You most likely already know all about Chinatowns and Little Indias — what they are and where to find at least one of them across the globe. But have you heard of the United Kingdom’s Little Manila? A British content creator will tell you more about that.
Like other parts of Europe, the UK has been home to throngs of overseas Filipinos making a living as healthcare personnel, domestic helpers, and other professions. In fact, the Philippine Embassy in London states that there are 200,000 Filipinos in the UK by 2015. It’s not surprising how those in the country took it upon themselves to build a local community for homesick kababayans that thrive until today.
What’s in the United Kingdom’s Little Manila
Otherwise known as Earl’s Court, this Little Manila is located in West London. It borders Earl’s Court Road, Hogarth Road, and Kenway Road. As you’d expect, it’s a place where Filipinos based in London or other parts of the UK visit to experience everything that they love and miss about the Philippines, from fast food to beauty parlours.
But unlike neighbourhoods catering overseas Chinese, Indians, Japanese, and Koreans, Earl’s Court pretty much resembles other parts of the English capital. Except, some of the shops are really just owned by Filipinos and known for selling popular Filipino merchandise. A YouTube channel called One Shot Adventures noted the same thing after spending time at the overseas Filipino community, as seen in the video above.
“Walking down the main street kind of reminds me of any other part of London with all the usual chain restaurants and shops,” Ryan Hall, the channel owner, said. “But I’ve been told if you look a little bit closer, this area has some features that are uniquely Filipino, especially when it comes to food.”
Indeed, what Little Manila misses as far as variety in establishments go, it makes up for by offering what Filipinos are first and foremost known for: their distinct cuisine and hospitality. In Hall’s Little Manila tour, he made the most of these by visiting the Filipino restaurants found in Earl’s Court. In particular, he visited Kamayan for a Filipino food feast, the Tindahang Pinoy for bargain shopping, and of course, the UK’s first Jollibee store for some Chickenjoy.
Impressions of the Earl’s Court Pinoy culture
Trying chicken adobo at Kamayan, Hall remarked how it “takes me straight back to the (Philippine) islands.” Just as Filipinos eat the dish when vacationing in the province, the content creator enjoyed his plate with a can of coconut juice; and later, with bowls and cups of ginataang bilo-bilo and halo-halo served to him for free by the restaurant’s Filipino staff.
Visiting Tindahang Pinoy, one of the few supermarkets in the UK’s Little Manila, Hall showed the wide array of imported Philippine goods. There were various canned goods, condiments, vegetables, pastries, and snacks. In fact, it would almost seem like being in a real sari-sari store in the Philippine capital. If you ignored the street and buildings outside the store, that is.
The last stop was Jollibee Earl’s Court, which opened in 2018. Like Tindahang Pinoy, you’d nearly mistake the interiors for the ones in the Philippines. This is courtesy of the warm lighting accentuating the chain’s familiar red chairs and playful wall visuals. “I honestly feel like I could be in the Philippines right now, if I ignore the fact that I’m wearing a coat and carrying an umbrella,” Hall’s companion shared.
After trying the British Chickenjoy, however, Hall admitted how it differed from the ones in the Philippines. “It’s not quite as good as the Philippine version, but it’s still really, really good, better than most chicken restaurants in England. One thing that is a shame is they don’t do the spicy option here.” And like at other Jollibee branches abroad, his meal didn’t come with rice.
Final thoughts of a Brit in a UK Filipino community
There were definite highs and lows in Hall’s Earl’s Court visit with a Filipino twist. This was shown throughout his video, which he dedicates to the National Health Service Filipino frontline workers. In the end, what made it more special was the signature Filipino warmth he experienced among the area’s Pinoy workers.
“While Earl’s Court might not look anything like the Philippines, its streets are undeniably fused with that unique Filipino culture. And if you know where to look, it’s a real throwback to those friendly islands over 6,000 miles away,” Hall said in a voiceover, before showing himself drinking a bottle of Red Horse in a local park.
Featured image credit: Benjamin Davies | Unsplash