Our adventures exploring Wealth and Poverty in Manila: Or -how we spent Christmas in hospital looking after a fallen auntie..... Why I nearly got admitted myself.... How this all relates to a family Christmas Party and a bunch of orphaned Children.
Going and Coming:
Because we were visiting family for Christmas in Manila, we had a large polystyrene box filled with frozen Muscovy Ducks and Native Chicken. So we hired a local multi-cab driver to take us the the airport.
After a short detour into town to pay our electricity bill -we soon arrived at the newly opened (November 27) Bohol-Panglao airport. Formalities were quickly accomplished and after an uneventful flight of just over one hour we arrived at manila airport
Our First Views of
Two and a half hours after taking taxi -we reached our destination, in the dark, at around 6 PM -because of the infamous Metro Manila traffic.
An Amazing Collection of Seedlings
The first surprise was Fatima's sister's amazing collection of Seedlings in their mother's garden. This was beyond imagination.
The second surprise was less pleasant: Fatima's mother has two sisters -Eldest Sister and Middle Sister. Fatima's mother is 82 -but still the youngest. The Eldest Sister lives upstairs and is looked after by Fatima's mother.
The Ambulance ArrivesHowever, when we went upstairs to greet her on Sunday morning -we discovered her lying on the floor after a fall.
In the Philippines, it is normal practice for family to move into hospital with the patient -so they can care for them. Fatima, her mother and I all decided to bring Auntie to the hospital. Thanks to Middle Auntie who provided the number of a fast responding ambulance service and called up a hospital to reserve a room for her sister.
Upon arrival at the hospital, Auntie was given a whole battery of tests,and x-rays and was seen by the Sunday resident doctor, Dr. Trinidad. He asked Auntie where she felt pain, and Auntie replied, nothing, because you're very handsome!
However, some of the test required fasting -and poor Auntie couldn't eat until 8 pm.
When Dinner Tine finally came, the Orthopedic doctor wanted another x-ray -but poor Auntie was quite hungry -so he came and checked Auntie's legs. He gave the soles of her feet several thumps and Auntie Pin laughed and told him, if you weren't handsome I'd kick you! So he withheld the other x-rays because her legs were obviously good.
That night, Fatima and her mother slept on the bed provided -and I slept on the floor.
In the morning Mother went home to collect extra suplies for Auntie. On her return, in the afternoon, we were able to take some time off too.
Another View of Manila -between the Ayala and SM North Shopping Malls
Empty Streets, Full Agenda:
On Christmas morning we were invited for breakfast with Younger Auntie. So we stopped off on the way to collect a meal from the local takeaway.
The absence of traffic was something I'd never experienced before in Metro Manila. It was a truly magical morning.
Christmas Morning in the City
We Have Breakfast With An Aunt -before
Returning to the Hospital
However, getting a taxi was a lottery: On Christmas morning we paid 200 PHP for a taxi trip that had cost 70 PHP the afternoon before.
Auntie was staying in a family hospital -and Fatima was part of the family. So on our return to the hospital to relieve Fatima's mother -we were invited upstairs for the family reunion and Christmas Lunch.
Later, back downstairs, we discovered that the results of the tests were all good!!!
That meant that Auntie had been eating well and was well looked after. She is 90 years old!
However, it would not be fair to place the burden of her care entirely on Fatima's mother and her housekeeper. Extra help is obviously needed
The Clock is Ticking:
In addition to care givers, Auntie needs physio-therapy and a temporary brace to relieve the strain on a two compacted vertebrae.
Christmas is not a good time to organize such things -and yet we had an nonrefundable return flight booked for Saturday 29December -and we also needed to get back to look after our animals.
So we were beginning to get rather worried about our chance of sorting everything out before we left.
A night nurse had given us the name of an agency for medical staff. However a day nurse told us that she could help us find somebody directly -without going through the agency.
We were contacted several times -but in the end nobody actually showed up.
Then the physio-therapist said that he knew somebody who could help.
Nearly Another Patient:
The room was designed for air-conditioning. But neither Fatima, her Auntie or myself like air-con and we relied on just the fan.
Opening the balcony door invited in both mosquitoes and drafts -so sometimes the room got a little stuffy.The bed was also not very comfortable (for two) and the circumstances had forced us to eat convenience junk food which we are not generally used to.
Early in the morning, I suddenly, I started having a bout of hypertension and hyperventilation that I was unable to stop.
After reporting to the nurses station, I was taken downstairs to the ER and given oxygen plus a couple of tablets under the tongue to reduce blood-pressure and heartbeat.
After a while, everything returned to normal -but I was horrified to hear that the doctor (who had not even spoken to me) wanted to admit me.
I was sure that if there had been anything seriously wrong with me -then I would not have survived the last few days. So, against protests from the doctor -I signed myself out.
The Cavalry Arrive:
Meanwhile upstairs, the orthopedic brace maker had arrived and was measuring Auntie for her brace.
Shortly afterwards, we heard that a caregiver had been found.
Auntie was now almost ready to be released.
So Fatima and I left Auntie in the care of Fatima's mother -and we had some time out to sort out our own affairs.
Another Busy Day:
One of our neighbours in Bohol had been recently widowed and forced to take her kids to Metro Manila in order to find work. As if that wasn't enough, She had become ill in Manila and had to move to family in Mindanao to recuperate. Her kids were staying with another family member in Manila.
They are a lovely family -and it is very sad what happened.Fatima had promised the kids we would visit them -and this was one treat we did not wish to be denied us.
So, after Auntie had been returened by the ambulance -and installed with her caregiver -we set off.
The poor parts of town are more densely populated -but somehow, seem more human than the high-rise concrete jungles being built for the (literally) rising Middle Classes.
The Mall's car park could no doubt house thousands of people -and perhaps will, in just a few years time.
Nevertheless, we have a fun meal, enjoy the kids playing, and after giving a few presents, say our sad goodbyes.....
We have a meeting to discuss the situation with Fatima's sister -who has just returned from a Christmas holiday in Hongkong with her husband and kids.
The restaurant and hotel surroundings seem to be a sanitized and idealized fantasy of what might once have been destroyed in order to build this new recreational pedestrian area.
Personally, I find it rather bizarre to live in a tropical country, where it seems that a large percentage of the population have already abandoned nature entirely -apparently in favour of air-conditioned cars, condominiums and shopping malls.
The rich have long ago retreated into their gated communities, protected by armed guards. Soon, only the poor will know how life is outside the air-con zone.
...and, in a global world, what happens in Asia today -could be what's happening in Europe tomorrow......
But perhaps the poor, really will inherit the earth -if there is any of it left for them.....
In Daylight the View from the Hotel is Less Magical
Although we had pre-paid for 25 kg of Luggage when we booked our flight -we later discovered that the company would not accept our plants for transport.
We had to have them inspected and certified by a government official (at the airport) and then take them to another company -who would fly them down on the same plane.
We had been told that we would have pay 40 PHP per kilo freight charges -and yet somehow we actually got charged 2,800 PHP for 9 kilos of plants.
Of course, the freight deopt was some way away from the domestic passenger tewrminal. Luckily we were ble to use the "Last Call" check-in desk to get our boarding passes -without having to stand in the queue.
Even so, we arrived at the gate almost immediately before boarding.
Finally Home. The animals are fine -all's well
...but no Internet connection -because the company had screwed up with their billing.
Now we have to go to town tomorrow (Sunday) to sort it out -so we can contact friends and family who may be worried about our silence.
Our widowed neighbour has recovered and planning to return to Metro Manila to look after her kids
Before leaving we were pleased to hear that the possible typhoon that was expected in the area had been downgraded to a tropical depression and later to a low pressure area. However, a few days later we read on the BBC:
Philippines deadly storm and landslides kill more than 60
"More than 60 people have died after a powerful storm struck the Philippines, with locals reportedly taken by surprise by its strength Storm Usman hit the Bicol region southeast of capital Manila on Saturday. At least 17 people are missing and the death toll is expected to rise. One official told AFP news agency that people did not take precautions as it was not classed as a typhoon under the government's alert system."
It has been said that all that does not kill you will make you stronger.
Some people have praised us for our Christmas sacrifice.
Some of it was very pleasurable. However, It was indeed, sometimes, a difficult week -but overcoming those difficulties together has strengthened our relationship enormously.
So perhaps we have gained the most as a result of our trip to Manila.
Fatima writes: I need to add that Trevor brought some books for Auntie during her stay at the hospital. One of the books was Fanny Hill. It's very early erotica, written in the 1700's, classic literature. Mom found the book in the hospital room, started reading it and half-way through the book she told me - don't give that to Auntie! It's about prostitutes!! Trevor had to laugh because that was Auntie's book in the first place!!! Hahahaha ...
Then in the evening, Trevor was looking for the book, but it was gone! Apparently, mom took it back home with her to read!! hehahahahahah!!!!
Fanny Hill:Memoirs of a Woman of PleasureNovel by John ClelandFrances "Fanny" Hill is a rich Englishwoman in her middle age, who leads a life of contentment with her loving husband Charles and their children. The novel consists of two long letters (which appear as volumes I and II of the original edition) addressed by Fanny to an unnamed acquaintance, who is only identified as 'Madam.' Fanny has been prevailed upon by the 'Madam' to recount the 'scandalous stages' of her earlier life, which she proceeds to do with 'stark naked truth' as her governing principle.
Fanny's account begins with the loss of her parents at the age of 14 followed by a journey to London, and ends with her union with Charles about five years later. The intermediate narrative is filled with many sexual experiences, which are described with vividness, whimsy, wit and humour. Metaphors and similies are used to describe sexual organs and activities. The plot was described as 'operatic' by John Hollander, who said that "the book's language and its protagonist's character are its greatest virtues."
John ClelandBritish East India Company in Bombay, Cleland became a penniless wanderer who drifted from place to place and was apparently confined several times in English debtors’ prisons. In such reduced circumstances, he wrote Fanny Hill (1748–49) for a fee of 20 guineas. An elegant, flowery work of pornography describing the activities of a London prostitute, this novel has enjoyed enormous popularity for more than two centuries as a classic of erotic
literature. When originally published, it was immediately suppressed (an action later repeated many times), and Cleland was called before the Privy Council. He pleaded his extreme poverty and was not sentenced. Instead, Lord Granville, thinking him talented, secured him a yearly pension of £100, that he might put his gifts to better use. Thereafter, he became a journalist, playwright, and amateur philologist.