Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Black Hole of Manila

I'm in danger of becoming repetitive on the subject of our recent visitor.

However this will be another follow up post...., the only amusing reading on the subject of the typhoon today has been MLQ3's post today which made me smile, particularly this paragraph....

Here’s a sociological question. They say affordable TV’s for the masses results in lowering the birthrate. Does it just apply to the masses? Will there be a spike in the number of babies born nine months from now? And what about apartments that have generators, so lights for all, though not necessarily TV for all, since cable systems may be down (but you can watch DVD, I guess) - but not enough generator power for hot water? Do the cold showers have an effect on people or does the TV trump that?

I still have no power - for me that means none of the luxuries - TV, ac etc but also no its candles all round...quite romantic really...and cold showers are becoming less of a novelty! And no power means no hair dryer...and no hair dryer means going outside with wet Jordan one does not go outside with wet apparently signifies that one has just had sex! So given my growing reputation as a bit of a local harlot I briefly mulled throwing on my abaya but thought I would brave it without!

Last night I headed down to Malate (yes, I am getting boring, yes I did go to Cafe Ad and yes I was with two men, but no, I didn't have Chocolate eh). Fortunately I managed to get shot of one of the men at about 1ish - I believe its about 1am when the rationing laws kick in!...With only two of us at my usual witching hour of 3am there was nothing too unusual for passing cab drivers to notice...

Anyway, I digress...the traffic from Ortigas to Malate was completely clear...made it to Malate in about 20 minutes. From Makati to Roxas Boulevard the entire area was pitch black...quite an eerie experience driving through completely dark streets, especially when there are trees, poles and other garbage strewn across the streets. It is incredible that a city of this size is reduced to huge pockets of blackness.

Unfortunately the combination of too many beers and about three hours of sleep resulted in a bit of a panic at work today...sitting talking to a colleague about something fairly inconsequential I suddenly realised I hadn't blown out the candles I had lit in the bathroom and the bedroom in the morning...I bolted out the office, rushed home and found that not only had I not blown out the candles, I had not locked my front door and I had left the bedroom window open...mentally I tried to draw a Venn, theft and cat suicide....all three seemed to result in no cats! What the hell I was thinking I have no idea. However, my drinking partner was in a much worse state...I can't be sure but I think he may have missed his flight to Cebu!

On a more serious note, whilst reading the PDI today I saw this:

Worst hit was the scenic town of Los Baños, where nine people from an upland village were buried alive under a pile of boulders and mud from Mt. Makiling.

I was in Los Baños a few weeks back and reading that sentence hit home how badly Mother Nature affects this country.

One of my colleagues said to me on Thursday that he had been living through typhoons for 40 years in the Philippines and the situation has not improved in any shape or form...flooding due to bad drainage, power outages, multiple deaths and injuries, chaotic clean up procedures, lack of any real his own words "the same shit every time"...

Power outages yes, but some areas seemed to be what could possibly become a fairly iconic picture from this typhoon, you can see that some areas house God's chosen people!

As always in the Philippines, finding the good news angle is important, apparently the typhoon helped reduce crime for the day and wipe out dengue, "for now" - I love those last two words!!! And if in the aftermath of this typhoon we can get shot of the billboards, even better...the more I think about, the more wound up I get, my colleagues have known for a while not to mention the billboards to me...the last two days they have been sliding the newspaper pictures out of my line of vision!!

Village Idiot describes the destruction of the billboards on Edsa very poetically...

As it turns out, the storm was equally merciless to the rich. Travelling down the length of EDSA today, I found no Kris Aquino or Heart Evangelista or Claudine Barretto or Cindy Kurleto to assault my senses. There were no cellphones and notebooks to tease me, there were no lean and svelte models to seduce me. Where once their symbols demanded attention, only skeletons remained.

The Storm is a jealous god. It brooks no lesser idols. It tore through their symbols and broke their altars. I could only approve. Stripped of billboards, EDSA never looked so clean and appealing.

On Thursday evening we were discussing the subject of the use of the military in the clean up operation. The general concensus was (and it was a lighthearted discussion!) that as GMA was stuck outside of the capital, she didn't want the troops out on the streets in case someone thought there was a military take over! In Hong Kong we have (or at least we used to have!) typhoon parties, here we could have typhoon coups...

And so the clean up continues...


Friday, September 29, 2006

After the event...

Yesterday's weather was bad was really only apparent this morning when I stepped out of my still 'electricity-less' building and surveyed the scene...the first thought that went through my head was "Bloody hell, it looks like a typhoon ripped through here"...second thought was "Yes, you are an idiot!". For a complete round up of typhoon blogs from Manila...MLQ3 has the best list

Wack Wack Road was covered in shredded trees, an entire wall seems to have disappeared, I always wondered what they were I know..., the flood waters of yesterday evening had disappeared leaving in their wake dry rivulets of sand and earth, it looked a like a beach as the tide goes out.

As I walked down to Shaw to get a taxi I thought I was seeing a mirage...the longest queue of taxis I have ever seen...all sitting empty...I fairly bolted down the road in case they disappeared...and then I realised, the queue - which stretched from Wack Wack road, round the corner onto Shaw and almost back to Edsa was of LPG taxis waiting to refuel... My usual MO is that I stand on the side of Shaw going the opposite way to EDSA - for two reasons - firstly there are more empty taxis going that way than towards EDSA and secondly, Shaw is horrific to cross. However, this morning I noticed that someone seems to have painted a lovely new Zebra crossing across the road just where I normally stand (I could swear blind it wasn't there yesterday morning), it felt like what I imagined it felt like to stand behind Moses as the Red Sea parted. So, I decided to give it a whirl...I stepped out on the crossing and amazingly enough the traffic stopped....and I made it to the other side with nary a bumper brush. Obviously typhoons achieve the strangest things...

To be honest, I just want my electricity back...cats and candles don't mix well...particularly stupid cats of which Chairman Mao is a prime example...he already has one singed whisker! Classic headline of the day is Arroyo orders services restored immediately. Obviously King Canute is in town!

There is no denying that yesterday was a bad storm, the media seems undecided as to whether it was the worst typhoon to hit Manila or The Philippines in 11 years. However, bad as it was, there is really no reason for the amount of damage to infrastructure that occured...roofs shouldn't be coming off, the bill boards shouldn't be there in the first place - surely the results of this storm should help get shot of these things soon (they are incredibly distracting for drivers and really are blots on the landscape) - breaking news at the moment tells me that GMA is going to issue an order regulating billboards. Regulate them...?? Ban the damn things.

A selection of other typhoon damage pictures from Sky Newshere

The PDI's collection of typhoon news here - with Manila bloggers getting a special mention

And finally, in case slept through this one....there's another one on the way!


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Typhoon 18W (Xangsane)

Woke up this morning to the sound of torrential rain on the window pane...(which is such an English sound!). I think I can safely say, that the JTWC are right, she is right over Manila at 6am on the 28th!

My typhoon following has dropped off since I left HKG, probably related to the fact that I dont get a day off here for a typhoon, as a result I never even knew there was one in the area!!

Update: 1pm
O.K. I was did get worse...!!!

Signal 3 went up this morning just after 6:30am, Signal 3 apparently being the equivalent of a No. 8 in HKG...however as this is a direct hit on Manila I would have thought that it's more of a No. 10. It would be a major understatement to say that it's kind of windy outside.

The following from the FCO update

Typhoon Xangsane, a category 4 Typhoon, is now en route for Batangas and Metro Manila. Storm tracking indicators suggest it will pass through on the evening of 28 September, but could last up to 48 hours. All areas of Metro Manila and outlying areas are at Typhoon Signal 3 indicating anticipated winds in excess of 100KPH with heavy rains. All schools and Government offices are closed.

Will try to get some pictures later!


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thought for the day...

"Never argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience"


Concrete Boots...

For the past few months (feels like about a hundred years already!) the powers that be have been digging up and re-concreting Wack Wack Road....and its been a complete disaster of redirected traffic, making getting home at any time of day or night a challenge. Leaving home is fine as I walk down onto Shaw to get a cab...or at least it was fine until yesterday morning...

I stepped off the pavement into ankle deep wet concrete....there then ensued the most unlady like display of yelling and swearing that any of the refined residents of Wack Wack Road have probably ever seen... I was pulled out amongst much muttering and cursing..obviously they were going to have to patch up the mess...I was uncermoniously dumped into a bucket of water and the concrete was removed....needless to say my shoes were ruined, so I went up to my apartment to change shoes.

Going home yesterday evening I was very careful to get the taxi to stop away from the wet concrete area...he pulled in to allow another car to pass, I got out...and yes...back up to my ankles in wet concrete....another pair of shoes ruined...but this time I realised that getting angry about it was pointless...I just laughed!!!

My comment of "Are there no 'Wet Concrete' signs in Manila?", was met with smiles and shrugged shoulders...

So two pairs of shoes down...fortunately they were work shoes and not 'play shoes'!!!


Monday, September 25, 2006

It makes one proud to be British......!!

Pinay in Barnsley has highlighted a 'heartwarming' story of two mothers ensuring that their kids get the apparently appropriate food whilst at school

TWO mums are organising junk food runs to a South Yorkshire school - because they don't agree with its healthy eating policy.

Julie Critchlow and Sam Walker deliver fish and chips, pies, and burgers to hungry kids at Rawmarsh Comprehensive every day.

They say they have started the food runs because pupils are turning their noses up at the 'low fat rubbish' served up at the school.
And they are angry at a recent ruling by headteacher John Lambert that pupils can't leave at lunchtime to visit the local chippy - and should eat pasta, salads and sandwiches.

Give me strength! Just reading it makes me want to belt someone.

Actually to be honest, I'm surprised that our Barnsley Blogger is so surprised at the mothers doing this....watching Jamie's School Dinners I veered between being hugely embarassed to be British and wanting to smack some of the parents and school authorities into next week.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

One man's news is another man's fish and chip wrapper.....

Those of you that skulk around these parts on a fairly frequent basis will know that I am a fan of Top Gear and you know that for me the attraction of the programme (in no particular order) are the fast cars, the men and the unfortunately, infrequent, appearance of planes...

The news of Richard Hammond's crash last Wednesday night was quite a shock and I have been following the updates through the BBC, Sky News and The Daily Telegraph. Fortunately it seems that the Hamster is making a fairly swift recovery, how complete the recovery will be however, remains to be seen.

Two issues have become discussion points in the wake of Hammond's crash. The first issue being is Top Gear dangerous and does it encourage irresponsibility and 'yobbish behaviour' in drivers. The second issue is what is the definition of newsworthy?

As to whether Top Gear encourages irresponsible driving...for me, this should be filed in the same idiocy file as Mary Whitehouse thinking that world's children would resort to violence as a result of watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. Any person with a modicum of intelligence will realise that the stunts undertaken on Top Gear are just that, stunts, undertaken in controlled circumstances, with the strong possibility (as we have witnessed this week) of an accident.

The definition of a newsworthy items will differ from person to person. Two weekends ago I had settled down for my Sunday night viewing of Top Gear and after 10 minutes, we were interrupted with 'Breaking News' my mind 'Breaking News' is usually of a fairly great magnitude..I'm thinking London Bombings, 11th September, the death of a world leader. In this case the breaking news was Schumacher's me personally, I couldn't give a hoot whether he retired or not...and as a result got very agitated at the fact that due to this news report I missed a good 20 minutes of Top Gear, obviously I am in the minority! However, Hammond's crash, whilst not 'Breaking News', is to me a very newsworthy item, and judging by the 'most viewed' on The Telegraph's website this afternoon...a few other people think it's newsworthy....

1. Hammond in 300mph crash
2. Hammond out of intensive care
3. Gervais' favourite Bowie songs
4. Britons: slaves of Europe?
5. Rupert - unleashed and unloved


One month....

Today is the first day of Ramadan


Kinky Boots

Movie of choice yesterday was Kinky Boots.

Every so often it is refreshing to watch something British...the grey, heavy skies of Autumn, the sound of speeding trains that always reminds me of Britain, the peely-wally palor of the actors and actresses and the throw away comments that really only the Brits or those very familiar with Britain would get....

It's a 'nice' movie, nothing remotely scary - (except possibly for the size of 'her' feet)...very amusing and the soundtrack's fun too....

-I gave up the provinces years ago,and I've just been reminded why. Lola doesn't do North.
- Northampton's the Midlands.
- No, Charlie. Tottenham Court Road is the Midlands.


Friday, September 22, 2006

From the news desk

Bad news to wake up to yesterday, The Hamster, badly injured in a car crash...possibly at about 300mph.

In Amman, the failed bomber has been sentenced to hang. Just looking back at the pictures of that terrible evening in Amman is very distressing...

Thaksin is taking 'a rest'! I guess that's one way of putting it!

I never really think of pandas as having teeth...and as for the pajamas...this is an issue my mother has long what age does it become compulsory to go out in one's pajamas?!

And this has to have been traumatic...a few years back I had my right thumb severed and crushed...after it was reattached there was a period of about two months when it was possible the reattached thumb would have to be taken off again...and just thinking about that possibility was traumatic enough....

Remember this?!

And locally...I'll bet she is, and can she ever be this confident?


Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's all about letting go....

It's not often I comment on British politics...but as Lewis Carroll wrote..."The time has come, the Walrus said...."


Every time I hear, see or read stories about Tony Blair clinging by his cuticles to the door posts of Number 10 I hear two voices..and they are...

"Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?"
Henry II (referring to Thomas a Beckett)

"You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"
Oliver Cromwell (when dismissing Parliament in 1653)

I realise that the latter is probably more appropriate, but it's Henry II's voice I hear louder!! I'm beginning to sound like Joan of Arc!


In this week's Economist is a picture of David Cameron with the caption "Hug a tree. Throttle Labour"...I laughed...I don't know too much about David Cameron but the damn tree logo is beginning to irritate me already...the number of column inches given over to the logo, one would think that there was nothing else to talk about when referring to British politics...

And finally the following arrived in my in box yesterday....

The Squirrel & The Grasshopper

The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.



The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed.

A social worker finds the shivering grasshopper, calls a press conference and demands to know why the squirrel should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like the grasshopper, are cold and starving. The BBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper; with cuts to a video of the squirrel in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food.

The British press inform people that they should be ashamed that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty. The Labour Party, Greenpeace, Animal Rights and The Grasshopper Council of GB demonstrate in front of the squirrel's house.

The BBC, interrupting a cultural festival special from Notting Hill with breaking news, broadcasts a multi cultural choir singing "We Shall Overcome". Ken Livingstone rants in an interview with Trevor McDonald that the squirrel has gotten rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the squirrel to make him pay his "fair share" and increases the charge for squirrels to enter inner London.

In response to pressure from the media, the Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The squirrels' taxes are reassessed. He is taken to court and fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as builders for the work he was doing on his home and an additional fine for contempt when he told the court the grasshopper did not want to work.
The grasshopper is provided with a council house, financial aid to furnish it and an account with a local taxi firm to ensure he can be socially mobile. The squirrels food is seized and re distributed to the more needy members of society, in this case the grasshopper.

Without enough money to buy more food, to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, the squirrel has to downsize and start building a new home. The local authority takes over his old home and utilises it as a temporary home for asylum seeking cats who had hijacked a plane to get to Britain as they had to share their country of origin with mice.On arrival they tried to blow up the airport because of Britain's apparent love of dogs.

The cats had been arrested for the international offence of hijacking and attempt bombing but were immediately released because the police fed them pilchards instead of salmon whilst in custody. Initial moves to then return them to their own country were abandoned because it was feared they would face death by the mice. The cats devise and start a scam to obtain money from people's credit cards.

A Panorama special shows the grasshopper finishing up the last of the squirrels' food, though Spring is still months away, while the council house he is in, crumbles around him because he hasn't bothered to maintain the house. He is shown to be taking drugs. Inadequate government funding is blamed for the grasshoppers drug 'illness'.The cats seek recompense in the British courts for their treatment since arrival in UK.

The grasshopper gets arrested for stabbing an old dog during a burglary to get money for his drugs habit. He is imprisoned but released immediately because he has been in custody for a few weeks. He is placed in the care of the probation service to monitor and supervise him. Within a few weeks he has killed a guinea pig in a botched robbery.A commission of enquiry, that will eventually cost £10,000,000 and state the obvious, is set up.

Additional money is put into funding a drug rehabilitation scheme for grasshoppers and legal aid for lawyers representing asylum seekers is increased. The asylum seeking cats are praised by the government for enriching Britain's multicultural diversity and dogs are criticised by the government for failing to befriend the cats.
The grasshopper dies of a drug overdose. The usual sections of the press blame it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity and his traumatic experience of prison. They call for the resignation of a minister.

The cats are paid a million pounds each because their rights were infringed when the government failed to inform them there were mice in the United Kingdom
The squirrel, the dogs and the victims of the hijacking, the bombing, the burglaries and robberies have to sell their homes to cover losses, their taxes are increased to pay for law and order and they are told that they will have to work beyond 65 because of a shortfall in government funds.



Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Yesterday was a spectacularly bad day at work....unfortunately knowing from experience that I have a very violent temper when unleashed I have spent years trying to perfect ways to keep it under control...yesterday I came within a cat's whisker of unleashing it on an unsuspecting person saw it coming and launched in what can only be described as a clown's routine to divert my attention....that was the highlight of the day!!

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

And to the other Mr Kipling...some of these would have been helpful!!!!


Monday, September 18, 2006

I am a fallen woman...!

I am going to have to leave Manila, I can't take the shame......

My helper also happens to work in the laundry in my building....this morning when I went to collect my laundry she brought out the two bags that she had taken on Thursday, as I put the money together to pay for the laundry she disappeared under the table and came out with a very small bag with one item in. She held it out accusingly to me and said "Do you have any idea who these belong to?"...having no idea what they were I asked for a closer inspection, it turns out that it was a pair of men's underpants... so I started to explain that they belonged to my friend who had been staying this past week...under her withering glance I faltered..I then tried to remind her that she had made up the spare bed in the living room and made the extra duvet ready....but she was obviously having none of was worse than dealing with my mother!!!

Recovering somewhat from that I then ventured out onto Shaw to get a taxi to work, I get in the taxi and the taxi driver then turns around and says "I remember you"....Oh No!, this can't be good....what have I done wrong now.... "You were sitting outside Cafe Ad at 3am on Sunday morning, with two Filipino men". That's true...then when I questioned how he could remember me from the crowd in Malate, he said...."You're blonde and there were two men"....

I just hope the taxi driver doesn't know my helper otherwise I'm doomed! But knowing my luck at the moment...anything's possible!


Laugh...? I almost wet myself.....

Sunday night viewing is Top is a religious experience....but last night's episode took the was hysterical...for those of you that missed it - YouTube has the full episode....25 minutes of pure entertainment.....

No sexy cars, no planes....but the boys surpassed themselves!!! And the caravan catching fire was just the piece de resistance.....


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Week-end wrap up....

I did learn something this week, last night saw us at 2am at Cafe Adriatico, scene of the start of Monday night's non sleeping session, this time I restrained hot chocolate...just San Mig and an ensaymada with queso de bolla...far easier on the sleep cycle!


Thanks to those who answered my music tag, Spike,Skippy and E@L


Last night whilst driving along Taft Avenue my friend said that he used to commute along Taft in a jeepney to school, he said that just as I was about to say the exact same thing about my mother...My mother attended the American School for four years, whilst her parents were based here, my grand-father worked for Shell. The American School which was then in Pasay City and my mother lived on Sunset Drive, since then the street name has changed to Bayview Drive.


It seems that Prince Zeid's chances for the UN Chief's position are improving.


Those that know me well, know I have a bit of a 'weakness' for chefs...comes with the territory I imagine. Anyway, whilst reading this rather inane article from CNN about the top 10 sexy jobs, I wondered why 'Chef' wasn't on the list.... so, one of my cheffing friends came up with the following:

11. Chef
Why it's sexy: They transform even the humblest of food ingredients into extremely intimate substances that can induce unprecedented emotional responses.
Where you'll find them: Behind the closed doors of high-end restaurants, except for those times during the dining hours that an appearance is required to bring the person in touch with the mass of adoring sycophants, at which time you find them circling the room with shark like grace and a faint odor of fatigue.
The pros: The chance to express oneself creatively in a constantly dynamic environment with the rush of adrenaline a nightly addiction enjoyed among societies more interesting deviants.
The cons: Hours that make most people scoff in disbelief, the pressure of balancing money/people/time on a 3% profit margin, and living on the opposite schedule from the rest of humanity create a scenario of ripe for substance abuse, tyrannical behavior, and bizarre sociopathic tendencies. 

for's the passion and the uniform!!!!


I also learnt this week - from observation, that men have a whole rivalry, telepathic thing going on where women are's almost like watching two insects communicating through waving their antennae at each other....amusing to watch unless you are the woman involved and then it's just a tad on the toe curling side!


And two of my favourite presidents....


And I know I've written about the Reduced Shakespeare Company before, but now there's a couple of clips on's too funny to pass up...!!!

First 'the Othello rap', you have to know Othello fairly well to enjoy this....but it's hysterical and so clever!

and the Scottish play...!


Friday, September 15, 2006

Seven Songs

I've been tagged by MLQ3 for seven songs that I am 'into right now'..

Seven Songs

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your LiveJournal/blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to

Actually it's quite easy to do that...just flip through my iPod list of most heavily played songs...and what a surprise...its really boring and middle of the road!!!! And I know that technically there are 8 songs, but the last two had been played an equal number of times!

1. California Dreamin' - The Mamas & The Papas
2. Thought you were on my side - Cock Robin
3. Wala ala Baloh - Amr Diab
4. Nights in White Satin - The Moody Blues
5. Pretty Vegas - INXS
6. Diamonds & Rust - Joan Baez
7.=Golden Brown - The Stranglers
7.=Drop the Pilot - Joan Armatrading

So, seven people to be tagged: E@L, Spike (should be interesting given his new role as music reviewer for BC magazine), Scorpy (if he has time!), Torn & Frayed, Mia, Skippy and Mr Jones

On another note, Manolo's post today, 'The President wears Prada' (no guesses for which movie he's just watched!), reminds me that one of my best friends who is based in London e-mailed me two days ago saying he had just welcomed PGMA to his property and 'isn't she awfully short'!!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Great Escape!

In honour of the blue-eyed boy's visit to Manila I decided to escape from work yesterday afternoon, (I was a terrible host for his visit and saw very little of him due to me working) and take him down to see Intramuros.

Having first checked Carlos' site to see if he was doing a walk in the afternoon and finding out that unfortunately he wasn't, I decided that I would have to play tour you can imagine my joy when just after we got out the cab at San Augustin's, who should I see but Carlos!! He was leading a private tour, and the people in the group very kindly allowed us to tag along for the last part which was Casa Manila. Being used to Carlos' style I was prepared for anything...the blue-eye boy however was fairly shell shocked...the expression on his face as Carlos graphically explained how any form of body odour was 'social suicide' to Filipino's, was hysterical!

Personally I love Casa Manila, I could happily live there(with obviously a few changes..a/c being top of the list!!), I love the wooden floors and the ceilings and the creaky staircase - but my favourite part is the courtyard....and I think I would 'reorganise' the toilet facilities fairly swiftly...I may love you, I may be very happy to do the 'squelchy'* with you...but there is no way in hell you will be going to the toilet at the same time as I way..doubling up on toilet facilities just doesn't cut it in my book!

After Casa Manila we wandered up to Fort Santiago, it really is lovely up there, if 'lovely' is a word to describe somewhere where so many people died very horrible deaths. Having been taken to see the Central Post Office on my blind date I noticed it lurking down the river from Fort Santiago and it really, stands out - a lovely creamy colour against the darker, greyer colours of Manila - how on earth I missed it on my last visits, I have no idea!

After Fort Santiago, back to Manila Cathedral, ...I love beautiful churches (not ornate over done churches, but beautiful, simple churches - like Manila cathedral)but I also like my churches peaceful and quiet...ideal for reflection...normally the cathedral is like a bus station on a day when the whole world has to get somewhere, yesterday there were three other people in there, most of the lights were off and I could enjoy the peace and quiet....blissful!

As I had been to Intramuros before I wasn't really taking photos of the 'sights', but I did take two pictures which to me relate more directly to the Philippines now that I've been here a while...

The first was the tourist info sign for the square in front of the Cathedral. The plaza has been renamed three times, a little part of Manila's history - the original named Plaza Mayor (after Plaza Mayor in Madrid), the second renaming was connected to the US - Plaza McKinley and then finally the Philippines itself gets a look in with Plaza de Roma...but not until 1961!

The scond was the information board for Manila Cathedral...and here, determination is the name of the game, I realise that the Spanish were probably pushing the earlier rebuildings of the Cathedral, but I'm guessing it was the Filipinos doing the would think that after typhoons, fires and earthquakes had destroyed the building a few times that someone would say 'enough is enough'...but they didn't and the cathedral kept on being comparison here was with Philippine politics...perseverance in the face of adversity.

And a final thought on Intramuros, the majority of Intramuros is lovely - well restored, well looked after and a very good historical record - the whole area is almost an open air why on earth do they let somebody put bloody dinosaurs in there? I realise at some point in Intramuros' history there is a possibility that there were dinosaurs roaming around in there...but seriously, it ruins the atmosphere...

And finally up to the Diamond Hotel bar for cocktails...and a Manila Sunset...and Manila didn't was spectacular...unfortunately camera shake set in so my pictures are slightly blurred..(well that's my story and I'm sticking to had absolutely nothing to do with the number of drinks I'd had!)

And that was the day....

It was interesting, after our afternoon of pottering around I realised that I do feel very settled here and although there are still things that aggravate the hell out of me, I am far more accepting and understanding, and there are areas of the city that I really do enjoy.

After seeing Corregidor and Intramuros, the blue eyed boy left with a far better impression of Manila than he had before, he now has a slightly longer list of reasons to visit Manila again!

From Coupling
Jeff: I mean, where exactly do you take your socks off? My advice is to take them off right after your shoes, and before your trousers. That’s the sock gap. Miss it, and suddenly you’re a naked man in socks. No self-respecting woman will ever let a naked man in socks do the squelchy with her.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bright eyed and bushy-tailed

The blue-eyed boy is in town for a few days, it being a Monday night and he being a fairly big Freddie Aguilar fan, the final destination of the evening was going to be the Hobbit House (actually this is becoming a fairly regular outing when he's in town!). In need of a quick dinner we headed to Malate, I had an urge to try to Cafe Adriatico, I know, I've been here a year and never been!!

It was a pleasant enough dinner, I was very boring and just had an omelette but it was exactly what was needed, not sure if the Choco-Nut Martini was the ideal accompaniment...but anyway...

The problem came when it was time for dessert, the blue-eyed boy played it safe and had the Chocolate Decadence cake which was excellent, I decided to try something I have long wanted to try but never actually got around to trying - Chocolate Eh, a local hot chocolate drink.

So that's what I ordered, what arrives is a demi tasse of what can only be described as hot, squelchy, very rich and very dark chocolate mousse... it is possible to drink it out the cup but using a teaspoon to scoop it is far better.... I cannot stress enough how good it could become seriously addictive!

However, there is one major drawback. I am not great at sleeping at the best of times...after a cup of what can only be described as pure caffeine, I spent the whole night awake....and not just dozy awake....wide awake....

Now I know why it's usually drunk at breakfast time....


Monday, September 11, 2006

Morning reading....

MLQ3's PDI column today should give Skippy more food for thought....

THE PHILIPPINES OF TODAY WAS BORN IN THE oil crisis of the 1970s. Its economy mismanaged— with traditional industries (e.g., sugar) wrecked by reckless government speculation and with the setting up of inefficient national cartels—exporting Filipinos became the name of the game.

At least NAIA 3 will see one passenger this year...

'Kubrador' and Jueteng in The Standard.

Also from The Standard, an article about Brunei and what it's doing about planning to live without oil...As is said.....'Inshallah'.

In just eight years, according to a 2003 study by the World Markets Research Centre, the 380,000 pampered citizens of Brunei may well run out of crude. That study is echoed by another produced by Rabobank, the Dutch financial services provider, Brunei's wells will run dry in 2015. Natural gas, the other leg of Brunei's energy-based economy, is expected to last until 2025.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

On England's (Britain's) pleasant pastures seen...

Watching (again!) 50 years of BBC news it was brought home to me how much the little island of Britain has been through during my life time. Given that I have spent the majority of my life outside Britain I naturally focus more on world events, the Middle East and Asia being my two main areas of focus, with Britain almost falling into the category of 'other places of interest'. The following list of news stories is obviously not complete, but for various reasons have been imbedded in my mind and seeing the film footage on the BBC's DVD made me realise that for such a small island...Britain's mainland has, in recent years, experienced a lot.

1971 - Ibrox Park stadium

1973 - the three day week

The IRA mainland bombings – Hyde Park, Houses of Parliament, London Hilton, Brighton, Guildford, Birmingham and of course Canary Wharf. The IRA reign of terror on the mainland, was not limited to the few mentioned above, there were many,many other attacks on both civilian and military targets. The IRA threat on the British mainland is to my generation what Al-Qaeda and its ilk will be to future generations.

1976-1981 -the Yorkshire Ripper

1980 - Alexander Kielland platform disaster

1981 - the Brixton riots

1981 - the Toxteth riots

1982 - The Falkland Islands conflict, I think the Falklands war was the beginning of my interest in news and current events. We were living in Jordan, down by the Dead Sea and at the time there was no television reception there, only the BBC world service, and every evening my parents and I would sit at the dining room table listening to the news on the radio. At the same time, with one line, Brian Hanrahan, gave me an interest in the reporters who told the stories behind the headlines..."I counted them all out, and I counted them all back". For years and years I could name all the BBC correspondents and where they all were located and what news they were covering...

1984 - The miners strike

1987 - Fire at King’s Cross tube station

1987 - The Hurricane (unnamed!). A friend of mine got married the day after the hurricane, my mother was medically air-lifted from Sri Lanka and was on one of the first flights into Heathrow after the Hurricane had passed...from what I can gather the scenes of devastation were incredible.

1987 - Herald of Free Enterprise

1988 - Lockerbie

1988 - Piper Alpha oil rig fire

1989 - the Hillsborough disaster

1990 - Poll Tax riots

1996 - BSE, EU bans all imports of British beef.

1996 - massacre at Dunblane

2001 - Foot and Mouth crisis

2005 - the London Bombings

And individual names that have been burned into the British subconscious

Myra Hindley
Yvonne Fletcher
Jamie Bulger
Michael Fagin
Stephen Lawrence
Damilola Taylor

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

William Shakespeare, "King Richard II", Act 2 scene 1

N.B. I have taken blogger's perogative and have obviously omitted all the events in Northern Ireland and from the list I see I have included no Welsh news and even though I use the word 'mainland' I have included two oil rig disasters, the oil rig disasters are included because coming from the North-East coast of Scotland, oil platforms are part and parcel of my image of Scotland.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Last night drivel....

In times of stress, the only person I ever really want to speak to is my Mother.


The above rule is true until half way through the conversation I realise she is fishing for information on the various people in my life and planning a party so she can meet them all...and then I realise she is only interested in rounding up the men...and then she won't let me change the subject!


I do need to go home and see my family...this e-mail conversation with my brother last night is fairly indicative of that...

Brother: You gonna come skiing then or what?

Me: doubt it.....doesn't look likely at the moment......

Brother: On a serious note - I haven't seen you since 27 August last year either. By January it'll be 18 months. Something to think about.

Me: I know I realise is a very long time...I was thinking that this afternoon....

At the rate you're going you'll be attending my second wedding on your next trip!

Me: am assuming you ommitted the word....'anniversary' from that sentence!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brother: If I had I would be optimistic as to your travel plans.


What the hell was Joan Armatrading singing about in 'Drop the Pilot'??!!!


Watching Adam Sandler's movie Click I was so bored I wanted to fast forward but I felt like something really bad would happen to me if I did!!!


When you go home at night and the cat looks at you with a very (almost human) quizzical expression on his know you don't spend enough time at home!


I must come across as incredibly unholy..a very shocked reaction came from a friend the other day when I told them that my great-grandfather, my great-great grandfather and my great-great-grandfather and various levels of great-uncles had been Church of Scotland ministers.


Carrie: Oh, something came up he's not gonna meet me. Here, will you listen to this and tell me if you can figure out whether he's not meeting me as a date, or not meeting me as a friend?
Miranda: Alright.
Carrie: Sometimes, you need a second opinion; with doctors, real estate, men.
Miranda: I have no idea. And I finished first in my litigation class.
Carrie: How pathetic do l feel asking you if a guy kinda likes me?

SATC Valley of the twenty-something guys



Friday, September 08, 2006

Is it a date or a military exercise?

Reading Indy's post of tips for a first date, I couldn't help wondering if all that planning was all seems a little too calculated...

However, I would strongly agree with 'Do not air kiss! You are not a pretentious twat, lips make contact with not slobber'. No one likes pretentious twats or slobberers!!

And then Mia jumps on the bandwagon with a little piece about table manners! Fortunately I don't think I have too much too worry about there...I can still hear my mother's voice..."Elbow's off the table"; "Don't talk with your mouth full"; and my all time favourite..."You are not full, you have had an elegant sufficiency"!

Given my lack of dating experience...reading Indy's post makes me a little nervous...if that's the amount of effort the guys go to - what the hell are the girls supposed to be doing??!! Any suggestions, Mr Jones?


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Drinking pals...

It can't be good when you are shot by your own bodyguard


Odds and sods....

Ove the past weekend I was watching the CNN documentary In the footsteps of Bin Laden. All in it was a good documentary and very informative. The one thing that really did amaze me (and I'm not being ditzy here, it was the one thing I was completely unaware of) was the organisation that was put into 'setting up' Al-Qaeda. They had employment contracts for their 'employees', which even went as far as stating their vacation leave entitlements, their contracts included tickets home for vacation, and vacation needed to be requested two and half months before their travel date. All quite bizarre.

I'm sure that most of you will have heard of the shooting that was carried out in Amman two days ago. Idiots like this guy are the ones that are threatening Jordan and the safety and security that it holds dear. Unfortunately cases like this happen around the world (a lone gun man deciding to kill random people for various reasons) but the automatic assumption is that Jordan is becoming incredibly unsafe; as Tim Butcher assumes in The Daily Telegraph.
'But perhaps the most disturbing aspect was the way the incident reveals how a seething hatred of the West festers even in Jordan, a country that is as pro-Western as any in the Middle East.'. Personally, I disagree.

And from today's Jordan Times (link won't last past the week)
Jordan's UN Ambassador Prince Zeid Raad announced his candidacy on Tuesday to be the next UN secretary general, becoming the fifth candidate and the first Muslim to enter the race to succeed Kofi Annan


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Feeling my age....!!!

If he were still would have been the 60th Birthday of one of the sexiest (and strangest!!!) men to walk on this planet!!!

Happy Birthday Freddie!


Monday, September 04, 2006


Being a product of 8 years at a British boarding school there are two 'meat' products I hold in particular is meat loaf, the other is Spam.

And now Spam has got a whole lot worse...with Stinky French garlic flavour

The makers of Spam, the processed pink slab of tinned meat that has long been a national joke, announced yesterday that they are to produce a "collector's edition" flavour, Stinky French Garlic, to cash in on the West End opening of Spamalot, the Monty Python musical fresh from Broadway, at the end of the month.

Monty Python has a lot to answer for.

Speaking of Monty Python, it doesn't seem to be too well known in the Philippines, not sure if that is due to The Life of Brian and the other movies and possibly songs like this one.


Saturday, September 02, 2006


Trucks carrying rubble they collected from buildings that were destroyed following Israeli air strikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut queue Thursday along the coast of the southern suburb of Ouzai, south of Beirut
(AP photo by Dimitri Messinis)

And the Jordanian tourism industry is suffering as a result of the recent hostilities....(no surprises there)

Petra hotels brace for sharp decline in business
By Dalya Dajani

Hotels in Petra that were bustling with tourists earlier this summer are bracing for a sharp decline in business due to the recent conflict in Lebanon.

Several hoteliers in the popular tourist resort said a high percentage of tour groups slated to visit the country in the coming months had cancelled their travel plans.

“The situation in Lebanon definitely affected business, particularly for the months of August, September, October and November,” said Othman Al Salman, sales and marketing manager at the Golden Tulip Hotel.

“Cancellations stand at around 40 per cent for these months and so far there are only a few reservations for early next year,” he added.

Travel agencies bringing in these tour groups from Western Europe and the Far East had informed the hotel of the change in plans, he told The Jordan Times.

Salman said he remained hopeful that the situation might improve based on how the situation in Lebanon develops.

“The coming few weeks will provide tourists the opportunity to review their travel plans. We hope the tourist flow will improve, as October is when Europeans take their annual vacation,” he noted.

The hotel’s occupancy in August closed at 37 per cent, a major drop from the 65 per cent in the same month last year.

Salman said the projected occupancy for September, if the tourists do come, will stand at around 45 per cent.

picture and article from this weekend's Jordan Times


Friday, September 01, 2006

Required reading...

If you read nothing else this week, read this column from MLQ3.

The poor have always been called criminal by the rich, even though all the poor are trying to do is survive; but when the middle class and the rich either abandon, or are stripped, of all pretenses to public and private decency, you have a truly dangerous situation. No one is left with any moral authority over anyone else; what once served to keep everything cozy and looking good, proves as rotten and corrupt as those once considered moral, political, and social inferiors. So who has any incentive to worship anything except power and wealth? Why should anyone help or believe anyone else?