City Thrills, Personal

A Tale of Two Exes

I’ve been in rollercoaster relationships with them — both have given me joy, suffering, exhilaration, pain, and a whole slew of emotions. Being with each one is an entirely different experience and while I’m in a better place now, I can say that spending those years with them taught me so much and made me better, stronger, and more prepared with my current one.

No, dummies. I ain’t talking about men. I am talking about the two cities that I used to call home — Ortigas and Makati.

Fresh out of college, I was given the chance to work in Ortigas, along San Miguel Avenue. Back in 2011, riding the MRT wasn’t as yet horrendous and I can get to work from Fairview in an hour and a half tops. I could still afford to ride the train without worrying about being like a war-torn soldier and I had no qualms about riding the bus home. That’s the thing about Ortigas — it’s at that space beyond the terrible Makati traffic which allows for more comfortable commutes.

I loved how Ortigas was so compact and how everything was within easy reach from my office. There’s Shangri-La Mall (I could opt to take the train from Shaw or Ortigas station) and of course SM Megamall, which I loved to frequent because of the flagship Forever 21 store.

I especially loved my nightly solitary strolls on the way home near the San Miguel Building. And for some odd reason, I always felt safe in Ortigas and didn’t mind walking alone even during extended hours at work.

In terms of dining options, Ortigas has a good mix of high-end and (very) affordable. There’s Mozu at the back of OMM-Citra for days when we want to shell out for a good meal and there’s also that carinderia for when we’re just looking for 50-peso meals (including the best sinigang na salmon I’ve tasted!). Along Pearl Drive is a gamut of fastfood choices (Jollibee, McDonald’s, KFC) and the Buddy’s branch where I always run to whenever I crave for super yummy spaghetti and lumpiang shanghai.

Makati, on the other hand, is the ex that I love to hate. For one, it’s such a struggle to reach, especially if you’re coming from Quezon City. Being able to get there in two hours or less is already a miracle. But while it’s such a far off land for a QC girl like me, the payoff for the long drives and commute is totally worth it. For one, Makati is every foodie and culturati’s dream. Wherever you are in this city, there’s something to gorge on in scene, style, sound, and taste.

Japanese food fans will take delight in Nihonbashitei, Ukkokei Ramen Ron, and Little Tokyo in the perpendicular stretches of Pasay Road (now Arnaiz Avenue) and Pasong Tamo (now Chino Roces). Both Legaspi Village and Salcedo Village have dining gems that work whether you’re looking for a fancy dinner, a chill hangout, or a spot for drinks. The quality and amount of coffee shops is second to none and the area by P. Burgos opens up to a whole world of possibilities with cheap bars, nightlife spots, and even a place that features midget wrestling (!).

I had a deeper relationship with Makati given that I lived there for almost two years — both with friends and on my own. One of the things I loved most about it is that everything is pretty much walkable. Rent may be expensive (especially if you’re going after the big, reputable buildings near the central business district), but you don’t need to spend anything on transportation since you can walk to and from work. I remember with fondness those days when work was just a 20-minute walk which I used for lots and lots of thinking.

It’s also wonderful how Makati can be both spectacular and crazy at the same time — one minute you’re in the super hip area of Greenbelt and Legaspi Village and just a short walk and you’re thrust into Barangay Pio del Pilar — a neighborhood of such color and character. I kid you not when I tell you it has some of the most amusing (and annoying) people, places, and vandals in the city.

My relationships with these two cities have been slightly different but both have been remarkable, memorable. Ortigas was the one who gave me just the right amount of stuff to learn from when I was just starting out and exploring the bigger world. Makati, meanwhile, was the one that toughened me up so I can be ready for the bigger, more difficult things. The former introduced me to the big adventure but it was the latter that gave me the skills I needed to survive.

Now, I’m happily nestled back in Quezon City but I still visit both Ortigas and Makati from time to time. I’m no longer surprised when they don’t treat me so well with the traffic, lack of parking, and steep price of food and services. I’ve known them well enough to know that they aren’t exactly the most dreamy of exes but both proved to be necessary so I may learn to become a true warrior in the topsy turvy metropolis that is Manila.

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