Sunday, January 29, 2006

Partyin' in Pittsburgh!!

Guess what? The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the Super Bowl.

If for some reason we didn't already know, that simple fact has been succesfully driven into our heads and the black and gold colors of P-town have been seered into our mental imagery for weeks to come. It's like every inhabitant of the entire Pittsburgh region has made it their personal mission to make sure that every other soul on Earth is aware of this. That, or their just trying to convince themselves...but more on that later!

This past weekend we headed westward to the great City of Three Rivers to say our final pre-Manila goodbyes to our dear friends and family on the other side of the state of Pennsylvania. Got up Saturday around 7am, hopped in the car, and after getting thoroughly Starbucks-ed up, pulled into Station Square around 1 pm. Chris and Lisa stopped by shortly after and we had some drinks in the hotel lobby before heading to Buca di Beppo's down the street.

Chris had a bad experience with a group dinner at Buca's previously, so we were not quite sure how they would handle our crazy group of 14, even though they had sworn they "never split up a group". Well, they were sort of right. We didn't get an entire table all to ourselves, but close enough, and our server, Charlie, kept us well served all evening. After appetizers (with enough garlic to kill several generations of vampires), we feasted on some massive portions of baked ravioli, linguini, spaghetti with (massive) meatballs and beer.

In addition to Kendra and I, we had had
  • Chris (Kendra's brother) and his wife Lisa,
  • Emily #1 (formerly from Accenture) and her fiance Mark
  • Emily #2 (P-Pack, Accenture) and her husband Matt
  • Pete (from Donegal HS) and his wife Erin (also from Punta Cana)
  • Derek (again, Donegal and Punta Cana) and his girlfriend Lonnie
  • Ryan (YCP & Punta Cana)
  • Tall (as opposed to Blonde) Greg, also from the Punta Cana trip.
(See, you spend one week surviving on Presidente and mini-pizzas in the Dominican, and you make friends for life!)

Shots of the crew:
Not content to let the fun die early, we moved the party a few blocks down Carson St. to a club called Saddle Ridge. Now I knew Pittsburgh is pretty far west as opposed to Philly, but a moment after stepping into this club I could have sworn we were minutes from the Texas border. I've never seen so many people actively listening to country music since 9th grade gym class where we had to line-dance with the girls for class credit. The bizarre thing was the combination of the hard-core cowboy-hat wearing, mechanical bull-riding crowd and the glossy-lipped, low-cut tube top Jersey girl crowd. It's like they took Egypt on the Delaware, tossed out half the underage daddy's-girls from across the river and replaced them with attendees of a Garth Brooks concert. All a little strange to me, but the venue was amazing and everyone was having a great time.

After a while, we ventured off to another big warehouse-ish club playing more of a top-40 mix (with a little Living on a Prayer thrown in for good measure and audience participation). Everyone was dancing (even Matt on his crutches) and enjoying the night (got a rum and coke for $1.00!!). I should mention that at both bars, each track was introduced (and often interupted) with the following dialogue:

A:(Unseen wanna-be radio DJ guy): "Are there any Steeler's fans in the house tonight?"

B:(crowd): "Wooooooo!!!"

A: "I said, are there any Steeler's fans in the house tonight?"

B: "WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

A: "Pittsburgh, if you know who's gonna win the SuperBowl, let me hear you make some noise!!"

B: "Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo", etc... etc

Ah, good times!! Much thanks to everyone who came out for dinner and for P-Pack and Matt for showing us a great time in their city!

For our entire drive back to Philly, we were between a dark raincloud and a band of bright blue sky, resulting in multiple rainbows on and around the Turnpike...here's a double rainbow, taken through a wet windshield and moving wipers:

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Farewell to Friends in Washington D.C.

(The D.C. Metro...in motion!)
-shot by Tim, made happy by PhotoStudio 5.5

This past weekend, Tim and I made a trip to D.C. in a way that seems strange to most people, but is entirely typical for us.

I ended up making my flight that Saturday morning from the snowy Chicago (see previous post), landed in Washington Reagan and took the metro to Brian's stop on the Red Line. I will pause here for two extraneous comments. First, I love the Metro in Washington D.C. It is so easy to use, and I have always been impressed with it. Second, the escalator at Brian's metro stop is SO LONG. I swear whoever built it was trying to make an automated version of Jacob's ladder. OK - back to the story. Brian met me at the stop and we walked back to his condo. We were both hungry. Tim was still a few hours away (driving down I-95 from Philly), so Brian and I ate Ethiopian food, which was DELICIOUS. We arrived back at the house at about the same time as Tim. Tim and I end up meeting up for most of our plans separately, but hey - it keeps things interesting! Brian thought it was a little funny that we came separately from two different states with two different suitcases and claimed two different corners of the house.

Brian has two precious kitty cats - both boys and brothers from the same litter. Their names are Peter and John. I immediately became enamored of Peter. He is the bigger of the two and seems to catch on to things a little slower. John is smaller, playful, and very energetic. Perfect example: Tim brought some gifts for the cats from Bone-Jour - a little pet botique in our area of Old City. He brought a catnip carrott and a container of marinated mice (Elora loves these toys!) John immediately caught on and began dashing all over like a crazy cat. He was rubbing the carrot on his head and rolling around. Peter sauntered over, and took one dedicated swipe at the carrot and then turned his back to the toy and stared at the wall. Occasionally, he would try to play but lost interest in about 0.5 seconds only to trip over his tail as he was running off. What an adorable creature! Brian is such a good daddy with those two. Peter and John made us miss our little Elora very much :-(














That evening we took the Metro to Chinatown to D.A.'s Regional Food and Drink to meet up with some of our other friends and have dinner and drinks. "Blonde Greg" (or just Greg, now that there are not two of them) is one of our friends from the Dominican Republic trip. He met us there as well as Elise Minzer (an old friend from Minnesota) and 3 of her friends also from Minnesota - Suzie, Mike, and Kwamie. It was great to see everyone again, and we had a great evening with way too much food and some interesting beers. Elise and I liked the lambics, which taste more like champagne. (I'm sure that Brian will hate that comparison since he brews beer, so I will revise- It was a little bubbly, fruity, and happened to be served in a champagne glass. However, I'm not sure that means it tasted like champagne). Tim enjoys the dark lagers and the pale ales.














We took the Metro back home and found a much colder return walk home from the stop. We fell asleep almost immediately, as we were still tired from the previous day and slept from about 3am - noon.

When we woke up, Brian called Jerlynne (friend who is from the Philippines and still has family there) and we all went for sushi for lunch and great conversation. We had a great time and talked for many hours. We dropped her off and visited with her huge husky dog, Musky, who was very distracted because he thought the mailman was coming. (Who says dogs have no sense of time?)
















Now it's time for a fun game for all the kids!!
In the picture below can you find.....
  • A Husky?
  • The Photographer?
  • Brian Horst?
  • Kendra?
  • The Mailman? (trick question..it was Sunday...the mailman doesn't come on Sunday..don't tell the dog!)
We packed up, said goodbye to Brian, and headed home for some more much needed sleep, and not looking forward to having to return to work so soon the next day.

(Here's a shot looking upwards on the escalator @ the Wheaton stop on the Red Line)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Kendra STRANDED!

Well, I am not the photographer Tim is, and I have only my Treo right now to take photos, but I thought you would appreciate seeing a pic of why I am still in Chicago. Yes, as of about 1:30pm today, no snow. Now, there is quite a bit and it is still coming down. I'm at a hotel near the airport and I'm going to try again tomorrow morning to get to the east coast. I'm going to fly right to Washington D.C. where we had planned to meet up with Brian Horst and several other friends. Were I to fly to Philly as planned, we wouldn't have enough time to drive there, so I'm going to fly to Washington Reagan and take the Metro to Brian's stop.

I was in Chicago this week for my Core Manager School with Accenture. It was a good course. In case you were wondering, my social style is a "driving amiable". If I had to classify Tim, I would say he is an "amiable amiable". Driving and Amiable are in some ways opposite styles (which is of course why I have both of them). I guess this explains why Tim and I are a good pair on many levels.

I better get some sleep now.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Accenture-ites Spanning The Globe!!

In today's Geography lesson, we will be learning about India.

India is HERE:
India is a federal republic, with a bicameral parliament operating under a Westminster-style parliamentary system. It has a three-branch system of governance consisting of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.

Like you care...

What we care about is a small handful of people who are temporarily a part of the one billion+ Indian population.

These 4 people happen to be named Abbie, Will, Christine and Jeff.

Abbie and Christine have been working with Kendra on an Accenture (High Performance. Delivered) project in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and I have had the pleasure of meeting both of them in Philadelphia. Will and Abbie have been married for 2 years and Jeff is Christine's boyfriend. On a mission from Accenture (High Performance. Delivered) all 4 of them spent a few weeks last year exploring the crazy culture that is India.

And like all smart modern kids, they blogged it.

Full of rickshaws, cows in the street, saree shopping, and scuba diving, this a very well put together compilation of everyones journal entries, thoughts and adventures, complete with enough pictures, videos and links to other sites for the reader to get a great feel of the culture. (Be sure to check out Will's on-stage speech in Kannada, and the audio recording of the rickshaw drivers!)


So I proudly present:

Will and Ab in Bangalore


Here's a teaser shot:


Thanks, Will, for sharing your skill - Good Luck to Abbie (she's presently back in Bangalore)

Let's hope that "What's Up in Our World" can be this entertaining and informative about the Philippine culture and our adventures!! Although, if I ever get to Goa, my blog entry will be quite a bit different than Will's...(if you're confused by that, just go here)

Philadephia... City of Brotherly Lo...(BANG!!!)

If any of you reading this have any concerns about our safety while in the Phillipines, take heart- Our best move to secure our well-being may actually be when we leave Philly on a plane February 6th. We're 19 days into 2006 and Philly's already had 19 shooting deaths so far (2005 had 370+ [the "+" is for the bodies we couldn't find]) Tell NBC-10 what you think.

Random Observation and Reader Poll: My freshman year in college (1995/96) I created a killer (read: low-tech/cheesey/unorganized) Geocities webpage (complete with links to reviews of my favorite movies at the time). Today, it's gone, unnaccesable, even with a fine-toothed Google. What do you think the longevity/archival-ness of personal blog sites like this is? Is this something that the great-grandkids are going to be able to look up years from now and read about the tales of Tim and Kendra from the olden days of Ipods, CompactFlash cards, and that crummy-looking HDTV? Will Isabel/Ella/Zoe/Kendra/Ana/Eva Miller (the off-spring of Jess & Andy) going to be able to look back on her 16th birthday and read about all the stories surrounding her birth? If not, what are the options for permanent archival of fleeting website content?

Horsey Pics!

Here are some of the pictures from our horse(I think they were horses)-back riding adventure in the Dominican. Thank you Kodak Disposables! Be sure to ckeck out the rest of our Dominican Republic Punta Cana Posts:

Dominican Leftovers
More Dominican Rep. Pics


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Jet Lag Hell

The experts at No Jet-Lag.com (did you ever doubt that you can find anything/everything on the Web?) say this:

"What is Jet Lag? Being tired and slightly disoriented for days after arriving, accompanied by a lack of concentration and motivation, especially for any activity that requires effort or skill, such as driving, reading or discussing a business deal.

"Crossing time zones can cause you to wake during the night or have difficulty getting to sleep and then want to fall asleep during the day. Your inbuilt circadian rhythms have been disturbed, and it can take many days for the body to readjust to the new time zone. NASA estimates you need one day for every one-hour time zone crossed to regain normal rhythm and energy levels."

Manila is 12 hours ahead of Philly (13 in Daylight Savings).

I'm screwed. Here's why...

I was fine after our 18 hour marathon sleep-fest Friday night and all the way through Sunday. For the past 3 days, however, I've been waking up at 3am (unintentionaly) fully awake and energized. Monday morning, it felt sort of cool, so I got all sorts of things done around the house and online before leaving for work as well as made breakfast (w/coffee!) and packed a lunch for later. As soon as I got in the car, my energy level instantly plummeted, but with the help of homemade Starbucks and some fast and hard house music, arrived safely to work and forgot about it.

3:00 pm: Energy level again nose dives to below zero level. Struggle through the remaining hours, fight sleep on the drive back home and on arrival instantly have an energy rebound. Make a nice big one-person dinner, do some blog work and laundry...then crash again around 9pm. Before I know it, it's 3:00 am again and I'm ready to take on the world.

It's now Wednesday night and this is sort of how it's been all week so far (according to NASA I've only 7 more days of this to go..Yay!!) . The only positive things have been a very enjoyable video shoot with Charles and Zigga on Tuesday and the truly fantastic last-minute news that I wouldn't have to drive a van (read: row a canoe-it's been pouring here with 50mph wind gusts all day) into Manhatten (yuck!) tonight into Thursday. Praise the Lord!

Now I've succesfully arrived back home in the car, took a brisk, cold walk to Starbucks for a mocha (Venti, no whip) and am going to do as much work around the house as possible before the inevitable onset of jetlag coma.

Before I go, here's a shot to share: a bird's eye view of customers scrounging for candy inside the Glorietta mall in Makati.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Enchanted Ferris Wheel

Here's a shot I took of the Ferris Wheel at Enchanted Kingdom:
(See our blog entry from our day there)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Flora of the Phillipines

There never seemed to be a right time to post these, so here are some shots of the more flowery specimens growing around the Makati area.



And, a shot of the Makati skyline under the daily dark clouds which never seemed to produce any rain:

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Gulliver is Home For Now

Hello! This is Kendra. We are back at home now and it is great to be in Philadelphia. The Philippines is great, and we continue to look forward to spending the next period of the year in Makati, but we love where we live, and it is good to be here again.

We arrived in the Detroit yesterday (Friday) at around 10:50am. We realized right away that we were back to normal size, since a large percentage of the Northwest World Club was business men over 6 feet. We cleaned up there and relaxed for a few hours before our flight to Philadelphia. Our flight to Philadelphia was delayed a little bit due to fog, and when we landed, we realized this was no joke. (Generally when I am told a plane is delayed due to weather, we land to find perfect weather. In fact, I was pretty set in my conviction that the plane was delayed coming in from Philadelphia because the pilots were stuck in the notoriously slow Burger King line). Japan was really foggy too. Perhaps we are bringing it home with us.

After arriving home we showered and had some water. A glass of airborne and 2 Tylenol P.M. for each of us later, it was 6:30pm and we were fast asleep. We hadn't slept for more than 1 hour for two nights straight, so I though we might sleep 12 hours or so. But no - 18 hours. That's right - we did not wake up until after noon. I am not sure that I have ever slept 18 hours since I was old enough to remember. I definitely had very bizarre dreams during this 18 hours. I think my brain was churning through Makati, the 747, and Philadelphia - trying to decide where it was now.

The first thing we did was go in search of some food. We went to a burrito place on South Street called the Joint and got 2 regular sized burritos. We both ate almost the entire burrito which was quite the accomplishment. Tim is VERY FULL now. I am not overly full, but since my burrito was a vegetarian one, it didn't have quite as filling ingredients (no cheese, chicken, or sour cream). After this, we went to Whole Foods to pick up some food for the next week. It was good to have these famliar experiences and get used to being back here again.

Now we have football on (and it is not 6 in the morning!) and I am going through my emails and trying to find out where I am supposed to be next week - Philadephia, Ft. Wayne, or Chicago.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Fish Market

Today I tasted a crab for the first time.

I've eated crabs before. Crab Legs. Steamed Crabs. Crab Bisque. Crab Cakes. Even Maryland Crabs, which are supposed to be the bomb-diggity.

But no, I've never actually tasted a crab until tonight.

This morning it was swimming, or rather, crawling, somewhere along the bottom of the South China Sea. At approximatly 8:00pm tonight, I saw it scraping it's way over and under about 30 of it's fellow species members in a box at a market place outside of Manila. And then, about 45 minutes after that, it was sitting in front me, dead, on a plate and steaming hot. After a quick demonstration by our friend George on how to open the creature and reveal it's contents, I gave it a try and had the distinct realization that, indeed, until then I had never actually tasted a crab.

The same with shrimp. Only shrimp would not be the word I would choose to use in this situation. Think more along the lines of the size of a small bird.

Yes, tonight was an culinary eye-opener. George and his mother met us at our building at 7, then drove into Manila to pick up Rene, Vanessa and Crystel. Along the way we passed through some very interesting territory. Think North Philly, but much more alive. People out everywhere, gangs of kids running through the streets, people grilling food on the sidewalk, dogs and cats here and there.

About 40 minutes of driving through this area, then through downtown Manila we got to our destination (called Dampa). We parked, and walked down an alley lined with shops and other businesses. We stopped at a small location with long tables, chairs and a TV (one of the many locations along the street for Ihaw-Ihaw - grill). After speaking with the owner, George led us further down the street to a outdoor market filled with every imaginable kind of fish, crab, lobster, squid, oyster, clam and every other imaginable sea creature. Also, there was every kind of meat available, such as a complete pig leg (with hoof) hanging from a wire. The floor was concrete, with a metal grates running the length of the building. This was to catch the steady rivers of water and goo running off of the tables as more and more fish were dumped onto them. Chunks of bloody beef and lamb from the butchers table were floating down these rivers and under our feet. At every table were several men who would hold up the best of their wares, usually a large fish chopped in half, or a massive lobster-looking creature, and shout out, "Sir, Sir, you like?" or "Hey Boss, for you!" Vanessa took charge and went from table to table picking out vegetables and fish and speaking with the people. She was very aware of what the prices of certain things should be and would barter many times to get the correct deal. On the shrimp table there had to be at least 10 varieties, in various sizes and colors, so I pointed to the very largest of them all, and Vanessa pulled out a dozen.

After loading up with fruits, vegetables, fish, shrimp and crab, we carried it all back to the place with the tables and chairs...the crabs trying to get out of the plastic bag they were in the whole way. This was just one of the locations all along this street that would cook up whatever you bought at the market and serve it to you with drinks and rice.

The food was prepared, brought out and was delicious! Kendra had a plate full of rice and sauteed vegetables, some of which were completly new to us. All through dinner, people would come in off the street, into the shop, selling things such as cheeses, balloons and other toys. They would also come in to sit and watch the Filipino soap operas which were playing on the TV. George and his mother were especially involved in several of these shows, and there was frequent shouting and gesturing toward the television. (Verna actually relocated from our table to sit right underneath the TV sho she could hear about some Italian love-child!)

Fruit finished the meal. Mango, I must say, in its native country, is absolutly amazing. Scraped off the skin and eaten in sections, it's got a flavor unlike anything else. Soft like a peach, but sweeter and firmer, sort of like a kiwi with no seeds.

It was a very interesting night. Complete with beggars, crazy no-rules driving, new foods and a realization that standards have forever been changed.

*****

This is Kendra. Tim has it right on in his post in describing the evening. I had many thoughts going through my head as the evening progressed.

I didn't have time to change for the evening. I arrived back at the apartment from work just a few minutes before we were supposed to meet George downstairs at 7:00pm. I had time to throw down my laptop and take out my earrings. At least even though I went to the market in a skirt, pantyhose, and heels, I didn't go in dangly pink crystal earrings, because that might have cried out "privledged American career woman" even more. (*sigh*) In my defense, I didn't really know what the place would be like.

Anyway, Morris the driver navigated out of the area in an expert but somewhat crazy way that made me feel kind of woozy. I would do many things before driving one block in Manila. Initially, we drove past the familiar street that goes back towards the airport. However, soon we took a detour to pick up Rene and family, as Tim mentioned. Here is where it started to get even more interesting. We drove through neighborhoods that had character and were very unique, but didn't look very safe. Well, to adjust that - they looked like if you lived there you would be fine, but that if you were an outsider, it would not be a good idea to walk around. It reminded me of the neighborhoods in south and north Philadelphia where you see 5 year old girls skipping around freely and know that if you stepped out of your car you might get shot and you are 6 times her age.

It struck me for the first of many times that evening that if it were not for Raquel's family, I would never leave Makati. The area we are staying in Makati is very similiar to where we live in Philadelphia. It is easy to adjust there and feels familiar. It is good that we have people to show us other areas, because I know we wouldn't do it on our own. At the end of our time here, we will have experienced a more "real" Manila than had we stayed in our area where we are comfortable, and it is an added plus that we can experience this safely with people who live here.

[Before I go on, I had a great time at dinner and with Raquel's family. I am just fairly philosophical about new experiences, and so I am relaying that part of the evening, since Tim already captured the events so well.]

After weaving through several other streets we came to a neighborhood that felt very close. There were little adobe stores and school children walking home from the school (it was 8:30pm) (we were to find out later it was the school Rene teaches at). The car stopped and Verna said "this is our house." It is a very cute house, built with a lot of love. Out from the front door runs Crystel and jumps in the car with hugs and kisses for both of us. How extremely cute!

We drove for longer and arrived at the market. I felt very out of place with my clothes, but one of the many great things about Raquel's family is that they never make you feel out of place. I went into the market and avoided the fish juices as much as I could. Looking at the fish was actually welcome because it prevented me from looking at the recently deceased cattle on the table. I liked when the people held up big lobsters that waved at us. They were cute. Around this time is when the next sad feeling hit. Walking right behind Crystel and Tim and I was a small child about Crystel's age and very cute as well. I didn't see any parents around and I thought she might be a pickpocket. I gave Tim the eyes to be aware. Seeing this girl and Crystel so close together I realized the huge difference in circumstance and being loved. I felt the same thing later that evening as we passed a number of starving and stray animals (cats and dogs). My sister and I both have rescue animals. We love them so much. If not for chance, our family members might be like these animals. It just makes you feel even more thankful for the circumstances you have in your life.

The meal was excellent. I ate most of the vegetables myself, I believe. For the others there was fish head soup, squid, shrimp, and crab.

After much humorous shouting from George at the Pearl in the Palace show, we left with the leftovers in tow. We were approached very aggressively by a small boy beggar who even tried to get into the car and was being aggressive with Rene and George as well. We drove away and headed home. Now we will try to sleep for an hour or so but have to be awake very soon for the airport.

P.S. Sorry, no photos from the Fish Experience. Wasn't sure what we were getting into, so left the camera gear bag at home. Glad I did. It was a little much to keep aware of surroundings and safety and still have a photo eye out as well. Maybe next time.

**********
We're packing up to head back to Japan, Detroit, and eventually Philly. We leave the building at 3am tommorow (Friday), so this will be our last post until we fly back, get home and rest. Probably post again late Saturday.

Thanks to all for your comments and e-mails! They are very much appreciated!!!!!
Tim and Kendra

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Odd things around the Philippines

Staying around the Makati area is pretty much a world of mass consumerism (our building is near the Glorietta and SM MegaMalls). But even in this very Western/American-ish environment are some things that are pretty funny or that we didn't quite expect:
  • Electricity
The website for our building said that it had both 220 and 110 Volt outlets. That was correct, however the only 110 outlet was of an "Italian Plug" type and located next to the sink in the bathroom and was labled "For Shaver Only". Not wanting to blow up any laptops, battery chargers or Ipods, I navigated through the mall to a hardware store to find a solution. The solution turned out to be a stepdown transformer, (blue, about 5x5x8, about 7 lbs.) that took 220V in and gave you 110V in both an Italian Plug and 3-Prong outlets. Set me back 799.75 Pesos. All appliances are now safe!! (When we come back in Feb, we'll bring some 110V powerstrips, too!)


  • Curious Cuisine Twists
Craving for Fast Food? Not a problem! Satisfy that appettite with McDonald's McSpaghetti or Pizza Hut's Spam Lover's Pizza. Not enough Spam? Check out the entire Food Court section dedicated to the stuff. Pizza Hut has their own delivery scooters. Oh yeah, Quaker Instant Oatmeal: Shitake Mushroom Flavored. (Please Note: In the 5 days we've been in this country we have not eaten at any place closely resembling an American Establishment. -well, Starbucks of course does have it's own exception to the rule..and they have this thing called Coffee Jelly..hmmm)










  • Being in the top 1% height percentile
You'd never see this in The States (hey, look at Erik and Joe at IMS!), but here I guess it's important to have height requirements for your staff. National Average: Men 5'5"...Women 5"0.5" (thank you Wikipedia!)
  • Heavy Security (And Sleeping Guard Dogs)
Every entrance to malls, shop, grocery stores, restaurant areas etc , has it's own male and female security guards with guns, metal detectors and little wooden sticks to check your bags. I'm not sure what they're looking for, or how they will even find it, because even if you beep, they do nothing. And many times Americans aren't even checked. There is also a large prescence around the area of more heavily armed guys with dogs, which generally would make you feel very safe. However, the dogs they choose to use are cute little floppy-eared black labs who just pant in the heat with a very amused expression on. Woof!
  • Mannerisms
Filipinos will do everything to avoid confrontation or saying "no" to someone. "Yes" is not a positive confirmation of fact. It is at most a "maybe" or "I think so" or "I will try". If someone does not have direct information about a restaurant, for example, they will never say they have never been there, but that they "have friends who have been there who said it was good." Even people working at the airport gate desks are amazingly polite and with the plenty of "please"'s and "We suggest"'s. Men, women, boys and girls all walk in public holding hands or locking arms. They also acknowledge you non-verbaly with their eyebrows. I have yet to accomplish this skill.

  • Can anybody explain this expression?
I don't know if it's a cultural thing, or just the fact that I've never seen a goat in it's natural habitat. I read this in our local Philippine Star newspaper:

"Ask anybody on New Year's Eve if they have resolutions or goals and 9 out of 10 people will say yes. Ask the same people about their resolutions three months later and they'll look at you like a small goat discovering a new fence for the first time." Anybody?

My addition to Kendra's blog about last night's dinner with the team:
Never have I heard such an eruption of raucus, hysterical laughter as when we explained the literal meaning behind the American expression "Love Handles". Then, of course, their minds quickly went further in the gutter...a very free-thinking and outspoken bunch! (Kendra calls Keysia a demonita -little devil girl!)

Last Night: Fun with the Project Team

This evening, the project team from MDC all went out for a team building exercise to a restaurant in Makati called the Banana Leaf for Thai food. The entire outing demonstrated what a kind, generous bunch these people are. For one thing, the team is made up entirely of carnivores. I rarely have seen them eat vegetables even as a side. Despite the fact that I am teased relentlessly for not eating any of the exotic meat dishes, they chose a restaurant with a ton of vegetarian options. Most of the team had not even tried thai before, but they knew I liked curry because I ordered it for lunch during the time we went to lunch together.
How sweet! They also invited Tim to the dinner, which was very nice, and Andy and Keysi ordered everything for the table to share.

During the dinner, everyone laughed and joked around the entire time. They are such a colorful and unique group of individuals, and they seem to know each other very well. This is not unlike the US based team that have worked together in the project as well. I brought my book of "Beginning Tagalog" along and used many phrases at the table, which the team really seemed to like. It was Tristan's birthday and so I sang to him "Maligayang Bati" to much applause. They are curious about their US counterparts and asked me questions about almost everyone on the team.

The waiter took pictures of the team. Unfortunately, they are very blurry, but I will post them here anyway. A picture was taken from each side of the table because the group is so big.