Manila

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Home Sweet Quezon City

I finally moved into my apartment in Manila. It only took four weeks to find and fill with enough furniture to make it livable. It is such a relief to be able to unpack and organize all of my supplies and comic books. The apartment is in Quezon City, which is just north of Metro Manila. To give you some reference, I was staying with my friend and collaborator, Arvin Diesmos, at his house in Las Piñas (just south of Metro Manila). The distance from my apartment to his house without traffic should take about 15–20 minutes. With traffic in Manila, meaning 24 hours a day, it takes us 3–4 hours to get across town. So we have decided to boycott leaving the apartment until our next field trip. In a few days we leave for a four-week trip of seven different islands in the central Philippines. I should have plenty more to write about soon.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The New X-Games

There must be lists. Somewhere on the internet, you must be able to find out what countries rank among the scariest places to take a taxi ride. With confidence, I would bet that Manila is in the top 3. My first month here has included several short trips to local islands, presentations to universities and protected areas management boards, and of course, numerous taxi rides around the city of Manila. I honestly do not know why Philippine taxi driving is not an event at the X-Games.

All I can advise is don’t get in the cab at all if you get squeamish while traveling at mach 3. Once you close that door you are at the mercy of the cab driver, or as I have come to call them, death chasers. After a few trips though you begin to realize the simplicity of the taxi driver’s rules of engagement: 1. Honk as often as possible, in fact, tape the horn down so it permanently goes off. 2. Ignore all posted lane markings. This rule is actually very efficient at creating a 5-lane highway on a one-lane road. 3. Go as fast as you can and drive as close as you can to get around whoever is in your way. a. As part of rule 3 it is important to swerve towards pedestrians. I repeat, towards. 4. The louder you blare a station full of commercials the more “street cred.” you can secure. That will just about cover it. You are now ready to drive one yourself.