I’ve finally managed to rope Ryan (boyfriend and fellow #gaplifer) into contributing to the blog.
Although I kept trying to convince him to guest post there was a voice in the back of my mind telling me to give up. Ryan is an infinitely better prosaic writer than me… and I didn’t want him to show me up!
Hopefully I will be able to continue to beg him to guest post every week, but there’s only so much nagging a woman can do (trust me). So whether or not this is going to be a standard feature remains to be seen, but for now here’s Ryan’s Weekly Round-Up: Week One.
Remember that feeling, as a child, when you’d go digging around in the dirt in search of some great treasure but at best you would only turn up an ancient milk bottle or better still a twenty something year old tin of Heinz Baked Beans. It was a far cry from the treasure you had envisioned but it was treasure nonetheless and sat pride of place on some shelf for at least the next week. Well this my friends is the most adequate way I have of describing my feelings on Manila.
Our first stop was a true baptism of fire, especially for myself. The city is the most densely populated city in the world and this quickly becomes evident as you try and weave your way through the solid walls of traffic and the smog which envelopes it all. However dig a little deeper and there is treasure of sorts. In our case these came in the forms of Rizal Park and the old city, Intramuros. The former is a huge open park which offers small areas of respite from the brutal midday sun, with small pockets of shade amongst the towering statues of ancient war heroes and water features which dominate large areas of the park. The latter, Intramuros, is the oldest part of the city and is a standing testament to the influence of the Spanish on this nation, especially the strong sense of Catholicism, which persists even today throughout the archipelago. This small quarter of the city is dominated by intricate Spanish architecture and houses two bastions of the Catholic Church within the Philippines, the Manila Cathedral and the rather more beautiful San Augustine Church.
Other than this, the city appears to be one that has long outgrown its own infrastructure and despite the incessant and inconsiderate expansion, one that is clearly struggling to bear the sheer weight of its own people. It’s difficult to make a judgment of a city after only two days and I fully appreciate that there is most certainly much more to this city than I have managed to surmise here, but I do know for certain that I am leaving with a feeling of having seen enough and not wanting more. Flying south towards clearer skies and tropical climes is a relief more than anything and despite the makeshift treasures we stumbled upon in Manila, there is no doubt that the genuine booty lies further south, in the heart of the archipelago. The Visayas.