First steps in Manila are usually the hardest


There I was, Manila: the customs and boarding control from the Philippines, much easier going as in Vietnam. Right after I arrived, I could step out of the airport and smell the dusty and smoggy tasting Philippine air.
Anyways, I made it and stood at the airport ready to catch a cab downtown. Klaus had already told me in advance that I should catch one of the yellow cabs, as all the others were a “pure tourist rip-off”. After waiting one damn hour in line to get a cab I finally headed downtown.


While waiting I met Bob. Bob worked for the biggest brewery in the Philippines San Miguel, which I surprisingly always considered as a Spanish beer brand. But, Bob told me that this was just rooted in the fact that the Spanish people exported the beer during times of colonization. Originally its Philippines and the Spanish were just smart to make the beer famous in Europe under their name.


Sitting in the cab to my AirBnB apartment I called our Mentor Klaus that I had good arrival and that I was looking forward to meeting him tomorrow. NO, I was mistaken. Klaus had different plans with me. Fully ignoring my story about my 35 hours journey and the mentioned fact how tired and sick I felt he said; “we have to go out for at least one beer”. Well, realizing that there was no way of escape I agreed “for a quick beer”. I told Klaus that I would give him a call as soon I arrived in my apartment. The cab ride took me one hour and cost me 5$.
And that’s what I did; I arrived at my Condo and gave him a call (Big mistake as Klaus arrived ten minutes after I arrived – turning my long planned exhaustive shower in some kind of speed-sprinkle).


But first, my Condo: IT WAS GREAT. People could mean I was ignoring the fact that MyHelpster was a startup and had practically no money at all. I mean the apartment was a damn luxury thing offering everything you can imagine, with a view over the whole city (It was located in the 34th floor with a pool, gym, sauna, etc, 10 floors down). Well ignoring all the stories about the successful startup guys who started out sleeping on floors, I was convinced that it was mainly because these guys were just not able to hit a good deal at AirBnB.

making great deals part early on– AirBnB apartment for less than 40$ the night

Regarding my meeting with Klaus; even though I was against it at the beginning and my only desire was sleep. The night turned out to be really good. We drank more than two beers. We ate Zubeach a traditional Philippines meal/snack which is something like sushi just without rise and Algal – – – exactly you got it; it was pure fish with some vinegar on top. We listened to great American 80s songs and showed even off some risky moves on the dance floor.


When I got home – I was not tired at all. In Europe it was early afternoon so I just wrote some emails before falling fully exhausted and shivering (I think I had fever) asleep.


NEXT day: great! As it was weekend (Saturday) there were no business meetings scheduled so I could have a veeery veeeery long sleep (Even though I had a bad feeling that it might seem unprofessional towards Klaus to demand a 10 hours sleep – but I insisted on it). After I slept exhaustively, we went to a traditional Philippines market and ate some kind of backed fish for breakfast. In addition, I bought a famous Philippines fruit called Durian, which I wanted to eat later the day (Story follows soon – Promise ;) !!!). After the break, we headed to Starbucks to prepare and discuss the upcoming days (there was so much ahead of us, I actually was happy to remember the plans for the next day and hoped Klaus would brief me every night again – he did).
After our coffee we went to the University of the Philippines to meet Shila and Lorrieta, to go together for dinner. Shila was the former wife of a famous Philippines movie director who won twice something in Cannes. His name was Raymond Red. Lorrieta was a professor at the University and a lady as one can imagine.
Anyways, there was one funny instance happening while waiting for them on the campus. Klaus was smoking a cigarette. Suddenly a Philippine guard came to him and asked him kindly to stop smoking as this was forbidden on the whole campus (there were 40.000 students studying, it was insane that you were not allowed to smoke anywhere on the grounds of the huge campus). Anyways looking around we saw one funny thing; the main sponsor of the school was a tobacco company!!! There were signs everywhere “sponsored by Tobacco Philippines Inc.” next to it, big signs “NO SMOKING”.

The two were finally arriving and we were starting to head to dinner, where we met another artists couple. All in all a very nice evening: I met very nice people and ate great food (especially the soup exclusively made out of chicken blood was delicious).

Actually the evening was not over. After dinner we drove for drinks to Benny. Benny was quite a famous Philippine lawyer, who had helped in the past to break the former dictator government and to consult in the Philippine separatists war. Nevertheless, Benny was a really funny and down to earth guy. He let even his staff sitting and drinking with us. Actually his driver drank more than all of us three together. But I don’t want to complain he made a great job driving us home, even after 7 decent glasses of scotch.

Great view & great company (from small to tall; Shila, Driver Toni, Klaus, me)

The next day we had again big plans: Together with Shila and our driver Tony we wanted to see the ocean site, go swimming in a lagoon, visit a member club for lunch, hike on an active and smoke blowing volcano, enjoy a great view on some lakes right in front of Manila, and again a great dinner.

To make it short: We only made it to the mountains with its views on the hills and the volcano. A seventeen hours day was coined by 15 hours car ride, because of being stuck in the traffic jam. That’s it. I will stop writing about this day, as it doesn’t really coins my great memories from the Philippines.

But soon, I will write another piece of art about my trip ;). And then I will write a little more about MyHelpster (I mean its MyHelpster’s blog anyways) and the real reason for what I was in the Philippines: Business.

You started to read about our Philippines adventure? Why to stop here? Continue in the same manner and also read about our achievements. Navigate from page to page and you will get in touch with many useful tips and recommendations. One of them would indubitably be Brother Omnijoin, online meeting tool…you know what? I will just let you read about it by yourself. Enjoy!

Written by Bjoern Wind

Bjoern Wind is Co-founder and CEO of MyHelpster. He has a MSc Management from the Nova Business School and worked three years in the energy industry.

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