Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The Philippines is an important founding member country of ASEAN. My first visit to this country was back in June 1976 when as the Director of Travels and Expeditions, COMEX Club Singapore, I organised and led a 34 member expedition group that covered a route from Manila, the capital, to Baguio City in the far north. That was a major expedition with many true and most interesting anecdotes and I shall have a more substantial post of that later.

This particular visit was in December 1992 while we were on our way home from the States. We flew in Philippines Airlines from Honolulu to Manila. While making enquiry at the airport concourse about taxis to the city area, we were told to avoid all taxis except those licensed to operate from the airport. This was the 1st sign to me, an experienced old hand, that things on the ground in Manila and likely elsewhere, were not right. The political landscape and economic climate has changed quite drastically since 1976.....about 16 years after my last visit. The country was in the doldrums after the Marcos era. Crime was on the upsurge...all kinds of crime. Kidnappings, murder, brazen daylight armed robbery, corruption, gang clashes, etc.. Everywhere we went, we were advised to be extremely alert and to avoid going to unknown streets, sights and places. Many shops hired armed guards on sentry duty. It was very difficult to be a tourist in such circumstances...especially as I have D2 and D4 with me.
We decided to cut short our trip and headed back home just after Boxing Day. We did spend Christmas in Manila though.

Top: Downtown Manila, Next: Rizal Park, Right: Fort Santiago, where National Hero Jose Rizal was incarcerated and later executed.

No comments: