Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society and developer of the New International Version) sponsored a month-long tour of Asia as part of their 200th anniversary—that’s a long time!—sending us to four countries.
The tour began with brief visits to the Philippines and Singapore, two countries that present a contrast in style. Manila is laid-back in the extreme: businessmen don’t wear ties, meetings begin late and end much later, and everybody laughs a lot. In a banquet celebrating the launch of two new translations of the Bible, eight “bishops” were recognized from the platform, and of course each had to give a little speech in response. The Philippines were in the throes of an election, and candidates were actively campaigning from vehicles with loudspeakers. Manila presents the appalling contrast so common in developing countries: modern skyscrapers and indoor shopping malls rise just blocks away from miserable cardboard-and-corrugated-iron slums; farther out from town, communities of the poor live next to sewage-choked rivers and garbage dumps. A few weeks before we arrived, two massive fires left 11,000 shantytown dwellers homeless, and this after thousands more had their homes destroyed in floods.