If you’ve been to Manila, chances are you’re able to visit Manila City (the metro’s capital) or Makati City (the CBD). For those who do not know, the capital region of the Philippines is Metro Manila, composed of 17 cities, 2 are mentioned above.
Tourists who have been to Metro Manila several times would sometimes comment that they’ve already seen what is there to see in the city. There are hundreds of blogs written for Manila as a tourist destination. So, I’m not gonna write about that anymore! Today, I will take you to an underdog destination – Quezon City (QC)!
Seeing my hometown with tourist’s eyes
You read it right! Yannie here comes from Quezon City. Proud of my hometown, when I got visitors from Atlanta, I showed them around for a day! Here’s my trail:
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
First stop, the University of the Philippines (Diliman campus). UPD, as commonly known, is the largest University in the Metro. It has a land area of 493 hectares (1,220 acres), a great chunk of which is utilized for academic purposes, researches and infrastructure. A few parts in forestry and the others are reserves (I got this info from my handbook). Having avenues lined up with old big trees, the park-like academic oval, which students call Acad, is a good place where they review and meet with their study groups. Jogging in this area is a common activity throughout the day as the trees provide natural shade and cool air. Classroom buildings, libraries, a museum and 2 theatres outline the academic oval. Further in the interiors are a few of national research facilities and more colleges. As tourists, this is a good place to stroll.
Along the Acad are small stores selling refreshments and snacks. Carts selling street foods are popular to students. If your tummy is not sensitive, I encourage you to try these fried skewered fish balls out! Php10 per stick is such a steal!
Walking a few meters from the Acad is a postal building. A good opportunity to send postcards to loved ones back home. Worry not if you’re unprepared, a 1-storey Shopping Center is just across the road where you can buy greeting cards, postcards or stationeries. You might also want to take this chance to buy your been-there souvenir shirt.
photo credits to my friend pau tusi
Maginhawa Food Strip
Hungry? Next stop: the Maginhawa Food Strip. Not far from the campus, on a street called Maginhawa, lined up are small mom-and-pop restaurants and cafés. What’s unique about this strip is each establishment is specialized and themes are well-thought out. Cafés, shake stalls, bakeshops, all-day breakfast nooks, international cuisine diners, grills, watering holes, artsy stuffies and local cuisine restaurants are just a few of what this strip offers. If that’s not enough, there are few food parks in the area. My favorite is the Maginahawa stEAT food park, they have food stalls; burgers, fries and hotdog trucks; waffles; coffee & cakes; bingsu (Korean iced dessert) and sinful milkshakes by Lost Bread.
Further down the road is a restaurant called Gerry’s Jeepney, serving Filipino group meals and encouraging guests to boodle-fight (a military style of eating where food is laid on banana leaves and diners eat with their bare hands on the banana leaves covered table). Don’t worry though you can choose not to do this. What’s interesting about this restaurant is that they have set up jeepneys (small iconic Philippine buses, which evolved from World War II American Jeeps) as private dining stations, several local street elements are used to decorate the place that completed the entire concept. It’s just amazing!!!
With just roughly Php200/person (approx. US$ 4), for a tasty and filling meal this is highly recommended!
The City Hall and Quezon Memorial Circle
Driving 5 minutes from the area is the City Hall and across is the city’s landmark – Quezon Memorial Circle. At the center of this circle (Elliptical Road) is the famous 66-metre shrine. The base of this is the mausoleum housing the remains of the country’s second president, from whom the city was named after: Manuel L. Quezon. The mausoleum also has a small library and a museum telling stories about the life and achievements of the late president.
On the grounds are jogging tracks, bicycle lanes, gardens, a centerpiece dancing water fountain with colorful lights, historical markers and a LOT of food establishments. The park is popular among locals. Early morning exercises, free exercise facilities, free Zumba classes, basketball, badminton and volleyball courts (rented out) are a few of what this park offers.
A lane is also dedicated for a bazaar, which becomes very busy during Christmas season. Stalls sell real cheap novelty items and a few ready-to-wear bargains!
If bargain shopping is not your kind, it’s time to ride a jeepney for Php7 going to Trinoma-SM. Standing queenly side by side, Trinoma and SM North Edsa, compete head-on in attracting shoppers. Both have supermarkets, local and international designer outlets, section for kids, bookstores, fast food chains, international restaurant chains, activity centers, salons, satellite health clinics, fitness centers, huge parking spaces and cinemas. Ask me which I frequent to? – Trinoma! Parking is more convenient. But hey! These 2 giants are connected to each other by a footbridge so you can do both if you have time.
Rest and relaxation
Now, you are tired from trailing with me. A day spent walking is best ended in the spa. As traffic is already crazy by this hour, you may opt to have your spa in the mall. One of the better facilities is called The Spa. A comprehensive spa menu; sauna & hot showers; toiletries & towels; lockers; well-trained masseuse; pre- and post- service tea and clean facilities at a really good price, will really convince you to end your day here. I personally will go back to my house after this.
For a comprehensive list of spa services and advance bookings, you may visit their website, click here.
However, after the spa, the younger blood will feel energized and ready to party! Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues come alive at sundown. The streets are lined up with clubs, cafés, stand-up comedy bars, restaurants and grills. Too late to travel back from where you stay? Not a problem!
Where to stay?
In the area are hotels, inns and residential condominiums, offering decent accommodations. Among the popular 3-star budget hotels are The Luxent, Century Imperial Hotel, The Rembrandt Hotel and Red Planet Hotel. For a 4-star accommodation, you need to go further 4-5 kilometers for The Sulo Rivera Hotel (behind the City Hall). In another area is the Novotel Hotel Araneta, in Cubao (the old CBD of the city).
So… next time you’re in Manila but you’re done seeing the historical walled city of Intramuros or the thriving business district of Makati, you have something else to look forward to!