Philippines Pt. 3 – Metro Manila Assembly Hall & Bethel

Our second full day in Metro Manila was another busy one.  We were still struggling to cope with our jet lag and the 15 hour time difference, but once again, even dazed exhaustion couldn’t keep us down.

We were up before the sun, enjoyed another delicious Filipino breakfast of pancit, and loaded onto the bus headed for the newly built Metro Manila Assembly Hall.  The traffic in Manila, in a word, stinks.  Although only 1 in 5 residents in the city own a vehicle, Metro Manila is one of the most (if not THE most) densely populated cities in the world.  That amounts to a ton of traffic in a not-big-enough-to-accomodate-it area.  So movement around the city was slow, often sitting in heavy gridlock, but allowing for lots of photo opportunities.

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Possibly the only near-empty street in the city.

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We were welcomed at the Assembly Hall by many Filipino Jehovah’s Witnesses, donned in beautiful traditional attire and huge smiles, and holding welcome signs.  Jehovah’s Witnesses are known primarily for two things – our door-to-door preaching work, and our intense love for one another.  This love was evident as we shook hands, hugged, kissed, introduced ourselves, and took pictures with all who were there.

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The man on the far left with the grey umbrella ran next to me for much of my time there, his umbrella shielding me from the sun.  They treated us like royalty, even though we didn't deserve it.  It was a lesson in true humility.

The man on the far left with the grey umbrella ran next to me for much of my time there, his umbrella shielding me from the sun. They treated us like royalty, even though we didn’t deserve it. It was a lesson in true humility.

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The grounds were beautifully landscaped and meticulously maintained.  And we enjoyed wandering around the property in the hot morning sun.  We completed our self-guided walking tour, got back to the busses, and made our way to the Philippines Branch Office of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

A stunning white bird flits by.

A stunning white bird flits by.

Unlike the others, Jericho was not even slightly impressed with us.  :)

Unlike the others, Jericho was not even slightly impressed with us. 🙂

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Again we were greeted with smiles and vigorous waving of hands and streamers.  We enjoyed lunch with many of the local Bethel Family while entertained by a musical performance, and then our tour of the facility commenced.  The most notable part of the branch facility was the translation department, that keeps busy translating the Bible and Bible study aids into many of the indigenous languages and dialects spoken in the Philippines.  Again, the buildings and gardens were simple yet pristine, in stark contrast to the surrounding neighborhoods.

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Jeepney photo op.

Jeepney photo-op.

Traveller's Palm, which are not actually a palm tree, but a relative of the banana and bird of paradise.

Traveller’s Palm, which are not actually a palm tree, but a relative of the banana and bird of paradise.

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The landscape crew.

The landscaping crew.

As the day ended we were once again loaded onto the busses, our bags heavy with gifts, candy and fruit, as the Bethel Family outside waving to us their good-bye’s and ‘I love you’s.’  Paalam , mahal kita.

The sun setting over Manila Bay.

The sun setting over Manila Bay.

Rebecca Knabe

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