The CuriousPages Sketchbook

Typical Tagaytay street scenes

My first impressions of Tagaytay, and indeed of the Philippines, during daylight was of the main highway through Tagaytay. To my Western eyes, I could only see poverty everywhere. The streets were lined with shops, most of which consisted of not much more than tin shacks. I guess these streets were typical of a third world country, but as a Westerner, I had only previously been used to cleanly Tarmaced streets, pavements bounding all roads (in the Philippines, almost no roads, streets, or highways have pavements; I guess the budget does not stretch to providing pavements; pedestrians walk on the dry, dusty earth at the edges of the roads), and I was used to seeing concrete and brick-built houses, offices, and municipal structures, all in good condition and well maintained, with manicured gardens and public spaces, with rarely a derelict building in sight. In the Philippines, derelict buildings are a common sight, and many family homes also give the appearance of being derelict until you look closer, and through an open door, or glassless window, catch a glimpse of the family members living within. All these sights, I was unprepared for, and this was in a city that was a major tourist destination.

On the first full day of my visit, these impressions almost extinguished entirely my ideas of retiring to the Philippines. “How could I possibly live amongst this,” I found myself wondering. By the second or third day however, I had become accustomed to these sights, and the charm of the people (and indeed of the environment, the very thing whose “dire” state had initially shocked me) had begun to cast its spell on me. I guess I was looking for something quite different from the world (and the people) I was used to, and here I had certainly found that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Olivarez (only about five minutes drive from the above streets), we visited a market (Olivarez Plaza). I commented on the contrast between this environment and the streets in the above photos, saying that this market complex would not look out of place in an English seaside town or other Western tourist attraction. Rue (a friend from Davao who was accompanying me on that day) told me that these buildings were maintained by the government and the stallholders simply rented their pitches or shops from the government, and this was why the conditions were of a much higher standard than the usual street-side shops and stalls that are so familiar elsewhere in the Philippines:

 

 

Yet across the street from the above market square, the more usual Philippine street-side stores can be seen:

 

24 December 2009

 

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