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just came back from hanoi

i was in hanoi for a week to attend a microsoft-sponsored conference on asia-pacific teachers. my paper, phil star, sent me there. i did write a blog entry and was about to post it when the internet went dead.

yes, vietnam is like manila. but they have enough rice, less pollution because there are a million motorcycles and bikes on the road. the way they drive is like us, too. pedestrians are seen as nuisance on the road, and have to be flattened.

my heart skipped a beat when i saw from afar the mausoleum for ho chi minh. this poet, president, revolutionary of viet nam speaks to us still, in the burning and beautiful poems he wrote. i teach his works for my asian lit/ third world lit class at ateneo.

hanoi is full of lakes. 130 in all. the newspaper, vietnam times, looks like a high-school paper. coffee is great. we stayed in sheraton hanoi, which is very elegant. i met some filipinos in the hotel (musicians, executives, Ayala Alabang tourists) and yes, they asked me about 2010. i smiled and said everybody is keeping quiet, feigning they are not interested -- but already preparing the ground work for the political marathon. when does the marathon begin? this october of 2008. the last quarter of the year.

the vietnamese thought i was vietnamese. the chinese thought i was chinese. the japanese said i looked like a japanese from their northern regions. even the koreans said i looked like them.

ha? the filipino as the pan-Asian race of the continent.

i will write more about hanoi next time, i just arrived today and have millions of vietnamese dong (money, you silly boy) i have no use for in manila. maybe i can go back to hanoi again?

when i do, i will queue up at 7 am for the ho chi minh mausoleum, buy all his books in the stores, bring home some beautiful vietnamese paintings (they're the rage in all of asia), and talk to some kind friends i had made there.

but first, to sleep. summer classes begin monday, and i have to prepare the syllabi and readings tomorrow. i also have to do last-minute review for my spanish-language exams monday, for my phd in UP. Then, I can do the laundry and pressing the clothes.

and people thought my sundays are extraordinary.


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