Sunday, 15 September 2013

Manila - Touch & Go!

In 2011, I moved from Retail Sales to Performance Consultancy and it was then that I had to attend East Extended Team meeting in Manila. I was excited to meet my new team members and on the same time I was a bit worried as I had my planned vacation confirmed during that period. Initially I had declined to attend the meeting but it was an important one so I decided to attend the first 2 days rather then 3 full days.

I had planned a 10 day family vacation to Istanbul, Turkey, where my friends Zeynep and Oguz had gladly made arrangements for our arrival and stay. This was a meticulously planned trip as it was the first time for my children to have an overseas vacation and we had a day by day plan made from that perspective.

Anyways, I had my tickets booked via Cathay Pacific and the flight was via Bangkok. I was traveling alone as my other team members from Pakistan were leaving earlier and from different carriers.

This was a pure business trip but I planned to explore Metro Manila as much as possible, because that was where I was staying.

We landed in Manila in the evening and it was drizzling. For this meeting people were coming from Oman, India, Australia,  Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Pakistan and our host was the Philippines team. Our transport to the hotel was arranged and waiting for arrival and soon as I came out of the airport building, I saw the famous Jeepney, which is synonymous with Manila. They were everywhere.

I don't recall the name of the hotel where I stayed but it was located in Makati district, which is one of the main business and shopping hubs of the city. In the evening, other team members started to arrive and we all had an informal gathering in the evening. It was a free time evening and my fellows from Pakistan decided to go out and explore our surroundings. Shopping malls, restaurants and lots of crowd.

Following pics were taken from my hotel room:

First day of the meeting was at one of the company locations and it had a packed agenda, no free time even  in the evening as we had team dinner at one of the restaurants.

Second day of the meeting was a mix of indoor and outdoor engagements as we had to visit a few sites officially. In the evening, the local team had planned a small city tour and dinner with cultural dance performances.

The tour started when we passed by Manila Bay and reached Fort Santiago where Jose Rizal shrine is located. Jose Rizal is a national figure in the Philippines and 2011 was his 150th birthday year.

Fort Santiago  is a citadel first built by Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi for the new established city of Manila in the Philippines. The defense fortress is part of the structures of the walled city of Manila referred to as Intramuros ("within the walls"). The fort is one of the most important historical sites in Manila. Several lives were lost in its prisons during the Spanish Colonial Period and World Wall II. Jose Rizal, the Philippines' national hero, was imprisoned here before his execution in 1896. The Rizal Shrine museum displays memorabilia of the hero in their collection and the fort features, embedded onto the ground in bronze, his footsteps representing his final walk from his cell to the location of the actual execution.


Dr. Jose Rizal's famous "My Last Farewell" written here:

for more information on Jose Rizal and Fort Santiago - check it out on wikipedia.

We moved on, to the dinner and cultural evening. It was very beautiful as the performers displayed folk dances of the traditional Flipino fishermen community.

The evening came to an end with applause for the performers for displaying a wonderful performance. 

Unfortunately, this was my last night in Manila as I had to return to Karachi to catch flight for Istanbul which was on the same day in evening. Philippines is famous for tropical storms and I was very worried as rain warnings had already been announced but luckily flights were operational, so I bid farewell to my team members and rushed to the airport. It was a late night flight which will arrive in Karachi in the morning, giving me atleast 10 hours for my flight to Istanbul. 

This was too little Manila for me and I want to visit again if I get the opportunity.

The East Team:

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