Day 7: That's what they say!

Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince, and Dinner like a Pauper. That's what they say!

This phrase is one that I hear commonly here in the Philippines. My question is - who is they? Who makes up these arbitrary sayings so that others can quote (correctly or incorrectly) for the ages? I realize this phrase isn't so much a Philippines restricted saying, but it's one that I've heard so often it's worth mentioning. I might throw in a saying as I hear it (funny, silly, full of wisdom, etc).

My day began as usual - wake up early and eat a hearty breakfast. One of the many things done well here is breakfast. A proper English breakfast is available to me daily. I can now say that I have tried a breakfast with baked beans, and while palatable, it is not my cup of tea (see what I did there?!). Read a little of my current book - The Girl Who Played With Fire - and then set out for my daily adventure.

The best part of my day happened early on. A transaction with a local absolutely caught me off guard. While sitting at a restaurant, a gentlemen came up to me in a very clear English accent and asked me:

Gentlemen: Do you know where the Salcedo Starbucks (tm) is?

I'm now the world traveler, and I actually know the general direction of where he asks is, and I point him that way. Unfortunately, I cannot give any specific directions, and share that with him. What happened next is still running through my head.

Gentlemen: Do you know how many Starbucks (tm) stores there are in Makati? Me: Um... I do not. Gentlemen: Well, I just got back from the US, and in my village in the US, we usually only have one Starbucks.

Hold the phones. In my village? WTF does that mean? I'm not sure where this guy is from, but I don't recall any place in the US being referred to as a Village. Maybe there is a hidden area in northern Montana where the term is still being used. Either that, or in the deep south of Louisiana. No other places came to mind. On top of that, any town that does have a Starbucks sure as heck has more than one. In fact, they're usually everywhere. Even I, as a non-coffee drinker, am aware of this fact. Strike 1.

Gentlemen: I'm lost and I'm trying to meet up with my sisters at Salcedo Starbucks, and I don't know how to get there. I only have this amount of money <he holds out about 30 pesos in coins>, maybe if you could give me some money and I promise I'll pay you back with US Dollars tomorrow.

WOW. I'm literally at a loss. First off, the village thing is still racing through my head, and I'm trying to digest how to respond to that. Maybe I ask him what village he's from, and try to be sociable. Then, I'm being asked to give him some cash and he'll pay me back tomorrow. Whaaaaaaa..... ? I have no idea who this guy is, where he is from, nor the total number of Starbucks in Makati. Somehow, I'm supposed to see him tomorrow to get back the money I loaned him in USD? My response?

Me: Do you know how many Starbucks there are in Makati?

Yup. That's the wonderful sentence that came out of my mouth next. Why? Well, I didn't know how to respond, frankly. I think my brain did a reboot, and out came the glory that is above. He kinda looked at me a little odd, and asked again if I had any money to give him. I declined politely.

What strikes me strange is that somehow I was supposed to be comforted by the fact that I'll magically run into this guy tomorrow to get reimbursed. I'm also curious about what village this guy is from, and I'm still trying to figure out how many Starbucks there are in Makati. My mind is trying to extrapolate approximate answers to the final question - just like a Google Interview question - in order to put that one to bed. I'm fixated on it.

Eventually the gentleman kept walking. I never did find out from him how many Starbucks there were in Makati.

A local coworker invited me to attend a religious service, and I accepted. I half expected a traditional Catholic service, but what I got was very much different than that. It reminded me of several of the churches that I have attended in the states that are catering to the newer generations - loud music, upbeat songs, charged messages. I can honestly say that I didn't much  of the message

  1. Half of the message was in Tagalog. The speaker constantly switched back and forth between Tagalog and English - directionality known as Taglish.
  2. The discussion was largely about Philippine culture and attempting to change how they behave.

The overwhelming message I received was an internal clash between Catholic and Protestant dogma. I think I've spoke to this before, but the island is largely Catholic, and it is ingrained into every facet of the culture here. So being protestant is largely counter-cultural in itself. Interesting discussion all around.

Finally, one of my coworkers arrived in Manila to help with the transition. Naturally, we took him around and showed him a good time. This consisted of a traditional Philippine meal: Fried Tilapia, Sinagang, Ox Tripe, and rice. I must admit, the presentation of the fried Tilapia was one for the books. So much, that I took a picture of it to proudly present and show off. (Apologies for the horrible quality).

We spent the bulk of the afternoon walking around The Fort and heading to Market! Market! I have much to tell about these places, but maybe for another time. Suffice it to say, large malls - lots-o-people, recipe for success.

A meal isn't a meal unless it has rice in it. That's what they say!