Monday, July 02, 2007

Things I will miss from the Philippines...

The Philippines offers some of the most spectacular sunsets…and on a regular basis. Even after two years, I would keep an eye on the skyline every evening so I could pop outside at work to enjoy the streaks of pink, red and gold as they worked themselves across the sky – my colleagues thought I was loopy….but for me those 5-10 minutes most evenings were amazing

View from the apartment
My apartment itself was not so special, in a slightly older and a little tatty around the edges building…but the view…amazing… day, night, evening, early morning – always something different. And as I went to sleep on my last night there, curled up on my sofa bed which I had dragged over to the window for a better view, I knew that this would be something I would miss. Floor to ceiling windows overlooking the world! Unfortunately I discovered only recently that people outside on Shaw, even though I was on the 17th floor, could actually see me…as someone waved to me…from Shaw Boulevard as I stood there in my underwear!!

Evening Cocktails at the Sofitel
To really enjoy the sunset…head to the Sofitel down at the Bay…a couple of cocktails there watching the sun set over the bay…is almost as good as a few days out of town!

Sky Flakes Crackers!
Believe me, these are the best crackers in town!! As part of my farewell gift from my colleagues, they made up an emergency hamper for me with a huge tub of these crackers included!

Mango Rum liqueur
Unfortunately not one of the better known products of the Philippines and when it is used, its usually made up in cocktails….dont bother…just serve it straight on the rocks..its wonderful!

The local press
When living overseas, the usual number of English Language daily papers is very limited…Jordan had one, Hong Kong only had two….the Philippines….a huge variety. Granted the quality of writing can be a little questionable sometimes… but I cant tell you how nice it is to be able to follow local events with a number of different opinions. Plus the commentary is always enlightening, entertaining or both! I must also admit to finding some of the subject matter to be quite entertaining, I don’t think I ever opened either the Star or the PDI without finding something to amuse.

For many reasons…!! For me, Cebu is ideal, a big city with all the services that you could ever need and yet, not a huge amount of traffic, easy to navigate and easy accessibility to lovely beaches, countryside and views. Plus, I find the local population just a little more friendly and welcoming than in Manila.

The Cinemas
Living in Manila has reminded me how much I love going to the movies…. In HKG it always used to irritate me that cell phones would be used and the general chit chat would be louder than the movie….here, cell phones are usually on silent, and conversation is kept to a minumum…bliss! OK, normally I go at off peak times…weekdays, late afternoon…but still – my favourite day off activitiy…down to Rockwell, a large Starbucks cup of tea….and two hours of escapism!!!

The people – mostly friendly, always smiling. The Filipino population really are some of the most friendly and welcoming people I have ever come across… to be honest, the number of really nasty experiences here can be counted on one hand…and unfortunately one of those just this morning as I was leaving home… I have made some really good friends here who I know will be part of my friends ‘collection’ for many years to come….

Cebu Pacific
For a mostly domestic airline, they are efficient, organized and don’t promise anything they are not going to deliver. I have probably clocked up about 20 or so flights with them over the last year…only two delays, one problem with ticketing and that’s all. I would comment though that my first flights with them last year, inflight service was a slice of cake and a bottle of iced tea, then it was reduced to just the iced tea, now…any food or beverage you want has to be paid for….but it’s a LLC so I guess its just par for the course!

The language
Having a local population that all speak either fluent English or to an incredibly high standard has been wonderful, and makes us expats very lazy…this is the first country where I have not tried to learn the language either at a language school or at work… The English level also makes it easier to make really good friends here, in HKG I have quite a few HKG Chinese friends but conversation can be hard work….they try in English my rusty Cantonese gets used…but after a couple of hours it can be quite wearing on all of us…. Here, the only time I need to know the language is when reading the papers (as they actually throw in a lot of Tagalog words) or reading books about the Philippines or books written in Tagalog and then translated into English, which keep some of the original wording….then a quick text to the City Boy makes it all clear…!

The sense of humour
Filipinos have a sense of humour particular all to themselves..its not sarcastic like the Brits, its not obvious like the Americans, its more a cross of childish humour with inuendos… I think ‘impish’ would be the best way to describe it… case in point…. A few months back I had a very unfortunate incident at work whereby I sent a text meant for someone else to the wrong person…the person who received it was offended by the content even though it was not referring to her…. It caused a huge blow up at work and took days to resolve…. A few days after this happened I texted one of my staff some information…and he answered “Copy. And, don’t worry ma’m you sent the text to the right person”!!!! I just made me laugh and lightened what had been a horrific few days. I’ve saved the text on my phone and when I need a smile I just dig it out… Another time one of my colleagues during a building inspection had jumped out of a dark corner and scared the living daylights out of myself and some other colleagues…as pay back, the next time we were doing the same inspection, a few of my colleagues covered themselves in sheets and did the same thing to our colleague…and we filmed it… impish yes, hysterical definitely! Unfortunately, the humour is only revealed when people feel comfortable with you, which can take a while..but I think I’ve had more laughs at work here than anywhere else I’ve ever worked…

And last but not least…The gravy from the sizzling pochero at Abuhan in Cebu – trust me…its amazing…I’m sure it has all sorts of bad things in there but..its so good!

I’m sure there will be other things that I will miss, late afternoon strolls around Intramuros, drinks at Greenbelt, the amusement of day to day life here… but I know I’m going to be back…

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Blogger Ching said...

I miss the movies, the Skyflakes, and all the smiles... (and I miss the mangoes! Nothing can compare to Philippine mangoes)

Thanks for sharing this post!

1:01 am  
Blogger thingfish said...

You're right in so many ways. While there are a billion things to hate about Manila, there's at least a billion more to enjoy.

Yours has been a Manila blog with a lot more light than the usual negativity we read here each day. Good luck in Bangkok.

5:16 am  
Blogger Dominique said...

And the Philippines misses you, too, Madame Chiang. Safe travels!

8:58 am  
Blogger dgny said...

A year on and I still miss my HK view. I'm not even sure there's anywhere here I *could* live that would have anything comparable!

Have you checked out Bangkok Air yet?

11:43 am  
Anonymous Pinay in Barnsley said...

I laughed out loud at the waving Tom (as he wasn't exactly peeping) down Shaw Blvd. and you in your undies! Priceless....

that was an incredibly sweet list of things you'll miss about the Philippines...

You know, I've lived in BKK too, it was short but sweet. Things really worked at least three times better than in Manila...oh and the food...

Anyway, enjoy your time there as it oculd be short and sweet as mine...=)

I'm hooked on your posts these days as the moving from one place to another is always an exciting time...

9:47 pm  
Anonymous tutubi said...

a farewell post to my country just as i visited your site

will catch up on your philippine-related posts later

at least you loved your stay here. do come back


5:28 pm  
Anonymous sassygrrl said...

I've checked out your blog from time to time. Two years ago I recall that when you moved to the Philippines from Hong Kong, I can sense hesitation and reluctance. As a Filipina who has lived in HK, I can sort of understand. The Phils. doesn't have the sort of sophistication that HK has. But two years on, you have peeled through the layers of Phil. society and found something good. Your insights are true esp about the Filipino sense of humour.

10:18 am  

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