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first days in Manila « Jocelyn Wong's Blog

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first days in Manila

well I think I am over my jet lag now! it was a brief struggle, but I was having coke and coffee (actually a Frapuccino at Starbucks) the previous afternoons so I would stop wanting to fall asleep when it was nighttime in California. I am not typically a coffee or soda drinker so caffeine is a big stimulant for me. :)

Here are my observations on my first few days in Manila:

1. Filipinos REALLY love their slow sappy love songs. that is what everyone listens to in the car, and that’s what they play even in fast food restaurants, like at Wendy’s.

2. I don’t want to drive here. I’m totally scared of riding my bike here (luckily I can borrow a turbo from my local friend Ria). Heck, I even get scared riding in the car… I am always blown away at how there aren’t a billion car wrecks or pedestrian accidents when I’m in the car for say, 30 minutes.

3. Massages are dirt cheap! I got a 2-hour one for the equivalent of $13 USD. Considering I haven’t been able to afford a massage at home for…oh, MONTHS…this was AWESOME!!

4. being on “Filipino time” is seriously late. my best friend in grad school was from Barbados and she was always on “Caribbean time.” it’s very laid back island style…

5. mosquitoes love me. GRRR. if I go for 10 mins without bug spray in the morning, that is already 10 new bug bites.

6. it is hot and humid here though not unbearable. It’s not too different from when I lived in Atlanta for 2 years. except the surprise thunder storms are a little crazy, 15 minutes of VERY hard rain, flooding of the streets and then suddenly it’s gone.

7. there’s really not much to complain about here though. there is a pretty big difference between social classes here and I know when I go back home to the USA, there will be nothing to complain about. NOTHING!

8. I am taller than everyone. EVERYONE. I get stared at, and I’m not even white.

so I am staying with my cousin’s family, the Concepcions, which happens to be, well, ridiculously famous here in the Philippines. My cousin is what I call a half generation older than I am (her two munchkin kids are the niece and nephew I’ve mentioned previously), and when I was 9 years old she got married to the brother of this apparently huge Filipino movie star. Not being Filipina or following their pop culture, this doesn’t mean much to me other than I have super nice extended family to take care of me and show me around while I’m here. I mean, we would see him every Christmas and Thanksgiving before he moved back to Manila. I just remember thinking when I was younger, my cousin was the first one in our family to marry someone who didn’t have a one-syllable, 3- to 5-letter Chinese last name. Apparently the brother is like the Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt of the Philippines, even when I am out with the rest of the family, we get stares when we go out to eat. (Or maybe it’s because I’m super tall here.) It is a total trip though seeing him all over billboards when driving through town and weird when people figure out that we are related (as remotely related as we are) and go totally crazy.

The other strange thing is having maids and servants in the house waiting on you. Like, no really, I can get the soy milk out of the refrigerator myself. But it’s been nice eating all the local dishes and trying new fruits. like this spiky little red one that is similar to a lychee inside. there is a coconut tree in the yard and the mangoes are REALLY fresh.

On Saturday I got to do my first prosthetic mission out here in Pampanga, it was very awesome and I will dedicate a full blog post on this with some pictures. We saw over 30 patients yesterday, half of them got new legs and the other half got casted and measured for new legs. I was pretty stoked as this is something I have wanted to do since first learning about the field of prosthetics in 2002 (at the same time I was training for my first Ironman). I’ll be heading to the local clinic later this week to help them fabricate.

one more week in Manila and then I go off to Subic next weekend!

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