Friday, February 4, 2011

Mt. Pinatubo Pottery, Greenhills, and Leaving the Philippines

Today, our last day in the Philippines, Mr. Man and I are heading to Greenhills looking for pottery made with ash from the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption, which destroyed the homes, livelihood, and way of life of thousands of the Aeta tribe in Central Luzon.  It is made by the people of Mt. Pinatubo through the EVA (Entrepreneur Volunteer Assistance) Charity Foundation.  This pottery, along with other handcrafted products (all made at least in part with from Mt. Pinatubo itself – paper, ceramics and glazes of volcanic residue) are the sole source of financial support for the organization.  Bob and Mari gave us a sugar/creamer set for Hanukkah and I love it so much that I want to get some for gifts, but it seems it is only sold in a few places or through fundraising events, and we soon learn that it was only sold in Greenhills at Christmas.  We are bummed.

Greenhills is a flea-market-like mall with stall upon stall of designer wear (seconds, I think), fake designer handbags, and pearls, lots and lots of pearls.  White, pink, gray, black.  See a strand you like, but the length isn’t right?  No problem ma’am.  They will re-string them for you within a few minutes.  Rico helps with negotiating a fair price—I must admit I have become more comfortable asking for the “best price” and shaking my head or offering less if I’m not happy with the price quoted.  I look to Rico to see if I’ve gotten a good deal, conveyed by a slight nod or shake of the head.

Tonight Mari and Bob are throwing a party and we intend to stay up all night as we must leave for the airport at 3:00am.  We help set up the bar, and I give Rico some tips as he is serving as bartender, something he hasn’t done before.  There is plenty of good food (Susan’s lumpia being my favorite) and many interesting people to talk to; largely other ex-pats.  Even so, I feel my energy flagging around 11:00pm and decide to rest some before our flight.  I manage to dose some even though the sounds of the party float up to our room.  At some point a guest comes in and turns on the light to retrieve her purse, she quietly apologizes when she sees me curled up with Milo on the bed.  I drift off again when the door opens and the light is turned on.  I see a young Filipina girl standing at the door.  When she sees me, she says, “Oh, sorry” and then approaches the bed to pet Milo.  I am too tired to engage her and she takes the hint and leaves.  I get up and lock the door.

Soon it is time to leave and after saying our goodbyes and thanks to Mari, Bob drives us to the airport, which is already crowded at nearly 4:00am.  You must go through security before you enter the airport and the line is very long—there is only one scanner at each entrance. Thankfully we are flying business class, which affords us being escorted to the front of the line.  After checking in, we stand in a long line for immigration; here it doesn’t matter whether you are flying business or coach, there is a shorter line only for diplomats.  After about 30 minutes we are headed to another, somewhat shorter line to pay our exit fee, and then go through security again.  This time we must remove our shoes.  There is one line for ladies and one for men, it is unclear why as they are side by side.  We pop in the Sky Club to use the restrooms and sit for a few minutes before heading to the gate where we must go through security yet again.

Finally we are on the plane and headed for Nagoya where I am sure we will be forced to gather our things and depart the plane, go through security there, and wait to board the plane again.  Perhaps then I will sleep.

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