Whether it’s the neighborhood skate park or one of the many roads in the city, no place is safe from your local thrasher
Photos by Shinji Fujii of Kick Engines Skate Shop and Allan Arevalo
Manila, in all its grime, dust, and blistering heat, is beautiful.
A skater, I presume, knows all of this dirty, raw beauty all too well. I can count in my one hand skate parks I’ve personally seen, but I can’t count with my two hands skaters I’ve seen speeding through the street or rolling up the ramps or hitting the edges of each platform they can reach. Because skating isn’t about staying put.
Skating is about the pursuit of freedom from the limits in our minds. Why? Because skaters think of what tricks they can try from what they see around them—rail, curb, or stair—and pursue it until they can achieve it relentlessly. Trial and error. Scrapes and bruises. When they land the trick, they move on to the next.
But that’s just coming from an observer. We asked skaters in Manila themselves where their favorite spots are.
Bonifacio Global City
“Because the whole area isn’t plain. It’s actually a little downhill so you could just ride down and look for the best street. BGC has a lot of areas for the best street so it’s never boring. There’s also a lot of stuff happening around the area so you could just take a break anywhere,” Lean Ordinario, musician
The streets of San Juan
P. Guevara, Little Baguio… several streets in San Juan that lead downhill are just right—winding and a little downhill—to coast along the mostly quiet roads. “There are a lot of natural spots,” says Ema, a veteran skater. Always make sure to look left and right before crossing though.
Manila Skate Park
“One of the best skate spots that I can mention right now is probably Manila Skate Park if you’re into rails, wall riding, bowls, etc. Also because that’s where most of my friends from different age groups go to, so you’ll probably see them around and learn a lot from them. They’re all really welcoming and occasionally, they throw events at the said park,” Nicka Landas, student
‘There’s a spot there we call ‘the gate of hell’ because of the nine-step serious handrail. It’s a gnarly spot and we have a lot of stories from the local shredders there. You can find it at the boundary gate at corner of the Benilde Campus and CEU Manila,” Aris Bantug, Stargate
Vitas Park, Tondo
I’m no skater, but I fondly remember this spot. Aside from the bowls and rails, there’s also a platform in the middle for events plus an actual wall for wall climbing. And everything is colorful. From the last time I was there, I was told it was a project of the government by the current mayor.
Lawton Post Office
“I like skating on stairs because it feels good when you can make a trick from a higher platform. It makes me feel good! Lawton was my favorite spot because it feels perfect for what I want to do,” Rap Santos.
The truth is, almost any place is suitable to skate if you want it to be but like any public area in a city like Manila, no one really owns it as much as they take their time with it.
I feel like the Philippine skate scene isn’t really visible to the majority of its population, which made the idea of a “favorite spot” in a city traversed by millions daily that more interesting. What’s left after a trick is successfully performed are videos, photos, and. more importantly, stories of the people who tried and hopefully succeeded. Cuts, bruises, and scrapes occur often more often than not. The pain is optional.