Manila Culture

Trip Start Nov 13, 2007
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Trip End Apr 19, 2008


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Flag of Philippines  ,
Saturday, December 1, 2007

After our lunch on the Bay, we traveled further into the city where Gloria took us on a historical tour of Fort Santiago and inside was Rizal Shrine. 

Fort Santiago in Manila reminds one of Manila history. The fort represented the strength of the Spanish colonial rule that ruled for almost three centuries. The British occupied the fort for a brief period (1762- 1764) after which the U.S held on to it till the Japanese forces that occupied it during the World War II. The Fort Santiago in Manila was built on the site of palace of the Rajah Suliman that was destroyed by the Spanish invaders. This is a magnificent fort with huge canons overlooking the sea to destroy the pirates and the Muslim invaders.

Initially the Manila Fort Santiago was built of log structures and earth but was destroyed after the war with Chinese pirates (1574-75). In 1592 the fort was constructed by hard stone and was used as a center for trade especially spices to Europe.

The Rizal Shrine dedicated to the lifework of Jose Rizal.  The complex which houses the building the Philippines' national hero spent his last night and where his family later found concealed in an oil lamp, the famous poem Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell).  The shrine is home to various memorabilia, books, manuscripts and artworks belonging to the prodigious and multifaceted Rizal.

I was fascinated by how much the people here, hunger for heroes to model themselves after and how much they want their country to... yes.. dare I say.. "BE LIKE AMERICA".
How could that be? Some would say... well take a little bit of a look through the side streets of Manila and if you dare walk through the mountains of tin shanties and trash heaps these unfortunate people call homes.  Might it be that HOPE is a thing their hearts crave?  I think so, it shows in their history they choose to present all around the city, "heroes" are examples of "how" to live your life, not "what" you have to have or have not in order to "have a life".

I'm struggling with the fact our country turns itself inside out over the fact that some white trash pop-star can or can't keep custody of her misbegotten children, while a nation of people struggle to pull themselves up by their own efforts and become something they aren't, but hope to be, are completely off our radar.  Where is that hunger in the US?  Maybe that's just it... maybe we aren't truly hungry often enough...

Now to appease my right wing friends... I'm not saying we rush over here and puke out a bunch of our hard earned money into a system that likely cannot withstand it.  The Philippines is as or more corrupt in it's press and government that the US.   What I am saying is that perhaps there is a little bit beyond our TVs, Starbucks, and H2's that we may learn, that will help us remember how and what made our country such a completely and awesome place.  If the people here think we are so cool, maybe we should take a step back and remember why we really ARE "cool" and re-value what it is that makes us that way. 
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