Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's Rough, But...

I won!
I've written a 50,800 word hastily hung-together no-plot travelogue/memoir!

Woot! Woot!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You Can't Win, Buddy

I went to the liquor store last night to pick up some wine for Thanksgiving. I was feeling punchy. I'd had a tough day.

Liquor store clerk: Can I see some ID?

Me: Don't worry, I'm old.

LSC: You look young enough to me.

Me: Was it the enormous pimple on my face that made you think that?! (It's true; I have an enormous pimple on my face).

LSC: (rightly so) ????WTF??

Poor little dude. He never knew I was just yanking his chain, but I had a good laugh.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quick Trip or, Notes on Terrorism

With such a quick trip this week, I found it difficult to find time to do any research. As such, I kind of "showed up" in the Philippines without any context or understanding of the local culture. It wasn't really necessary, given that I spent my week sitting in a windowless conference room, but at times it would've been nice.

For example: After our meeting wrapped up Saturday morning, I took the afternoon and wandered around the many many shopping complexes interconnected via an open air skyway system through the Makati district. After a few margarita's and the world's best massage, I decided to try my chances at heading over to the Glorietta Mall.

I live in the land of the world's biggest shopping mall, so I thought I would be immune to the masses, but I was dead wrong. I have never seen crowds like that in my life, outside the Tokyo subway system at rush hour. I was crushed by tiny dark-haired Philippinos at every turn. Couple that with a very confusing skyway system and I was soon miserably lost.

On top of that, at every new shopping mall or department store, everyone had to queue through security. Sometimes there were several lines open and you walked through, opening your purse for a cursory glance by the sleepy security guard. Others were longer, like those you'd find at an airport (thankfully, I didn't have to take off my shoes) and twice as ugly.

I couldn't understand it. Shopping malls? You've got to be kidding me. Nothing I saw was worth protecting that much from theft.

When I finally joined my co-workers for supper that night, I mentioned the enormous crowds and the perplexing, ubiquitous security check points. Turns out, last year at this time, a bomb exploded, killing eleven and wounding 126. There's been no determination of whether or not it was Islamic militants, the government or just a freak accident, but it looks like no one is taking any chances.

Huh. That, along with the incident at the hotel, might have been nice to know before I arrived.

All of this got me thinking. I had a brief discussion with our VP the other day about the increased security around Manila (I've already blogged about what happend at our hotel last year). He had forwarded to me President-Elect Obama's recently issued brief regarding his administration's goals for the next four years. One of them included reducing the climate of fear in our country. Based on what we'd seen in the Philippines our question was this: does the increase in security guards, guns, night patrols, pat downs, liquid limitations and check points make you feel more, or less, safe? And secondly, how do you combat fear? Do you put more, or less, policeman on the street? Do you put more, or less, guns in private citizen's hands?

Isn't this just as difficult as waging war on "terrorism"? What do you do when the terror comes from within?

I realize that this very debate has been floating around in public discourse since 9/11, but it finally hit home for me. I was pulled over not once, but twice on my trip. The first time was random, but the second time was because I had house keys in my bag. Apparently, being able to get into your own home is ILLEGAL in some places. I mean, where is the line here? Does it make you feel more secure knowing I can't carry something as remotely pokey as my HOUSE KEYS on board? Might I be tempted to stab you in the eye and turn the knob?

More and more I feel I live in a world that Ray Bradbury would immediately recognize as twisted science fiction. As tripe as it sounds, I look with hope to the future that might return the innocence of the past. The kind of past where we looked at somone and thought, "Huh, they're different" instead of "I wonder what they're going to do with those keys..."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Do Your Research

This is what I get for not googling my hotel. I found out from our divisional VP today that exactly one year ago this month, our hotel was the set for a very real coup attempt. Yes, the photo above is a tank in the hotel lobby.
From our pals at Wiki:
The Manila Peninsula rebellion occurred on November 29, 2007 at The Peninsula Manila hotel in Makati City, Philippines. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Brigadier General Danilo Lim, and 25 other Magdalo officers walked out of their trial and marched through the streets of Makati City. The mutineers called for the ousting of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and seized the second floor of the Manila Peninsula Hotel along Ayala Avenue. Former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. joined the march to the hotel, as well as some of the soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

After several hours, Trillanes and Lim surrendered to government forces once a military armored personnel carrier had barged into the lobby of the hotel. Trillanes and the mutineers were arrested while several journalists that covered the event were detained. The journalists were subsequently released.
Dude, what a weird world.

I'm an Aunt!

I'm an aunt! I'm an aunt! I'm an aunt.

I am also still in the Philippines.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

You Should've Checked with the PR Department on That One

The Philippines are a predominantly Roman Catholic nation. In fact, I've managed to hit both of the only Roman Catholic countries in all of Asia this fall (the other being East Timor).

Unlike East Timor, there is also a sizeable Muslim population. Some of them are part of a successionist movement in the southern region of Mindenao. Not having read much about this conflict I can only comment on the poorly named Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF.

Yeah, you read that right: MILF.

Against my better judgement, I find it terribly difficult to take this group seriously.

Because really, a bunch of MILF's running amok in southern Philippines would be kind of awesome.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Another Random Asian Country: Philippines

Quick trip, for a week. Spending most of it in Manila, in a conference center and a hotel.

God Bless Wiki. Without it, I wouldn't know anything about anything....

The Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), is an island country located in Southeast Asia with Manila as its capital city. The Philippines comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, sharing maritime borders with Indonesia, Malaysia, Palau, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Vietnam. The Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country with a population of 90 million people.[4][6] Its national economy is the 46th largest in the world with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP) of over US$154.073 billion.[6] There are more than 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, about 11% of the total population of the Philippines. It is a multi-ethnic country. Ecologically, The Philippines is considered to be among 17 of the most megadiverse countries in the world.[8]

Prior to the arrival of Europeans in 1521,[9] the Philippines was already settled by Austronesian (Malayo Polynesian) peoples. The Philippines became a Spanish colony in the 16th century, and a territory of the United States in the 20th century. In 1896, rebellion led the Philippine Revolution that won independence from Spain. American occupation of the Philippines during the Spanish-American War led to the outbreak of the Philippine-American War. A Commonwealth government was established in 1935, which allowed self-governance. The country gained its independence from the United States on July 4, 1946 after World War II. Martial law was declared in 1972 which led to the insurgencies of the New People's Army and the Moro National Liberation Front. Liberal parties then led People Power Revolution of 1986, which would bring the country back to democracy.[3]

The Philippines is one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia-Pacific, the other being East Timor. Pre-Hispanic indigenous rituals still exist; and there are also followers of Islam.[10] Spanish was an official language of the Philippines until 1973. Since then, the two official languages are Filipino, and English.[3]

The name Philippines was derived from King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century. The Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos used the name Las Islas Filipinas (The Philippine Islands) in honor of the then Crown Prince during his expedition to the Philippines, originally referring to the islands of Leyte and Samar. Despite the presence of other names, the name Filipinas (Philippines) was eventually adopted as the name of the entire archipelago

28 Going on 80

My birthday is coming up next week and as such, I will no longer be able to use my current favorite phrase, "I'm 28 going on 80". This phrase is usually my prefix to some revealing some granny-eqsque habit/ideaology I've acquired that may be unusual for someone of my actual generation.

For example, I have an extreme affinity for my crock pot. I love to floss. I made curtains for my bedroom. I cook - alot, in large quantities - for my household of one. I make bars.

If I had a lawn, I'd probably tell people to get off it.

My friend Joyce and I were talking about this last night and decided that we are definitely going on 80. Our conversation topics centered around the following:

Why Work is Stressful
Why Work is Necessary
The Economy
Malpractice lawsuits, driving up insurance
Taxing junk food
Norm vs. Franken
Yelling at people to shut the patio door, we were cold!
The Library
What a Membership at the Historical Society Gets You

And yes, I was home by 10:15, for the weather.

///No granny panties, yet though.

////Ok, maybe one pair.