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Life by Design


Finding Yourself in Manhattan

Posted by Carren |

I was absolutely delighted with how this article was laid out. There is indeed a great satisfaction to see your words and your images in print. The beauty of New York made it so easy to produce beautiful pictures! If you look hard enough, you'll even see a picture of me.

Text and photos by: Carren Jao
Published: MEGA October 2008

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they ask this most pivotal of questions, “Who am I?” The answers to this question are what ultimately shape the course of one’s whole life. And, for this period of soul searching and self-discovery, there is no better place to find one’s answers than in Manhattan.

Manhattan is the most densely populated county in the United States, catering to a multitude of cultures and races – Caucasian, Hispanic, African American, Pacific Islander, Native American, to name a few. They bring to their new home unique perspectives and ideologies that freely answer the questions posed by lost souls in search of themselves. Far more than just inhabiting precious real estate, these once travelers and lost souls, through their own blend of personalities and idiosyncrasies, enrich the already exhilarating atmosphere that is Manhattan.

Known for its cultural diversity, one can hardly walk down a block without hearing different languages and accents jovially discussing their day or passionately arguing a point.

“¡Oiga, por favor! (Excuse me!),” says a Latino man while jostling for the front of the pedestrian lane.

“Míng tiān jiàn. (See you tomorrow).” A young Asian woman ends her conversation as she clicks her clamshell phone shut on the subway.

“Lovely day-ah bella signorina?” An Italian waiter addresses an attractive woman dressed in denim jeans along Mulberry St. in Little Italy.

Manhattan has harbored immigrants from all over the world seeking a better life- a role that has been immortalized in the iconic Statue of Liberty given by the people of France in 1886. These wayfarers have infused Manhattan’s soul with theirs, dotting the streets with restaurants serving their native cuisine, donning clothes reminiscent of their homelands, and permeating their language into the mainstream. They are the lifeblood of this city, creating a heady mix of beliefs and ways of living that has inspired many an artist to fully express himself. It is this atmosphere of diversity and experimentation that has put Manhattan on the map as one of the world’s great cultural centers.

Consequently, there is never a night with nothing to do in this city that never sleeps. One day may be filled with awe at the pinnacle of professional theatre- Broadway, with its inherent glitz and glamour. Another may ring with laughter inside New York’s infamous comedy bars, where the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler found their beginnings. Yet another day may fill your soul with delight as you roam the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art or shop along the fashion powerhouses of 5th Avenue. For the more experimental, meandering through the small art galleries along SoHo or combing through racks of bargain finds along St. Mark’s may satisfy that incessant urge for the unique. From the glamorous to the Bohemian lifestyle, this cityscape has it all.

The Manhattan life is a near-chaotic symphony that nearly deafens with its diversity. With the wealth of choices presented, one can only wade through the mire and choose which lifestyle truly brings joy and contentment. From there, one begins to weave together a melody intensely personal and distinct from any other. Little by little, beliefs are clarified and moods are discovered. Amidst the strangeness of others, one comes into his own strangeness and is liberated from the status quo.

Manhattan embraces the experimental and different, giving you the freedom to find yourself. Away from the stifling conformity of one single ideology, the only norm is the one personally created and the only standards to meet are yours. In this city “both changing and changeless” in the words of E.B. White, you’ll eventually discover that Manhattan will always welcome you with open arms and a license to find and re-make yourself everyday.

How to get there:
Inquire at any commercial airline or travel agency. New York City is a port of entry and is accessible by John F. Kennedy International airport.

Getting Around:

Mass transit is the major form of transportation in Manhattan; subways, buses and taxis are in operation 24 hours a day. There are daily, 7-day, 14-day and 30-day MetroCards that offer unlimited rides on the subway and buses in Manhattan. Refer to for more information on the subway and bus routes.

What to do:

For the latest information, please check their official tourism site at
Traveler’s Checklist:
• Passport and Visa: A 6-month validity on your passport is required for travel. Visa required.
• Time difference: Manhattan is 12 hours behind Manila on Daylight Savings Time (approx March to November) and 13 hours behind Manila on Standard Time (November to March).
• Address of the Consulate General of the Philippines: 556 5th Ave. New York, New York 10036. Phone: +1-212-764-1330


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