We’ve always stayed in Metro Manila during the lenten holidays. While everyone makes a mad dash to the provinces, enduring traffic, congestion and the infernal heat only to run into the exact same people they encounter daily in the city they have just escaped, we enjoy Manila. Emptied of its frantic inhabitants, this place is actually charming: temporarily quiet, comparatively less polluted and chaotic.
We can tool up and down the highway at top speed and visit the burbs which we never see during the working week. Hence our decades-old plan to shut the entrances to Metro Manila and declare it an independent republic one Black Saturday, preventing the vacation crowd from returning to block our view. Aalis-alis kayo, huwag na kayong bumalik.
In recent years many people have caught on that the best place to spend the long weekend is Manila. (Or maybe there are just more people.) We no longer have the city to ourselves. More restaurants stay open, but they’re all full. You have to make reservations at Old Swiss Inn and good luck getting into Cafe Adriatico. Traffic around the restaurants is as heavy as weekday traffic.
Our secret city is gone. Next year we will contrive to get as far away as possible. (Unless by saying this everyone decides to get out next year, in which case we will stay.)