This is the alleyway that leads to my Lola’s (grandmother’s) house.

Manila mostly smells the same.

When I first returned here in 2001 I immediately noticed that though it smelled much like the other capitals of underdeveloped countries I had visited (mostly that of diesel), it also had that a faint smell of sewage. Basically, if you want an idea of it I suggest running your car in the garage with the garage door open just wide enough so that you don’t die, and have a bucket of open sewage water at your feet.

As always after a couple days in I have a itchy throat and feel a need to hack up a lung.

I’m sure it’s probably not so bad if I lived it up rich bastard style and stayed in airconditioned luxury, but that’s just not my thing. I ride in open jeepneys crawling behind massive trucks spewing out black clouds of toxic goodness and my family’s roadside streetstalls aren’t much better.

My throat and lungs usually adjust after awhile, but right now I ain’t enjoying the feeling that I am slowly growing multiple tumours. As all the Malboro-men here say, that’s why they smoke ‘filtered’ cigarettes.

One thing that is a little different is in the tap water. The smell of sewage that I wrote about earlier has spread there now too. I used to drink water straight from the tap (and I’ve done so a couple times this trip too), but I’ve definately noticed a different smell to it.

Apparently, the water has worsened quite a bit these last couple years as illegal tapping of pipes has contaminated drinking water. The blackflow after rainfall has made the water supply a bit more suspect and people are occasionally getting sick. That said, I still drink water I’m given, pride and not wanting to insult a host prevents me from doing otherwise.

Ahh Manila, I’m back and it’s the same and a little different–but that can be said about me as well.