today will be one of the longest days of my life.

i’m eight and a half hours into the manila day, and in another eight and a half hours, i will be on a plane back home. after a thirteen hour plane ride, i will be landing in vancouver three hours before i actually took off. that will make today, saturday the 7th of october, a day of 40 hours.

the first thing i will do after i return home (and drop off my luggage) is go to the comic book store. even though i was able to pick up some comics here, i am going through withdrawal. after that, i’m going to relax, read, and hopefully play some sudoku on my roommate’s nintendo DS. oh, the joys of lazing around.ūüėČ

as much as i long to see my friends, sleep in my own bed, and return to the world i know, i can’t help but want to come back here in the future. there’s still so much to see and experience.

next stop: vancouver.

– fuji

my hotel room is clean, and that can only mean two things: i just got here, or i’m getting ready to leave.

in less than 48 hours, i will be on a plane, heading east over the pacific back home. it only really hits me that i’m going somewhere when my suitcase is packed. everything is neatly folded and packed away to protect the expensive or delicate items of clothing. the only items that remain unpacked are two bottles of shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lens stuff, pomade, clothes for the next two mornings, and the laptop.

while i know i haven’t seen as much as i would have liked to, i’ve also seen more than i ever thought that i would see. i’ve definitely learned more than i thought that i would here. as with any experience, the important parts are what you take away from it and what you leave behind (which hopefully doesn’t include your passport, but rather the impact you had on those you met, worked with, etc.).

with the storm off the eastern coast taking a turn for the north, it looks like i will be leaving makati as bright as it was as when i arrived. the lights are back on, and every now and then a bolt of lightning will flicker in the sky.


October 4, 2006

as i mentioned in my last post, i’ve been spending a lot of time at work. in one 36 hour period, i spent 24 hours at work. i’m tired beyond belief, but it’s worth it. work has always been rewarding for me, and i know eventually i will get the sleep i need.

some thoughts and highlights from the past little while:

tropical storm neneng appears to be moving north along its course, which is good news. this means that the storm’s centre is expected to stay over open waters.

on saturday, i had pizza for breakfast. well, i guess it wasn’t really breakfast although it was about eight in the morning. some of us from the office had finished our night shift, and decided to go down to yellow cab pizza co for a bite before the weekend. to my knowledge, they don’t actually own any yellow cabs, but rather yellow vespas, which they use to deliver pizzas on. they claim that they own the most vespas in the world, save of course, vespa themselves. since we were there at 8 am (along with many other people), it was safe to assume that the place was open 24 hours a day. it’s nice to see that so many restaurants are open all night long, or at least until the early hours of the morning.

the night before, on the way to work, things were still pretty crazy on the streets. we told the cab driver at the hotel where we wanted to go, and he just shook his head (even though he did agree to take us there). traffic in that area was a mess, mostly due to the fallen billboards and the efforts to safely remove them. we expected to sit the traffic out, but the cab driver ended up taking us another way, one that we were not familiar with at all. we cut through parking lots, alleys, and anywhere and everywhere you could think of. at one point, he had us lock our doors because we were going through a dangerous area of town. his “shortcut” was a long alley with shops and lots of people hanging out in the street, probably because they had no power indoors. we had almost made it through the shortcut when we turned a corner to see a huge tree blocking the exit. it almost looked like there was enough room to fit the car underneath, but if it was my car, i wouldn’t have tried it either. we went back, and took another unfamiliar route.

we did make it to work in about 45 minutes time, probably the most interesting car ride of my entire life.

* * * * *

the billboard debate is heating up in the area; you’ll read no less than five articles¬†today in the paper. after multiple billboards (some say up to 40) fell and caused injuries and casualties (which our cab drivers never fail to point out when we pass one of the fallen billboards), there is serious concern for the safety of neighbouring homes and businesses. there is concern that banning the billboards could be a violation of political or human rights, but i think that the banning of the billboards would promote the human right to feel safe (or safer) should such circumstances arise again.

not all of the billboards need to be taken down. but when you have a billboard that is standing probably 70 feet into the air, i think the size should be reconsidered.

another note on the damage from the recent storm: there is talk about taking fallen trees and making them into art exhibits representing the typhoon. this is an interesting idea. i’m not sure how many trees were left intact after the storm though, as the days that followed saw cut up trunks and stumps all over the sides of the road.

– fuji

it’s a known fact – nature doesn’t fight fair. a week after milenyo passed through manila on the island of luzon, tropical storm neneng threatens to follow through with another, possibly devastating blow to the residents of the island.¬†

according to what i’ve read, and the pictures i’ve seen, it appears as though neneng will hit the north part of the island around the 6th or 7th of october. it is also reported that many residents in this area still do not have electricity or a safe drinking water supply. hopefully efforts will be concentrated around this area when the weekend hits to minimize the effects of this second storm.¬†

we may experience some bad weather in manila, but the hardest hit areas will be north of where i am. since i’m not familiar with this kind of weather, i’m not sure if planes will be grounded, but if they are, my return trip will be delayed.¬†

i’ve been working a lot lately, and have been having difficulty connecting to the internet in my hotel room, so i haven’t been posting much lately. i’ll see if i can write a little more about what i’ve been up to in the coming days.

makati is dark..

September 29, 2006

looking out from my manila hotel room, makati is dark, right to the horizon. it’s eerie to see a city that was full of lights now sleeping. there a little flecks of light here and there, but it still seems so odd. it also makes things very dangerous (especially at night) in a city where traffic is so chaotic. in a ride through the city this evening, it still appears that power will be at least a few days away. i realize how lucky i am in my hotel, while many others do without.

i want to thank manuel quezon iii and everyone else for linking here, to help share the reality of this situation. i’ve been reading the papers and the online news, and i’m shocked and saddened by the effects of the storm. check out some of the sites that manuel has mentioned for more.

I’d also like to thank (the inquirer) for the mention as well, which can be viewed here.

– fuji

following the elephant

September 28, 2006

how fitting

more pics in the wake of milenyo / xangsane. the bare metal structures used to be billboards.. (clicking the numbers below will open the pics in a new window – my apologies if it takes some time to load, i don’t have an image editor to size them down)

01 02 03 04 05 06
07 08 09 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29

September 28, 2006

things seem to have calmed down.¬†it’s still windy and rainy, but not as windy and rainy as it was earlier.

i did get some rest, eventually.

reading through the news, a mall in mandaluyong city (close to where i am working) lost pieces of it’s roof. for some other interesting yet shocking news, go to yahoo and type in “milenyo” or “xangsane” and then read through the news results (a link near the top of the page).

it looks like i was wrong in what i heard earlier about when the worst part of the storm would hit. it appears to have already moved through this area (at least according to what i have read). hopefully that’s true. i also read that this is the first typhoon (i think it may have been downgraded to tropical storm) to come right through manila in over 10 years.

(“xangsane” is the laotian word for elephant. i’m not sure what “milenyo” means.)¬†


oh crap

September 27, 2006

the building is shaking back and forth really badly.. and a satellite dish just flew off the roof next to me. im not sleeping.

milenyo in makati

September 27, 2006

(or in english – but not literally –¬†“the typhoon is looking back at me through the window”)

remember how you felts as a kid in the winter time, and you’d wake up and run to the window to see if school was canceled because of the snow on the ground? that’s probably what the kids here are feeling right now, except there’s no snow, and the weather conditions are probably a lot more dangerous than a little snow.

typhoon milenyo (aka xangsane) hit the eastern philippine coast shortly after 4PM local time, wednesday the 27th. since that time, we have been experiencing increasing amounts of rain and wind, and decreasing amounts of human and vehicle traffic on the streets. the power went out, and what sounds like very loud thunder is the wind rattling the windows of the hotel. rain, paper and leaves are actually flying upwards past my hotel window, twenty-two storeys up.

although the rain hasn’t stopped since last night, it hasn’t started flooding (badly) in my area yet, but areas close by appear to be a little flooded. according to the news that i don’t really understand, it appears that flights have been grounded for the time being.

the newspaper says that around 5 pm local time, the storm will be directly above the makati and mandaluyong areas, which are the areas that i am staying in and working in, respectively. i’m not sure how we will get to work (or how others will get to work either).

i will post more later. i’m going to try and get some sleep now that the power is back on.

my trip to megamall

September 24, 2006

i decided to try and find the sm megamall today, so i did my research online, and discovered that it was only about a 10 minute walk from where i am working. i grabbed a cab in the early afternoon and headed over there by myself, because the others had to work tonight, and slept during the day.

my entire reason for going to the megamall is probably going to sound a little crazy. i went there to find comic books. upon arriving at the mall, i found a directory (6 floors!) and it turned out i was pretty much standing right on top of the stores i was looking for. i was actually hoping it would take me some time to find the stores, so i would be forced to look around a bit (as i’m not much of a shopper).

i looked around in the comic stores, but they were really busy, and i’m fairly claustrophobic, so i took off and walked around. unfortunately, it appeared that the rest of the mall was just as busy (think metrotown at christmas time). speaking of christmas time, the entire time i was at the mall (approximately 3 hours), they were playing christmas and holiday music.

i quickly found out that the higher in the mall you go, the less busy it was. (the comic stores were on the bottom floor.)  after taking a quick stroll through the mall (just to see if there was anything else of interest), i used the upper floors to make my way back and forth to the stores i was interested in.

i did buy a couple books, and found out that the new books were released on wednesdays in case i want to go back. after that, i found a drink and went to sit down in the food court to read. i read for awhile, and then¬†four young kids (5 or 6 years old?) came up and sat at my table, and started reading along with me (or¬†hopefully just looking at the pictures – the book was filled with profane language, heh). i said hi to them, but they spoke back to me in another language (i’m assuming tagalog), and i just shrugged my shoulders and went back to the book. they stuck around at my table for about five minutes, and then ran off somewhere.

i went to a couple more bookstores, but decided that since i still have two novels i haven’t finished back at the hotel, i should read those before i buy more.

after that, i flagged a cab, and headed back to the hotel.

today, i was a lot more comfortable with everything. in the cabs i took, i knew where i was going, if the drivers were taking the best routes – one of them didn’t take the right lane to get into the mall, and i called him on it. he then had to drive around the (long) block to get back to the mall.¬†on the way back, i knew the driver would have to turn away from the direction i wanted to go to make a u-turn up the road. he told me what he was doing, and i understood why.

in dealing with people at the mall, i still had some problems communicating ideas and questions, but for the most part, things went smoothly.

there are a couple things that are weird, and still make me feel like a foreigner. i went to a fast food restaurant to eat, and i waited for my food, but i guess they normally just bring it out to you when it’s ready. (that’s not normal, is it? i don’t really eat much fast food in vancouver) i also seated myself at the restaurant, which i found out (as i was leaving) is a no-no. the staff seats you where they feel it is most appropriate, and not where you want to sit. something else that makes me feel weird? i can see over most people’s heads here. and no, i’m not wearing stilts or platform shoes.

i’m going to relax¬†a bit before i go to bed.