Intramuros, Pride, and Nature

Hello all! It’s me again, and currently I am on break at the ole internship. It’s Thursday, which means this past weekend was nearly a whole week ago (my plans to do this twice a week continue to crumble), but I’m still going to tell you all about it!

On Friday, L and I headed up to Makati, and after a 3 hour bus ride that was supposed to be an hour and a half (peace, love, traffic), we made it to the other interns’ apartment. As several other interns from IRRI and the surrounding Metro Manila area came down, there were around a dozen of us, and we all went out and had a lovely time. The next morning, L and I headed out to Intramuros, or the Walled City, the oldest part of Manila. The architecture was distinctly more Spanish in this part of the city, and it was very neat to walk around structures that were built more than a hundred years before America existed. Our first stop was Fort Santiago, which, according to Wikipedia, is one of the most important historical sites in the Philippines, as several world powers occupied it (Spain, Britain, America, Japan) at some point and José Rizal, a Philippine national hero, was imprisoned there in 1896 before his execution on unjust grounds.

The entrance to Fort Santiago

I should mention here that the wet season has properly begun, and within half an hour of arrival, it started absolutely pouring. My shoes would be soaked the rest of the day, and my umbrella was woefully unprepared to protect me from the rain. But, we carried on, and ended up inside the Manila Cathedral, which I believe has been rebuilt 8 times due to natural disasters and war. You’ve got to admire their dedication to this building, as it seems to be quite content with being destroyed.

From there, I separated from L and I headed back to Makati, to meet up with an intern, Leah, and her friends that live in her apartment building to then go to Pride. Though the plan was to leave around 4pm, we ended up leaving around 5:30pm, and got to Pride around 8pm (traffic). This unfortunately meant that we missed the actual march, but there were still thousands of people around the Marikina Sports Center, where the festivities were being held. Several booths selling food and LGBTQ+ items were present, and there was a DJ playing to a crowd of several hundred. I learned later that this Pride was the biggest Pride ever put on in Southeast Asia (around 70,000 attendees), and although traffic prohibited me from actually marching, I was glad to have had the opportunity to participate, however minimally.

The crowd in the Sports Center

As Leah and I appeared to be the only white people at this event, we garnered a fair bit of attraction, and three separate people asked if they could get their picture with us, which we were happy to do (although I was a little uncomfortable, I enjoyed the attention). While I cannot say whether the actual march was commercialized or not, this part of the event had very little corporate presence, which is a big difference from Pride in America, or at least in Chicago. So that was neat.

The next day, a few interns and I headed up to La Mesa Eco Park, a beautiful jungle open to the public an hour or so from Makati (depending on, you guessed it, traffic). The entrance fee was only 50 pesos (about a dollar) for non-residents, and it was wonderful to get away from the city for a few hours. One thing I’ve been really missing in Santa Rosa is the ability to walk around in nature, and I was very glad for the opportunity.

(from left to right: an outdoor amphitheater, a super pretty tree, and me and the other interns that went)

The next morning (Monday), I took the bus back to Santa Rosa, and this week I’ve mostly been reaching out to colleges via their Facebooks to ask for their Student Affairs Office emails, to send along the petition. I also looked into the pros and cons of switching to paper packaging for a product (a lot more complicated than I original had thought, as the production of paper is a lot more water and energy intensive than is the production of plastic), and have been conducting research on common carcinogenic and hazardous chemicals in cosmetics. L and I are going to head off to Gawad Kalinga’s Enchanted Farms tonight and spend the weekend there, which I am incredibly excited for. I won’t promise an update on Monday, but I really hope that I’ll be able to put one out. Until next time… more to come.

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