Mall Walkin' for Imelda
Wow, here we go with it- another travel blog- I'm happy to be here. Hope you guys will be happy reading it.
I've actually been in Manila for a week now, but because of the hectic scheduling I've subjected myself to this week (nobody can paint themself into a corner better than a painter), I have been up on scaffolding, stuffing booby pillows, painting tiny little half-circles and staring at a table almost my entire time here. Feels like home.
We have had a little time to go downtown to visit the carazay shopping district Divisoria (imagine miles of five and a half foot underground caverns made of tiny cheap lead painted toys from China), and eat some fantastic seafood and more- for the record, in the Philippines I have not been able to make vegetarianism work- it's just too hard to find true vegetarian food given the work schedule I've had. Other than that, work work work until today. I've got to format the photos from Green Papaya gallery that I took at our opening last night, so bear with me until tomorrow.
Heyd and I have been staying in Quezon City, in a section called Cubao, which is close to Araneta Stadium, the venue for the famous "Thrilla in Manila" fight between Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975. In fact, there is a mall next door to the arena that seems to memorialize the victor, calling it the "AliMall." Had the decision gone the other way, the result would have been "FrazierMall" or even better, Mall of Frazier, which would bear a striking resemblence in title to the recently completed "Mall of Asia," which I've only seen coming from the airport and it looks as big as a damn country. People in Manila are waaaay into their malls- it's the a.c., you see- because even here now, in what they call the cool season, the humidity is punishing and the temperatures in the afternoon still get up into the mid-eighties. Tired people who look tired walk around aimlessly in these superdelux facilities with names like "Gateway" and "S.M." and look at each other and eat bread that sometimes looks like it has carpet on it and ride the escalators up and down in a kind of mindless procession that Romero captured so awesomely in "Dawn of the Dead."
But there I was, finding everything that I needed in the malls for my installation because you can find everything in the malls here, and it really does make sense to do it that because the bad traffic in Manila is hellish beyond any Western comprehension of bad traffic. Traffic signs are merely suggestions, the tricycle daredevils and cutoffs and sheer volume of vehicles in this city of 16 million is truely mindblowing and exhausting. But in all of this, I've finally figured out the way they get by- everyone constantly yields to one another in traffic, and nobody, except in a rare case of a major traffic light, feels like they have total right-of-way. Yes, it is less efficient, and makes the traffic more of a morass than it should be, but there's something to this code of conduct that every Westerner could learn a lesson from- there is a more steady, measured flow to the way traffic moves, and unless you are at a standstill, people don't seem to get as hoppin' mad here as they do in the states. The white people sense of entitlement is missing. Filipinos share the road in the truest sense of the word.
Well, here's the inaugural entry-more laters to y'all.