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Last updated : Nov 2009
Manila! Manila!
Rating :

Feb 27 '00 (Updated Mar 05 '00)

Pros: Philippines is a paradise waiting to be discovered
Cons: not enough time and money to spend in that islands

I read with chagrin the opinions of JKeating1a," Bad Place To Be"(Sun Dec 12 1999)about the City of Manila, Philippines. Though I don't agree with him, I emphatize with him. It is evident in his rancorous tirades against Manila, the Filipinos and their Catholic religion, their trustworthiness, Filipino food, Manila traffic and even the "Jeepney" (Manila's unique minibus fashioned after the American military jeeps of World War 11 that carries 10-15 passengers), taxis and Filipino businessmen that Mr. Keating had some traumatic experiences in his business trips to Manila. I presume he had a " bad rap" sometime, some-where in the Philippines that he wanted to hit back hard against Manila and the Filipinos. But for him to generalize and belittle the Filipinos and their culture is to say the least unkind, uncalled for.

I hate to judge Mr. Keating but I think his opinions about Manila and the Filipinos were shallow, flimsy and superficial. They were, excuse me, nothing but trash talk. Obviously, Mr. Keating had a little and limited knowledge of the Philippines, of Filipino culture, Filipino food, how to safely travel in Manila and to other parts of this country, how to do business,where to go and where to eat.

I recommend that Mr. Keating read a good book by David J.Steinberg, "The Philippines A Singular And A Plural Place". Another good reading is " Philippines: A Study in National Development" by Joseph R. Hayden.

Here is brief refresher about the Philippines. It is country occupying a group of 7,100 islands in the SW Pacific off the SE coast of Asia. About 1000 islands are habitable. It was discovered by the Europeans thru Magellan in 1521. It was formerly a Spanish colony(1565-1898)and an American colony(1898-1946).The Filipinos fought side by side with the U.S.forces under General Douglas MacArthur against the Japanese(1942-1945). Before that the Filipinos fought a bitter war against the Americans(1899-1903) which is considered America's first and last war of conquest.

Manila was founded in 1565 by the Spaniards when they discovered that it was used by the early Filipinos as a center of trade in the big island of Luzon because of its proximity to the River Pasig and the Manila Bay. Note that Manila already existed long before the English Puritans, the Pilgrim Fathers established the Plymouth Colony in 1620.

The Spanish colonizers built the historic Fort of Intramuros, a city within the city of Manila , a part of it still remains. Chinatown in Manila is perhaps the oldest Chinese community in the world outside China.

Manila is famous too for the Spanish Galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico where and when Oriental goods, products such as gold, spices, Chinese silk were transported to the New World. The builders and mariners of those galleons or big ships were Filipinos under the Spanish
Forced Labor.

Manila has a rich history. The University of Santo Thomas in Manila, the famous Jesuit university, is older than Harvard University, founded in the 16th century.Unfortunately, the Old Manila was bombed to ruins(1944-45) by American warplanes during the Battle of Manila, retaking it from the Japanese.

For Mr. Keating to say " Filipino food has to be the most tasteless of all Asian foods" is beyond me! Did he stay in Manila's 5-star hotels, where most American businessmen do, where he could order the best of Filipino cuisine or did he stay in cheap, economy hotels that serve cheap economy meals? Did Mr. Keating try some real Filipino dishes like chicken adobo, beef adobo, pancit malabon, pancit molo, pancit chicken and beef guisado, lechon, la paz batchoy, kare-kare, chicken or beef or shrimp fried rice, Filipino lobsters, Filipino shrimps, rillenong isda, various seafoods soups, among others? There are books, volumes on Filipino food and cuisine which have influences from the Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesians, the people from India and the Americans.

Filipino trustworthiness? Well ask any employer in all parts of the world, including USA, how trustworthy Filipino workers are. Filipino workers are No.1 dollar earners or the No.1 export of the Philippines today. There are millions of Filipinos who finished college so the country can send all kinds of professionals, from scientists, doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, agriculturists, accountants, etc.to all places such as Africa, Middle East, Europe, Australia, Asia, among other places.

Taxi drivers are taxi drivers. In Manila there are honest ones but the predators are always around. I suggest you get the ones with taximeters and visible Dept. of Transportation license and I.D. The Manila International Airport is solving that problem, devising a system to protect the tourists and visitors from unscrupulous taxi drivers and baggage porters.

Approximately 85% of the Filipinos are Roman Catholics. That was one of the success stories of Spain in their mission to conquer and christianize the Philippines.

Mr. Keating's statement: " They are also one of the most Catholic countries in the world, so be prepared for an onslaught of religion!" To me that statement is not only uncalled for, it is ridiculous and it smacks of religious prejudice, not mentioning grammar deficiency. Instead of writing," one of the most Catholic countries in the world," why not try this," Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia." You don't say," The United States is the most Protestant country in the world" when what you want to say," The United States is the biggest Protestant nation in the world". More so, surely we Americans won't say "You tourist and visitors, prepare for an onslaught of religion."

Onslaught means to strike, intense violent attack. I never heard of Roman Catholics in the Philippines intensely, violently attacking other people of other religions. That statement of Mr. Keating, excuse me, is childish, irresponsible and without basis in fact. Filipino Catholics never impose their religion on others much more on visiting American businessmen and tourists. In fact, in practice, they don't proselyte.

Mr.Keating, you can still change your mind about not spending a vacation time in the Philippines. I suggest that you visit Boracay Islands, it's an Island Paradise! Sicogon Islands is another beauty.
Try Palawan Islands, it is the Philippines' new frontier of beautiful vacation resorts. Scuba diving and other water sports are popular in the central islands of Cebu, Panay, Samar. We can say that Hawaii is a paradise of 2 or 3 islands but the Philippines is a paradise of a thousand islands. Most of them have pristine and undiscovered beauty.

Yes sir, Mr. Keating, don't miss one half or say 90 per cent of your real vacation life. You wouldn't allow your misjudgements to becloud your sense of right and wrong and what is good and beautiful, would you?