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Yelloh girls, written by Kiana Garcia, a Filipina from Manila, Philippines (that's me on the banner) is here to identify the issues of growing up and living as an Asian woman in the world of today.  Actually I'm just one of those Asian girls who likes to speak her mind.  This isn't some sort of sex site, so don't get any wrong ideas.  I might talk about sex from time to time in a non-graphic way, but that's about all you will get.  Ok, maybe you will get some seductive looking photos, but that's only to show the true beauty of the Asian woman.  Taking pictures is one of my hobbies.  The purpose of my site to hopefully empower and educate girls (and teach men about us) about both their inner and outer strength and beauty in this non-Asian dominated world today through my example of body and spirit.  I believe that our most powerful asset as modern Asian girls is the freedom of our minds and the power of the internet.

Here's the deal on the pictures:  I had some taken on April 15th, but the photographer has yet to give them to me.  I'll be seeing him this week, so cross your fingers, for those who care.

Due to (surprisingly) popular demand:  How you can contribute to my website.

Nearly two years have passed but I'm back from the blogging dead.  But at least I'm still alive.  Recently there was a bombing at Glorietta mall, not far from where I live.  Of course, everybody was calling me asking me if I was at the mall during the Glorietta bombings.  Thankfully, no I was not there during the explosion that killed 11 people so far and injured over 100 more.  Of course, there has been political finger pointing to place blame on our own government for the bombings.  The initial report was that it was a gas leak, then C4 plastic explosives, and now nobody is sure what caused the explosions at Glorietta mall.  Call me cynical and jaded, but those people who are pointing the finger at the current administration have their point and you objectively cannot dispute it.  But maybe in my kinder and gentler perspective of the world these days, I'm having a hard time accepting that the President would have anything to do with this.  After all, she's an economist and the strong economy is the primary reason that she has been able to escape other criticisms and scandals such as the "Hello Garci" scandal.  So why would she shoot herself in the proverbial foot by causing a big dip in the economy and therefore expose herself to probes and doubt?  Bombing Glorietta just doesn't make sense to me if I was president, and even if I was evil.  It's just beyond me.  But hey...as I said, I'm a kindler, gentler, and less angry Kiana these days.

October 23, 2007 - Permalink to this entry

I've been away...for good reason.  I've been helping the fitness industry.  Yes it's a far cry from my beginnings, but it's something that needs to be done before the typical greed of the average gym owners kill the industry.  That doesn't mean I'm ending my blog...it just means that I need to get myself re-organized.  So...

To the haters...read my blog in its entirety before you judge me.  It's hard, I know, but you can do it...I know you can.  It's called discipline.  Flaming me only makes me laugh...so at least spell check your tirades so I know what the hell you are talking about.

To the regular readers, I'm doing fine...and thanks for caring. :)

To the call center setup requests, yes, I have a way to still help you.  This goes for real estate as well.  I have many friends who are more competent than I who can help those who want something arranged and I can direct you to the right people since I do sometimes check my e-mail.  But to everyone else, I'm swamped.  Thanks for understanding :)

November 14th, 2005

I read many discussion boards.  Sometimes I participate, but usually I do not.  It’s pointless.  Most people are so set in their ways that I can make a point that is indisputable, but I’m ignored like a mosquito that lost her feeding needle.  I can buzz, but I cannot bite.

What really get me to laugh are political discussion boards.  A hot topic for American discussion is oil and gas prices.  Americans are whining about how they hate George Bush and how he’s responsible for $3 gas in the States.  Well boo hoo.  That’s cheap, both literally and figuratively speaking in that part of the world.  When I was in Hong Kong a few months ago, gas was $6 per gallon when converted to Dollars.  The cost of living is higher in Hong Kong than it is in the States but the wages are lower, according to my cousins who work in L.A.  I felt it…my Pesos didn’t go far.

Another example is here in the Philippines.  Sure, our gas is about $2.40 for 4 liters or about 1 gallon.  People might think that we have it better.  Hello…the minimum wage here would allow you to buy about 2 gallons of gas and a rice meal at the convenience store.

So to all of you whining and crying about your political problems and how “unfair” it is to have to pay “so much” for gas, take a step back and count your blessings.  If your situation was the same as ours, that gas would cost you $30 per gallon.  In the 1st world, you have a virtual 90% discount.

Count your blessings.

August 17th, 2005 - Permalink to this entry

I have not been able to access my mail for the past two days…very strange.  So I’m up again late writing, but up until a moment ago, I didn’t really know what I should write about.  Around here, it’s same sh*t…different day.  Actually this isn’t “late” considering that in the past, I wouldn’t go to sleep until 8 a.m. due to my call center duties.  Now, I’m typically up until 4-5 a.m.  I’m a night owl anyway and like to do my document prep when it's quiet and the kids are asleep in the internet cafes…or just old habits are hard to break.

To get back to my point, someone awhile back told me about his relationship with a girl he met on a “mail order brides” website.  He spoke about the stigma of meeting girls through these kinds of websites.  I had to think about it for awhile since I have not heard the term mail order brides in a long time.  But out of curiosity, I typed “filipino girls” into Google.  Sure enough, this Filipina site came up:  At first look, I thought I was looking at a stereotypical mail order brides site.  But upon further review, I realized that it was just personal ads.  It just so happens that these personal ads are just specializing in girls from the Philippines.  They even make it clear that they don’t take part in matchmaking, or anything else that would constitute forced or arranged marriages.  This site is, however, in contrast to a couple of sites that I’ve run into in the past 5 years.  I posted a link to it above because I actually commend how they dispel some of the myths of modern Filipinas.  Other sites, however, play upon the provincial Filipina stereotype, which is sadly true for the most part.  It’s the stereotype that most Manila or Western based Filipinos dread…the one of submissiveness and servitude.  You have heard my stance on this in a past blog, so I won’t go into it again here.

So my reader told me about how he wrote to a girl on a website very much like the one posted above.  They corresponded for over 2 years before he was finally able to meet her in person.  She never asked him for money or favors the entire time.  When they finally met, they found that their love online was no different after meeting in person.  That’s very rare and special indeed.  After 6 years, they are still together and now have a child.  She’s working on her Master’s degree.

He said that he had reservations about telling me how they met, since he was afraid that I might be offended that he’d use such a service.  But my response is this:  “If millions of people use personal ads in the newspapers abroad and through websites abroad to meet people, why is it so different if the girls are from the Philippines?”  People might say exploitation.  But as I’ve always said before, money talks and cheap girls listen.  It doesn’t matter if you are from Davao or from Los Angeles.  Most girls who use online personal ads want to know how much money you make or what you do for a living.  If they (or their mothers…your future mother-in-law) didn’t care, many online dating sites wouldn’t list that kind of info.

The fact is that native born Filipinos often treat women like crap.  Guys, I said often...not always.  Womanizing is the name of the game for so many.  400 years of Spanish colonization may be over, but machismo is still alive and well.  Even a few very rich girls I know only date foreigners or Filipinos who were born and raised abroad.  It’s one of the reason some Filipino-Americans love to come here…they get special attention not because they have money (many don’t) but because they know how to respect a woman and treat her as his equal.  This is a large part of why girls here are so desperate to go abroad, and why I told my reader that he should be proud of his marriage.

July 20th, 2005

A reader of mine told me that I reminded him of the Chinese.  In a way, he's right.  Chinese tend to be conservative and live in a "bubble" here in the Philippines.  The post today will be short, because I'm trying to get caught up on my e-mail.  To restate a quote I said to my reader in his e-mail, "Filipinos tend to live for the perpetual summer that is the Philippines, while Filipino-Chinese are constantly preparing for winter."  This is one of the reasons why the average Chinese is so much better off than the average Filipino.

So are you "Chinese" or "Filipino"?  Before anyone e-mails me, I know that this runs a parallel to Aesop Fables.  The grasshopper is me to a "T".

July 14, 2005

I awoke today with the realization of my own mortality on my mind. I was actually dreaming about death, but whose death, I was not sure. But that was an early dream, well before I awoke, yet the firm grasp of my mortality was on my mind. A few hours later, I was crossing the street on Roxas Boulevard. The light was red and glanced to my left to see that everyone had stopped in two of the three lanes. I took one step onto the street…but some strange force stopped me from taking another step. Suddenly, in a whoosh of air, a taxi (big surprise), charged past me through the red light. One step further, and I probably would have either been dead, or crippled for life. Did I ever mention that most taxi drivers in tourist locations should face a firing squad?

I don’t care what anyone says…some of us have guardian angels, and first they speak to us. When that doesn’t work, they grab us by the hair.

July 10th, 2005

As I’ve written in the past, I must apologize for my slow replies on e-mails, even to the important ones.  I’ve been very busy with many things lately and have barely had the time to even post much, even with all that is going on.  Speaking of that, many people have been asking me lately exactly what has been going on here lately and if there are signs of it getting better.  Well, I feel that it will indeed get better, as the opposition to the current president are hopelessly worse than she could ever be.  As much as the masa are not happy with GMA, they would likely be far less happy with another Estrada or Marcos crony.

Most people tend to believe that our president will weather another political typhoon and push ahead with her plan.  They realize that she isn’t doing too badly of a job considering the tools that she has to work with.  And this is why I respect President GMA…because she pushes ahead, no matter which way the political winds are blowing.  She is far more of a statesman than a politician in my opinion.  From my perspective, to act as a statesman is the only way you can go, especially the way things are going here for the average person.  For the average individual composing the masses ormasa, things will probably not get better for quite a long time.  It’s like I’ve told people before, if you ever wonder why your pay is so low, look to your left and look to your right, next time you are on the job.  Notice the fact that there are more employees than customers in the average store, and then you will realize why your salary is low.  It’s because you are sharing the work among 6-10 people that would otherwise be handled by one person in a developed nation.  Furthermore, the fact that you have 6-10 times as many applications for professional positions further dilutes the possibility of your pay.

Business owners would love to pay you more.  But the problem is that they would have to cut their staff.  This is a dilemma that most workers can never understand fully.  I try to explain all of these principles to my neighbors, but they still find it easier to blame the President than accept that we only have ourselves to blame for our woes.  To them, by now they should have double the pay and jobs for everyone.  But when the population increases 3 times as fast as the number of new jobs created, how can this ever happen?  When these same people are protesting and worsening political instability, how can prospective investors even get to the offices if the streets are blocked?  There are so many questions and so few simple answers.  But I guarantee that if the average citizen started looking at his or her family portrait and then in the mirror, they would realize that it’s up to them to take a patriotic stance at home before they venture out to the “rally/party” on Ayala Avenue.

July 7th, 2005

Where are we going as a nation? Many people, living in their white bread world, believe everything to be just rosy. Another political crisis? No problem. Rioting in the Streets? A piece of cake. The Peso depreciated 5% in just a few days? No pain, no gain chica!

Well these people who seem to know what is best for our nation have no idea what it means to be a "Filipino". Now I’m not saying that they are not Filipino, because surely they are, having been born and raised here...but in a strange "bubble world".  They seem to know what goes through the minds of the poor, but have never been poor or known a poor person outside their maid or guard.  

I want to know how to get to their Philippines. Whenever they speak, it seems like everyone is just fine and dandy, everybody is getting 3 meals per day, and staving off another fabricated political crisis is just growing pains of our evolving nation. Pride is food…munch munch good servant! We should all just "suck it up" and take it like good sheep at a frat initiation. There’s corruption to cover up gosh darn it…and how can GMA catch them if she is allowed her mandate? And so it goes…a never-ending supply of pseudo-intellectuals spend obscene amounts of time shooting off their mouths to do nothing other than spin as an issue. Do they have any proof to back up their assertions of fraud and corruption by the administration (not the relatives)? Of course they don’t…and remote circumstantial evidence doesn’t count, especially when said evidence was gained illegally and could easily be altered/tampered, since the Opposition produced it in the first place.

On a side note, why is it that the apple "can" fall far from the tree with respect to the Estrada family and the Marcos family (both of these dens of scumbags have relatives in the House and Senate yet nobody seems to care), yet not with our President?  Why is she lumped into the possible indiscretions of her relatives by the same Opposition that makes heroes and martyrs out of the two greatest Filipino villains of the 20th century?

Again, the result is that people are now worse off now than they have been in a long time, no thanks to the Opposition. It seems that each time I walk into the market, none of the prices on the goods match what is programmed into the register. Could that be because the Peso is once again in a nose dive, going hand in hand with the rise of oil prices? I challenge anyone here to ask the Opposition about what they intend to do to end their economic sabotage on our economy and produce positive change. Once they do, PLEASE pass it on to me. I’m dying to hear of their magic plans, as are my friends and fellow consultants in business and industry.

I want to know how to get to their Philippines. When I watch all of the singing and dancing idiots on TV, I’d swear that this is being broadcast from another planet. Each time I look outside, my Philippines are falling apart. Even if you ask the hundreds of protesters (never thousands like they want you to believe), almost none of them know why they are out there protesting. None have jobs, and few would accept the jobs if offered. If you think I’m kidding, you obviously are not living in my Philippines. I come from a neighborhood of people who are looking to join the party and watch Imee "Demon-spawn" Marcos, only pretending to care about the "politics" aka economic sabotage.

I want to know how to get there…

July 2nd, 2005

It's late and I'm tired. In fact, there are many things I should be doing right now, including answering e-mails about business and the like. But I’m so full of anger. In fact, full of hate would be a better description. You see, I’m finally fed-up with the politics surrounding President GMA. The opposition cannot, and will not stop their nonsense.  The Peso is officially below 56:1.  Now I have to listen to that tired old hag, Susan Roces, the tired, useless, country-club widow of that bloated hack bastard FPJ talk about how she will figuratively shred the Constitution and lead the nation. How appropriate.

Based on my own dealings with the so called “Class A” and others of her ilk, (of money...not intelligence/education), it is my opinion that she really believes the verbal diarrhea that spews forth from her mouth.  Once she’s done, she will be fully capable of wiping it clean with the Constitution, seeing as she wouldn’t know (or respect) the Constitution if God Himself ignited it with a lightning bolt in her bare hands.

She has never been poor, or has struggled, but knows exactly how to cure those who have struggled their entire lives.  Of course, she’ll probably get tremendous support because it will be another excuse to skip work or school.  And people wonder why the Peso is worthless.  People wonder why there are no jobs and not enough food on the table.  It's because of people like her.  It's because everybody is so quick to believe that GMA cheated.  SO WHAT IF SHE CHEATED?!?!? WHO DIDN'T CHEAT?!?

Even if GMA fixed a few votes here and there, I'd bet my life savings that the backers of FPJ fixed 10 times as many votes in his favor.  Maybe they are so upset because they still lost.  Maybe there is hope for the wisdom of the masa yet!

June 29th, 2005

Wherever you go in Metro-Manila, you’ll likely happen by a long line of people who think that their only hope lies somewhere abroad.  These lines are to apply as an OFW, or Overseas Foreign Worker.  There are some 3 million or more OFWs who endure long hours and homesickness in foreign lands to send billions of Dollars each year to their loved ones back here.  Some of these individuals have been doing this for decades with only the best intentions in mind.  But from my perspective, they are often doing more harm than good.  A strange class of people has been created over the years.  I refer to them as the “Catfish Class”.  Like a catfish, these people have learned that as long as you sit in one place, food will just fall into your mouth.  Why waste precious energy looking for your meals?  By raw statistics and the “miracle” of fluid dynamics, you’ll grow 6 feet long (tall) through all of the blessings that pass through your "whiskers".

So that’s what we have now in the Philippines…a “Catfish Class”.  These people have grown dependent on decades of OFW money that “magically” remits itself in Dollar form into local bank accounts each month.  Easy money is now just an ATM away.  If you happen to run out it’s ok…just check back in a few days and there will be more.  Only the elder “catfish” know exactly how the money gets there…or at least they remember “most” of the details in that there’s actually a human being (if they "remember correctly") slaving away at a dental office in some oil-rich nation far away.  The children only see the "source" of the wealth at Christmas and maybe Easter every other year…but this individual is only transient and almost mystical.

Every now and then the provider will ask where his money is going.  He or she will ask if the family is working to use the money to setup a family business.  They will reply with an excuse that the money is not enough, or the cost of the permits is too high, or some other excuse.  The truth is that they are so accustomed to money just “falling from the sky” that the concept of actual work has been removed completely from their minds.  So the provider will send more money.  Still more excuses.  He threatens to cut off the remittances unless the family tries to get a business going.  So they do...and due to the lack of planning and discipline, the business quickly folds.  The family pretends to be upset, but blame the economy.  The provider sighs and accepts it as the truth…since the poor economy is the reason he became an OFW in the first place.  But it’s a lie.  The concept was sound.  The location was feasible.  But the work ethic of the people had died years ago when they received their first green bank book that represents a Dollar account.

The worst part is that the “Catfish Class” is contagious.  This lazy mentality spreads to the children through the parents.  The kids are easily convinced that they don’t need the money to go to the best school…instead opt for a cheap school so the parents can use the leftover money to buy designer clothes, to drink, and to party.  It's also not expected for them to actually work once they graduate.  Going to school is just for "show" to the mystical provider.  The neighbors are easily corrupted, since they partake in the spoils of remittance at the domestic fiesta each month when they are treated to free beer, cake, and palabok (noodles). 

What’s even worse is that advertisers go so far as to glorify a spoiled brat who spends $30 of OFW money on her daily Café Mocha habit, new heels, and load for her cell phone so she can call mommy in Dubai.  Don’t forget that part, yo…calling Dubai is only 40 cents per minute…so important to say “thank you” for being allowed to be a spoiled little hoochie while mommy slaves away.

This is why our economy is in the dumps.  It’s due to the “crabs” and the “catfish”.  It’s why businesses fail left and right…due to the fact that people can sit at home and collect P300 per day from an ATM, or work at a job and collect P300 per day.  God forbid that you might actually have something at the end of the day to be proud of and know that you worked for it.  God forbid that you actually allowed a business to expand by producing a quality product and therefore allowing it revenue available to hire others so that they too may have a chance.  Finally, perish the thought that you might turn that P300 daily allowance into P600 per day of your own money by investing in yourown business.  But that concept is dying…or has probably died years ago but it just hasn’t reached the last of us yet.

As long as I keep moving, my family and my neighbors will never be able to swallow me whole. 

June 25th, 2005

For the first time in recent memory, we have protests in the streets!  Wow…and I thought protestors had gone away for good.  I guess we can only hope.  For as long as I can remember, I would go past protestors and wonder, even as a little girl, why these people were not at their jobs?  And today I found myself grinding my teeth at the same concept…that these people could be doing so much more good if they actually went to work or went to school.

Of course, the media is not a big help.  If you watch the news, you think that the protestors are a very large and well organized bunch.  There could be nothing further from the truth.  It’s amazing how a cameraman can make 50 people look and sound like 5000.  With a little editing, you can even add volume to the footage to make it seem like a basketball game between De La Salle and Ateneo.

Finally why are they protesting?  These individuals are protesting the legitimacy of President GMA due to some supposed conversations between her and an election official about him “fixing” votes for her.  From my perspective, this controversy accomplishes one thing…lowering the value of the Peso and hurting the poorest of the poor.  It won’t stop the inevitable…prosecution of the thousands of individuals who have profited handsomely from a corrupt government who has turned a blind eye to their actions for decades.  To them, I say that your time is almost up.  A few paid protestors on the streets can do little to stop the changes that are blowing.  Foreign governments/financiers won’t support you, and neither will ordinary citizens like myself.  The only ones laughing all the way to the bank are those who are about to seize your illegal accounts.

June 22nd, 2005

Beauty pageants in the Philippines are such popular events.  There are few countries or peoples who share such a passion for beauty pageants as do Filipinos.  When one thinks of beauty pageants, they think of purity and sweetness, not to mention “world peace”.  Excuse me while I puke, seeing how untrue this statement is by my eyes.

First of all, beauty pageants in the Philippines are some of the most corrupt and political events you’ll ever witness.  At the lower levels, the pageant judges are bought out at an even higher going rate than their legal counterparts.  In many cases, sexual favors are the “price”.  But often it’s sexual favors given by the gay talent managers to the gay judges.  You see, the most rabid and die-hard fans of beauty pageants here in the Philippines are effeminate gay men.  Some of these men can quote the fathers name of the winner from 1927 as well as what high school she attended.  It’s too bad that these guys aren’t lawyers.  Sheesh.

So after “winning” local level shows, the girls often get invitations to compete in larger beauty pageants held in the cities.  The ones who continue to compete usually come from the same backgrounds…uneducated and very poor.  Before I go on, I must point out that this is why the beauty, English, and social graces of the girls you typically see competing in modern pageants are so very lacking.  Girls from wealthier families from the local levels will usually quit while they’re ahead.  These girls are typical the true beauty queens of the Philippines who have balanced faces, perfect skin, impeccable English skills, and mastery of the social graces.  These girls will not continue to compete because they are “not for sale”.

Here is the ugly reality of beauty pageants in the Philippines often held in the cities:  They are nothing but glorified “dog shows”.  This statement is true for both the male and female categories.  With the case of the male category, it’s basically a gay pageant.  Most of the judges will be gay as will be the sponsors and producers.  If you want to win or at least be “discovered”, you had better have homosexual tendencies or you won’t get very far.  In the case of beauty pageants for the girls, the idea of a “dog show” is even more apparent.  Here, the biggest sponsors are private citizens…mostly wealthy old Filipino or Chinese men looking for a wife or a mistress.  They pay the producers to organize these shows so they don’t have to go door-to-door looking for poor and desperate girls looking to marry into wealth.  While the shows are going on, there are plenty of opportunities for the men to talk to the girls.  For all of you who don’t believe me, a friend of mine recently tried out for a beauty pageant held in Manila.  To me, she was probably in the top 3 out of the 20 or so girls who tried out.  She had the face, the height, and the ability to express herself.  But when a producer asked her, “What would you do if an old man tried to talk to you?  Would you entertain his interest?”  Without hesitations, she said, “Yuck!  No way!”  That was the end of the interview and they didn’t call her back.  I saw the girls that they picked on a newscast, and my friend told me that half couldn’t complete a sentence in English to save their life.  We agreed that the men didn’t want to hear complete sentences from them anyway, if you get my drift.  The talent agency producing the show is owned and operated by a very popular movie actress here, so you can forget about girls looking out for other girls.  It was clear that money was talking and a P50 trophy was not the “award” they wanted to distribute.  A gold-plated mini-plaque hanging from a leather strap would be much more appropriate.

June 15th, 2005

I’ve been sick over the past couple of days with a cold.  Prior to that, I think I got food poisoning.  So it has not been the best of days and I’ve only answered a couple of e-mails.  I think I got food poisoning from some roasted chicken I bought from a supermarket at the mall.  That’s unusual, since they are pretty strict about their food management procedures.  This is much different than street vendors.  What’s interesting is that street vendors who sell food are slowly disappearing, mostly likely due to local government health department crackdowns.  That’s probably a good thing, because there are so few controls on what they sell.  In fact, about a month ago a bunch of students died from eating a cassava root snack sold by street vendors.  In another instance, people got deathly ill from eating noodles that were sitting out too long.

In relation to what I’ve written above, it’s interesting to note how many foreigners think it’s so “authentic” to eat food they buy from street vendors.  Foreigners who try to fit in by eating street food are referred to as “cowboys”.  It’s basically because you are braving uncharted territory with respect to your gastrointestinal tract.  They wonder why, a few hours later, so many of them get upset stomachs or worse.  First, your bodies are not used to the local bacteria, and you have no idea how the raw food was stored or, in many cases, how long it has been sitting there.  Some guys will argue that when they arrived, the vendor was already cooking it.  Were they cooking it or reheating it?  Looks can be deceiving.

Take it from me.  When growing up, I would get sick all of the time because all I could afford was street food when I was out.  Now I hardly ever get sick, while some of my friends are sick about 1-2 times per month.  I watch them continue to run for the lady fanning the pork barbecue on the corner whenever they get a craving.  No thanks.  I’d rather bring some hard-boiled eggs along with me or go to Ministop or 7-11 for a siopao.  I advise all of you reading this to stay away from street vendors as well.  Being hungry is a lot better than getting sick.  Sure, it might save you a few pesos here and there, but the time you lose while dry heaving over the toilet is hardly worth it.

June 11, 2005

I was right...what I lived through was a random stop...this is what happened:http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/bac/2005/06/07/news/slain.negrenes.tagged.as.robbers.in.manila.html

June 6th, 2005

I was completely shaken up last night.  As far as I can tell this still has not made national news.  I was waiting for a light with friends at the intersection of Quirino and Mabini Street.  Suddenly I heard what sounded like a pistol followed by what sounded like a machine gun going off about a block away.  I've never heard a machine gun in real life, so I could only guess that is what it was based on how fast the shots went off...just like you hear in the movies, only the sound was different.  This was followed by several more gunshots by what sounded like the pistol, followed again by the machine gun.  No cars around ours moved.  Everyone was frozen as far as the eye could see.  In front of me, again about a block in front of us near Roxas Boulevard, I saw what I thought were muzzle flashes when I heard the gunfire.  Men and women began running away.  By my lead, my friends and I got out and ran behind some trees.  We were just too out in the open, should there be stray bullets, and I know our car wouldn't give us any protection against a large caliber weapon.  I was glad that everyone with me remained calm for the most part.  One girl was hyperventilating, but she remained in control.  I noticed that one officer was there from the beginning.  Suddenly there was one more burst of machine gun fire from what looked like that officer (at least I assumed he was a police officer...thank God I was right) into a car that was stopped at the Roxas intersection.  A swarm of heavily armed police were on the scene within a couple of minutes.  These were most likely the foot patrol near Manila Baywalk as well as the special tourist police task force.  Police cars began to swarm the area.  Traffic was completely stopped in all directions.  The car appeared to be completely surrounded.  All officers had their weapons drawn.  We all waited.  The two other girls with me began crying.  I had a lump in my throat.  We sat there for what felt like an eternity.  Suddenly I saw the other officers surrounding the car lower their weapons.  Two men reached down and dragged out a limp body from underneath the car.  They proceeded to drag him into a waiting police wagon.  A few minutes passed and they finally opened the door to the car and dragged out two more lifeless bodies and loaded them into the police wagon.

At that point, everything seemed secure.  We got back into our car and decided to turn around and go another direction.  We all sat there in silence.  What could have happened?  Right now, everyone reading this can probably guess as well as I can.  In Manila, the mayor is big about random police stops and checkpoints.  Could it have been a random stop that went wrong because they were wanted men?  That would be my guess.  Instead of showing their drivers licenses, they showed their weapons.  It's a good thing that the police officer had a large caliber machine gun because he was definitely not the only one shooting.  I'm anxious to find out what happened in the news reports.  But in the meantime, chalk one up for Manilas' Finest!

June 5th, 2005

As I'm writing this at 3:30 AM, I'm not sure where I'm going with what I'm saying.  This could be delegated to a "poetry by spoken word" category if one were to exist.  I'm beginning to see much of what I write being reflected in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan, Philippines edition.  Why am I reading Cosmo?  Probably because I'm one of the girls who is in there in their latest edition.  Don't ask why...it's up to you to find it and track me down within the pages.  But this particular issue of Cosmopolitan basically addresses many of the things I've been saying for the last 6 months...many issues to which I've received very hostile reactions:  "The new Filipina." 

I'm not the only one who fits that mold.  We're aggressive.  Hostile, in some cases.  Passionate and driven.  We're adopting the personalities of our Western counterparts, but only via secondary Western influence.  Gone are the days when people could just plop themselves down and impose their wills on girls in the cities.  Notice I said "girls in the cities"...obviously the provinces are, and probably will be for a long time, still pretty much the way they've been for decades in their ambition and personal pride.

I'm a Filipina who wants it all and I'll do what it takes (within my level of acceptable self-respect) to get it.  What is "all" to me?  Well, like anyone else, it's a relative statement.  What I'm saying is that I intend to work hard and earn my own way.  That way I'll know that my "all" came from me.  For those of you who hate me, keep hating.  Believe it or not, when you hate me, you make me stronger because I'll use it against you when you least expect it.  Maybe I've given in to the "Dark Side" without even knowing it.  That's funny...considering that even though I'm focusing on myself, I find that more and more people are being helped indirectly by me along the way.  Where would they be if I didn't have something for them to do?  Probably what they were doing before...gambling on the street corner or sweeping the floor of their cousins' sari-sari store for P150 below minimum wage per day.  To quote one of my favorite movies: "Greed is good".  But my corollary is that it's good as long as others who had nothing may someday get the same opportunity.  In other words, "Greed is good...as long as it's not coupled with selfishness."

June 3, 2005

It has been awhile since I’ve written about travel here in the Philippines.  So therefore I’ll discuss the hotels, resorts, and miscellaneous about a place that very commonly visited:  Boracay Beach.  Boracay has seen explosive growth in both the number of tourists, both foreign and domestic, as well as the number of newly built or renovated hotels and resorts.  Many people claim that Boracay has become too overcrowded and commercial.  For the conservationist purists, that’s pretty much the truth during the peak seasons.  During the peak rush, basically every hotel or resort in Boracay is at or near capacity.  Notice how I said “near” capacity.  In my experience, there’s no such thing as “fully booked”.  When I went to Boracay over New Years, I didn’t have a room and the travel agent was giving me a “hopeless” look when she said that there were no rooms available anywhere.  She didn’t understand why I’d still want to reserve a plane ticket.  I went ahead because common sense tells you that there’s no way that the airlines could saturate that huge strip of Boracay resorts and hotels with the tiny planes they use.  I was correct.  Not only did I get a hotel room that was near the mall in Station I, I got no less than 3 resort salesmen who approached me offering rates within minutes of stepping off of the ferry boat.

The thing about most hotels in Boracay is that you should choose yours based on your level of crowd and noise tolerance during the peak times.  Station I is where people go to see and be seen.  It’s also where most of the live music and commercial setups take place, full of promos and exhibits.  So basically if you’re between the ages of 15-30 and single, you’ll probably prefer Station I.  Slightly older married couples or parents with children would be better off staying in Station 2 or 3.  It’s much quieter on this side of the strip and is far less commercialized.  This is where you can argue that Boracay, as a whole, is not 100% about a wild party or commercialized atmosphere.  Station 2 and 3 are also where you’ll find the less expensive hotels and resorts.  Basically the rates are 100-300% higher in Station I during the peak season vs. the low season.  In contrast, the range I’ve seen most hotel/resort rooms go for is roughly 40-100% more during the peak season for resorts in Station 2 and 3.

Boracay is becoming a favorite destination for Korean tourists.  Actually Koreans are mainly what keeps the hotels and resorts alive during the low season.  From what I’ve seen, most Korean friendly places are in Station 2.  What this means is that you’ll see many Korean restaurants and Korean writing on the signs, meaning that there are specialists who can give better attention to Korean tourists.

It’s pretty easy to talk about where to go when in Boracay.  You’ll pretty much figure it out when on the plane since the popular places tend to advertise heavily in the travel magazine in your seatback.  Cocomungas, Pier One, Hey Jude, Summer Place, and the area outside of Aira Italian restaurant are always packed with people, especially during peak season.

Finally I say for all of those people on a budget, don’t be afraid of the cost of Boracay during the peak season.  That’s where you’ll get most of your entertainment for free.  In fact, it’s hard to spend on anything other than your food and room.  All of the commercialism guarantees more than enough to do and see.

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