feels foreign and distant in my memory.

For those who have left their motherland for greener pastures as a student or a worker, home becomes a blurry idea. How much of a home is it when we’re trying to escape it?

Nonetheless, it’s exciting going back to places that used to be home in our lives. I’m hoping to go back this summer.

With vivid memories of my childhood and summer vacations back to Manila as a teenager, here are the 3 things I miss most about my first hometown.

1. The Energy

Manila is a city filled with hopes and dreams.

With a population of 1.8 million, young adults and ambitious students from all over the country flock to the capital for better opportunity.

Not only that, but thousands of foreigners and expatriates have also made Manila their home.

I miss feeling the energy of a vibrant population filling the streets of a city vying to make a better life for themselves and their families. You not only get to see daily commuters, but entertainers, professionals, entrepreneurs, college students, and expats all congregated in the dense city streets.

The city doesn’t seem to sleep.

For city dwellers who love the busy, hustle life – Manila won’t disappoint.

2. The Entertainment

Manila is paradise for entertainment – especially if you have money to spend.

Once my family and I moved to Taiwan, we would make summer visits back home. We’d often stay right in the heart of the city, with malls, restaurants, and towering buildings left and right.

If there’s one thing you’ll never see enough of in the Philippines, it’s our malls.

We have bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, banks, grocery stores, bakeries, bookstores, and a myriad of shops in our malls.

It’s where we do everything. We even hold concerts in our malls. Up-and-coming American pop stars like Lauv have already performed in the city.

I miss spending a whole day with my cousins playing in Timezone (an arcade), checking out shoes at Nike, then playing bowling and basketball in-doors before getting boba at the food court.

It is definitely a sweet escape from the heat and humidity of Asia.

3. Family

For any traveler, international student, or expat, there is no feeling like seeing family.

I miss my cousins, Tita (aunt), Lola (grandma), and Lolo (grandpa). Each visit to the Philippines brings me back to my roots and family.

We Filipinos are very family-oriented people. With family comes the best home-made food like kare-kare, kaldereta (beef stew), and sopas (macaroni soup). My grandma makes the best kaldereta, and I still crave it to this day.

I miss seeing my extended family – the people who keep me close to my heritage and who remind me of the incredible privileges and opportunities I’ve been given in my life.

To conclude, there are somethings I don’t miss about Manila. The traffic, the heat, and the swarms of people rushing across the streets and malls.

Either way, there is still a piece of me in this city.

I hope everyone who gets to visit sees the same vibrancy I feel from distant memories.


Marjon is the Creator of Third-Culture Thoughts. A political nerd and basketball enthusiast at heart, he writes about everything related to culture and the international experience.