A heartwarming story about the Philippines and the nature of the Filipino...
I had the great fortune to participate in your tour of Intramuros when I was in Manila on Friday afternoon, March 11, 2011. The tour was not just entertaining but terrifically informative even if it opened my eyes to some of the typical American embarrassments we cause for ourselves. Interesting how so much of what you pointed out never made it into the history lessons I was taught!
I do have a great story for you though which made my first visit to Manila a real intense personal experience and showed your City and her People to be warm, caring and highly spiritual.
A friend and I had a flight on Cebu Pacific to Bangkok on March 15, 2011 from NAIA 3 International Airport and stopped for a snack at the San Miguel Food Shop in the Departures area. When we left to board our flight, I forgot my hand bag on a chair in the snack shop. It contained everything...money, credit cards, ATM cards, Travelers Checks, my checkbook, two watches, rings, my driver's license, all my health insurance cards, future flight information, my address book...basically everything I needed for life!!!!! I discovered I lost it an hour into the flight so you can imagine how delightful the rest of the flight was! The only thing I did have with me was my passport since I needed to have it with my boarding pass to get on the plane.
Long, long story short, the two young men running the shop and the shop owner, Nora Culajara, found my bag, secured it and then got my son's email address out of it and contacted him immediately. A friend living in Manila then was able to get my bag from Nora and bring it to me in Bangkok when he came a few days later. Everything was in place, nothing had been touched as Nora assured me in our emails and calls. Can you even imagine something like this happening almost anywhere in the world and having that kind of an outcome??? Nora has politely refused my attempts at rewarding her and the young men working that day telling me the reward for them is knowing they were able to help me make it through a very stressful situation. Genuine kindness and humanity like that doesn't just happen, it's something people are born with and it is the way they live their lives. And it happened in Manila.
I tell my story all the time, especially when people ask me why I chose to go to the Philippines. Yes, as you pointed out on the tour, Manila is a city of extreme contrasts and because of that, people often come away having only experienced the chaotic, gritty part. I want people to know there is a real, lively, spiritual and beautiful Manila and meeting a classy lady like Nora and those two gentle men at the shop has changed forever the way I look at not only your City, but even more importantly, her People!
Maybe if you get a minute, you'd be kind enough to email Nora and thank her and her guys for helping you in your quest to change the way people look at Manila, one step..one person at a time!! You might even be able to incorporate this feel-good story into your tours.
(NORA CULAJARA, email: ARON_1953@yahoo.com)
Best wishes for a nice holiday (your website told me!) and thank you for a terrific visit!
Sarasota, Florida, USA