After a (much needed) lie-in I head out to the park ‘Jardin Maria Clare Lobregat’ with Jenn, safe in the knowledge that ladyboys to Muslim fundamentalists are like garlic to vampires. Maria Clare Lobregat was the previous and (seemingly very popular) mayor of Zamboanga and this delightful park, filled with birds and butterflies, was built in her memory.
Funny – here’s me expecting Beirut in the 1980s. However, all is not sweetness and light – there are parts of Zamboanga that I was told – in no uncertain terms – I was ill-advised to visit, but we stayed away from them in the same way that you’d stay away from Scunthorpe if you ever visited Britain. Easy.
Jenn’s dream is to move to Thailand. She currently works in Malaysia and gets on with most people there, except for the few who call her haram and ask her to leave the house. I asked if she’d ever pulled a Crying Game on someone, but she said that she’s too honest.
Later we headed down to the waterfront where there are loads of cafes and bars (sadly none serving alcohol today). There’s a stage for concerts and a large outdoor cinema screen for films. Cool! There we met up with some of Jenn’s mates. I’ve met loads of Filipinos already on my travels, especially on the many boat journeys I’ve been on and they have to be some of my favourite people in the world – always ready to smile and laugh and everybody just seems so damn happy to see me.
Later on that evening, we were having a coffee when Jenn told me that the current mayor of Zamboanga – Marie Clare Lobregat’s son, Celso, was sitting on the table behind us. Jenn introduced us and Celso and I had a good chat about Zam and he introduced me to most of the top brass of the local government who he was having coffee with. Can’t be too bad of a place if here are all the city councillors out having a drink in the open. I somehow couldn’t imagine the top brass of Detroit doing the same.
So to sum up my weekend: Friday: Orang-Utans, Saturday: Muslim fundamentalists, Sunday: Ladyboys. Shame we didn’t all meet up in the same place, it would have made one hell of a tea-party.