My book on Manila might sell 3,000 copies in the Philippines. To put that into perspective, I did a one-man show in Philadelphia at The Kimmel Center, sold about 70 tickets. The crowd last weekend — 30 people in a small theater — was enthusiastic but focused only on the 200 or so families who had come to witness her birthday.
This atypical family get-together — part birthday party, part South American-style road trip — was my way of taking my daughter to a small martial arts training school in the city of Davao, where she was born and trained. My wife, Katrina, and I chose to leave Washington, D.C., not just because we were never house-hunting but because we needed to be out of our noisy, hectic home by four in the afternoon to hear our daughter singing and laugh and perform while we put toothpaste in her brush.
But, it turns out, joining the Davao Amateur Bodyguards Association was not the best choice of destination. Thanks to an error of judgment, my 12-year-old daughter and another child under 12 were sent back to Washington immediately after their first day of school. At first, she panicked. She texted me, “Stop. Stop this is my birthday. We are late!” But eventually she grew weary of the fuss and decided to look for a different class. She promptly went to Ben’s martial arts in downtown Washington to learn Taekwondo. There, in three weeks, she had totally transformed herself from a frivolous scamp who would speak her mind to a tough and confident girl who still plays video games all day, but is now ready to conquer the world.