After a day out with friends, I finally had the time to write about what we called the Manila Appreciation Day. Okay, so we did this more than 2 months ago but I only had time to write now. Sue me.

So, what is Manila Appreciation Day? It’s basically us, touring Manila specifically, Binondo, Intramuros, Rizal Park, Manila Zoo, Manila Bay, and Malate though we were only actually able to go to 4 out of the 6 planned places. To make it more interesting, we decided to make it a Php 500.00 challenge.

To sum, we planned to tour Manila and spend at most Php 500.00 each. Right.

It rained hard the whole night prior to that so we weren’t sure if we’d push through. Anyway, come morning with the rain still pouring, we just decided to meet up somewhere in Manila so we could easily modify our plans if the rain ever let up.


Meeting time: 10:00 a.m.

Meeting Place: The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Robinson’s Place, Ermita, Manila

Agreed Attire: Rugged Casual (well, except for Raymond..haha)

The Challenge: spend not more than Php500.00 each the whole day. Mind you, I know how much we spent the whole day, but the per resto/activity are just approximates so what I write here will definitely not add up correctly.

Pictures: All courtesy of Michel


The Meet-up: The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

We spent about two hours hanging out at the Coffee Bean while the skies clear a little. By lunchtime, we were already hungry and wanted badly to push through with our Binondo Food Trip. The Php 500.00 started after we left for Binondo.

Damage: Php 24.oo for the jeepney ride from Pedro Gil to Binondo.


Second Stop: Binondo

Our goal in Binondo is to eat. So, that’s just what we did. We ate at 3 different places, walked around some, each picked numbers for the lottery, and basically did tourist stuff. Binondo is Manila’s Chinatown. This is where the ever popular Ongpin Street s found.

See? Ongpin.

Dong Bei Dumplings. Raymond and Michel really wanted to eat here and since I haven’t eaten real food for about 4 days, I pretty much just let them decide were and what to eat. Dong Bei Dumplings is located in 642 Yuchengco street. To get there from Binondo Church, just walk along Ongpin St. or Condesa St. and turn left at Yuchengco st., it’s on the right side.

The place doesn’t really look appetizing. In fact, of all the food places in Manila I’ve ever visited, it looked quite sad and a bit unsanitary. But the food is great. They make dumplings fresh everyday.

This is the front. That’s it.
Dumplings Made Fresh

We ordered kutchay dumplings and kutchay and pork pancake. I really loved the dumplings. I liked the kutchay pancake better than the pork pancake.

Steamed Kutchay Dumplings
Kutchay and Pork Pancake

Damage: Php 250.00

Wai Ying. We walked around some and ended up in front of Wai Ying. Wai Ying is a bit like your typical Binondo restaurant serving your typical Chinese food but since we’re here for the food, we decided to try it. It is found along Benavidez street. To get there, we walked along Ongpin street, turned left on the first street after the bridge (I forgot the name of the street), then right on Benavidez. We ordered Curry Beef Siomai, Xiao Long Bao, Shrimp Chong Fan, and Roasted Duck with Asado Rice.

The curry beef siomai was okay, the siomai part anyway. The curry was a little to flour-y ( I do not know how to explain that more clearly). Xiao Long Bao was, well, pretty terrible. It’s like the wrap was made so thick, then frozen, then steamed to submission until the wrapping screamed and held on to the metal plate for dear life. The Shrimp Chong Fan was like Hakao but with a sweet sauce. The Roasted Duck was good, I’ve tasted better, but it can pass.

Shrimp Chong Fan

Roasted Duck (behind) Beef Curry Siomai

Damage: Php 340.00

Streets of Binondo. Since we were still pretty full from our Dong Bei Dumplings and Wai Ying food binge, we decided to enjoy the streets of Binondo. We walked around for quite a while, decided to buy lotto tickets, and simply just viewed what the shops there had to offer.

Buying lotto tickets. Why? I really don’t know even until now.

Shops there have themes. There are shops that sell clocks only. Some sell doors only, some sell doorknobs only. There are also a lot of Chinese Medicine stores as well as lots of other different noodle houses.

What caught our attention the most was this store selling both power drills invitations. How’s that for diversity? Manila really is an adventure.

Damage: Php 135.00 (approximately) for the lottery tickets

Masuki. It is this great noodle house also found along Benavidez street. They basically serve noodles and dumplings. We were a bit full but we still wanted to try this. Also, Raymond had a craving for siopao. We ordered a large serving of Beef Asado Wanton Noodles for Php 210.00 for all three of us. Even if we weren’t full, I think that single order is enough for 2 or 3 persons. We also ordered one Pork Asado Siopao.

Their noodles are served with some kind of sticky sweet sauce that you can pour in your noodles, depending on how you want your noodles to taste.

Noodles and Siopao

Damage: Php 210.00

Lorenzo Ruiz Minor Basilica and Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz. As we walked out of China town we went to the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz. It is one of the many beautiful old church es found in Manila. It holds Mandarin and Fookien services on top of English and Tagalog ones.

The Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz is basically a small center with a fountain in it. We were lucky enough that we got there just when a group of fire-eaters were performing on the plaza. After  couple of minutes of watching, we were on our way to Intramuros.



Second Stop: Intramuros

Intramuros is the walled city of Manila. It holds the San Agustin Church, the Manila Cathedral, Fort Santiago, The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Manila, MAPUA Technological Institute, San Juan de Letran, and others

What makes this place unique is that some of the structures are built during the colonial times. Those that are new are designed to mimic the architecture of the colonial era.

Kalesas (horse-drawn carriages) are everywhere, all waiting for to bring you anywhere in Manila for a not-so-affordable price, security personnel in guardia sibil attires, grand architecture, grid city layout, and the ever-popular Fort Santiago, where Jose Rizal was detained.

It became a trip back to elementary for me as I remember the times we had field trips there.

Intramuros has struck the balance between the old and the new. Where else can you see a McDonald’s in an old Spanish-style building?

We walked along one side length of the whole then gave up and got down on the streets to walk across to Fort Santiago. We also went to Manila Cathedral but there was a wedding so we weren’t able to get in. We also went to Fort Santiago and viewed Pasig river for a while. There’s also this rather wonderful museum about Jose Rizal that included original editions and drafts of his books.

Damage: Php 300.00 (I think)


Third Stop: Rizal Park

It was already a bit dark when we arrived in Rizal Park but we were lucky. Why? because at twilight, the fountain dances. They put on a light and water show in the fountains and we were lucky that we were able to catch that.

The water fountain went on an entire repertoire of about 4 songs, all Filipino. I gotta say, we were really impressed.

We then went Jose Rizal’s monument and to kilometer 0, the flag pole in front of Rizal’s monument. Then, we had this bright idea of riding the kalesa back to malate for drinks.

So, we got ourselves a kalesa and went for a ride along Roxas Boulevard until we got to Nakpil Street.

Damage: Php 240.00


Fourth Stop: Kuwagos Grill

Come on, it’s me, Michel, and Raymond. Of course there will be drinking involved.

We had enough of our budget left for a couple of rounds. We took a long time looking for a place actually, because we’re looking for an affordable drinking place and we are not really familiar with Manila. After walking around some, we settled at Kuwago’s Grill. It was pretty much a chill-out place where Tanduay Ice costs Php 110 for three bottles, so that’s not so bad.

Damage: Php 220.00


So, verdict? Manila Appreciation Day and Php 500.00 Challenge were successes. Should really try that again. For more pictures and a video, check this out and also this. Or better yet, check out the whole blog, it’s great.

Until next time.



2 thoughts on “Manila Appreciation Day plus Php 500.00 Challenge

  1. An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!


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