Sunday, March 16, 2003

I got back from a two week overseas training stint a week ago, but haven't had the time to write about the interesting things that occurred. I don't have very much to say other than that the Philippines is a surprisingly nice place to visit. Despite the terrorist activity and the recent spate of kidnappings, it really is a beautiful place. It's reputedly the home of the most beautiful beaches in the world - something that I'm tentatively planning on confirming on my next visit there. The natives are friendly and polite and there sure is a lot to buy in the place. I paid a visit to my favourite beauty shop, Lush, and also managed to stock up on some American brands that I don't get back home, such as the amazing Mentos-flavoured Burt's Bees Lip Balm. I met a fair amount of interesting people, among which was this Zhang Ziyi look-alike (but prettier) who I got on with just fine.

Other firsts: I slept through my first earthquake (Richter scale 4) and went to a karaoke lounge for the first time ever. I even sang along to some Mandarin tunes which I remembered from my childhood!

Memorable event: On the day after the Davao bombing (Ash Wednesday), I went to church with a fellow colleague and while two thirds of the sermon was in Tagalog, the 'main points' were in English - something along the lines of 'Mumble mumble mumble Advent. Mumble mumble mumble Christmas. Mumble mumble mumble mumble 34 Ordinary Sundays.' You get the idea. Anyway, after the first part of the sermon (on alms-giving, prayer and fasting - the three things that a good Catholic should do for Lent), the priest, Father Jeffrey moved on to explain the significance of Ash Wednesday (essentially a day to remind us that we're mortal, as from dust we were made and unto dust we will return). How did he start?

"You do not know if you will make it back to your homes alive today. You do not even know if you will finish this Mass!"

Thanks, Father. It really reassured two obviously non-local females who were already alarmed at having to walk 30 minutes back to our hotel in the dark and deserted streets.

No comments: