(Regular reader numbering in the Ones, if you haven’t noticed it yet, my blog went through a snafu that resulted in all the posts from October 2013 onwards to vanish into the ether. So I’m just uploading all of these transcripts without any garnishing because I barely remember what I wrote back then.)
RONREADS (RR): Is it your first time in the country? I know you’re well-traveled.
GAYLE FORMAN (GF): It’s not. I’ve been here before, in 1996 or 1997. It was a long time ago. I used to work for Seventeen magazine and when I was there, UNICEF contacted us and they were sending a bunch of journalists from youth magazines to write articles on youth activism. I met youth activists changing the world in different places.
RR: What was your impression of the country back then? I think I was in sixth grade back then.
GF: Thank you. Thank you for that.
GF: I remember that I had an immediate sense of the Filipino people being incredibly friendly. People are generally friendly, but there was a particular warmth, which now that I’ve made a lot of Filipino friends back home, I get it. It’s like the Brazilians, there’s just something warm.
As for the country, I thought it was incredibly diverse. We also went to Leyte, so I got to see the rural aspect of the country. There’s so much US history embedded here. We went to a base when we were in Leyte. I also remember some excellent shopping — I have some clothes from that trip that I still wear. I remember that the traffic was legendary.
RR: (Laughs) It still is!
GF: And the food was fantastic.
RR: Is this your first time back?
GF: Yeah. It’s such a short trip. I’m in Manila until Sunday and I’m in Cebu until Monday night.