Farewell to Manila
There is such a thing, when playing hide and seek, as being too clever for one’s own good. In which category I would have to place depositing oneself in the deep end of a swimming pool by night, breathing through a snorkel, commando style.
Yep. My son has definitely watched Dr. No one too many times.
And, it appears, Jaws too.
As he put it, “I’m not sure I’m quite equipped for midnight swims. You see, when you’re underwater, breathing with a snorkel, and it’s dark, you don’t have many senses left to remind you there’s no sharks about.”
We spent a lovely couple of days, our farewell to Manila, with Agnes and Billy, in their house in Quezon City, Manila. The hide-and-seekers were grandchildren of a friend of theirs, Carlo, who plays piano in Siem Reap.
And it was, as ever, lovely to see how children put linguistic differences aside to simply play.
And scold, of course.
Because you don’t get much more disapproving than a nine-year-old girl when a nine-year-old boy has immersed himself in a darkened swimming pool, simultaneously breaking the unwritten rules of the game and doing something terribly, terribly dangerous.
But it’s truly lovely watching three Tagalog-speaking kids who have known each other since year dot make the linguistic effort to include the English-speaking incomer. And really wonderful to see (and hear!) all four of them scampering together.
Agnes is a sculptor. Or, rather, she’s an artist who works in three dimensions (she tends to cast, not sculpt). Billy was in a band and now makes rituals. They inhabit a sprawling green compound, studded with sculptures, prayer flags and Asian art, in a part of Manila so stunningly quiet you can hear the frogs and geckos at night.
We’ve done very little. Swum a little. Worked with clay. Thanks to Agnes, Z now understands the beginnings of working with clay – kneading, dampening, firing – has made his own piece and has watched a master at work transforming plaster to a marbled sheen.
We’ve talked, we’ve read, we’ve eaten natural, healthy food. And we’ve seen tranquility, something hard to attain in any city, and super-hard in Manila. They’ll be moving soon, to a plot on the beach, or in the mountains, to build traditionally and eco-friendlily, live simply, maybe run a retreat.
Whatever it is, it will be another amazing space. And there’s plenty of bases to build that on in the Philippines.
Thanks to Vanessa David from Makati, Philippines, for creating the featured image and sharing it via via Wikimedia Commons