Posted by: Worldcitizen Willow | June 3, 2010

What do Avon, pawnshops & funeral homes have in common?


What do Avon, pawnshops, and funeral homes have in common?  Why Metro Manila, of course!  Seeing  Manila for the first time with a Western eye, of the English language shop signs that pass my view, these are what I see most often.  The Philippines is a beauty and glamor loving place, with plenty of beauty pagents and former beauty queens as politicians, hence the popularity of Avon.  Even religious ceremonies such as the one held a couple of days ago with girls and women dressed in long ball gowns and tiaras parading down the streets require the best make up and glamour.  All of life is to be celebrated here – birth, birthdays, weddings , etc are major events.  And of course, death is a part of life and cannot be overlooked – hence there are a preponderance of funeral parlours – seemingly one on every block – aiming to serve the need.  Humble people living a life of poverty here are often saving their pennies everyday in order to pay for their burial.  Coffins are to be glamorous as well.  And the ubiquitous pawnshop – a sign of the poverty in constant evidence here.

I take this all in from the open window of my Jeepney transport – a “truck bus” modeled on the old US jeep from the days the US had their bases here.  My experience on the Jeepney gave me a lesson on community.  People here have to help each other with their bags and other items, collect money from those sitting further from the driver to pay their fare and hand them back their change.  Often the children of others are even placed on one’s lap if space is at a premium.  Contrast that with the “don’t talk to me.. I’m in my own space”  and “don’t sit in the seat beside me” attitude of busriders in Canada.  As we spread our bags out and put our feet up on the seat in front.

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