Every morning I feel extremely privileged to wake up in The Philippines. Now in my tenth month of living here, it really is ‘more fun in The Philippines’, as the saying goes. Despite its status as a third world country, there is so much more to this archipelago than that label. Here people deal with life in such a positive way, day-to-day living here can be hard, the early morning commutes to an ever busier Manila for example, the fight to get on the transport, the endless queueing, and everyone (except me and – thankfully – the driver) grabbing a nap whilst they can. Yet despite all that people are happier here, perhaps the sunlight is a factor but whatever the reason, despite the challenges people endure, they love life and will make any excuse for a gathering, with more food than its physically possible to eat.
Standing at the door armed with a cup of coffee, usually around 6am (when the temperature has yet to hit thirty degrees but is almost there), I love to look at the palm trees and hear people catching up, sweeping their house fronts, and doing regular people-in-the-morning things. As I settle down to my own work, the sun usually shines relentlessly, the ebb and flow of passersby changes with the waxing and waning of that fiery ball in the sky, and I get lost in words, and ideas for the future. Today I realised that, apart from neglecting the blog -due to other important things that needed doing – I haven’t really mentioned a lot about where we have gone in recent months, so in no particular order and without further ado:
Whilst Summer was still with us we took a trip to Laguna for a day at the hot springs – situated halfway up a mountain – and the most important thing to do was to find a good vantage point and take a photo of the great view spread out below us. That done we rushed down the hill to have a go on the slides! The so-called express way we took to get there has frequent toll gates which was a new and surprising detail, this of course meant more queueing (an unsurprising detail) but it was worth it for this view alone.
In an effort to fly off the end of the orange slide as far as possible, I threw myself down with reckless abandon and as a burnt my back but to balance that out, I did get a cheer from the people at the bottom of the green slide when I exploded off that one, my nose felt like it had been smashed with a concrete slab, it was brilliant! There was even some really good reception to Skype with my parents later on, as we munched on our squid dinner.
I was lucky enough to be invited once again to Join the Kiwanis crew for more work in the community. If you missed my first adventures with this wonderful charity, you can read about it here, I’ve lost a lot of weight since then. This time it was a colouring competition and the kids were really talented, I’ll bring you more about the charity soon.
One of my favourite places to go is Tagaytay, The view from up on high at Sky Ranch, with a glimpse of Taal Lake and the many trees, is always a welcome thing to see. The breeze was lovely and gazing out with the other impressed visitors really brings home the beauty of this country and also the worrying spread of building which threatens places like this.
Further around the lake at Charito’s, there is another beautiful scenic view, with fishing boats, small villages and on the right of the island is Taal Volcano, one of the world’s smallest volcanoes and was active as recently as 2011. Food and drink is always abundant and full of seasoning, as well as the obligatory rice, but it tastes even better with this sort of scenic vista for company. When we were in Bali, I really missed the food of the Philippines, and I am eager for you all to hunt out a Filipino restaurant and go sample some of the delights.
Closer to home and Rambo had a birthday!
He has also recently taken to posing like he’s in a Renaissance painting. Other hobbies include making sad eyes for food, unknowingly pulling comical faces, and eating coal.
A really welcoming gesture was made by Crissy’s work bosses at Philippine Airlines – back when I was bewildered by the transportation – which was to allow me to come to work with her Friday’s, because that is Date Night. It’s become a semi regular thing now and I have become known as the Friday employee. A few weeks ago, the team decided to work out of the office and I joined them, spending all day at Coffee Project, with good, strong coffee and reading some wonderful literature. It was a Friday very well spent.
In the coming months I hope to be able to give something back to the wonderful people here, I already feel like I do my bit with propping up the restaurant industry but I want to do something more personal. Plans are afoot and will be mentioned as they come about but until then, have a great day and appreciate wherever you happen to be because next year you may be enjoying yourself somewhere new and wondering if you truly valued the place you left…