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Apr 22, 2015
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Nothing can quite put into words the Filipino’s love-hate sentiment for Manila than the Tito-tastic famous Hotdog song: “Maraming beses na kitang nilayasan / Iniwanan at iba ang pinuntahan / Parang bababeng ang hirap talagang malimutan / ‘kaw lamang ang aking laging binabalikan.”

No matter how much we complain about the traffic in EDSA, the scarcity of parking slots, annoying weekend crowds, and P225 bottles of beer in swanky bars, we really can’t deny our love for this city (except for that beer part, that will suck for life).

Thankfully, Manila is now brimming with trendy, affordable spots that can give you a new impression of this murky, dingy, and fascinatingly annoying place. From bars to bookstores, here are some places to check out so you can develop a newfound love for Manila. Who knows, maybe you’ll skip weekends at the beach so you can go to these places one by one.  

Saturday Future Market in Escolta
(Binondo, Manila)

Ever see flea market photos on Pinterest and wish that you would find something as cool in town? This place is it. Happening each month since 2013, The Saturday Future Market by 98B Collaboratory always attracts hip crowds because of its offerings. Books, accessories, vintage clothing and footwear, hand-made pipes, art, and the occasional performances and exhibits are only some of the things that the Saturday Market in Escolta can give you.

The abandoned building transforms into an artist’s marketplace that celebrates handicrafts, raw talent, and the art of letting go (second hand items are abound). One glance you’ll see a Sonic Youth LP, and the other, a Virgin Suicides-esque flowy dress that your girlfriend is sure to wear at the next music festival you’ll attend. Visit 98B’s Facebook page to stay updated on when the next Future Market will be.

Address: First United Building, Escolta St. Binondo Manila

Visit their Facebook page here.

Tres Kuleros Records & Dry Goods

We’ve heard it all before: vinyl records are so in right now. This is why overpriced record stores are abusing this desire, pricing their records as steep as a week’s worth of cheap meals.

But not Tres Kuleros Records & Dry Goods. Located in the middle of Boni Avenue, this neighborhood record store is a haven for true enthusiasts since records are priced at affordable prices. It’s a goldmine for classic rock, jazz, soul, fans, and the contemporary collection is quite impressive too. Expect titles from The Beatles, The Cure, John Coltrane, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, M83, Sade, A Tribe Called Quest, DJ Shadow, Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age, Erykah Badu, and a whole lot more. The store’s signifying and strongest trait is its extensive OPM selection, something that cannot be found in other record stores.


Address: 641 Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City (1p.m. to 9:30p.m.daily)

Visit their Facebook page here.

Tambai Snackhouse

Since the rise of quirky watering holes such as El Chupacabra and Café Curieux, Makati’s red light district has transformed into the hippest nerve center of the city. One of Poblacion’s latest additions is Tambai Snackhouse in Felipe St. that offers an edgy street-style dining and drinking experience. Tambai has affordable yakitori-style menu items for carnivores and diet-conscious customers: there’s U.S. pork, chicken leg, chicken gizzard, U.S. beef isaw, quail egg and bacon, roast garlic and basil, cherry tomato, zucchini. Its bestsellers: soft shell crab on a stick and U.S. rib eye that literally melts inside your beer-glugging mouth. For the indecisive drinking group, there’s an item called “Yakitodo,” a sampler of all their menu items. Aside from local and foreign beers, the place offers shots of the famous Yamazaki whiskey, said to be the world's best.

Address: 5779 Felipe St., Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City (5p.m. to 12a.m.)

Visit their Facebook page here.

Z Hostel

This fairly new hostel in Burgos brands itself as the “first luxury hostel” in the metro, and backpackers and local travelers are starting to agree. Aside from the comfy rooms, spacious common area, and its affordable food offerings, Z Hostel is getting known for its rooftop parties.  DJ sets and live performances happen each night of the week, even on Sundays when they celebrate “Sunday Slowdown.”

Address: 5560 Don Pedro St. Makati (open 24 hours)

Visit their Facebook page here.

Sip & Gogh
(Quezon City)

The clever name of this establishment means exactly what it says: sip alcohol while trying to be Van Gogh. The first “paint and drink” studio in the country, guests are guided by in-house artists upon recreating pieces, as they drink wine and eat cheese. There are open sessions, BYOB (bring your own bottle) sessions, and even date night specials. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never held a paintbrush before, everything is made easy through the step-by-step guidelines. You’ll be painting strokes like a pro even before you say “pano ba ‘to?”

Address: 1 Capitol Hills Drive, Capitol GreenStreet, Old Balara, Quezon City, Philippines

Visit their Facebook page here.

Today X Future
(Quezon City)

Tucked inside a grimy Cubao street is a dandy late night hangout for party animals in the metro. Tagged as a bar, gallery and restaurant, Today X Future is the the perfect hangout for those looking to have a good night out without spending much. Each night of the week, emerging and hobby DJs spin different kinds of tunes for different kinds of crowds. From the introvert to the flamboyantly sociable, Today X Future can give you an illustrious night filled with great music and drunken dancing.


Address: 7-T Gen. Malvar St. Araneta Centre Cubao, Quezon City

Visit their Facebook page here.

Tacos Chingones

As far as “authentic” Mexican street tacos go, Tacos Chingones in Bel-Air, is the place to head to. Operating as a humble food cart situated beside the area's iconic Som’s Thai Cuisine, Tacos Chingones serves tasty variations of street tacos for 50 pesos each. The servings are almost bite-size, so expect to devour at least two to four tacos, depending on your appetite. The wealth of flavors—Barbacoa, Al Pastor, Chorizo, Carnitas, Lengua, Bistek, and Carne Molida con Papas—will ensure that you'd want a return trip or two. The clincher: all taco choices can be turned into gringas, a cheesy, quesadilla-like option. Yes, please!

Address: 5923 Algier St. Bgry. Poblacion, Makati City (12PM to 2AM)

Visit their Facebook page here.

BookFellas Bookstore
(Kamias, Quezon City)

Dan Gaffud, the man behind Bookay-Ukay bookstore in Maginhawa Q.C.—a book hub specializing on second-hand books—is establishing his own bookstore called “BookFellas.” This time, with brand new books.  When asked what kinds of titles to expect, Gaffud proudly states that the taste will be similar to his previous project, with titles you won't typically come across in the usual bookstore chains. Gaffud emphasizes BookFella’s bigger space, which will also potentially be the venue for future literary-related events.

Address: 28 K-J St. East Kamias, Quezon City

Visit their Facebook page here.