moonwire

iloilo city

Posted in iloilo, philippines by moonwire on September 30, 2009

Because of the bad weather, and the forecast for more rain, even in the Visayas, I decided to skip the beaches in the Philippines in favour of another city. After reading a bit, I decided on Iloilo City as it was easy to get to from Manila, and easy to get onto Cebu City. I left Manila on Monday afternoon. Luckily, the weather (it was still raining) didn’t delay my flight too much and after about an hour on the plane, we landed in Iloilo. I checked into a hotel on General Luna street, which seemed to be one of the bigger streets. The hotel looked really swanky from the outside, however, my room was a shithole. Old A/C, a barely working shower and an overall shoddy room. Okay, I could live with that for a few days. However, at night I decided to go for a walk and there was barely anything around there. I did have a San Mig at a bar across the street, and some really excellent pizza at Luna but I felt weird being there. I got to talk to a German guy who was working in Iloilo and staying at the same hotel. We had a nice talk and he told me Iloilo was ‘interesting’. I had no idea how ‘interesting’ it would be…

In the morning I decided to walk around a little more and see if I could find a hotel more in the city centre. I checked out a few and the situation was pretty dire. I did find a semi decent one in the old part of town but I already knew I didn’t want to stay in this town. It’s filthy here , with really bad air quality, and this whole town smells like urine. And this is not even a big city. The worst of all is the continuous begging. Sure, I’ve seen it all around me in the past couple of months. However, the beggars here are really persistent. They don’t just beg, they actually grab you and latch onto you. You can laugh at me, but I’ve been pretty afraid of getting my camera out. Afraid of someone just grabbing it. I don’t even walk around with a bag anymore.. I think I also grab the people’s attention because other than the German guy, I have not seen a single foreigner here. And I’m not surprised at all.

People repairing shoes at the Central Market.

I have not felt unsafe anywhere during my travels, but I’m not feeling really safe here. Mainly because of the continuous begging. Another thing is the food. The majority of restaurants are fast food chains and it’s really hard to find a meal that doesn’t contain meat. Then there’s the street food, which I simply won’t touch here. I’ve resorted to buying food at the grocery store. Mainly fruit and nuts. Luckily, the fruit here is excellent and really cheap. Mangos, papayas, pomelos, watermelon. Really tasty.

After spending so much time in Buddhist countries, it’s weird to be in a place where Jesus rules. And he’s everywhere.

So Iloilo has been one of my least favourite places during my travels. I barely took any photographs at all. I’m not in the right mind frame to do so. I’m sure there’s some cool alleys but as I said, I just don’t feel comfortable here. Also, after my fantastic experience in Cambodia, I just feel like I can’t live up to that. That’s okay, though. I’m sure I’ll feel like shooting again when I’m in a place where I’m happier. I’m glad I was able to book a flight out tomorrow morning. I will be off to Cebu City and if the weather cooperates, I’m hoping to spend a few days on a beach there, too. Kitakits!

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manila

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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