“Yup, my money is gone. Goddamnit.” Marsha said, without raising her voice. She was obviously upset but keeping her cool as usual. We spent a few minutes mulling over the last few days, trying to figure out where and when she most likely got robbed. The money was deep in her backpack and nothing else had gone missing. We soon came to the conclusion that our hotel in Boracay was to blame. I had been so proud of myself for finding a room for so cheap in one of the most expensive places in the Philippines. It seemed too good to be true, and indeed it was. At some point during our three day stay, someone from the hotel had used a key to get into our room and steal about $200 worth of Filipino pesos from Marsha’s backpack. They didn’t steal our computers or cameras since we would have undoubtedly noticed and made a huge stink of things. They were smart enough to only take just enough from one of us the day before we checked out so we wouldn’t notice until it was too late, and it worked. We were already back in Cebu by the time she noticed.
Now, $200 sucks, and I felt bad for her, but making it away from our hotel burglary unscathed left me feeling a little more relieved than anything. Lani and I happened to be cash broke at the time of the burglary so there was nothing they could take from us without our knowing. Nonetheless, I understood her pain. The Philippines is a bad place to put trust in anyone, even the people running your hotel, and I knew all too well how much a moment of not accounting for your belongings could cost you. I’d lost my passport just weeks earlier and was still reeling from the aftermath. I still didn’t have my passport, but, in less than twenty four hours, I would.
The main difference between my loss and Marsha’s was that she didn’t do anything wrong; I fucked up and she had some rotten luck, so the more I thought about it, the worse I felt for her. The least we could do was buy her some BBQ pork for dinner out of sympathy. After all, it was our last night together before parting ways. Marsha was heading to Bohol the next day and Lani and I were flying out to Kuala Lumpur in two days, so it was the least we could do.
The following morning, I hopped in a jeepney and made my way to the US Consulate as soon as it opened. There were a few old white guys sitting around with a look of dismay in the lobby as I cruised past the queue in about thirty seconds. They gave me my passport without hesitation. Things were off to a good start. I was rushing on the way out as one of these American old-timers grabbed me by the arm.
“Sorry, but how long did it take you to get that… that passport?” he asked.
“I dunno… about two weeks? I lost it in Manila.”
“That’s it?! I’ve been waiting six weeks and I still can’t get the damn thing! They tell me it’ll be at least another three weeks until it arrives! What can I do to get one as quickly as you did?”
I thought about it for a second before giving him a half-assed reply.
“Go to Manila, I guess…” I started heading for the exit. “Anyways, good luck with it!” I still had to obtain a visa before the immigration office closed. I had no time for the plight of this stranger.
The closest immigration office was in a nearby mall. I had showed up about fifteen minutes after it opened, well before the inevitable long lines of Filipinos in search of a visa began to form. It only took a couple minutes to meet with the man at the table near the entrance. I had a squeaky clean passport and loads of determination. It was 10:15 am and I was sure that my problems would be fixed before the day was out, even if I had to run around and grab some paperwork in the meantime. I approached the immigration officer with a collected report and explained my situation.
“I need a new visa because my passport was stolen.” I said.
He shot back a humorless, unsympathetic look before he responded in cold, calculated English.
“You need a police report and an affidavit of law… and proof of flight into this country…”
No problem, I thought. On the way into this mall, I had passed a lawyer’s office and a Cebu Pacific branch. Not only that, but there was a police office across this street. This oversight could be easily rectified… but he continued to speak.
“… and you need to go to Manila.”
My adrenaline began to flow. This did not seem possible. I was assured that the process could be completed in Cebu by the officials at the American Embassy itself. At the time, I was sure that this man was clearly mistaken. I tried to put him in his place.
“No no no… you see, sir, I had my passport stolen,” I said, “and I already have a new passport. I picked it up this morning. I just need a stamp so I can leave. You understand?” He wasn’t moved.
“Yes sir, I understand your problem, but the office in Manila contacted us one week ago and made it clear that all new visas are no longer permitted to be issued in Cebu. In order to get a new visa you will have to go to Manila. There is nothing I can do. Excuse me.” He motioned for the next person in line and I was shoved to the side in a state of shock.
Frantic and overwhelmed with anxiety, I found an immigration security guard in the hallway. Not knowing where to turn next, I approached him and began to explain my situation.
I told him about my passport getting stolen. I told him about my flight that left for Malaysia in thirty-six hours. I told him that the Embassy had sworn to me that I could obtain a visa in Cebu with the necessary paperwork, and I begged for his help. I made it clear that his help would not go unrewarded and that my desperation would guarantee compensation for his effort. All I needed, after all, was a fucking stamp, which I was sure he must have access to.
“I can help you, but this is no easy for me. You must find, maybe, 5,000 pesos for my ‘application fee.’” This, of course, was a line he cast for a bribe, and I was one hungry fish.
“I’ll give you 6,000.” I eagerly handed him my hour-old passport and sat on the mall bench, eagerly counting the minutes until his return. After only three or four minutes, he was back.
“There is nothing I can do.” He told me this as if he had just mimicked the line like a parrot from the man at the front desk.
“Well… why not? 8,000 pesos, it’s no problem. What do you need?..”
He stared back indolently. “No stamp. The man, he is right. They change rule and I am sorry.” He handed me back my blank passport. “Good luck.”
I called the Embassy in Manila to demand some answers. There was no doubt in my mind that they had told me I could a visa in Cebu. I began to worry that I had stumbled into some terribly bad luck, but this was my last hope. Going back to Manila would present a wide array of problems for me:
Financial – I would miss my flight to Malaysia and have to book another flight to Manila. There would also be countless taxi rides, medicinal booze, hotel rooms and possibly bribes to pay along the way.
Bureaucratic – I was pleased with the handling of my passport application at the American Embassy in Manila, but dealing with the local government there would be a greater headache than it would be in Cebu. People in Manila were much less… laid-back than those in Cebu, and getting people to to help me out would surely not prove to be an easy feat.
Practical – My stay in the Philippines was about to become illegal. I only had 3 days until my original visa would expire. If I didn’t get it replaced and leave by then, I would have to apply for an extension on top of my replacement in order to leave, and this would require more time, money and stress.
Emotional – I really, really did not want to go back to Manila.
After being redirected several times on the phone, I finally found a friendly woman on the other end who was willing to help. She understood my situation and promised to call me back as soon as she had more information. After half an hour of waiting anxiously, the phone rang. I answered with hope in my heart for a solution.
“I’m sorry, sir, but I have no good news for you. The Filipino government changed their policy six days ago regarding replacement visa applications and I’m afraid that you will have to return to Manila before you are permitted to leave the country.”
And that was that. There was no denying my situation any longer. I was fucked… and the only way to get unfucked was to head back to the place that had ruined me in the first place. My fate was undeniable and I was bound for Manila again.
I’d sent Marsha a message briefly explaining my situation but Lani had been Skyping with her sister in the meantime. I walked into the hotel over-heated and agitated. I interrupted Lani’s phone call to break the bad news to her: I was heading back to Manila as soon as I could book a flight.
Marsha decided that it was time to take her leave. And who could blame her? She only had five days left before returning to America and she wasn’t about to spend another one of them in Cebu while I ran around trying to fix my situation. I was sad to say goodbye, but happy to see her move on past our adversity and combined calamities that the Philippines had dished out. She packed her bag and walked out of the hotel with me. I was on my way to the police station to get a police report and she was on her way to find a bus that didn’t take a million years to get to her next destination.
I last saw her at an ATM where she had to withdraw another $200. Our goodbye was rushed and sweaty. I was sad to not be going with her but even more upset that I didn’t get a proper goodbye in high spirits. I walked away and hoped that it wouldn’t be close to three more years until I got to see Marsha again.
I did my best to complete whatever paperwork I could in Cebu before my flight left that afternoon. The police wouldn’t give me a police report at the station closest to our hotel. They told me that I needed to talk to the tourist police. Once I got to the other side of town and located the tourist police, it became clear that they were not going to do their jobs unless I paid them. I didn’t feel like jumping through the necessary loops to get them off their asses. Once I thought about, I started to think that a police report from any other city might raise eyebrows in Manila, and I didn’t want to give this country any more excuses to delay my leave. I figured it best to forget those chumps and just get the affidavit of law before boarding my flight. The police assured me that it didn’t matter where I got the affidavit and directed me to a law office close by.
Before my flight that afternoon, I had just enough to run back to the hotel room, wash away some sweat and nervousness and say goodbye to Lani for a few days. There was no point in having her miss her flight to Malaysia as well. She double-checked the airline that we took from Seoul to Manila almost a month earlier so that I knew for sure where to go to get my proof of flight into the country. For the first time in months we would be sleeping in different rooms and earning different stories. I kissed her goodbye and began missing her companionship immediately, but my eye was on the prize now. I was determined to see her sooner rather than later.
My flight was delayed by an hour, so I grabbed a quick meal. I returned to the gate to find it delayed by another hour, so I found a bar and had a beer and a cigarette. On my way back for the third time, I was stopped in my tracks by an announcement informing me that my flight was now going to be delayed by at least another eighty minutes. It was torturous enough to accept the fact that I would be pacing with rage for an hour longer than I expected, and I would have to do it three times to the sound of some clown over the intercom repeating, “Thank you for your patience and understanding.” I heard them say this so many times for various flights in so many Filipino terminals by this point that it began to sound more like a slogan than an apology. By that point I knew that flights were never going to be on time in that country. This could have been an easy pill to swallow had I not been dragged through filth with with holes in my pockets to get somewhere I had no desire of returning to. However, my anger did nothing to help my situation. This country had me by my balls and all I could do was spread my cheeks and hope it didn’t hurt me too badly.
The prostitutes wasted no time and started propositioning me during my cab ride to the hotel. It was past midnight and the traffic was still present but manageable. I was at my hotel’s reception a little after midnight. Lani had done me the favor of booking the room for me. It was windowless, the internet was broken and it was barely big enough to fit a single bed, but it was clean enough and would have to do. I dropped my bag and hit the streets in search of a police station. I was exhausted, but there was a lot of work to be done and my visa was expiring in less than 48 hours.
The police station was massive, flooded with light and utterly deserted. I don’t think the desertion had much to do with the fact that it was about one in the morning, and it definitely wasn’t because there wasn’t a shitload of rampant crime outside its doors. I think the main reason that it was empty was due to the fact that the police station is the last place in Manila that most people think to go when in need. Asking a cop for desperately needed help in Manila is like asking some nineteen year old burn-out who’s tripping balls to stitch you up at Burning Man. The lethargic staff greeted me with curiosity and seemed to be holding back some laughter. I was given little hope that I would accomplish what I needed to that evening.
I found the department I was looking for at the beginning of a long hallway. I was the only person in the small room aside from three cops, so I approached the nearest officer right away. I briefly explained that I needed a police report. I was told to sit and and wait until they were ready to help me. One of the police officers ate instant noodles, another never looked away from a TV screen playing Filipino soap operas and the third officer stared intently at his computer monitor. About ten minutes passed. The cop in front of his computer screen motioned me to his desk.
The first thing I noticed once I sat down was the content on his monitor. An overweight white woman was undressing slowly in front of two men with the volume muted. She did this in a way that didn’t seem at all classy or reserved. I knew right away that this was porno, but this didn’t surprise me much. What did surprise me was the fact that he’d decided to keep this shit playing while we talked. Was I really seeing this? Had my exhaustion gotten the best of me?
“Hey boss. What your problem?” he inquired without addressing the elephants that were fucking in the room.
“My passport was stolen and I need a police report to get a new visa,” I replied.
“Okay… You need to have an affidavit of law before I can do anything.”
“Yes sir. I have one right here.” I pulled the paperwork from my pocket. Seeming a bit jarred, he took the paper and proceeded to inspect it in detail for a few moments.
“I’m sorry sir, there is nothing I can do.”
“Excuse me — what? Why?”
“There is no date on the paper.”
“I got it today, it’s from today. I can write the date right here. Do you have a pen?”
“No. This, it’s no right. This bad. Where you get?”
“Cebu. The police told me that I could the affidavit in Cebu. They say it doesn’t matter.”
Without responding, the officer spun his chair around and began searching through someone else’s desk. I glanced back at the screen next to me. The girl was riding one cock while the other man stood there eagerly, rock hard, waiting for his turn. The cop spun back around in his chair.
“This…” He held a different affidavit in his hands. “This is a good paper. This is what you need. Your’s have no date. I can do nothing for you.”
“Okay… boss. The police in Cebu told me to get this. They told me it was valid. It cost me money. My visa expires soon. I need your help.”
“What can I do with no date? Come tomorrow and I help you.”
“So… the police in Cebu lied? They are corrupt, no? I just need a police report. Please. Do you need an ‘application fee’?”
My bribe fell on deaf ears. “No date, no report. Come tomorrow, we are busy.”
I stood up, feeling disgusted. I’d been playing by their rules and they still wouldn’t let me draw a card. I had no choice but to return to my room and try again in the morning. The first guy blew his load as the second one readied to enter and I started to head for the door.
“Sir!” The cop motioned me back. “Your paper.”
I walked back swiftly and grabbed the paper from his hand. All three of the cops were now looking at me. I crumpled it up and threw it at the digital gang-bang.
I returned the next morning around eleven, hoping that the night shift had gone home. Luckily, they were nowhere in sight. I asked someone where I should go to get satisfactory documents for a police report. They told me to “go up the street next to the Jollibee” to get my new paperwork. Since Jollibee is the most popular Filipino food chain, I’d passed three of them on the street leading up to the police station. I asked for specifics, but they wouldn’t provide any. They told me to ask people on the street for directions if I got lost.
Of course, I did get lost, but after an hour crossing streets jammed with typical Manila traffic, I eventually found what I was looking for. The sign out front was ambiguous at best, and after walking down a long winding hallway filled with people looking much more out of luck than myself, I finally found the man I needed.
A very old man with reading glasses sat at a desk in a cramped corner with a single fan aimed directly at himself. I explained what I needed and why I needed it and he told me to have a seat.
“Where did you lose your passport?” He asked.
“Near Buendia Station, about three weeks ago, and I –”
“No. You lost it out of front of my office. Or else you need to go to other station. Okay?”
“Yeah… out front of your office… that’s what I meant to say.”
He began typing on his typewriter that looked even more ancient than he did. Several minutes went by. I glanced at the clock nervously. It was 12:30 pm. He stopped typing and glanced over at me.
“How did you lose your passport?” he asked.
“I left it on the bus and when I came back someone had stolen–”
“No. You dropped it from your pocket. You did not see it again.”
“Yeah… It fell out of my pocket… my memory is not so good… Hah!” My humor was wasted on the situation.
Several dozen loud clicks and a few dings later, my affidavit of law was complete… again. I scanned it over before signing it. The date was placed neatly in the upper-right corner and everything seemed to be in order. Of course, I was lying about how I lost my passport and was now going to try and obtain a false police report of the incident. Either way, I was sure that this was the kind of specific bullshit that they were looking for. This time, it had to work. I paid the man $3 as he lit a cigarette and I made my way back over to the police station to collect my report.
The policeman who I had asked for directions earlier scrutinized my paperwork thoroughly. He asked me several questions to make sure that my story lined up with one he was reading. Unfortunately for him, I had already memorized the lies that the law man had dictated to me. He really had no choice this time but to painstakingly take the five minutes out of his daily pornography and soap opera schedule to do his job and give me what I needed. Police report in hand, I hailed a tricycle out front of the station to take me to the closest Cebu Pacific office.
The office of this incredibly disorganized airline (that had been responsible for many of our delayed flights) was raucously busy. I was given a number after entering and waited for almost an hour. It was 2:00 and I was running out of time if I was to make it to the immigration office before it closed at 5:30. Finally, my number was called. I explained that I needed proof of flight into the Philippines to obtain a replacement visa. The man at the counter understood exactly what I needed and proceeded to look for my flight details.
“I don’t see your name in our system on this date,” he said after several minutes of typing with a frown on his face.
“Are you sure?” I replied. “Maybe it was the day before… Can you check then?”
He began typing again. He checked the day before. Then the day after. Then the whole week around the date I remembered flying in on. Nothing.
“I’m sorry, sir,” he said, “but your name is not on any flight coming from Seoul. Are you sure you have the right airline?”
Lani had double-checked her email and assured me that it was, in fact, Cebu Pacific. I took out my phone. I had to make sure she was right. There was no WiFi available so I hurried to the nearby mall and scoured the place for any available connection. I quickly found one and loaded up the itinerary in my email. The subject line read: “Flight Itinerary: Seoul to Manila, March 17, AirAsia, Flight no….” Of course. I had just wasted nearly 2 hours and now I had to find the AirAsia office. I couldn’t be mad at Lani though. She had made an honest mistake doing something that I should have taken care of myself. I returned to Cebu Pacific hoping for some guidance.
“Where is the AirAsia office?” I asked one of the staff.
“Mall of Asia.”
Once I got there it was a little past 3:00. It turns out that the Mall of Asia in Manila is actually one of the largest malls in the world. Locating a specific business there was not easy. It took me half an hour of running around asking store clerks and security guards until I finally found the huge red awning to the office of AirAsia.
“Hello, sir. How can I help you?” a chubby Filipina girl greeted me from behind the counter, without smiling. I explained my situation again.
“I’m sorry sir, I cannot help you here,” she said sternly.
My jaw dropped and I put my hand to my forehead, slowly wiping the sweat down my face until it fell onto the counter with a wet slap. I looked into her eyes and saw the determination she had to not lift a finger or do anything that didn’t fit cleanly into her job description. I began to brim with a hysterical smile and gazed at her with a frenzied expression of borderline lunacy before responding.
“What this time?” I asked, making my frustration terribly apparent.
“Why can’t you help me?”
“We don’t do that here. I sell tickets.”
“Can you call someone at your headquarters and have them email it to you?”
“I don’t know phone number. I cannot.”
“Okay. So I live in the Philippines now, yeah? I can’t get a visa because you can’t call your office, yeah?” I began to shake. “Look, I need your help. I need you to do this for me. I know you can, just please call your office.”
She was not moved. “No. You have to go to the airport. Office is there. GOODBYE!” She shooed me away with her hand and a look of disgust. She was clearly not getting paid enough to give a shit about me. I mumbled some profanities in her direction and walked back outside.
The first cab driver I approached demanded some exorbitant rate to take me to the airport. I felt insulted and refused to bargain with him. The next man started at a more reasonable bargaining point. I managed to negotiate for him to take me all the way to the airport and then to the immigration office on the opposite side of town, hopefully before it closed, for a price that seemed fair.
We found Manila’s AirAsia corporate headquarters by about 3:40 pm. Once again, I explained my plight, this time to the security guard at the entrance. He pointed to the woman who was capable of helping me and told me to sit and wait. I kept glancing at my phone every thirty seconds or so, counting more and more wasted minutes. I looked so anxious that the security guard asked me to calm down several times. “Be patient,” he said, but my patience had run out long ago.
The newest roadblock between me and my escape from Manila was a middle-aged Filipina lady with endless inquiries about AirAsia. Her questions ranged from mundane to absurd: “What will my meal be on the flight?” “How much did that cost again?” “What if I pay for 20 kilos of luggage but then I bring 25 kilos?” “Can I cancel my flight if I change my mind?” “What if someone else on the flight seems sick?” “Will I get sick?” “How long do I need to get to the airport before my flight?” “Can I show up earlier?..” and so on. Unfortunately, the whole conversation was in English, so the inconsequence of her situation compared to mine only compounded my anxiety. After a few minutes of gawking at this woman’s verbal discharge, I pleaded with the guard to find someone else that could help me. He must have noticed the authenticity of my desperation because he found someone else right away.
Ten minutes later, I had my proof of flight and was back in the cab, on my way to the immigration office. My nerves had calmed a bit as I knew that there was nothing I could do but sit back and enjoy the air-con on my ride there. It was 4:15 by the time I arrived.
Manila’s Bureau of Immigration had a hectic and cut-throat atmosphere as the closing hour approached. No one there had any desire to return the following morning, most of whom, I assumed, had already been there for hours, and I was just showing up. The Information desk gave me the necessary paperwork. I filled it out and submitted it along with my police report, affidavit of law, copy of my passport and proof of flight. I had it all in order. There was still hope for me. I might not be extending my visa after all. The woman I submitted all of this to gave me an approving nod and handed me a slip of paper that read: “Appointment: 4:45 – Window 6.” I sat and waited, staring at the window, determined not to miss my appointment if they called me early. They did not. At 5:00, my name was called and all my paperwork was handed back to me.
“Where do I go?! What do I do?!” I handed the stack of papers to an old-timer who looked somewhat distinguished and knowledgeable.
“Take this to the third floor, room 5C.”
“No problem!” I grabbed the papers and started for the staircase.
“Wait!” he yelled through the crowd. I stopped in my tracks and looked back nervously. “You need a folder. He will not take your papers without a folder! But you have no time! You must hurry! He stops taking forms at 5:15.” It was 5:05.
I had flown hundreds of miles, spent hundreds of dollars and probably lost a year off of my life in the last 48 hours. I’d been cheated, ripped-off, lied to, misled and abused. I’d accepted that this had to happen. I knew I needed to get everything that this government asked for in perfect order, and I had done that. I’d even accepted the fact that I had to return to Manila due to some bad timing and rotten luck. All of this for a goddamn stamp, and now I was about to be defeated by the absence of one arbitrary folder because some immigration officer didn’t like the aesthetics of a staple.
But I remembered a lonely-looking old lady at the entrance of the immigration office selling stationary. I ran outside, overpaid her for one beige folder, and got back in the line to pass through the metal detector again. I pushed through the crowds, leaped up three flights of stairs and found room 5C. Breathing hard and literally dripping with sweat, I glanced at my phone while walking through the door. 5:15. My phone died as I looked up to an approaching immigration officer.
“You are too late…” He said. I must have looked awfully pitiful as I implored him with my best puppy dog eyes for help, “…but it is not up to me. You can ask the boss. He is over there.” He pointed to a short, balding man with glasses and a brass badge pinned to his uniform. He seemed to be the only one in a room of twenty people doing any actual work. I approached him cautiously.
“Excuse me, sir, I–” He interrupted me by holding up one finger without looking up from his desk. I waited patiently. He scribbled a few words on a form, stamped a passport and added it to a stack before looking at me.
“How can I help you?” he asked.
“I was told to come to you. My old visa expires tomorrow and I need a replacement to leave on time. I have all the paperwork here, in this folder.” I’d never sounded so desperate.
“And where do you go?”
“Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.”
“Do you have proof of flight?”
No, and I don’t need one. Plus, I wouldn’t book a flight if I had a blank passport, now would I?
“Not on me, sir. My phone just died.”
“Why do you go there?”
Uh, why the fuck does it matter? Just give me the damn stamp.
“My, err, wife is there.”
“And your father?”
What the fuck?
“So why do you go to Malaysia if your father is in America?”
What the fuck is this guy’s obsession with my father? Think fast… maybe he doesn’t want to give a visa to someone who seems like a bad son. Maybe he has a “bad son” of his own. There’s something strange here. Work with it.
“My father… he taught me how to travel at a young age. I am here because of him. He supports my travels…” True, “and I call him all the time.” False.
He thumbed through my passport and paperwork for a few moments.
“I will see what I can do,” he said. “Have a seat.”
I sat in the hallway and waited with about five other people. Their names were called one by one and eventually I was the only one left waiting. The clock read 5:30.
“Jah-red Beeyu Hun-oom.” I approached the glass and the woman on the other side handed me my passport. I flipped through it, and there it was in all its glory. My stamp. My exit visa. My way out. Holding my passport high in the air, I skipped down the hallway like a little girl playing hopscotch and high-fived the first perplexed security guard I came across. Never had I felt so accomplished for achieving so little. I shouted a gallant “YES!” through the hallway and shook my fist like I’d just single-handedly won the Super Bowl. Walking out the exit at closing time, I knew I would probably never return. The air on the streets smelled fresh and I wondered where all the sewage had gone. I had never seen a city look as glorious as Manila did that afternoon during rush hour.
The next morning, I showed up the airport a bit early. I guess I was a bit over-excited to leave. Of course, my flight was delayed by over an hour. Eventually, as I heard my boarding call echo through the terminal, I knew that nothing could stand in my way from getting out of the country. I grabbed my carry-on and began my walk towards the tarmac to board my flight.
During this walk down my final Filipino hallway, I saw the ever-present ad campaign for tourism throughout the country. This particular poster showed a perfect little lagoon with crystal clear water and a beautiful natural backdrop. The poster read: “Getting lost. More fun in the Philippines.” Though I might have chosen a different photo for my experience there, that slogan sounded pretty good to me.
The plane sat on the runway for an hour with no air flowing through the plane whatsoever. It was hot and the flight attendants still wanted almost two dollars for a bottle of water, but this time, I had my own. The plane finally departed more than two hours behind schedule. It was 6:15 pm and my visa was less than six hours from expiration. I looked out the window and watched the sunset over Manila. It looked gorgeous, and part of me missed it already. Even though I knew that it was time to go, as with any abusive relationship, I couldn’t help but wonder when I’d be back again.