Though Kina and I enjoyed some good times and I thank God for bringing her into my life at just the right moment; we were only meant for friendship. But through that friendship she showed me some of the sights in the Manila area when I could get her to leave the hotel. Kina wanted to stay put with her son Karl because of typhoon warnings. “We cannot go out there’s typhoon,” she would say.
“Really,” I asked? “The sun is shining and people are walking around outside.”
“Yes but they have warned of typhoon,” Kina shouted!
“Well Kina, they have tornados where I come from and they tell you to get in the basement. Do you think everybody cowers in his or her basement until the radio says its all clear? Of course not, life goes on.”
“Look,” she said pointing, “It is getting cloudy and the rain will be coming soon.”
“Well I didn’t fly seven thousand miles to sit in a hotel room! I want to see some of the country,” I retorted!
“Fine! You want to see the country I will go to front desk and arrange for a cab to take us,” said Kina in a more civilized tone.
I was hoping to try the jeepney that I’d read about and seen pictures of; they looked like a fun way to travel. “Can’t we get a jeepney? I’ve read about them and how they are the favorite mode of transportation in the Philippines, right? I like the way you just hop on and away you go!”
“Well my other boyfriend would always take cab. Karl was a millionaire!” (Her son Karl was named after Kina’s boyfriend.) “We stayed at the EDSA Shangri-la Hotel – a five-star hotel.” Well she succeeded in making me feel small and like there was nothing I would be able to do for her, that was how I felt anyway. I could not compete with a millionaire, hell, I couldn’t even compete with an able-bodied man.
I said, “Kina, I told you in our correspondence that I was not wealthy and you said that was fine, that money didn’t matter.” What people say, however; and what they think and feel may be totally different, as I soon discovered.
“Money is not important to me, but I think it would make you more comfortable,” and off to the front desk she softly stomped because a Filipino does not show anger in public though it is obvious when they are mad! She was back in a matter of minutes and said, “The cab is ready whenever you are. We will go see Intramuros and the FilAm Cemetery.”
“What is Intramuros” I inquired? And, ” I don’t want to go to a cemetery!” (That sounds like a spoiled little kid, maybe I was) But she insisted, and so with dread; we began our journey.
She spoke in Tagalog to the cab driver after I had mentioned for him to turn on his meter and away we went. I hated being like this, watching every dime but I only had a limited amount of money; (by American standards) I was crazy to be here. But again listening to my wealthy best friend and reading about how a guy could live here for $800 I was juiced. Those articles also talked much of using the jeepney in place of the more expensive taxi and eating the native foods, but did I do that…noooo. Usually the food was imported, many restaurants and mostly at international hotels; I really was spoiled or had a millionaire’s palette while on a small, limited income.
“We will go to cemetery first. It’s the Filipino American Cemetery memorializing World War II.” Who was I to argue? At least I was out of the hotel.
We got there in the air-conditioned cab, very comfortable. We stepped out of the cab and I wanted to crawl back in where it was cool. The outside air was heavy, humid and hot! The driver waited.
To my great surprise the cemetery was amazing! Majestic, wide columns all with names, ranks and states inscribed for the American soldier. The Filipino soldiers had their name, rank and province listed there as well. The American and the Filipino soldiers fought side by side against the Japanese and finally won out. I managed to get a photo of Karl among the columns and it happens to be among my most treasured pictures…
Next we went to Intramuros and I was reminded of being a child again on a field trip with my school to Fort Snelling, and the Sibley House. The buildings here had that same, even more so, ancient feel. The walls were made from thick, big blocks of rock, just as they were at the “Fort” that overlooks the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Of course their hallowed, national hero, Jose
Rizal had many plaques honoring him and much of the history of Intramuros included info of him. And this is a part of the info gathered about him: Noli Me Tángere (Touch me Not) is a novel written by José Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, during the colonization of the country by Spain to expose the inequities of the SpanishCatholic priests and the ruling government. The title, in Latin meaning Touch me not, refers to John 20:17 in the Bible (King James Version) as Mary Magdalene tried to touch the newly risen Jesus, He said “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” Early English translations of the novel used titles like An Eagle Flight (1900) and The Social Cancer (1912), disregarding the symbolism of the title, but the more recent translations were published using the original Latin title. It has also been noted by French writer D. Blumentritt that “Noli me tangere” was a name used by ophthalmologists for cancer of the eyelids. That as an ophthalmologist himself Rizal was influenced by this fact is suggested in his dedication, “To My Country”. Originally written in Spanish, the book is more commonly published and read in the Philippines in either Filipino or English. Together with its sequel, El Filibusterismo, the reading of Noli is obligatory for high school students throughout the archipelago.
We returned to Robinson’s Apartelle in Mandaluyong City (a part of Manila) and Kina thought I should try some of their ice cream. I was given a taste of their maize ice cream because I wasn’t too sure about corn and ice cream…it was delicious but I also tasted their Mango ice cream and that’s what I went with on this occasion. Nothing better than a delicious, fresh Mango from the Philippines!