Manila Happy Hour 2008

      I had been trying, for a good part of the night, to catch a British lady alone to introduce myself. I passed by her earlier and saw on her nametag that she was from a volunteer-sending organization I am interested to learn more about. So I continued to circulate among the hundreds of people in the room hoping to bump into her eventually. I saw her occasionally but she always looked absorbed in conversation; it seemed rude to interrupt. The night wore until only a fraction of the nearly 400 people who milled about the bar earlier were left, the British lady included and still not alone. I decided to go up to her and apologized for cutting in on her conversation with another lady. "I'm really sorry to interrupt. You looked so engrossed in conversation," I said. "That's because we've been talking development all night!" she said with a laugh. Conversations were similarly involved throughout Devex's International Development Happy Hour in Manila on Sept. 18. Lively talk reverberated from every nook and cranny of Sidebar Café among development professionals of various nationalities and backgrounds. Many arrived alone, in spite of a torrential downpour, but no one left friendless. A glance or a smile was all but needed to spark a conversation between complete strangers. It took a while before Devex Manila Executive Director Noel Salazar could get the crowd's attention. Realizing he would not be able to hold it too long either, Devex President Raj Kumar wished everyone a good time as soon as he took the stage. Devex holds the event in Barcelona, Manila, Tokyo and Washington D.C., where its offices are located, annually to treat development professionals to a night of drinks and fun where the ultimate goal is to establish as many connections as possible in a handful of hours. It was two young volunteers' first taste of the development social scene in Manila and, they promised, would not be their last. A male consultant had been to the previous two events and said he would probably join again next year. Drinks will flow again in 2009 and Devex is counting on everyone to come and talk, talk, talk the night away.