A few of you have been asking me where I am these days, so I'm going to keep you posted with a blog. I'll start with the first Philippines trip of 2010, and I'll be updating regularly. Life on the road is usually pretty boring - 12 hours of work plus dinner - so don't worry...you won't be reading an hourly journal.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Brighter Side of Hazy Hot and Humid

Hot humid days in a crowded and rushed city suck. Especially when I am in a hurry and under pressure. But on the weekend, when work is done and the city is just a residential area, it's a whole different experience.

Today, I took a walk...I walked very slowly, and Makati -- Manila's central business district -- became a neighborhood.

I strolled to a local outdoor food market (no pictures, sorry)...a tropical version of a US city's farmer's market. Overflowing with 2-foot-long jackfruits, tiny calamansis, sweet bananas, and another dozen fruits that I couldn't name. Breads and jams, lotions and potions (yes, really), and about 100 different cooked food stands, mostly local food, but including chinese, french, and more. I opted for the Cebu Lechon, which is slow-roasted whole pig, chopped and nicely sauced. Mmm...Reminds me of North Carolina barbeque, without the smoke. A much cleaner, pure fresh pork taste.

I wandered across the street to a Starbucks. (I swear, there's one on every block) and indulged my need for the home taste of coffee. Then wandered some more into the midtown commercial area. I found myself at Ayala Tower One, a landmark city building. I wondered into the covered plaza area, a very modern construction, where I saw a crowd of people running around furiously. On further investigation, in was a firemen's training class in hose techniques. You can't make this stuff up.

I thought the formality of it all was overkill. After all, hoses are just hoses, right? Here's one of the things I learned today: Before hoses are rolled up, they are folded to half their length, so that the ends are next to each other. When there's a fire, *2* firefighters each pull one end of the hose, and it unrolls in 1/2 the time. Seconds count. There were other subtleties to the process, but I won't try to expand on them here. I'll just be grateful for people who think of this stuff.

Here's a view from the plaza when you turn around and look in the other direction. A lot of attention was paid in planning out this city area.

Then around the corner to this little gem...

Looks like a little country house, yes? It's actually a library. But the interesting thing is that the building used to be the Manila Airport Control Tower. All of Makati -- the business district I've been describing today -- used to be the airport.

And look at the blossoms on this tree in the middle of the city...

...and the almost unnoticeable lamps hanging from the branch in the center of this one...

How often is the unique, interesting, and beautiful right in the middle of the common and mundane in front of us?

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