This is a bustling, vibrant, metropolitan city. It is also a third world city. If you have been to Bangkok, or I Mexico city, or Sao Paulo, you know what I mean. There is no middle class. Everything is either wealth or poverty Everywhere you look are civil construction projects 95% finished. sidewalks partially finished. Buildings with just a little of the side not quite in place. You also notice something else – Terrorism is alive and well in Manila
OK, if you go to the towers at Century city in Los Angeles, your car is checked before you park, but that is the only place I'm aware of for such activities in LA, unless you count the Israeli Consulate.
However everywhere here is guarded. There is a checkpoint to get into the hotel port cochere. The taxi is checked under and in the trunk. In the shopping center across the street – it can take 20 minutes at high times to get into the parking lot, same reason. When you enter the hotel you are introduced to the Intercontinental's Golden Retriever. She is one of a number in their canine corps. And they aren't there for protection, but for the use of their very wonderful noses.
You saw none of this when I was in east Asia 20 years ago. People were free to come and go as they pleased. Not today. Dennis pointed out that westerners aren't stopped entering the shopping center, but every Asian is checked. WOW. If someone thinks this is progress, they certainly have a strange definition of the word.
I will say that the folks here certainly know how to treat visiting speakers. I was met at the plane by an escort who took me through customs and immigration with barely a stop. Then I went to a, can you believe it, VIP lounge where I had some water and rested a tad and chatted with my local hosts before we went out and caught a cab into the city and the hotel. Wonderful treatment.
Its 7 AM on Tuesday. I'm going down for breakfast and then off to the Philippine parking conference and exhibition. More later