Manila Vanilla

What it's like to be a U.S. Fulbright scholar, basketball player, journalist, and the whitest man in Metro Manila.

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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

New Yorker by birth, shipped across the globe to the world of malls, shanty-towns, patronage, corruption, basketball and a curious burnt-toast smell that wafts around at dusk

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Xavierville and Environs


Here at Manila Vanilla, we pride ourselves in being on the cutting edge of multimedia technology. That's why we're a whole two years behind on getting hooked up with Google Earth, which allows you to look at satellite images of just about any place in the world and interact with the images in neat ways.

Click on this image to see the full size tour of my immediate surroundings in Loyola Heights, Quezon City. My stomping grounds extend beyond this three-block radius, but these are some of the vital parts of my life in the area near my house inside the Xavierville subdivision.

  • Rafe's House -- This spacious townhouse comes with a downstairs kitchen, well-stocked with cockroaches, two bedrooms, two semi-functioning bathrooms, and two glory holes.

  • Kuya Mike's Tindahan -- The cheapest sari sari store on Rosa Alvero Street. When the others charge 38 pesos for a 1.5-liter bottle of Coke Light, Mike's will only ask 36. The low, low prices draw a splendid crowd of frugal "tambays" -- basically loiterers in English -- who sit on tiny plastic chairs and pass around a blue plastic cup of beer. The characters change, but the cup remains. Shouts to Noy, Ping and Jhun, who taught me to open bottles in my teeth here, and Chairman Effren Gallardo of the Loyola Pansol Toda tricycle drivers association, who has dropped science on me several times on Kuya Mike's stoop.

  • Meat Shop -- Anyone who would rather spend a night navel gazing in a Makati lounge than pounding 29-peso bottles of Red Horse and listening to the unpredictable soundtrack (your chances of hearing Zhane and Ghost Town DJs are excellent) and watching late-night tricycle races at the Meat Shop is a fool. Where I learned to love sisig.

  • Squatters! -- Does this rectangular area look like a mess from the bird's eye view? You should see it at ground level. Just follow the cramped little alley off Esteban Abada street and behold squalor like you've never seen before. Unless you're Filipino, that is, and you've seen it on a daily basis for most of your life. Despite having little in terms of worldly possessions, the folks back here have a seemingly endless supply of friendliness (perhaps it's linked to my own seemingly endless supply of five peso coins and hand-me-down basketball shorts). Many of Katipunan's most beloved street children live back here, including my Dream Team: Angelica, Allan, Jeffrey, Sandra and Marvin.
  • Clubhouse Basketball Court -- The Xavierville Phase II/III shared clubhouse. A great place to play with pompous 17-year-olds and toothless, 57-year-old house helpers and drivers. And when the Koreans show up, it's over.

10 Comments:

Anonymous NYC Teacher said...

Great job on giving us spectators a street level taste of life in Xavierville & environs. Would love to have mini-journalistic pieces from first person viewpoint on each locale/inhabitants, the particular mini-culture of each.
You have a gift of making the reader feel right there. Sort of like McPhee and Joe Mitchell and Halberstam. Keep up the good work.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous New York Gal said...

With words, you have made your world in Manila real to us, and
your love and compassion for the
people is so geniune that it is
actually moving. And your writing
doesn't reflect the usual romanticizing of place and people by expats. Don't lose the gift.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Lenay Ensenado said...

Hey! I came upon your blog upon googling something. I have actually read the Slate article before, and I was kinda amazed to know that it was you who wrote it.

1:34 AM  
Blogger markered said...

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon your blog. I think I may have been looking up newspaper salaries when your entry on "Envelopmental Journalism" caught my eye. I didn't even realize you were American until you mentioned everyone calling you "Joe." At any rate, I thought I should drop you a line since I'm a native of the Philippines trying to be a journalist here in the United States (upstate New York). So I feel some sort of kinship with you, never mind that the stuff you write about makes me very nostalgic for the islands, although I was just there last June. Oh, and I also remember reading the Slate article a while back and getting a kick out of it. Keep up the good work.

-mark

12:17 PM  
Anonymous bianco said...

Cool you know the meatshop to? if like their sisig you've better try the sisig of Trelis (The best sisig in town). Its some where behind the Quezon City hall

3:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a whiter than white, tall blonde woman who lived on Esteban Abada, with squatters on the otherside of the fence for 10 years, I get homesick reading your blogs and you write in a way that fully describes real life there. I married a 6ft+ Fil Am and have spent more of my adult life in Manila than anywhere else... our son grew up there and it is our home more than any other. Can't wait until we move back end of this year... right back to Esteban Abada. Now our son has his sights set on the PBA!

8:57 AM  
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Blogger PAK MUS said...

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BUKA INI DANA GHAIB TOGEL










saya mengucapkan banyak terimakasih kepada KI HADAK yang telah menolong saya dalam kesulitan,ini tidak pernah terfikirkan dari benak saya kalau nomor yang saya pasang bisa tembus dan ALHAMDULILLAH kini saya sekeluarga sudah bisa melunasi semua hutang2 kami,sebenarnya saya bukan penggemar togel tapi apa boleh buat kondisi yang tidak memunkinkan dan akhirnya saya minta tolong sama KI HADAK dan dengan senang hati beliau mau membantu saya..,ALHAMDULIL LAH nomor yang dikasi KI semuanya bener2 terbukti tembus dan baru kali ini saya menemukan dukun yang jujur,jangan anda takut untuk menhubungiya jika anda ingin mendapatkan nomor yang betul2 tembus seperti saya,silahkan hubungi KI HADAK DI 085=259=457=111 ingat kesempat tidak akan datang untuk yang kedua kalinya dan perlu anda ketahui kalau banyak dukun yang tercantum dalam internet,itu jangan dipercaya kalau bukan nama KI HADAK
BUKA INI DANA GHAIB TOGEL

11:09 PM  

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