Week 7: The Final Countdown

The Work Week

This week was all about press releases. I had several outdated ones to edit and one to do from scratch. Oddly, the fresh slate made the project easier than the others, overall. The main thing that made the edits such trouble is that I was doing them with only suggestion access through Google Docs. If you don’t know, this means that any text newly entered was highlighted, and any text removed was highlighted and struck through, but not fully removed; this includes any text that was simply moved from one part of the document to the other. By the end of it, the whole document was in light green because the original was rather disjointed and its entire shape had to be shifted around to be made cogent. If I weren’t bound to a sense of discretion, I’d place a photo of the process here, but, as it is, you’ll have to take my word that the mess on the page when I’d finished was a grand hodgepodge for a work document. On a funny note, oxford commas are an official no-no in Human Nature copy, and holding myself to the rule has begun to cause my mind to snag as I use them in my personal life. So much for not bringing work home.

Travel

This weekend I took my big big trip in the Philippines; I went to Cebu, Bohol, and Panglao. It was meant to be in large part a beach vacation, but the weather changed my plans. Still, there were many beautiful, interesting things to see and enjoy and I did take in a few beaches, besides. They each had their own kind of appeal.

Perhaps the main reason for this trip was to see a part of the Philippines far from Manila. By that measure, it was a success, but the experience was much more pleasurable than that. From my arrival in Oslob up to my return ferry to Cebu City, there was better air, fewer people, less litter, less traffic, and more space everywhere. The locals even seemed generally more happy than their urbanite counterparts. And besides all that, I saw some beautiful pieces of history in the form of the old Spanish churches. They were certainly built to last. I just wish the locals had managed to keep their telephone wires a little farther away.

There was, of course, tasty food and many other experiences worth remembering along the way, but they don’t fit themselves so easily into this form and I didn’t always take pictures of them, so I’ll stick with some of these highlights.

Lightning Round

Like one hears of in other Asian cultures, bumping or brushing into people is much more tolerated here than in the US; it can, however, be difficult not to take it personally in the moment. A fast ferry ride is – except for the larger windows – much the same as an airplane trip. The amount of turbulence is very close (just no belly-droppers), the seats are the same, the air temperature is the same, and the rushing sound is close enough I’d probably have been fooled if I was blindfolded. Chinese tourists are much as they are in the US. In classical form, the areas immediately surrounding the ports I visited were more seedy than the surrounding areas – rats, mud sidewalks, and dark lighting included. People will indeed notice your appearance and try to rip you off. I asked how much a trip to the airport would be when accosted right off the ferry and was told P600; walking only a small percentage of the trip farther, I picked up a cab and the total was less than P240. To lower the chances of something like this occurring under most circumstances, you can ask the price before the service. This effectively creates a low-bid (or at least reluctantly honest) mentality in the driver because he then has to consider what would happen if you walked on and got a better price from the next guy. It seems the normal rate is preferable to losing a sale looking for a swindler’s deal. In Panglao and Bohol, the coconut trees had notches cut into them every few feet. After a bit of puzzling, I decided they must have been put there for the purpose of climbing the trunk; one of my officemates later confirmed this. When traveling, the offline maps feature of Google Maps is a great help. No need to find WiFi or use data to make your way – just use the GPS in your pocket. “Kindly verb” is a very common way of politely asking someone to do something here. It persists in the workplace and in the higher-class public transport sphere. Lastly, an odd cultural phenomenon: everyone and their brother is traveling to northern Luzon to be tattooed by a centenarian woman there – locals and foreigners alike.

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