This is going to be a quick post, y’all. I’m in an Internet café in a Manila mall, and dozens of high school boys are playing video games at brain-damaging levels on their computers. The computerized sounds of machine-gun fire, high-speed car crashes, detonating bombs, and the excited yells of these hormone-crazy teenage boys are almost deafening.
Here’s a snippet of my trip so far. I’ll elaborate later, when I can hear myself think:
After a 22-hour flight: We arrived at 11 pm local time in Manila International Airport. The 120 folks from Washington, D.C. and New York delegations (that’s us) got the VIP treatment: A 4-piece band serenaded us as we walked off the plane, the Philippines ambassador to the U.S. greeted us in person and shook our hands, and a comely woman put fragrant leis of Philippine jasmine around our necks.
(I am going to kill the four 13-year old boys screaming and jumping up and down in blood lust on the computer next to me.)
Also, instead of waiting in line to get through immigration and customs, we were ushered into the foreign dignitaries lounge, and the ambassador arranged it so some government employees took care of that process for us. We were duly impressed.
By the time that got squared away, got our luggage, and were driven to the hotel, it was way past midnight, and we didn’t collapse into bed until after 2 A.M. We hit the road bright and early at 8 the next morning. By the end of the day, we had toured Manila’s old walled city (Intramuros), the Philippine treasury, ate lunch at the presidential palace (Malacanang Palace), and had an audience with the president, who is fighting for her political life.
That last part was very surreal.
Okay, that’s it. My head is going to explode. Will write more on the presidential visit later. I have to go kick some adolescent ass.
P.S.: I still haven't closed the book on the story I was working on before I left for the Philippines. I have to call my editor tonight to go over (hopefully) the last changes.