Sunday, August 2, 2015

The beautiful Philippines

Coconut water in
the original container
Sunday, August 2, 2015
It’s my mom’s 80th birthday and I’m across the ocean. Back in Canada, I would have made a party for family and friends (probably over her protests). A phone call Friday from Bandung helps ease the distance. We don’t have internet apart from Wifi and our phone cards don’t work here. Hopefully by the time we’re settled in Baguio up north, we can log in.

Manila traffic is backed up but feels orderly to us without the motorcycles, carts, pedestrians, and angkots that criss-cross the streets of home. However, cars wander in and out of the lanes and make turns from any nearby lane, just like in Bandung.

Jeepneys – jeep limousines with an open side door, two passenger benches, and metal bars across windows and back door – cram as many as 20 side people in. Many are painted in astonishing customizations.

 A Jeepney
Manila is surprisingly American. Downtown, curbs and sidewalks are regulation size, level, and paved with concrete. The lamp posts, telephone poles, and electric towers are familiar. On the freeway, American-regulation-style is apparent in the:
·      metal guardrails
·      orange pylons  with a white reflector strip near the top.
·      orange - or yellow and black striped – barriers and posts
·      concrete wedges that line the well-paved freeways.
·      signage and road striping - the same freeway signs:
o   white rectangles - “Slow Vehicles use Right Lane”
o   green km markers and exit signs
o   blue rectangles for merges, emergency telephones, and identity signs like “Recreational Center,” “Parking Area,” and “Keep Right except to Overtake.” (Well, Americans would write, “except to Pass.”)
American-style baking 

The same Americanization is obvious in the larger shops with shelves crammed with Ami and British products. We find many of the spices, cereals, canned goods, and magazines we saw in Seattle. Restaurant chains are everywhere: Jamba Juice, Chilis, Wendy’s, Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC, Dunkin Donuts, etc.

And people carry guns.

We share a breakfast of oatmeal and toast with a retired American pastor. He travels all over the world and reminds us why people gifted to share Good News in meetings, tents, and village centers are unique. We’ve been praying for harvesters, too.

Tropical mall courtyard: "HouseplantsRUs"
“Are you a Christian?” he asks people. Many locals would say yes because Filipinos are as influenced by the Catholic Church as Indonesians are by Islam. Then, “Are you born again?” and he explains the commitment: "Surrender to  God’s provision (the forgiveness of sins won by Jesus Christ), ask him to become Lord of your life, and live in the freedom and favor of God’s loving acceptance." He prays with people – and goes to the next area.

Tagalog (pronounced TUG Ō lig) is the Filipino language but English seems to be common. Does he usually use a translator? He corrects us.

“Most people think we use “translators,” he explains. “But a translator tells word for word. I have an “interpreter” who conveys the meaning. And yes, I have an interpreter.

Part of the "Paket" meal. Leftovers for the driver, for sure
We get a call a half-hour before we’re expecting to leave. The driver is downstairs. W has just woken me from a 10-minute catnap. We pack our suitcase and head for the door.Once outside Manila, there is hardly anyone on the road. "It's too expensive for most people on the toll road," says the driver. "About $13 US where we're driving." 

He pulses his way towards Baguio. The newer houses along the freeway have standard windows and wide porches with southern American columns. We glimpse men and women on a golf course wearing white baseball caps, golf shoes, and long-sleeved clothes. The women wear short sport skirts instead of long trousers favored by the men. It looks like a magazine page from the 1970s.

Everything is so tidy! Garbage pickers keep things neat and clean and the foliage is trimmed. We could be in the midwest or southern USA … if it weren’t for the palm trees, water buffalo, and rice paddies. I have to blink when a green freeway sign points right to “Mexico.” Ok …. These are things to remember when playing “Where am I” in the Google Maps geography quizzes. (Try the game here - it's fun!)

Is this Switzerland? The tunnels and chalets near Baguio
I have my thermos of tea . Today I use a semi-precious teabag of Trader Joes Earl Grey – sometimes comfort drink is just the thing. W snoozes in the car while I write. I miss my mom and dad, my brothers and kids today. And we miss Bandung, which is probably a good thing.

The trip takes 6 hours. We leave the flatlands for spectacular mountain ranges like the BC Coastals combined with the jagged hills of Chinese paintings. Rain spatters the windshield and retreats. The clouds kiss the peaks as we climb higher and higher. Baguio is over a mile above sea level. Cool and refreshing. And the campus views are spectacular.

In his element: how W loves to teach!
After a good night's rest, W starts teaching at 8. The students are attentive and apprehensive, judging by their body language. They dive right in and soon everyone is leaning forward on their desks.

Over lunch in the cafeteria, we sit with students and meet Galen and Dickie H, who sponsored the furnishings in our room. They've served here for 14 years. It's always inspiring to hear how faculty arrive at a school they love.

The view from our window in Baguio
Read more:
*You are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. Psalm 25:5 ESV

*But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13 ESV

*Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Blessed Jesus, we so often go about our days without speaking with you in prayer and praise. We ask your forgiveness for this. Help us to turn to you constantly in prayer and thanksgiving! Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment