Since we both took some Ambien the night before in order to adjust to the jet lag, Nate and I both woke up ready to go Wednesday morning. We actually had several hours before Manny came to pick us up, so we decided to go walk around the neighborhood and shopping areas. I learned in my Applied Anthropology class this past semester that shopping areas are a great way to get a feel for the culture and observe people, because they’re relaxed and on their own time.
We headed over to the grocery store first, which is a block or two away. The store is called Makati Supermarket, and it has a big combination of everything. I’m not really sure if there’s any method to its madness, though, because I can’t find any logical order for the way its arranged. I would find something on one aisle, then walk over a few more aisles and find another big section of it again. You kind of have to just wander up and down the aisles until you find what you want. They had most of the same things that we would find in the States, but the brand names are all different and they don’t have much of anything. Everything comes in small quantities and stock amounts are small.
Except rice. Their rice aisles are like our bread aisles. Every kind of rice you could think of taking up an entire aisle to itself. Speaking of rice, I hear the diabetes rate is high over here because of how much of it they consume. (Brad, that was for you. Thought you’d appreciate that little fact.)
We are being pretty careful with what we pick out to eat, because they say your stomach has to get used to it before you can handle some things…like salad. And the meat isn’t wrapped up. You just walk through and kind of pick out what you want, and they wrap it for you. People touch it and it is just sitting in the open. That’s another thing your stomach has to get used to. Since we’re only here 2 weeks, I think we’re just going to avoid all of that.
We did get stuff for PB&J, cheese and crackers, fruit, and cereal. Except that I opened my box of Raisin Bran and something had eaten a little hole in the plastic bag. And there were spiders and spider webs all over the inside of my cereal. I decided to just go ahead and toss it. We’ll probably get a few more things today or tomorrow so that we can cook real meals, but we wanted to wait until we could go in the car. We didn’t want to carry huge loads of groceries back home.
Anyway, after the grocery store, we walked over to the mall. It’s huge! There are tons of really nice stores, like Lacoste & Armani, and a lot of stores that I’ve never heard of before. Like something called People for People, and Bench. Most of the clothes and things there are much cheaper than you could get in the US. There was just about any kind of store you could think of: Spas, clothing, healthcare, food, toys, electronics… they had everything, And there were TONS of people in there, and lots and lots of kids. It seems like everyone here has a toddler! Also, karaoke is apparently big here. Everywhere we go, there are karaoke stands set up and people singing. Sometimes just a single person standing there singing with no one watching. They like music a lot, and you can almost always see some little kid dancing to the beat. And people randomly break out into song in the grocery store or on the street. Or right here in this gas station where I’m currently sitting. It’s hilarious. Music is a big part of the culture here.
We walked back home and Manny picked us up, and we changed some money into Pesos and visited a few more shopping areas and places where there were lots of people. We kind of toured around a little, just taking it in, then went to meet Sandra at the MTW office so that we could visit ABP4, the younger girls home. We went and celebrated their “Happy Birthday Jesus” party with them, and it was great! They recited lots of verses for us in Tagalog, and sang a few songs for us. Cindy (a translator who works with MTW) told them the Christmas story. Afterwards we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and they had a cake. When we left, they were hugging us and kissing our cheeks and begging us to stay. I think I left my heart there at ABP4.
Afterwards, we came home and had the evening off, but we fell asleep immediately, around 7:30pm…and I think we needed it!