Pampered in Manila

Ever since I arrived last Sunday, I’ve been well-fed and pampered to death by my family. Ah, twas a sweet homecoming!

For example, early Monday morning, we took a trip to the Quezon City Sports Club so that I can finally taste a sweet tocino after a yearlong hiatus. To the non-Pinoys, tocino is a traditional Filipino breakfast consisting of preserved sweet pork served with garlic rice, a sunny side up egg and shredded sweet-sour papaya called atchara (photos to come later). To add on to this wholesome meal is a cup of refillable, authentic, hot Filipino cocoa, all thick and yummy!

Afterwards, my aunt cooked us a nice adobo lunch, which is chicken marinated with garlic, soy sauce, vinegar and spices and cooked with large cubed potatoes which was heavenly. Ooooh, it feels great to be home!

As for dinner, my brothers took me out for dinner. My barat brother took us to a hole-in-a-wall Thai restaurant near Rockwell called SOMS. The place served heavily flavored peanut Phad Thai which reminded me of my light lunch meal in Laos, and heavenly red curry, which was really delish! We had a nice nai cha (milk tea) to share as well, and for P450+ for 3 people, the meal’s quite a steal! 🙂

My more generous little brother then dragged our ass at the Matt Brenner Chocolate house where we each had a rich cup of calorie-filled and heart-attack inducing cocoa!

At P225+, my Sukao order was pretty special. They give you chocolate pieces and a cup of warm milk which you can steam atop a small pan, melting it. The result? Chocolate with just the right consistency… lots and lots of chocolate! Though expensive, it was worth the experience and definitely a great date place.

My brothers each had a cup of Venetian cocoa served in a “huggable” mug. They almost choked with the chocolate-y goodness, and must’ve downed around 2 cups of iced water each to tame the flavor. But we had a great time, so it’s all good!

Am sorry but I didn’t bring my camera jack so I can’t upload photos. But I’ll do that when I get home next Tuesday, so do bookmark this link so that you have a good idea on what the hell am talking about when it comes with food!

As of yesterday, I went grocery shopping and stocked up for a rainy day, or shopped for things not found anywhere in Taipei. This includes small packs of Star Margarine (spread over bread and lightly sprinkled with sugar), Cheez-It (commonly spread over crackers, also good with french fries), savory hot peanut bits, and other goodies only found in the Philippines.

Afterwards, we attended a talk on the macroeconomic status of the Philippines at the Sofitel Plaza. My mom was more into the Feng Shui talk that came afterwards, but I was interested on how the Philippines were faring.

To tell you the truth, I was very concerned on how the Philippines can maintain its competitive especially with the presence of India, China and the growing Vietnam.

Despite its economic headstart in the 1980s, the Philippines has lagged far behind its Southeast Asian neighbors since then given its the widespread graft and corruption, which has led to a significant disparity between the poor and rich. The poor gets poorer while the rich only get wealthier. The fact that the former Speaker of the House, Joe De Venecia, was ousted the same evening as I arrived did nothing to console my fears that the Philippines is on a downward spiral to poverty and hardship. The increasing powers of the first family despite their corrupt practices (which is common knowledge btw) concerns me… at this rate, who can stop them?

Anyway, I shared my concerns to the speaker of the day, and he did help in quelling my fears somewhat.

You mentioned in your talk that the Philippines growth is highly dependent on the domestic market. Our growth comes in the growing Filipino population who increases its consumption and keeps our economy going,” I started. “However, my concern is that you’ve also mentioned that despite the population has been increasing, the per capita income has been decreasing. If that’s the case, we have more poorer people who can’t really contribute to the economy aside from consumption. If so, how can the Philippines compete in the global market and keep up with its more successful neighbors?”

Coming from Taiwan where 80% of computers globally are manufactured by Taiwanese companies, it’s troubling that the only things Filipinos can offer are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who serve as domestic helpers, construction workers, waiters/waitresses, caretakers and more menial responsibilities.

Don’t underestimate the significance of these OFWs,”” the speaker kindly reminded me. “There are more and more professionals including nurses and teachers who are being sent abroad. They are a rich source of funds coming in and helping out our local economy. You say that the Taiwanese ship computers, but the Filipino themselves are our products. They are the Philippine version of computers…”

The speaker also comforted me by saying that people always look at the bad side, but not the good. “The Philippines is the fourth largest ship builder in the world, and we’re a leading supplier of coconut oil which is now becoming an alternative method of energy. In addition, we’re the text capital of the world with 1 billion SMS text messages sent a day.”

Deep inside, I thought that if Filipinos can only work as hard as they send messages, the Philippines won’t be in such lousy state as it is now…

During our discussion, we talked about possible solutions including 1) infrastructure investment, and 2) sustained focus on education. We also talked about ways on quelling corruption but it seems that it’s already so entrenched in the Philippine society that it’s already hard to get rid of.

I’ll save you all the other boring details, but for some part, I felt a bit better. But if someone asked me to come back and work in Manila, I still hesitate. My friend Joe said it right when he mentioned that despite our willingness to go back, there are no good jobs for us here that can compensate us on our worth.

Lastly, in the evening, I met up the guy my mom has been trying to pair me up with. It was an interesting experience, and I left the dinner being impressed with this guy, albeit there aren’t much sparks between the two of us. Hahaha, but at least, my mom’s trying, so kudos to her! At the very least, it’s another good friend if ever, and her choices has been getting more and more interesting to say the least.

As for today, went off to do some shopping at Megamall, which was a bit of a disappointment. The fashion in Manila features loose clothing that remind me of maternity wear, and make you look dumpy (IMHO). In the end, I bought a pair of shorts and a shirt… not very productive considering that we were going around for the entire afternoon.

However, all is not lost as I helped my dashing shoti pick out a nice looking suit set from Merger. Ang gwapo gwapo talaga ng kapatid ko! 🙂

To end, my family and I went to Rockwell to watch Cloverfield. Good movie, if you can stand not puking given the vertigo. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who gets dizzy easily.

Filmed as if an amateur is really making the video, Cloverfield is indeed an interesting concept that reminds me of the Blair Witch Project. Story-wise however, there’s not too much content save for a lot of people running away from an unidentified monster, screaming and trying to save their lives in a confused Manhattan area.

So see it if you want, but at one point of the movie, I wished that we’ve chosen 27 Dresses instead. Oh well, at least, we now know what this film is all about right?

Anyway, it’s getting late so gotta sleep. Take care you all and happy Chinese new year of the rat!!!

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3 thoughts on “Pampered in Manila

  1. I have heard it argued that the Philippines needs Taiwanese-style land reform (as was done in the 1950’s in Taiwan). Empower the poor and create a nascent entrepreneurial middle class. That is the say, lots of small land owners can use their land as capital like the Taiwanese did.

    However, the landed elites control RP, don’t they?

  2. Unfortunately, the rich control most of the land and capital in the Philippines. Hence, even if the poor wishes to improve their status, they find it very difficult to do so.

    Case in point, to find a good job that pays money, you have to graduate from a good university. But how can you attain a good education if your hands are in need to work just for your family to survive? But because of your lack of credentials, you are forced to perform menial jobs that pay like sh*t to support your family and relatives. T’is a hard cycle to break, and which is why the Philippines is so poor.

    Empower the poor? Easy to say, hard to do… 🙁

  3. It’s Max Brenner 🙂 I love that place.

    I wouldn’t say that there aren’t any good jobs in the Philippines that can compensate well. After all, I found one. (then again, I was an IT major and came from a good university I guess…)

    And Cloverfield was awesome! I was with two girls who wanted to watch 27 Dresses but I was able to convince them to watch Cloverfield instead hehehe…

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