Kotong: More scary in Manila
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Dutch animal activist and artist Katinka Simonse (a.k.a. Tinkebell) arrived in Manila last Saturday night and will be here for 3.5 weeks to work on an mission to save the world.
We met through Brazilian artist Bea Correa who made this art project, the Fake Louis Vuitton bag I wrote about in 2006.
Should I get this?
Not wanting to experience Manila through a tourist’s eyes, Katinka booked herself in an out-of-the way hotel.
That’s where Jeroen, Mich, and I picked her up last Tuesday night.
My driver isn’t familiar with the area, so I used the GPS on my Samsung Galaxy Note to find our way.


Traffic was bad, but moving. Somewhere along Recto, our driver felt lost and rolled down the window to ask directions from a traffic enforcer. Instead of helping us, the traffic enforcer told him to pull over and started to scold him about some traffic violation we were not aware of.
Our driver tried to reason calmly as the traffic enforcer continued to yell and power trip.
Of course we are well aware he could be calmed down by some kind of bribe money, which I hate.
So I pulled out my Press ID and told him I was covering an event at this place and I was going to be late.
Upon seeing my Press ID, the traffic enforcer changed his voice, gave us directions and let us go.

A few minutes later, the same thing happened on Rizal Avenue. Our driver felt lost, rolled down the window to ask help from a traffic enforcer. I was shocked when instead of helping us, he told us to pull over again.
He started to scold my driver in a way that made me angry. So I pulled out my Press ID and told him the same thing, that we were going to be late for an event. But seeing my ID only made his voice louder, and I lost it.
I told him we had not violated any traffic law, and I can’t believe he is the second guy doing this to us in the same area. I told him I would take his picture and told him, “Huwag kang rumaket.”

I was kind of scared but more angry about the bribe situation. I just find it ridiculous that these people are supposed to help us, and making us pull over to scream at us really just worsens the traffic.
As our voices got louder, I think he realized he wasn’t gonna get any bribe money from me. Finally I said good bye to him, and he said the same thing! Thank God it was over, and we left.

I really wonder who is in charge of these traffic enforcers in Manila, and if he cares enough to do something about it? Because I am now scared shitless of that area. We need protection from the people who should be protecting us? Who is in charge??
We finally arrived at Katinka’s hotel at 7:15 PM.
She reminds me of some American actress in the early ’80s, while Carlos Celdran said she had an Amparo Muñoz ’70s vibe.

Katinka and Jeroen
Katinka and Jeroen

1974 Miss Universe Amparo Muñoz

We had a lovely dinner at Café Adriatico—with Mich Dulce, Carlos Celdran, Jeroen, Rita Nazareno, Mikee Carrion, Nikki Luna and Katinka, where she told us about her mission in Manila (no animals involved).


We ended up at Carlos Celdran’s Living Room, where his two dogs fell asleep in the middle of our noise.
They are so adorable!


I couldn’t resist Carlos Celdran’s hat

Cecile van Straten

Minus the two stressful “kotong”/bribery incidents, I thought we had a great, productive evening.
For me, Malate will always be magical.

11:00 PM: Jeroen, Mikee, Nikki, Mich, Katinka, Rita, Carlos

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