I am staying a couple hours north of manila in a city called Olangapo city. Half of the city used to be an American army base and so it is quite a bipolar city. On one side of the river you have a typical Filipino city with electrical wires everywhere, run down buildings, crowded streets and sidewalks, informal stands selling knockoff brands, etc. When you cross over the river you encounter wide open streets, fancy malls, large sidewalks, nice cars– essentially mini America (Filipino style).
The nice thing about this city is the jeepney (public transportation system) vehicles are all color coated. So, I know that I need to take a red one to get back to the apartment. Each vehicle coozily fits about 22 people.
I find it fascinating how these rides are played for. Everyone knows how much their ride should be and hands their coins down the passenger row until it reaches the hand of the driver. While driving he allocates the coins into the proper compartment on top of his dashboard and folds the bills so that they wrap around his middle finger– as far out of the way as he can make the bill while driving. Somehow this man knows who has paid, who has not, and how much one should pay all the while dodging children, dogs, potholes and flooded sections of the road. I am curious how drivers decide which route they get to drive since not all of them are crowded. I also am interested to know how the Philippines got to have so many jeepneys…. there are thousands.
It has been raining pretty hard every afternoon, which I guess prepares me for rainy season in Indonesia. Umbrellas only cover so much… The last few weeks this area has gotten lots of rain and many people, especially in the Manila area, have been flooded out of their homes. I can see why because there is so much pavement in these huge Asian cities with no planned runoff routes. There are sewers and “drainages” but most of them are blocked with trash. It makes me sad!
Lastly, one peculiar thing about the beggars in this town is their similar appearances. A majority of them have black curly hair and dark skin. They have facial features that reassemble Australian aborigines. I wonder if they are tribal families that have no option but to beg in cities… just a stipulation.