“It’s like Addis” says Lidet. Yes, there is something so very familiar about the streets of Manila. There is something familiar about the vendors on the street selling food, the hustle of the endless foot traffic and the somewhat aggressive taxi drivers bobbing and weaving through traffic. We came to the Philippines to encounter a different world and a different culture but we have been struck by how similar it is to our own countries and how familiar it feels.
We have been in the Philippines for two days now. After an introductory meeting with the people at CRS, we were treated to some delightful Filipino cuisine. Then we had an afternoon to take in the sights and sounds of the city. We eagerly went exploring, taking it all in, knowing that on Monday, the real work would begin.
Our project is to learn about the impacts of mining on local communities and to develop a set of best practices for sustainable mining. This morning we had our first real interview at the CRS headquarters in Manila with prominent anti-mining activists. The presentation we were given was both informative and compelling. What we read and researched prior to our arrival could not have prepared us for the complexity of the problem. The issues that we have been reading and talking about are their lived realities. This meeting has made us question even our own hypothesis statement… really can mining be done sustainably in the Philippines? The answer to that must wait; fortunately we have meetings with other people that can help balance out the initial picture that has been painted.
After our meeting we hurriedly finished our lunch and then prepared to head off the City of Davao in Mindanao. Our learning continues…