Hopefully, this will work now. As with many things here, internet access is a bit inconsistent, although this connection seems quite good.
I'm back in Manila now, or Quezon City to be precise. I find myself surprisingly happy to be here again. Even though people stare at me like I have a third eye, at least they stare at me like a human with a third eye instead of a walking dollar sign. As noisy and chaotic as Manila is, at least I can walk down the street in (relative) peace.
It's funny, people always assume that I don't understand what they're saying in my presence. It's usually nothing very interesting though -- 99% of the time it's a comment about my height. Which is very, very noticable. I went to the market earlier this afternoon, and had to hunch over almost the whole time to keep from hitting my head on various trade goods suspended from the ceiling. Much amusement for everyone.
And then, when people discover that I do understand, the first thing they ask is often whether I'm a mormon. Go figure.
Tomorrow, I leave to head up north, to the Cordillera region. It's an area that's very remote and beautiful, and also very popular with tourists, so I'm sure I'll encounter many of the same irritations there as in Mindoro. I suppose getting treated like a tourist is a just punishment for being a tourist. I'm not even sure how useful Tagalog will be up there. Ilocano is much more widely spoken up north, along with local and tribal languages. I'll have a companion this time at least, a friend of one of my classmates, who also wants to visit the cordilleras. For better or for worse though, he's another very tall white person. I didn't feel unsafe travelling alone, but people definitely found it very, very strange.