After living here all my life I can say Metro Manila is not an acquired taste

I finally checked out Iya-J’s recent article Carlos Celdran is a bad influence to the Filipino people after seeing it appear on my newsfeed more than a few times over the last couple of days. Obviously it took that long for it to finally arouse my curiosity. I wouldn’t really have known who this Carlos Celdran is if it were not for that “Damaso” stunt he pulled some time ago (I forget how long ago). Then I find this article seemingly going viral, so I thought “What now, Carlos Celdran?”

Whoa! At 300+ comments, Carlos’s blog is on fire! Not surprising though if we consider how much air time it’s had making the rounds in Facebook, or at least as far as my newsfeed is concerned. Where do all these people come from? It seems, Carlos is a well-liked guy. I’ve since done some research on him. He’s an easy guy to find. His Facebook page has an awesome 33,075 likes (as of this writing) and he’s got 164,552 followers on his Twitter account @carlosceldran! The guy’s some kind of social media rockstar.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but hats off to writer Iya-J — at least for being brave enough to take on a famous guy like Celdran. Don’t get me wrong, though. Just from skimming the surface of the world of Carlos Celdran, I gather he is doing quite an admirable job of promoting Manila as a tourist destination. However, I do get a bit of the point Iya-J was trying to make about Carlos. Here is a guy who became quite successful doing what he does best — being a tour guide. But he might want to consider the possibility that he may be a bit out of his depth making commentary about social and political issues. A thin line separates being a champ and being a chump. Maybe Carlos crosses that line everytime he goes from doing songs and dances about Manila’s beauty into doing songs and dances about general Philippine issues.

300 comments is a lot to go through. Luckily I didn’t need to scroll down far before I found this one:

I don’t get what the hulabaloo is. Have you gone on one of his tours? No? have you met the guy? No? He’s actually all fine and dandy, but a little crazy, as most artists tend to be. Why is he a big deal?

Great people talk about ideas. Average people talk about things. Small people talk about other people. I thought Get Real Philippines is supposed to be the bastion of sense and critical thought?

I must say I’m very disappointed.

Iya-J did raise some really sharp points about the reality that Manila is, to put it bluntly, a dump. Perhaps she should have laid off a bit on making it personal, though.

And to Carlos Celdran, kudos for the artistry you apply in the way you routinely paint lipstick on a pig. But, you see, Metro Manila to me is not an acquired taste — which, it seems, is how you are pitching it to your customers. Unlike ginisang ampalaya (sauteed bitter melon) which I grew to love after a childhood spent hating it, the taste Manila leaves in my mouth continues to grow ever more bitter with every additional year I spend here. The traffic, the pollution, and the aesthetic sensibilities of the city get worse every year. That’s just my observation of course, but I am sure many others who call Metro Manila home would not disagree.

16 Replies to “After living here all my life I can say Metro Manila is not an acquired taste”

    1. Thanks ChinoF. I also saw that video. Too bad he had to apologize for what he said. Pinoys need to get a sense of humor or thicker skin. Better yet, both. 🙂

  1. I’ve never seen Metro Manila , for several years, after I left the country. I’ve seen it only on pictures; being featured on TV. The trash; the floods; the overflowing of people;the squatters, their “barong-barong”, are still there. Along with the : snatchers, the pickpockets, the pimps, the prostitutes, and its incompetent leaders. Nothing changed, since I last seen it. The Oligarch grow richer, while the poor grow poorer….it’s a dump on our Planet Earth..

    1. That’s true, although it is easy to forget those things exist when you hang out with the right crowd at the right places all the time…

  2. Love and hate are the two sides of the same coin. Metro Manila is disgusting at the surface (trash everywhere, dogs that can run after you – I almost got bitten one time, dead rats on the street, people without courtesy, etc). The list can be endless. I have felt that disgust but the city just keeps growing on me whenever I spend a few months here.

    I wouldn’t want my children (if I become blessed enough to have them) to grow up here but it will always be home for me. This is after traveling, studying, and staying in many different countries over the last few years. Yeah, it is love and hate for me because there are still a few diamonds in the rough around here.

  3. I think the article title is rather misleading. I thought it was more about your opinions and experiences about Manila not a Carlos Celdran critique. Just my 2 cents. Otherwise welcome aboard!

    1. Hi Sid, I’ll be more careful with the wordings of my titles next time. I will be writing more about my Manila escapades here anyway so you will surely get more of my opinions about Manila in the future. 🙂

  4. Hi Kate,

    Hope to see more of you here in GRP in the future. To me, this write-up explores both sides of the story, both from Celdran’s and Iya-J’s side. That, to me, trumps most of the comments in her article where the readers only saw a bash.

    I’ve also lived here in MM all my life, but just because I’m used to the filth and neglect doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have to do anything about it.

  5. I wish you had checked page 2 and seen my comment.

    300+ (close to 400 now?) comments, more than 50% of which are pointless is not really a big deal. It was just one big flamewar/trollfest.

    This is simple, straight to the point, and though the title may seem misleading, it all works out in the end.

    With Iya-j’s article, I appreciate her honesty and what she believes in but the article was mediocre at best, sometimes confusing and there were ideas out of place as well as some weak arguments.

  6. FallenAngel/K3, Manila is really a city that elicits a lot of emotion in its residents some of it, it seems, is a complicated mix of both love and hate.

  7. Last time I went to Manila with my wife and kids, my eldest son, 14 years old at the time, observed that there’s really only one problem with it: too many Manilans. My wife, who was born and raised in Sampaloc was of course upset. And of course she didn’t see the point my son was making. If a teenager, the most forthright critic you can ever find, from a city voted as the most livable in the world finds that the only fault it has is there’s too many people in it then your city is not doing too bad at all. Of course the traffic was bad. Of course there were parts of it you can call a “dump”. Of course the politicians running it are arseholes. Which city in the world don’t have these problems one way or another? The fact that my kids enjoyed the time they spent there and all the attention they got not only from their relatives but from people around them in general (maybe because they’re ‘white’ my wife pointed out but that’s beside the point) speaks a lot about your city. You can point out that hey, I don’t live there but sometimes you need fresh eyes to the luxury of distance to really appreciate what you’ve got. My wife still think it’s the bees knees. Me personally, I can live there. If only they sell Carlton Draught at the corner store and broadcast AFL footy live…go Pies!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.