And out of my big black bag tumbles everything.
Books first on top. A last morning run to Powerbooks across from the hotel. I bought up a whole lot of titles by Filipino authors that my new local friends had recommended. (A great way to break the ice that first evening!)
Notes from the sessions: my feverish scribblings to get down as many new ideas and spring-off thoughts as possible. The seeds for new things bookish and wordish; and the challenge will be to see how they transplant to the various soils of the region, cross-pollinated with local partnerships.
A jar of papaya acaran pickles for safety tucked into one of my trainers. Bought in a craft market when it seemed a little greedy just going around tasting all the local specialities (though not, thank you very much, balut).
Trainers only used once for a reluctant treadmill jog before many course breakfast before mid-morning snack before buffet lunch and a temptation of deserts before afternoon snack before going out for dinner at night. (Sessions fitted in somehow around the eating.)
One smart cream skirt not worn. Suddenly too tight.
The black pearl earrings I bought with Bing's help from a stall tucked deep into the crowded, chaotic Greenfield Plaza for the price of a beer.
A stupid black baseball cap with the Philippines flag embroidered on it and the words HOBBIT HOUSE it's a great place to be. I was coerced into buying it at this famous live-music bar, owned staffed entirely by "little people". Great folk and blues.
What I couldn't bring back so will have to remember:
A jeepney. One of the two hired for our evening excursions. Gleaming crome and coloured lights and a village scene painted on the side. A real king-of-the-road vehicle that everyone turned to stare at.
The amazing parols or star lanterns. Wreaths of dazzling dancing light in the unstreetlit night of the shanty towns.
Green mango slush. Dalandan juice. Halo-halo.
Every rose sold by every small child forced to dodge between cars to earn a few pesos in the rush hour.
My new friends.