I'm a constant tourist and art fanatic that enjoys odd nooks and interesting finds. I primarily live in Manila but I've also lived in London and New jersey. I travel quite regularly to Hong kong, Singapore and Shanghai, though I've been to Barcelona, Texas, Tokyo, Seoul, Ho Chi Min and Bangkok.
If your planning to go to provinces I'd say Smart, if your staying in main areas Globe, and if you want to go cheap Sun ;) about 8 years ago
Like Erika mentioned Celdran tours are really your best bet if your looking for culture. However, if you're looking shopping, try Greenhills, they sell real pearls that are great for gifts as well as other things and get ready to bargain. It's like an indoor Camden market but cheaper and minus the punks. For night life, local clubs such as Opus, Attica or Republiq are great for dancing and listening to loud pop/techno music. But if your looking to hear local bands and mingle with the artist community, try Saguijo or the Collective in Makati, San Antonio village area ... ah, and to hang with local directors, musicians and comic book lovers, try Mogwai at Cubao X in the Araneta area. If your looking for midnight eats, try Mercato market in Fort Bonfacio, Taguig, open fridays and Saturdays, 10pm to 2 am. As a local, I avoid Malate and Greenbelt (specifically Cafe Havana during Fridays or Saturday's-- anywhere else in the mall is fine though) because it's a tourist's area and generally riddled with prostitutes ... sad to say. Though Greenbelt 5 during the day houses the most posh of our local brands, such as the Celestina bags which are sold in Barney's, which anyone should definitely check out if you have cash to burn. Greenbelt 4 is also connected to Ayala museum, which is a nice museum to visit especially when the have special exhibits. Please do try to get a massage while in Manila. It's around £10 for an hour and a half, which is dirt cheap. Though, I would recommend sticking to the Greenhills or Makati area since it's a generally local area that won't mistakenly give you a "happy ending". Generally, Manila is a big city. It's best to have a Filipino friend to bring you around... but if you don't have one yet, JUST DON'T BE STUPID. about 8 years ago
I found them really English friendly... Sure there's a language barrier but Japanese are naturally very helpful and they'll try to do as much as they can to help. Eg. Got lost at a train station and two girls helped me find the station I needed to go to... Even accompanied me until the stations stop :) almost 8 years ago