…celebrating your wedding anniversary in style!

The best damn suggestion I could give is to fly out somewhere nice, preferably out of the country, splash in a nice suite and have dinner on a really swanky restaurant where you don’t know which knife or fork to use and you end up mixing your goblet from your wine glasses.

But that, my friends, is a suggestion I could give you if you only have money to burn. Unfortunately, the Hubs and I fifth wedding anniversary last December fell on some really tough times.

But we both wanted it to be special — not the usual “watch a movie, eat at Sbarro’s kinda thing” we usually do on a typical Fridate. Our dream was to spend it in Osaka or Tokyo — but due to the fact we had to tighten out belts — we decided to HongKong.

…or what could pass for HongKong here in the Philippines, which is the Manila Chinatown in Binondo, said to be the oldest Chinatown settlement anywhere in the world. Dating back to the time when the first Chinese immigrants came to the Philippines during the Spanish colonial times, the current Chinatown is a mixed of modernity and of days gone by — as manifested by the grotty, peeling buildings which reminds you of the same settlements in HongKong’s Kowloon many alleyways.

The plan began when I chanced upon cheap rates for hotel stays at Ramada Central Manila, said to be located in Ongpin, Binondo, Manila (which is the center of the local Fil-Chi population and enclave). A quick search at Agoda, Booking.com and Trip Advisor yielded the same cheap rates. Trip Advisor also shows a lot of positive reviews of this fairly new establishment. Encouraged, off I went to the hotel’s website and was able to scour cheap accommodations for their Standard Room for only PHP2,400 (roughly USD60) a night. It was already a sweet deal, considering that a stay in any of Makati’s centrally-located hotels will set us back close to PHP8,000/night.

Of course, I had to keep my expectations at bay — the hotel was not in Makati after all.

The view from our 15th floor executive room
The view from our 15th floor executive room

With the room booked and the vacation leave filed — the hubby and I was finally off to our Binondo adventure. But of course, what would any adventure be without any hitch?

First of all, it was raining like mad–something we have come to expect having come off Typhoon Haiyan a few weeks ago. And since it was raining and in the middle of the Christmas rush, it was only proper that there was no cab in sight either. Pressed for time and worried that we will miss our reservation, we do what every crazy married couple will do — we commuted. Took the jeep and ran through the streets of Ongpin trying to find the hotel. Imagine two crazy kids coming up to the hotel concierge, trying to check in.

In the end, all was well — hotel upgraded our room from Standard to Executive Room (about three rungs up) and the room was simply amazing.

the queen sized bed!
the queen sized bed!



After checking in and getting settled, the Hubby and I went out to look at the Chinese deli and have a quick dinner in one of the many restos offering hot, delicious food at affordable prices. We went around the neighborhood, prayed at the corner altar with both Chinese and Christian influences, then shopped at the grocery neighbor since we planned to pig out and watch TV till we are both knocked over. I also made plans to do a quick Christmas shopping at 168 and Lucky Plaza 999 – two of the well-known malls in the area who offer drop-dead prices. I knew I had a head start compared to other shoppers during the Christmas season. I was staying in a hotel in the area and I could go around earlier compared to the others.

The hotel is truly a surprise — inside, you wouldn’t think that it was located somewhere in the middle of old Manila, a place not exactly known for a luxurious surroundings — and that’s telling it lightly. Service is impeccable and security is quite tight, you have to have the key card with you in order to access any of the floors. Breakfast (included in the payment) is also a high point, though the servers assigned at the restaurant could be a more hospitable and helpful around guests.

If you plan to go to Manila and would want to go beyond the cookie-cutter streets of Makati, you might want to consider the Ramada. I would advise you though to be more conscious and exercise caution when outside the hotel, but otherwise, I am sure you are up for a great stay.

In the end, the “stylish” wedding anniversary celeb turned out to be not-so-stylish, but better — it gave me and the hubby the opportunity to enjoy each other’s presence, to just sit and talk and share our plans for our next five years.

* This is not paid post. I personally paid for my stay at Ramada Central Manila

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