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Compared to the rest of the Philippines, Manila is not the cheapest place to be. Somehow, stepping out of the house in the city seems to automatically entail spending. But while going out can easily burn a hole in your pocket, don’t lose hope just yet. Check out these fun yet thrifty date ideas that prove it’s possible to enjoy both the city and quality time together, without breaking the bank.
For couples with a love for photography and finding little unknown corners of the city, walking aimlessly around the areas of Intramuros and Binondo, camera in hand, makes for the perfect date. Explore Intramuros and admire what remains of Spanish era architecture. Marvel at the reminders of how Manila once looked and snap away. The district of Binondo, on the other hand, is considered to be the world’s oldest Chinatown. And though it has become a mosaic of the traditional and the modern, its interesting and gritty aesthetic translates well onto film.
Kids at heart? Skip the fancy dinner date or crazy night club and spend the evening battling it out over different board games at Ludo BoardGame Bar and Cafe. Players can stay for as long as they want, with a minimum of one order per person. Their menu offers a variety of tasty appetizers and drinks, but their shelves display an even wider range (in the several hundreds) of games to enjoy. And don’t worry about not being a seasoned gamer. Their floor staff are adept and always willing to explain how each game works. Not sure about what to play? Simply explain to them what kind of game you’re in the mood for and they’ll find the perfect fit.
For a dose of culture, art, and history, take your partner on a museum excursion. Walk leisurely around the galleries of the National Museum, admiring the masterpieces of among the most prominent artists in the country’s history—it will literally cost nothing. For a date that falls on a Tuesday, include the Metropolitan Museum in the itinerary, to which admission is free on this day of the week. For couples with a bit more of a budget, visit on a Saturday afternoon (admission is 100 PHP— under $2 per person) when a free guided tour is offered at 2 p.m. A smaller museum with regularly changing exhibits is the Ateneo Art Gallery, which is open to the public and free for individual visitors or groups of less than 20 people. And finally, there’s the interesting Money Museum, imparting to visitors the history and evolution of the Philippine currency and economy—and yes, entrance is also free of charge.
For a date that gives back, spend a Saturday morning with your significant other lending Project Pearls a hand at Helping Land in Tondo. This non-profit organization has been reaching out among the most impoverished communities in and around the Metro, conducting regular feeding and literacy programs, and providing scholarships to dedicated students. Their Saturday outreach activity is a two-hour program which involves feeding, learning activities, and wound care for the area’s children. They also hold a daily soup kitchen Mondays through Fridays and an after school program on Sundays. Make quality time with your SO more special by sharing it with children whose lives could be changed by it.