The ‘wet market’ or palenke in Pasig City is really huge and spectacular. You can buy anything there, believe me. it’s a fun place too, literally open 24/7/365. Keep your wallet in your pocket and you’ll have no problems.
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This was my fifth visit to the Philippines and again, I arrived before Christmas, on the 8th of December. I had rented an apartment in Plaridel, Bulacan, which was to be my base for the next four months.
Plaridel is a market and manufacturing town about 30 miles north of Manila. In 2015 it had a population of 107,000. It has an airport.
I’ll let the pictures and captions speak for themselves in this photo diary of the trip. This section goes from my arrival up to New Year. I’ll do another section for the latter part.
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I am not ashamed to say that I love the Philippines. Nowhere else that I have ever visited manages to capture so much of humanity’s amazing variety. It’s an incredible place and I am so lucky to have found it. This is a selection of pictures from that trip. I’ll let them speak for themselves.
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Pasig River ferries from Maybunga to downtown Manila.
Not many people know about the Pasig River ferries — which are really like floating buses. They’re not very fast but given that Manila road traffic is gridlocked most of the day, the river ferries represent an efficient transport alternative. There are numerous jetties along the river where passengers can alight and the cost was minimal. This journey took just over an hour but I have known the same one take over three in a taxi!
Poor Jelly was suffering. She was recovering from an accident and the seats on the ferries are basic, making her back injury hurt, But as always she just grinned and carried on. Smashing girl. We had a lot of fun.
The Terminus is at Escolta, on the other side of the river from the famous Intramuros, the old walled city. The day was very hot and Jelly was clearly in pain so we took a calesa ride and made like tourists. She had never been to Intramuros before and despite her sore back, really enjoyed herself.
The last ferry back to Pasig was at 1630, because the service only operates in daylight – there are no navigation lights! It was a fine day out though.
Social division into ‘men’ and ‘not men’ groups, together with a domestic matriarchy, explains why transsexual expressions in SE Asia differ from the West.
Male to Female transsexuals are normally scientifically categorised as homosexual or nonhomosexual with regard to their birth sex. I use the term HSTS for the former. Blanchard explained the latter in terms of autogynephilia, love of oneself as a woman. These we term autogynephiles or AGPs. There is a discrepancy, between the West and Asia, however. Whereas in the West, most AGPs are older and about 60% seek relationships with women, most AGPs in Asia transition much younger and are almost exclusively attracted to men. Why is this happening?
My plan had originally been to make my trip to Asia after Christmas, but Crissy had told me that she was unlikely to be available then. I was in contact with a number of girls, but only she had that spark, and I knew I wanted to meet her. She was lively and enthusiastic, but had an edge about her and a depth too, that I liked. She had a way of just knowing what I was thinking, even before I said it, that always bodes well for a new relationship.
So I rearranged my schedule. In fact, November is the best time to go to southeast Asia in any case. The typhoon season should have come to an end, and the temperatures are relatively low, with lots of sunshine. In addition, flight prices are twenty per cent or so cheaper then, than in March or April. I readily persuaded myself that making the trip sooner was justified on a whole raft of counts; other, of course, than my interest in getting to know Crissy a whole lot better…
‘It’s as if a couple of jumbo-jets of Western culture crashed into a container-ship of Asia and the wreckage is still settling.’ These words jump out at me as I read over my notes. And it’s true; the Philippines is a cultural conundrum, a Rubik’s Cube of interlaced and interlocked themes, memes, images and sensations.
It’s not like India, where the veneer of Westernism added by a couple of hundred years of British domination is so thin it seems as flimsy as a bride’s veil, yet definitely attached, as if the bride herself is shy about lifting it, nor Thailand, where Western cultural influences seem grafted on, bizarrely co-exiting with something older and fundamentally opposed. Instead, the Philippines is a genuine melting-pot, a sculptor’s crucible where metallic elements are alloyed to make something completely new. The roots of European culture here go deep, deep into the fertile soil of Asia, and the resulting foliage is strange, at once familiar yet surprising.
The Philippines is steeped in folklore and mythology. The very air seems supernatural at times and even today, Filipinos firmly believe in the supernatural creatures which also populate their country. Best known of these are Aswangs and Engkantos.
Many of these beliefs certainly date from the pre-colonial period and before the establishment of Catholicism as the dominant religion. Prior to this, the Philippines was not a unitary polity, but was made up of many small kingdoms and tribal areas. These all seem to have believed in a somewhat similar form of Animism but were all brought together under one faith and one colonial rule, by the Spanish.