September 24, 2008

I am in the Philippines

I am probably the world's worst blogger with the best adventures to talk about. My job has me pretty beat so I'm not really good about updating this blog. Though it causes me a large amount of anxiety to talk about my travels out of order (after all, I still haven't finished my blog on Timbuktu, or started the one on the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), I will have to give you some information on the country I am in now.

I am in the Philippines, and came here via Detroit and Tokyo. Having just come back from a 25-hour flight from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (or CNMI in short-form) via Detroit, Hawaii and Guam, I was told by the office to turn right back around the attend an important meeting in Manila, Philippines. I'm all for frequent flying miles, but having to sit on another 20-some hours of airplane rides is plain ridiculous. And I hate turbulence.

Manila is pretty cool: it's a city full of little streets, loud beeping cars, odd-looking metal buses, bike-taxis, SUV, sea and palms lining the boulevards, dirty water trailing along the side walks, and Japanese, Italian, French, and Chinese restaurants everywhere. People crowd the parking lots and small parks that offer a little bit of space to play badmington on weekends. It's a cross between the busy-ness of Japan, and the grittiness of Bamako. A sort of dirty blade runner.

I am attending meeting attended by a number of countries from Asia and the Pacific, such as Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, but also small islands like Tuvalu, Nauru and a bunch of others you've never heard about (no offense, but my French school never taught me about the difference between American Samoa and Samoa).

Meeting organizers gave us gifts of barong tagalog (pronounced BAH-rong tah-GAH-lawg), a traditional, embroidered, transparent outer shirt. It has collars, mid-length sleeves and mid-thigh horizontal hemline with side slits. It is made from pina (pineapple fibers), jusi (raw silk) or ramie (grass fibers). Very awesome. I can't wait to wear it, no matter that it's unsuited for the dark suits and conservative suits of Washington D.C.

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