Some Manila and Some Whinging

I know I still owe part 3 of the NYC taxi story.  And probably a lot of other posts as well.  I’ve been busy.  And I’ve been tired.  Crazy tired.  I don’t really know why but I suppose it’s long past time to get serious about dealing with my obstructive sleep apnea, especially given an article in the Times over the weekend about new links found between apnea and cancer.

Anywho, we were in Manila over the weekend.  It’s summer in The Philippines and it was hotter than fuck and I think the heat got to me on my last day there.  It certainly couldn’t have been that I got drunk on Sunday night – and it’s so rare for me to drink alcohol these days that it doesn’t really take much to get me drunk.  We were at Cafe Havana, one of my usual spots there.  They had a decent salsa band playing there.  Let’s see, drums, congas, keyboard, guitar, bass, trumpet, trombone, timbales and a female singer with the requisite large breasts.  (I was listening to some Fania All-Stars yesterday, the Live at the Cheetah album, it don’t get no better than that, and I was wondering why these bar bands have such a limited repertoire.  Well, gotta keep the customer satisfied.)  We bought drinks for a lot of other people. That’s easy to do in Manila, where the cost of a fancy concoction is about half the price of a beer in Lan Kwai Fong.  And apparently at some point my gf got me to dance, which is something I never do.  It ain’t a pretty sight, that’s for sure.

Anyway, we were there looking to get a place to live.  It started on our last trip, when we viewed a new Rockwell development.  This time a bunch of places from Ayala and Century (yes, we even looked at the joint that they got Paris Hilton to advertise).  Well, I know where I want to live.  It’s in the Fort, aka Bonifacio Global City.  Unfortunately, the place we saw and loved and can afford won’t be ready for occupancy until 2017 and while I don’t plan to leave Hong Kong in the near future, 5 years is too far off.

Oh, should mention, a place we ate at Saturday night, I think it’s called Seconds, or 2nds, it’s in the Fort, just off Bonifacio High Street, right next to Agave.  (The Agave in the Philippines is apparently not affiliated with the ones in Hong Kong.  One way to know that is that the ones in Manila feature “bottomless” margaritas for roughly HK$50, if memory serves.  I shit you not.)  Anywho, very nicely designed place, Filipino food made high end with a tiny bit of a fusion-y twist.  Comfortable place.  Dinner for 4, including a bottle of very nice Spanish wine, worked out to around HK$600.

I could probably write several blog posts about my apartment-hunting experiences there.  And perhaps I will, maybe better off once the whole thing is settled and done, should that ever happen.

I’ve noticed a linguistic change in the Philippines lately.  Not sure if this is new or if I’ve only just noticed it.  I did note that in the past few years, people went from addressing you as “sir” to “sir <your name>.” as in, “Hello, Sir Spike.”  I don’t recall people doing this years ago but it seems everyone does it now.  It makes me feel weird.  I’ve only just gotten used to being called “Sir” and now apparently I’ve been promoting to a Knight of the Round Table.  Spike, OBE.  Or I guess in this case, OPE, Order of the Philippine Empire?

And now, apparently a lot of people, instead of saying a simple “goodbye,” choose instead to say, “god bless.”  Not just one or two people. I’m hearing this everywhere.  It’s in almost every email I get from there.  The flight attendants said it on the plane as we were getting ready to “de-plane.” To which I said, out loud, “no thanks.”  Really, shouldn’t we get a “god bless” before the plane takes off?  By the time it lands, do we still need it?

We could have extended our trip by an extra night and gone to see Lady Gaga, who played there Monday night and I guess also tonight.  She was not an instant sell-out there.  I don’t think the shows sold out completely.  I saw ads from one of the phone companies offering buy one, get one free deals on tickets.  There are those protesting her concerts there.  Not to the extent that they did in Indonesia, where her permit was revoked and the concerts were cancelled.  But some bible-toting whack jobs eager for publicity spouting forth about how her “values are not their own.”  Because apparently if you don’t believe what they believe, you’ve lost your freedom of expression?  Or because if they think your beliefs are different from theirs and challenge theirs, then you don’t belong because they’re so insecure in their beliefs that you threaten them? Splendid.  Oh, they announced that police would attend the concert so that they can make sure there’s no nudity or anything lewd.  They probably just wanted some free tickets.

Louis C.K.’s got this famous stand-up bit about everyone being a crybaby about technology, how everyone complains and everything is wonderful.  He includes people complaining about airlines and flights.  You’re making a trip in hours that used to take years, a trip in which half the people used to die before the trip completed.  “You’re sitting in a chair in the sky” or something like that.  Not sure if he really believes it or if it’s just comedy fodder.  It’s funny.

But, ya know, I almost always fly Cebu Pacific to and from the Philippines these days.  Okay, they’re a budget carrier.  You don’t get food or even water on the flight unless you pay for it.  You don’t get to check in luggage unless you pay for it. And always right after the flight takes off, just as you’re settling in for a good naps, the stewardesses (“the ladies on the plane” as George Carlin liked to call them) get on the P.A. and lead everyone in some mindless game for 10 minutes.  “Who can show me … a pencil?”  “Oh, you’ve got a pencil, you win a toy.”  Yeesh.

Cebu Pacific always plays music when you’re getting on board and off.  And for the past several months, the song they’ve played is what seems like an endless remix of Rihanna’s S&M.

‘Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it

Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it

Sticks and stones may break my bones

But chains and whips excite me

Oh, I love the feeling you bring to me, oh, you turn me on

It’s exactly what I’ve been yearning for, give it to me strong

And meet me in my boudoir, make my body say ah ah ah

I like it-like it

So this is okay for a “family crowd” of children and old people boarding an airplane but Lady Gaga performing her songs within a closed arena that you have to pay to get into is a threat?  I don’t get it.

I wonder if any Cebu Pacific flights ever leave on time.  Our flight to Manila was an hour late.  Our return flight was just under 2 hours late.  We sat there by the gate, listened to the announcements, delay this, delay that and then, of course, Gate Change!  200 people standing up and having to walk all the way down to the other side of the terminal.  Apparently that was easier than bringing the plane to us.

My arrival in Hong Kong was my first time to arrive at HK’s newer Terminal 2.  I was thinking to myself, “Okay, the flight was late and bumpy and noisy and I’m tired as fuck.  But landing at Terminal 2 is a plus because the car park is outside terminal 2 and this will save us shitloads of walking.”   (Yes, I drove to the airport.  Three days’ parking there costs HK$300.  Add in gas and tolls and it’s still cheaper than round trip taxis from where I live, which would cost HK$700.)

Except, apparently, they don’t have immigration counters or baggage claim at Terminal 2.  I know, I can’t quite figure that out either.  And you know how you get from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1?  Get off the plane, go in the terminal, walk awhile, go down an escalator, get on a freaking bus, stand on the bus forever while it waits on the tarmac for all the planes to taxi by.  Get off at Terminal 1, go up another escalator, walk a bit more, then wait on a long line because there are only two machines working at the immigration counter.

So, yeah, maybe my mood is a little off today.

By the way, in case you missed it, you do want to listen to Amanda Palmer’s latest album, “Several Attempts to Cover Songs by the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed for Neil Gaiman as His Birthday Approaches.”  Yes, Neil Gaiman is also on the album (speaking, not singing, probably for the better).  I loved the title and, surprise!, I love the album as well.

And I also wanna recommend the new Saint Etienne album, Words and Music By Saint Etienne, which is an absolutely joyous celebration of pop music and its importance in our lives.

And the new album from Soulsavers, The Light the Dead See.  This time around the featured vocalist is Dave Gahan and it gets emotional.

And a new double live album from the Tedeschi Trucks Band called Everybody’s Talkin’ (first song is a cover of the Fred Neil classic).  And speaking of Allmans, the new double live Warren Haynes is a big improvement over his recent studio album.

Oh, I didn’t get to this one yet but soon will.  Lisa Marie Presley has a new album out.  Yeah, Elvis’s daughter.  Michael Jackson’s ex-wife.  It’s called Storm & Grace.  It’s produced by T Bone Burnett.  Word is it’s actually quite good.

And Father John Misty, a pseudonym for the drummer from Fleet Foxes, who has left the band, and has this new album out, Fear Fun.

And Clock Opera, Ways to Forget.

Still haven’t worked up the strength to try Damon Albarn’s Dr. Dee yet but Graham Coxon’s A+E is quite worthwhile.


6 thoughts on “Some Manila and Some Whinging”

  1. Spike,

    I just now read your article about
    Middle Men
    I am the man you write about
    you got most of it right
    but missed one thing
    contact me
    you want to get the rest right

    Clay Andrews
    the middle man

  2. What is up with the closed eChannel machines at the airport? I have seen the same thing several times. Granted, it is still a pretty convenient system, but having invested the tax dollars, you would think they would want to keep those at 100% capacity all the time. Also, now seem to want to channel all HK residents through one side of the arrivals hall which seems at odds with how the airport was designed to work.

  3. Good post, Spike.
    I also spend a lot of time in Manila and I can concur with some of your observations. Why do they say “for a while, sir”? :)
    Next time try Barcino in Greenbelt where you can drink unlimited wine and eat tapas during happy hour for PHP600.
    I’d be interested to know which condo you liked in Fort, I am also looking there. I think it’s a great area. Also worth considering is property in Cebu if you’re looking for a retirement place.
    Thanks for the tip, I will check out the Saint Etienne album!

    1. Thanks for the tip Dan. Place we looked at was the Sequoia, Serendra 2, Ayala property. 2 bedroom, 90 square meters, approx 9.6 million pesos.

  4. At the risk of being pedantic…

    You arrived at the North Satellite Concourse, not Terminal 2. And, yes, it is very annoying having to wait for a bus to take you to the main terminal.

    Terminal 2 is only for departures, and after clearing immigration you go on a train to Terminal 1, and you can end up at the North Satellite Concourse if you are on an A320 or other smaller plane.

    1. No, not pedantic. Never knew about the “North Satellite Concourse.” Either way, it’s a very kludgy way to do things.

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