It has been nearly 2 decades since I last visited the Philippines. Seeing my brothers and sister and their families was my main objective next to finding new business ideas. At first I got culture shocked with the surroundings. Many things have changed and I can barely identify where north was. My body compass went haywire, lol! Lots of new buildings, new houses, new stores, new cars and new fashion. Everybody has a cell phone but during my time we only have the black analog house telephone :) Another thing that surprised me was the prices got a lot higher. It was around 1.50 Pesos for a jeep ride but not it's 8.0 Pesos. One thing good that I notice that the transportation system is a lot better, thanks to the new trains, newer busses and taxi cabs. The streets are cleaner and a lot safer compared to my younger years.
Security guards, police, traffic enforcers and even local community officers are everywhere. Commuting and strolling alone even at places like Quiapo felt a lot safer. I even got mistaken as an Interpol officer at a weapons shop in Quiapo when I bought a jungle knife for my little brother for his birthday. The shop asked for some identification card and all I have are my Japanese IDs. The shop owner instantly thought that I was an Interpol officer from seeing my IDs. Though I tried to tell him the truth, but he was totally convinced that I was an officer, lol! He went out of the shop and two officers came in and discretely saluted me and greeted me "welcome home sir"... I tried to tell them that I'm a nobody but couldn't convince them, lol!
Another fun-fun thing I noticed was that I was a "Pok-Pok magnet" (young girls who need some spanking from their dads)... I even received a note with a tel. no. written in a piece of paper from a cute sales lady :) Sad thing is that my little sister was always on guard and all I can do was to scratch my head, HAHAHA!!!
Though Manila is a lot safer nowadays, I nearly got into 3 street fights. One was at a train station when a huge guy pushed me. This got me pissed and told him that if he pushes me again that I will throw him to the ground. He turned white and the crowd opened. My sister nearly panicked not because my height was only about his chest. She said that she was scared that I will use CQC and strangle the guy, lol! Another is after I went off a jeepney and a creepy guy in his late 20s followed and tried to pester me. I was pulling my travel suitcase and he was asking where I was going, telling me to piss-off, getting to close and was a real nut case. I noticed his eyes and skin color and I'm sure that he was in the influence of some kind of funky drug. I walked about a block trying to get him off my shoulder but sent him to the ground when he tried to grab my suitcase. I "gently" punched his throat, grabbed and twisted his chin then swept his right leg, grabbled his right arm as he was falling then stepped on his face while twisting his arm. Two cops rushed towards us and asked what the problem was and if I will file a police report. I told them that all's OK with me. The officers scolded the guy and I over heard some bystanders commenting that he was a total fool to beef on someone like me. I don't know why they said that... maybe because I was wearing military trousers, officers t-shirt and an officers bull ring, lol! The 3rd encounter is not really worth mentioning... There are punks all over the globe but I can say that the Philippines is a safe place to visit as long as you stay away from dodgy areas where I usually go for a stroll, hahaha!
My visit was only for 3 weeks and I thought that I will have difficulties adjusting since I had been away for so long but all went fine. To stay invisible or to fit in, my sister strongly advised me to stay away from wearing jogging pants (workout clothes). I wear workout clothes in Japan everyday but wearing them in the streets in the Manila is like shouting "I'm a balikbayan" (a Filipino who is from abroad). The normal fashion in Manila for my age is jeans or cargo pants and t-shirt or short pants, t-shirt and slippers. After a few days I was strolling dodgy areas alone like I was invisible, lol!
The Philippines is a beautiful place. People are warm and are always smiling. I don't know why it took me so long to visit my mother land but from now on, I will surely be visiting more often :)