Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Life in the Philippines 3: I miss vegetables

After two weeks of looking for non-meat food...

Me: Does anyone eat fiber in this country?
Grandma: Oh, we eat lots of fiber! *produces bottle of Metamucil*

In other news, orange-flavored psyllium husk tastes terrible.

My grandmother overheard my plaintive requests for green stuff, so we trundled off to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner. It was an admirable shot, though I think the deep-fried spinach more than counteracted its own healthiness. Mom's promised that the first restaurant we hit at home will be Sweet Tomatoes, an all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar. And to think she used to have to plea bargain me into eating greens.

I learned Tai Chi for the first time. I now have a shaky grasp of the Short Form (Yang 24-step) and want more. It's not just because my grandfather (at the end of the post) did it. I like it. It feels... right. It fits.

Pue-ee (my mother's 8th sister Joyce), her husband, and I went to the Gawad Kalinga (GK) headquarters and met Tony Meloto (GK's founder) and his daughter and son-in-law, and a zillion other people. The place just exudes passion and love, and so do the people. I'm still in awe and processing my copious interview notes into an article (coming soon), but I will say that if you want to see real hope, go talk to any GK person and you'll come away glowing. In the afternoon Mom and I went to Buayang Bato, the GK town we'd visited previously, and did some painting. I want to go back. I need to learn Tagalog.

There are too many pointy fences and security checkpoints here for my taste; feels like a high-security prison. Not that the pointy fences are unjustified. People get robbed and shot and kidnapped and killed here, and all four have happened to our family before. We went to see the Filipino Heroes memorial where my grand-uncle Quintin Yuyitung is listed. He and his brother (who is still living) were kidnapped and jailed for running the Chinese Commercial News(paper) during the Marcos administration. Due to outrage from the international press, they were eventually freed and deported. They were luckier than my great-grandfather, the father of my mother's mother; he was shot for refusing to print Japanese propaganda in the same paper. There's a national memorial to him also, but it's at the fort where he was imprisoned instead. My family has... a history in journalism. I think I'm the first generation that hasn't been jailed for it yet.

On a lighter note, street signs here include the following.

Sidewalks are for Pedestrians
Jam Jam Restaurant (Me: "Oh, they sell preserves!" Mom: "No, that's the guy's name.")Immaculate Conception Academy - Sponsored by Hapee Toothpaste
It is Forbidden to Urinate on this Wall

Then there was the laundry hanging from fences. This wouldn't be so unusual if the fences hadn't been the ornamental ones surrounding the national monuments at the middle of downtown intersections. I wonder if the squatters there are ever embarrassed that their boxers are waving around in front of several thousand people. A few small children were running around stark naked on the sidewalk as their laundry dried, so I guess they weren't too concerned.

We fly back in the morning. I've got a lot of catching up to do.

2 comments:

johngibson3611 said...
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Anonymous said...

There's this stall that sells fishballs, squidballs and other (round) fried stuff called "King of Balls"...wahahaha! There are other stores out there that have silly but "creative" names as well.
Manila may not be the prettiest place but I miss it...*sniff* (especially the cheap stuff :P) Chua...is there any chance that we might be related? (yeah right :p) Interesting blog by the way.