A Night Out In Manila!

So, we’ve been here since the 6th and tonight was the first time we’d left the Antipolo area to go out and have some fun.  I guess you have to prioritize.  It wouldn’t do to go out and have a good time and then come home to crappy living conditions.  Not everything is done, and it probably won’t be for quite a while, but we felt we deserved some time out to relax and we took advantage of it.

So, off to Megamall we went!  We met up with my brother-in-law and his wife there and had a late lunch at Sushi-ya.  The food there is really good and the prices are reasonable.  After that my brother-in-law and I wandered around while our wives got pedicures and then we all met up again to watch Iron Man 2.  By the time that was done, it was 9:30 PM and it was time to make the long commute back to Antipolo.

The time seemed to go by so quick!  There were so many other places we wanted to see while there.  I think we may have to take some more relaxation days and hang out in the city, preferably in a nice air conditioned mall again.

As for the house, things seem to be progressing ok.  The door is in the wall now and it’s functional, but the cement still needs to be replaced.  The guy is working on the plumbing in the kitchen right now and then he’s going to do the cement all at one time.  That’s fine, as long as it gets done sometime in the next few days.

We’re planning on holding off on doing the painting because we want to get the electrical installed properly first early next month.  A fresh coat of paint would do wonders for this place but we have plenty of time, so I’m not all that worried about it right now.

I also found out today that not all Filipinos are ruthless criminals.  Yesterday I dropped my ring in front of a store in the neighborhood and when I went back to find it, it was gone.  I mentioned it to the girl that was working the counter, who lives in the neighborhood as well, and she asked around and actually found my ring.  She went to the person’s house to get it back from one of their kids.  So, a disaster was narrowly averted through her efforts.  It also showed me just how true the ‘everyone knows everyone’ and ‘there are no secrets in a Filipino neighborhood’ sayings are.

We have another long day ahead of us tomorrow, but even though the days are full of work, they’ve also been full of action and activity, which has kept things fresh and exciting.

Unusual Names in the Philippines

Naming conventions differ the world over, but for the most part have remained rather traditional in the US.  That’s slowly changing, but for now you’ll still find plenty of people named John, David, Heather, and Lesley.

In the Philippines, names are a lot more creative.  I’ve seen a girl named Cherry Pie, another named Happy, and my brother-in-laws and my wife are all named after Catholic saints.  Seriously.  Most of my brother-in-laws have 3 ‘first’ names.  My wife has 2.

At first I was a little turned off by the idea, because I had a rather conservative upbringing and lived in a repressive American subculture called the US Army.  Now, though, I think it’s interesting how people here break traditional boundaries and express their creativity through naming.

Here’s one sample I saw at the Jollibee in Antipolo, Rizal Province, inside the Shopwise store.

DSC04714

Singapore’s National Day

So, Sunday is August 9th, Singapore’s National Day. The country will be celebrating it’s 44th birthday, it’s 44th year of nationhood, supposedly. I say supposedly because I remember reading recently that the Prime Minister said that Singapore is not yet a nation. I know he was speaking figuratively, but it still can’t be a fun thing to hear if you’re a Singaporean. I’ve seen that same sentiment echoed quite a few times on forums and in blog posts, though. There are plenty of Singaporeans that feel as though Singapore doesn’t belong to the Singaporeans anymore.

Somehow, I can’t blame them. A full third of the population isn’t native. About 68% of the country’s jobs are given to foreigners. The country has been built up quite nicely for just 44 years of self-government, but somehow it has failed to produce people who feel like they belong.

Here are some quotes I pulled from a blog post’s comment section:

This is just a small sampling. You can visit the blog post itself for more, but this is just to show that there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the current situation in Singapore. There were even comments from Singaporeans stating that they planned to wear black on National Day, rather than the national colors, to represent the fact that they’re mourning rather than celebrating.

Still, not everyone was full of doom and gloom. My wife and I walked through Pasir Ris Park tonight and it was packed full of people barbecuing and camping out for the night. There were tents everywhere! It sort of reminded me of parks and neighborhoods in the US on July 4th, with groups of family and friends getting together to celebrate.

From what I’ve read, and I’ll admit it isn’t too much since I try to steer clear of much involving Singapore politics, people have come to believe that National Day in Singapore is more of a celebration of the PAP (People’s Action Party?) than a celebration of the people, and so a large portion of Singaporeans aren’t as enthusiastic about the day as they used to be. It’s pretty sad that many people in Singapore are opposed to celebrating their own national holiday.

Singapore is a young country. It has a lot of maturing and learning to do yet, and I’m sure that in time it will become a place that all Singaporeans are proud to call home. So, here’s hoping for that day. Happy 44th Singapore.

Sentosa’s Underwater World

My wife and I last went to Sentosa in September of last year.  We showed up in the late afternoon so we didn’t get to do much, but we had a great time and planned to go back.

Today, we finally got that opportunity.

Our main objective for the trip was Underwater World.  The first time we went there I was really interested in it, but we ran out of time.  Later, I saw photos from someone else’s trip and got even more excited to go.  So, we headed straight for it.  The line to get tickets was rather long, but it only took about 20 minutes to get through.  Afterwards we took a short break to get something to drink before heading into the Underwater World area.

In the entrance to Underwater World there are a lot of tanks built into the walls where you can view some of the smaller fish.  There’s also a petting tank and a “feed the manta ray” tank.  That one was pretty interesting.  The rays in it were so used to being fed by people that if you stood near the tank they would come over to you and half flop out of the water expecting you to drop food.

After you pass into the main exhibit area the tanks for the fish get larger.  One of the more interesting tanks had Japanese Giant Spider Crabs in it.  Full grown, their front claws can be 6 feet across or more!

Just past the crabs is an area with a lot of jellyfish that are neat to look at.  One of the tanks, with the jellyfish shown in red in the picture above, rotates the ambient lighting in the water and as the lighting changes the color of the jellyfish changes.

One you go through this area you can head into the underwater tunnel.  The underwater tunnel is a long tunnel with a plexiglass dome so that you can see the fish all around you and above you.  There is a travelator along the left side and a regular floor along the right side, so you can either ride through and look around or jump off to snap a few pictures.  While riding through this area we saw a lot of large and small fish.  We also saw some divers in the tank feeding the fish.  You can see some shots of the fish in the tunnel-tank below.

(We calld this guy the “Nom Nom Nom Ray” because he was constantly munching on something and grinning at us!)

Coraline Movie Review

Coraline isn’t going to be released in theaters in Singapore until September 17th, 2009, but I managed to get a copy early and my wife and I watched it tonight. I have to say I’m quite impressed with it. First of all, it’s visually stunning! These snapshots are a little fuzzy because I took them without pausing the video, but you’ll get the idea:

When I first saw advertisements for Coraline, the story sounded really interesting and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a kid’s movie or not, but it has a lot of deeper meanings and reminds me of classic fairy tales, where there’s always a lesson to be learned. Also in line with classic fairy tales the story has a dark, grim side to it.

Without spoiling the entire thing for a person who hasn’t seen it, the main character is named… Coraline of course! Coraline and her parents move to an old house for reasons that are never divulged. Shortly after moving in she encounters a strange young boy that lives nearby named Whirbie. The next day, he delivers a 100-year-old doll to her that mysteriously looks exactly like her. This doll will cause Coraline to open Pandora’s box (or in this case a tiny door) and send her on a wild and dangerous adventure.

Other things that I’d like to point out are that the characters in this movie are very well thought-out. They have depth and are all very entertaining. Also, I’m going to start looking for a way to get my hands on the original soundtrack. The music was spot-on and did a great job in setting the mood. Oh, and can I mention the great animation again? It really is fantastic. And it’s not just the animation quality either. The use of color and imagery will keep your eyes darting around the screen constantly.

This is a definite must see, whether you have kids or not!