Posted in manila, philippines by moonwire on September 29, 2009

I left Siem Reap early Wednesday morning. I spent the night at the Tune Hotel at Kuala Lumpur’s airport as I had an early flight to Manila on Thursday. All went well. I flew into Clark Field airport, which is about an hour and a half bus ride from Manila. When I arrived at the Manila’s Megamall, Tony was already waiting there for me. We walked around a bit, caught up on ‘gossip’ and at night we walked around Tony’s neighbourhood, Pasig City.

Later at night we went to Tonio’s Grill because there was a big Flickristasindios meeting. There were a lot of people and we had a great night eating, talking, joking and drinking San Mig beer. One of them had brought ‘balut’, which is a half developed embryo boiled in the shell. I was warned that I should only taste it when drunk and in the dark. I was not drunk and it wasn’t dark and it looked revolting. I did have a bite, but as Tony stated ‘I didn’t inhale’. Maybe another time! (And maybe not.) Tony however, he couldn’t get enough of the stuff. He inhaled two of them, pinoy style.

On Friday we met up with Jojo and we went to Quiapo, an old Manila neighbourhood. It was very busy and somewhat overwhelming. Tony and Lhen needed to do some shopping and Jojo showed me around. There was a mass going on and outside the church, on Plaza Miranda, there were many people selling religious paraphernalia, reading tarot cards and people selling food and drinks. It was interesting to see, but really hard to shoot there with so many people. I also admit that I was glad Jojo was with me as I found it a bit intimidating to be there.

That night it started raining, but I didn’t think too much of it. After all, I’ve been traveling through the rainy season for a few months now. We took a Jeepney (which is a superlong Jeep with benches on both sides, often richly decorated on both the inside and the outside) to Quezon City where we went to the Conspiracy Club to enjoy some live music. There were 5 of us and we had a great time. Some really good live music (some of it in Tagalog), San Mig and friends made for an excellent night.

Overnight it kept on raining and this continued all day. The streets started to get flooded and the power went out. No cellphone signals, either. Tony and I headed to the Megamall to use the internet (the whole mall is wired and it’s free). At 6 PM we were told the mall was closing because of the weather, so we headed to Pineda, a working class neighbourhood where Tony’s wife Lhen’s family lives. We looked at the river and it was coming dangerously close to street level. Lhen’s older sister’s house was already flooded. We had food and drinks at Lhen’s younger sister’s house. Her house was not flooded and she still had power, but water was coming in through the walls. We spent the evening there talking mostly about the history of the Philippines. We decided to head back to the house around midnight. Though we had to wade through knee deep (very dirty) water, Tony’s house was luckily still dry.

Bon Bon, Eric, Nimfa and Neng in Pineda.

Tony’s wife Lhen carefully inspecting a bottle of vodka. I think we drank it all.

On Sunday it had stopped raining for a bit but there was still no power at the house. I went back to the Megamall with Julius. Julius moved to the US when he was 10 years old and after living there for 18 years, he decided to move back to Manila for good. He’s an artist and he lives in his ancestral house, not far from Tony’s. The house is filled with art work and there’s something really cool about it. During the Japanese occupation Julian’s family (doctors) converted the house into a hospital.

We spent a few hours there interwebbing (me), reading and drawing (Julius) and drinking tea and later beer. When we got back to Tony’s there still wasn’t power so we decided to have a candlelight party. Lots of food, beer, jamming guitars and (out of tune) singing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see much of Manila. Of course, there was the typhoon which made it hard to get around and also, the cold I thought I had left behind in Siem Reap, came back with a vengeance. Probably triggered by the pollution and the moisture in the air. However, I did get a small taste of Manila and it was really cool just hanging out with the locals.

Flooded street across from Lhen and Tony’s. Didn’t get any good shots of the flood as I wasn’t able to recharge my battery.


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