Last Day in Tacloban - on to Manila

Thursday, July 18, 2013
Manila, Luzon, Philippines
The days are moving on. Today we go on to our last stop on this trip -- Manila.  

In the morning I wanted to walk freely around town and took off from the hotel and just walked down what looked like one of main business streets . Traffic is bustling. The people are quiet, courteous. Children are going to school. School is now in session. The vacation period is in April/May.  

I just enjoy taking in the sights and sounds and see how people conduct their normal lives. 

Wanting to make sure that I remembered the corner where I turned (street signs are least to me) I saw a laundry with an unforgettable slogan: "We will treat your clothes like ours." It would not have been a convincing enough pitch for me :).  

I walked about 6 or 7 block in one direction, walked into a small shop, came out and unfortunately turned perpendicular to the way I came in. I was walking and walking looking for "We will treat your clothes like ours" but was beginning to wonder if the guidance system in my head was failing. It was. I asked for the Alejandro hotel and was told that I was way off track . This same type of thing happened to me when I was in Pretoria, South Africa where I went strolling and got "lost." Well, with a few questions I got back to the hotel and really appreciated getting some exercise and enjoying the sights.  

I was greeting by Roy Gilos who is arranging for us to go riding on a taxicle and jeepnie. I've got to have this experience and see what it's like to get around this way. We also had James, the son of Raul Villacote with us who knows the town better and made sure that we not only had a fun ride, but that we would return.
At first we got a taxicle and three of us crawled in on various "seating" locations. The driver is on a motorcycle who weaves this vehicle through traffic. There are hundreds of these taxicles around....all in a long row picking up and dropping off people. The open air (with a little canopy) ride was fun...

Then the jeepnie. When driving by them, they seem confined, hot and uncomfortable . WRONG! The seat is a padded bench. The air blowing through jeepnie is the "air conditioning" and quite pleasant. And it was not as confining as you might think. I enjoyed the jeepnie ride, too. To signal the driver that you want off the jeepnie you click a coin on the iron rod above your head and shout "para!" I officially stopped the jeepnie. Amazing. 

When I returned the elders Raul Villacote and Jose Campos were arriving. With Earl Roemer we met for the rest of the morning to discuss pastoral care matters for the Visayas. I really appreciate the intense care and commitment that both these men and their wives have for the brethren in the Church. They are excellent humble serving leaders and we feel that the Visayas are in good shape.

As mentioned a new church was started on the neighboring island of Cebu from Kingdom of God attendees. The language spoken here is Cebuano. The other major language to the north is Tagalog . But, much of the preaching is done in Cebuano here to better serve the people. 

After our meeting we packed our things and headed out of the hotel. I did some washing of clothing items back in Davao. They never dried completely there so I had to bring them here and hang them up....took another day, but finally they're all dry. I'll get by just fine now until the end of the trip.

Travel tip number 22b: In hot humid climates think ahead about the drying cycle of any hand-washed may be more than one ...or two days before everything is fully dry.  

Before leaving the historic Alejandro hotel which was the private home of a wealthy personage of the past, I viewed many of the photos and memorobilia of General Douglas MacArthur on the walls of the hotel. A lot of interesting photos of events that took place right in this area during World War II.
We then have lunch with our elders and wives as well as Raul's sister Ruperta Betoy and her daughter Sarah Jane from Bacalod City in the Central Visayas . We went to a restaurant where we had a buffet meal. I really enjoy the restaurants here because sushi which I like is so prevalent. Mrs. Betoy is one of members in the Bacalod congregation and she was headed home the next day with Sarah.

Off to the airport for what we were hoping would be an uneventful one hour flight to Manila. Not so. At first we were told that the flight would be delayed by one hour. From experience I know that that is not a good signal, because it's usually an arbitrary length given to "assure" passengers that everything will be "ok." I was right. The flight was now more delayed with no real definite time given. This added to the aggravation of a harried crowed check in where for the first time we were forced to pay for "excess" baggage. The rules from clerk to another seem to vary and this one talked like a robot with whom there was no reasoning. So, we paid. Not reallya lot but I hate to pay this. Air travel has become much more restrictive as to how much you can carry as airlines all around the world (except Emirates) try to squeeze out as much revenue as they can in highly competitive and thin margin business .  

I can't explain all the rest of the next happenings, because I had already numbed my mind to reality and was playing out the rest of the "departure." Our every vigilant and resourceful travel companion Roy Gilos was able to arrange for us to transfer from Philippine Air Lines (PAL -- which also stands for "Plane Always Late") to Cebu Pacific Airlines to Manila. He did it. But, at the last moment they wouldn't load us because they plane HAD to leave by 4 pm. So we waited for the next flight which was 5:45 PM. We did get on, but it's been an aggravating afternoon. 

At the airport there was a warning sign dealing with human trafficking. People do not realize that human trafficking as slaves, prostitutes and even resources for organs has had shocking increases and this area of the world is known for it. It is a sad story of man's lack of respect for the dignity of what a human being is. The Philippines are known to send out millions of people to work in various ways overseas . They work and then send their earnings back to their families back home. 10% of the Filipino economy is dependent on foreign workers which are actually encouraged to to outside the country to work. In Tacloban I saw offices that acted as agencies for sending people overseas to work. These people go through emigration in special lines. Some of the places they end up in overseas are horrible and demeaning. Enough said about this subject for now. 

In Revelation when John speaks of the fall of Babylon in the end times he refers to the bodies and souls of men as a lost asset. Could this be an increase in humans being trafficked and used for various aspects of a great economy? Just a thought....
Rev 18:11-14
11 "And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: 12 merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; 13 and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men . NKJV   
It was good to have lots of time talking to the Villacotes and Campos's.

We arrived in Manila shortly after 7 PM. We were picked up by Rey Evasco again and we went directly to a dinner at the massive Asian Mall on the waterfront. I was happy to meet Bong Remo and his wife Grace, who is sister to pastor Ed Macaraeg in Davao. Also, Benny and Gloria Lorenzo. I sat next to Mr. Lorenzo and thoroughly enjoyed getting acquainted with him and Gloria. A family-style dinner was served and interesting items served in Filipino style. Eveyone from here is from the metro Manila area.

It has been a long day and we are finally ready to go to our hotel in Makati. Tomorrow at 6 am we leave for an all day tour of Corregidor.  

One interesting fact that Rey Evasco pointed out to us about the Philippines is that before Marcos in the mid 1960's, the Philippines was the second richest economy in Asia. After his rule, investments were made into those things that don't add value to a nation's economy and the Philippines is now one of the poorer of Asian nations. 

The Philippines was under the rule of Spanish for more than 350 years from the time of Magellan to secession and purchase by the United States when it became an American possession. So, the saying is that the Philippines was in a Spanish convent for 350 years and then in Hollywood for the next 50. Hmmmm...
Corregidor tomorrow.