A FRIEND and classmate of mine retired from teaching in the United States and decided to settle back in the Philippines. Finding her parental home eaten away by termites, she had it torn down and built a new house. Just before the coronavirus lockdown, as a housewarming, she had an evening of songs and literary readings and invited us, her old classmates and other friends, to come.

But for her precise directions, we would not have found her place. How her neighborhood has changed from the time she hosted parties in our college days! Establishments bearing colorful signages in Chinese characters were all over. No translation in Filipino or English in Roman letters. What was once a posh area in Parañaque City by the bay for Manila’s elite has become, it seems, a part of China.

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