I remember the Philippines as a place of wonderful juxtapositions.
The poor lived shoulder-rubbing close to the rich, hitching their shanty sheds against the great walls and fences the wealthy erected to keep out the common folk.
Yet, the attitudes of the people, the consistent smiles, could make you believe the entire country wealthy.
It’s a wealth of a different kind.
A wealth of knowledge, of contentment, of love and acceptance.
Unfortunately, that kind of wealth does not clothe, feed or educate a people.
Regardless, the cities are full of bustling contradictions.
One market is packed wall to wall with local shoppers, each one swinging several bags from the crook of their arm.
This bazaar is shrouded in the smells of barbecued chicken and baked goods, unusual sweets and ice creams flavours fill the shops.
Yet, outside there are children begging, their clothes torn and dirty.
But don’t stop to give them a dollar!
Do so, and watch as this beggar child pulls out a cell phone and dials his friends to direct them to his fruitful position, telling all of your generosity.
Alas, this is not always the case.
Sometimes the case is much sadder.
And the child thinner, hungrier and desperate.
The Philippines is a beautiful place, and an ugly place.
The rice fields are lush and green, the mountain spring pools crystal swear and sparkling.
Volcanoes stand tall and proud, commanding the islands surrounding them, daring the waves to break.
And then there is the city.
Brown buildings, red buildings, murky buildings, old buildings.
Crumbling, moulding and crowded.
One built right on top of the other, leaning upon the bigger, and people living under foot.
The electricity cables tangled and fall from the poles, the paint is chipping and dirty.
Yet, beneath this ugly ceiling,
There lays a beautiful little picture.
Quaint doors frame warm views into homes lovingly furnished and cleaned.
Families sit together, share meals and play games.
We all watch television together.
Two different kinds of beauty, both defined by contradicting aesthetics.
Beautiful none the less.