Manila, The Philippines things to do: Expert tips from an expat


Miro Grgic is no stranger to adapting. He arrived in Brisbane from Croatia as an immigrant war refugee at 15, and is now a multi-instrumentalist, sound engineer and event producer. He flew to Manila 'as a corporate suit' in 2010, only to stay, and create Malasimbo Music & Arts festival, now in  its 10th year,


Despite its economic reputation, there's a lot of wealth in The Philippines, and the art scene is big. My wife, Olivia d'Aboville, is a textiles designer using silk and native fibres such as abaca (from pineapple). Really, she sculpts textiles. She exhibits in various local galleries, so you'll find us in Altro Mundo, the Local Art Fair and Leon Gallery, See,,


Skiing is my favourite activity, but not something I can do here, obviously. So I walk a lot in La Mesa  Eco Park. It's the last rainforest in Manila. I'd say nine out of 10 residents don't know it exists, but you can taste native food, go swimming, rent a bike and ride around the rainforest to breathe in Filipino trees. This year, we're holding our music festival, Malasimbo, here. 


I love the spices in Indian food, but there's not enough Indian restaurants here. Queens at Bollywood at Greenbelt 3, in Makati, is owned by a really cool guy. He works hard, and he's a good guy, so his food is good because he's good. My go-to is veg samosa and the chole (chickpea) masala. They also make an authentic butter chicken and proper naan,


I go bowling in a shopping mall and get a beer while I'm here.  We don't have liquor stores, but you can buy Peroni at the convenience stores. There's not enough micro-breweries here, maybe I should start my own? Some of my friends own Joe's Brew and NoKal, so if the volume is right, I will go in and say good day. See


Avoid being too blunt or critical. It's not appreciated at all.