Monday, September 30, 2013

Alive and Well in Manila - yes, yes it is.

Not quite the controversy as bullfighting in Spain - not sure why not - PETA, you out there??

Coolest Girl in the Universe

Emmerson rockin hard the full on moustachio glasses.

Bamboo Building

Well not exactly, they actually do build lots of stuff around the world out of bamboo but this is simply scaffolding made out of bamboo - quite common right round about here.

Christmas Time in Manila!

Christmas comes early around this neck of the woods.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Nemsis

It's easy to hate on the Jeepneys, they are the blight of traffic for anyone not relying on Jeepney transport (which is not a very large % as many/most rely on Jeepneys so will probably not get a lot of love for my hate on Jeepneys)

Here is my latest nemesis - school girls walking home on the side walk with umbrellas. On my run tonight, I tried to stick to the sidewalk so the Jeepneys would not run me over but came upon the "umbrella wielding school girls". They walk in intimidating packs, very slowly, shoulder to shoulder, meaning they cover most of the sidewalk, and appear to be incredibly focused on being completely oblivious. I ran behind many a pack and would have to circumnavigate their gaggle - easier than trying to get them to move. But it was the one's approaching me that were the most intimidating. I would run towards the gaggle hoping they would see me and make a bit of room for me to pass by but this was not to be. They were oblivious to my approach. I can see how this could be - school is demanding in the Philippines and they were on their way home - oblivion time before they got home and had to kick it in gear to do all the school work for the next day.

The worst was that it was raining out and most of the gaggles had umbrellas. So as I approached, not only would they not move but their umbrellas were all at about eye level. To avoid another visit to the Asian Eye clinic (my eye is still red ... ) I had to do some slick moves .... jump off the sidewalk which meant jumping onto the road with Jeepneys on the prowl ... or do a duck and limited sidestep to remain on the sidewalk while avoiding a poke in the eye. Adventure running! and Why I love our world!

And to cap it all off - our yaya, Dolce, is turning out to be quite the chef. We have asked her to make some pretty simple stuff. But Alicia went out on a whim and asked if she would cook some new - Asian type dishes. the first one was Laksa - a Malay noodle soup dish with coconut based stock - it was unbelievably good - so we are excited about the potential.

Adventure Running!

It has been a bit of a challenge to get involved in some sort of sporting venture on a regular basis so have had to create my own. This evening I created "adventure running".  It began with a run along the river road paralleling the Pasuig River, which is the road we take to work each day. I thought it would be a good running route as a sort of walking area existed along much of the river/river road ... kind of.

So I ventured out  along the river road pedestrian path and came across a riverside park, entered and ran to the end, doubled back and ran along the park river path to try and hook up with with the pedestrian path along the river and the way home. The path I followed along the river ended with a gate. By this time it was dark so I could not see well what I was up against. I pushed the gate hoping it would allow me to continue on in the direction towards home as I  had already made the home turn (I hate having to double back).   The gate opened (as the venture continued, I realized this out of the way gate was not meant to be opened) and led to a path along the river that was rather derelict - very derelict. I followed the path which narrowed down to a cliff on the left and the river on the right. Eventually, the path led to a 30 foot fence blocking the way. There was a gate which I tried and was locked. So I was faced with an option, double back (which I hate doing) or climb the fence. I investigated the fence climbing option and realized that the first section of fence from about ground level to 10 feet was relatively new and well put together. So I decided to climb - after the first section of fence I came to the next section which was much less put together and was basically mesh wire - it was dark by this time so I could not tell if it was rusted or not. At this point, not trusting the perhaps rusted mesh wire, I grabbed onto a tree root growing out of the fence. It immediately gave way and I was glad I didn't put any weight on it. So I continued upward on the rather sketchy fence hoping not to grab onto any barbwire as this fence was apparently meant to keep people out. I made it to the top without opening up any infection prone cuts, hopped to the sidewalk and carried on my run. I had a good amount of adrenaline fired up so the remainder of the run was solid.

Adventure Running!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Got Pork??? Oh yes, yes we do! Pork at the Market Market mall.

Emmerson was opposed, morally, to the pork on a spit - she likes pigs. I was somewhat put off by the image of the cowboy eating a hunk of pork belly - or maybe it was more envy ... and the Colonel slinging pork - not sure about that.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Jollibee

A great testament to the advertising of fastfood place geared towards little ones. I would never have heard of Jollibee until I came across it on some sort of venture to find curious food offerings. But both Emmerson and Ada new of the Jollibee within days of landing in Manila, perhaps even earlier, and both begged to dine at the establishment.

No - was the repeated response. Well the time was right for various reasons and after our SPECS trip Emmerson and I did the Jollibee. She first wanted the hotdog until she saw there was a kids menu (the toy beckoning most likely). From the kids menu she selected the "jolli chicken" or something like that - fried chicken leg, rice and gravy and drink.

The cashier then said that they had no more toys - info I passed on to Emmerson but by this time she was set on her order.

I said, "that is OK, she will like the kids jolli chicken, and I will have the burger with cheese and the "crisscross fries". Response "Yes, you will, but we do not have a toy and the crisscross fries will be 6 minutes." "Yes, yes you are right and I will still have the kids jolli chicken and so on and so forth".

So, eventually, we sat at our Jollibee table and delved into our orders - minus the crisscross fries and toy. Emmerson was quite put off by the chicken bone in the fried chicken leg ... frightening confession - making me consider the reality of all the de-boned chicken offerings she had been eating all her life.

My burger was fine - fine certainly being a word accustomed to the concept of relativity. It was fine - food snob I am not and I ate it and would get another at some point in my life - the pinkish sauce was a bit over the top but I am sure that is what lots of Jollibee regulars claim makes it oh so special.

We did the Jollibee - some pics showing our love ...

really bad reception - need to adjust the UHF

 It is wonderful to be out and about with Emmerson - processing tons and totally fresh perspective on stuff and she is super polite and cool with situations. 

Emmerson with the Jollibee monster. Not sure why my phone pics all suck suddenly. Back tot he drawing board - I think it is because I am trying to share them efficiently using "the Google" but quality has been compromised - or maybe I just screwed up.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

SPECS video clips #2: Talking with Emmerson on the bus.

Emmerson's take on things. 

Daddy's take.

SPECS Video Clips #1

Brief description of the area and kids playing hoops.

I brought a bunch of deflated soccer balls over to give away - not knowing that the Philippines was a basketball culture! Really interesting to see makeshift courts and games going on all over the place just like you would see with soccer in most of the rest of the world. they immediately turned my soccer balls into basketballs.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Yesterday I took Emmerson on one of the high school community service projects. It is a community center located in one of the poorer neighborhoods in Manila. The community is built in and around a cemetery where many people live and tend to the graves. The other occupation was recycling products from a large dump in the community. The dump has recently been removed under suspicious circumstances. Supposedly someone was going to make a documentary of the community so the govt swept in, removed the dump and walled in part of the community from prying eyes. So if you are ever going to make a documentary, considered the repercussions. Now the people are scrambling even more to figure out how to make a living. The community center offers Social, Physical,  Cultural (SPEC's) options for the kids in the community. A new squatter community has also emerged on land set aside for cemetery expansion - so when the govt decides to expand the cemetery - they will need to move. And so on, and so on. The ISM kids go to the area once a month or so playing games, sports, songs, etc and then prepare a meal for them. Then in December they will spend a week with the community which involves bringing the community kids up to ISM for some events.

Emmerson outside the cemetery.

Squatters on the cemetery land.

Above ground graves - typical in areas where the ground is often saturated - like in New Orleans.

Not sure why I took this so many of these .... 

Some kids who live in the cemetery and are part of the SPEC's crew.

Gaggle of girls.

One of the ladies painting a figurine on one of the graves.

Corridor of graves.

Community kids.

Ayra, ISM SPECS club leader with Emmerson and Sophi.

River the flows through the community.


Squatter settlement under the bridge - obvioulsy not a good situation in frequently flooded Manila. The solution that is often implemented is to move them to areas outside of Manila with more land and such - but few take the govt. up on this opportunity as this area is their home - where they know people and the lay of the land - power of a place. 

One of the homes under the bridge.

... and across the river.

This was the dump. Now it is simply space ... where they keep their roosters. 

Community farm? They are not farmers - they are really good at recycling trash - not farming - none have ever grown a thing in their life. Community farms take a lot of hands on knowledge .... and money. But I'll present the option to the SPECS board. And the land is the govt.'s, which adds another bureaucratic layer.

ISM kids playing hoops at the neighborhood court - the hoop itself was quite nice and it was actually a court - a hoop on either end. But the court was also used as a parking lot so kids typically pic a hoop, practice shots, and play one hoop type of games. The rainy season also limits court efficiency - lots of puddles.

Shooting hoops.


They still manage to do some recycling - outsourced to their community. this alley had stacks of plastic bottles ready to be  .... whatever they do with plastic bottles.

Plastic bottle alley.

Wow is it ever raining our right now (real time right now 3:21 pm Sunday, 9/15). Emmerson sure is a wonderful little girl. She is a bit shy but once she gets interested in what is going on - all her reservations go out the window - so she had fun coloring, making paper airplanes, learning new "handjive" routines (not sure what they call it), singing along to the Bieber .... 

ISM girls getting ready to lead the crew in some pre-lunch pop songs. I came in earlier to see the whole room in a mad mash-up to Gangnam style.

SPEC's tries to get the kids nourished, a challenge to say the least in these communities where cheap carb and fat laden foods are the primary option. The ISM crew brings in a load of rice and fruit and such and the staff prep a midday meal for the kids. 

Our Place: Rockwell, Makati, Manila, Philippines

Figuring things out ....

I have done some figurin and now have all my pics from my camera and my phone accessible. I did not have my camera pics available up until now so some of these posts with camera pics will be chronologically confused. I am actually just going to put up a bunch of posts with pics and then will go back and add comments when time allows and synapses are firing.

Here are more pics from our weekend time on Maktan Island just across the causeway from Cebu City on the island of Cebu. I already posted about this weekend excursion but these are more pics of the nice time.