So, this Internet thing is not as reliable here as I'd hoped. Regardless, here are some pics and thoughts from my time in Manila.
We had a big meal together with Marie's family on both nights. The first night was out at a Chinese restaurant. The second night was at her uncle Joe's place in the suburbs. It is always fun to visit someones home - and eat there - in a foreign country.
One of the most remarkable differnces for me was that they don't have ovens in their home kitchens here. Only cook tops and grills. It is too hot for an oven, so they buy baked goods and cook everything else on a cook top.
Filipinos are crazy for sweets - their iced tea is super sweet, they also drink a bubble tea type drink with flavored gelatin and tapioca. There are bakeries everywhere selling all manor of soft buns and sweet treats.
Driving around Manila was very eye-opening. Even in the main districts there are shanty homes, fetid streams and garbage everywhere. The government is so corrupt here that money for infrastructure and public works is quickly squandered. The average salary is 260 pesos per day - about $7. Food is cheap, but decent housing and fuel and electricity are expensive.
By and large though, people are friendly and seem happy. It really shakes up a westerner's view of "quality of life." In homes that I would consider a dump - there are potted flowers. Everyone smiles and children play and laugh. So, what is happiness? Stuff or family? Families are large here. I think the average is 4 children. They take care of their elders and more prosperous relatives hire less fortunate nieces and nephews as household help in exchange for room & board and a good education.
So, back to the food. They eat and eat and eat. Rice with every meal and lots of fried food. How they stay slim is beyond me. They also snack a lot. Merienda is the term for a mid day snack. The streets are lined with stalls selling grilled meat and bananas on skewers. There are also countless sari-sari stores, which are basically convenience stores selling snacks as well as household products.
Well, there is much more to say but I have to continue this report later. I still need to write about the wet market, our fishing trip, the traffic and the transvestites.