This is a 70s story that tells you how Hong Kong people’s value has drastically changed.
Hong Kong stepped up its game for the past decades. 10 fingers couldn’t count all the city establishments here that stand at the top of the world. Economy, education, traffic, social facility…. I live in HK and I have everything, everything at hand.
HK was ranked the best city by The Economist. It’s among the top 10 of the most touristy cities in the world. Most subjects from our universities hit the top 10 worldwide.
But this is absolutely not the end of the story.
Hong Kong is also known as “the city of protest”, for the over 1,000 protests/assemblies that took place here last year, a data from Amnesty International. You ask anyone in HK, he will tell you how much the government sucks. He tells you how lame and useless our policies are. Conspiracy runs wild.
Demonstrations can mean two things. One. The city’s really fucked up. That’s why people go to the street to make sure their complaints are well heard. Or. The city’s fine and actually satisfactory compared to other parts of the world. But the people in it are still not satisfied. The problem now is different. They will never get satisfied.
I’ve been noticing in this big city, Hong Kong people’s value has constantly changed throughout the recent years. It’s not about how worse the government has become, but because everyone has been recognised the citizen from the best city. They become greedy and hungry. They’re hungry for more. Look at the news. Even a very little mistake happened, they got crazy and filed complaints, with a lot of conspiracy accusations.
I’d end here with a 70s story, a story I found in Metropolis Daily. I translated it to English in the following. As much as I’d love to tell the change in the HK people’s value, and how they abused their claimed rights and made a whole big drama out of a small incident. This story speaks for itself.
In the past century(1970s), HK people were passionate about traveling to the Philippines. Whoever was holding a identity document(C.I.) had to exchange Pesos equivalent to 200USD at the arrival. But, the filipino tours were still greatly welcomed.
Recall the time when every tour contained over 90% of C.I. holders, people born at that time would receive a civil document from the UK government, which exempt them from the visa requirement by the Philippines. After the handover in 1997, such document became british passport(BNO). For mainlanders, they still had to apply for visa and C.I. to travel. Also, because The Philippines was named “The Country of Thousand Islands” and is only half an hour flight from HK, the nice weather and amazing scenery had led to a prosperous tourism in the 80s. 5-star hotels, Banaue’s Rice Terrices, Boracay’s boat trips, Taro ice cream and mangos for souvenirs. Hotels and Flights were always fully booked.
日前，與一位當年從香港到菲律賓留學、每逢香港長假期都會幫我客串帶團的老友閒談。他憶述在1976年的春節假期，獲安排為我公司一個四十多人的旅行團做導遊，當時旅行團原安排入住全馬尼拉最豪華的Manila Hotel，豈料在他與團友抵埗check in時，才知道酒店超賣，只能提供兩間雙人房，其他人則要在宴會廳睡塔塔米。
Few days ago, I chatted with an old friend from HK who studied in the Philippines. He recalled that in the chinese new year of 1976, he worked as a tourist guide for around 40 HK people, who was supposed to stay at Manila Hotel. Unfortunately when they arrived the check in counter, they were informed that the hotel was almost fully booked and could only offer 2 double rooms. Others had to sleep on the floor.
Facing such unexpected event, he successfully talked all the tourists to let a newly-wed and another elderly couples to take that 2 rooms. Others were sleeping on the floor after having a meal outside. Every single person was back to HK at the end being so happy and satisfied. My old friend told me, there was no person complaining, but understanding that the hotel accidentally rented the rooms out, the rooms that were supposed to be their rooms. Everyone was content with his solution. I praised my friend being so smart and competent. He humbly said, today HK people’s attitude and value are totally different from those in the past days. Today, most people when faced with difficulties lack tolerance, feel scared of having the best or losing their faces. They only know how to blame and pick on each other. They turn something little into a big drama. I truly hope that after reading this story, if any problem ever happens in this city again, everyone will know how to forgive and give way to each other. And hopefully this will build up an ideal home for us – Hong Kong!
“Every decision comes with problems. But you can’t let them stop you.”
A few of my life philosophies:
- Everyone is so special that he must have his own dream. But most of the time he is intimidated by the society
- Stick to what you want. Always follow your heart. Don’t let people tell you what you cannot do. Prove to them what you can do.
- Don’t follow the crowd for the sake of following.
- Holding to security and reliance can be very scary and dangerous.
- The set of rights and wrongs changes with time and society. There is no absolute rights and wrongs. A social problem arises because we apply our set of values. Majority is the king. The king always wins just because he’s the king.
Don’t let the society define who you are. Create a definition of yourself. Everything seems impossible unless it’s done.
“I hope in this life I serve Krishna well. So that after I die I will go to the spiritual world and really get to serve him.” Marvin told me. He is a filipino priest working at a Hindu temple in Hong Kong.
Hinduism is an interesting religion to me. They comprise a lot of concepts that are practised in their daily life.
They believe everything has consciousness. Cows are deemed sacred creatures, specially designed by God. You will find the walls in Indian villages are painted with cow dung. Hindu people think cow dung are pure for cooking, medicine for wound healing, or fertilising. The outlook of Krishna, the main God of Hinduism, was adopted by a billion film Avatar years ago.
You might think Hinduism is just another kind of religion. But actually it is not a religion that just falls into the category. It has tons of practices and traces, alongside with theories that would blow your mind.
“I am doing good deeds and practising spiritualism in this life as much as possible, hoping that after I die I will go to the spiritual world to serve Krishna.” Marvin said.
“What if you couldn’t go to that world?” I asked.
“Then I will have to get in another body and keep practising spiritualism for Krishna.”
As a judgmental person like me, of course i didn’t let such a chance go. I kept questioning Marvin.
“So, as I’ve observed for all the religions out there, each of them has their own theory. So who are going to heaven and who are going to hell? Does that mean all people but the Hindu are going to hell?”
“Yes. They will have to. To go to the spiritual world, the heaven, one has to practise spiritualism.”
“I am also trying to be spiritual as much as I can.”
“No you can’t. It is different. You have to have a spiritual master.”
This is one side of Hinduism. The way they look at Karma is inspiring. Marvin was analysing some global issues with us. Global warming, poverty, pollution, lack of resources… The list can go on and on.
“Everything is about Karma.”
We, humans, chase for materialism. At the same time, all the problems occurring are solely the consequences of our own acts. We seldom realise that.
Religion is a subtle topic. Every religion has its own theory. Who goes to hell? Who goes to heaven? Which God is the real one? Which God is really going to rescue us on the doom day? All these questions. Most of us probably have our answers in mind. But what i’m trying to say is. What if there’s no answer? What if any answer can be right, can make sense, depending on which mindset of rights and wrongs we’re having in our mind?
If we believe, we don’t need an explanation.
On the day of visit, they led us to sing and dance with drums.
Being religious, to me, is a form of reliance on an abstract idea which makes oneself feel better or more secure. Having said that, we shall not deny their ideas. Being spiritual is probably what we need the most today, rather than chasing after materials.
“I was Catholic in the Philippines. I followed my uncle to be a buddhist for one year, before I started to practise Hinduism when I was 21.”
“Why did you give up on buddhism? You didn’t like it?”
“It was at first interesting. But they told me there’s no God. I couldn’t accept this. There must be God.”
A filipino priest working at International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), a Hindu temple in Hong Kong
“We are gonna die anyway. Does it matter?” I asked.
“Our bodies are gonna die. I won’t. My soul will go to the spiritual world and serve Krishna.”
South Korea (June 13′)
El Nido (June 13′)
Manila (March 13′)
Puerto Galera (April 13′)
Boracay (March 13′)
Staying in Manila sometimes can get real boring without beach, waterfalls and all the stuff the Philippines is famous for. This time we went to Tanay, located in the Rizal province, beside Laguna de Bay.
The town usually isn’t explored by tourists, but it is a nice place for a day trip getting away from Manila. In our itinerary we included the two waterfalls, Daranak Falls and Batlag Falls, Calinawan Cave, the second oldest Tanay Church and the refreshing Parola lighthouse. To get there, we took a van from Starmall(Edsa-Shaw), which took us only 1.5 hour to get to Tanay market, probably because it was 9am the traffic was not as heavy as usual. The van ticket was 70php per pax. After getting off at Tanay market, we went to buy some food before dealing with the tricycle driver who we finally talked into giving us a package of all places we wanted for 400php. But you can always bargain. Just don’t let them scare you off with their first say 1200php, which is total nut.
The kuya(the term used in Tagalog that means brother) drove us to the waterfalls first. Danarak Falls costs 20php and Batlag Falls 100php. Danarak Falls was nice but it was packed with lots of local tourists, families and kids. Buoys for rent, 5php. To get to Batlag Falls we trekked for 5-10mins with a bridge connecting the two falls. On the bridge you will see people doing rock balancing. Real amazing. Was my first time seeing that but we didn’t get down to take photos. Batlag Falls was way better because there were less people, plus the water wasn’t so deep. There’ll also be picnic tables for rent. Enjoying the natural massage from the falls was a delight of our trip.
Daniel at Batlag Falls, after his bottomless mojito drinking the night before that made his daytrip a hell in Tanay!
After the waterfalls, we went to look for our kuya driver who took us to the Calinawan cave. It was a disappointment tho. The fee was 20 per pax but you will have to pay another 100php for the compulsory guide. The guide during the whole walk in the cave just said “Careful!” and “This is another stone”, and understood almost no English from us.
The entrance of Calinawan cave that says a bunch of things you can’t do inside. But my friend threw up inside and the guide was happy with it so i guess you can pretty much do anything.
After Calinawan cave we took the tricycle back to the Tanay town and then off to Parola. In the native language it means lighthouse. It is beside the Laguna de Bay stemming from the waterfalls of the northern mountains. We walked up the Parola and enjoyed the scenes from the top. You can taste the tranquility of the lake with the fishermen bringing tons of fishes up from the water. They put them to the trucks off to the market.
Buckets of fishes ready for sale!
We were discussing if it is salty water because it seems like they can still cultivate the whole land.
Finally we were off to the Tanay church, which is the second oldest catholic church there. A big praying inner setting with the backyard comprising of two chattels, while you can also walk upstairs to the gathering hall.
I wrote in the previous post that I always go for the local food. They are unexpected, maybe in a bad way but why not? This time was no exception. We found a local eatery next to the park beside the church. They sell cheap filipino dishes. We got two noodles for 55php(1.5USD)!
Tips & Things to note
- After getting off at Tanay market, a bunch of tricycle drivers will come to you. Make sure you get the best deal around 120php only for the falls OR 400php for everything like we did(It’d be a half day package)
- Remember to hide your camera in your bag before getting to the entrance of Batlag Falls to avoid the 100php extra charge
- My advice to skip Calinawan cave as the rocky road from the waterfalls to the cave will be so uncomfortably shaky and the cave itself was just ok
- Parola in tagalog means lighthouse. Usually the stairs going up are locked. Kindly ask the restaurant in the opposite if you can go up or tell to the kuya to ask for you
- When we headed back to Manila we avoided the fully packed van and waited for the next one. It took one hour for the van to be fully loaded again. Lesson learned: grap the full van and go! because it’s gonna be crowded at the end anyway