I promised that when I left the black hole of Burma that I would maintain this blog more regularly, but I'm not doing too well am I? I left two weeks ago today, and it's been a bit of a whirlwind time, I've entered/exited 6 countries, and seen 5 airports (I hate airports). I'll try and catch up. First leg of the journey: Philippines.
I didn't even know I was going until I was supposed to be at the airport already! I literally bought my ticket at 9am and was on the flight by noon. This meant that I arrived with no contact details for anyone, and so had to stay in a hotel for the night. It's funny being a tourist in Manila. There is not much infrustructure for it, and it's just so far from my Philippines experience in the past. Lots of things about this trip were! Anyway, found a nice place in Makati and then later met up with JB and Tara (from Kuwait) who then invited me to move to their place!
It was so funny being back in Manila after so long away. I was at first surprised by how little of the route to the airport that I remembered. Seeing the first jeepney was like a punch to the stomach--such a unique aspect of the Philippines!! It really hasn't changed much, though, really. I thought it would be closer to Bangkok's ultra modernity, but it's not. It's still crowded and disorganized and a jumble of places with a poor road system!!
On Friday night JB and Tara were at a birthday party mystery trail so I came along. They were assigned people and had to buy ridiculous costumes for each person--hello SM Makati (the cheapest department store in the world and one of my favorite shops)!! I can't think of a better idea for a party in Manila where stupid trinkets, etc are so cheap and easily available, although I suppose $1 shops would work too! Tara was buying along a water theme for one woman, who had to wear a pink rubber tube all evening, while the rest of us had crowns, swimming caps, sun visors that looked like welders helmets, ski caps and other ridiculous regalia. What a riot of fun! So from Makati we took the (new for me) LRT train closer to Malate and tried to take the train from there, but ended up comandeering a jeepney instead! Pollution and gas fumes on EDSA are still bad! Malate had some interesting bars and we ended up in a Cuban one-Havana's?, and enjoyed good food and drinks before heading home at a reasonable hour.
The ISM teachers all live in high rises in Makati so live a very different life from Brent teachers, most of whom are living in either Alabang or Brentville. On Saturday went to a brunch in another lady's appartment--very lovely, with painted walls and marble floors and trinkets from Shanghai! Met lots more and heard lots of teacher gossip about their school.
That afternoon, I headed down to Pasig through Fort Bonifacio -- very unrecognizable -- Pasig looks almost exactly the same, from Shaw Blvd to Mega Mall. Pasig campus was the same as well. The various alumni from several years gathered in the now quite shabby looking multi-purpose hall (I remember when that was built 10 years plus ago). It was a farewell to Brent Pasig because it's closing. It was mainly organized by Dr. Escobar and the other regulars, Kristi Pozon and Lulu Floresca were also there to see people. My year had around 10 people representing! Other years a few less. I figured since it was the 10 year reunion, it would be an appropriate time to go back. It was interesting to reminisce, and had a wander around campus and there have been a few changes, but mostly I noticed the trees had grown. Life goes on I suppose.
For anyone who's interested, from my year, Aris Cebrero (and his wife), Ystevie Ty (now married to Janee Chuachiock), Chris Garcia, Joanne Tsai (now married), Catrina Tan, Bianca Scaife (now married), Miggy Villalon, Ernesto Gala, and Gilbert Ching all showed up. We caught up on lots of gossip, babies, marriages, past secrets and other such stuff.
I went and had a look around Megamall. It's still my favorite place to shop, even if it's more crowded than it was before! I took the LRT train back to Makati (easy as pie and only 10 pesos!). If only that had existed before, my life there would have been different!
On Sunday morning, Tara took me in to see the stunning ISM campus.It's an enormous building by the same architect that built the Brent Mamplasan one. It seemed much more spread out with less cohesion because of a lack of that central courtyard with the high ceilings. They had lovely flags and such blowing in the breeze and I saw the IB art exhibition through the window.
Sunday afternoon was a trip to Greenhills which hasn't changed at all. The parking is still a nightmare as are the crowds in the stalls. The number of restaurants in Manila is enormous now, and malls seem to be everywhere, which I suppose is the same as before, but I notice just how many there are in contrast to other places!
On Sunday evening I went to Kerri and James's appartment--lovely place on the 36th floor, with stunning views, but no balcony where they ordered in yummy Indian food for dinner. Their baby, Asha, was born only a dayafter JB and Tara's Eddie.
On Monday I went into Brent Mamplasan--an ordeal in a taxi because the driver didn't want to go so far south, so I had to pay the fare back as well. It was the same!! Nellie and Janet and everyone said hello. Bumped into Jason Atkins, Joe Mock, Dick Robbins, etc, etc, etc. Everyone I saw asked after Mum and Dad and Andre and sent their very best wishes! It was such a lovely community, and I enjoyed that I could speak English everywhere!
Aurelio took me back to Alabang, and from there taxis were 500 pesos so I took a Jeepney and a bus instead!! It's funny that I only experience these things when I go back!!
All in all it was a wonderful trip filled with memories, but I remembered how I didn't really fit in there, because I was an outsider, and was glad that I've moved on in the world! Still, it was a great place to grow up.