So it’s been a while and while I won’t be able to catch you up on all the happenings I am going to start will some bits and pieces as they pop into my head. Some of these have been half formed thoughts I’ve been working on for a while but I never do so… here you go
Golden Arches,
McDonalds, in the US I would hardly notice a new store being put in or calculate how my much easier it would be to get to the new shop, but here as a Peace Corps Volunteer it seems as if nothing could be more comforting than a meal that reminds one of home. When I initially expressed interest in the Peace Corps I imagined going to a country without McDonalds, perhaps a place without electricity or paved roads, but the Philippines has all that. But although I am thrilled to be getting a McDonald’s I wonder what it says about the state of development… pavement, electricity, and fastfood, but still most city and provincial government documents are made on typewriters…
So Yes, I want fries with that, but I wonder if we should be hoping for a different type of development…
Beth and I were talking one night dinner about development about the impact of technology and its relationship with poverty and about how things are still the same here as they were in the 1970’s but things are also very different(McDonald’s for instance). Things are the same here (and perhaps in most developing countries, or perhaps poor neighborhood’s in America) as in the 1970’s, people are still hungry, lack basic health care, living from day to day, washing their clothes by hand, living with little shelter in an area that regularly floods etc.. But things are also different, people have florescent light bulbs, they have a cell phone (maybe a computer), the electricity is more reliable, and the cheapest food available might be processed and full of refined things and other things meant to preserve the refined things. The world has been developed in typical western style, even the most poor seem to have more material goods, have become better consumers, use the internet, and now can recognize not only Coke, but apple products as well (in case you missed it, the Coca-Cola brand value was recently surpassed by Apple as the world’s most valuable branding). But siting here in the Philippines, a country much more developed than the typical Peace Corps post, we still haven’t unlocked the secret of living wages, safe and sanitary housing conditions, or a great education.
Washing Machine
There is a TED talk I think about often that speaks of this a little bit, its call the magic washing machine by a guy named Hans? He talks about the ability of the washing machine to change a women’s life and how its presence defines one level of development. But I would be shocked if there were more washing machines than televisions (here or anywhere), even though one leads to the empowerment of women, significantly adds to the amount of free time a household has, and supports kitchen table conversation, interacting with other humans, having a social life, and most importantly clean laundry (TV’s provide me with distraction, attempt to sell me stuff about every 30 seconds (subliminally) and every 4 minute through more overt methods, are a gathering point where people can be together without talking to each other, shares with me thoughts about hip trends, the breaking news in the life and death of Michael Jackson, an occasionally between al that offers a moment of insight). Sure TVs connect to the other side of the planet, but they disconnect us from the people around us, right at our side; so I wonder, would the world be better off with half the number of TV’s (we can take them out of our bedrooms, kitchens, and dining rooms probably), and double or triple the number of washing machines? I wonder how one would motivate that change…
I am going to order some boxers online, mail them to my sister and then have her ship them to me here. Telling you I am buying new underwear here on the internet it less awkward then buying it here. At the mall here, every rack of clothing or aisle in the store has an attendant whose job it is to suggest items, ask what you would like, search for the item you need. Browsing is not really a thing. Most of the time it’s okay, but I cannot handle being offered briefs and boxers from 10 different men and women at once (the racks are very close together, one for each brand), and then trying to sort out what they cost and what size I need all in half sentences.
44 or so Peso is one dollar, but pricing is a pretty interesting game here. A coke is about 10 peso (so a quarter) and a haircut (they do the edges with a straight razor…) is 30-50, so that’s 3-5 soda’s, in the USA a coke is 1.50 so times 5 is $7.50, the price of a haircut on a lucky day, but not too far off as a ratio. But for the price of one American soda you could get 4 cokes and a haircut here…I don’t really understand that… btw I like the haircuts here better, they pay more attention and keep trimming until its perfect… the coke is probably better too, well it seems that way to me.
Enough for now, next time I’ll try to talk about what I am doing here…

And Thank God the shutdown is over… what a great example of American Exceptionalism….