Despite having lived in Manila for about seven years now, the city still surprises me every now and then. Last weekend, for example, I found myself in Escolta for the very first time. I had always envisioned Escolta mainly as part of old Manila and didn’t really expect much from it. So imagine my surprise when I found myself smack in the middle of Escolta in the middle of the night just to find it hustling and bustling just like the other main parts of our city.
All photos from Unknwn MNL, unless otherwise stated.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: we actually went to Escolta that night merely because we were bored with our lives in the South. Coming from BF Homes, where everyone knows everyone and where all the places you can go to are literally just a few steps apart, we longed to experience something new. So, I put on my red heels and my red lipstick, and set out for a night in unknown territory. It had been a while since I left my comfort zone without knowing what was lying ahead, but I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
When we got to First United Building, we were quite overwhelmed by the amount of energy, the amount of people, and the amount of beer that was being offered left and right. No complaints, of course. Who can complain when the beer is Heineken?
To be honest, we weren’t ready for the overall ambience of the place. It felt like unknown hipster territory (and I mean that in the best sense!) with people munching on granola one minute and taking pictures with paintings on the walls on the next. Just, generally, though: who knew that something so ‘happening’ actually existed in the streets of Escolta? There it was: a full-on party going on in the middle of the place, and yet people were also at the various stalls around the area shopping for plants, doodling on notebooks, taking photos and meeting new people.
Photo from Heineken.
Heineken is celebrating Manila as an iconic city around the world with our very own Manila edition bottle!
Photo from Heineken.
Photo from Heineken.
Here is the rest of the limited edition range of Cities bottles, showcasing the cityscapes of six iconic global cities.
This party reminded me that Manila actually has a lot of hidden gems that we oftentimes either just pass by or even ignore, and that’s a little sad. I believe that now is the time to finally discover more new places and make unforgettable memories in the process. Who says you have to travel far to experience something new, anyway? Manila has so many places for us to experience; we just need to figure out where to look – and hopefully, OPEN MANILA can help us on that journey.
And, oh, the people? There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I spotted Vini Uehara, renowned international fashion blogger, in the crowd, as well as Troy Montero, and a handful of local fashion bloggers and celebrities. And there were more foreigners there than I have ever seen in a single place during my seven years here in the Philippines. One look at the crowd and you’d get the feeling that people from all over the world actually came together to celebrate the fun, the beauty and the uniqueness of Manila for that one night.
The funniest thing? I ran into an old friend at this party – someone I met on a train in Bangkok on the way to a Full Moon Party almost a decade ago. Small world… and a beautiful one, at that.
OPEN MANILA aims to help us discover the many hidden gems that Manila has to offer and to celebrate Manila for being the truly global city that it is. Heineken believes that, beyond the chaos, Manila is truly alive with countless exciting possibilities – but only those brave enough to discover them will experience it. And that’s exactly what the Escolta event was all about.
This was just the beginning, though. A series of events in unexpected spots around Manila is still to follow. In addition to this, the OPEN MANILA campaign will consist of unique challenges, cool merchandise in collaboration with Manila’s very own Gouache and many more aspects, all focused on celebrating Manila as the global and enthralling city that it truly is.
What’s your favorite hidden gem in Manila? We’d love to discover new places in the city with your help!