Manila City of Extremes


In Manila the Galleon Trade crew stayed in the district of Malate, generously hosted by Carlos Celdran, Romeo Candido, and JuanCaguicla at the North Syquia Apartments. Almost everyday at least one of our crew would need to make a trip to Robinson's Mall (I went everyday for the first 6 days I was there, and then a number of times more throughout the month). As malls are known to be, it was convenient for getting materials, books, money changed, or ... booty panties.

yes, these are mine ;)

The mall was overwhelming -- always bustling with thousands of people on all 4 floors. I was amazed by how many people were there everyday shopping, shopping, shopping and eating at one of the many high end to fast food joints (also all packed). I kept thinking -- in a city known for a high level of poverty, how can SO many people afford to shop so much. I've put this question out to Carlos Celdran and am waiting for his insight on this. (Carlos was just named one of "the most entrepreneurial people in Manila"!!) I highly recommend checking out Carlos's blog to learn more about the politics and culture of Manila: Also, if you're in Manila -- definitely take at least one of Carlos's tours!!! They're performance art meets the history of Manila.

And then there were the "Planned Living" booths ... just like the ones I'd seen in Jogja the previous year. Being white, I was always highly solicited (at least I believe this must be the reason since it surely wasn't the way I was dressed, which was often in my paint/work clothes, or looked, which was pretty consistently disheveled). It was awesome and surreal just how many of these booths there were throughout the mall and in every other mall I went to.

Welcome to the new look of Manila

And then literally several blocks away, you could see children swimming in the trash in the bay. The kids were obviously having fun, however how safe could this be?

At Trion Towers, one also gets to experience the fusion of earth, water, and sky ....

Not quite the same without all that sludge and garbage (likely produced by the folks "letting their souls flow and grow" ... or the GT crew -- we had NO idea where our garbage went since there didn't seem to be anywhere designated for trash and we didn't see any garbage trucks)

I will say, this booth had the absolute BEST display:

No idea what this is about, but it's hilarious

However, this is what a large percentage of Manila really looks like:

And this is also what a large percentage of Manila looks like (this is Malate), and this is the Manila I love:

I was also surprised by how so many of the new developments aspire to replicate other areas of the world rather than embracing Manila's own identity, which is so rich and beautiful.

And then there's Smokey Mountain in Tondo Manila. Smokey Mountain started in 1954, when Manila's then Department of Public Service began to dump garbage within the fishing village Barrio Magdaragat. The garbage began to mount and by the Marcos administration the garbage was several stories high and came from all corners of Metro Manila. Today it's home to thousands of people who have begun to turn their toxic home into a project of change, ingenuity, and resourcefulness.

Our friend Romeo Candido just finished an amazing short documentary on the project, which I highly recommend!! It can be seen on You Tube at:

Smokey Mountain

Romeo has become one of my favorite directors. His film Pamana, Ang (the Inheritance) is beautiful, creepy, and so perfectly done on every level!

Okay, time to sign off for now.