Being back in Manila is a little strange...I was here for such a short time before I left that I didn't really have time to settle...so I find myself coming 'home' (as it were) to no real home, no personal effects, no cats...all rather strange!
When I landed at Manila airport I mentally took a deep breath in anticipation of the struggle through immigration, baggage collection...out of the airport etc....but was incredibly, pleasantly surprised...I was off the plane and out of the airport in just under 20 minutes...something that CLK
achieves on a regular basis but I had never dreamed possible in Manila.
So back to conversations about the politics and economics in The Philippines....
first up...yesterday at work we had a briefing forecasting the economic status of The Philippines for the next six months...I found it interesting...my colleagues found it 'embarassing'..(I put quote marks around the word because so many of my colleagues used the word)....they felt that it proved what a mess the country was in, how little influence they personally had over the future of the country and probably worst of all the fact that the slightest event (either worldwide or local) could influence their economy.
Then today at lunch a discussion about tourism in The Philippines and why more people don't come and visit and why it is not as attractive to Europeans/Americans as say Thailand and Malaysia....one point we thought of that was very important was that most great 'tourist' countries have a great 'gateway'....think Thailand - Bangkok, China - Beijing/Shanghai or even HKG, Malaysia - KL, Australia - Sydney....all major cities that attract people to the country.....the Philippines has Manila...with nothing to offer the traveller other than a few small colonial relics.
The discussion then moved onto politics (find me one discussion that doesn't!) and we decided that the only hope for The Philippines was to bring in a foreigner as president (actually someone mentioned as a 'dictator'!)..one that has no ties with the country, no political links and no hidden agenda...my vote went to Bill Clinton...but then...it would!!!!
On the subject of the economic briefing...one part really interested me...that was the brief section they covered on the number of nationals working overseas (7.7 million, approx. 10% of the population)
, where they were working (Asia & the ME)
and how much money they sent back (US$8.5 billion in 2004)
and how many leave daily (3,000)
. With the growth of the call centre industry - 1,500 nationals employed in call centres in 2000, to 120,000 nationals in 2005 - it really does go to show that The Philippines' greatest 'natural' resource comes from its people.
My brother's wedding...was a wonderful day, the bride looked stunning...I know most brides do...but she looked 'extra' stunning, the 'Best Men' were fantastic - excellent speeches & excellent organisation, the Bridesmaid...well she looked good...but unfortunately was mad as a box of frogs...quite unhinged! It was fantastic to meet all my brother's friends from school, university and work...all of which I had heard of but none of which I had met....all an incredibly well travelled bunch so the lunch conversation was definitely one of 'one upmanship'...also entertaining to hear the other side of my brother's life...most of which was not particularly surprising...I have known for sometime that he has low alcohol tolerance which can result in some rather serious redecoration of bedrooms and bathrooms!
One story was from one of his work colleagues who told of meeting my brother just after he started working in London after leaving Hong Kong...she mentioned the Cathay model planes lined up on top of his computer, the mini HKG flag, the SCMP mug, the HKG screensaver and HKG mousepad...I didn't really realise the significance of all of this until I returned to work and saw that my desk has exactly the same things...(exceptions being that my mousepad and mug are from D.C. and one of my aircraft displays the Royal Jordanian livery!)...family traits - possibly, an irrational love for HKG - definitely!!!
And finally, my trip to England has shown that a few of you actually all come from my parent's neck of the woods (East Sussex)...so far we have Pembury (HKMacs)
- which is about two minutes away and my parents local shopping place....are there any more of you out there!
I have a post to go in on some pictures of London and other bits and pieces I managed whilst in Blighty...I will put them up sometime over the next few days.