Whoever said multi-tasking fun isn’t a thing?
From buildings that keep the night alive to venues that hone your skills on a Saturday afternoon, Manila is all systems go when it comes to being a versatile place for hangouts of any kind. Luckily, artsy tambayans that encourage you to do more than one thing during your stay are accessible nowadays. Listed below are a few places that spark curiosity and culture without burning a hole in your pocket; you can enter these places for free fun that seems never-ending!
1. Cinematheque Centre Manila
A statue of National Artist for Film Gerry de Leon greets you by the entrance—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Cinematheque Centre Manila has been the safe place of film buffs since 2016, and once you step inside, you won’t have to wonder why. This minimalist art haven placed perfectly in what could be the quietest spot of Kalaw was built to promote Filipino films—from classic and contemporary, to mainstream and indie—while bringing in foreign ones as well. Their priciest ticket? ₱200!
Since a movie hangover is guaranteed after every screening, Cinematheque’s Museo ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Film Museum) will sustain your high. In line with Cinematheque’s goal in bridging film education to more movie-goers, the museum features statues, memorabilia, and even audio-visual stories of the country’s film greats: Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Manuel Conde, to name a few. Supplemented by oldest cameras standing on the corners of the room and vintage movie posters hanging on the walls, these additional artifacts give an overview of Philippine film history through every decade.
Cinematheque’s 101-seater cinema becomes a full house quick, especially on days when famous film festivals bless the screens, and on Wednesdays when student films are usually shown for free. They also host film workshops at reasonable rates. If you’re lucky enough, you can secure slots for a few talks that won’t require you to take anything out of your wallet.
Cinematheque Centre Manila
855 Kalaw Ave.
(02) 256 8331
Going to the mall doesn’t normally require an itinerary, but it would be a huge mistake to go to Megamall (and U.P. Town Center!) without dropping by Satchmi. Filled to the brim with vinyl records ranging from the top-rated to hidden gems, the store has fresh crates for the classical purist, funk fanatic, rakistas, soundtrack geeks, indie poster boys and girls, and so much more. It’s the dream place for old souls, with an exhaustive collection that can’t be found in any other music store. Stepping inside Satchmi’s cozy brown interiors will also introduce you to an obsessive world of film cameras curated by the brand Film Folk. Add in artsy socks, stickers, and music accessories along with albums of your favorite local artists (hi, The Ransom Collective!) and you’ve found your new favorite mall hangout.
Being both a music and lifestyle specialty store, Satchmi definitely values the power of experiences. Aside from shopping, you can spend some good time with your friends inside their Listening Room, a private space designed to give guests the experience of listening to music straight from their exclusive turntable Motorino.
And because staying too long in a store can somehow feel awkward, in-house Satchmi Cafe gives you a legitimate reason to sit a little longer while sharing conversations over coffee and pastries. Sometimes, local artists even drop by the place for a mini gig of sorts, so keep an eye (and ear) out for them.
4F SM Megamall Fashion Hall
EDSA cor. Julia Vargas Ave.
(02) 958 6510
3. Alliance Française de Manille
If you loved your French class, dreamt of seeing the Eiffel Tower since childhood, or just want to brush up on your culture knowledge, Alliance Française de Manille can be quite a gem. It’s never unusual to see visitors of different nationalities gather around the event area to chat with other guests over jawdropping art hanging on the walls.
The night is always young here: the venue houses different rooms for a myriad of interests. Ever wanted to catch French flick favorites like La vie de Château and Barbara? You can sit for a movie—prices range from free to ₱350. To top it off, there’s also the well-lit, neat, and spacious Aurelio Montinola, Jr. Library that’ll keep you hooked with every shelf. Aside from novels, an array of CDs and DVDs are also on display. If your current research study is related to France, this can be your go-to place as well.
Offering photography exhibits and free French workshops, Alliance is such a dynamic place that it’s no surprise you’ll create the most fascinating conversations here. Continue them over wine and exquisite French dishes in their Le Coude Rouge Restaurant.
Alliance Française de Manille
209 Nicanor Garcia St.
Bel-Air II, Makati
4. National Museum Planetarium
The name is already a giveaway, but we’d like to describe it this way: National Museum Planetarium is the #GloUp version of your childhood bedroom filled with glow-in-the dark stickers of planets and solar system charts. Remember the time when you wanted to be an astronaut when you were a kid? Well, it all comes to life here!
Dim. Starry. Chilly. Although relatively small, this museum equalizes the busy Manila streets with a guaranteed full-packed experience. Aside from a comprehensive study of planets, exhibits of different celestial bodies and constellations are cleverly presented, glimmering as you take a step closer. Studying the history of the Earth through the decades, as well as the brave humans who became a part of every milestone, becomes even more interesting with arresting visuals. Lining your walk-a-thon are attractive and enticing displays, making you feel like you’re inside a spaceship.
What makes this a multi-purpose place, you ask? Thanks to their hybrid projection system—the first in Asia!—you can have a super realistic stargazing experience from the comfort of the indoors. For ₱30 to ₱50, you get to watch “A Planet for Goldilocks”, “Journey To A Billion Suns” or “Hayabusa”, Planetarium’s shows inside their dome. Sometimes, hanging around for other activities, including a special Solar Observation event, pays off as well.
National Museum Planetarium
Rizal Park, Padre Burgos Ave.
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