Thursday, August 4, 2011

And God said, "it is just a joke, man!"

One of the huge challenges facing the Philippines is infrastructure. No, not the kind you invest in to build. The kind God laid out in the form of so many islands that no one will ever visit them all. Okay, some are occupied mainly by sea birds and turtles, but many are peopled.

Mindanao is a big one, but so poor and chopped up by mountains that it is irrelevant as a union. It is relevant as a disunion, with Muslims and Catholics at each others' throats, the mountain forests infested with protection-racket gangsters who paste over their essential criminal acts with the whitewash of political indignation, and tourists who skulk from place to place wondering when the next kidnapping or beheading will occur. Terrorists are backed by foreign interests, which no one cares about, but the army is backed by a big foreign interest, and people are outraged at the meddling. The island does not have enough electricity and can't figure out how to get what there is from the north to the south. It's chief city, Davao, is run by a mayor who presumes the righteousness of Matt Dillon and Wyatt Earp, but runs his posse like Black Bart, shooting first and never getting around to asking questions. The US warns its citizens to keep away from Mindanao. Fo sure.

Luzon is also big. It is rather shaped like Benigno's brain, but has only half his intellect. I mean, the largest megalopolis in the land, one of the most famous in the world, is run as 10 different cities, each with a czar and a different idea of how to prioritize things. It is government by apoplexy. The roads are a mass of sheet metal from 6:30 in the morning to 6:30 at night, with so much diesel exhaust laying over the city that the main color of most buildings is black. At least Cairo can claim that it's tint is a gift from God, sand, that gives that city its pastel tan shade from this side of the Nile to that. And that is about the only shade in town.

No one worries too much about earthquakes in Manila because the buildings are all tied together by meter-wide tangles of electric and phone lines that act much like the huge cables holding up the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Manilaites  gripe about the floods, but are actually quite relieved to have them sweep through now and then to wash all the trash, piss and doo doo out to sea. The place is clean for a week or two, and people march off to church to give thanks for the fresh air.

There is no island of Visaya that I am aware of, but a whole group of middle-sized and small islands make up a region called the Visayas where most people speak a different dialect than in Manila. So God also must have a sense of humor, figuring he could install a few towers of Babble in this place where people originally had to paddle to pay a visit. The towers he called volcanoes, and he put Pinatubo right where it could be the final nail in the coffin of US imperialist tendencies. To wit, it sent Clark AFB back to the ash age whilst giving Pampanga a huge revenue stream selling that sand to cement plants.

But I digress. Cebu is a part of the Visayas and has a bunch of US $250 a night resorts strung across the south beaches of Lapu Lapu island, sucking in that fine foreign revenue. The rest of the island is mountainous and congested and you have to go south to get north. I don't have $250 so I am unclear why in the world I would want to visit there, even though my small island is just a quick sail through the Straits of Leyte. The problem is that the sail is on one of those top-heavy ferries that tip over and sink now and then. Death is just the cost of getting around, I suppose. I refuse adamantly to pay that cost.

Smaller islands are a delight. They have their own economies that mysteriously import electricity and gasoline and construction stuff and food. Living is simpler and in my area there are no roving thugs or murderous religious types. There are religious types, for sure, but they are friendly, although I could do without the loud church bells at 4:30 in the morning and the tonal wailing that chimes in from a different sect(ion) of the town.

There are precious few desk jobs on small islands. There are a lot of sweat jobs. Rice workers, tricycle peddlers, weed whackers along the highways, construction laborers. Not many women work for a salary but struggle mightily to manage the 8 to 10 kids that seems mandatory for each family. They are raising little laborers, I suppose, although I have no idea where the work will come from. Or the rice that has to go into the screaming, hungry pie-holes. I'm sure the Catholic Church will come up with a solution, though . . . so what me worry?

I've been eyeing the boats hereabouts. The motored fishing boats are pretty much what you will find throughout the Philippines. Bamboo outrigger stabilizers, lawn-motor engine. The captain is maybe age 14 and he is helped by his kid sister or brother. Adults go out when there is dynamite to throw. That is a nighttime recreation. But there are also fleets of larger outriggers. They have a real diesel motor, and those toting passengers have a tent-like seating area toward the bow that holds maybe 20 people.

I figure I can rig one of those babies up for inter-island pleasure cruises and the wife and kid and I can start to explore some of the tiny islands that dot the West Philippine Sea. We'll hire a captain and crewman and cook, bring along the kid's nana, stow several cases of San Mig below for ballast, and have a really rich time.  I'll see if a fish-finding radar works for the evening meal.

Not during June through September, though.

God also made typhoons and placed the Philippines smack in the middle of the main thoroughfare.

I tell you, da Great Man has a sense of humor. Volcanic islands in the middle of Typhoon Alley. With snakes, too, ala Adam and Eve. The apples have to be imported from Japan, though.

But hey . . . there has to be a great punch line in there somewhere.


  1. God has blessed us with these great lands. But we often forget that we do not own them for we are just mere wardens of the creations of our infinitely loving God.


Please take up comments at the new blog site at

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.