Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The gods are infinitely more subtle

than you might imagine. Then again, you'd reckon, wouldn't you, that at my age I'd have realised that by now.

So I tempted the gods by publishing a week or so ahead of time the ordering of an airline ticket; four or so days ahead of time the destination and finally the timing. They refused to be tempted because they had something much more exquisite up their sleeves.

Uh huh. I left home on Friday in order to be here in The Philippines bright eyed and bushy tailed, eager, wakeful and at the very peak of my form on Monday morning this timezone, in order to impress the hell out of our customer.

I might have known better. It is, of course, a public holiday here. Independence day. The commemoration of June 12 1898 when The Philippines ceased to be a Spanish colony.

Let's add another thing to the list of things I check before jetting off. Is it a public holiday where I'm going? On the other hand, I see that my frequent flyer points for the flights here have already been credited to my account. I'm thinking of Iceland for a week sometime next year; how many people do you know who've been to Iceland?

I surprised my driver yesterday. As we drove from Manila to Baguio he mentioned it was a public holiday. Quick memory scan and up came that date. So I asked if it was Independence day, adding 1898 and Spain. Amazed him! Given that he knows I live in the US he doubtless expected me to believe that Filipinos celebrate their indpendence from the US. But they could hardly do that, could they, given that that particular anniversary falls on July 4. He was delighted to hear that I knew about the Spanish rule and could even come up with an exact date.

My driver turned out to have had an interesting father; I got a lot of details. His father, it seems, was involved in the underground during the period of Japanese rule (1940-1944). He fought in the battle that reclaimed the very place where I'm writing this in early 1944. His commander was Ferdinand Marcos, later President of The Philippines. And his father was shot dead during a political campaign.

I have to admit that, though I knew that where I am right now was once a US military base, I hadn't connected the dots and realised that it was also once a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Memories of (URL)Keith came back.

We agreed, based on what I've read in local newspapers and his personal experiences that involvement with Filipino politics is probably not conducive to long life. I have to admit that I'm a trifle nervous about the news over the weekend regarding the possibility of a military coup here. On the other hand, it might make for some good blog material.

So I left the US on Friday, in order to impress customer management with my dedication to their insane demands by Monday. And they weren't there to be impressed because they, unlike me, get to enjoy public holidays (ok, I know that's a cheap shot at the management I hope aren't reading my blog). I could have stayed home an extra day. I still wouldn't have got to see The Red Green Show or Coupling on PBS.

Meanwhile, what I'm here to do is progressing wonderfully. We're almost done. And the next time management wonder why I'm rewriting something my predecessor wrote without testing maybe they'll take my word for it's necessity. Especially as I can play politics when I need to. And if I lose the political battle I'll still be alive. Maybe unemployed but that's curable. Death isn't.

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