Friday, November 30, 2007

Two days in the Philippines

First, we had a typhoon which was expected to hit Manila on Wednesday, 28 November 2007. Signal one for Wednesday: all schools closed. Weather on Wednesday: bright sunshine.

Second, no more signal for Thursday. Typhoon out of range. Weather on Thursday: unstoppable rain.

The storm was political! On Thursday morning, a couple of officers
the usual suspects already convicted for a coup attempt three years agojust marched out of court (sic!) and stormed a five-star hotel (and wedding party), demanding for the President to resign. A couple of hours and a bit of machine-gun fire later, business as usual. The coup attempt was over, the Peninsula will require 'beautification', armoured vehicles had stormed the lobby.

Then (same Thursday at 19:50 PM) a caring message sent out by my employer: 'Curfew imposed for Metro Manila from midnight to 5AM (but with exeptions).' ... and one more at 20:47 PM: 'If traveling in Metro Manila (...) ensure you have personal/official/vehicle ID and under no circumstances carry firearms'.

What a start into a long weekend.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Colorful traffic

This street scene looks colorful, indeed. Actually the story is behind—or comes after—this picture. A giant traffic jam.

Photo from Guadalupe Viejo, Makati, November 2007.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Driving to work: What a young country!

What will happen if the Filipino population continues to double every 29 years?

November 2007 photo taken on my way to work, Guadalupe Viejo (sic!), Makati.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tropical Christmas trees

Photo from Makati, November 2007.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

15th President of the Philippines Ms Kris Aquino?

Will Kris Aquino, the 29th most beautiful Filipina and youngest child of former president Corazon Aquino and Benigno Aquino, Jr. will win the race to become the 15th President of the Philippines in 2010?

Since the world is ruled by showbiz and dynasties as exemplified by the U.S.A., we can be assured that the Philippines will continue to follow big brother. Congrats, Kris! What a good move to start the campaign now by bringing total care to the country.

Photo from Ortigas, Metro Manila, November 2007.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nicht nur zur Weihnachtszeit

’Nicht nur zur Weihnachtszeit’ or Christmas Not Just Once a Year comes into my mind when seeing (my own) Christmas tree in full lights in an apartment well before the actual event. In these days Christmas is celebrated as a quarter-long event and sometimes Buddha (see on the right of the picture) is overseeing the show.

I remember that at least in Germany the Christmas tree (real fir tree or spruce) is brought into the house on 24 December and the candles (real candles!) were lit after the family had returned from mass.

The satire Christmas Not Just Once a Year was written in 1951 by German Nobel laureate Heinrich Böll. The context of the book is a bit different, but the symbolism is still accurate in the 21st century.

Yesterday's photo from Rockwell overlooking Makati.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dangerous jobs in Manila (Part 2)

One the normal daily cleaning sightings.

Can you imagine that the same people are doing this work also in Manila's tunnels?

Don't expect much 'light' in such a tunnel!

Photo from Ortigas, Metro Manila, November 2007.

Part 1 is HERE.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Bus stop Manila

This photo could have been taken everywhere in Manila! Trust me, if you are lucky the bus is just stopping on the second lane to the right as pictured above. As a rule, a bus never stops on the lane to the very left once there are more than three lanes. However, once you have four lanes, all three lanes to the right can be used as the usual bus stop. 'Everything goes', Manila's real motto.

Driving in Manila is so much fun!

Photo from Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, November 2007.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Manila street gangs: How to get out?

I went to see the award-winning Filipino movie Tribu by Jim Libiran in which you see the normal, impoverished, squeezed, tough life of Tondo through the eyes of a 10 year old boy. With him, we encounter the juvenile yet murderous leaders and members of various gangsta tribes, adolescent thugs and petty criminals whose past times are sex, drugs and their eloquently poetic street rap, delivered in their own unique tongue-twisting machine-gun style.

It is a disturbing movie and the good news is that it is not the typical movie ending with a "message of hope". The movie clearly shows how easy or common it is to join a gang but it is not showing how to get out. Is there a way out besides being killed?

The movie is very well filmed and asking members of six rival gangs to act together makes the production, as Jim Libiran said, "a tool for conflict resolution."

For people not familiar with Manila: such gangs are not on all streets here, and even Tondo has some better parts.

Video: Official trailer of Tribu.

Photo from Makati, Alliance Française de Manille, November 2007.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Post-World War II is almost over in the Philippines

According to Reuters "The maker of Manila's 'King of the Road' fears it could be losing its crown as financial difficulties slowly force the iconic jeepney off the road. Sarao Motors Inc. was one of the pioneers behind the conversion of surplus U.S. military jeeps into passenger vehicles in the Philippines after World War Two, and the colorful, iconic buses are still the country's most popular public transport. But higher fuel prices, saturated jeepney routes and alternative modes of transport, including mini-vans and Manila's lightrail, could spell stop for the family-run firm. 'We have accepted that we may have to throw in the towel,' said Ed Sarao, whose father Leonardo started the business over 50 years ago, adding they may have to halt production at the factory south of Manila."

I wonder what impact less jeepneys will have on Manila's traffic and pollution level?

Photo from Quiapo, Metro Manila, August 2007.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Family trip

Photo from Legazpi, Luzon, Philippines, May 2003.

For the Spanish Conquistador with the same name click HERE.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Old wrecks

Photo from Chuuk, November 2007.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Diving into World War II

Diving in a grave yard! Ship wrecks, submarines and sunken planes of the Operation Hailstorm (i.e. some kind of 'Pearl Harbor' for the Japanese), 16-18 February 1944.

Photo above: Penetration of the Rio de Janeiro Maru passenger ship (40m deep, 140m long). The little fellow, a
shark sucker, didn't join.

Photo above: Some kind of innovative wallpaper inside the Rio de Janeiro Maru: beer crates along the wall.

Photo above: Munition from Heian Maru, Truks largest wreck. Heian Maru is a passenger liner and cargo ship (155 length) and lies in 34m depth.

Photo above: Truck inside the Hoki Maru (138m long), a cargo ship in 42m depth.

Photo above: Road building vehicle cockpit inside the Hoki Maru.

Photo above: Zero Fighter inside the Fujikawa Maru (133m long, wreck in 34m depth).

Photo above: Looks like the secret Japanese weapon but it's just a compressor (inside the Fujikawa Maru).

Photo above: Large stern gun from the Fujikawa Maru with Troy.

Video: Penetration of the Shinkoku Maru (depth to bottom 38m, 152m long). Surely, it all happened after the meal...

Photos and video from Chuuk (formerly Truk), Micronesia, November 2007. I also dove the fascinating San Francisco Maru with its tanks on deck (too deep for my camera), the Hoyo Maru, the Yamagiri Maru and the Gosei Maru.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

deco stop with bubbles

Photo of Chuuk diver master Nami on the way up from the wreck of the San Francisco Maru (52m depth to the famous tanks), November 2007.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

The one and only gas station

Sorry for using the word 'gas' instead of petrol but Chuuk (or Truk) is closer to U.S. home land security than it is to Britain. According to Wikipedia 'gas is one of the four major states of matter, consisting of freely moving atoms or molecules without a definite shape and without a definite volume. Compared to the solid and liquid states of matter a gas has lower density and a lower viscosity' and this is probably why Americans use the word gas for petrol.

Photo from the island of Weno (the major island of the State of Chuuk), Micronesia, November 2007.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

It takes more than nuts to run this car

Photo from Chuuk State, Micronesia, November 2007.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Life is about choice, isn't it?

Anything else you need? At Guam airport you can choose junk food from all over the world. 'Mexican' from Big Nama, 'German' from Wienerschnitzel (sic!), u.s.a.'isch from Burger King, 'Japanese' from that place with the beautiful characters and 'Italian' from the whatever Pizza place.

You need a healthy stomach if you want to survive Guam airport.

Photo from November 2007.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tried to post a blog earlier, but...

... communication wasn't really up to speed.

Photo from Chuuk, Micronesia, November 2007.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Concert? Johnny Midnight at the Temple of Man

Photo from Parañaque, Metro Manila, April 2003.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How to ruin an architectural masterpiece

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) could have been the masterwork of Filipino architect Leandro V. Locsin. Built out of concrete and covered with coral reminding of its location on land gained from the sea, giving the impression to arise from the water, perfectly symetrical and well-balanced, but fitted on the front side with a little detail ruining its entire character: a driveway. Out of convenience, for the chauffeured users. Is there really no better way to bring people closer to the arts?

Photo of the CCP, Pasay City, Metro Manila, November 2007.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dear Vicky

Vicky, I found a new customer for you!

He seems to have the money (or at least his parents or tribe) to afford some drastic rightsizing and beautification measures. Can you also implant taste ...

I tried to pass by but ‘Mission impossible’ (like so often in Philippine shopping malls).

Photo from ‘fashion boy moving up in style’, Makati, November 2007.

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Monday, November 05, 2007


Never forget the ‘security blanket’. If you do, then buy one. This is exactly what Knut did. He bought one for 20 Pesos ($0.35) and was able to endure a sickening bus trip from Manila to Donsol (Philippines’ whale shark capital, southern Luzon). Such a trip usually takes 12 hours. That particular trip took 24 hours because the bus had an engine problem; a new one needed to be hired and then suffered a similar crisis…

We flew from Manila to Legaspi (40 min), took a minibus to Donsol (1.5 hour) and had a first look at the whale sharks. Then we waited for the bus from Manila, since the group of fellow scuba divers we were supposed to join to explore Ticao Island (famous for Manta rays) was on it. As the bus arrived, only one person (to be fair, the wisest and oldest) got out of it cheerful and happy – Knut.

Photo from Donsol, Sorsogon, April 2004.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Perfect day?

No, no, no, it wasn’t a perfect day at all! It might look just right in a sense that the pool wasn't packed with people and that the whole supporting armada of chatting and cautioning yayas or maids wasn't there. It was even worse than masses of people. As I laid down (see the feet) starting to sip a fresh mango juice (imagine just that) the music started to play ‘silent night’. So, Merry Christmas. Welcome to the Philippines.

Yesterday's picture from Rockwell's main pool, Makati.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

All Souls Day

Photo from Manila's North Cemetery, 'All Souls Day', November 2007.

P.S. I visited the North Cemetery the first time in October 2002. During that time the cemetery was full of squatters and stank like a dysfunctional sewage plant. This time, nearly all tombs were freshly painted and even the videoke machines were absent. I am sure, the souls appreciated the prayers to abridge their time in purgatory.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Painting Makati

... almost finished ...

Photo from Makati, May 2006.

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