Happy, because it was the day I left these foreign shores for other foreign shores. This time my spaceship has landed in the Philippines.
Rarely would I do much research as I don’t want to spoil the surprise, though I did read a little about the history of colonization here, and the fact that it has 7107 islands.
Pasay, Manila was my arrival point. In terms of an immigration process and navigation it was mostly painless, given that I had just spent the most time I had ever, cooped up as a replica sardine at 25,000 feet. Once outside, my lack of sleep and disorientation wasn’t sufficient enough for me to fully witness what was really going on, as all I knew was I had arrived at the capital, it was almost midnight and traffic was still colossal. From the window of my cab I was able at last to get a feeling for the city, take in what could be, or what might lie ahead of me. With an 8 hour time difference my night was day in relation to back home, I felt the first serge of excitement as new images and structures began to pass my weary eyes.. Initial synopsis; pretty shitty city.
At the Shogun hotel an impressive, if not over bearing, Muriel on the wall depicted a strange unhistorical reference of that period, when quizzed; the staff looked at me, then the image, as if it was their first time they too had seen it! Mr San Miguel was summons. I ventured out of the hotel just to check on my cab view summary and found my way back promptly, yeah! It was rough, but hey, I’ve been to Bihar in Eastern India at 3 am. So called “bandit country.“ In the guide book it was recommended an armed escort was required to get you out of the station in order to arrive at Bodh Gia. There, it was as if I had arrived at the film set of the mad max, where balaclava masked rick shaw drivers hustled you aggressively with 3 wheeled trikes sandwiched together from welding scrap cars, old fridges and tv sets.
5 hours past, I think, when I was back out of the bed and back on the streets to see if the sandmen had gone, they hadn’t. Various contortions of human figures littered the pavements as the first wave of commuters began the incoming tide of rush hour. Blackened, bruised and beaten the underclasses sifted various refuge bags in search of their morning gold. These forgotten people, this poverty, this desperation is not easy viewing as I walk around with my swag bag full of wealth and prosperity. Thousand yard stares, exchanging glares of worlds of separation. I stand out like that score thumb and wish I could fade away all this is unsightly shit. Suddenly smiles dissolve this displeasure, then another turned head causes a collision and I laugh, this infection spreads, and all is well for another few steps.
It is difficult to surmise a new landing station without stereotyping or having preconceived ideas, I think? But, this place, Baclaran, is devoid of white faces (Almost said fasces) and I don’t recall ever feeling quite so stared at before. Apparently I found out, its cos all the foreigners go up town or down town, anywhere but this town. So, It felt kind of special. Like a Brontosaurus at a Creationists gathering. That’s the other thing, we brought them Jesus, imported it along with the great white wallets, devouring all, you see … Special!
“Are you an American? “
“No, I am from England.”
“Which part of America is that?”
Anyway, so I am a novelty item here, that is obvious, I can’t help it. I roam around and around and try to engage in pleasantries, but I don’t get the overall sense that possibly pinkie white is right. Or my efforts to fully coexist are not really good enough. Might be this is the same as everywhere in essence, it just that I am feeling slightly apprehensive without my bulletproof pope mobile. What is blindly obvious here, that is nowhere else, is that it is new to me. It’s all the same at the end of the day? The day they killed 130 people in Paris, became the next day, the mosquitos prefer me more to the locals and in my mind is the only reality I have. Ahhh, but the food is shit! Unless you like to see a baby chicken when you open up your eggs!
The city is pretty dirty, well, what I saw of it. The air is a concoction of toxins visibly and palatable. Every street seems to be occupied by Jeepneys, Pedicabs, Habal –Habals, Tricycles, taxis, and other fossil fuelled U.F.O’s, with little consideration to the pedestrian. It was impossible to find a quiet street to take a breath or gather ones senses. It was a total overload of Humans Being. Some stalls whereas merger as a mother and child selling penny confectioneries.
Just the basic facts? Ok, they are small and I am tall. It’s hot! There are nuns playing computer games on their mobiles. There are plenty of men and women employed as security and most of them have guns. Basketball seems to be the national sport. There are 7107 islands and I have only told you about one, let’s see what happens on Island 2.
Maribago in Lapu lapu Cebu, errr. Same, but different.