Weekend in Manila 

    Riding in from the Benigno S. Aquino International Airport, we
had just passed the Our Lady of the Airways Church when we hit the
first clogged traffic light.  Hawkers and beggers surrounded the
cab, pressing gum, cigarettes and their rags and ruined faces close
to the windows we had rolled up between our air-conditioning and
the 80-plus bright heat outside.  I had just asked the driver for a
recommendation--I wanted to know what was happening in Manila
besides the rally commemorating the fourth anniversary of the
People Power Revolution, the popular uprising that kicked the
Marcoses out of the Presidential Palace and put Mrs. Corazon Aquino
in.  A newspaper boy was holding a red and black headline against
the window on the driver's side: MIRACLE AT LIPA CITY.  "That's
what I would recommend," the driver said, tapping the glass.  "The

       In Lipa City, about 90 kilometers south, a young girl had
sighted an apparition of the Virgin Mary at the top of a palm tree.
"They have pictures of it in the paper," my driver said when I
asked if it was true.  I'd be in the company of 50,000 pilgrims a
day, but he thought a visit to Lipa would be the best use of my
time.  He would go if he could, "It's good luck if you believe."

     I told him I doubted I'd make it out to Lipa--I wanted to see
Cory Aquino and celebrate the miracle she performed four years back
with her bloodless ouster of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.  But it
struck me that, on the anniversary of their Revolution, more
Filipinos seemed interested in a glowing downcountry palm tree
than in the big weekend rally.  After a quick fatherly warning about
sexually transmitted diseases, he dropped me at a hotel in the
Ermita district.

     South of Luneta Park and the walls of the old Spanish fort,
Ermita is Manila's tourist ghetto.  Here you'll find food fast and
slow, moneychangers, souvenir shops, a couple of casinos, hotels
ranging from the Hilton to backpacker dorms, and a long strip of
nightclubs featuring prostitutes-as-seminude dancers--a less
amusing and more hardcore version of Bangkok's Patpong.

      That afternoon I took a long walk to the fringes of the
neighborhood, to interface intersections where jubilant slum-children,
dancing, surround brave tourists and their cameras; later
I dashed across the busy highway that separates the hotels and
whore-bars of Ermita from the dirty beach and polluted waters of
Manila Bay.  Primative fishing boats were pulling in at sunset and
mothers washed clothes as their children swam and splashed;
homeless families gathered around fires in the sand of driftwood
and trash; freighters and tankers stood silhouetted on the far

     Sitting on the seawall taking snapshots, I met a young man who
introduced himself with the common Filipino nickname, "Boy."  Boy
told me he had escorted journalists around during the last coup
attempt in December.  160 people had been killed, mostly in Mikati,
the downtown business district.  But that was part-time work, and
he wouldn't do it again anyway:  "A bullet doesn't know who you
are.  A bullet doesn't care."  He is now unemployed.  I didn't tell
him that I would have considered it the best of luck to encounter
a coup during my brief visit.

       Boy was on his way to an interview at a new Japanese
restuarant.  "The Japanese are very nice--very generous," he said,
smiling and miming the peeling of cash from a wad of bills.  He
told me that the Japanese and their mafia, the Yakuza, are now
opening a lot of clubs in Ermita.

    "But the Japanese men also steal our young women," he offered,
shifting gears.  "Some girls go to Japan for jobs as secretaries.
They get there and are made to be prostitutes.  They have no money
and no passports, so they are forced.  I have talked to several
girls who did this for six months or a year before they ran away."

     Within a few breaths of calling them "nice" and "generous,"
he's telling me, "The Japanese are the worst.  They are
barbarians."  But the barbarians might offer him a job, and Boy
needs work.  This is a typical Filipino situation, being forced by
poverty into making deals with the rich barbarians.  And it's a
testament to their adaptation to the last gang of imperialists to
blow through town that, on a tropical, tribal archipelago, Boy and
I can share a conversation in American English.  Most Manilans are
polyglots, shifting effortlessly in their everyday speech between
English, Spanish and their native Tagalog.  Such colonial legacies
are everywhere.

     Spanish was compulsory in schools until 1968 and is still
spoken among the upper-classes.  American military bases--and the
aid, AIDS, weapons and whore-bar industry which surrounds them--are
entrenched.  (To protest the US presence there was a boycott
recently--of Dunkin' Donuts.)  And the Japanese--now the biggest
investors and tourist group--are back in line to take up the
colonial stick.  In Ermita, Japanese îkaraokeï bars are popping up
like mushrooms in manure, most with help-wanted signs out front
advertising for "attractive girls who speak Nihongo."  Telephone
poles throughout the city are covered with handbills touting
Japanese lessons.  Knowledge of the hot colonial tongue is the key
to opportunity, and also the key to escape.  This is a culture of
adaptation, but also a culture of exodus.

    In Manila, opportunity is foreign; opportunity is elsewhere.
For example, the 50,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong are that city's
largest immigrant group.  Most are women working as maids.  They
are generally well-educated, trained as nurses, CPAs, etc., but the
four-dollars-an-hour they make in Hong Kong is more than they can
earn in their professions back home.

     I wished Boy luck as he headed off to his interview, then
crossed the highway and settled in for dinner at a vague tropic-theme
bar on the main Ermita street.  I ordered a San Miguel, the
local cheap beer, and a Filipino shrimp dish on the waitress's
recommendation.  There were signs outside this place, "NO BILLY-BOYS"
(transvestites) and "NO UNESCORTED WOMEN OR VENDORS," which
means no prostitutes.  Or rather, no freelance pros--the place
clearly had its own house staff.

     Friendly, attractive young women; and what it amounts to is
what you'd like to believe could happen at any bar or nightclub,
the Myth of the Pickup:  lots of eye-contact from women swimming
by, touching you, now coming to sit.  It's all set up to play like
a miracle date, instead of what it really is.

     Julianne came to sit across from me.  She didn't speak much
English.  She showed me some photos of herself and another girl in
dresses and bathing suits.  They had writing in Tagalog on the
back.  The food came.  She started to feed me the shrimp which was
quite good and ordered herself a Pepsi which, as our sole financial
interaction, I could deal with.  After a few reluctant forkfulls, I
pushed her mommy-feeding hand away.  She shrugged and swallowed the
crustacean herself.

     From across the table she watched me eat, bored but still
expectant, from time to time summoning the energy to come around
and half-hug and kiss me from the side.  Her kiss was forced, hard
and professional, her small hands, at 18, impossibly rough.  A
second bargirl, the bartender, and the cook are all members of her
family; she introduced me to her little sister, a pudgy girl with
the same face carrying an English schoolbook.  All Filipinos have
rough hands.  I was cold, passive as macadam to my fantasy
girlfriend, wife, mother.

     Filipinos signal for the check not with the universal Writing-on-Palm
Signal but by outlining a rectangle with the thumb and
forefinger of both hands, an imaginary bill about seven inches by
three.  My shrimp eviscerated, I made this sign and paid.  When I
rose to leave, Julianne was picking her nose absentmindedly.  "We
go home now?" was the last I heard.

     Her needy, drawing kiss reminded me in some scary and
unwelcome way of the kiss of a friend and recent lover who knew she
could get nothing more from me, and of my own needy kisses in lost-cause
cases:  scary and unwelcome that a prostitute's need should feel so familiar,
so like our everyday, amateur hurts and desires.

    Besides the whore-bar scene, the Philippines' beaches and
scuba diving draw a lot of vacationing ex-pats.  But the tourist
industry, between coups, hasn't had much success positioning the
islands as a resort destination.  What the Philippines is still
best-known for, worldwide, is the ex-First Lady's shoe collection.
If I tell someone I was in Manila: you know, the Philippines, Cory
Aquino, People Power, Ferdinand and Imelda--it's usually when I get
to the Shoe Collection that the spark of recognition hits:  Oh
yeah, I heard about that.  Imelda's shoes, all 3000 pairs, are now
on display at the Presidential Palace.  I visited the next morning.

    Malacanang Palace is by far the most expensive of the standard
tourist diversions available in Manila.  For 200 pesos, about ten
dollars, you get a 60-minute very-guided tour of the former home of
the Philippines' ex-King and Queen, God and Goddess, Ferdinand and

       The security getting in--body searches, metal detectors--is
absurd, considering you're not dealing with a particularly
dangerous element here.  Only tourists could afford this.  The tour
lady was stridently amenable, reciting her well-memorized tourtext:
"Behind this door was the bedroom of Mr. Marcos's son.
Unfortunately, we will not have the privilege of seeing it as this
part of the Palace is closed to the public.  Behind these huge
doors is the grand ballroom Imelda decorated at a cost of a million
dollars!  Unfortunately..."  In the first part of the tour we
learned a lot about parts of the Palace we unfortunately would not
be able to see.

      But we were let into Ferdy's bedroom, which is the size of
ballroom and displays a dialysis machine, an EKG, and an entire
wall of medicine cabinets.  In sad parallel to the medical gadgetry
is a sprawling audio-video entertainment system with racks of black
boxes and a big-screen TV, plus a Nordic Track exerciser and a pair
of New Balance running shoes.  A huge portrait on the wall shows
Marcos as some tribal god, naked in the tall grass, that familiar
head on a chest like Bo Jackson's.  An love note from Imelda is
displayed on his desk.  "My lover, my husband, my friend," it
gushes, "I need you so much.  But even more, the Philippines needs

     Around the corner is Imelda's enclave.  In the painting in her
romance-novel theme bedroom, Mrs. Marcos is depicted as the
equivalent tribal goddess--a bit of sex kitten, lying in the grass
in a diaphanous white gown, leaves and fronds of plantlife
screening her secondary sexual characteristics.  Beside her bed,
which was bedraped, pillow-strewn and about the size of a
helicopter pad, was another rack of medical equipment.

     Their private hospital was in the basement, accessible only by
elevator in the most secure part of the mansion.  And below that,
the climate-controlled clothes warehouse with racks of furs and
dresses and the endless shelves of shoes.  It's an amazing mess of
stuff especialy when you consider these are the leftovers.  She got
out of town with 60 trunks full.

      Two things struck me.  How desolate and dull their lives
appeared, surrounded by the products of their power and wealth,
and by hospital technology fortelling sickness, mortality, death.  The
other was a simpler gut reaction, the result of coming in from the
city of Manila, seeing this place and returning to the streets.
The poverty and the wealth, in close contrast, don't fit in your
brain.  When you see the remains of Mr. Marcos's career, it strikes
you: this was a man with a genius for corruption.  It's hard to
imagine how they operated amidst such a gratuitous accumulation of
power, commodities and wealth--it seems that you could only float
in it, or maybe swim.  But to have purpose or direction under that
tide of materiel seems impossible.

      And so four years ago they fled.  Last year Mr. Marcos couldn't
buy himself back in to die.  And his wife, who hasn't yet been able
to finance a coup, is on trial in New York for looting her country.
When they fled, they left the Palace's atrium entrance, with its
fountain and arranged gravel, mined with explosives.

    If the Marcoses seem remarkably adept at domestic
exploitation, perhaps it's because they've had so many foreign
examples to follow.  The first Western conqueror to do business
here was Ferdinand Magellan, who claimed the Philippines for Spain
back in 1521.  He died in the process, but was followed a decade
later by Ruy Lopez, who named the colony for his sponsor, King
Phillip II.  The Spanish dominated the place for the next three
centuries, setting up forts and churches with equal fervor, and, by
some combination of these devices, converting 80 percent of the
population to Catholicism.

       An armed Filipino independence movement appeared in the 1890s,
and when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, the Filipinos
fought on the side of the Americans, declaring their independence
from Spain when the Americans were victorious.  But that's not how
the Americans saw it.  They decided to pay Spain $20 million
dollars for the country and take over colonial domination where the
Spanish left off.  After their attack on Pearl Harbor until General
MacArthur's famous "return" in 1944, the Japanese military had
their shot at brutal sway, and official independence didn't come
about until 1946.  Marcos's USA-friendly dictatorship began in
1965, and in 20 years of rule over this dirt-poor land he somehow
wrung out and rung-up assets in the billions.

     Colonial influence, tumbled together with the mostly animist
beliefs of the Philippines' 60 different indigenous tribes, has
produced some very strange religion; for example, the Philippines
is Asia's only Christian nation.  The local believers have taken to
Roman Catholicism whole-hog.  But it's the kind of pagan-Catholicism
that is always finding Virgins in palm trees.  It is also a belief system
that sets up icons--of beauty, power, wealth, purity; icons which now
have their origins in the West.  So we have Marilyn Monroe and
Madonna in the bars of Ermita, Rambo during coups and in the local
movies, God incarnate in Jaime Cardinal Sin, and Cory Aquino as the
Virgin Mother, Martyr's Widow.

    These western images, with Catholicism, fill preexiting slots
from the animist pantheon; the faces have changed--the Marcoses had
theirs painted in--but the gods haven't necessarily.  The
prevalence of these Western icons, and of the English language
itself, lends Manila a false familiarity.  But their pantheon of
demigods and idols is doubtless more complex and personal than the
associations we have with them.  The Philippines is one of the
purer points of interaction between the tribal East and the
individualist West; we share these images--Jesus, Rambo, the
Virgin, Madonna--but only in the way a projector and an audience
share a movie: only on the surface of a screen.

     Much of Filipino political life takes a religious form;
political expression--especially that which supports the West and
its traditions--often appears as religious mandate, in familiar
Western guises.  Newspaper editorials are filled with biblical
citations and sanctimonious Word-of-God pronouncements on current
political and social issues.  In one day I found columns denouncing
family planning, abortion and women's liberation:  "We must have a
return to the traditional purity of the Filipina," one editor
wrote.  "The beauty and character of our girls is a national
treasure--we must save the girls as well as the trees and the
sea..."  And of course there's plenty of Old Testament backup for
the events of the Cory Revolution.  In a piece titled "The February
Revolution: A Biblial View," one commentator wrote, "Until they
take the religious factor into consideration, no analyst or
scientist will ever understand what really took place."

     Sunday, February 25, 1990--the day of the fourth anniversary
rally.  I spent the morning in the north of the city, planning to
catch President Cory's keynote speech across town later in the

    The Philippines is made up of more than 7000 islands.  Total
population is pushing 60 million, with about one-fifth of that in
the Metro Manila region.  The city itself is a low-level, spread
out urban sprawl, but street transport is plentiful.  Besides taxis
(some have meters from Turkish cabs, so you could be charged in
Lira and Kurus), there are flatbed Jeeps with benches in back
called Jeepneys, motorcycles with sidecars called Tricycles, and
bicycles with sidecars called Pedicabs.  All of these are colorful,
personalized and garrishly ornate to a degree which suggests that
their entrepreneur-owners value self-expression over mechanics.
Some pedicabs lug car batteries just to power flashing lights and
boomboxes.  On the drab, cluttered streets of Manila, only one
thing stands out more than these vehicles:  the towering movie
billboards.  Epic, block-long and vibrant-hued, these grotesque
panoramas parody the streetlife below, with larger-than-life men
and women offering their own mode of transport, to worlds of heroic
romance and gunplay.

     North of the old city is a chock-a-block Chinatown, a dense,
polluted area of markets and textile wholesalers, that seems to
have a vitality and prosperity unlike the rest of the city.  Beyond
Chinatown are the Tondo slums, home to 3 or 4 million; parting them
is a huge graveyard, called the Chinese Cemetery on the tourist
maps.  It covers all the territory between two stops on the new
above-ground Light Rail Transit train on which I rode out.

      So big and walled in, it's like a neighborhood, a distinct
subdivision with streets and rolling hills, packed with an eclectic
variety of large and small houses--which are actually Chinese
mausoleums.  Some have several storeys, electricity, air
conditioning, mailboxes, toilets, and maids who come to clean on Sunday.
I saw three snack bars within the walls.

    Off the main streets, closer to the walls keeping out the
encroaching tin-topped hovels, are rows of sarcophagi and regular
tombstones.  These descend in levels down to the wall, itself
pocked or dented with small vaults or organized memorials, some
blank or just with numbers, some inscribed with the names and dates
of young children, infants, stillbirths: twins, both born dead but
not unnamed.  A few cookie tins, dolls, old flowers and scraps of
candles are scattered within the rounded stone recesses.

     If the people residing here were alive, this would be one of
Manila's nicest neighborhoods.  As it is, it's an orgy of weird
faith and gross wealth.  Tondo, the area surrounding, is Manila's
worst slum, tin shacks in the good parts, cardboard in the rest.
After a cold Coke between tombs at Ben's Tourist Haven, I rode back
to Ermita, from where it was a 30-minute, two-dollar cab ride to
the People Power rally.

    Preceding by three years similar movements in China and
Eastern Europe, the 1986 revolution in Manila climaxed when a wall
of people stopped Marcos's tanks on a main street that circles the
city--Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue, known generally (both the
street and the events there) as "EDSA."  These rallies, held every
year since the revolution, have been important to the Aquino
Government in their attempts to maintain and focus the unity and
support that came out of EDSA.

     But in the last four years the Cory regime has weathered six
coup attempts.  The most recent, which had to be put down with help
of US jet-fighters, was barely two months before.  Security near
the rally was tight.  The surrounding streets, for about a mile
around, were sealed.  There had been notices in the papers that
members of paramilitary organizations should not bring their
firearms to EDSA, only the real army was to be armed.  That had me
a little nervous, but I was already used to the sight of guns.

    In Manila, every little business worth the price of a lock on
the door has a bluesuited bebadged fake cop outside with a shotgun
or semi-automatic just to make sure.  Many bars and restaurant have
signs outside, "Please deposit your firearm or deadly weapon to the
guard for safekeeping," like in the Old West.  Going into any of
the nice hotels in Manila is like entering customs--your handbags
are searched, you're frisked and zapped high and low with a metal
detector.  Guns in Manila have the kind of status value that
portable phones have in Hong Kong.  There you can't walk a block
without passing someone--a businessman, a teenager--with a portable
phone.  They all look like Maxwell Smart talking into his shoe.  If
600 miles of South China Sea didn't separate Hong Kong and Manila,
the people with the guns would mug the people with the shoe-phones
as they tried to call the police.  To keep these people apart is
why we have geography.

    But as I joined the thousands of people are streaming towards
the intersection where, four years before, they'd stopped tanks,
there wasn't the slightest tension in the air.  Just a small plane
trailing a banner, "PEACE, JUSTICE & FREEDOM."  Moments later, a
couple of army helicoptors followed, passing low over the broad
avenue, men inside pitching out handfulls of shredded-newpaper
confetti--which was immediately swept up and bundled by a yellow-shirted
battalion of Metropolitan Manila Association workers on the
ground.  Street stands were handing out free Japanese cigarettes,
and vendors were selling cold drinks, hats and "I Survived the
December Coup" t-shirts.  On the tall buildings surrounding the
intersection, government sharpshooters with long rifles and high-powered
binoculars shared the best vantage points with TV

     The fourth anniversary rally featured food, dancing, rock
bands and paratroupers, but Cardinal Sin (no separation of Church
and State in this town) and Mrs. Aquino were the show-stoppers.

     Events were conducted from the base of a huge, modern stone
statue, Our Lady of Peace.  Before the appearance of the President
came a full Catholic Mass, Jaime Cardinal Sin with his stick and
hat, and a demiscore of others, chanting and posturing and swinging
incence stage left and stage right.  The Cardinal was helped on and
off with his hat, and always made his way back to the microphone
for mumbo-jumbo and sing-alongs in Latin, Spanish, English and
Tagalog.  (Even if you doubt their God's omnipotence, you must
admit He's good with languages.)

      At one point, apparently, the crowd was instructed to "join
hands with your neighbors for the next song"--and immediately my
paws were seized by the benevolent smiling Sisters sharing the
space on either side of me.  The nuns got a kick out of this,
though I didn't know the words.  I gave them my best sincere look
throughout, and was rewarded with understanding nods.  Finally the
host was delivered, thousands of wafers placed on thousands of
tongues and in open palms by scores of serious white-robed young
novices located throughout the crowd under yellow "National Bible
Year" umbrellas.

     Mrs. Cory Aquino, National Hero, appeared before the screaming
crowd in her trademark yellow dress.  She was met with the now-traditional
"CO-ry!" chant and a sea of arms outstretched making
the L-sign of her Laban party.  Her speech was powerful and
confident, but mostly funny.  She kept cracking jokes about Juan
Ponce Enrile, Marcos's former defence minister, now her biggest
opposition and believed to be connected (along with a lot of Mrs.
Marcos's stateside cash) to recent violent attempts to oust her.
To the crowd's roared approval, she called him a liar and said,
"You know, Enrile, be a man.  Better yet, be a woman."  The nuns
blushed.  (Three days later she got serious.  Enrile was arrested
and changed with rebellion.)  She had some standard lines about
reducing poverty and increasing employment, but also quite bravely
admitted that her party was responsible for fraud in the last
election, maybe a political first.

     Three years ago, at the first anniversary celebrations, 1.5
million people showed up.  This year, crowd estimates ranged from
20,000 to 300,000.  I'd guess 50,000--and there was a sense of
nostalgia among them, as though they were trying to recapture the
magic of 1986 by doing the same dance.  But those who came seemed
to support Cory wholeheartedly, enthusiastically and seriously
against the Men With Guns everyone imagines are plotting the next

     At the end of the rally candles were passed through the crowd.
Dark fell, Cory's helicopter lifted and disappeared overhead.  As people
dispersed, they began bending down, pooling wax and placing
their candles onto the pavement in spontaneous clusters and long
rows, asphalt candelabra and primative landing lights stretching
hundred of feet through the milling crowds.  Burning candles fell
and were replaced by others.  Kneeling Filipinos, smiling in the
general glow and warmth of their tiny, united yellow lights, set
new candles next to the guttering, leaving them to stand and fall
in their own melted wax.

     Back in the tourist comfines of Ermita, and as it was my last
night, I let myself be dragged by the serious and heavyhanded
female touts into one of the cheaper clubs on the main strip.  It
was dim and dead-empty inside, leaving me alone with two pros who
now pushed me down between them in the nearest booth.  Pawing hands
from two sides played over my arms, shoulders and lap, and their
two close faces asked if there was anything I wanted.  A beer cost
me a buck.  Is that all you want?  When I said I'd buy one of them
a drink, the bigger of the two, a plump woman in a tight,
unflattering, Life-Saver-orange dress, went out to cover the door,
leaving me with Melanie, a longhaired girl, dressed casually in
jeans and sweater.  A lady's drink cost three dollars.

     It was soon clear we had separate agendas.  I was trying to
push her for interesting whore-info.  She was trying to push me
over to the dark booth at the end so she could give me "one on the
rocks."  She couldn't believe I didn't know what that was slang
for.  (My Bangkok friends called them "cheeseburgers.")  "Are
you a virgin?" she asks.

     Despite her work, her natural friendliness took over.  She told
me about her three children, said she was twenty-three and that
she'd rather work in an office but it's impossible to make enough
money.  Between questions, she became again plying and servile,
loving and disappointed at the direction this was obviously taking.
Is there a man? I asked.  "Would I be working in a club if there
was a man?"  She moved from pro to confessor, servant to friend,
saleswoman to confidant effortlessly.

     She told me:  Anyone who has the standard fifteen-dollar
blowjob is expected to also pay for two lady's drinks, so that for
each one, the girl makes $15 and the bar makes $6.  The girl, at
her discretion, can accept the blowjob after one drink and pay the
bar herself for the second drink, so that the bar will get its six
bucks and she'll settle for $12 for the BJ.

      Her urgings toward the dark booth became the frustrated,
semiserious pleadings of an old friend.  I, in return, complained
that I didn't have enough money.  Meanwhile her friend had pulled
in another "fish," an Englishman already quite drunk.  They sat in
the dark booth in back.

      For another $10, there's a private backroom.  It's negotiable
how much to take a girl home, but it's at least $25, half of which
goes to the bar.  They don't take credit cards, though some of the
fancier places do.  The owner is a rich woman who lives in the
countryside.  Expatriot Americans and Australians own most of the
expensive nightclubs in Ermita.

     When a couple of young Australians, regulars, stumbled in,
Melanie gave up immediately, deserting me.  I felt bad that there
was nothing else she wanted from me.  Behind the bar, she accepted
my drink money brittly and listened to me promise I'd return.

     German tourists on their way to scuba vacations, ignoring
their listless, silent Filipina "girlfriends"; older Japanese men,
alone or in twos and threes; haircut-blonde boys from indeterminate
countries dancing at the edge of the Third World; American
servicemen in civilian clothes pretending to be jet-set between the
outstretched hands of smiling whores and severe child-beggers:  in
a few years this place will be gone, devastated by AIDS; but for
now these make up the flow and stragglers along streets named for
this country's Washington and Lincoln: Mabini and Del Pilar in
Ermita, Manila, the Philippines.

    The last paper I picked up before leaving Manila the next
morning had more front-page publicity for the "miracle" at Lipa
City--a long story linking it with the assassination of Cory's
husband Benigno in 1983 and this year's EDSA anniversary.  But it
no longer struck me as absurd, tying these extreme religious
beliefs to a political movement.  I remembered that simple candle
ceremony at the end of the Cory rally; it was quiet, moving and
unplanned--I felt it myself to be a truly religious moment, without
dogma or liturgy.  Maybe, in the Philippines, faith in the sacred
and faith in the mundane are not so far apart.

     Farther down, the article told how the nightly apparition was
still bringing thousands of pilgrims to Lipa City, and how the
local government, reacting to unscrupulous profiteers, had been
forced to fix the price of prayer candles.