Meanwhile it was three AM in the night, in every dark back alley i felt exposed to eyes, I felt everywhere lurking shadows in the darkness, I cutted across country on a platter. We made it to a safe, police guarded park, spent the rest of the night there and went at the next morning to the province of Cavite to Lyn’s mother and the rest of her family. Despite major language barriers and minimal standard of living I was welcomed there like the prodigal son.
At midnight I was jerked from sleep by loud banging, the drunken father stood with drawn revolver in the doorway and forced me to leave. Through the fact that I slept in a room with his daughter before marriage (banned by Iglesia ni Cristo) i defiled the honor of his family. Oddly, he only noticed that in a drunken stupor. If I have to leave, she also leaves, said Lyn, put herself between me and the gun and decided despite the threats of her father to be shunned by her family and not being able to come back to leave the apartment with me. Silently, she took my hand and pulled me out into the night. Admirable, selfless loyalty, as I only know it from the Philippines. Thank you a lot!
Finally i was persuaded into joining a celebration of the religious sect „Iglesia ni Christo“. Banned cameras, fastidious seating, prescribed unit clothing, signed donation cans and the separation between the sexes are just a few of the features that are required by the Church of Christ in order to pass the doorman. What started with a strange feeling swept quickly through the screams of the pastor quickly into oppressive unease. The howling sect clientele around me didn’t make it any better, so I looked around for escape exits, since I already imagined sacrificial rites, which would probably hit the only foreigner in their midst. Nothing like that happened and I left the club of course unscathed, however, I was stopped in front of the exit gate to the great freedom of a bunch of subpastors and submitted a brief survey regarding my accompany before they returned my stored things like identity card and camera bag.
…we lost ourselves and walked through parks where indescribable fireworks took my breath away, strolled over promenades along the sea, in a nutshell.. i’ve seen beside the whole poverty, violence and injustice that makes Manila one of the most dangerous cities, points of light where joy and community bloom.
In the following days I was dragged into many corners of Manila. We got lost on markets where you can purchase everything from sunglasses to watches and fake electrical appliances and clothes to cut-rate prices, we were enchanted in fairgrounds, tried the coin-tossing, we strolled through gigantic shopping malls and fast food avenues ..
Once arrived there, the father was already waiting to receive me. It turned out quickly that he wanted a conversion of my faith so that I could marry his daughter as soon as possible. He was visibly disappointed when I told him that it’s not so urgent for me.
As we left the car, I was, dragging my bags behind me, guided through busy streets until we finally reached her apartment. Everybody personally knows each other here, these „remote areas“ are inhabited by the poorer classes, what let me stand out even more in my pack mule lining.
I joined fully loaded with camera gear, kites, laptop, underpants and my other essentials the still unknown lady into the car. I have to admit that I initially had reservations about whether we really go to her apartment. Through the window of the car I could see as we drove further and further into skid row in which I probably would not have come without accompaniment.
Indeed limitless anticipation.. my second trip to Asia to the Philippines! When I arrived in early December on the island paradise I was greeted by a nice internet acquaintance at the airport. I wanted to explore the capital, not as a tourist, but as Manila seemed too dangerous alone, I liked the idea of having a local guide through the heart of the city.
Admittedly with empty pockets but healthy and full of new experiences I leave Brazil after 4 months stay. It was great! This country is huge and offers plenty of great stories. But for now i go to the other side of the world – Philippines, i’am coming home.