Friday, January 26

Manila... Manila

No more did the song "Manila" by the timeless Filipino Band Hotdogs touched me so profoundly than when i heard it play on my Ipod after my decadent Philippine trip. It hit me right in the Heart. The song obviously inspired by the millions of Filipinos working abroad. The Nurses and Domestic workers etc... A song that meant nothing more than just a catchy drinking song back in the day. Nowadays when i hear the song i feel instant nostalgia. It makes me wish i was still on Vacation amidst all my friends and the folks i grew up with. Suddenly i wished I'd never left... Listening to the song and in the brink of tears it occurred to me the trip was not only a Vacation to see old friends and family but also to fall in love all over again with the Philippines.

We have that certain love for our hometown. A love that is innate and indelible. One that you never forget no matter how long you've been gone. In my case, except for the one year i spent away for College, i lived 19 years in that small unpretentious and modest town. If you put it in perspective that is more than half my life. So, although i have become accustomed to the fairly comfortable life here in the United States of America, life in the Philippines isn't so unfamiliar. When i was there on vacation, there wasn't a whole lot of things, save for that Snake Hunter fellow who's been bitten so many times he's become immune to venom (he was bit not once but twice while i was there and lived to tell the story), that surprised me. People for the most part still live their lives pretty much in the same fashion they did when i was still there. Although my hometown has somewhat modernized in recent years, their lives have remained static. I think it's great. Perhaps it's meant to be that way. Unchanged...

Aside from all the decadence, revisiting old stomping grounds, bars, restaurants, seeing familiar faces, just being around town was intoxicating. Even coming face to face with people i don't necessarily know but whose face look glaringly familiar was really exciting. Perhaps just deviating from the lifestyle i now live made this vacation tremendously fun. I didn't put any sort of effort into meeting women but i felt i had a slight and unfair advantage though i was not trying to compete or prove anything. I'm not in any way suggesting that women there are Easy but being a Balikbayan sure did elevate my status from what i could tell, ya know what i mean? For instance, when i ran out of Pesos my friend Jhong along with some friends was nice enough to drive me to the city so i could exchange some Dollars to local currency (Of course being that he is my friend he would reap the benefits. Strip club anyone?). On the way to the city he decided to contact the ladies we met the night before (You know the girls we met at the club lol). Because i dressed so nondescript during my stay there i didn't really stick out like a sore thumb (the extravagant spending may have given it away though). This also meant the girls were not overly impressed even though we sat at the pricey front row seats (Sitting there required a minimum of P2000.00 consumable. Beer+Food, a lot of them... Oh, P2000.00 is roughly $40.00 if you can believe it. We ended up consuming almost P3500.00 ($65.00?) and that's with the Ladies). Anyway, we picked up the girls at their Apartment and they seemed very happy to see us, particularly the cute giggly one with the Braces (the other one was not so cute...). I sort of remained quiet the entire way to 'Normas' (Currency Exchange place) because i was tired from the night before. That's me, mute when tired. Anyway, because i was quiet the girls probably thought i was some kind of a snob. However, after i stepped out of Normas and into the car the girls presumably were told i was a Balikbayan because one of the girls practically offered me sex (sadly not the cute one. Fuck... No pun intended). The question really caught me by surprise but not completely and not without a big smile on my face. So the Big question is did i take her up on her carnal offer?... Okay, you're thinking she's a stripper-- so Who Cares!! Her offer surely was a financial transaction making it somewhat illegitimate, right? Well, it makes for a good story so Pisss Off!!!

Promiscuity aside, i think the women in the Philippines are amazing. They are traditional but yet sophisticated. Beautiful, warm, sincere and hospitable. In truth i used to think that marrying a local girl like most of my friends did was boring. I'm not quite sure why i thought that. Perhaps because i was US bound. Now that i am older and perhaps wiser i can finally see the good in it... Okay most of the women i met there were strippers so i can't really say i was serious about meeting a nice girl. And whenever i met a nice girl (a non-stripper) i had a heck of a time trying to sound smart in our Native Language (incidentally my second language) because I am not very good at it. Whenever i wanted to say something clever there was that momentary pause while i attempted to translate my thoughts into Tagalog (Not to mention I'm no Don Juan to begin with). Not good when you're trying to flirt. The God damn language is as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree. However, as hard as it may seem to me, the language when spoken well is just absolute romance. I only wish i was as good as them...


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