Goodbye Manila…

by alex

[*note: I have a bit of a backlog of stuff I want to write about from the past bit, but that will have to wait for the weeks ahead.  This weeks been way too busy to get any writing done!]

It’s been four and a bit months now and it’s time to go back to Toronto…

I’m ready to head back, there’s a lot of work to be done to get this exhibition together in time for Kultura 2010.  I was looking through my collection of photos and vids the other day and damn, there’s a ton of stuff to go through, select, and edit.  And as always, my mind shifts once it knows it’s time to move on.

The rains have started here and that has me reflecting on the trip.  Basically my Philippines 2010 was like two different travels.  One done for the sake of the project, and one I did for myself, for my own education, and that will come together more completely in future projects.  It’s been pretty amazing.

I think that my Philippines is probably different from the one most other balikbayans see.  As Vince would tell you, I’m more comfortable outside the tourist and rich people areas—but I did make an effort to spend time there this time around.  Rich Manila is different from other rich areas I’ve visited in Asia, it’s much smaller and more exclusive (even compared to a similar country like Indonesia where I lived for 15 months).  The places are shiny, cost ridiculously more than the average city worker can afford, more modern and more Western than most places in the West, and everyone speaks English.  It’s a place where people seem to know each other or they’re foreigners.  It reminded me too often that the Phils has a bit of a problem with class.  And yes, sometimes I did enjoy myself—but it sucks that places that I would normally enjoy have to give me a case of anger in Manila.


photo by v.galvez


Maybe that’s why the second part of my trip had me dropped in the midst of the vast majority of the country, landless farmers (75% of the population).  It was as if I had to cleanse myself psychologically.

My trip ends successfully (though I do think I spent too much money), but on a sad note.  Yesterday some of my fam treated me to dinner for my despedida (usually I take them out before I leave, this time they wanted to take me).  It was a nice hotel restaurant and my usually careful tita [aunt] got careless.  During dinner she had her purse stolen (it was on her chair and she didn’t notice a group of young women come in and lift it].  She lost her ID, and basically her savings (P20,000).  She’s a street vendor and keeps all her money on her as she doesn’t have a bank account and the small room the family rents has no security.  Today she got a call from a KFC down the road from the restaurant and was told they found her ID in the washroom during clean up last night (at least that’s good news).


The family is hopeful that good karma will replace what was lost, the ever hopeful Filipino attitude, it’s what keeps the people from just going crazy I guess.

I leave the Philippines soon.  And so my mind will have to adjust again to a different world.  I usually get more culture shocked coming back to Toronto than I do coming here.  Good thing I’ll be busy the moment I arrive.


The maple leaf on a tricycle...


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Thanks to everyone for following the blog, I hope you’ll come back to it still as there’s more to be shared.

And don’t forget to come check out our exhibition!!!

Project Balikbayan @ Kultura 2010, 24 July 2010
The exhibition will run for the next 2 weeks at Kapisanan.

Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture

167 augusta ave, Toronto, ON, Canada
M5T 2L4

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Three photos: ©2010 alex felipe  / All Rights Reserved.

Please contact the photographer with use inquiries.

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