Saturday 28 April 2012

Dubai and Philippines - April 2012 - part 1

Our trip started with a short stopover in Dubai to spend some time with my brother (Alistair), his girlfriend (Debra) and their "children" (Poppy dog and Archie).

Dubai has a thriving retail sector with malls larger than my hometown. They like big here. A symbol of their place in the world and how their little Emirate is growing and developing. It really wasn't long ago that these lands were desert and the people poor. Oil changed all that and the UAE is investing like crazy. Dubai is populated by Westerners and workers from Southern Asia. Its wealth is built on the labours of those from poorer nations, who come to make money, and send much need remittances to family in their home countries. It's also bloody hot.

Next stop on our trip was Manila, a couple of nights before a ridiculously early flight to Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental, Mindanao. From here we were collected by Jade's cousin and Tatay (visayan for father) travelled the short distance to his family home in the town on Jimenez. Each town is sub-divided into Barangay with Jade hailing from Tabo-o. We passed a funeral enroute, but unlike here, drivers don't wait patiently for the procession to pass, they simply squeeze past the mourners and for once resist the urge to beep their horns in annoyance.

This is what the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise about travel to Mindanao:

 "We advise against all travel to south-west Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of on-going terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. We advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reason."

I never felt at any time I was in danger, afterall they call their terrorist group M.I.L.F which is hardly that scary.

During my stay in Jimenez, I had arranged to treat the local kids of the Tabo-o Barangay to ice-cream...and we did this on the second day of our 3 day visit. It was a great success, the kids were excited, some sung songs and all lined up and waited patiently as I tried (badly) to scoop the ice-cream, which was melting quicker than I could cone it.