2016 began, for me, in the Philippines, where I now am. It had a less than auspicious beginning: I remember my shock at hearing about the death of David Bowie. But, while the toll of celebrities continued, this was not the most surprising thing about the year by any means.
That something was afoot became clear early on, in May, when Rodrigo Duterte, a fast talking populist, was elected as president of the Philippines. Most people in the West hardly noticed this, but it was a straw in the wind. It is true that Duterte’s route to power was laid open by the Philippines electoral system, which is single-stage, and the fact that the centrist vote was split between two popular candidates, Mar Roxas and Grace Poe. Duterte exploited this division expertly and won, on around 38% of the vote.
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.
To view the gallery, please click the ‘Read More’ link below