I thought I would start off talking about Manila with some “stories” of what we have experienced so far.
The first very noticeable difference when we arrived in Manila, was the way we were treated. Stepping out of the airport was insane. It was so busy, and so hot, and so humid. We had to make our way through thousands of people to try to find a guy with Ron’s name on a card. This was a feat in itself. All of the luggage carts were taken, so we had seven bags PLUS carry-ons PLUS children to manuvure through all these people. STRESS!
Once we found the guy who was to take us to our apartment, we piled into his SUV. No seatbelts. As he flies through the parking lot honking at pedestrians, I frantically dig in the seats looking. Nothing. Now I hold on to the girls and pray. The drive was different. There are the same lane division lines that we have back home however, I don’t think the Philippine people were ever told what they were for. The lines don’t matter. Ever. The drivers all weave back and forth honking at the other vehicles to get out of their way. At any given time, you can reach out and touch the vehicle next to you. Weird.
It took us about half an hour to arrive at our apartment. Thankful to be alive, we watched as the doormen unloaded our bags and brought them upstairs with us to our room. Once inside, we glanced around. It is a very nice apartment. very modern. Karis saw a bug in the kitchen and had a little flip out. Ron came to kill it and after he informed me that it was a cockroach, I had a little flip out too… OH MAN!
The girl’s had slept the whole way to Manila from Japan, so they were wide awake while Ron and I were exhausted. Thankfully, they had a busy enough day that they fell asleep willingly. I spent time to check… and recheck… and recheck again… the beds for cockroaches. And then I checked again.
The next day, a Sunday, we set out to check out our area. Having not seen another cockroack, I felt good! We’re staying in Makati (the business district, and wealthy area) of Manila. Having not been here before like Ron, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but besides the heat, extreme humidity and the constant staring, it felt like Canada! We stopped for our first (of what would become many) round of starbucks refreshments, and wandered around the greenbelt malls. We had breakfast at a pancake house and it was… NORMAL! Who’d a thought! In fact, all of the restaurants are normal in the greenbelt malls. And we’re living right next to them! Horray! Some of them are; Pizza Hut, Tony Romas, Bubba Gumps… and a tonne of other fancy restaurants!
Now to the staring. It was extremely uncomfortable. We were (and still are) stared at constantly when we leave our apartment. Mostly Sydney and Karis are stared at. This left me very uneasy until the manager of our apartment explained that most people here wish that they were white. Funny… and we lay in the sun trying to get darker! She explained to us that they stare at the girls because they think they are beautiful… not for any other reason. This made me feel better about it… but still not overly comfortable with it.
Not only do they stare, but they treat us like gold here. Doors are opened for us everywhere we go, cabs are hailed for us, Umbrellas are held over our heads for us when it rains, groceries are carried for us, and anything that we could want, is found for us. Crazy.
The Greenbelt malls are attached by pedways. There is greenbelt 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 aswell as a mall called Glorietta, Landmark and the SM department store. These are all joined together. Greenbelt 4 and 5 seem to be filled with expensive stores while Landmark and SM are CHEAP! Love it! We’ve been buying all of our clothes there.
Anyway, we explored all of these on our first full day in Manila. We spent quite a bit of time in SM on this day and couldn’t get over the amount of people working there. It seems that in the clothing stores, there is someone in charge of every 2 racks. A soon as you enter their area, you get a , “Yes Ma’am!”… so wandering through a store you hear this constantly. I’m still trying to figure out what they are saying yes too….
Everyone is very helpful and very friendly. The one thing that I really was uncomfortable with, was the lack of security when it came to us walking into a mall. Let me explain…
Every time you go into a new section of the malls (ie: Greenbelt 2 to Greenbelt 3 for example) you go through a metal detector and security guards with guns and metal detecting wands. They check bags aswell. Except for us. While the Philippine people are thouroughly checked, we are waved through with a big smile and a “Welcome Ma’am, Sir!” What is THAT? While I’m NOT a terrorist, how do they know that? Because I have white skin? Hmmm… makes you think…
“YES MA’AM” Shannon