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Archive for March, 2013

Manila

I reserved a hotel on Makati Avenue, right along Manila Business District. As the driver rolled down Makati, it was impressive until arriving at my hotel at the lower end of Makati not to far from redlight district. Still I was technically in Makati. Between the gardens, paved side walks,  high rises, and many wonderful eateries along the road particularly Ayala Triangle Gardens, I really have to say I enjoy Manila much more than I have expected. For connoisseurs of chicken rice, do stop by Wee Nam Kee along Alaya Trianagle Gardens. It has one of the best Hainannese chicken rice. I have been there twice and am planning to go back there one more meal. 

 

I took a public bus to Silang and the bus stopped at every possible stops where passengers were waiting. This made the ride unpleasant with abrupt stopping at every sight of potential passengers. I think it stopped almost every five minutes. Met an acquaintance who provided interesting observations of Filipinos. He observed the importance of Maria in this society and subsequent implications for women whom he believes served as the backbones of the country. They are gentle and are very able at negotiating. At the same time they hold certain rank within the society that demands respect from their male counterparts. They provide, support, nurture and at the same time their opinions matter. Their voices are being heard. When they speak, people do listen. 

On Saturday after attending a church service, I took LRT to Central Station in order to visit San Agustin Church. It was a beautiful sight but the wedding was in progress and I was not allowed to enter. Intramural itself is a sight to visit. A rickshaw person took me around on a thirty minute ride explaining historical events but I was having a hard time grasping due to my inexperience at decoding pronunciation. Walking back to LRT station I stopped at a monument dedicated to those who gave up their lives fighting Marcos’ Martial Law. There were list of names of the fallen who fought for their freedom. I was touched reading the brief history and the names of those who gave up their lives. And only then to learn the paradox of freedom and possibly the lack their off that comes in a different form, in the form of economic policies. 

Under Marcos who attempted to please the peasants in rural Philippines, the production of rice was at a surplus. Then came the economic crisis leading to the need for loan from World Bank and IMF and their structural adjustment policies. With all the loans, the government had to cut back on subsidies to local farms; with the promotion of trade liberalization, tariff were reduced and other imports were allowed into the country; with the failure of land reform, small farms were at a lost while most benefits went to landlords in the name of big production as endorsed by World Bank. With little support from the government and the structural adjustment toward maximizing productivity, small farms were not able to compete. From a country with surplus in rice production, Philippines has become the biggest import rice while many local industries shut down because of their inability to compete. The land use has been reassigned to foreigners for food production and other agrofuel products while labors were outsourced for US services etc.  The details of this information come from a book by Walden Bello, The Food Wars, Director of Focuson the Global South and professor at the University of the Philippines.

It has been a much more interesting trip than I had expected from sights to feminism to food and the politics of food. 

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