Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Manila, Philippines January 2015

Hello to you fine people,

   about time that I devote some moments to finally write about my observations and share some images from our trip to Manila.  While today is already March 19, sitting in sunny and hot Singapore, I shall do my best to recall my feelings for Manila (Jan. 2015).  But no matter how much I shall try to describe how I felt, I am sure I will fail in conveying to you what it was like to walk the streets of Manila, but as always, I shall at least try.

   We were in an area the locals call 'Bonifacio Global City' in between Taguig City to the south and Makati City to the north.  Bonifacio used to be military grounds, but with the sale of the land, and a great investment by Ayala Corp. (they are involved in almost everything as investors in Manila) businesses found their home there and it became a hyper modern area.  Think of the SIMS game where you build up squares, you cultivate and populate the area to successfully grow a community with happy people while continuing to attract more and more schmucks who desire an artificial luxury life.  Same here, it is a little square punched out of a poorly developed region and stands out like a thumb.  Not only is it super modern, but you can see the money everywhere... the people here are definitely not your people you find off the pretty green; you know, the area immediately next to the punched out square. Have a look:

Bonifacio Global City:


And then you walk to the edge of your SIMS square:
Behind the young man is our beautiful (and still in development stage) SIMS square... now we make an about face and we see:

 Let's do this again:    Bonifacio Global City.......

 now turn 180 degrees around:

I have never seen such a stark contrast, nor have I ever "felt" this huge class gap.  Imagine you are actually living out Elysium, only both classes still share space on this earth.  What a surreal feeling.  On top of that, Andre and I have constantly been warned of the dangers outside of the SIMS square.  I was told to not smile at people and to be extra careful.  I was discouraged to walk alone outside SIMS... but you know me... I had to see it for myself.  And indeed, I observed different demeanor.  While men stared and occasionally whistled, women would almost eat you with their look toward you.  I would have loved to sit and talk to some of these women, but opted out as the lovely people at VW scared me enough with their warning words.  Thus, I tried to look as harmless as I could (ha!).   The question still remains though, are the Filipinos that dangerous? Does one truly have to be scared?

Well, Andre and I ventured into two of the "Districts" and this is what we saw (regions are divided into districts... each district has somewhat of an entrance gate [very Elysium like]):  (sorry for the picture quality... old camera doesn't want to play well anymore):

 Of course, as always, the local market is where you see the culture... where you learn about the people... so here we are:

 The People:

We did two touristy thingies...  went to Taal volcano and Fort Santiago. I shall spare you the history of Ft. Santiago.. if you're interested you can google it ;-P

 Jose Rizal, A hero for the Filippinos... he was held at Fort Santiago before they walked him to the city center to execute him in 1896.  His footsteps are painted on the ground marking his steps to the execution site.

Andre having an intelligent conversation !!!!!

  This was Manila.... first place on this earth where class distinction hit me hard in the stomach.  A place where I did not find a middle class (not to say that there isn't one, I just didn't see it), where the rich was clean-cut, straight lines, super organized, and sterile and with an about face you were emerged in all opposites of that.  I recall the numerous people (even little children) inside the districts asking Andre and I whether we are "Americanos".. which we carefully declined, stating that we are actually Germans.  It seemed to put them at ease.

   Andre and I often discuss the issue of democracy vs. dictatorship, always questioning which one is the right system... Andre and I see people smile, people who seem to us so very poor... The SMILE... as long as people still smile, can we say that they are not happy where they are?  Can we say that they wish to have more?  And that "more" must be the stuff that Western capitalism is selling us as a "need" item? Andre and I see that often with the ole East and West Germany documentaries (and our own discussions).

   Growing up in West Berlin, I was taught to feel sad and sorry for the people "trapped" in East Germany while we, on the West are the good ones in our capitalistic glory.  Yet, Andre, who grew up in East Germany does not feel sorry and sad that he grew up there and he certainly wasn't "trapped" (seeing that the wall was build to keep us bad capitalists out, thus it was us, the West, who was trapped).  He actually states that although they may not have had all the things that we had, they had humanity on their side.  People helped people, no matter what.  He claims that since the fall of the wall people of the East have changed... they have become materialistic and do not care about their neighbor any longer.

 Fair to say, that some state of "poverty"  makes us caring individuals; makes us better, perhaps even happier people?  what say you?

Next blog entry:   Hong Kong !!! stay tuned my fine people

*1 image taken from :