I first visited the Philippines in 2004, in the month prior to their election. Campaign vehicles drove around with loudspeakers mounted on their roofs, selling their candidates like the Blues Brothers announcing a gig.
I've been back to visit every 2 years since then. A lot of things have changed; a new president, new road construction, new housing and business construction. But a lot of things haven't changed. If you cut all the trees on the mountainside and build concrete hollow block homes, the mud still slides.
The polished marble floors of Montalban are still down the street from sheet metal shacks, the machine guns for the bodyguards are still stacked in the mayor's dining room , the 12 year old kids are still in the streets selling cigarettes a single stick at a time, because who can afford to buy a whole pack? The stray dogs with swollen tits are as ubiquitous as the diesel smoke. Some enterprising young lad dreams of milking the dogs for his dirty ice cream business. Waiter, there's a dog hair in my soup! No Extra Charge, Sir! The old lady is still standing in the middle of the Manila expressway traffic hawking pot holders, a dollar a dozen, and how she doesn't fall down from diesel smoke asphyxiation is a fucking miracle. Maybe she did fall down and her daughter inherited the business. I've been gone for 2 weeks and I'm still coughing up green lung cookies speckled gray with diesel soot.
Ashes to ashes and mud to mud, some of the mudslides still claim the bodies of people. "One day you will come to know the quiet strength of bamboo."
I'm currently reading "Kapwa: The Self in The Other" by Katrin De Guia, a book about the" worldviews and lifestyles of Filipino Culture-Bearers". One of the artists in the book is the filmmaker, Kidlat Tahimik, creator of the film Mababangong bangungot, or Perfumed Nightmare, Winner of the Berlin Film Festival International Critics Award and a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival.
The 1977 movie tells the tale of a young Filipino man's infatuation with the American Space Program, and his subsequent disillusionment with "progress" after traveling to Paris with an Americano to run the Americano's gumball machine business. The movie is a scathing critique of colonialism.
I cringed upon hearing the voice of Henry Kissinger talking about Africa.
Who will be Miss Supermarket of 1976?
"When the typhoon blows off its cocoon, the butterfly embraces the sun. The sleeping typhoon must learn to blow again."