Not-So-Old Notes About the Philippines #01 [From the Vault]

Blogger’s Note: As a travel magazine editor/writer, allow me to share with you a little bit about my work, in hopes of giving you a glimpse of what our small but beautiful country is all about. You see, the Philippines has a little bit of everythingthe stunning beaches, the biodiversity, the lush rainforests, the historic towns and vibrant cities. But its biggest pride is definitely its people. Filipinos are one of the friendliest and warmest people you could ever meet, so here’s my own way of channeling that brand of hospitality: sharing my anecdotes about home, and in the process, about myself.

Originally titled “Cravings Mentality”, this write-up was my Letter from the Editor, initially published in Explore Philippines Aug-Sept 2015 issue. Some parts have been edited and omitted to suit general online viewing. Being the first out of at least 15 Letters published to date, I hope to release a few more down the line, depending if its topic still rings true today.

A Manileño Mentality: The Craving that Consumes My City Today

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View from Old Manila that currently undergoing a major facelift. Photo taken in May 2017.

 

As a child of the ‘90s who was brought up in a traditional, middle-class suburban Filipino household, had swimming and taekwondo lessons for summer, observed mung beans Fridays with the family, and thought the town’s old carnival “Big Bang sa Alabang” was the epitome of living large, my expectations of self-indulgence used to be pretty shallow.

As I reached puberty, views on what’s generally “cool” to splurge on changed and standards on how to treat oneself became as complicated as any teenage angst would be. From spending (my parents’ money) on Polly Pocket, cassette tapes, and Tiger Beat, I shifted my attention to cell phones, hair products, and Starbucks by the time I entered college.

How we enjoyed our downtime remained straightforward and predictable as years went by. But as more posh shopping centers sprung up left and right in CBDs, so did small independent businesses in an attempt to lure people back uptown. However, we all felt not a clash, but an opportunity for one place to develop and be proud of its character. Out-of-towners were no longer a big deal either, as anywhere outside the Metro had something exciting to offer its guests.

The indulgent lifestyle has become an elaborate industry on its own. When before, so-called luxurious vacation trips automatically meant hitting a private beach or a five-star resort, today may not even require one to leave the hotel room.

Not too long ago, imported beers were all the rage. Now it’s all about whiskey.

And music festivals.

Unlimited supply of everything, for only a few people.

And something with a spa on the side.

And artisanal or third wave. Or sophisticated fusion, but with a familiar undertone.

Ever had foie gras mac and cheese?

Ever tried ‘glamping’?

It’s an abundance of fancy perks all in one package, as the market now expects things to be.

Modern Filipinos not only crave more, they crave with much more thought and effort put into it. Blame it on the dictates of commerce spoon-feeding consumers many options to celebrate their milestones, or man’s nature for reinvention–even activities that by definition normally don’t demand too much thinking, but the lucrative business of indulging oneself has now acquired new traits, some of which we have yet to experience.

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Not to be denied, local companies have come out ready to play with their foreign counterparts, showing off just how skilled and innovative independent players can be while staying true to our own roots and traditions. Whether it’s in the hospitality, food and beverage, or recreation and entertainment field, it’s high time for our homegrown establishments to take center stage. From its much simpler days, we now celebrate the coming of age of the fun and lavish side of Pinoy living.

Is your city growing up like mine? How are you taking the gentrification of your own neighborhood? The indulgence might be good for the economy, but is it also good for the soul? Are your cravings satisfied or do you yearn for more? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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