Wednesday, November 30, 2016

OnManila... reflections on a 3-day trip

The city of Manila holds a special place in my heart. I myself had my first job in Manila and have lived (mostly alone) there for almost a year until I resigned last March. My mother had a board meeting, so me and my sister went along so we can also see my brother and the new place he's staying in Taguig.

In Manila, one can clearly see the difference between the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich in this country. Beggars live in karitons or sleep in the streets, but here are also high-class condominiums where the rich live. I lived in Malate before, and now we stayed in Bonifacio Global City. If you are from the province, the place may be very intimidating and you may be ashamed of your naivette, because the lifestyle is so different. BGC may be the richest business area in the country right now. High-end shops and restaurants litter the place, the only limit is your budget. High, beautiful towers and buildings that look like stunning works of art you don't see in the province are all here.

Bonifacio High Street
I also visited Mabuhay Temple, where I had my first job as a librarian in Fo Guang College. Some students were out of town and some were in quarantine due to chickenpox, but its good to see the library and some of the former students again! I admit that I got along more with the students than with my colleagues sometimes... I somehow can't believe that I survived a year alone there! I may not have done a perfect job but working for the first time, alone, to support yourself is a life-changing learning experience. But when I went back to the place I felt the familiar intimidation the first time I stepped inside.
Fo Guang College students at the library.
I learned a lot about myself and Buddhism is one of my favorite subjects and I consider the Buddha as a teacher and philosopher just like Socrates or Plato. I am still grateful for the opportunity to know their teachings and meeting amazing people.

My mother had a board meeting in Lotus Garden Hotel and we stayed there overnight. Walking through the city and going back to my former hangouts filled me with nostalgia... Robinsons Manila, Padre Faura Street, the familiar smell of pollution, the noise, all the people crowding in, the chaos...

We visited two amazing bookstores: Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street houses four floors of books, with a Starbucks cafe inside! I bought books that were not available in the bookstores in Iloilo. I finally went inside La Solidaridad Bookstore in Padre Faura Street, owned by the renowned Filipino writer F. Sionil Jose. Its just a small store with an amazing collection of classics, Filipiniana, and Historical books. I didn't find it when I was in Manila, because I frequently got lost in the city!

"I always wanted to be in a place where the little things matter." A painting on the fourth floor of Fully Booked, BGC.
Though how nostalgic I feel for this city, I'm still glad that I decided to go back home in Iloilo City. Who knows if I will live in Manila again in the future, but for now I'm content with being a tourist now and then.

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