Monday, September 4, 2006


My home in the southern Philippines, where my wife grew up and went to school and where our daughters are currently attending classes at St. Scholastica's Academy. Much smaller and less congested than Manila but with half a million people, would still qualify as a major city even in the US. Remember, we spent 10 years in a town with 12,000 people.

This is a town that was at its zenith the richest place in the country pound for pound, the result of the sugar quotas that drew hundreds of millions of dollars into the area. Unfortunately, all this money did was to produce the greatest disparity in wealth as well. The planters began buying Rolls Royces and villas in the Mediterranean; their children were spoiled and provided with unlimited expense accounts, sent to expensive but lax and ultimately third-rate colleges in the US... As with all good things, when the quotas disappeared and when all the corruption was uncovered, what was left was this mass of people that had migrated into this island when work had been plentiful.

Earlier, I spoke of poverty in Luzon. The poor people up north are in better shape compared to the poor people down here. What frightens me is that I am told that poor people in Mindanao are in even worse straits. I will find out for myself when I visit the region in the coming weeks.

Back to Bacolod, life couldn't be more idyllic. We rise early at 5:30 am, attend daily Mass, bring the daughters to school and then play 18 holes of golf. This city has managed to retain the friendliness and the feel of a small town while having available most of the amenities found in a city its size. Beautiful place.

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