Go Small or Go Home
With my first two nights being in a Narita hotel, there really wasn't time to do much. I knew that I'd be back here after five nights in Manila, so I quickly headed into Tokyo to find the perfect point-and-shoot camera. I wanted something that I could use for documenting my work (and any downtime) in Manila and to use for the pilgrimage afterwards.
My camera bag is already packed full of heavily used photography and videography gear from Sony, Panasonic and Olympus, but I wanted something with a built-in, fast aperture lens and 4K video. Although the list is growing, there aren't many out there. Being familiar with Panasonic products, I settled on the Lumix LX100. Yes, it's a couple years old, but it's hard to beat 4K, an f1.7 lens, and sensible ergonomics. It's pretty safe to say that everything from here on out (at least for this trip's blog) will be done on the LX100.
A Glimpse of the Philippines with the Panasonic Lumix LX100
My Thoughts on Manila
Ok, so spending just five days in Manila really just means that my opinion may be very nearly worthless. It's ok, though... it's just an opinion.
Everyone I met and worked with was very friendly and enormously humble. It didn't matter if it is was during my on-site photography work, at the mall, or even in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. Ok, I may have been met with the occasional inquisitive stare, but nothing about Manila made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
I know there's all this talk in the U.S. and other western countries about President Duterte and his methods, but personally, I'm not one to use my own ignorance to pass judgement on others. (Remember, this is my worthless opinion.) In an attempt to cure that ignorance, I asked questions to those that appeared to me that they would answer candidly. In a nutshell, the answers very clearly pointed out that people here feel much safer with their new president. All of them said how they wouldn't dare go out late at night for fear of being assaulted or violently robbed. With obviously very little tolerance for criminal activity, Duterte and the police are more than happy to throw anyone in jail. Not sure if you've seen the news photos recently, but a Filipino jail is not where you want to go. The people I spoke with now think almost nothing of heading over to the corner convenience store at night, and they all echoed the same basic message; crime, drugs, and corruption now have an enemy.
Most seem to truly believe that there will be prosperous times ahead, and have prayed for this change for a long time. If my work in Manila is any indication, there may be much more foreign investment in the Philippines in the future, and the people there deserve it.
If their enormously charismatic leader's methods are questioned, many of them were quick to say that outsiders fail to count the staggering amount of innocent people that have lost their lives to drugs and corruption. Sounds like they've got a point.
On the last day in Manila, I realized that what I really gained from my first trip here was a deep and overwhelming sense of humility.
One U.S. dollar is a big deal, and most people here do their very best with every dollar or peso in their pocket. I'm just as guilty as the next person when it comes to finding the most meaningless things to grumble about, and I promised myself that I would do much less of that nonsense.
Finding contentment and joy in the smallest things won't just be empty words, but words I will do my very best to live by. Manila has undoubtedly changed me.