Philippines, here we come! We got to Manila and were assaulted by the city. Same same, but different from the rest of Southeast Asia. Personally, it reminds me of Jakarta, but more claustrophobic. There are also many of begging men, women and children in the streets. People are cheerful, it is hot and muggy, and the smell of piss emanates from many dark corners and bare walls. The streets flow with cars, motorcycles, and fantastically decorated colorful chrome jeepneys which ferry people all around this megalopolis.
Our first day was filled with adventures and surprises around every corner. We get into a taxi at the airport and the driver agrees to use the meter. He then asks for a 50 peso tip up front. We ask why, and he laughs it off. A bit further, he insists that we give it to him, on top of the metered rate, and we decline. So he lets us out and we catch the next taxi which brings us to our hotel with no special requirements.
The national sport of the Philippines is cock fighting, so naturally we went to see what this spectacle was all about. The arena was bustling. It looked like a boxing match was about to take place. Advertisements for protein feed hung above crowds of people cheering and taking bets. The birds fought quickly but ferociously. The winner gets the royal treatment, while the loser ends up in chicken soup. We were convinced to partake in the betting, and actually won our one and only wager.
It is the holy week, and the whole country is getting ready for Easter. Walking through the streets, we were surprised by a marching band followed by a float of Jesus on the cross. It ended up on a street lined with similar floats. The road of the cross parade was being assembled but we did not have time to stick around to see what would happen next. However, we left wondering who this patron saint of the fighting cocks you see in the photo was.