May you Live! March 7, 1998 (and more)

Mabuhay (mah-boo-high) is a philipino verb in the form of a command: "live!" it is also a wish: "May you live!" whosoever says it wishes upon you the great gift of a long and full life. It is both a blessing and a lusty cheer.
- mabuhy -Philippine Airlines' Inflight Travel and Lifetyle Magazine.
Mabuhay is also the name of the First Class section on the Philippine Airlines flight that I am currently on. I forked out the pesos to be upgraded to the "May you live" section, since airplanes seem to be dropping out of the sky, around my parts, with alarming frequency. I feel awfully sorry for the people who are not in the "May you live" section if we do plunge into the South China Sea now.

Well, the old girl has been very bad about writing so I am going to hit you with a nice long epistle. I have about an hour till we start our death defying landing in Hong Kong. For those of you who have never flown, in a 747, sideways, through some skyscrapers to then plunk down on a little strip of pavement in the middle of the bay...well you have not lived! Mahubay!

So where have I been. Well, just leaving the lovely area of central Manila. What a strangely sweet country. The land of Our Lady of the Shoes, Imelda. This country takes the art of tackiness to an all time high. One can only giggle at all the gaudy trappings that come from a highly Americanized Asian country. I knew that this was going to be a fun place when we landed and I could hear half of the plane put down their rosaries and explode into a loud round of applause. All of the buses (Jeepneys) are covered with florescent air-brushed painted Madonna's...Jesus' mom, not Lourdes'. The cars have bumper stickers that proudly proclaim, or pitifully beg, "Bless this Trip". Religion to the max!

The lobby of my hotel (the lovely Holiday Inn in Ermita) contains the little leather shop, the Hide 'n' Chic, and a lounge where you can hear the delightful "Jing and Belle" give stirring renditions of most of the Carpenter's greatest hits. I bet that you have to book "Jing and Belle" months in advance of your Christmas party! Closing my eyes, I can just see Karen standing before me, with lots of unused Dominos Pizza coupons in her hand. She is apparently on top of the world and looking down on creation! I'm glad for her.

In my room, I have over 68 channels of television. A veritable plethora compared to the...lets see...ONE channel that I have in Singapore. In Manila I have NBC, why, there's Katie and (sigh) Matt, OH I MISS YOU! Katie, lighten up on the mascara girl!

Channel surfing reveals that I also have:

Trailer gals, I could not make this up if I tried!

At night I left my hotel and ventured out into the street. I had to fight my way through a line of about 30 taxis outside of hotel. I wonder why EACH of them insist on asking me "Taksi-sir?" If I did not take any of the identically jalopied 15 cabs further up the line, do you think that I will suddenly realize my foolish ways and jump into taksi #16?

After maneuvering past the taksi barricade, I am then confronted by the pimps. "Nice Girl, foryouSir?", "Nice Boy, foryouSir?" What if I want a naughty companion? I have enough NICE friends? Well I move my way past that group and duck into a local bar where several of the congregation are more than glad to offer to be my "Tourist Guide". Apparently this guided "tour" involved my room, a massage and a furious exchange of money. My new best friend "Dirty" Harry is married, has two children, and a girlfriend on the side but is willing to give me a "tour". I am exhausted just remembering my god-children's birthdays! How does he keep up with all of these? We sit there and listen to several of the "#1 rated" radio stations in Manila, until it's time again, for Karoke..."West Virginia, mountain Momma..."

I leave Manila with a smile on my face and a new appreciation for John Denver and Paul Anka.

So what else? I did get snatched back to the USA for 2 weeks of training for the company (they love me!). The highlights of my trip were the fun times that I had with Tina, Alana and those dear datalounge chicks. Make sure that you go to their site at www.datalounge.com! Support your people! T.J. (Actress) scored us some tickets for Jackie! on Broadway and then we made our way to some of the less respectable places off of Times Square for a viewing of some prime beef! (I ain't talking about Tony Roma's! We have Tony in Singapore!)

On the way home I had the joy of stopping in Tokyo where I must tell you about the most wonderful experience in the toilets (no! No! No! do not even think it!)

After a 14 hour flight a gal has... certain needs. I dropped myself down in the "Club ANA" lounge for All Nippon Airways and realized that my middle age spread was seated on one of these lovely high tech Japanese toilets. Oh joy! An electronically warmed seat, caresses my large posterior! Oh My...I Thought that I could be there all day! How many times would I have loved to have this warm snugly toilet bowl after a night out with Ms. Margarita.

Well, I looked down to see this lovely set of buttons on the side of the toilet. With all this squiggley Japanese writing on the buttons.

Now looking back at the position that I was in, I think that I was quite brave but I pressed the blue button and this little periscope thing extended and proceeded to wash...you know...places. Oh! My! How refreshingly wonderful!

Being even braver, I thought that the water was nice but would be better if it were warmer, so I pressed the red button!

Well all that happened was that the periscope thing extended some more and changed direction so that it stopped washing "places" and started washing...you know...things!

OH...it was not a red button for warm water...it was a PINK button. Blue for boys, and pink for girls. I was confused but having fun!

I burst into laughter in my little cube! I am sure that the Japanese/Korean guy in the cube next to me (singing a Tom Jones number from his Mini-Disk) must have thought that I was nuts! I was clean and I finally knew about that "fresh washed feeling".

Well, next week, I'll fill you in on how I am educating the Singapore population to the joys of Body Shots of tequila. Until then, I close my letter to you and wish that you all have a safe and happy week!

Mabuhay!

Verl 'n' atwirl