Wallpaper City Guide: Manila

Wallpaper 3


To celebrate our eighth month being together, my man got me a copy of Wallpaper‘s City Guide for Manila. I’m starting to collect the guides, and this is my third after Hong Kong and Glasgow.

I first heard about Manila getting its own guide a few months ago, and my man being the supportive boyfriend that he is (I feel a little ashamed because I only got him an origami otter with a note inside), he had one shipped from an online bookstore in the UK. I guess I forgot to tell him that copies are available in select bookstores in Manila.

What I like about Wallpaper‘s City Guides is that they don’t bullshit the reader. Of course, they only recommend the best, but they also point out the flaws if there are any. It may come off as snarky, but if you’re a magazine that established itself for its impeccable taste (Monocle‘s Tyler Brûlé is the founding editor), cities have pretty big shoes to fill to please its British editors.

And like its other editions, Wallpaper City Guide: Manila doesn’t hold back.

The booklet is edited by the Wallpaper City Guide team, with Lifestyle Asia publisher Cheryl Tiu as author, with contributions from Kissa Castaneda, editor of Hong Kong-based Home Journal (she was with Preview, Cosmopolitan Philippines, and The Philippine Star before).

It has its usual sections, from Landmarks, Hotels, 24 Hours (what you can do in the city in 24 hours), Urban Life, Architour, Shopping, Sports, and Escape.

The locations, hotels, buildings, and galleries selected were really the choice spots, and shouldn’t come as a surprise to most Filipinos (although it was a bit jarring on my part to read about places I know and been to). What was a revelation was the honesty Tiu and Castaneda wrote. Below are some of my favorite excerpts:


“When stuck in traffic, look out the window at the billboard, tell them the celebrity and the product, and they’ll know exactly how late you’ll be.”

On the Manila Hotel: “There are now 550 rooms with some fine views, although those of the container port may not be among them.”

“The Philippines has long been a tourist draw, but certainly not with Manila as its star. And due to a paradise-seeking clientele who treat the capital as a necessary evil…”

“The tropical climate has resulted in a multitude of malls that locals treat like parks (green space is scarce).”

On jogging: “The CCP area is perfect for an architecturally inspired jog, as are the clean pavements (the fact there are usable pavements at all is a revelation) in Fort…”

On Forbes Park: “…an exclusive enclave of embassies, modernist bungalows and a few new-money monstrosities.”


Snarkiness aside, the booklet does an excellent job of promoting Manila and the diverse and swiftly-developing culture we have. Wallpaper City Guide: Manila just tells it like it is. In the introduction, the book says “Let the unimaginative go to their desert paradise. They have no idea what they’re missing. There is more adventure to be had in this vivid transcultural melange.”

Precisely the reason why I love living in Manila.


Wallpaper City Guides are available in Fully Booked.

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