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Magandan hapon from metro Manila

September 13, 2007

When I first heard I was going to Philippines, when I first tried to dream of the Philippines, of what any of this would be like, my mind went blank and empty- away from thick jungles, dirt roads, and rice patties. Like a potted plant moving from its container, I said, I am ready to live in a different soil, breath the air of a different dirt, gaze at foreign stars. Here now, at a desk in an office on the biggest thoroughfare in Manila, I am glad I did not dream of these things. Because so far, that is not where I am.

In the mornings here I watch the sunrise over large buildings and parking lots and palm trees. It comes early here, at 5:30. The first day I was hear I noticed a nearby rooster crows at daybreak. Then I noticed the rooster crows pretty much all the time. I no longer notice the rooster as much as abhor it. True though, without him, the juxtaposition of farm life and urban living would be lost. The Karaoke Bar down the street broadcasts its patrons’ offerings well until the wee hours, along with the never-ending stream of traffic. Filippinos aren’t agressive or angry drivers, but the majority of vehicles are older and so the noise can be a bit overwhelming. I am pleased I will only be in Manila through October 1st. I hear in Davao there are more trees and cleaner air. The smog here is quite terrible- when riding in jeepneys women will cover their children’s mouths with hankercheifs or napkins. Needless to say, I have not done any biking or jogging since I’ve been here.

This past Thursday I went to a forum on the global “War on Terror”, apprpriately scheduled on the 6th anniversary of September 11. There’s a very pacificistic movement here, I think it comes from the Filipino experience in WWII (100,000 civilians were killed within one month when the Japanese were trying to take over the islands). Filipinos are concerned about protecting their civil rights after the passing of the Filipino version of the Patriot Act, as many Americans are at home. I continue to find more similarities here than differences.

Young people are politically active and gravely concerned about the economic issues here. The main line of work for most adults here continues to be international-focused (either they travel abroad to make a decent salary they can not get here, or they do telecommunications work outsourced by American companies.) The Western World seems keen on taking advantage of the cheap labor here and as in the United States, corporations seem to always win over the workers, especially the poorest ones.

The food is different. In my time here I have gone from being a former vegetarian to a conesore of stuffed squid, turkey intestines and fish. Lots of fish. But not like American fish- Filipino fish come with their heads and tails still attached. I find it hard to not look the fish in the eye while I scrape the meat from his bones, or more often, the bones out of the meat. The taste of the food is not altogether unpleasant when dipped in approprate soups. That being said- I am already one third of the way through on of the jars of peanut butter my grandmother sent with me.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lindsey Kerr permalink
    September 14, 2007 1:30 am

    Lindsey: Thank you for starting your blog. I will bookmark it for easy access. Sorry we couldn’t connect on I Chat. My speaker isn’t working on my camera so I will have to send it back. It was a gift from Peggy and GR. Love you, Mrs. M.

  2. Jamie permalink
    September 21, 2007 8:11 pm

    “Loneliness is not better when you’re alone.”
    -Annika Norlin (Hello Saferide)

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