From my hotel room, I look out onto a group of shacks built on top of an abandoned parking building. It took my affluent New Zealander heart a while to believe that they were people's homes. Immediately to the left of these shacks is Greenbelt 1 through to 5 - an empire of a shopping mall featuring acres of fairy-lit palm trees, shiny marble, and monstrous designer stores. Behind the shacks, loom two half-built apartment towers, scaled with scaffolding and cranes. This is Manila - eaten up from inside out by consumerism, Westernisation, unrestrained development and chain stores. Alongside this is the poverty which is never easy to confront. The roads are snarled with traffic. There is a feeling of endless want, endless need - for food, for Vuitton bags, for solace from the intense heat. Here, there is something which must be fed but is never satisfied. Seventeen years ago I left. I am back. But not here to stay.
PS: Thank you for bearing with my wee sojourn into travel blogging. Your comments, as always, delight me. I will be getting back to every single one of you once I touch down in NZ in a week or so.