by Alan Robles
(originally published in FilGlobe, Dec 2007)
After a year full of political crisis, corruption scandals, bombings and coup attempts, what does everyone in the Philippines look forward to? Not, not medication: Christmas!
Christmas matters a lot in this country. It's the festive, happy season when -- should you make the mistake of going near the airport -- you risk being trampled flat by the millions of overseas workers desperately rushing home to spend the holiday with their families. And why shouldn't they be frantic? They're trying to get to the nearest money changers before the dollar sinks again.
Yes, Christmas is important. After all, this joyous occasion of giving comes only once a year (except in Congress, where it's Christmas everyday) and we all save up to enjoy and make the most of it it. That's why we're devoting this column to dealing with some of the problems you might encounter on the way to maximizing your Philippine Christmas experience.
Hi! We just arrived in Manila and look forward to spending a nice, quiet, peaceful and calm Christmas and New Year's here in your beautiful, clean and unpolluted city
You landed in the wrong city.
What are the things we can do during Christmas holiday in Manila?
Well you can visit the mall. And then visit another mall. And after that visit another mall. Then there's that other mall. And did we say you can visit a mall?
Seriously, are there any other places we can see?
If you can successfully pretend to be a governor or a congressman you can meet the President in Malacañang Palace. As you leave you will receive the traditional Palace giveaway: a brown bag with half a mil
Did you say "half a mil"? Don't you realize that's an unfounded libelous accusation?
Did we say that? No, no we actually meant "Happy Meal".
We decided to splurge a little, check into a five star hotel and enjoy ourselves. It's wonderful! There's only one problem: there's an Armored Personnel Carrier in the lobby.
Either coup plotters have taken over your hotel, or they've run out of space in the parking area. Act nonchalant
Help! This Christmas traffic is terrible. We're stuck on Edsa and haven't been moving at all. What should we do?
How long have you been there?
Call up Fidel Ramos and ask him to tell you about his vision for the Philippines. Soon you'll fall asleep and time will pass by rapidly and before you know it when you wake up you'll still be stuck in traffic. But at least you'll feel refreshed.
Will Ramos really talk to me?
Why not? nobody else is listening to him anyway
Can you help me clean my room? It's a mess
We're not that kind of column
My room is inside Malacañang Palace
We'll there there in 15 minutes.