Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ingiit ka lang

I think I might like to live in the Shangri-La Makati hotel in the Philippines. I mean, I am presently, but I think I could get used to being here for an extended period of time. Like, I wonder what it might cost to reserve this room for a couple years. Consider some of the obvious benefits: everybody knows your name (it’s “sir” over here, mind you), people come around and make your room look pretty while you run around eating and shopping and working and sightseeing (okay, not so much in that order) and you can pretty much get a massage at all hours of the day. Or a facial even, though I don’t know why I’d a) need one or b) require one at, oh, 4 A.M. But it’s there nevertheless. I even came back to my clothes having been folded, which rules. It’s sorta perfect, except for the fact all I’ve eaten is the free mango they had on my table since I arrived here. Still, five star bliss, that’s what I say.

We had some downtime today, so got to go sightseeing in the city’s INTRAMUROS district. It included ruins dating back to the late 1500’s, when the city was founded by the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. A driver took us there and we’d planned on walking around at our leisure, but were somehow roped into riding a horse carriage around with a fast-talking tour guide instead. Saw the oldest church in the country, many, maaaany Catholic artifacts and plenty of old paintings (a select exciting few documented when the Japanese came over and disagreed with the prominent religion here – by cutting off the head and hands of the main priest to express their displeasure). Generally, though, we tried to keep up with all the facts the guide kept throwing at us. It was a real trip. Luckily, Ernesto the driver came along with us. He’s what you’d call the plucky comedic relief. He was relieved to learn I spoke the Tagalog and we talked/reminisced about the fine, fine Filipino cuisine.
I feel like I want to introduce you to Ernesto some more, so I will.

Ernesto works most days of the week and only gets an average of fours in a day to sleep. Per day. He told me he’s not incredibly happy to go about things that way, but he is able to put his kids through school and does put food on the table. For him, it’s a living. Before driving for the hotel, he was a taxi driver for about a decade. All of his taxi cab driving friends (and there were 10) were killed at different times in holdups. All revealed no leads as to who committed the crimes. He’s protecting himself by working at the Shangri-La, where he deals with a much safer clientele.

He’ll be driving us to the airport tomorrow morning, when we travel to the southern part of the island, Davao. And that’s alright by me. Something about drivers, they seem born with the gift of gab. Ernesto’s got it.
ernesto, some white guy, the tour guide

(Oh, and this humidity is having a way with my hair. All of a sudden, I’m a curly, wavy mess. Small price to pay for getting to drink in summer in February. Flip flops totally trump winter jackets and scarves.)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

whoa. that courtyard is gorgeous!!