Expedition from El Nido to Coron

Getting from El Nido to Coron, we decided to go for the three day expedition instead of the direct “fast” ferry. The trip included stops along the way and overnight in tents at deserted beaches. And food. What’s not to like about that?

No one can predict the weather, but it so happened that the night before I reached the Philippine islands, a typhoon swept by. It calmed down for a while, before it was picking up again.

Some of the day tours from El Nido were cancelled, but the most popular ones, like Tour A was still running.

We started to get a bit worried, as our El Nido to Coron expedition would include open water areas that most probably would be effected. Our worries seemed to be without cause. Early morning we were picked up and taken to the harbour for the start of our adventure. Divided in two groups we were taken to the boats that would be our companion the next three days.

Getting acquainted with our fellow passengers, we enjoyed the start of the journey up on the sunny deck. Cruising in comfortable speed, we got to know the Germans from the day before, as well as a new German girl and both a Lithuanian and Dutch solo traveler.

Anchoring up at Nacpan beach it seemed like the perfect paradise, and we enjoyed the peace and quiet at the beach before swimming back to our boat for delicious lunch. The chefs had prepared several dishes with meat and vegetables for all our desires.

Nacpan beach, a real paradise. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines. Nacpan beach a real paradise. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines. Relaxing life at Napcan beach. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines. Looking out for the stormy clouds. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Moving on, the wind picked up, and while we as passengers relaxed in the sun on deck, the responsible person for the expedition paid close attention to the weather conditions. Sunny blue skies turned grey, and as without warning for the non-trimmed eye, the lovely sunny day turned pouring down. Our sun cover on the upper deck luckily also served as rain cover, and we all became a bit closer friends all of a sudden.

Safety first

The captain set anchor in a bay all the way north of Palawan while waiting for the other boat. After a while in uncertainty the message came; we are staying here for the night.

Our home the first night. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Stormy sky ahead. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

The crew made all the arrangements, and our tents were set up at the beach alongside the local fishing boats. It was not the deserted beach I had fantasized about, but still an authentic experience. Curious local children first shy, then boldly walking around the campsite.

Tenting at the beach by a village north on Palawan. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Helping the locals to get the boat to sea. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Helping the locals to get the boat to sea.

The closest house agreed to open their doors for us, and served as our bathroom. Along came also a big bonus; since the family was usually nearby to let us in to their home, we talked with them about family values and living conditions, getting to know more about the local culture.

After the buffet dinner was set up at long tables at the beach, the night slowly appeared. The tents were already up, and the tired ones could retreat, while the rest enjoyed the late evening around the warm bonfire.

Dinner is served! Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Dinner coming up!

Lovely evening around the bonfire at the beach. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Lovely evening around the bonfire at the beach.

A new day, new adventures

Morning came with more curious kids as well as adults. The kids were curious about us, while we, first of all were concerned about our next move. Wind had picked up more, and the chief was debating either to turn back to El Nido or to find alternative transport. All of us needed to go to Coron to continue our journeys, but safety first. The chief left us for a few hour. In the meantime, the weather on shore was not too bad, so we played with the local kids, walked along the beach, relaxed a bit in the tents, and played some more.

Curious local children. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Yoga at the beach. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Yoga at the beach.

When he returned, we gathered for information. He had arranged a larger boat to take us all to Coron the next day, so we were staying at the spot for one more night, but he had also arranged for us to stay inside the community house.

Lunch was prepared, and when we had finished eating, new information was given; the wind had quiet down, so everything was packed on the boats and we got going. Nice and slow.

More food, and more kids! Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Waves were still large, so it took us more than double the time to reach the safe deserted beach for the night.

Arriving in almost sunshine and calm sea, we packed the things we needed for the night in plastic bags and left them for the crew to paddle to shore while we had a nice swim. With nobody else around it felt a bit like “Cast Away”. The tents were lined up along the beach and dinner was prepared around the bonfire.

Food delivery at our deserted beach. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Food delivery at our deserted beach.

Our boats. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

From time to time some heavy rain showers came around, chasing us to seek shelter in an unfinished gazebo. Once it stopped, we went back to the beach. And the commuting continued, back and forth.

Along with the rain came also the wind. Stronger each time. At one point we went to check on the tents, and found that we urgently had to move them. We found a spot for ours a bit more sheltered by a tree, and decided to call it a night. The rule of no sand in the tent was broken, and I felt I woke up rolling around in a broken sand castle. The disadvantage of tenting at a deserted beach.

Bright, shiny day

Waking up to a bright sunny day was a pleasant surprise. After our pancake breakfast with eggs on the side, we packed out things together and swam back to the ship. Two ships had become one, as the smaller one had to return to El Nido. By now the group had grown quite close after spending two days together, so we had more than enough space.

Waking up to a nice sunny day. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines. Time to say goodbye to our beach home. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Sunbathing on deck, we were enjoying the slow moving life as we continued towards Coron. Stopping along the way to cool down swimming in the coral blue ocean, we had perfect breaks from the life on the boat. I will not lie to you; as we had to do the sailing distance of two days in one, it sure was a long day. I sometimes felt being back in time to my childhood, driving long distances by car with my parents, constantly asking “are we there yet?”. Only now, I was just asking myself, not out loud.

Locals passing by. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines. Beautiful beach for snorkeling. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines. Passing by a remote village. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines. Sunset behind us on our way to Coron. Three day expedition with El Nido Paradise from El Nido to Coron. Philippines.

Sunny day turned to pitch black night, and we could see the lights of Coron in the far distance. Sitting together on deck, we finished the supply of rum and coke, sharing brotherly. Even though we were all tired and wanted to get to our destination, we kept the spirit up; after all, we were all in the same boat… (sorry, just could not resist…)

Arriving Coron many hours after planned turned out to be a bit of a headache for the ones not booking the accommodation ahead. Including us. We found a tricycle to take us around looking for a place to stay. As I had a local sim-card I had done a little bit of research along the boat ride when we were lucky enough to have coverage, but the connection was quite bad so it was impossible to book anything. At least we had a backup plan, even though it was quite far from the center.

We decided to try our luck with the driver first. He was super helpful, and when we had given up, he still came up with another place to try. That was a fail as well as all places were fully booked, but our luck changed, and the place next door had an opening. The ones that had booked did not show up. Two lessons learned; book ahead in high season if you are picky with your accommodation, and absolutely notify your place to stay if you check in late….. We were lucky getting a very nice room to a decent price, and at a great location.

Going to bed more or less right away after a long journey, we were dreaming about our past adventure while considering our next; exploring the islands around Coron in the morning….

Boracay island, The Philippines

Boracay has been voted one of the most beautiful islands in the world, and therefor attract very many tourists. Visiting in high season of course have the disadvantages of even more people.

Boracay island seen from above. Philippines.

Boracay island seen from above.

With that said, it really is a beautiful beach, long stretched, white and powdered. The beach is just perfectly shallow for children, and  the deeper water is just about close enough for adults to reach it without hassle. The thing that bothered me were the lack of authentic charm and the same shops with typical souvenirs you can find at any beach destination all over the world.

The beach at Station 3 in Boracay island. The Philippines

The beach at Station 3 in Boracay island, The Philippines

The beach at Station 3.

The beach in Boracay island. The Philippines

The beach in Station 2.

I decided to look past that fact, sit at the beach literally turning my back towards it, and focusing on the magnificent sunset. Colors painted all over the blue canvas backdrop, with some white clouds to make the extra contrasts. Sitting in the sand with drops of salty water slowly running down the chin, the wet hair hanging down at my back, border lining the feeling of cooling down and being too cold. The sight of the sunset still sends waves of happiness through my body (I am crazy about sunsets). Top it with an ice cold beer and good company, it is all you need.

Beautiful sunset at Boracay island, The Philippines. Beautiful sunset at Boracay island, The Philippines.

Staying at Villa Romero at Station 3 was a great location. Close enough to walk to most places, far enough from the party noise to get a good night sleep. To make it clear, we were not at Boracay to party all night, we were there to enjoy the beauty and some drinks along the beach. And the new year’s party with fireworks.

If you come to party, it is a great place with a large variety of venues for every desire. From quiet drinks at the beach, to bar hopping, to heavy mad dancing all night.

Street sellers are everywhere, if you sit at the beach they come to you, but they will leave you alone if you tell them no. If you actually need the things they are selling, you should go ahead and buy it. Supply and demand rocks, and you will not get it cheaper anywhere else (in my experience). If you do not have one already, dry bags will probably come in handy later on. Do not expect them to be 100 % waterproof (read: do not drag them under water), but they absolutely do the trick when you get splashed by a wave or have to wade to/from a boat. Trust me, one of the mentioned will most probably happen during your trip.

It is also a good trick for solo travelers so you can bring your valuables when you go for a dip. Trust is a good thing, but sadly not everyone can be trusted.

Relaxing mood sitting in a bean bag at the beach. Boracay Island, The Philippines

Enjoying pre-dinner drinks and sunset in a bean bag at the beach.

New Years Eve; we wanted to splurge ourselves with a nice and fancy meal. After all, it is only new years once a year, and it has to be fun, right? This is exactly what I try to run away from every year, though. We ended up with a buffet at a hotel by the beach. Not the most expensive, but by far the cheapest. Afterwards I cursed myself for not remembering that buffets are seldom particularly good. They tend to try to please everyone, ending up quite tasteless. In hindsight we could easily have eaten at a much simpler place and had a much better experience. However, if you want a beach setting, sadly they know how to charge you for it.

Nice and relaxing atmosphere at Summers Place. Boracay island, the Philippines

Nice and relaxing atmosphere at Summers Place. Before the party crowd came.

At least we left without being hungry for anything else than drinks. Ending up at a quite easy going bar, feet in the sand and happy people walking by, life was quite good. Time was running by fast, and soon it was midnight and time for fireworks. Stocked up with a large bottle of sparkling wine from the local sari-sari shop to share, we were ready to greet the New Year. Exactly a year ago, I promised myself to be at a beach for the next New Year’s, it was so much better than the cramped city life in KL last year!

The Filipinos do know how to put on a firework show. Standing in a long line, not too cramped, along the white beach, we could all watch the fireworks being send up from rafts in the sea.

Down at the beach watching the fireworks at New Year's Eve in Boracay Island, The Philippines Fireworks at New Year's Eve in Boracay Island, The Philippines

How long you want to continue the party is up to you. You certainly have the option to make it all through the morning.

A new year at Boracay Island. One of the many sand sculptures at the beach.

Anyway, there is more to Boracay than the beach on the west side. Taking a tricycle to Puka beach, showed us a completely different side of the island. The sand is not as nice, and the waves much more harsh, but the vibe is more relaxing. There are a few beach bars with sunbeds scattered around, and they could probably mix up some food if you get hungry. For the active ones, the locals play frisbee and you are more than welcome to join.

Driving through local villages on our way to Puka Beach. Boracay Island, The Philippines.

Driving through local villages on our way to Puka Beach.

Puka beach at Boracay Island, The Philippines

Banka boat at Puka beach, Boracay Island, The Philippines

Banka boat at Puka beach.

Playing frisbee at Puka beach. Boracay Island, The Philippines

Playing frisbee at Puka beach.

Puka beach, Boracay Island, The Philippines

Relaxing at Puka Beach. Boracay Island, The Philippines

We joined forces with some guys we met there, and continued exploring the island. Arriving at Ilig-Iligan beach, we did not intend to stay too long. Just go for a dip and a quick lunch. There was nothing quick about the lunch though. But, in island paradise there is no rush (except when you have a plane to catch…). When we thought we had waited far too long and started to make jokes among ourselves that they probably had to slaughter the chicken (adobo), they came over and said that they would start cooking. The food was on the table two hours after we ordered, but it was absolutely nice and tasty, and worth waiting for.

Ilig-Iligan beach at Boracay Island, The Philippines

Ilig-Iligan beach.

Time to relax at Ilig-Iligan beach at Boracay Island, The Philippines Care for a coconut? Ilig-Iligan beach at Boracay Island, The Philippines Coconut at Ilig-Iligan beach at Boracay Island, The Philippines

Despite the fact that we were running late, we still went through with our plan to go via Mt. Luhu for a great view of the island. The tricycle had a real struggle working it’s way up the steep hill, but the view was rewarding.

View of Boracay from Mount Luhu viewpoint. Boracay Island, The Philippines

View of Boracay from Mount Luhu viewpoint.

The tricycle waited for us and got us back to our hotel just in time for our pick up for the airport…

How to get to Boracay
Boracay is a relatively small island, with no airport. You can either fly into Caticlan (MPH) (sometimes mentioned as Boracay Airport) or to Kalibo (KLO). Flights to Caticlan tend to be a bit more expensive than Kalibo, but from Kalibo to Boracay it takes about 2 hours extra so you can decide yourself how much your time is worth.

Arriving at Caticlan, we were offered a door-to-door package for 600PHP per person. You can also walk right past the mini vans to get a tricycle to the boat terminal and buy the boat ticket and terminal fee there, and then get another tricycle to your accommodation on the other side. We decided time was more worth than money, and went for the easy package. In the end we were waiting quite some time to be picked up, so it probably would have been just as effective to arrange everything by ourselves.

The banka boat going to Boracay island. The Philippines.

The banka boat going to Boracay island.

From Boracay to Kalibo we did the same (paying 650PHP per person), but you can easily get a tricycle to the pier and buy the boat+van from there for 250PHP per person operated by CBTMPC Budget Tours. I have no idea about their schedule as it does not say on the web site, but if you need to know in order to plan flight etc, you can contact them. If it is not that crucial, you can ask when you arrive to the quay in Boracay, so you know the details for going back.

Where to eat
Honestly, I was not too impressed with the food I experienced in Boracay. The only place worth mentioning was Smoke. They have good local Filipino cuisine to an affordable price. They have one restaurant inside D-Mall, and one at Bulabog Beach at the other side. As their restaurant in D-Mall was full, they offered to take us for free to Bulabog Beach. We thought it would be great to see a bit more of the island anyway, so it was a win-win. As the weather turned bad and the wind was crazy, we ended up not seeing anything except the restaurant, but still it was enjoyable and we at least got to see some of the back streets along the way.

Walking around inside D Mall. Boracay Island, The Philippines

Walking around inside D Mall, Smoke restaurant on the right side.

Where to sleep
We stayed at Villa Romero in Station 3. The rooms were quite small, but clean, and as we spent minimum time there, it was ok.

Room at Villa Romero at Station 3 at Boracay island. The Philippines.

Locals and tourists enjoying the last of the day before the sun sets. Boracay Island, The Philippines.

24 hours in Manila

Manila is for many just a stopover on the way to the many beach destinations or to the north of the Philippines. Here are some suggestions how to make the most of 24 hours in Manila.

Morning
Start with a breakfast of your choice, either at the hotel or one of the cafes or bakeries. If you are within walking distance to the LRT1 line, I recommend taking a stroll there while witnessing the daily life of the locals along the way. Kids on their way to school, workers in the shops and repairs, and even the younger kids doing their morning bath outside the house. They are all smiling and wishing you a good morning.

Once you get on the LRT1, take it to Abad Santos, the station closest to the south entrance for the Chinese Cemetery. I seem to have a thing for cemeteries these days. At least the more unusual ones, like the Merry Cemetery in Romania and now also the Chinese Cemetery in Manila.

By the entrance gate, there are several guides you can hire to take you to the best mausoleums, and even inside some of them. They started with 300PHP per person for a little more than an hour, but you can try to bargain.

We decided to just walk around by ourselves and ended up getting a small tour of our own by a local family that were visiting the grandparents and great grandparents, the latter being the ones immigrating to the Philippines from China. The mausoleums near the entrance are the same height, being the newest and most modern. Many of them are decorated almost as apartments, including hot and cold running water, bathrooms and air-condition!
Chinese Cemetery. Manila, Philippines
The older ones vary in height, and the richer the deceased were, the higher the houses and monuments were built. It felt like walking through a ghost town, quite literally. Like a deserted version of Wisteria Lane. The calm and quiet atmosphere felt like a very welcome break after walking around the busy streets of Manila.

The streets in the Chinese Cemetery can look like any other street. Manila, Philippines

The streets in the Chinese Cemetery can look like any other suburbia street.

Monument inside the Chinese Cemetery. Manila, Philippines Family mausoleum at the Chinese Cemetery. Manila, Philippines

The mausoleums are very expensive to maintain, so sadly many cannot afford to keep them. Instead, they remove the stone coffins with their loved ones, and cremate them instead.

A deserted grave at the Chinese Cemetery. Manila, Philippines

A deserted grave at the Chinese Cemetery.

Walking past some of the graves, I reacted that the names did not seem very Chinese. I heard several different explanations. The most obvious reason is that Chinese married Filipinos, but we were also told that many of the Chinese immigrants changed to Filipino names to blend in and get better social status. Another explanation is that by law 60 % of a business must be owned by a Filipino. However, the Filipino government made an exception for the Chinese entrepreneurs so they could start their own business, but in exchange they had to change their names to at least have the business registered in a Filipino name.

In the back there is a whole street with smaller chambered graves. Getting closer, I realized they were children’s graves. Some of them died in young age, others even the day they were born. Children were not allowed to be buried at the Chinese Cemetery, so they were cremated and their ashes were placed in this row.

The graves for children at the Chinese Cemetery. Manila, Philippines

The graves for children.

We could have walked around for hours, but our hunger told us to get going.

Afternoon
From the Chinese Cemetery we got on a tricycle to Chinatown for lunch. The spot where our driver let us off did not resemble Chinatown at all, but he pointed us in the direction of Ongpin street. Here it was definitely more bustling, with well-known Chinese symbols hanging all over.

Chinatown in Manila, Philippines

We located Mei Sum Tea House and asked the waiter to pick a few different dishes to share. She did well, and we left the restaurant full and satisfied.

Busy streets in Manila, Philippines

Walking down to Intramuros, a walled city area considered as the old town of Manila. The citadel was funded by the Spanish Colonials in 1571, and include Fort Santiago as the main tourist attraction. It is a beautiful area with lots of green space for recreation as well as the historical buildings. This is also where José Rizal imprisoned while awaiting execution in 1896. Don’t know who he is? You should absolutely look him up before you go, but you will also learn about his many achievement through his young age of 35 at the Razal Shrine. To give you a brief summary, he is considered a national hero in the Philippines fighting for freedom from Spain. He was sentenced to death for that reason, but it served as a catalyst for the struggle for Philippine independence and the birth of the Filipino nation. As if that in itself was not enough, he was also an author of novels, poems and comics, and while in exile in Dapitan, he discovered two species of frog and lizard. Among very many other things. I must admit, it felt a bit special to walk around and peak into his cell where he spent his last full day on earth, exactly 120 years ago.

Nice and green areas inside Fort Santiago. The fort is a part of Intramuros, the old town of Manila, Philippines Fort Santiago inside the old town of Manila, Intramuros. Philippines Jose Rizal. Manila, Philippines

Walking in his footsteps while exiting the fortress, we were happy we could continue to Manila House instead of following the rest of his path…

The footsteps of José Rizal. Manila, Philippines

The footsteps of José Rizal.

Entering the impressive Manila House was like stepping back to the colonial time. Room by room you witness the grand wooden furniture and artifacts along with interesting small facts. The dining room had a large dark green velvet cloth hanging above the table. Convenient both as a manual fan and to keep the flies away.

The master bedroom inside the Manila House in Intramuros. Manila, Philippines

The master bedroom inside the Manila House.

The dining room inside the Manila House in Intramuros. Manila, PhilippinesA street in Intramuros, the old walled city in Manila, PhilippinesStreet in Intramuros, the old walled city in Manila, Philippines

Sunset time
Time flies, and it was time to decide whether to enjoy the sunset in the area we were and go home to change after, or to rush back to dress up before sunset drinks and dinner. We went for the latter option. Missing the sunset was not an option, even though it easily could have ended that way. The first obstacle was the traffic jam. Most people have heard about the terrible traffic conditions in Manila, but so far we had been really lucky. Until now. We had pinned 71 Gramercy as the place to be when day turned to night. Passing Greenbelt it should be an easy drive straight ahead on Makati Avenue. Problem was that as it is one of the main roads, everybody else wanted to be on it as well. Just when I was about to realize we would not make it, the traffic went smooth, and suddenly we were there. Just in time for the second obstacle; 71 Gramercy was closed for renovation! Luckily I had observed another potential rooftop right next door (to be honest I thought it was 71 Gramercy), so we hurried over to City Garden Grand Hotel. The sun was already setting, but we made it just in time to sit down with a cold drink as the sky was painted yellow, red and purple.

Dusk in in Manila, Philippines Sunset in Manila, Philippines

Evening
Heading back to Greenbelt for a little bit of shopping with a stop in a bar for a drink and some snacks to keep us going a bit longer. Shopping done, more drinks (and snacking dinner) awaited. I have a thing for secret bars when I travel, so we went to try out a few of them, starting with Exit Bar.

Exit bar. Speakeasy bar in Manila, Philippines

Exit Bar is a speakeasy bar located inside the Corinta Plaza. If you enter from the backside, the entrance is through the first exit door in the hall leading to Plaza Café. If you enter through the Plaza Café, the exit door is at the far end of the hall in the back. Walking through that exit door is like entering a time machine. The room is dimly lit, with a cohesive leather sofa along the dark brown paneled walls, accompanied with round tables of imitated marble. The only sources of light are the illuminations behind the bar shelves, and the yellow and black retro lamp, acknowledging both the purpose and time period of these secret bars.

Depending on how long you want to stretch the 24 hours in Manila, try the other secret bars I recommend in Manila.

Sleeping
The two areas Makati and Bonifical are considered the safest. We decided to stay in Makati as it also has a reputation of good nightlife. Gervasia Hotel Makati is a simple but ok budget hotel conveniently situated near the toll way, taking us less than 15 minutes both from and to the airport. At the same time it is within walking distance to the Greenbelt area, and also many of the speakeasy bars in Manila if you are heading for the nightlife. Personally I love just walking around to explore, so if you consider the 30 min walk to the LRT a part of that, it is perfect.

 

Secret bars in Manila

The concept of speakeasy bars comes from the years of prohibition when it was illegal to sell alcohol. Manila has many of these secret bars spread out in the city. They are obviously not that secret, you will find most of them on Google Maps, but it is still exciting to walk around looking for them, and then see whatever they have come up with as a cover.

Exit Bar
This speakeasy bar is located inside the Corinta Plaza. If you enter from the backside, the entrance is through the first exit door in the hall leading to Plaza Café. If you enter through the Plaza Café, the exit door is at the far end of the hall in the back. Walking through that exit door is like entering a time machine. The room is dimly lit, with a cohesive leather sofa along the dark brown paneled walls, accompanied with round tables of imitated marble. The only sources of light are the illuminations behind the bar shelves, and the yellow and black retro lamp, acknowledging both the purpose and time period of these secret bars.
Exit bar. Speakeasy bar in Manila, Philippines

Blind Pig
Located in the quiet side street Salcedo, nothing gives away the location before you are right outside the door. I am not going to tell you how you know, but you will absolutely get the point once you are there. Knocking on the black door, one of the bar keepers let you in and guide you to one of the booths. The lighting was of course dimmed here as well, and the large chandelier hanging from the ceiling was off. The walls were lighter here though, with metallic tiles covering parts of it. The atmosphere was peaceful with calm music from the 20’s in the background. We could almost hear the crackle from the gramophone even though it obviously was played from more modern equipment.
Oh, by the way. The location on Google Maps is slightly wrong, just to let you know.
The Blind Pig. Speakeasy bar in Manila, Philippines

Bank Bar
Your clue is the 7/11 in the RCBC Bank building on 26th street. Enter the white door on the left by the counter. It leads to a small storeroom with articles like cups of noodles, tin cans and bottles of sauces. Walk through the dark curtain, and the bar will be revealed.
Bank bar has a bit different vibe then the two previous. It is a bit lighter and has a more modern feel with the open industrial style ceiling and a DJ. The marble floor tiles and the seating areas with plush chairs in soft colors soak you right back to the earlier decades again, though. The name comes from being inside a bank building, and the barkeepers wear bulletproof vests as a part of the uniform.
Do not leave without checking out the bathroom.
Bank Bar. Speakeasy bar in Manila, Philippines Drinks at Bank Bar. Speakeasy bar in Manila, Philippines

ABV
Lazy Bastard burgers at the corner of Jupiter st. and Galaxy host the secret bar ABV. Once you get down the stairs, turn right through the large wooded door. You will then find yourself inside a replica of an old elevator. Follow the chess tiles to the other end. This bar was more lively than the others were (could also be the fact that it was getting later), and the chatting almost drowned the contemporary music from the prohibition period.
The entrance to ABV through an elevator. Speakeasy bar in Manila, Philippines ABV. Speakeasy bar in Manila, Philippines

Mandalay
Do not let the hordes and loud noise at The Belle&Dragon scare you away. Embrace yourself and swift your way past them, heading for the bathrooms. In the hall just outside stands a large wardrobe like the one known from The Chronicles of Narnia. And the resemblance continues; ones you open the wardrobe and enter, you pass through hanging clothes and enter at the other side. It is in fact quite cold in there, but instead of snow and winter, you find exotic interior, including a large world globe and two giant stone lions guarding the bar!
While the guests relax in the Chesterfield inspired furniture, the barkeepers serve whiskey from all corners of the world. A nice and quiet oasis!
Mandalay. Speakeasy bar in Manila, Philippines

Have you been to any of these or other speakeasy bars in Manila?