Many times, I had thought and wondered when I would at last get the opportunity to visit the Philippines. A large and important country, most especially for the US, that sits so near to the rest of Southern Asia that I have come to know and love.
And so we arrived, greeted by our wonderful hosts, and shuttled off to our cozy apartment in the sky, overlooking downtown Manila. This city had the sprawl of Jakarta, but with brand new skyscrapers being built with stunning alacrity, I was reminded of the only and last time I’d seen such feverish mega-construction in Beijing back in 200
Our hosts were overachievers, and quite fell over themselves to make sure we experienced all that Manila had to offer. We were shown around the downtown area where we were staying, as well as taken to Old Manila, which had been recently reclaimed as a heritage and tourist destination. We decided to go for a tour of the area, ostensibly the center of the Spanish colonialists, who ruled the Philippines for over 300 years. The mantle was then taken on by the US for a time, and shortly by the Japanese. You can see the influence of Hispanic culture throughout, and in fact, it rather reminded me of a mesh of Mexico and Bangkok…
They were so excited to share with us the full tapestry of Filipino tastes available, and we did partake in sampling the veritable smorgasbord of tastes, including probably my person favorite, if just for it’s weird-factor: Halo-Halo. This interesting-looking desert consists of a blend of fruits, sweet preserves, evaporated milk, and shaved ice, and frequently topped with a scoop of ice cream. The name literally means “Mix-Mix.”
And this seemed rather apropos considering the variety of cultures and peoples that have mixed up on these shores. Manila feels, in a way, so very cosmopolitan and modern just due to this world mix of ingredients that are openly intermingled and, at least it would seem, tolerated.
Teaching here was a blast, as the students were generally quite experienced, open, cool. They were serious and dug what we had to offer. There were even some rather avid Sadie-fans who showed up. This included a woman and her beautiful daughter, who’d created probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen yet in our travels: the Sadie doll. Forreal! It was the spitting image, a tiny, cute Sadie replete with red milkmaid hair and her signature black yoga gear. We decided to add a star tattoo on her wrist, to really compete the likeness