As I left the story in my last report, we made travel arrangements for what is called a “sleeper bus” from Tuguegarao to Manila, leaving Tuesday night and arriving the next morning. You may recall that I had serious doubts about the claims for this to be a “luxury” accommodation with “large and comfortable” berths for each of us on this 9-hour tour (three times that of Gilligan and company’s faithful trip). Nonetheless, it was the only game in town, so we had to take it. Rody and Tessie insisted upon joining us as Rody was afraid for us to make the trip by ourselves. In retrospect, that should have told me something.
As we arrived to the bus facility and I caught the first glimpse of the bus, Chip Foster tapped me and said something to the effect of, “Uh oh, that’s not the bus I looked at yesterday.” It seems that Rody thought it would be best to take this “sleeper bus” that would give us “like a bed” in which to sleep. If the berths were “like a bed,” I somehow missed the likeness. They were made of metal covered with vinyl and the very thinnest veneer of padding. That was the best thing I can say about them. Their length and breadth was barely sufficient for one the size of an average Filipino. Those of you who know me recognize that I do not approximate that size.
To get to the berth, I had to go down an isle that was no more than 18 inches wide! How did I do it? With very great difficulty! When poured into the berth, every side was compressed. Poor Chip, who is taller than I am, practically had his knees in his chin. I figured out that, if I put my briefcase just below my hips with a pillow on top, I could make my legs go up and over then down and stay within the berth. Of course, learning how to fit within the berth did nothing to help with the bone-jarring ride that was constantly bad, often painful and occasionally breath taking! That was not an experience I wish to relive. We arrived in Manila after about 10 hours and were very happy to see the hotel bed.
The news reports I had heard about the APEC summit in Manila and its effect on traffic was not exaggerated. We were able to get into the hotel easily coming from the north, but that is literally as far as one can easily get. The road in front of the hotel that goes by the airport and on towards Pasay is virtually closed. From that point, down Roxas Avenue to the U.S. Embassy, traffic is in gridlock. Rody and Tessie had to use the road past the airport towards the Mall of Asia and Roxas to get to their place in Pasay. They had to get out and walk the rest of the way home because traffic was at a standstill.
A funny story being played on Philippine news cracked me up. It seems a policeman refused to let President Obama’s motorcade pass on a closed road because he “had no authorization” to let him pass. So, the president had to get out of his car and walk about 900 meters to the conference like everyone else. (People in the Philippines are getting angrier by the day at domestic flights cancellations and huge traffic problems associated with the APEC summit and largely perceived as measure forced on them by demands of the Obama administration to address security concerns.) The high level of security is readily evident around our hotel with heavily armed Philippine National Police everywhere. Frankly, I am more at ease seeing them out to deal with any problems that might occur. I have given up on getting out at all tomorrow to do logistical work I had planned earlier.
Chip is due to fly home tomorrow, the Lord willing. Please keep him in your prayers. I will follow on Friday and am very much ready to be home! Thanks again for you support, prayers, encouragement and concern expressed in so many way. May God bless you in His service.