Holiday in Manila

-December 2018

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.

December 22:

Day 1 -Manila

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 Metro Manila

The first views of Manila from the

....and Our Arrival

Images of Arrival in Metro Manila

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.

December 23:

Day 2 -Emergency

Surprising Sunday:

An Amazing Collection of Seedlings

Images of seedlings growing in a Manila backyard

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.
However, when we went upstairs to greet her on Sunday morning -we discovered her lying on the floor after a fall.
The Ambulance Arrives

Images of Manila Ambulance

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.

...and We All Go to the Hospital

Images of Manil hospital at Christmas

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.


December 24:

Day 3 -Breakout

Musical Chairs:

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

Images of Metro Manila -near SM North

...and We get to a Restaurant for a Break

Images of people in a Metro Manila Mall Restaurant

December 25:

Day 4 -Social and Hospital Duties

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

Images of Christmas morning in Metro Manila

We Have Breakfast With An Aunt -before Returning to the Hospital

Images of Christmas breakfast in Metro Manila

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

December 26:

Day 5 -Looking for Helpers

Our World!

Images of room in Manila hospital

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.

December 27:

Day 6 -Problems Solved -After Almost Another Emergency

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.

Then the Paperwork

Images of hospital paperwork

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.

We Escape into the Manila Traffic again

Images of Metro Manila traffic

December 28:

Day 7 -Discharged, at Last

The Patient is Returned -and we are Free to Go

Images of a return from hospital

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.

....back into Traffic

Images of Metro Manila roads just after Christmas

...Into the Poor Part of Town

Images of the poor part of Metro Manila

To Visit our ex-Neighbour's Kids -and take them out for a treat

Images of Metro Manila

At the Local Shopping Mall

Images of Metro Manila Shopping Mall

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.

Images of a Metro Manila Shopping Mall

Imagws of a Metro Manila Shopping Mall

Nevertheless, we have a fun meal, enjoy the kids playing, and after giving a few presents, say our sad goodbyes.....

We Return Home to Pack-Up our Plants and Other Luggage

Various Images from a stay in Metro Manila

Then Back into Traffic -on the way to a Hotel

Images of a taxi ride in Metro Manila

Images of arrival at a Metro Manila Hotel

...and a Small Family Meeting at a Nearby Restaurant

Images of eating out in Metro Manila

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.

Images of night-time in Metro Manila

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.....

December 29:

Day 8 -Happy to Return

In Daylight the View from the Hotel is Less Magical

Views from the windows of a Metro Manila hotel

...but the Breakfast is a Great Compensation -if you can afford it

Images of Breakfast in a Metro Manila luxuary hotel

Images of Breakfast in a Metro manila luxuary hotel

Then Off To The Airport

Images of route from Metro Manila hotel to the

With A Strange Mix of Environments in  the Short Trip to the Airport

Images of rouite from Metro manila hotel to the

Images of roiute from Metro Manila luxuary hotel to
          the airport

...and the Hassle Begins

Images of Manila Domestic Air Terminal

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.

...Before Being Allowed Outside

Images of boarding aircraft at Manila Domestic

To Arrive an Hour or So Later at the New Bohol International Airport

Images of arrival at the new Bohol-Panglao airport

Where Our Transport takes us to the Freight Building -To Pick up Our Plants

Images of arrival and freight buildings at new
          Bohol-Panglao airport

...and Head for Home

Images of the route from the airport to our house

Where the Sun is Shining and We Can Finally Relax with Animals and Plants

Images of tropical backyard in the afternoon sun


Epilogue 1

Image of packaged plants sent as air freight

Communication Problems:

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.


Epilogue 2

Image of plants in box after being
        sent as air freight

Good Health:

Our widowed neighbour has recovered and planning to return to Metro Manila to look after her kids


Epilogue 3

Image of plants in a box after
                being sent as air freight

Mixed messages:

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."


Epilogue 4

Image of unpacked plants after being sent as
                  air freight

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.


Epilogue 5

Image of cat

Naughty Books:

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 Pleasure
Novel by John Cleland
Frances "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."[16]

Image of evening sun in a tropical backyard

John Cleland

John Cleland, (born 1709—died Jan. 23, 1789, London), English novelist, author of the notorious Fanny Hill; or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.

After serving as a consul at Smyrna and later as an agent of the British 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.

Image of a woman in front
                    of a window in a tropical house


Memoirs of a woman of pleasure (Fanny Hill)


Image of sticks in a tropical backyard evening

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Trevor Batten
 <trevor at tebatt dot net>
 Baclayon 2018/9