Archive for October, 2008


Stuff I Hate in Manila #3: Price

October 31, 2008

Everything is expensive in Manila.
What I can buy cheap in Iligan can cost twice as much in Manila. Food I can eat for less than P40 in Iligan can be bought for twice as much in Manila, and to think I’m still referring to ordinary fare. Borderline fancy fare in Manila can cost more than twice the average wage in Iligan. Genuinely fancy fare in Manila may very well cost someone his life in Iligan.
Even basic commodities are very pricey in Manila. Coffee-shop-served coffee is beyond the reach of ordinary folk of Iligan or Manila. Personally, I do not crave pricey coffee and rarely buy it even when I was still studying in Manila. Nevertheless, who am I to decline if somebody offered to treat me with it.

Shown above is coffee courtesy of D*, a generous Kalayaan batch-mate of mine.

Coffee, btw, is not the only expensive ordinary product in Manila. The list includes ice cream, burgers, steaks, soaps, perfumes, and perhaps every other item known to modern man. Whatever product that can be sold for pits in Iligan can be sold for diamond dust in Manila. Whatever also that product may feel like when it’s first used, it will eventually become bland and tasteless in the future.
Yet strangely, people do buy the expensive stuff as opposed to the cheaper ones. I can understand them if their main priority in buying expensive goods is product quality. Yet I fail to see the point on why they would buy those stuff for altogether different reasons. Do they even know what the word S-A-V-E* means?
I must admit that I was tempted to enjoy the pricey luxuries of Manila. I could afford many of the usual Yuppie luxury fare. Yet I know that to succumb to that lifestyle is to live and work in Manila, and to abandon my pursuit of medicine. I could easily pay that coin, but I dare not. The price is too expensive for such a fleeting luxury.

*Strangely, despite the credit crunch; people still flock ind droves to malls in Manila.


Stuff I Hate in Manila #2: Distance

October 20, 2008

Metro Manila is huge!
Last Wednesday, I spent the better part of the day touring the Mall of Asia. To say it was huge is an understatement. It was humongous. It was gargantuan. It was immense.
Yet the Mall of Asia for all its size is but a small dot, a speck so to speak, in a 1X1 square foot map of Metro Manila. To consider the Mall of Asia as immense is to consider Metro Manila as fantastically enormous. And to think the places that I have to go into are very far from my brother’s house, where I am staying in the meantime.
It seems impossible that a human could have travelled through all its streets. Drivers may have done so, but I was referring to humans. 2-headed-vampires certainly don’t count.
All that distance makes timely travel impossible to be done on foot. Transportation in the form of jeeps, buses, and taxis are the main fare of those who don’t use cars. The sheer distance of the place obviously brings commuters at constant contact with abominable 2-headed-vampires: drivers and their conductors.
Thus do I hate the distance of everything else in Manila. It makes me face abominable 2-headed-vampires all the time.


Locked Out

October 20, 2008

Since my responsible, dear little sister slept on her watch; I am forced to while away the night in the part of Pasay City bordering Makati City.
So my taxi fare was basically gone to waste*. I also had to look for a place to while away the night. Thus I began my search for a nearby motel, hotel, or inn. The hotel I found was out of the question. Besides being full, its cheapest room cost about P2800. There were certainly other more hospitable places.
I’m not picky. I could tolerate any room as long as it has a bed exclusively for my use as well as being free from roaches. I don’t even care if the people in neighboring rooms are doing something privately. As long as the sounds of the night are muffled, I would be able to sleep peacefuly.
Then I went to a night traffic enforcer. I asked him if he knew a place where I can check in. He told me abou a place called Victoria nearby. I asked him if he knew how much it cost. To this question, he did not just shrug. It wasn’t that obvious, but I sensed he was hiding what seemed to be a grimace. He clearly just didn’t know about the price. He also didn’t want anyone to think he knew what the price is.
Then I remembered that in my country “checking in” is taken to mean enjoying sensual delights inside a motel or hotel. Heck. It’s even thought that anybody who checks in at cheap motels in the middle of the night has decided to do just that.
Not being able to find Victoria, I decided to instead ask a servant boy if he knew a nearby hotel, motel, or inn; being careful that I did not mention “check in”. He suggested Anito. I asked him if he knew about the price. He said “no” and then gave me a look that clearly meant that there was no way for him to know about the price. Apparently, anyone who decides to check in in the middle of the night is suspected to be looking for some pleasures.
Nearby, a guard began to wake. He was still groggy when I asked him if he knew a nearby motel, hotel, or inn. To that question he instantly woke up. He still had bloodshot eyes, but they were fully alert. I told him I was locked out and that I needed a place to stay. He gave me a sheepish smile and told me there were “short time” establishments nearby. I could “check in” for an hour or so. Then he gave me that sheepish smile again.
I reminded him I just wanted a place to sleep. Then I hurriedly went to the Internet cafe he was guarding. I decided to wait the night out in the cafe. That guard was beginning to freak me out.

PS There are still 3 more hours till sunrise.

*To think the driver of that taxi was one of those vampire types (see previous post)!


Stuff I Hate in Manila #1: Greedy Drivers

October 20, 2008

The typical image that comes to my mind when I imagine a Manila driver and his conductor is a 2-headed-vampire. Beware this vile creature for it also possesses powers that could surpass its Transylvanian counterpart. It can bend the laws of physics. Give it a jeep of any size and it can squeeze in humans whose combined volume measure twice the capacity of that said jeep.
This vile creature also has memory altering powers. Instead of making other people forget, as Transylvanian vampires routinely do, this creature instead performs this power on itself. It does this by seducing passengers with promises of dropping them off at specified locations, but it instead “forgets” about those promises and drops them off at far flung locations. This creature could also suck, but it has a more refined taste than its Transylvanian counterpart. Whereas, a Transylvanian vampire is content with blood, the 2-headed-driver-conductor-vampire must suck the cash out of passenger pockets. It won’t stop unless the passenger emphatically forbids it from sucking more.
Garlic can’t stop this abomination. In fact, this creature may even prefer garlicky foods to the traditional blood diet. Crosses, rosaries, and the power of saints have no effect on it; and it may even face its collection of Catholic paraphernalia rivaling Rome itself all day to no avail. Its heart and actions would still be true blue 2-headed-vampire. It would still lie, cheat, and steal whatever it could from its passengers.
Be on guard against this vile creature by recognizing that knowledge is anathema to it. Know what the exact and official fares are, and you’ll have a weapon against it. It won’t dare suck you dry of cash when it is faced with facts.

*Bus, taxi, and jeepney drivers have the same character traits.

PS I am of course referring to the typical driver and conductor. Untypical drivers and conductors are nice and honest. They’re, however, very difficult to find.



October 15, 2008

After months of hiatus, I am back blogging.
The past months were quite turbulent. I may or may not be blogging about them sometime in the future. Suffice it to say that those probable posts would involve 3 dead dogs, rabies, vaccines, depression, and then redemption. In the meantime, I am happy to announce that after almost 2 years, I am back in Manila.
Students really do have many better perks compared to professionals. I am of course meaning holidays that only students are entitled, specifically summer and semestral break holidays. Currently, as a student, I am now enjoying my semestral break.
I’ll be posting my insights on Manila as the days go. I’m still trying to sink in to the reality that I am physically in Manila. Somehow everything seems so surreal…