Friday, May 25, 2007

The cats need more air miles.....!

Seeing as you have all become bored of me blogging endlessly about my numerous trips to Cebu and equally numerous gripes about taxis in Manila...I've decided to come up with a new subject to blog about.....and strangely a new location....

So, from the beginning of July (Insh'allah), I shall be living in the city which has this river...

a myriad of Temples and Palaces...

and neighbours like these...

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's all in the wording...

Whilst sunning myself in Cebu, my colleagues were left to move our office to a temporary location whilst our old office is being renovated. I packed most of the stuff in my office before going away, but there were still some bits and pieces in my desk. When I came back there was a box in front of my new desk.....however the word 'table' was missing...

My colleagues couldn't understand my hysterical laughter, until I explained that in England 'drawers' is the old fashioned word for underwear



Monday, May 21, 2007

A little reading....

What was nice about a week doing not much more than lazing in the sun and stroking tarsiers….was catching up on some reading…

The Boleyn Inheritance

The Other Boleyn Girl

Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission

Innocent Traitor

Seven Year Itch

Not Buying It

Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, My Life

As you can see, I mean it when I did nothing much but read!

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

...said the actress to the bishop!

Was just sitting quietly watching the sun set and the sky turn that lovely shade of deep blue...when my phone bleeped with a message....

From the City Boy

"So did you ever have your fill of spotted dick?"

It seems someone has been watching the Food Network channel and has learnt about another culinary speciality

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It just gets better....

From the PDI on Wednesday...came this little snippet of worldly wise information....

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Election update....

Continuing from my previous election post...

City Boy and Island Boy are already on holiday and are in Cebu driving north for a few days at the beach....City Boy just texted me and tells me that they are driving through Danao City...aka the gun-making capital of the Philippines (we have a bit of a standing joke about this tendency of places here to label themselves as the 'something' capital of the Philippines!). Silly me, and I thought everywhere in the Philippines was the gun capital, however, after a little research I see that it's correct...apparently when the elections were heated up!

With the whiff of elections in the air, the gunsmiths of Danao City are working
overtime to meet demand for their signature .38-caliber revolvers.
"The orders start coming in three years in advance," said one weapons merchant,
who would not give his name. "If you don't have guns, goons and gold, you will
not win an election."

This from E@L - have swiped the picture - he won't mind, all things considered I think he owes me one!!!!

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Just before I go...

From 12:01am Sunday morning to 12:01 am Tuesday morning, there is an alcohol ban in the Philippines - no alcohol can be bought, sold or consumed in public places (hotels, restaurants and bars included)..this is all apparently to make sure the voting population behaves themselves...foreigners are excluded...!

One of my more cynical colleagues stated that the alcohol ban was so that the hired assasins could shoot straighter....

So whilst Island Boy and myself are sunning ourselves in Bohol, I can get progressively drunker and he will have to stay sober! as they said in Airplane"I guess the foot's on the other hand now, isn't it Kramer?". Actually it feels a little like the day before Ramadan starts in Jordan..I have this urge to go out and stock up on vast quantities of alcohol!!!

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However, we're not back for long!

Off to sunnier climes tomorrow night...a week in Cebu, with a few days in Bohol (apparently, allegedly!) seeing the chocolate hills and stroking tarsiers (at least that's what I'm telling you!!!).

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And we're back...

Apologies...for those of you who were a tad confused about access to Madame Chiang over the past few was just a little self-preservation!


Friday, May 04, 2007

How much is that voter in the window....I do hope that voter's for sale.....

As promised earlier..a short post on vote buying..again, a selection of headlines to give you a rough idea of what's happening..

New vote buying schemes - in case the others were all a tad old fashioned

A thousand pesos for my vote

Phone cameras can be used for vote buying

Insurance cards not used to buy votes - just remarkably convenient timing..'The cards were given to over two million party members as “an act of prudence and gratitude” to “loyal members,” he added.

At the same time, he said the cards were distributed to party “campaigners and poll watchers who under the law are entitled to reasonable allowances or compensation…”'

Comelec reporters receive P100 cell phone cards

Is it a prize, or is it vote buying

And this is a classic headline...40% believe Arroyo will cheat

Given the violence and the vote buying, I have a few questions...

1. Can the Philippines really be classed as a democracy?

2. Is it really worth having the elections?

3. Is it really worth while being a politician of any description in this country?

4. Will there be enough politicians left alive in the country to actually have an election on the 14th May?

Answers on a postcard to.....

I was asked the other day how much it costs to buy votes in England...I answered that to the best of my knowledge at grass-roots level vote-buying doesn't really exist or at least not the form of cash/phones etc exchanging hands as it does here; however at more senior levels allegedly a peerage could change hands...

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Childish...but who cares....!

Whilst at the House at Pooh Corner, I purchased a Pooh Bear for the City wasn't until afterwards that I looked at the receipt and saw the description...

10" Soft Pooh

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Away from the Big Smoke

Other than my two days in London, the rest of the time was spent pottering around the family seat in deepest darkest Sussex…venturing out only to visit such exciting places as....

Batemans, home of Rudyard Kipling

And The House at Pooh Corner – surely that needs no explanation

And playing Pooh Sticks at Pooh Bridge...

Some friends of mine came to visit on my last weekend in England so I showed them around the village (actually more of a hamlet)...

The local church

The Local Pub (most important!)

The War Memorial

Sporting pursuits in the back garden! 9 holes of Pitch and Putt golf... and a spot of archery

After purchasing golf balls here!!!!!

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Election at the O.K. Corral

So for those of you outside the Philippine is mid-term election time...due to being out of the country and now having to catch up on work I am a fairly busy lass, hence I'm not reading the local papers with my usual fine toothcomb and so periodically I am just quickly scanning the front page of the Inquirer website...

What is alarming at the moment is the number of people that are being shot at - injured and killed - in election motivated attacks, plus the number of people that are being 'threatened'..and therefore asking for protection..

A smattering of headlines for your reference / further reading...

unexploded grenade was recovered inside the headquarters of a re-electionist mayor

former police officer turned politician was shot and killed...was seeking a seat in the town council

A mayoral candidate of a town on Bantayan Island in Cebu was shot dead in front of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office

seven political candidates in Metro Manila have asked for additional security from the police

Mayor hurt, aide killed in fiesta attack - actually this one is worth reading....'The latest deaths brought to around 30 the number of people killed in violence since the start of the campaign period.'

Congressional bet slain

Bloodiest poll incident: 2 dead, 12 hurt in N. Ecija

2 dead, 3 hurt in Nueva Ecija shoot-out

Seriously....I could go on, but I might bore you....

And then we have this....apparently not election related...just 'hate' related..

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna, Philippines -- Three unidentified armed men waylaid a village chief while he was driving his car on a bridge in Naic town, in the province of Cavite early Tuesday, police said.

Victim Joselito Mutas, 52, the village chief of the village of Sabang, died instantly from several gunshot wounds in the body.

Senior Superintendent Fidel Posadas, Cavite police director, quickly dismissed the killing as election-related.

"This is probably a hate crime because the victim was shot a number of times using at least three kinds of firearms,"he said over the phone.

next election installment...'vote buying'...

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A senseless tragedy at Banaue

Before I left for England for my holiday I had arranged with the City Boy that we would go to Banaue and then Batad to see the famous rice terraces

I got back into Manila on the 17th April late night, on the 18th afternoon (having hibernated all morning) the City Boy called and asked if, given what had happened, did I still want to go to Batad…

Fresh back into the country, I hadn’t seen a paper, hadn’t looked at the internet, I had no idea what he was talking about.

On Easter Sunday (8th April); a 38 year old American Peace Corps Volunteer called Julia Campbell was reported as missing. She was last seen hiking around Batad. On the 18th April her body was found, in a shallow grave on the hiking trail into the village of Batad. By this stage no body knew how she had died, but it was obvious from the fact that she was found in a shallow grave that it was not an accident.

So, did I still want to go to Batad, yes…but I would just have to be a little bit more aware of my surroundings than normal.

I’ll write more on my visit to the rice terraces in another post, but for now…just a few disconnected observations.

When we hiked from Saddle Point down to Batad, the hiking guide pointed out the area where Julia had been found, there was a long discussion with the City Boy in Tagalog, most of which was not translated – probably censored for me.

I did mention to the City Boy that in most other countries the area surrounding the shallow grave would be closed off with police tape…’do not cross’ etc…however, in this case unless it was pointed out, one would be none the wiser. The next morning, though, when hiking out of Batad on the same path, as we passed the shallow grave area the City Boy noticed a crumpled piece of paper lying in the grass a few feet away…

On closer inspection, handwritten in biro, on the scrap of paper was ‘Police Line – Do Not Enter’… at least someone had tried….

Batad village was incredibly quiet, don’t get me wrong I think even when there are a lot of visitors there it’s not exactly Piccadilly Circus’ lesser known cousin, but the inn that we stayed had about 15 rooms, only two rooms were occupied – the City Boy and myself in one and a Filipino family who had arrived with us in the other. According to the village residents, it does seem as if the number of visitors (particularly foreigners) has dropped off in the wake of Julia’s murder.

I didn’t realize until I read Carlos’ post that Julia had a blog…if you read through it you really get a measure of how happy she was living here and how much she gave to the country through her work here – it’s so tragic the way her stay in the country ended.

The prime suspect in her murder case has been ‘handed in’ by his mother and is now in police custody…reading his story, makes the whole thing seem even more heartbreaking and wasteful.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Complete fluke of nature....allegedly.....

In response to E@L's claim that I 'got the annual sunny day'...I would like to say in England's defence (and mine, in case anyone thought I was greedy!) that I actually had a whole week of glorious weather...which the BBC will back me up on...and just to prove it to you...I shall try to run through a set of photos of my week in seems that there were (surprisingly enough!) days when I didn't take any photos, so Tuesday and Thursday's'll have to take my word for it!





The Sussex...yes, the family home is a little like an outdoor sports facility, and these boys had lost their balls!

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Rather odd really....

Whilst wandering around Fortnum and Mason and looking at their partially renovated food hall I happened to see a mouse scampering around on the floor between the shoppers. Because I wasn’t 100% sure what I had seen I stopped and watched it for a minute or so...another shopper said to me "Did you see what I saw?", so I replied "If you’ve seen it as well...then it definitely exists".

The other shopper (a rather elderly gentlemen) called over a security guard to point out the little rodent...the conversation went like this..

Elderly Gentleman: I saw a mouse
Security Guard: Where?
Elderly Gentleman (singing): There on the stair...
Madame Chiang (also singing): A little mouse with clogs on – well, I declare
Going clip-clippety-clop on the stair - oh yeah

Only in England could two complete strangers start singing something as bizarre as ‘Windmill in Old Amsterdam’

And then it started to get all serious...and they started to hunt the little mouse! So I left!