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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Basketball/Ondoy pictures

I just wanted to share a pair of photographs that caught my eye in recent weeks, as I've watched the Philippines torn apart by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. There's not much that hasn't been said about the devastating loss of life and property the storms have caused, and it was particularly distressing for me to see pictures on (it's number five in this slideshow) of the street in front of my old house submerged in water that would reach my chest.
Sometimes it's inappropriate to turn my one-track basketball mind onto subjects that are obviously much bigger than the game. I wrestled with that possibility and its associated guilt when I saw these photographs and felt a tinge of happiness at seeing basketball woven into the story of this crisis the same way it has become part of practically every facet of Philippine society. In the top photo, the scene is of grim resolve, people saving those few dear keepsakes that can be saved, while the bottom picture is just plain fun.

Of course, the far more important stories are the crippling effects the storms have had on people's lives, the number of people who've lost their homes and who may be permanently relocated. That alone is a frightening prospect, a disaster lumped on top of a calamity, like finding someone who's been shot and stabbing them through the bullet hole. That's not to say that slums/informal settlements aren't a problem, or that they didn't exacerbate the floods by clogging waterways with shanties, kangkong and solid waste, but the idea of the government overseeing a mandatory relocation of the urban poor is horrifying. And then there's the more positive story of the thousands of volunteers who stepped up to help those hardest hit by the storms. I'm proud that a lot of my friends contributed and continue to give to these efforts.


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