I'm sure there are parts of the Philippines that resemble paradise or whatever beach/resort/dream vacation one could imagine. Navotas isn't quite that. Not really. Its about an hour ish drive outside the capitol Manila (with traffic--which is another thing to behold, once you get past the nausea). It's basically a slum. Poverty, prostitution, all that.
Once I got there and saw all the pain and suffering, it easily has the power to crush the spirit. But somehow it doesn't. The joy of the Filopinos transcends the destitution. They have smiles and laughs and skips in the step despite ratty clothes, rotting teeth, failing health, and hungry bellies. I smile and laugh with them and the joy on all their faces only increases. To me, this is a different kind of paradise. One where, there is no doubt that the Lord lives here.