Friday, 11 September 2009

One Last Look

It is just before 8am, the morning of September 2, 2009. Northwest flight NW80 bound for Narita has just departed the boarding gate. I'm half awake, but fully miffed that immigration never bothered to look at the Emigration Clearance Certificate I spent two trips over two days to Immigration in Intramuros, five hundred pesos and four bothersome cab rides (that added another six hundred pesos to the total) to get.

Upon takeoff I look down and see the color and patterns that make up the squalor of the squatter areas all around the airport, the already thickening blanket of smog over Manila, and I know I'll miss it. That gives way to the shoreline below, the ocean waves and ships upon it. Later I see the various greens of rice fields etched into the flatlands, forming outlines around the hills and mountains, then we're above the clouds and the Philippines is gone from view.

It's all just memories and photographs now.

And what memories!

And what photographs! (Over seventy-thousand!)

Hopefully the friendships will continue on. In this information age, keeping in contact can be as easy as a quick Hi! in an email or instant message. But we all know that often even that is forgotten.

Out of sight = out of mind.

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There's an older Filipino woman seated beside me. She pulls out a large, hard-bound book, turns to me and asks if I brought anything to read.

No, I said. I can't concentrate on what I'm reading on airplanes. When I pick the book up later, I can't remember any of what I've read.

Me too, she replied. That's why I read trash.

So there you go. Next time I fly I'll be sure to bring along People magazine or one of those books on sale at 80% off by a conservative radio or television pundit. I could always put it to good use later propping something up or using its pages to light firewood...or leave aboard the aircraft for the crew to dispose of later.

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In Narita there was a layover of three hours, which gave me time to enjoy a great bowl of ramen noodles. It isn't that I find there to be anything that spectacular about ramen, but when it is made in Japan, it is always better than anywhere else. The meat, vegetables, and quality of the noodles is so much better. Just waiting in line to order was enough to jar my memory and bring enough of my Japanese language ability back to place the order correctly.

It is here, and then again later in the US, where I realize again the pronounced differences in the passengers milling about. In the Philippines, many travelers were leaving the Philippines to start life anew in some other country, as thousands do every day. They are loaded down and carrying as much food from home as possible. Narita has a clean, cosmopolitan, technological comfort about it, as do its travelers. They do not stumble about awkwardly. They are dressed in a trendy, yet travel-smart style. Many Europeans are in the mix here. They can be spotted by the fit of their clothing. It isn't sloppy and baggy like Americans. Their hair isn't tussled and they walk with a better posture than most others. Almost all American air travelers look like they just rolled out of bed, are still in their bed clothes, and are still half-asleep. Those who don't fit that description are the ones trying to get groups of those who do (read: their family) to the proper gate on time.

After twenty-three hours in transit, I arrive at 7pm, September 2, 2009 in Cincinnati. The roads are amazingly empty compared to the congestion of Manila. The air is perceptibly cleaner. Tired from not being able to sleep at all the entire duration of the flights, I am able nonetheless to manage enough coherence to enjoy a 3way for dinner at Price Hill Chili with my family.

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Many days later and I'm finally over my jet lag.

Here's a few memories from the last couple weeks in the Philippines: The great food at Amici:The guards at our Bank of the Philippine Islands' Columns branch:
Final workout in the Columns' gym, with Bryant, a.k.a. Bryan, a.k.a. Butch:Our going-away party in Bulacan:
Last haircut by the infamous Art:I probably should've waited until he was finished before taking the picture, but he had impatient clients in waiting.

One last lunch at JiPan in Glorietta 4. Delicious Katsu Curry for Edson and Omelette Rice for me!
One of our friendly guards at the Columns:The movers, packing up the last two and a half years of our lives:A final trip to the University of the Philippines Campus with Edson. For a change, the weather wasn't unbearably hot there:And finally, a sight of Manila disappearing from view:
So, you may be wondering: If Jay has left the Philippines, what will become of Musings from Manila? Will it end now?

No. Not quite. There's still a lot more stuff to include here; I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Of course, it will end eventually. Then you may find yourself directed to another blog. But for now, this one will continue. Although not from Manila....about Manila!

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