Day 8: Safety

Today I reflected on one thing that is absolutely prevalent in Manila - safety, or the attempt at safety. Before I came to the Philippines for the second time, I was asked by a coworker how I felt in Manila. I gave him my standard answer - nice people, interesting culture, somewhat less safe. His reply was startling to me - "of all of the Asian countries, I feel the least safe in Manila".

I'm still not sure why that is yet. I get the feeling that behind every corner something is out to get me. Maybe it's me being super paranoid, but Makati invites me to put my guard down. The city itself is so very western - I don't really feel as if I left the US save the copious amount of small, tan people and the constant use of a language I do not know. However, the area that I am staying at feels like a downtown district of Dallas, Portland, San Francisco, or any other posh-trendy city. Naturally, one would expect to let their guard down. One exception to this rule exists - guards.

They're everywhere. I cannot walk out of my hotel without seeing at least 3 or 4 guards within sprinting distance. Furthermore, they're all heavily armed. Most have shotguns, several have semi-automatic (or maybe automatic) machine guns, and a smaller percentage have handguns. And they don't like to have their picture taken. Lucky for me I know how to sneak picture taking and not get beaten up or sent to jail. As you walk into major buildings, people with wands check your bags to determine if you have weapons or bombs. Parking at buildings typically includes a cursory check underneath the undercarriage of the car and trunk space for bombs. Yet with all of these things, I feel less safe.

My reasoning for this is I'm not sure how much training that each guard has. Case and point - while walking down through Ayala Street yesterday on the way to the market, I came across a guard who was asleep, and his gun holster was open. Anyone could have run up to him, grabbed the gun, and done something with it. Did it- probably not. However, the scenario certainly crossed my mind that it could happen. Surely, I'm not the only one who thinks like this.

I saw what I would consider arguably the most depressing thing I've seen in a long time today. While on my way to work, I ran across a small kitten. This kitten looked mangy, and was just casually walking along the street. He would occasionally stop, look up at someone, and just meow with his big ol' kitten eyes. The kitten then walked over to a Jeepney stop, and tried to sit close to a human. Not even rub against a person for some love, just sit close to a person. Everybody that saw this cat tried to get away - some by just walking away, others by shooing it away. The cat looked like it was in bad shape, and really wanted something to eat or just to be close to someone. I have to admit - this one really tugged at my heart. Not because it's a cat - but because it was young. For some reason, I have this romantic idea that all young things in life should be loved, taken care of, nurtured, etc. This is irrelevant to the fact that a young thing could be a bat, a cat, or a human. (my lyrics are bottomless). However, this young cat couldn't even get some attention from passersby. Admittedly, I have no resources at the moment to help this pitiful young creature, and the best that I could do was stand and stare at this kitten, hoping something good would happen.

Not much else happened today - mostly work. It was wicked hot in the temperature department. I have a gut feeling that I'm going to loose 10 or so pounds just in water weight - the fat is simply going to melt off me.

I need to get an exercise routine going. Today is the second day in a row that I've absolved myself from exercising. I need motivation, and I need a plan. Right now, I'm still in the "blah" phase from being away from home, and my body is still adjusting (last night I feel asleep at 6:30PM and slept until 5:30AM). My stretching routine is still going strong, namely because I have a plan of what to do. However, I need something for working out. Any takers or advice from those of you in the ether?

Final thoughts for the day....