Off the Beaten Path: Family-Friendly Places to Visit in Manila

Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see your city in a whole new light, and today I’m excited to share a list of things to do in Manila from a rather unlikely source.

The beautiful Amber Folkman of | Photo courtesy of Jay Santos Photography
Amber Folkman has lived in Manila for five years with her expat husband and their three adorable boys.  We’ve been following each other on Instagram and commenting on each other’s posts often enough that I consider her to be (don’t laugh) an Instagram friend.  And yay, I finally got to meet her at the latest Mothers Who Brunch event a few weeks ago!
 I love Amber for the way she has wholeheartedly embraced local culture and how she goes out of her way to discover hidden gems around the city.  Here are just a couple of her Instagram posts that made me laugh out loud:
“Palitaw is divine! It reminds me of the mochi filled ice cream I ate in college on Oahu. It is washed, soaked, and pounded malagkit (sticky rice) that is then covered in fresh coconut meat and topped off with a bit of sugar and toasted sesame seeds. I used coconut sugar this time and it was still sarap! Sarap pa more! Thanks to Chanda Poppins and her wet market treasures.” -@amommabroad

“Dear Tabo, I am sorry I had an aversion to you all these years. When I saw you and judged you as unsanitary. After your support in thoroughly cleaning my toddler and his extremely soggy swimsuit full of [poop] I owe you the sincerest apology and deepest gratitude. Now, I would like to continue our relationship if you’ll have me, Truly yours, an ignorant Momma Abroad. You tube: how to use a tabo. Fascinating!” -@amommabroad
 I mean, do you know any expats who use a “tabo” and say things like “sarap pa more”?!

“When we moved to Pasig it became so clear to me there was life beyond Makati,” Amber shares.  “For an expat this is almost life changing.”

Check out Amber’s list of favorite off-the-beaten spots around the Metro, and let’s all take our kids somewhere else besides the mall this weekend, shall we?


IMG_2018S“We like to zip up here on a Saturday morning so the boys can look at the birds and snakes,” says Amber of the Ninoy Aquino Wildlife Park.  Don’t expect anything too fancy, as it is only 8 pesos to enter.
On the third Saturday of every month they have a farmers market with produce from Baguio. It is located near the agriculture building. The produce is beautiful and the price is right.


RAVE (also called Pasig Rainforest Park) is quite large so it’s best to start with the train and ride around the park to see what catches your interest.
If the weather permits the pools are excellent. Amber and her family love the butterfly sanctuary and zoo as well. The website is great. Look ahead to plan your trip.


Yexel’s was a dream come true for this nerd brigade. From Lord Of The Rings to Star Wars to Iron Man, it can’t be beat! IMG_9877
Tip: for added fun have your children wear costumes for great photo ops.!


Hidden in the upstairs of the Pasig Library is an interactive science exhibit with a tour. The fee depends on the number of the party.


Looking to get out of the city a little, Pinto is your place. “I let my boys bring a camera and sketch book with them,” Amber says.  The grounds are rejuvenating and the exhibits are very child friendly.


If you’re in The Fort and need to kill a few hours or need some green in your life The Cemetery is easy, free and open to the public.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Thank you so much for sharing your favorite places with us, Amber!


Follow Amber on Instagram and check out her blog – she’s so funny and shares lots of awesome information!


Information and images courtesy of Amber Folkman

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