by Max Barry

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The Greater Philippine Bayan of
Compulsory Consumerist State

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It's more fun in the Philippines....Mas Masaya sa Pilipinas....(First person travelogue)

The first person character is rude. Yes.

The first thing what you see upon landing back on the ground and after you leave the plane is the Ninoy Aquino international airport. Nothing much is special here, it just looks like some ordinary airport with the same modern facilities Americans would have in their airports. Since you did not order the first class flights which gives visitors and passengers the privilege to be cruising through the airport by those cool sliding floors that can bring you a short round trip around the airport and to the exit. Though the trip would seem boring, it would mean one would not have to walk to the exit but unfortunately, this is not what you chose when you booked your flight so you would have to be walking. What a wonderful life you decided to live.

Anyway walking through the halls of the airport you come across this checkpoint where people fall in line and wait for their turn to be checked by a small group of men wearing dark green and dark blue Nazi like uniforms, they ask for your passports in which they slide on a computer which they say confirms the legitimacy of your flight and for them to know if the passport really belongs to you. After your face shows up on one of the monitors of their computer, they give a thumbs up and let you pass and leave the airport.

The line was long so you decided to take a drink in the tropical drinks stand just right across the street of the airport and probably get a break from carrying your big bag. Looking around, you see its pretty crowded and you start to feel hot too. As you approach the drink stand, some guy in green uniform approaches you from out of nowhere and offers you a salute smiling at you.

"Greetings sir/ma'am! Do you need a tour guide because i'd definitely want to be your tour guide!" He asks but you think of answering no since your friends back at home already told you how to find your way around where you are supposed to stay. The guy seems enthusiastic about being your tour guide but he seems annoying that he may only bring you more stress and this vacation of yours was supposed to be relaxing (if you like girls, probably you were thinking of finding a hot girl to date, plunge your wet stake into their dark places and start a new relationship in this place and if you like boys you might be looking forward to meet one of those hot guys your friends who already had gone to this place and this guy is definitely out of your league). You start to walk away but he follows you. "Wait sir/ma'am, please..i'll defnitely be your tour guide. Did you know that tourists in the bayan who don't get a tour guide have a 80% chance of being lost and never be able to return back to their home again? Right now there are about 6,000,000 tourists lost and counting because they were never able to get a tour guide!" He doesn't wait for an answer but you don't buy that fact because it's obviously made up by him in his attempt to persuade you to have him around. "Great! Let me introduce myself as Opisyal (officer) Mentres and i'm the new guy around the KK paramilitary police force. I'll show you around starting from the Kapital fortress of Intramuros that lies faaar faaar away!"

Oh dear.

He pulls you along with him to the direction of the place he was babbling about but then again, you were thirsty and you wanted to buy some drinks to quench that irritating thirst but he'll probably be babbling so much that you would have no time to ask. You simply let the guy do his job and you figure that he'll eventually grow tired and leave you just in time for you to have enough time to enjoy your vacation.

You trail along with him as he leads you to the Intramuros fortress he was talking about. The brick road paved streets you two were walking on were filled with different people some sitting with their group of friends in the side of the street and others group up talking and singing with one another with guitar songs in the benches.

"Anyway" The Mentres guy starts talking. "Please tolerate, like me if you can, but tolerate me at least. I'm just a new guy on the loyalty forces of the Asigna government so you can understand why i will sometimes look like i don't know what i am doing. Along with my friends you know..just kidding, i have no friends..hehe..i chose to do this job because this is the fastest and the less dangerous way of entering the force. So anyway, here we are."

Well that was fast. To think it didn't even take a minute to arrive at the place he was talking about while he described it as being "far away". Maybe its just one of those exaggerations tourist guides do when they describe things or places so they could always keep their listeners amused.

"This is it!" He says pointing towards a massive black wall about 20 meter in height that upon closer inspection you see it is made entirely out of massive brick stones that had been carved with intricate designs of texts of some language which reads like.

Unum mundum reprobi et daemonis. Servimus et pater exstitit destinatum in innocentia perseverare secundum species suas et regnum contra facientis. Qui nobis dominus ut eos manducare pupillam, videmus salutiferi illuminationis nostrae, qui misit nos ad nostrae forma transcendat. Ex multis unum verum est. Pro daemon qui deo nobis et qui unum qui illuminationis.

As you try to read more you notice that the text goes repeating itself over and over. You don't know what it means so you leave it alone and shrug it off as probably some nationalistic message made by the government to make their structure more interesting. You step back to get a better view of the wall and you see some majetic palatial structures standing tall behind the wall. You also see there are several Phi banners hanging. Now that you've noticed it, you remember that Phi banners had been hanging around everywhere since you left the airport and it seems like the city is draped with them. You then focus your attention back to your tour guide speaking.

"The fortress city which is home to many of the country's government buildings. This is also home to the punong's official residence. The punong is the man who leads the bayan. He's the big shot around here." You point to the latin inscriptions wanting to get some explanation from it. "Oh-that!" He says as he checks it himself. "Ah-actually, it's the first time i saw that...i never actually got the chance to check on the details of things..." He admits scratching his nape in embarrassment. "But you do know what is the big idea with Intramuros right?" You nod your head to say no and ask him yourself why the place was built as a walled city.
"Is that a trick question?" Wow, this guy is so useful and now you start to ask yourself why he was allowed by his superiors to become a tour guide in the first place when he has no fudging idea what he is doing and what he is looking at.

"Anyway, there are plenty more places you could enjoy and i probably know more about so hold your horses!" He pats your back as he tries to make you feel better to let you ignore his stupidity. "Anyway...the next place would be..." He then grabs some small flat device which he unfolds as a map. "Ah! Yes, the punungan palace!" He lightens up folding back the device from the size of a folder to that of a palm before placing it back in his pocket for safekeeping. Looking up you see the sky suddenly turned tang orange by the color of the sunlight which looked really beautiful as it hit the clouds dying them with a pinkish ting making the scenery above look like as if it were simply painted by someone. You then face towards the direction of the sunlight but the tall buildings in the horizon were blocking the sun, Mentres, who noticed you looking for the sun immediately grabbed your hand and dragged you down a rock pathway between old Spanish rock houses.

You ask the weird guy where he is trying to take you and he faces you smiling. "I noticed that you were enjoying the sunset sir/ma'am so i am going to make sure my client enjoys the sunset while it follow me we don't have much time, i'll be taking you to a shortcut." Both of you then make your way through a narrow gap between two of those old houses while stopping some instances to avoid getting caught by the "forces" as he says, who were formally the KK paramilitary patrolling around making sure stupid and suspicious things like what you and the tour guide Mentres are doing doesn't happen. You ask why he is trying to hide from the "force" while you suggest negotiating with the officers should you get caught.

"I'm sorry, you didn't know right? These people don't negotiate, instead, they beat up and ruthlessly question every person they see as suspicious or delinquent. The government is big at capturing foreign spies these days especially they still have this thing with Zhouran." You nod and simply follow him along. There are some instances you almost get caught but as soon as Mentres says the cost is clear, he hastily grabs you again towards the other end of the very narrow alleyway that was alight by the color orange.

Sign: Roxas boulevard

What you saw on the other end of the alleyway was a busy road filled with people who didn't you two slip from the dark place which may make both of you look like a criminal to someone who is normal. The two of you then act casual walking through the busy street which was actually a busy market place were loud people try to sell fish, vegetables and other raw food that they just display out in the open as they try to persuade the people passing by them to buy what they sell. You then come across a seaside boulevard and scan the expanse of sea made orange by the sunset in the horizon which paints the clouds pink and tints the blue sky slightly orange. It still looks like some kind of painting. Though this is a common sight that you could see even from your own home, you never thought something that you can see everyday could be so beautiful.

"Welcome to Manila my friend." Said a smiling Mentres holding a camera. You wonder if he just took a picture of you with that blank face as you stared into the sunset. "I took the picture of the sunset so you could enjoy it after you leave sir/ma'am!" After the instagram camera prints a picture he then hands you the picture of the sunset. "Anyway, one more trip to the punungan palace and i'll be on my way." You exhale in relief knowing it will all end but the guy seems nice though you tell yourself he is not the focus and should not be the focus of your vacation.

Immediately he stretches out his hand resembling a nazi salute to stop one of those three wheeled vehicles that you've only seen for the first time (that is, if you've never been to the Philippines before or is simply not a Filipino). "You know what this is? This is a tricycle! Yay!" Mentres chirps happily inviting you to step on the vehicle your mind calls an abomination. You say nothing more stepping aboard. The tour guide was about to step aboard the vehicle as well before you notice he gave himself a clueless look wondering something just right after he reached for his pockets for some spare change before turning to you. " you have spare change..the cash i have in my pocket's-You see i'm short."


Road sign down the sidewalk: KAPITALIA SQUARE

The trip was not long though you also couldn't say it was too short so you could say it was "medium long" or "medium short" or so-so. Anyway, you eventually get your mind to pay attention to its surroundings. As the tricycle stopped, it seems you arrived to your destination. You step off the vehicle only to have a hand pull you back to your seat. It was the driver who was blankly smiling at you as he was holding out an open palm. It took you a few minutes staring at him (mostly because you find the driver guy creepy) before you give your fare forcing out a smile for you to return to him as your response. Outside the tricycle you gracefully land your right foot on a brown brick road that seemed to look like it's made of granite. You feel like you come out like a princess as the multitude of pigeons around you fly into the air becoming slow mo in your mind. It just seemed fitting because the sun was bright enough to make the granite brick road glisten and sparkle and right in front of you is the smiling Mentres. You think his smile is different because his eyes are fixated to you in a creepy way.

Why is everyone smiling here? It's beginning to become creepy. Why is my vacation creepy?

You were woken up by the sound of explosions and people around you. Looking around you find yourself waking up sitting in a bench in front of the huge palatial structure with a shadow of tall dark tower being revealed by the explosions in the air, which were fireworks. Also, there seems to be a lot of people in this time, noisy, so it's not a good place to get an eye shut. You try to walk away making way through the crowd, looking up again, it seems that the fireworks, the colorful explosions in the air are being fired in patterns and according to the timing of the rock song being played in the background. Aside from the seemingly cliche fireworks show, lights suddenly erupted from the palacial structure and into the sky.

Quite a decent show You think while you take a few pictures of the scene with your cellphone before walking away.

Some people begin to dance along with the music in the background in pairs while you awkwardly decide to go along with the lively atmosphere by dancing on solo. You sigh as you think of how your life is single and lonely....Bummer.. You think.

As you walk down the street from the palace, you see that a lot of people are enjoying themselves. Confused to where you are right now, you reach out for your bag for a map but soon you realized you didn't even have a map. Now you think you are very much lost and the reason tour guides are there in the first place is to prevent things like this from happening. Also, where is that tour guide weirdo anyway? Mentres. It seems he left you somehow. You decide to shrug him off for a while since he's not supposed to be the highlight of your trip.

And before you know it, you just realize....your lost.