Short Stroll in Manila

First Night

Speaking of Karaoke boxes, Asia never fails to surprise in its adoration over karaoke. Yesterday, I returned from my week-long travels through the island of Palawan in the country of Phillipines with my usual travel-mate and fellow common-roomer, Aaron Bishop.

Situated in every city, town, and village, it's a monstrous wonder to discover locals residing in nowheres-ville belt our more recent popular hits ranging from Phil Collins, Alainis Morrissette, to the cranberries. However, my recent revelation -- or perhaps founding to my lack of awareness -- on the fact that Philipinos are great dancers and singers.

One interpretations I received was that out in the isles, there's little else to do other than the arts and sports -- which I somewhat buy -- but is not much more different than other countries in that other countries too have the country-side to farm and develop talent. Perhaps it is the value which this friendly nation places over glamour which drives the arts and dance? I don't know... however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a new face in Asia yet overshadowed by the dark side of the city untold.

Apologies to begin with the dark side, but Manila city, IMHO, was a complete shithole -- pardon my french -- of a place where chaos and friendliness co-existed. People were -- wherever you went -- were kind, but the stench and filth were totally out of control. I wonder sometimes whether my values have evolved so much to skew my views, but if I am to be propositioned to never transit through this city as it is, this would add a level of comfort; however, I'm glad I did it once.

On a positive note, the distant isles of the Philipines were most fabulously majestic.

The water on the shores were almost transparent blue hovered over by the tropical sun with herbivorous green spreading for miles and miles...

we cut through the sea on a small engine boat heading north along the coastline under a 30+ degree sun by day and glowing moonlight shining down on the sea by night... attracting cuttlefish fishermen burning bonfires to attract the school of neon-lit cuttlefishes swimming asymmetrical curves in some random order.

The highlight, however, arrived when diving the sunken Japanese ships during the Second World War. The serenity would make one question there was a war here fifty years ago? On surface, the sight appears to have remained unchanged for the last 100 years and more, but despite the time slip into the wrecks now home to myriads of corals and fishes, a different voice reaches out to you upon noticing the holes carved out by the US Air Raids when sinking these ships never to set sail again.

Many new discoveries to weave a few loose strands of past knowledge with the present and perhaps with the future.

Good to disembark from my self-perpetuated crazy work life in Tokyo for a change, but good fun either way... Hope that all of your are still sailing...

Palawan, Philippines
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