Category Archives for Philippines

21May2010

Farewell to Manila

Manila_by_night

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 […]

21May2010

The Museum of Doctor Rizal

jose+rizal

Manila is not a spiritual city. It’s one of those big, dirty, urban sprawls, expanding organically, growing without control, the beating heart of an archipelago, maybe, but a cancered one at that. 12 million? 15 million? Honestly, who’s counting? Manila long ago outgrew its natural ties to earth: the river and the Bay. Before its […]

16May2010

The Inflatable Waterpark

Ek biki inflatable waterpark, Santa Rosa, Philippines

This technicolour dream palace is indisputably special. Possibly a little “special needs” too. What is it? You may well ask. For this, my friend, is an inflatable waterpark. Occupying 5000 square metres of apple-green Astroturf in the middle of nowheresville, Luzon, EK Biki comes complete with dangling sharks, inflatable dragon slides, slightly forlorn clownfish and, […]

16May2010

Working Girl

Bright white explosion as a firework goes off in the night sky.

MJ’s been working bars since she was fifteen. Standard shifts. 6pm to 6am. She was an Avon Lady before that, but this pays better. She’s seventeen, now, she says, almost eighteen, and works in, or more often, outside of, a tourist bar in downtown Manila. Nothing slick. But nothing especially seedy. It’s sort of a […]

14May2010

Full-Contact Management

fish diving

We have Doc McGhee, the rock ‘n’ roll svengali who kept Motley Crue, Jon Bon Jovi and Kiss on the road, to thank for the term full-contact management. That’s punching people… Now, I’ve been considering training as a scuba instructor over the next year or so. It seems like a nice lifestyle, a good string […]

14May2010

Assertiveness Training?

tricycle philippines

In most of South-East Asia, haggling, in its various shapes and forms, is part of everyday life. And I’m really impressed by how Z has mastered this vital skill. If a little unnerved by the implication that he feels himself now the man of the family. When it comes to bargaining, Z has a number […]

13May2010

Full Fathom Five…

Imperial Japanese Navy ship Akutsishima

There is a sepulchral magic to a shipwreck. Viewed from underwater, with russet filigrees of sea ferns flourishing on the fractured edges of a shell hole in the side, lettuce corals unfurling from a rusting crane, the gossamer fins of lionfish undulating like silken flags outside a propshaft, a wreck is one of the most […]

09May2010

Learning to Dive

We are still in Coron. That’s Coron Town, the meandering if unbeautiful little port of Busuanga Island, not Coron, the island, across the way. As is the thing to do in the Calamians, we’ve been diving. There are many amazing things about scuba. There is the feeling of weightlessness — neutral buoyancy — whereby you […]

09May2010

Kirche Kuche Kinder

cakes

Every so often, while eavesdropping — or, perhaps, a more polite term is, err, “people-watching” — one comes across conversations that one, quite literally, couldn’t make up. Ever since we met Klaus in Marinduque, I’ve been interested in those mutually advantageous marriages that a certain type of gentleman procures in the Philippines, and elsewhere in […]

08May2010

Cargo Boats and Commandos

sunset sky philippines

I’m a great fan of authenticity in travel. Travelling, where possible, as the locals do, which, given the wealth divide in the Philippines, means either with the driver(s) in the chauffeur’s seat(s), and the maid(s) and/or nanny(s) looking after the nippers, or (on our budget) by a spectacular range of public transportation. Now, cargo boats […]