Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Bazaar and The Wake

The Bazaar (Tim)

This morning I went with Colleen (the wife of an Accenture partner here in Makati) to the monthly bazaar held by the American Women's Club of the Philippines. Once a month over 300 vendors fill the World Trade Center in Pasay City, Manila and thousands of shoppers come to check it out. It was really a great time to see some amazing crafts at really great prices. It's a very well managed organization, and the bazaar is a well-produced event. There's a long and strict process for becoming a vendor, so the work is guarenteed quality and the merchants legit.

Also, alot of the pieces are handcrafted by nuns or monks or native tribes or women working their way out of poverty, and alot of the proceeds go towards socially conscious organizations. The sellers are all extremely helpful- letting you know what things are made of, who made them, how to care for them, etc. Depending on the product, you can bargain the price down, especially when buying multiple items. I did alot better today than I did at the (non-existant) bat place, and I was extremely happy with my purchases. I won't tell you what I got because if you're reading this, that probably means I got something for you.

I will definately be going back next month for more! There is a 100 peso cover at the door, but you could easily spend the entire day there...lots of food vendors there as well to keep up your shopping energy! The place is laid out well, so even with the thousands of visitors, it doesn't feel too crowded to navigate the aisles. (plus, it's about 75% westerners, so things tend to move a bit faster than out on the sidewalks of Manila! It's also nice too that the merchants are polite, so you don't get the constant and irritating stream of "You buy! You buy! For you! Boss, you like? You buy?" so often found elsewhere in the Philippines and everywhere in the Dominican Republic.

Much thanks to Colleen for reminding me of it last night and for letting me ride along with her today!

Here's the website of the AWCP.

The Wake (Kendra)

Today after work I went to the wake of the father of one of my team members, Abby. Abby's father died on Monday, which was very sad. She is one of the most generous, sweet, and considerate, not to mention beautiful, members of the team. I was very sad for her.

Despite this, I almost did not go to the wake for two reasons:

1. It was in Pasig City and I knew the other team members I went with would be scrambling around trying to make sure I was accompanied both there and back, and didn't ride myself in a cab.
2. Sometimes foreigners attract undue attention and I didn't want this to happen at a wake, because it would be inappropriate to take attention away from the purpose.

In the end I did go, and I'm glad I did. It is true that I did attract attention, but I believe that people were really happy that I went. I did my best with my tagalog and social expectations of greeting various family members. Abby's grandfather and uncles teased me and coached me on more tagalog phrases, and soon I think everyone in the room seemed to forget we were at a wake. We were laughing and having a good time and joking with each other.

When we left, we all said goodbye to everyone and gave our consolences again. To Abby's grandfather, I touched his hand to my head (a respectful gesture Filipinos show to their elders). I wasn't sure how this would be taken, but people really seemed to appreciate that. I was trying.

I actually think this type of wake was probably more appropriate than I thought. The people in the Filipino culture are very positive and happy as a whole, and probably would not expect an evening to be filled with somber looks and crying people.

On the way home, we took a tricycle to the top of the hill (my first tricycle) and then took a cab. Of course they dropped me off first. They are all very protective of their expat manager :-)

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