Friday, September 28, 2012

Walkabouts in Zamboanga

The OBAMA AQUINO Store on Canelar St.
                     Ok, this is a brief respite from all the serious stuff I've been writing about so far.

I was not in the Australian outback but my compulsiveness to exercise allowed me to get reoriented and to rediscover the City of Zamboanga. I already mentioned walking to and from the hospital which was approximately 22 minutes each way. One morning I discovered that taking Governor Lim Avenue from Pilar Street took me right smack to the middle of downtown, the area I was familiar with decades ago. From there, it was easier for me to find my way around. That was the day I walked up Canelar Street all the way to Governor Alvarez Avenue. In the process, I looked for the house we used to live in after being displaced due to the rebel attack of Jolo in 1974. I found it and a couple of days later reconnected with a cousin who still lives there.
With cousin Jerry Despalo
On the same street I also searched for the restaurant where I bought siopao from 13 years prior and I liked it so much that I wanted to taste it again. Unfortunately the place didn’t open till later. I even thought it had closed down. My walkabouts also took me past Lantaka Hotel to Paseo Del Mar which didn’t exist the last time I was in Zamboanga.
I asked a man carrying a baby to take this pic at Paseo Del Mar so he wouldn't run away with my cell phone
From there Fort Pilar was just steps away. I said a prayer for Mama each time I passed the old fort which was almost every day.

 I also found the tennis club I used to hang out in – The Zamboanga City Lawn Tennis Club, which although they never had grass courts, retained the traditional name of tennis.

 You will see me in pictures holding a Dunkin Donuts cup of coffee as if I was doing product placement for the company. I just needed an extra jolt to wake me up that particular morning. Yes, there are Dunkin Donuts shops all over Zamboanga City. I’m surprised I didn’t see a single Starbucks.
Although these walks were fairly low intensity compared to the workouts I do in the U.S., I found that I lost weight during my stay in Zamboanga. Maybe because I did a lot of it. The main thing I had to adjust to was the pollution and the humidity and that’s probably the reason why my workouts were of lesser intensity.
95 % humidity!
Some people may have taken a tricycle to reach their destination, but I often walked the distance, because oftentimes, it was way less than 30 minutes away by foot. From the apartment to the funeral parlor, it was only about 12 minutes. To buy the siopao, about 8 minutes. Let me tell you more about that. When I found National Bakery, I saw that they sold siopao, but since it was early, they were not available yet. The cashier said they will be available at 7 a.m. So I went home to take a shower and walked back to the bakery at 7:30. Still no siopao. Then I was reminded that I was back on Filipino time and not a more prompt American time. I should have thought of that when the scheduled 10 a.m. mass didn’t start till 11 a.m. Time to readjust my time expectations to a more leisurely pace. Hmm, does that even make sense?
I also found my way to the newer malls in the area: Southway, Gateway, and Mindpro. Not that I did any shopping there. I found the prices just as expensive if not more compared to prices in the U.S. if converted in dollars.
In my meanderings, I noticed a lot of malnourished stray dogs in the streets, most of the females were either pregnant or looked like they were nursing. They tended to avoid people and were just searching for food.

 Another observation was how the garbagemen worked. Instead of wearing gloves, they used plastic bags to protect their hands.  Sidewalks in the city often doubled as parking spaces for tricycles, mini trucks, and cars and there appears to be no legal consequences for it.
Sidewalk as parking space
I wouldn’t even dare drive there either. A red light doesn’t seem to be a stop sign but rather a suggestion to stop if you feel it’s unsafe to proceed. And forget about the double yellow line dividing a street. You may cross that line if you find space between you and the other vehicles coming at you from the other side. Right of way? Whoever gets the angle first has the right of way.
What made my walks and daily life more bearable despite the stickiness of the humidity, was that all the clothes I brought were for running made of technical fabric. If there is going to be a next time, I would bring more tank tops instead of t-shirts.
I guess this is a fisherman looking for schools of fish

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