Jan 6, 2009
A Place to Crash for One Night (and Other Manila Highlights)
An Early Thought
As early as a year back, I already thought about sending an email to my distribution group (gmail, yahoo, e-groups, forums, site subscribers) if anyone would take me in for one (1) night during my temporary stay in Manila. I just toyed with the idea but felt too chicken to put it in motion...until now.
2 main reasons. The obvious one having a free roof over my head. The second is more of a social experiment. I noticed that whenever I'm in Manila, I invariably default to a set of friends I'm already comfortable with. Nothing surprising about that. However, it also means that I never get the chance to get to know better, friends outside that social core. It's always that occasional meeting with the standard script, "...we should have coffee one of these days". Guess what? It never happens. You meet again 6 months later and recite the same script. Worse, you may never find time to meet except in the virtual world where a quick PM is exchanged. Well, that repeating pattern has been looped to death. By sending out this email, it sends the message that I'm open for that elusive 'coffee'. It's now their call if they really want that coffee conversation.
When I received a call from GMA (Kapuso, not the president) about being in Manila for the Survivor Philippines finale, I knew my stay in Manila will last about a month. Apart from what GMA would provide for lodging, I was on my own. The thought of becoming another Kruz na Ligas bedspacer was not appealing. It was time to kick the social experiment to action.
I created a private webpage displaying the month of December with colored dates and a form. Green dates mean I'm not booked yet. Red dates mean I already have a roof over my head for the night. I sent out an email to my distribution list (from friends to complete strangers and everyone in between) giving the link to that webpage. If anyone was interested in booking me to stay with them, they can find out which day is available and they can fill-in the form to book the date.
What they could expect from me was the following:
- I'll be alone.
- I don't smoke.
- I'll just sleep one (1) night per house.
- No need to feed me.
- I'll just need to use the washroom and a small space for my sleep...even the floor.
- I'm completely self-contained - my own sleeping bag, earth pad, malong, toiletries, towel, etc. No need to provide me anything else.
- I'll leave the house first thing in the morning...again, no need to feed me breakfast.
- I won't open the fridge.
- I'll leave no trace.
Invites for the Duration of my Manila Stay
It's surprising to note that the first 3 replies were offers to stay with them during the entire length of my stay in Manila - from a close friend, a stunning actress (who's also a friend) and an adventure tour operator (another friend). Later on, a relative made the same offer. That's flattering, but of course, I have to stay the course of doing only 1 night. However, I can use the invite for a fail-safe lodge, in case I get no booking for a particular night. I chose the high-rise condo along posh Makati Avenue as the owners were away and I had the place to myself.
Of course, having a safety-net place to crash to, changed the picture. Now, I didn't need to worry about a roof over my head and instead can prioritize on the social experiment. I was thrown out of my usual routine. Instead of spending time in UP, I found myself in unfamiliar places as I commute from one destination to the next. I met up with friends for a get-together even if it didn't mean accomodation for the night. We ate in street corners, high-zoot restaurants and quaint neighborhood secrets. It was a delightful new ground.
The places I ended up with were as varied as the people who received me. From one extreme, I put up my hammock on an MMDA waiting shed along the noisy and polluted Quezon Memorial Elliptical Circle. On the other extreme end of the spectrum, I spent a night in the most prestigious address in the country - Forbes Park, with a staff of 9 looking after my need. (see Related Links below)
Being an urban nomad presented unique challenges. Like a turtle, I had to carry my house wherever I went - water, laptop and accessories, sleeping gear, clothes, footwear, etc. They get to be heavier as the day progressed. Also, upon boarding the trains or entering a mall, the inspection gets to be bothersome. Some guards would insist on full scrutiny. In crowded trains where waiting commuters would be 10-deep specially in rush hour, it was tough enough squeezing myself in, let alone carrying an oversized backpack.
As a web designer working on a web project, I still had to be mindful of my deadlines. Wifi access was another issue. More often than not, I'd end up in Burger King for their free wifi, but how many burgers can I stand eating for a day? Starbucks comes to mind, but P140 for a cup of coffee was simply out of the question. Max's Restaurant also became a wifi refuge. Yeah, I had to ween myself out of street food into the fast food realm for wifi. It was later on I learned that Gateway, the entire mall, was wifi ready.
Oftentimes, I find myself bitchin' about Manila. Sure, it's polluted, congested and crime rate is high. But I also realized that I'd rather have a Manila than without it. Manila is where I party, enjoy the night life, chillout with friends, etc. I'm reminded of what a friend once told me about New York. He can't live in New York, but he can't live without New York. That pretty much what Manila sums up for me.
Waking up to a new unfamiliar place was exciting and underscored for me what new opportunities lie within a nomadic lifestyle. Not only have I finally had that proverbial cup of coffee with acquaintances and friends, but I've likewise met new people, friends of friends, and yes, virtual friends I eyeballed. I found myself in new areas within the city I would never otherwise be in. I learned a few things about people around me...where they worked, what they do, what interests them, etc. It was definitely a very interesting and very different Manila experience this time around.
"sama ko jan!"
(Jan 9, 2009) lez go!!! ihanda na ang parka at beanie! :D
"yey! kami naman makikicrash sayo"
(Jan 9, 2009) sama ko jan! :D
(Jan 8, 2009) yey! kami naman makikicrash sayo, git. mga feb punta kami ni bernz dyan :)
(Jan 2, 2009) ...here's the story of the banner, it is supposed to be "our gigit" because of the reward from dotcom, di ba? but then, in our chatroom, i've been calling you "my gigit" or "gigit ko" (i hope you don't mind?!)...i find it cute, so that's it!
(Dec 19, 2008) may bed na kami sa sala so you won't have to sleep on the floor anymore :) house rule: no rules! pwede ka pa magdala ng yakapmate ;)
(Dec 12, 2008) our house is open for you
(Dec 10, 2008) I'm sure by now you're already in Manila. If only I'm there, na-offer ko sana ang bahay namin. Kaso malayo kami sa UP :(
(Dec 8, 2008) Good luck on your experiment. I hope I can read about it real soon.
(Dec 5, 2008) bro, you need a place to crash into next week, mine's ok tue up.
(Dec 4, 2008) ....philcoa, enter the fence opening. it's the building on the right). just give me a ring and i can go down to get you. house rule: Not so noisy after midnight (parents sleeping.) Wi-fi ready
(Dec 4, 2008) Galing ng experiment mo ah. It will surely expand your social circle and quickly, too. But be careful ha. There are a lot of crazy people out there.
Forbes Park Host
(Dec 3, 2008) What days will you need to be there? I have a few rules - no smoking and please do not invite friends over. Let me know and I can contact my secretary to make arrangements.
(Dec 2, 2008) Nice experiment!
(Dec 2, 2008) Welcome back to the urban jungle. Ayos ka ha? Swinging from end to end. Kruz na Ligas to posh Makati.
(Dec 2, 2008) I'll adopt you for the rest of your stay in Manila...if you want :)
Good Samaritan 1
(Dec 1, 2008) ...La Vista gate by the Petron station on Katipunan. house rule: Please don't bring a friend
(Dec 1, 2008) ...our ref has supplies...use them by all means!
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