Thursday, November 09, 2006

Merryn and Ning arrived safe and sound

After a long and tiring voyage, I arrived safe and sound last night, minus my luggage unfortunately. A delay in the arrival of my flight to Tokyo left me just enough time to run to the gate for the flight to Manila, and evidently my bags were not so speedy as me! I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will be delivered as promised so that I don't have to go another day in my stinky, hot Vancouver winter clothes . . .

But despite the luggage hiccup, things are going well. An entire welcome crew from Karapatan met me at the airport and conveyed me safely to the Centre for Women's Resources (CWR)where I am staying while in Manila. (They even made a stop for some disposable underwear--a concept that is entirely new for me, but very welcome under my luggageless circumstances!). I was pretty out of it, but managed to pass on greetings from folks in Vancouver who have worked with Karapatan organizers before.

Arcie at the CWR lent me a t-shirt to sleep in which carries the message of the nationwide campaign to raise the minimum wage by 125 pesos/day (the exchange rates is roughly $1 USD to P49. I'm not sure, but I believe that the current minimum wage is P325 in Manila, but lower in other regions). While this increase would no doubt be welcomed by workers who have seen their costs of living steadily climb without any corresponding pay hikes, P125 seems to me to fall short of covering actual costs. Already on my first day (or half day after a much needed rest until 1:00 in the afternoon) I have quickly spent more than P325 on food, water, and trying to get a cell phone up and running.

Establishing phone communication is proving difficult. I was warned before coming that it is an expectation that political organizers here are able to speedily communicate via text messaging, so I, somewhat reluctantly, started practicing getting my thumbs to do the talking before leaving Canada. But some kind of mysterious restriction code on my phone is preventing me from getting my Filipino sim card up and running. I'll keep investigating, though, and hope to be txting like a pro soon . . .

Ning also arrived safely early this morning with a seemingly limitless supply of energy--the woman is 5 1/2 months pregnant, was sending emails through the night before leaving, and, within hours of arriving, had already managed to buy maternity clothes for the hot humid weather and get a cell phone up and running! I just hope I'll be able to keep up with her once she joins us here at CWR tomorrow. We are expecing Beth to get in tonight, hopefully with her luggage in tow.

I'm looking forward to our first meeting with Karapatan tomorrow morning. After a day spent recuperating from jet lag and trying to adjust to the heat, doing a bit of exploring around the neighbourhood here in Quezon City, and catching up on some reading about human rights and the political situation here in the Philippines, I am eager to get rolling with the mission.

I hope to have more to report on soon (as fascinating as my tales of disposable underwear and cellphones might be . . . ;-).

Merryn

PS Just as I was writing my bag arrived--hooray! Customs opened it up, but everything seems to be there. Big sigh of relief . . .

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous joanne vasquez said...

thanks for setting up this blog. it will help us get quick updates from your trip. excellent idea. i look forward to reading the chronological developments of your trip, as we uncover more details about the human rights killings in the philippines.
long live international solidarity!
stop the killings in the philippines!
oust gma!

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi merryn!
it's great to hear from you so soon & about your exciting traveling adventures & adjustments - & it's only the beginning! please pass on my regards to arcie & the rest of the CWR crew... amid all the dust, paint, and piles of scattered papers & boxes during our KC office renovations, i wish you all the best and success in this important mission. kumusta sa lahat & ingat lagi.
stop the political killings!,
sheila.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Merryn!

This is the first time i have ever posted anything on a blog so bear with me! ;)

Glad you arrived (somewhat) safe and sound! I am glad you have been able to access this and we will be eagerly awaiting more updates.

Pass our regards to everyone at cwr, karapatan, etc.

Ingat at kumusta na ang tagalog mo?

Hetty

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Sean Parlan said...

Please post pictures! How's video

5:12 PM  

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