Friday, 29 January 2010

Jose Rizal is my hero

And so today was our tourism day - a day of historical indulgence. We visited the Cathedral of Manila, very nice and cool, with beautiful stained glass, even if they do seem to love Mary just a bit too much for my theology. Following this we visited the memorial to Jose Rizal. (Pictured)

I have to confess that my knowledge of Jose Rizal before today was limited to my lonely planet guidebook's explanatory paragraph and the Kanlungan staff telling me that Rizal was a hero very passionately. I have to say i am convinced. Rizal was a peaceful revolutionary in an age when such was unusual to say the least. While others were taking up arms against the Spanish imperialists here, he was writing essays and poetry espressing his distaste for the Catholic church (or at least its Philipino expression in the 1890's) and its corruption and suppressive nature. He calls people to follow the teachings of Jesus over and above the ritual and mythology that the priests espoused (bring it on!) and wrote passionately about his love for the Philippines and his desire to see them freed and independent. His language is incredible and uses great phrasiology, no more so is this obvious in his farewell address to the Philipino people, written on a peace of paper smuggled out of his prison cell the day before he was executed in Lunetta Park. Even his academic writings are filled with poetic sentences that make it a joy to read and enables the imagination to run wild in reflecting upon his speeches when they were first delivered. In essene Rizal was the leader of the Filipino revolution and freed them from a particularly nasty brand of Catholic oppression. He is my hero too, not just the staff's!

We moved on to Jollibee's - the Filipino competitor to McDonalds for today's lunch and then to the Mall of Asia, i believe it is the third largest mall in the world and the biggest in Asia. I found starbucks fairly quickly and was then set for the afternoon.

The mall is great, very much like the Trafford Centre or Meadowhall in appearance and atmosphere but it seems to have escaped everyone's notice that within 1 mile of here there are people living in the most horrific of conditions, children selling themselves to the highest bidder in order to earn food for the family and disease as well as horrific poverty. I'm as guilty as everyone else, btw, with my very nice starbucks breakfast every day, but i guess the only way to cope with the poverty that is apparent everywhere is either to escape into another world - like the Mall of Asia, or to look the other way. I am all too aware that i am susceptible to both these options. Praise God, the staff of Kanlungan seemed to not be. Tomorrow, we're back to the proper work that we're here for, viisiting a boys home which is a working farm. Am sure there will be stories to tell.

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