“Hey Joe… Hi Mom”
Scotty and I are white. I have never been more aware of this than in the past 72 hours. What’s stranger is being instantly ‘cool’ here. We are a walking sitcom. If anyone from home feels down, or invisible, I highly recommend a walk through any ol’ market in the Philippines. Scotty is called, “Joe,” usually with the occasional, “Man,” and once, “Bro.” I am called “Ma’am,” which sounds like, “Mom,” and a couple times, “Girl.” People go out of their way to get our attention. A typical exchange goes something like, “Hey Joe! How’s it going? Hi Mom, Welcome to the Philippines, you’re pretty!” Scott has been told he looks like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. But people say he looks like Jesus Christ often. I have gotten Paris Hilton and Angelina Jolie. Somewhere back in the states, two just got confused without knowing why.
It was constant when we were in the Divisoria. The above photo is of us at the Divisoria, the biggest market in the Philippines. It’s four square miles of ‘pure mayhem’ as Scotty just aptly interjected. We are drinking juice in bags. One is melon, one avocado, and one some sort of creamy pink berry with gelatin cubes in it. We are out to buy some street food right now. The fruit is amazing, I can’t get enough of it which is good, since it’s at every turn and inexpensive.
The energy is a mix of vibrance and struggle. We are flies in a beehive. There is a buzzing constant energy as people shop, and sell, rushing from one place to another.
When immersed in the home of another, their energy plays off yours and creates a new vibration. Visually everything is filthy and colorful. In front of us are young children, dirtier and skinnier than any I’ve ever seen, except maybe in Peru. I am overwhelmed at the task of describing what we are witnessing. Remember, this is the biggest market in Mega Manila. It is the most active part of the whole country. A feeling of desperation is thick in the air. Many different people are selling the same plastic toys, knifes or spongy flip flops. Scotty is a good head taller than the men here, but that doesn’t make us any less cautious. To them we are amusing, rather big babies. At every corner I grow more grateful for my home. I’m glad to see it, but wouldn’t need to spend much time there. I am reminded that “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I pray I’ll never take for granted what I have been given. They are teaching me by letting me watch them. They are spending all their energy providing for their families, it’s admirable.
These people and their country are beautiful. I hope I can take what they’ve taught me everywhere I go, and be grateful for where I come from everyday.