Overwhelmed in Manila Makati

During my visit to Manila Makati, I was overwhelmed by the immense size and stark contrasts of this sprawling metropolis. A high-tech jungle of skyscrapers, it is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth.

Manila Makari Easton Place Tower, 36 floor, Filips and Neths appartment

Manila Makari, Easton Place Tower

Staying at Mandaluyong, in an Airbnb apartment on the 39th floor, as my base, I explored various parts of the city: Green Belt, Makati Central Square, Ayala Avenue, Easton Place, Rufino Street and much more.

Manila Makati

Sensory Overload

The city felt like an alien, gigantic octopus—a mechanical KRAKEN of concrete, iron, and glass that had come to life along the shores of the Philippine archipelago. This metropolis, like a scene from a science fiction movie, embodies a postmodern anachronism—a living Titan of globalization, sprawling slowly and extending hundreds of kilometers into the haze and mist of its ever-expanding urban sprawl.

Manila skyscrapers, Mandalujong

From an aerial perspective, I experienced high anxiety and vertigo, overwhelmed by the sight of matchbox-sized vehicles and the vast crowds of people, like armies of 24 million ants scurrying through the streets.

Iris Tower, downwards view

Manila assaults the senses with layers of odors—varied and intense. Noise is omnipresent, causing one’s heart to race and the mind to seek a release valve. The muddy waters of the yellow Pasig River, and the stench of insecticides, rot, and exhaust fumes add to the sensory overload.

Pasig river Manila

Armies of guards, both men and women, often armed, are stationed everywhere, trying to maintain control, especially in the so-called protected areas—luxurious towers with suites and pools where the privileged find refuge.

swimming pool in Amorsolo Tower, Makati

This experience was unprecedented for me. The mind struggles to comprehend when, deep within the abyss of the towers, the crowing of a rooster can be heard, a stark contrast to the urban chaos.

Manila Makati birdview

Contrasts Beyond Manila Makati

Venturing beyond Makati, crossing the dividing line of the concrete jungle, I encountered the familiar Asian cityscape—muddy slums, piles of garbage, peanut sellers, small shops like holes between corrugated iron and concrete blocks. Goods of indeterminate nature lined the rough roads, while smelly sewers and red-light districts on Burgos Street further highlighted the city’s multifaceted character.

Reflecting on my journey through Manila Makati, I realized that this city is a true embodiment of contrasts—luxury and poverty, modernity and decay, control and chaos—all coexisting in an almost surreal landscape.

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