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Wallpaper* City Guide: Manila

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When visiting a new country, to find out what to do off the tourist path one either has to do extensive research beforehand or simply ask someone (whose taste they trust) and has been there before what their recos are. For the popular destination spots like Paris, Tokyo, New York or the like, this is not a problem. There are loads of travel book guides available on these top cities. But what about Manila?

Cultural Center of the Philippines

Cultural Center of the Philippines

You will not see a Time Out Manila. Nor will you find a  cheeky Luxe Guide to this confusing capital that likes to change its street names from time to time and refers to distance in terms of the time it takes to get there. But we are incredibly ecstatic to finally join the ranks of leading tourist destinations in the world with the Wallpaper* City Guide series which covers over 100+ destinations, from Atlanta to Zurich. With a focus on architecture, art and design, Wallpaper* City Guide Manila (Phaidon Press, UKis an insider’s reportage on the hip and happening around Manila. There are over 65 full-color photos of the city’s best exteriors and interiors, both modern and historical. At the helm of this project are homegrown world traveler, blogger and Lifestyle Asia editor herself, Cheryl Tiu, and Hong Kong-based Home Journal editor Kissa Castaneda.

Clockwise, from L: Church of the Gesu; The Curator

Clockwise, from L: Church of the Gesu; Kish; The Curator; Manila Post Office

TG: How did you get involved in this project?

Cheryl Tiu: I was rolling around in bed one December evening and decided to check my mail. I received an email from Jeremy Case, editor of Wallpaper* City Guides (Phaidon Press UK). He said he had been looking for a local journalist with a keen eye for aesthetics and came across my blog www.cheryltiu.com and asked if I would like to be a part of the first Manila edition that they were producing! I almost fell over! I even had to double check that it wasn’t spam, haha!

TG: How did you edit what to put into the guide?

CT: Since Wallpaper* City Guides are really catered to the design-conscious traveler, interior design and architecture were the focal points, rather than, say, how mind-blowing the food is. Even though Makati and Bonifacio Global City are the most progressive cities in the country, we also wanted to capture the entire capital city, so we have places in Manila, Pasig, Quezon City, etc. Also, apart from some hotels, everything we featured in the book is completely Pinoy and homegrown.

TG: How do you think this will help tourists thinking of coming to Manila?

 CT: The director of photography in London wrote me that she was really impressed with our selection and did not expect Manila to look like that at all! And this is what I feel will be the reaction of most visitors as well, because to be frank, the pictures painted of the Philippines and especially of Manila in international news outlets aren’t the most enticing. At the same time, most people who come and visit the Philippines are more excited about the beaches so Manila becomes just a quick stopover for them before their next flight—which as we mentioned in our intro is Asia’s most underrated capital.

TG: What was your favorite part about the creation of this guide?

 CT: I will tell you the hardest for me—the city view! It’s the inside front cover that folds out into a spread. We wanted to showcase a skyline that would fuse the important elements of both old and modern Manila while at the same time featuring some Wallpaper*-ish type buildings in the same photo! Plus when we were identifying the buildings, I must’ve asked 10 people for help, but finally, we were able to pull it off, thank goodness!

I guess my favorite part would have to be the Urban Life part because I’m a food and drink person and I frequent most of the places in the book or had written about it previously in other publications so they were ingrained in my heart.

My personal favorite line that I wrote is, “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.” I was stuck in traffic on EDSA one day and my Dad was on the phone with me, “Where are you?” Me, “EDSA.” “Where exactly?”  “Ummmm,” I stammered. Since my sense of direction isn’t so great, I just named him the first billboard I saw. That inspired it. And I’ve been receiving lots of great feedback that people laughed out loud at that part!

TG: Which is your favorite Wallpaper City Guide (aside from this, of course!)

CT:  I like the London one, because I was there a few months ago and was able to appreciate London in a not-so-commercial way, but rather from a design point of view.

TG: What do you think is necessary when using this guide to visit a city?

CT: We have a chapter called 24 hours so if you only had one full day in the city, we’ve  kind of created an itinerary for you– based on design of course—from breakfast to lunch to dinner to cocktails. We tried to be as realistic as we could with the times, too, including the traffic in the country.

TG: What is your advice to travelers visiting Manila for the first time?

CT: Don’t let the airport or traffic clout your impressions of the country!

TG: What do you love best about Manila?

CT: The heartbeat – Manila’s heartbeat is its confluence of identities. It is urban yet still developing—there are amenities for the first world citizen yet also a lot of options for those who to rough it up. Balikbayans love the convenience and luxury of the simplest thing—home service back massages, blowdrys, cuts and colors—at a quality at par with the first world yet at a fraction of the price. Plus, most of all, the people. When you meet a Filipino, you instantly become a friend.

TG: What is your hope for Manila in terms of tourism?

CT: Manila shouldn’t just be a stopover en route to the beaches. It has so much to offer, more and more now, with all the new concepts that are opening. I guess previously having been colonized by so many years, it was always believed that whatever is imported is better. But now we have so many homegrown and local concepts coming up that are impressing both visitors and locals alike. I hope that this guide will help put our underrated capital on the world map, really! Especially since there have been 100+ editions of Wallpaper* City Guides but ours only made it NOW! Now is our time!

Kissa and Cheryl for Wallpaper* City Guides; the girls signing away during their book launch

Kissa and Cheryl for Wallpaper* City Guides; the girls signing away during their book launch

In the Philippines, the Wallpaper* City Guide Manila can be found at Fully Booked stores. It’s also available as an iOS app for iPhone and iPad.

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Vicki
Vicki
"For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven't tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay your welcome.” - Alex Garland


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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.

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