After visiting Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China, we sailed to the Philippines.
The heart of the Philippines is Manila, a sprawling city that does not rival cities like Shanghai or Hong Kong, because it lacks the economic power of China. Yet we found the local people to be charming and resilient. Better yet, their history in the past 100 years is closely linked to the United States, and they were happy to see us.
Our cruise line, the Seabourn, had started a great gesture to the many Filipino crew members, by inviting their families to the pier for a festive lunch in white tents erected on the pier. When the ship sailed away, the families came back to say goodbye with music and dance, and many a passenger wiped a tear from his or her eye.
We visited the island of Corregidor, which guards the bay of Manila. The name Corregidor is seared in the collective memory of the Filipino and the American people, because of their common stand against the invading Japanese during World War II. The entire island is a memorial to those who fought here and gave their lives to keep their countries and the rest of the world free from tyranny.
The Spanish, who ruled the Philippines for three centuries, are not remembered fondly here. They did little to improve the lot of the native population. They do, however, speak fondly of the U.S., who came here a century ago and whose national destiny became intertwined with that of the Filipinos.
Manila gives us the big welcome