Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A different side...

While the rest of the group was exploring the charms and cuisine of the provinces, I had the opportunity to experience quite a different side of Manila. Due to a bit of digestive difficulty (something most of us have had the pleasure of experiencing at one point or another) I decided that it was best not to travel, and instead I was treated to a bit of Manilan luxury in a place called Eastwood City.
This place is an example of what upscale city living in Manila is like. High-rise luxury condos are clustered together around a plaza of shops, restaurants and night clubs. The entire complex is gated and guarded – perfectly safe and perfectly isolated. It was, for a brief possible to forget that I was indeed still in Manila. But this city is proving itself to be a place of contrast – a place where great abundance and great need are juxtaposed within the dense urban fabric.

Eastwood City towers and condo unit.

In spite of this, I have to admit that the rest was much appreciated. The group returned from their holiday just in time for all of us to partake in the Independence Day celebrations here in the Philippines. June 12th is their national holiday, the day which, in 1898, marked the end of the Spanish rule here.
The wee hours of the holiday found us in a place called the Hobbit House, a local bar that honors its namesake by employing, er, “little people” as waiters and waitresses. The place is also frequented by foreigners - on this night it seemed as if there were more North Americans there than locals. Highlights of the night included some great Filipino music, and a special guest number by our own Matt Wiviott. We will definitely be returning to this place again!
The rest of the holiday was spent resting at the condo. There were celebrations planned down by Manila Bay, but heavy rains in the late afternoon deterred us from venturing out. Rainy season is descending upon us – it rains almost every day now, frustrating our work plans, but teaching us to be patient and, most importantly, to “go with the flow.”

Music at the Hobbit House

Cool cat Matt takes the stage

I have to admit "Matt takes the stage" caught my eye, but so too did your evocative description of the "other" Manila. I'm glad you are feeling better.
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