How can we travel from one side of the Pacific to the other in just half a day? How can a small city in a developing country have evolved in just two decades to a place of smart phones, fast food, and internet cafes? How can those same artifacts of the flat, modern world exist side-by-side with subsistence fishermen, paddling out in the morning to find enough protein for the day, exactly as they have done for centuries.
When I first came to Dumaguete City in the central Phillipines as a lonely wanderer at age 25, and then returned to teach for a year at Silliman University the next spring, this was a sleepy backwater of resistance to the Marcos dictatorship and a small port town with one tired movie hall, a few air conditioned shops, and a couple of restaurants. Now there is a full-on mall, two McDonalds, endless motor scooter traffic, and large call centers that employ the rising, youthful, middle class.
And in the morning, off the Boulevard, the fisher folk still paddle out to find something to eat.