Kiehl's had a very interesting media event last week--they took us on a cruise aboard the Pasig River ferry. The announcement was met with dismay; after all, the Pasig is one of the world's most polluted rivers. But we all had a wonderful time! I do believe we all agree this is one event that was unique and we came away from it learning a lot.
First thing we learned: The river does not stink anymore. This is actually something I already guessed since I live along the Pasig. Here's a view of the river from our window:
And here's the view of my condominium building (it's the slice of peach in the very middle) and my office, too (the wide one on the right) from the rain-drenched window of the ferry:
I've always wanted to ride the ferry since it was launched two years ago. I'd watch it from my house but Vince would always flat out refuse to ride it. So when I told him that the Kiehl's event was on the ferry, he was amused at how happy I was and, I'm sure, more than relieved I don't have to bug him about it!
Another interesting fact I learned is the river is salty. Yes, you read that right. I found this out when I ventured out onto the bow and I got some river sprayed onto my face. I sputtered in horror, "Maalat!" ("It's salty!") A cameraman laughed, "Kadiri! Malamang ihi ng mga squatter!" ("Yuck, must be all the concentrated urine from the squatters!")
I was relieved to know that the Pasig River is actually a tidal estuary--a body of water directly linked to the sea so that, depending on the tide, seawater flows in and out of it. This explains why I always smell the sea from my bedroom window! And it smells fresh! Oh, this is me just before the spray:
Speaking of informal settlers (the politically correct term), there were still a lot of them along the river but not as bad as I imagined. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) is in the process of relocating them to better communities such as the Cardinal Sin Village, also located along the riverbank:Someone should tell whoever put up that sign to just place all the words together since this just looked ridiculous:
More than relocating informal settlers, the government should also move factories, oil depots and businesses away from the river. They're the ones mostly responsible for pumping their chemical waste into it.
As you can see below, the shanties are being demolished. There were some kids still swimming in the river, which made me worry--they'd definitely need some medical care sooner than they think. Or lawsuits against the factories but I doubt they can afford river-disease/rectum cancer/hepatitis A/salmonella lawyers. Poor things.
While I found myself wistfully hoping that the Pasig River cruise can one day rival the one I enjoyed on the River Thames, I do want to say the view wasn't all ugly. There were pretty parks, nice bridges, modern buildings and, surprisingly enough, a lot of green:
The most magnificent sight of all was the Malacanang Palace, official residence of the President. Sadly, we weren't allowed to take photos of the Palace, which made me retort, "I didn't hear the Queen complain when I took photos of Buckingham Palace!" We did meet Angel Cancio, the man who drew the Palace on the back of the PHP 20 bill:
He also drew the Central Bank Complex on the back of the PHP 100 bill. We were all very thrilled to meet him and we all had him sign our bank notes (I was cheap--I just volunteered a PHP 20!). Another fact that tittilated us was this bridge:
It's called the Lambingan Bridge. I don't know what the word is in English; somehow, "affection" is not quite the word but an English equivalent would be Lovers Bridge. In olden times, young lovers would meet here and do some lovin'. Jilted lovers would also throw themselves from this bridge but no one's ever died so the bridge must really be a tender spot!
Ah, but this was my favorite spot--the station right across my home:
For more on Kiehl's and the products that will benefit the recovery of the Pasig River, check out my beauty blog, Beauty For A Living.
P.S. Don't forget to join my Moleskine giveaway!