13 Mar 2018

Manilla, Philippines 2018, Day 2



Many people went to this museum or that park or some shopping center  today. I just wanted to blend in and travel around like an inconspicuous local.

Maybe my transportation wasn't quite as unassuming as I thought.


Anyway it was fun seeing real people living real lives here.

12 Mar 2018

Manila, Philippines 2018


The only real memory I have of my previous visit to Manila was the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. A group of our friends chartered our own bus to visit it along with the synagogue and other usual sights. 


It is much easier to read numbers of needlessly killed boys than to look at the headstones. Over 17,000 are buried here and another 36,000 were never found. 



Every direction we turned had thousands of tombstones.



The ship's rabbi (and our friend) was with us and said some appropriate words and a couple of prayers. After visiting a cemetery like this, one can't help but wonder if isolationism makes more sense. Then we realize that we wouldn't be around if we just let these terrible people win the wars by default. All that you can really come away with is that war is terrible. I wonder if the average age of the people buried here is over 20. What a waste.



We visited the beautiful and only synagogue in the Philippines. The presence of the Jews in the Philippines dates back to the Inquisition, but the community grew with three groups at three times in the 20th century. First came the Sephardim as the Ottoman Empire was crumbling. Then after World War I many Jewish refugees arrived from Russia to escape persecution. 

Then in the 1940s, at the request of the Jewish community in Manila, the government issued visas and permitted more than a thousand European Jews to enter the Philippines and escape the war in Europe.

During World War II, the Philippines was under the Japanese occupation and the synagogue was destroyed. After the war, the community shrunk when many Jews left the for Israel or the United States because the manufacturing industry was moving to China.

 A new rabbi came in 2004 and has gradually built the synagogue up from about 30 families to 100. 

Anti-Semitism has always been virtually unknown in the Philippines.

11 Mar 2018

Romblon, Romblon, Philippines



Today we visited Romblon town, a municipality located on Romblon Bay in the province of Romblon, an island in the Philippines. Once again we were greeted by a local enthusiastic band. 





They are known for their marble which is supposedly on a par with Italy and way cheaper. Virtually every store i town sells marble items.




They are also well known for their transportation.People get around on colorful jeepneys and various forms of motorcycled vehicles as well as minibuses.


Sometimes they are bit cramped however.


10 Mar 2018

Boracay, The Philippines


Boracay Island is our first stop in the Philippines. It is always fun to be greeted by the local community when visiting them.


I chartered a motorcycle type taxi with a sidecar setup for the afternoon - $15.

Depending with whom you speak or which review you read it is either the best or the worst.  I mean just last year Conde Nast Readers Choice rated it the best in the world and Travel and Leisure calls it "your idea of a desert-island paradise."

An unbelievable number of bloggers and just normal reviewers call it the ultimate dump and grossly overcrowded.

My verdict - it is a dump with a few sublime spots.










04 Mar 2018

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

We are back to Papua New Guinea and visited Rabaul which WAS the capital city of New Britain an island just east of New Guinea. About 500,000 people live on this island. 

In 1994 two nearby volcanos erupted at the same time. Thanks to an early warning system virtually all 50,000 residents were evacuated and saved. The same cannot be said of the city itself which was destroyed under two feet of volcanic ash.
Most have resettled along with the capital itself.
The first stop was a visit to Tavurvur Hot Springs near the foot of Mt. Tavurvur. 
We were driving slowly on a bumpy dirt road. The vehicle in front of us just listed and stopped when it lost its tire. The driver said he thought that might happen because only one lug nut was holding it on. Expect the iunexpected when traveling in the third world.
We signed up for a much more adventurous tour than we thought and were actually on the steep, slippery, rocky volcano climb. Then it got worse in my flip flops trying to negotiate sharp lava rock. I just made it half way. Allyn kept going of course.
 At night we went to the Baining Fire Dance, a formal  ritual of the Baining tribal men. It is only performed on very special occasions such as birth, death and harvest. Apparently the arrival of a cruise ship is a very special occasion.