Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stocking up

There’s a monthly bazaar here put on by the American Women’s Club of the Philippines (AWCP).

It’s a large event held in the World Trade Center in the third or fourth week of every month.

I haven’t made it a habit to go every month. I’ve only gone a handful of times. I really love seeing everyone that goes. It’s a mixture of so many cultures under one roof. You see, even though the AWCP hosts the event, everyone and anyone is welcome to go, as long as they can pay the P100 ($2.25) entrance fee.

You’ll hear so many languages, and different accents. Today I didn’t pay much attention but I did hear French. I even talked to the French speakers a bit (in English…no French knowledge here).

There are plenty of things at the Bazaar to buy. There are the typical local products, things made of capiz, things made of wood, or coconut. There are the handmade crafts that you can personalize. There’s lots of jewelry. Lots of clothing, there’s a large area with tables and food booths set up. It’s quite a site, and is a monthly social gathering for many.

Today I went knowing that it was my last bazaar before we pack out next month. Actually, I forgot the bazaar was today until I was in the embassy after my workout and saw today’s date. Why does April 22 sound familiar, I thought. Oh yeah! The bazaar!

I had my driver drop me off at the bazaar before going to run an errand. Then I spent almost two hours looking at things, making purchases, and chatting with friends. I dropped quite a bit of money. But I’m not ashamed of it, and I know that between now and pack out I’ll think of things that I want to bring home from the Philippines, or something that I want to give someone.

Lucky for me there’s still Greenhills mall.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday in Pampanga

Yesterday John and I went to the Pampanga province to witness a Filipino tradition. The wiki has information on exactly what’s happening. But here’s what I saw.

Men carrying crosses:

Very large crowds flocking to witness the events:

Self-flagellation (the two guys kneeling with really red backs), and men hanging themselves from crosses:

So much of what I saw was really hard to watch. I don’t understand the rituals, and I find it illogical. I understand to some extent how they think this is acceptable, but their own religion doesn’t support it.

However, it’s a very big thing here. We saw so many tourists, Filipino mostly, and at the site in the last photo there were even tents set up with snacks, drinks, and ice for sale. You could get cross balloons from the balloon guy. It was interesting, and I’m happy to have experienced this part of Filipino culture once, but I feel no compunction to do it again.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My house

This is the third time I’ve started this post, because I walk away without saving. Note to self – Windows Live Writer does not automatically save on the settings I have set.

Anyway…

In keeping with the last two posts, I should say that the next thing about Manila that I’ll miss is “my” house.

It’s been a great house these last almost two years. My boys have grown so much here! We’ve enjoyed having a pool so much. It’s been a great thing for the boys, who enjoy swimming more than I do. On many occasions all four boys will go out and have a good time and they would stay all day if we let them.

We’ve potty trained two boys here! There’s such a relief when you’ve potty trained your children and to have that happen twice in this house means that I’ve connected to it as a place of big accomplishment, and relief (In the interest of honesty I’ll admit that having helpers in the house has been a big part of these events being “easily” successful).

I spent a lot of time holed-up in my bedroom during these two years, as that was my safe and peaceful place to go to, to escape my sometimes overwhelming depression.

I got my tattoo here! My sister and I both did that, and it was pretty cool that the artist came to my house.

That same bedroom is where I finally got my email saying I had a security clearance and could start working after a two year break in employment (which is what was causing the aforementioned depression).

We’ve had two Thanksgivings, two Christmases, (almost) two Easters, eight (almost ten) birthdays, one New Years, in this house. We love holidays in this family, and we’ve enjoyed using this house to celebrate.

There has been lots of relaxation, playing, learning, and growing in this house. It has been our home for almost two years and we love it. We will all miss it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I will miss…

Anyone who knows me here in Manila will be completely surprised when I list the second thing I’m going to miss in Manila.

I’m going to miss driving.

I usually hate driving here. And when I say hate, I mean…absolutely loathe. The driving here is so stressful.

However, there’s a freedom in driving here that doesn’t exist in the States. For instance, if someone is in your way, you just go around. No matter what the situation is. If you can fit around them, you can go around them.

Rules aren’t widely known, loosely enforced, and almost never followed.

I feel like my skills in driving, and parking have increased exponentially since I started driving here.

I don’t know what I’m going to do in the US when the driving is ordered, predictable, and restrained. Or what I’ll do about all the wide lanes and free large parking spots. Probably stress out less and enjoy it more, and save money on parking. I feel like it’s possible that John and I might fight over the keys for the first week or two.

We’re trying to sell our car here. It’s served us well and I’m hoping it will serve someone else in Manila well after we leave.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I’m going to miss…

I’m going to miss a lot about Manila. Sure, I’ve spent a lot of time here acting (and sometimes being) miserable. But there have been a lot of good times here.

I’m going to miss the people here.

I have a feeling this is going to be my number one answer whenever I leave somewhere. Relationships are the most important part of my life. Luckily I get to take the most important ones with me.

Possibly the hardest part of the Foreign Service life (for me at least) is making good friends and then leaving them.

For instance, two months ago, or less, an officer, her husband, and their daughter arrived at Post. We’ve spent a good amount of time with them and I’m so sad that we’re leaving in two months.

One of the benefits of social media is that I can stay connected with them. I’ll be able to watch their daughter grow up, even if I can’t see it in person.

One thing we wanted to do in The Philippines is make relationships with people who were outside of the Embassy community. We accomplished this, during our tour. We’ve met Americans, Filipinos, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Australians, Brits, Scots, and more. The Philippines is a place full of people from all over.

I’m really going to miss the people here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Heartbroken

I finished reading I am Malala yesterday.

I had a difficult time reading it. I would often take a break and read something easier and lighter.

There’s something utterly heartbreaking about reading a book written by a girl who was shot in the face by Taliban at the age of 14.

She was an amazing girl who did what she could to fight for girls’ rights to education. Her father was also a fighter, fighting for basic human rights in his country.

The stories she tells of the decline of conditions in her country are amazing. It made me feel so lucky. It gave me perspective.

When I was 14 I was sad because my parents didn’t have the money for the things I wanted. That was my biggest worry.

Now it seems so ridiculous. I wish I could meet Malala. I would tell her that she’s an amazing person. I would thank her for standing up for girls. I would listen to her speak, with all my attention fully on her powerful words (those who know me know my full attention is rarely applied).

What an amazing person. What a sad story. I feel so bad for the whole country having to go through so many devastating things.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pic-a-nic!!

I’ve been working on a section of the house a week, starting last week, in preparation for our move. I decided that this week I would do toys.

This morning I asked our amazing, wonderful, can’t-live-without-her, helper Lucy to take the kids out of the house so that I could do this arduous task without their interference.

She suggested to them that they eat their breakfast like a picnic. Coen got really excited and was all.

“We’re going to eat a pic-a-nic!!!”

It was super cute.

So now they are happy children who will have no idea that I’m going to be going through their toys and choosing what they have to throw away, sell, or get to keep.

I may never tell them.

Shhh….