Monday, August 13, 2012

About Manila

The topic of the FS BRU (hosted at Jill’s blog) is: your current Post, the good and bad.

I’ve been here a couple days short of three weeks, so in my limited experience I’ll tell  you what I think.

The Bad

The People: Are there any people groups that doesn’t annoy you somehow? I haven’t found one yet. A few times we’ve had people say they’ll be here and don’t show up at all. One time a babysitter came to our house half way through the movie we were at (thanks to our sponsor’s daughter that saved the day). A few times we’ve been pleasantly surprised by people being on time. The people are unashamed. They’ll come to the door if they need work. I’ve put my helpers in charge of answering the door bell. I may have found a gardener that way though!

The Traffic: Oh the traffic. It’s bad. Think of the worst traffic jam you’ve been in, then multiply it by five or ten times the amount of cars. Then slow it down until you’re moving at about a mile an hour. That’s traffic here. People tell you it’s bad, and you try to prepare yourself, but it’s just so bad. There’s no preparation for it. It’s hard for people who get car sick easily. It’ll be so nice to have a car where I can sit in the front seat instead of the backseat of a taxi.

The TV: This is petty, and I know it. But when we had a bunch of networks from the US in Costa Rica it helped us stay connected to our home country. We don’t have any of that here. It makes me sad. We’ll find a way to keep up with what’s important (I guess this could actually be a benefit), but it’s just something we like to do with our evenings, and it’s been made a bit harder (and more expensive).

The Shopping: I know now, why people send their helpers shopping. The shopping here is crazy – why anyone would want to go out and do it, I don’t know. The stores are chock full of people. Even if we knew what we were doing we’d still have to spend two to three hours with the shopping. The lines are long, the stores are huge (hello variety), and the aforementioned traffic all cause your short trip to turn into a long one.

The Weather: The weather has been a bit of a pain in the a$$. Granted, we got here in the rainy season. Still, we haven’t had a typhoon yet, and there’s already been crazy weather. There was a typhoon near Taiwan that was causing it, but it’s a reminder that we’re on an island near lots and lots of water. The Embassy is literally on the bay and the wind can cause flooding in that area and make the roads dangerous or fully impassable. I’m sure I’ll complain about the weather plenty, I don’t think I need to go on about it. Just know…it sucks.

The Good

The People: The Filipinos can be so sweet! They can also be very helpful. The people that we’ve met from the Embassy community have also been very nice. Remember the neighbor who came with her kids and the cookies? She’s now a friend and is one of the emergency contacts at school. Everyone we’ve met from the community has been so nice and very helpful. We’ve even done dinner out and movie out with another couple who are young and have a son a few months older than Coen. The friendships of these people have helped make the last (almost) three weeks much more bearable. Oh – and taxi drivers tell me if they don’t know where I want to go! This is such a relief after spending way to much time in China trying to find our hotel because the people would just point us in a direction wanting to not embarrass themselves for not knowing.

The Food: This is something we’ll get to explore much more after we get our car, but what we’ve done has been fun. The selection of restaurants in Manila is staggering. We’ve only seen a small section of Manila too. I imagine it’s much greater than we know. We’ve had good Thai (and ok Thai), interesting Hungarian, and McDonald’s (which we had delivered to the house – can it get any more fattening than that?!).  Our live-in has made Lumpia (think Filipino egg rolls), bugogi, and today she made a soup with a plant in my yard and egg whites. It was ok. It’ll be really good on days when I just want a bland soup.

The Housing: Refer to here for a brief description of my house. I have a pool! Enough said. Disclaimer: not everyone has a house, some families are in apartment buildings. Not every house has a pool. Still, the housing here is pretty nice. Right on par (maybe a tad bit better (pools!)) with Costa Rica.

The School: I want to live there! The school is so nice. The campus is extremely pleasant to be on. It’s very green and has a big playground that I can bring the kids to. The library is enormous (think: two or three stories) with books for babies even, and parents can check out up to 10 books at a time, and can go when ever they want! Get hungry when you’re spending time at the school, just wandering and enjoying the view? Go on over to the middle school/high school cafeteria where you can have your choice of a few different types of Asian food, some vegan choices, and of course a dessert spot too. My middle school and high school cafeterias weren’t that awesome. Malachi’s teacher is so nice, and everyone on staff/faculty that I’ve met has been nice, professional, accommodating to our situation (Malachi’s Epilepsy, our arrival the week before school starts and not being able to get everything done on time, etc.). I could go on, and on, and on about the school, so I’ll stop myself. 

The Help: The help in Manila is world renowned. When we got our assignment in March ‘11, a girlfriend of mine asked if I would send her my nanny’s sister. There’s no shortage of helpers here. We hired the second person we interviewed to live-in with us, and the third, to be our part-time helper. Both of them take our requests and completes them. Neither of them needs directions. They work well independently and together (it seems), and they just do what needs done. My house is clean (except Sunday, the day we’re on our own), and my sheets, and clothes, towels, etc…they’re all clean! All the time. It’s cheap too! I’m not putting numbers online, but lets just say, it’s cheap!

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