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.


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