My name is Johanna, hello. 🙂

Manilarat started off in 2005 as my ode to Manila–a long love letter to the home that nurtured and formed me.  It is the city we love to hate, yes, but more than that, it is the city we love.  Over the years, the blog has grown to include insights on travel, tourism, governance and development, with a 5-year hiatus as I signed off as manilarat in 2010, turned probinsyana and moved to the greener pastures of Laguna.  I am now back in the city and slowly reviving my everyday adventures in loving this place that will always be home.

I am an artist (Montalut) and green living advocate (My Nuvali Home).

In 2004,  I experienced living away from home, and for the first time knew what it meant to fall in love with a place.  I resolved to find that same romance with Manila and make the best of living in this noisy, dirty, often maligned metropolis–lifting stones here and there, ruffling feathers, forcing quiet moments. I sought magic and drama, and what can I say, I found it in abundance.  🙂

The search has since widened to include not just the (mega)city but the country I call my own. Newer posts center on tourism development in the Philippines–one of my great loves–but always coming from the point of view of an often-proud-sometimes-hesitant Manilarat!

Here you’ll find personal pieces, adventures in quiet places, reflections, details that make me go aha!, all in the name of finding beauty in this city (and country) we love to hate.

Enjoy & exploit, yey.

Ang ganda, ganda ng Pilipinas, woohoo!


Johanna Pilar
August 2015


I recommend you start by reading Exploring Manila or by visiting any of my suggested departure points below:




To help you navigate the rest of the blog more easily, here’s a summary of posts I’ve written over the past 10 years, organized into the following main categories:

You may click on the above links to see posts under each category.

Happy reading! 🙂

  • Oh it’s so great to meet a vegan in Manila online. I have been vegan since June 12 of last year. It’s really hard to be one in Manila… kudos to you!

  • Anonymous

    There are lots of vegans in manila! And Raw vegans at that! I try to keep a plant-based diet as much as I can, but still not 100%. Kudos to you too for taking the plunge and best of luck:) “Sent via BlackBerry from Smart”