Randal and I are back from Manila. It was a rude awakening to the real difference between the "haves" and the "have nots." The poverty was so "in your face" you had to see it. There was no looking away because it was everywhere you looked.
My first thoughts of Manila were that I didn’t like it and wanted to hurry back to the boat and our little familiar part of the Philippines around Subic Bay. Too much visible poverty, homeless, unemployment and no possibility for change with the history and politics of the country. You couldn’t walk down the street without hawkers asking if you wanted to buy their trinkets. Could they take you on a tour, ride you around in their horse and carriage, help you find a taxi? All seemingly legitimate questions except when they come at you every step you take just walking along the bay or out to the restaurant down the street. If a simple "No." would have been accepted it would have been ok too. But no didn’t work. NO didn’t work either. NOOOOOOO!!!!!! almost worked so you just had to start ignoring them and keep walking. I felt rude to just ignore people, but any eye contact and they badgered you for 20 feet down the street. I think I took it more seriously because these people are poor and I’m not. It made me dislike Manila. At first anyway. But that was Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday we decided not to leave Friday as we had tentatively planned, but rather stay and leave on Saturday. Friday night I was sorry we were leaving Manila so soon. What changed my mind? Familiarity. I know it is supposed to breed contempt, but in this case it created a comfort level that made me want to stay and do more exploring. But boat chores called us back to Subic and so we are here on Doramac and I miss Manila.
There is a horrid level of poverty there but no sense of gloom and doom. Perhaps if there were something would change. But life seems to go on, even for all of the families we see sleeping on the street. Many families are broken up with husbands or wives forced to leave the Philippines to go overseas to work. A statue on the Bay Walk celebrates this "sacrifice" for the Philippines. Andy, who drives a car cab here in Subic, has a wife in London who works as a care giver. Andy cares for his children with the help of the grandparents. One of his friends was also in the taxi when it collected us from the bus terminal. Andy’s friend’s wife and parents are in Las Vegas where she works as a medical technician. One of the largest sources of income into the Philippines is from family members sending it home. We have been asked more than once if we will be hiring people to work on our boat. People want jobs.
I don’t pretend to know anything about Filipino history or politics. I am reading a biography of Jose Rizal who was executed by the Spanish December 30, 1896. It is easy to see the problems Spanish rule caused. But the local newspapers I read every now and then aren’t much kinder to present day Filipino officials. Corruption, assassinations, and coups impede any progress anyone would try to make. The middle class must want to throw up its arms in disgust and just give up. Or worse, become apathetic.
I took lots of photos, but none of families sleeping on the streets or families begging or whole neighborhoods of tin roofed shanty towns. It would have been rude and unsympathetic since I wouldn’t be doing it to help fix things, but rather only to say, "do you believe this?!" I will go through the photos I did take and send them in the next few days.
My poor SOX have hit the skids and need some fire lit under them. I have tried every charm I have. From here on in they have to just DO IT do you hear me SOX!
So that’s it.