Chapter Two

I’m leaving Manila today and heading towards Bacolod. My stay here in the big city has been interesting to say the least but I’m quite ready to get out and see some more. I’ve been putting off that desperately needed dental visit but I have a strong feeling that is going to have to happen in the next 72 hours. I officially have a toothache that is beyond the repair of Ora-jel. I’m glad I’ve been able to wait this long; dentists are cheaper outside of Manila. I only hope they’re liberal with their use of anesthetics because I have severe allergic reactions to pain.

Toothaches aside, my boundaries in the Manila metropolis have been fairly unrestricted. I have seen Tagatay, Laguna, Subic Bay, Batanges and probably a few other places whose names I have forgotten. In most cases, the journeys

Beautiful Scenery

Beautiful Scenery

themselves were more memorable than the destination as I’m still enamored by the smallest, most mundane of details of life here in the Philippines. Whether it’s the shotgun toting security guards at McDonalds or the Jeepneys loaded down with coconuts, the little things fascinate me way more than the touristy destinations. Granted, lunch at the Tagatay Highlands was amazing and the view is pure poetry but I find the people make the culture, not the scenery.

Yesterday I had my first meal at JolliBee. I think it may be safe to conclude that it was also my last meal at JollieBee. I don’t know what they marinade that chicken in but the taste, in my opinion, was rather rancid. The rice was good and the Coke was definitely normal but all in all, I have to place it on the lower end of the scale. Suffice it say that fast food really exists for convenience and not for quality. I have since renamed the JollieBee and will now refer to it as the UnhappyWasp. I’m afraid to try the McDonalds.

I will more than likely settle in Bacolod for awhile. The excessive travel to and from Manila has left me fatigued and I’m still adjusting to the heat/humidity. I’m going to have to slow things down a bit so I can find my own groove, that peculiar pace of life that allows me to be both comfortable and productive. I would have left Manila much sooner but with my brother and his wife here on vacation, it was imperative I get in that family time while it was possible since they don’t plan on returning to the Philippines for at least another year. With all the family hustle and bustle out of the way now, Bacolod seems like a good place to catch my breath and reevaluate things.

On a side note, I’ve learned something extremely important about the Philippines. Now I knew this in times past but living it is something entirely different: The dominant religion in the Philippines is food. There’s the morning meal, the pre-lunch snack, lunch, the afternoon snack, dinner and sometimes a post-dinner follow-up. No meal is ever eaten without a discussion of what’s to be eaten next. We talk about the food we’re eating, the food we’re going to eat and then there will be a discussion about the foods eaten in times past. My stomach gets full just hearing the conversation. I’ve eaten so much food in the past 2 weeks that (and I’m not joking here) for the first time in life, I felt my belly bounce while traveling down a bumpy road. It was awkward; it tickled. I’m going to have to hit the gym so I don’t turn into one of those skinny guys with a protruding gut.

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