Brief diary, an intro for what I hope will be more later.
So I'm tagging along with my girlfriend and several of her colleagues on a trip to the Philippines for work (hers).
I've never been outside North America before, and but for a couple brief day trips south from San Diego as a child (to Tijuana), I've never spent any time outside of the First World.
Right now, I'm in Metro Manila, in my hotel.
The hotel is in an area of Makati called Rockwell Center. It's basically the highest-end business center in Metro Manila -- already foiling my hopes to get a taste of life outside the first world. Yet Makati also contains very poor areas as well as one of the most well-known red light districts in Manila.
I'm a coward, and sex trafficking is one of those topics that makes me physically ill to think about, so I can't even bring myself to venture into that area. But we do have local coworkers and guides who can and will take us outside of this rich-people-and-rich-companies gated community and out into the "real" Manila area. We've already made a couple trips outside the bubble, but brief. One trip to an open-air "mall" with rows and rows--and rows! -- of merchants selling pearls, clothing, and counterfeit name-brand bags and watches. It was crowded, filthy, and thoroughly alien -- yet afterward, our driver told me that the area was still considered "upscale."
Manila proper is the single most densely populated city in the world. Many of the cites in Metro Manila are on the list of most densely populated cities. There is desperate poverty here, yet the international companies that set up business here have made it so easy for first world citizens to not see it -- in fact, you have to seek it out.
This diary is just an introduction -- something to force myself to explore and write more thoroughly later. I know I won't be here long -- just a week -- and so won't get a very in-depth experience, but I really hope to at least have my eyes a bit more opened to the reality of what life is like in "the rest of the world."
I have my camera with me and I am taking truly excessive amounts of photographs, too.
So stay tuned. And if I don't write more about what I see -- even if it's to sheepishly admit I failed in my objective -- y'all call me out for it. :)