2 July 2004
days ago, I took my first steps into Manila. It's taken me a long
time to really feel comfortable here, and even now, I still find
the culture difficult to adapt to. However, what an eye-opening
12 days it has been!
outside M&S in Manila
a city of two halves, and I'm based in the wealthier of the two.
In the Makati area, there is every modern convenience and luxury
you could ask for. From Marks and Spencers to Pizza Express, it's
a district covered in malls.
congregate in malls all the time, to eat, to shop or just to relax.
This is mainly because they are air-conditioned, which is more than
a relief after standing outside for only five minutes. The temperature
ranges from 30-40 degrees and the humidity lies at 89%. Bear in
mind that at the moment it is winter - I'd hate to think what their
summer is like! I feel like a typical Brit amongst my Filipino friends,
always complaining about the weather!
and wonderful food
Philippines is a country where avocado and sweetcorn are turned
into ice cream flavours, where chicken intestines are served on
the street, like we sell hot dogs. For mealtimes, 'sisig' (pig's
face) is a popular dish, though you can also have a lobster for
meal of the day is served with rice, and even a MacDonald's meal
(45p!) comes with a portion.
the most popular of them all, well at least for me, is Jolibee.
This is the nation's biggest fast-food chain and it serves a large
variety from Filipino dishes such a pabalok, to spaghetti bolognese
(with sausage meat and sweet sauce).
is as generic as you'd expect, even the Starbucks drinks here come
with jelly cubes in them!
is a very polluted city - imagine rush hour traffic on the M25,
on a rainy day when there are road works.
no exaggerations, this is what central Manila is like every day.
The roads have no lanes or markings and seatbelts aren't worn in
the back. As you sit in a car, streams of people knock on your window,
begging or selling street goods. The other alternative type of road
travel is the jeepney, a sort of mini-bus, which costs around five
pence for a short ride.
people are the country's greatest asset. They are amongst the nicest,
most hospitable I have ever met. Everyone shows an interest about
my home, and look in awe as I tell them I am from England.
get stared at as I walk down the street, because of the colour of
my skin, and people shout out "Hey Joe", a term they used
for Americans during the WWII!
had days where I question whether I'll be able to cope here for
my whole summer. But then, I look at the many experiences I've already
had, and I see that it's about more than just enjoying myself. I'm
here to appreciate another world. A world that is more different
from home than I could ever have imagined. Twelve days down, only
another 47 to go - there is still so much to learn, explore and
by Stevie Cameron
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