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Two Griffins holding a 74th shield. The Spirit of the 74th.

Christopher J Miles.

Trip to Maynila (Manila) City, Luzon .

See more photographs of Manila (Luzon) on the Internet.

Photograph: Manila Cathedral.

[Photograph: Maynila Cathedral, Luzon.]

Meeting My Wife's Family

It was at about 16:00 hours PST on Friday August 26th. 2005, that my wife and I arrived at the Family Home, in the suburb of Malacanang, and this after a thirty-six hour journey from Waihi, New Zealand. The purpose of the trip was for me to meet the members of the family into which I had married, a family, which, in collective terms, is one of high qualitative and quantitative propensity. The immediate lesson learned was that I belong to the family - a characteristic-trait of having married into an Asian culture.

As for the vast army of relatives and friends - I lost count.

Meeting the High Government Officials.

Visited the "holy of holies" in the Senate, Congress and Malacanang Palace, (seat of Government) in order for me to meet many of my wife's past office-mates. The people met - high Government officials - were inspiring, this to say in the least. One lesson learned - "Don't underestimate that crowd".
Was this a return to the proverbial university? Yes. Back to normal.

Diversity Here Is the Watchword.

For a period of five weeks, my wife and I stayed in a marbled luxury flat, from the nineteenth floor of which there could be observed the tall buildings of Makati, Mandaulong, Maynila, Caloocan, and Quezon Cities. Absolutely a staggering sight - and this for a Third World country? Of the latter, ten-lane highways and three superbly-run Metro railways - diversity here is the watchword.

It was necessary for me to have consultations with five medical practitioners. In each case, I was treated and not processed - more like a social occasion. Tea and biscuits provided.

The Appropriate Word for Maynila is MAXIMUM.

There is only one word that is appropriate for Maynila and that is MAXIMUM. Maximum for almost everything. People, a grey over-bearing drabness, over-crowding, poverty, pollution, potholes, noise, TV sets, TV channels - that of the Deutsche-Welle - of a very superior quality, spitting, security guards (more often than not, armed, and courteous), clouds, rain, humidity, chaos, thunder-storms, traffic-jams, rubbish, filth, decrepit and run-down conditions, girls (thousands of them - the most beautiful girls in the world come from The Philippines - and according to report, the girls outnumber the boys by eight to one), dilapidation, diversity, tall buildings, slums, hovels, camaraderie, the RC church in its intensity and "hold" over the people, cell-phones - the fastest thumbs in the world - wealth, expensive motor cars, for the majority of the rest and buses / Jeepneys, a Warranty of Fitness examiner would never be out of work, an almost un-repayable national debt, unrestrained richness, beauty, charm, hospitality, an English olde worlde charm, and generally, a lovely, inspiring, totally endearing peace-loving people.

The latter are (vide authoritative sources), "magnificent", "wonderful".

Visiting Places of Interest.

The trip HOME was not just to meet the many people who constituted the vast family of family and friends. It was also intended for me to visit certain places of interest.

The day after arrival in Maynila City, I was able to enjoy the company of the first doctor from whom I had sought medical treatment. This was effected in a private air-conditioned and marbled Medical Centre, managed by the eldest of my five nieces, she being a Doctor.

Visiting the RC Maynila Cathedral.

Afterwards, and having promised myself to do this, and this after having waited for a period of forty-seven years and one month, I entered the marbled RC Maynila Cathedral. Make no mistake, His Presence was more than well felt. All the richness of that edifice was compromised by many a beggar trying to sell Rosary beads. The incongruity of it all - wealth and poverty side by side.

The Philippines Is Home Even Though I Am a True-blue Briton .

Then to the nearby Dr. J.P. Rizal shrine. (He is the National hero). The female guide was supreme in her ability to articulate the English language. Doctor Rizal came alive.

Seeing the Philippines flag flying from the nearby national flag pole, made me enquire of myself as to my true "identity". Frankly, I knew it then as of today - The Philippines is HOME even though I am a true-blue Briton. Along the Rizal Boulevard, I saw the Union Flag flying. Where do I belong?

International Bamboo Organ Festival.

A week or so later, it was to Las Pinas that my wife and I repaired. In the stone-built San Jose Church, there is a very unique organ, the pipes of which have been made from Bamboo cane. Every February, there is a special occasion - the International Bamboo Organ Festival.

Thrice there were visits to meet the family. The tremendous sense of belonging has to be experienced to be believed. The people met were cultured, educated and refined. One looks up to these people. It is the latter that is a quintessential feature of the Filipino character. Of course, I am writing from a particular aspect of life.

Of lesser importance is the TV service. With respect to the Philippines TV announcers, then I would rate their abilities in their use of the English language as being 9/10. The NZ equivalents would only rate 4/10.

"You Are One of Us".

Twice my wife and I attended a RC Mass in Quezon City, the Celebrant being one of my nephews. The welcome received overwhelmed me. "You are one of us", said one lady.

Thrice we attended the Morning Service at the Diliman Bible Chapel, also in QC, but this time situated within reach of the University. The choir sang as to the proverbial manor born. Indeed I had never heard singing of this quality this since leaving GB in February 1970.

Visit to the New Zealand Embassy.

Horrors of horrors. It was necessary for me to go to the NZ Embassy in Makati City. The Consul and his Filipino assistant were quite charming and more to the point, helpful. Upon entering the Embassy, I had expected to see a photograph of Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth, the NZ Head of State. Instead of being one of that utterly gracious lady, the photograph was of the socialist PM of New Zealand. So much for "cultural sensitivity". Never set me off on that one.

Final Words.

To quote General Douglas MacArthur, "I shall return".

End of page.

Christopher Miles (74th).


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