Day 27/28: Strike

The last two days have been pretty uneventful, but there are enough things that are worth pointing out for a post.

Let me start out by saying that Sunday was a much better day than Saturday. Activities included domestic work (yay), outside market, bowling, and a musical play. Monday was actually a holiday in the Philippines - so I spent the day catching up on bits of work, and watching a movie, and generally relaxing.

I did some online investigations of bowling centers in the Makati area. Online, I was informed that a wonderful center existed in another one of the local areas that is nice known as Rockwell - an older coal powerplant that was converted into - you guessed it - a mall! Complete with bowling center, arcade center, and several fine shopping establishments. Great! I want to see if I can find another place other than Makati Cinema Square - the center wasn't bad - it just is in a run-down mall that is mostly reserved for pirating software. Hop in a cab, head down to Rockwell, and get out of the car. Spoke with a guard, and was informed that the bowling center had been shut down for over two years. Well, this is quite a pickle - the official website for the complex tells me that there is a bowling center, yet it is gone. Bleg.

Hop back in another cab, head to Makati Cinema Square. My other option (that I know of) is Mall of Asia (aka: MoA), but that is a 45 minute cab ride away. Pass.

Head upstairs, start playing, and bowl horribly. 145, 162, 138 = 445 series. Disappointed, I start to leave when I see an advertisement. The nation's foremost professional bowler, Rafael Nepomuceno, offers lessons! He even has 3 Guinness World Records behind is name - youngest person to win the Bowling World Cup, Most Bowling Cup wins, and highest number of bowling titles. I grab the details, and shoot the guy an email. 1 hour with the guy only costs PHP1000! (about $22). Still working out details, but I might be spending a good amount of time with this guy while I'm here.

Went home for the night, got into washing clothes (you know - washing clothes - the crappy clothes you wear when you are doing laundry), and started with my domestic activities. About half-way though, I get a phone call from one of my coworkers asking me what I'm doing that evening (it's 7:30). There is a play that starts in about 1 hr, they have free tickets, and want to know if I would like to join them. Why not? Find some clothes, get dressed, and head out.

Before the play, I learned a bit about how plays are funded here in the Philippines. If they are funded this way in the US, I must admit I am oblivious, but the concept seemed interesting. A set of investors gets together and fully funds the production. For this funding, the investors receive a percentage of the actual tickets at a discounted rate, which they turn around and sell. Investors then pool their money back from sales, and distribute based on the total take from the tickets. Investors are responsible for their own sales, but the total profit is pooled. For example: let's say that Investor A invests 10%, and Investor B invests 30%. Investor A doesn't sell any of their tickets, and Investor B sells 80% of their tickets. Investor A is still entitled to a percentage of the profits Investor B makes from their sales.

Seems kinda sucky, but okay. You would think that Investor B could keep their profits, given the production is already paid for by the various investors, but there is further distribution of monies.

After my lesson of local business practices for production funding, we went into the theater. I then learned what the play was based on - an adaptation of the movie The Wedding Singer. Yeah, that's right. The Adam Sandler movie from the 90's.

The actors were good, but the story itself was what it was - the movie. I didn't love the movie to begin with, so imagine taking a mediocre story and then adding music and choreography to it - that was this play. I did enjoy the play for how crazy the show was at times - thinking in my head the various portions that needed to happen in order to turn the movie into a play - thinking through the design decisions, what needed to be added/changed/moved from the story to make it work on the stage, etc. I did have a fun time, but in all I was a little surprised that such a thing was created. But it turns out this is fairly common here in the Philippines - to reproduce American culture in various forms for consumption.

Home, bed, Sleep. Then wake up, eat, shower, and to movie.

I find that I enjoy going out to the movie very much here in Manila. There are subtle and not so subtle differences that change the experience. First off, the concept of only eating food provided by the movie theater is non-existent. I don't have to pay $10 for a bag of popcorn, or $4.50 for the box of candies. There are several options - I can bring in my own food, or I can purchase from any number of independent food sellers outside of the theater (a slightly modified take on bringing my own food). Either is acceptable. Secondly, I am able to choose my seat at the theater. Who cares if I show up 30 minutes early to get a good seat, or 30 seconds before the show starts - I picked my seat before I even went in, and that seat is available to me. Thirdly, the cost to see a movie is dramatically different. I pay around PHP 180 - 220 ($4-5) to see a movie. Finally, people are respectful at the theater - I've never heard anyone talk in a movie yet. They're busy watching the movie!

What makes the experience  great is a culmination of all of the above. Going to the movies in the US is a $12-15 ordeal every time - just to get in the door. Then, if I want a snack, I'm paying another $5-10. Finally, I'm sitting in a theater, looking for a good seat, only to end up in front of the family that is loud and likes to kick the seat in front of them.

I can deal with some of the factors being different, but a cost-to-enjoyment ratio comes into play. If the movie costs less (say $1-5 bucks), I'm willing to put up with a lot of crap to go to the theater. In fact, the dollar theater was a principle source of entertainment with my wife in college. The theater we went to was nasty, and usually played second run movies. But it was a dollar. I got what I paid for.

However, I get the whole bang here. Great seat, quiet theater, cheap price. Heck, the movie could actually be a little crappy, but because the cost isn't too bad, I can just enjoy the movie for what it is, and not feel so bad about spending a bunch of cash on it.

Nothing else more substantial to add than that - it's rained. I guess that's expected.