One spontaneous evening, we decided to head to Cubao X, formerly known as the Marikina Shoe Expo, in Cubao, Quezon City. To all you backpackers out there, here's one place you would enjoy for the vibe.
Ever since I witnessed the changes in Cubao X, I was always raving on how it can be transformed into the backpackers hub of Manila, much like Khao San in Thailand. It's near the bus station (actually beside it). It is a great home base for travellers rto Manila since it is near both the MRT and LRT. There are lots of shopping, dining and yes, now with the transformation, culture.
The culture though is very hippy - young and free. Cubao X features several innovative shops, boutique galleries and antique stores. It has a few bars and this popular Italian restaurant called Bellini's that perhaps was the magnet of development here in Cubao X.
Bellini's has become bigger, and was almost full when we arrived. However, we were very much disappointed with the food quality. They used cheap ingredient substitutes, that really wasn't acceptable. I came out very frustrated, considering that their prices have also gone up.
Good thing when I went out, this crowd greeted me. What I like about Cubao X is that people are themselves here. Friends just hang out, watch the indie bands play across the street, while drinking bottoms up.
Some may get turned off with the indie vibe of the place, but these people are probably the ones who are insecure. I think there's no standard in Cubao X, and that anyone is welcome to enjoy what it has.
Cubao X has been called X because of its unique stores - those that sell both antiques and trendy items. Even the facade of the stores look very interesting, and adds to the artsy vibe of the place.
Now, I do hope someone from Cubao X or the DOT reads this. Transform Cubao X into a backpackers hub. Take it away from tired and tepid Malate. Cubao X can be our Khao San, just convert the 2nd floor of the shop houses into backpacker inns and lodges. I really want to invest on the first world-class standard backpacker inn in the country, and I want it here in Cubao X.
So, if you're a backpacker reading, visit Cubao X. Don't expect the hugeness of Khao San, or Bui Vien or the other backpacker's hubs in Asia. It's really quite small. But at least, by being there, we can start a trend, a trend that could make Cubao X the center of backpack universe of Manila.