I am visiting a friend of mine from graduate school in Baltimore. Katti is from the Philippines and was a Fulbright scholar when she was attending MICA. We've kept in touch over the years, and when I moved to Singapore she was very excited to know I would be so close!
I am staying in Manila for the first few nights--at Katti's house--before traveling to Boracay.
When I got off the plane, she greeted me with a garland made out of the most wonderfully fragrant flowers! I knew right away that this was the place for me . . .
The Philippines is made up of 7,100 islands. Manila is located on the largest island and is brimming with people! Just driving from the airport to Katti's neighborhood made me a little fearful for my life: lanes do not seem to exist and everyone needs to be in the same place at once, and don't even get me started on the constant honking. Speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down . . . Biker!!!
Once we arrived at her house, I was struck by how similar this country is to Mexico: the materials of the homes and the colors; the people selling corn, sorbetes, and sugary drinks on the street; the friendliness of passers-by; windows being left open with the ability to hear street traffic and voices at all hours of the day. I absolutely loved it! Such life!
We ate a quick lunch of fish, rice, homemade iced tea, and mangos before heading over to the University of the Philippines, where she is an adjunct professor.
She is STILL carrying the bag I made for her! At the time, I thought she might be missing home, so I sewed the Philippines on a bag as a gift: strands of flags and as many islands as I could fit on this tiny little bag. It's a little more worn now, but just as bright and cheerful!
Katti is teaching a materials class right now. So the students work sculpturally with as many materials as possible: sawdust, fabric, recycled wooden crates, etc. Sounds like a wonderful class to teach (and to take)!
Katti is also taking a wheel-throwing class. While we were there, I got to meet her instructor and chat for a bit. He is a potter and told me about a huge clay festival that is happening in Singapore in January. I'm hoping they will both be able to come and visit for this fabulous event!
Afterwards, we went to this secluded little cafe right off the main road for dinner. It was delicious vegetarian food: so good! I can't even begin to explain the textures and flavors . . . Then we went to the store and drove back home.
I'm fascinated by the jeepneys! They are inexpensive transportation and they are all over the place. Here is one that we passed with about 4 people hanging onto the back of it! Crazy-town!
When we got home, Katti's father came over and we all had cake and coffee. All the doors and windows were open, and the temperature was a dry 68 degrees. It was magical! Then it was time for bed, so I tucked myself into my mosquito-net-covered bed and fell asleep almost immediately . . .