Yes, I must leave the Philippines. I hope to return in 18 months to do my sociology PhD focusing on poverty and healthcare. In the meantime I will finish my masters, teach, take more incredibly hard yet interesting classes, check out the Irish Rovers when they come to Seattle in November… and train for a marathon. Plus feed my chickens. In addition to all that I am married. So, you know… not too busy for a graduate student! Oh, and one week after I get back to the USA I am flying to Ohio and Kentucky to visit friends and family.
As for my flight. I left Manila, Philippines at 9:35 a.m. today… Tuesday, August 21st. And I will arrive in San Fransisco, California (USA) at 9:20 a.m. … today, Tuesday August 21st.
I’m not even using Dr. Emmett Brown’s 1981 DeLorean DMC-12. If you comprehend that reference you are SUPER-COOL!!
For people who are not familiar, Jeepneys are approximately a cross between rugged army jeeps and mini school buses. There are two bench seats on either side which extend from behind the driver’s seat to the back bumper.
I am 5-9, and I felt overly tall in it… like a man riding in a dwarf car. The reason I felt overly tall is because I had to bend over to walk inside of it. When I was bent over, with my knees bent, my back still kept hitting the roof of the Jeepney. The price was really reasonable. For three of us it cost 20PH, or 50 cents in America. So now the thrill is gone. I have finally ridden in a Jeepney.
This is a strange time to be traveling in the Philippines. Apparently two days ago a protest began. Hurray for my great timing?? It lasts from July 20th to July 25th.
The protest involves Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are facing a steep increase in the amount they pay for health insurance. The facebook page OFW Voices is trying to get over 1 million likes.
Being in a different country when a protest begins is a new experience. Because this is currently a social media protest I do not feel my wife and I are in any danger. But it is still awkward.
Because I am an outsider, I am not even sure of the amount of the increase… although I do understand it is ridiculously high. One source I found said 150-percent, and another source listed the increase as 167-percent. Either way that is a huge increase for a health insurance premium. For those who are not familiar, Overseas Filipino Workers already pay remittances to the Filipino government for any salary they earn in another country.
In America people are already upset about paying for Obamacare. I cannot imagine what people would do if it went up 150-percent!
So my wife and I arrived to the Philippines late last night. My computer clock, still set on US time, says it is 11:07 p.m. Wednesday on the west coast. However, we arrived in the Philippines at 9 p.m. Wednesday. So, my wife and I are a little loopy but seem to be adjusting to the time differences just fine.
Our luggage is still in transit… which is a little annoying but not surprising. We were delayed over 2 hours because of weather in San Francisco, which threw off our transitioning to other flights. For the second leg of our flight marathon we had to run and arrived at the gate when they were closing it, but they still let us on. A little too close. Anyway, we expect/hope our luggage will arrive tonight or tomorrow morning.
My first observation on this research trip was the jeepney. Jeepneys are the most popular form of public transportation in the Philippines. I think they look really cool, but my wife informed me they are not “safe” for tourists because of an increased mugging potential that she had read about. Bummer. Because I think they look really cool. I would describe the jeepney as a combination of Jeep Wrangler and short school bus. I love how each one appears to be uniquely customized.
I may ride one anyway at some point, but just make sure that I am not carrying much money when I do. Or perhaps do it in a distinctly safe area of Manila. Have you ever traveled in the Philippines and taken a ride on a jeepney? What was it like?