10 Life Hacks When in Manila

10 Life Hacks When in Manila

Metro Manila is a tough city to live in. There is traffic almost everyday and almost anywhere you go. Accidents on the road due to vehicles that aren’t maintained properly can make you feel like driving with death on the highway, no matter how careful you are. Petty crimes like pickpocketing and snatching are extremely rampant. Dark and shabby alleys scare most of us. However, it is still a place many call home.

From the province, I have transferred to Manila seven years ago. I was a bit hesitant at first but I think there are more opportunities here than anywhere else in the country. Plus, I want to experience its vibrant life day and night that I can’t find in the suburbs. So, I just suck it up and brave what Manila has to offer. Manila is tough, but there are life hacks that can make it a little less tough.

10 Practical Life Hacks When in Manila


10. Be nice

This is especially helpful in places you frequent. In the foodcourt or restaurant where you dine regularly, smile at the waiter serving your food. In the long line on a grocery store, go easy on the cashier checking you out. Tip a little from time to time to the tricycle driver, like if you have 5 pesos to spare. In the tough crowd, some of these people will remember you and they will be nice to you as well. This is how you become their suki and service will be a lot better. 

This is the reason why my cup is filled to the brim with ice cream at my favorite neighborhood convenience store. I would like to believe it is.

9. Sari-sari stores know everything

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If you’re looking for an apartment in a neighborhood you know nothing about, ask people from sari-sari stores. They know almost everything happening in the area and they will not oversell the place to you. You’ll know from them how safe the area is, if it gets flooded, and the ins and outs of the neighborhood. In my experience, they will even tell you stuff about the people living there including neighborhood gossips.

8. Ride super early or super late

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The best times to take the LRT or the MRT is either super early or super late.

Before 6AM and after 9:30PM, no lines, fo’ sho.

7. Clean restrooms are far from the foodcourt and near high-end shops

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When you’re inside the mall and you want to find clean restrooms, these are usually located far from the foodcourt area but near high-end shops. For instance, in SM Megamall, that would be in the Atrium or in the Mega Fashion Hall.

Bonus hack: When outside, almost all Starbucks have restrooms inside. This saved me a lot of times when out drinking with friends. The restroom in Starbucks is almost always a whole lot cleaner than the one in the bar.

6. Best spot to hail a cab or taxi is a building with a call center

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Hailing a cab on a rainy night, a Friday night, a payday night, or a combination of these is almost close to impossible especially if you are in the business district. What you can do is go to the nearest building with a call center or those businesses that operate on a 24/7 basis because it is highly likely that cabs are dropping off passengers there who are going to work. You can get a cab by doing this without lining up at the taxi bay.

To know if a building has a call center or the like, it usually has a smoking area right outside the building. It is packed with people wearing IDs and smoking their stresses away.

Bonus hack: If you have extra cash to spare, use those apps that allow you to book a taxi online.

5. Small talk with the cab driver

Whenever I take a cab, especially during wee hours of the day, I always make small talk with the driver. So far, this has worked to my advantage, and I don’t want to jinx it but, I haven’t experienced anything unpleasant. The worst is probably hearing their sob stories about their life.

Bonus hack: Text, tweet, or post on FB the details of the cab you boarded, make sure the driver sees you do this.

4. Bring a folding umbrella

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It’s either the sun is out or it’s raining, the umbrella is useful for both. A folding umbrella is handy, when you don’t need it then just stash it inside your bag.

3. Wear your bag where you can see it

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Do this especially when walking in crowded areas to avoid getting pickpocketed.

2. Bring a basic phone and an old wallet when going to shabby places

If you’re going to crowded places like Divisoria or Recto especially during shopping season, it is best to leave your phone at home and bring a dummy phone instead. Moreover, don’t bring a lot of money, just bring enough that you’ll be spending. In case you get mugged, you don’t have a lot to lose.

1. Live close to where you work


Don’t waste your life away stuck in traffic. If you work in business districts like Makati, BGC, Ortigas, or Eastwood, find a place nearby and move there.

If you think that a PhP 4,000 / month apartment in the outskirts of the city is saving you money compared to a PhP 20,000 / month condo near your workplace, you might need to think again. A PhP 2M house in the far end of the city compared to a PhP 4M house in Manila is more expensive if you’re looking at it in the long run (more gas expense if you’re driving a car and more time trickling away while you just sit there in traffic).

I know this is tough especially for those who are living with their folks, but sometimes the chick has to leave the nest and fly.

If you live nearby, you could have been more productive instead of just staring at other vehicles on the road. Don’t waste your time. Time is priceless.

Bonus hack: For #11, keep on reading When in Manila. We’ll keep you updated of the happenings in and around the metro. That is one effective life hack, I suppose, staying informed. 🙂

How about you guys, any other life hacks you have to survive the big city?

Share it with us.

Sources: Reddit.com, Interaksyon.com, Admu.edu.ph, PhilServiceCorp.com

10 Life Hacks When in Manila

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