Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Daily Report: Small Affairs Writ Large

I think one of the nicest things about living out here in the jungle is that, without the latest headlining band playing at the colosseum, without the big sale at Macys, without the new restaurant opening or university speaker speaking or championship game kicking off... the small things in life tend to get more of the spotlight.

In the small town in upstate New York where I grew up, one the biggest events of the year was the Dairy Festival, with its parade of marching bands and majorettes, tractors and floats, beauty queens and politicians waving from the back of my father's yellow Cutlass, while we kids waved back from the grand front porch of the old Victorian house that had been converted to the local dentist's office.

Jasaan, if anything, finds much more divertisement in the local goings on. Jasaan crushes little upstate Bath in the number and variety of festivals, fairs, parades, and other civic events, but that doesn't stop them from piling on even more come-one-come-all excitement to daily life here.

So, it was with a bit of tongue-in-cheek anticipation that this evening Epril and I paid a visit to the local kindergarten graduation... the day's big event. We spent about 10 minutes there politely clapping as each child was lauded with their accomplishments over the loudspeaker: "Best writing. Best religion. Best teamwork. Best English." I challenge you to find a place in America where a kindergarten graduation can draw a crowd of 500 people.

Of course, the reason for that is that people in America have better things to do... like watch TV or work late or go shopping at Macys. But then, that is kind of the point: It is in this little town of no consequence or import where one can forget about Macys or The Giants and instead spend some time appreciating the spectacle of some wide-eyed little kids in their cute outfits having their special day.


M said...

...great post. You are a lucky man to live in a good community.

This is one of my favorite aspects of Asia, that people still like to get together and do the normal things of life (e.g., enjoy kids w/o too much competition, carnivals, good street food).

cheers. mataho on kohlanta

Issarat said...

Don't fret Jil; Macys will be out of business soon and after looking at the actions of the 'professional' sports players lately..you are not missing a thing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jil

Chief here - it as been a long time since I posted last, sorry. Reason being - I am now living in Kabul, Afghanistan. I would recommend you stay there in the Philippines --- Afghanistan is no where near as nice as Philippines lol.

I do agree with what you are saying here. I have always loved to live overseas to see different countries and really experience everything that country as to offer. I have been to big city events and small town gatherings in many countries and they all have there own vibe and charm. Even here in Kabul -- I have had a few interesting experiences in the city, well, that is when there is nobody shooting at me or trying to detonate a bomb near me (IED or the occasional VBIED).

I am really looking forward to moving to Philippines next year and experiencing some of these same things I am reading from your blog.

Before I was deployed here I spent some time in Manila and Cebu on vacation. I can see me buying a small condo in each of those cities someday. But I still have a few more places to look at in Philippines before I start buying anything.

Take care, Keep the blog up - I am getting my Philippine fix from you, bro. Thanks,


Jungle Jil said...


Good to hear from you.

Kabul... Jeebus that's a bit of a place to be. I understand they send and receive web pages there by tapping out bits and bytes with a copper wire on the lead of a 12-volt battery.

Actually, I'll bet that Kabul is quite a bit like Jasaan here... just without plants, women, or daylight.

Anonymous said...


Hmmmmm, I do not think Kabul is like Jasaan - but I have to admit I have never been to Jasaan. You are right there is no plants (trees) and their women are normally at home or in their ninja suits (although there is a very healthy night life with many third country national prostitutes - mostly Chinese). But there is daylight here. Unfortunately, it is pretty damn cold right now --- and in a few weeks it will be pretty damn hot. That really sums up Afghanistan - to hot or to cold; to wet or to dry; there is never a time when a person is not uncomfortable. Oh well, I will appreciate Philippines that much more next year.

Yesterday I went to a Thai restaurant in Kabul (yes, every country in the world apparently as Thai restaurants). From the outside of the building there was nothing that identified it as a restaurant except for the sign. There was a small watch tower (build for two people) on top of the building with two security guards - one with a crew serve weapon the other with a AK47 with overwatch of the road/entrance to the resturant. As you get to the door - the door is locked - the security from inside looks at you to determine if you a customer or a threat. If they determine you are a customer the door opens. The 16 year old kid with the AK47 takes another hard look at you then (if he determines you are in fact a customer lets you by). You then walk about 30 feet to the real front of the building. This way if a bomb goes off at the road there will be at least 30feet between the customers and the bomb blast.

When we got inside the restaurant was actually very nice. The decor was authentic and not cheap at all. The food was some of the best I have eaten. The waiters and other employees worked fast and efficiently and were nice. While inside you could almost forget what was going on outside. But after dinner we walking outside stopped at our vehicle (we did our sweep to see if our vehicle was tampered with or any IEDs placed under or nearby) and we came back to reality - this place sucks.

I also went to a Lebanon’s restaurant when I first got here. The process to get in was the same - and the food was excellent. I guess when all your customers are packing automatic weapons you better do your best to please them.

Hope you and anybody else living in the Philippines appreciate what you have.


Issarat said...

Nice post Chief, it sums up the little things that (should) mean a lot!