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Greetings from the Philippines, Iloilo city to be exact. I am here to attend a class reunion and to see the Dinagyang Festival. This is my first real trip to the country. So far it has met my expectations. Nice and warm both in the weather and the people.

There is a world of extremes here. From the very new to the very old. The city itself is fairly run of the mill in terms of being presentable. The one thing that impressed me here is that in the short time I have been here I have yet to see someone smoking in public. I raise this point because I saw a sign that said ‘Welcome to Iloilo City the Smoke Free City’. Which stated that it is forbidden to smoke in public places.

The other extreme is the traffic. There is so much of it and it moves very slowly. Good that it moves slowly as there is probably less chance for serious accidents. To my mind there is a flagrant lack of obedience to the road rules. I also noted a sign that said something like. Please obey all the road rules diligently.

Then there is the presence of heavily armed security guards in and around most banks, shopping centres and public places. We walked into one shopping mall the other day via the exit door and the security guard stood his ground and motioned us back out. We back in through the entrance and I noted a sign that said ‘No firearms allowed’ and that cannot accept responsibility for firearms, should the carrier wish to deposit with them. Then today I walked into a shopping mall and the guard did only a cursory glance into my backpack. I wandered around the mall to discover there was a firearms store inside the building. With these things in mind I don’t think it would take much for a determined group to cause damage if they choose to.

I am at an internet cafe in this mall. I think there is supposed to be free wi-fi here and yet when I connected to the hotspot it told me there was limited access. Therefore I have to pay the cafe to use the net.

Onwards Toward Freedom

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