I have never been to China just yet but it is one among the many Asian countries that I would so want to visit. I have seen quite a handful of photos of my friends visiting the famous landmark and tourist destination, Great Wall of China, which makes me want to book a ticket right away as well as scout for affordable hotel deals for accommodation.
I wish I could! But for now, I just have to save up enough dime. Save. Save. Save for tomorrow we will die. LOL! Seriously, I want to grow old with enough savings in my pocket so that I will get to enjoy my retirement to the fullest. I do not want to go asking for alms to my family and relatives because I lived in luxury when I was younger then later on in life, got bankrupt.
Spending wisely is something that I still has to learn. I am not very good at saving up. It is a real challenge for me. I have to make my wanderlusts my greatest motivation. Hahaha!
I have a lot of places in mind that I want to explore. I simply want to experience different things by traveling and learning from different mix of cultures as well.
During the rest of my vacation, I revisited Makati and places where I had meals before. Being in a familiar place and familiar surroundings does add to one’s confidence and pleasure.
The Street girl
Shakey’s Pizza at the junction of Makati Avenue and Kelayaan Avenue was a must visit on my agenda.
I met this Street girl during my first in 2012. I made a second visit to Manila that same year to search but in vain for the little Street girl whom I once invited to eat with me and have whatever she chose to eat at Shakey’s.
Again, my hopes were dashed. I was not able to spot that same Street girl anywhere around. The staff at Shakey’s were not the same persons and they would not be able to relate about who I meant if I asked them whether that Street girl was seen around lately.
My motive to meet this Street girl again was to enable me to contact her guardian (since I already know that both her parents are deceased) to arrange for this girl to be sent to School, have regular meals and health care with my support.
It was not to be. I guess God wants me to get my own baby girl, Caroline. LOL!
Within a short walking distance from Shakey’s is a shop where I had my first manicure and pedicure done in Makati.
I wanted a pedicure done especially for my right big toe because it has a troublesome ingrown nail that constantly needs trimming.
On entering the shop, I was instantly acknowledge and there were smiles all around. They remembered me. This time a big mama served me. Her skill was so good that I fell off to sleep without ever being awakened by any sharp pain as she pedicured my toe nails.
What was initially a need for pedicure extended to manicure and ended with a facial treatment for blackheads. I declined the massage.
The bill amounted to 1300 Pesos.
I gave 2300 Pesos; the other 1000 Pesos was naturally a big tip for a big mama. She said that this was the first time in her entire work life that she received a 1000 Peso tip.
Have you tried eating peanuts that are deep fried with Garlic and a bit of Chilly to add a hot tang to its flavor? I have and I loved it from the first time that I bought it on the street facing Robinson’s Place in Manila.
The street peanut vendors are nomadic. Instead of scouring the streets for one, I approached a trishaw man and asked him if he knew the whereabouts of any at that moment.
His answer was positive. I handed him some Pesos to buy me a pack of the delicious crunchy peanuts. Off he went and he returned with my delicious deep fried peanuts. I told him to keep the change.
The 3 year old boy
After having breakfast not far from Manila Bay, I took a leisurely walk around the grounds outside the Restaraunt.
There was this mother holding her toddler by his hand and walking towards me. From their faces I could see that they were poor.
Right behind them was a peddler selling balloons and kiddie things. I turned around and called the boy and asked him if he wanted a balloon.
The mother was shy and I quickly grabbed a balloon from the vendor and handed it to the boy.
What a priceless smile that toddler gave me. The mother kept thanking me and I smiled back.
These and many other events which I do not wish to bore readers with, during my 7 day vacation will remain as my collection of fond memories of Mabuhayland.
For readers who might now want to place the Philippines first on their next vacation plan, please do not assume that it is blue skies and everything nice over there.
As with any kind of travel, prudence, awareness and sensiblity when interacting with the local folk often saves the traveller from regrettable experiences.
To sum it, this is what I submitted for my review of the Hotel where I stayed for 7 days…
I can describe myself as a hardy traveller becaue I am not fussy about much except that the place I lay down to rest MUST BE CLEAN.
The Hotel where I stayed met that important need of mine and so the rest mattered less or nothing at all. Even the noise from the street below that my room faced did not dampen my vacation mood.
Food and movement from where the Hotel is located was not a problem. Taxi drivers easily found their way to the one way Remedios Street.
Robinsons Place, or rather shall I call it THE Robinsons Place – Manila is within walking distance from my Hotel. It is a World Class Mall and I have never failed to shop there every time I am in Manila.
I could spend the entire day inside that Mall without getting bored.
Like when I entered this shop that sold accessories for all kinds of cellular phones. I wanted a bright colored case for my Samsung Galaxy S2 and had a great conversation.
Me: Hi! do you have a colored case for my Samsung S2? Salesgirl: Yes Sir (and she points her index finger to a few on display in the showcase). Me: No, I meant colored. Not those black ones. Salesgirl: Why not consider a pouch? We have Samsung original pouch for S2. Me: Let me first see it. If its too thick thats not what I want. I like my Samsung to be slim. Salesgirl: (hands me a sample of the Samsung original pouch) and keeps looking at me. Salesgirl: You look like Filipino. Me: (gives her a surprise look) Really? Salesgirl: Yes Sir, you look like Filipino. Me: I am not Filipino. Maybe I look like Filipino because I have kissed Filipino girls and it has effect on how I look.
Salesgirl and two other sales personnel start to laugh.
Me: You dont get it huh. Now if I kissed donkeys, you know my ears would grow tall.
Salesgirl: Do you know any Tagalog word? Me: Of course, I do. Salesgirl: gives me that look of disbelief Me: How about pek pek? Salesgirl: her jaw drops, eyes dilate and she can’t hold herself.
Big outburst of laughter in the shop.
My favorite Trishaw man
A stone’s throw away from the Hotel, there is always a few Trishaw men in wait for customers. Here is a borrowed picture showing a trishaw similar to the kind that I rode in a few times while in Malate.
My Trishaw man defies any Olympian cyclist. As I sat in his Trishaw and he huffed and puffed while peddling his bicycle, I noticed that his legs had hardly any calf muscle. In fact his legs were spindly thin and yet he could move his trishaw with speed.
So, I peered out from the side of his covered Trishaw and told him to go faster. He laughed and increased speed a notch higher. WOW!
As I alighted from his Trishaw all he asked was for 50 Pesos for the ride. I gave him 100 Pesos for being such a sport.
My 76 year old Taxi driver
I noticed that there are quite a number of senior citizens who drive taxis in Manila. Craggy face and hunched over their steering wheel as they peer through their windshields for better vision, these old men tug at my heart strings.
This one whom I met was 76 years old. He said he never depends on any of his children for support. He is contented with what he earns from driving his taxi for 8 hours each day. He keeps fit and healthy on a vegetarian diet, drinks lots of water and never skips retiring to sleep for a full 8 hours each night.
There you go! He has the formula that serves him so well and look at ourselves, always complaining about the smallest inconvenience.
Road side Eatery
I am always adventurous with food. I know I have been warned about the risks especially in eating food that is sold by road side food hawkers.
But what the heck! life is only learned by diving right into it and if it burns my ass – it ain’t the food seller’s fault. LOL!
So, I sat at this wobbly table by the road side after choosing to be served white rice with Dinuguan, Pork Adobo and what looked like vegetable to me. It came with a free bowl of clear soup.
The Food seller is Gay and always daintily swished a pony tail tied up behind his head. I was served at my table with the dishes with a gay sway of hips and a mersmerizing smile that would have had Mona Lisa blushing.
I finished my meal and it was time to settle the bill. The meal and my drink cost me 100 plus Pesos. The smallest currency I had was a 500 Peso bill and it made my Gay friend run north and south to find small change for it.
Finally my Gay friend had the small change needed and returned the balance to me. “Keep the change”, I said to the Gay. Guess what ? He hmm no She hmm … Heshe was so elated by the big tip, heshe danced in front of my table and kept on bowing to me as though I was an Oil Sheik from Saudi Arabia. LOL.
My visit to Glen’s home and family was short and sweet. It is a humble one bedroom house and a hall space that could barely hold more than two and a half adults.
It defies imagination how a family of seven bodies can eat, sleep and stay awake in that kind of space. With the low ceiling and roof, poor ventilation, the build up of heat inside the house is unbearable let alone it makes living conditions unhealthy.
But it is the staunch filial love that binds most Filipino families to face such oppressive conditions and I suppose having to live it daily makes it not as bad as a visitor would think.
After a quick breakfast at Figaro’s Restaurant we headed back to Malate for me to check in to my Hotel.
Malate and Hotel
During my previous two visits to Manila in 2012, I stayed at different Hotels in Makati. For this visit I chose a budget hotel in Malate.
Malate is where the older part of Manila began. The buildings and the roads reflect that and one is transported back in history as it were when moving about in Malate.
Malate is the antithesis of Makati. It reflects the bourgeoisie of the Philippines in contrast to the sophisticated life stye found in Makati.
The street lightings in Malate does not make walking at night a welcome idea. Even though the streets and the general environment is not squalid, the mood out in the streets fails to impart that the territory has much for sight-seeing unless one wishes to be adventurous.
And adventure is what I experienced on Sunday as I made my way to attend Mass at the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Remedies at Malate.
Church on Sunday
Taking advice from the Hotel’s front desk that I should take a taxi ride to Church than walk the distance, I was driven to the Malate Catholic Church at 5:30 that Sunday morning.
The taxi stopped and its driver said to me, “Shooting, shooting Sir. I cannot drive in and stop in front of the Church.” In a moment, an incident flashed through my mind as I looked out my window searching furtively where the shooting was taking place. I remembered during my first visit to Robinsons Mall in Quezon, robbers threw a hand grenade and fired their weapons killing the Money Changers and several innocent bystanders.
“Over there”, pointed the taxi driver as I then could see a crowd huddled close together as they watched a man clutching a woman’s head in a vice grip under his arm.
“OMG!” I expressed.
“Sir, you have to stop here and walk to the Church”, replied the taxi driver.
I paid the fare and gingerly alighted from the taxi. Feeling something should be done, I quickly moved to the side of one of the shops while never letting my eyes off the scene of that desperate woman.
Now, it became worse. The man held something in his hand to the head of the woman and she screamed for mercy.
Gosh! nothing happened to me. My clothes failed to change. You know, I expected my underwear to come out over my trousers and my shirt to flare out into a cape and the awesome “W” sign to bear testimony on my breast.
So I kept looking on like all the rest, from a safe vantage point and tried to make sense of what was being shouted and screamed in Tagalog with the assailant and his victim. Their dialogue seemed to translate in English like this:
Assailant: You Slut! You dirty stinking Slut! Victim: I am not a Slut. I love you like no other. Assailant: You think you can do things without my knowing? I will kill you. Victim: Hey, I just met you, And this is crazy, But here’s my number, So call me, maybe?
(See, even when in face of death, the Filipinos use the word, ‘maybe’)
I thought this is God’s calling. He wants me to be His instrument and even if it costs my life, I must save that woman.
So I put on a brave stance, stepped out from the side of the shop and walked towards the man and the woman he held in terror. Who knows? maybe I could save her.
OMG! he had long hair and wore a band around his forehead. He looked like one of those tribal warriors of ancient Philippines.(Jeez! talk about being dressed to kill.) And he held a gun to the head of the woman who was weeping and begging for her life.
Okay, do it now Windyman. God is with you and if not, together with that woman both of you will be with God.
Then I heard someone shout, “Cut!” and two men holding Video Cam on their shoulders moved away and the place became darker as lights were dimmed.
Dang it! it was not an armed shooting. It was a film shooting that was going on just 10 meters away from the front gate of the Catholic Church!
Perhaps what the taxi driver meant to say was, “Maybe shooting Sir”.
Soon I was inside this massive Church building, thanking God that He prevented a real shooting incident or I would not be there thanking Him.
The above photo was taken using my Android cellphone inside the Church.
The bright blue colored signboard had this warning:
(I cannot remember the exact words but it was close to this from my memory)
Please ensure that you do not leave any valuables behind.
It may be mistaken by someone who will think that his prayers has been answered by God.
~ ding dong from the PA speakers… “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We shall be landing shortly at Manila, 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Passengers are requested to place their seats upright, fasten their safety belt blah blah blah….”
So it was. Our carrier was to land ahead of schedule. No one cheered or clapped. Who would? It meant landing at 04:25 in the morning instead of at 04:55.
As the plane headed towards NAIA, I noticed that it was 04:30 and we had not yet landed. When we did eventually land, it was past 04:30 and then…
Minutes later a loud ~ thud! followed by a bumpy ride and throaty growl from the jets confirmed that we landed safely.
~ding dong from the PA speakers… “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have landed at Manila. The time is 4:35 am. The temperature is 26 degrees Celcius and the weather is fair. Passengers blah blah blah. It is a criminal offence to remove the Airline safety jacket from under your seat…..”
I turned to Romeo and said, “WHAT? Does that mean the Filipino passengers are taking home Airline Safety Jackets because of the annual Typhoons that causes floods and other natural disasters?”
Romeo answered, “Maybe”. That word that was to echo for the rest of the 7 days while I was in Manila. You see, I discovered that most Filipinos use ‘maybe’ to answer just about anything asked of them. And I also discovered that I could not fault them because ‘maybe’ is a safe zone answer.
~ ding dong from the PA system… “This is your Captain again. We are unable to dock the plane for disembarkation. There are no vacant dock bays at the moment. We are fourth in queue and we will be instructed to dock as soon as one is vacant. blah blah blah”
So there we were, with our safety belts fastened for another 40 minutes and seated like birds on a high wire, until we finally docked for disembarkation at 5:10.
The usual routine
I had a hand carry baggage and therefore evaded having to wait at the Baggage Carousel. On the way to we lost Ate Eva who was last seen hastily entering the Ladies Comfort Room.
Romeo and I made our way to the Immigration.
There was no hassle.
Observation: Did you ever notice about this? About the female Immigration Officers at their booths. They display a facial countenance which says that they suffer from Advanced Menopausal Syndrome?
I have noticed that facial expression on all my trips to Manila, getting in and going out of the Philippines.
Even our ascetic Catholic Carmelite Nuns smile. Now, tell me why those female Immigration Officers can’t do likewise for the sake of MABUHAY?
After that, I went past the Customs without any trouble and then headed for the Bank Money Exchange counter.
The taxi driver who had to meet me by prior arrangement was no where to be seen for almost half an hour. Romeo stayed on with me till the taxi driver appeared. We bade each other farewell as it was the time to part ways.
My reason to visit the Philippines
To take a break from boredom and revisit some unfulfilled issues from my previous visit in 2012.
Onward to Cavite
This fulfilled a promise that I made to the taxi driver that I would some day meet his wife and five children. I knew Glen (that is his name) from an earlier visit in 2012. I did not have the time in 2012 to visit his family.
So off we drove towards Cavite to meet his wife and children at home.
Travel weary and a sore lack of sleep made the trip to Cavite difficult. The traffic snarls on the way made it worse. And Glen never seemed to be able to tell me where exactly the journey would end as he kept repeating to me that his Barangay was just round the corner.
Talk about the notorious traffic anywhere in Manila and one would rather stay at home than venture out. If only Filipinos could take their own sweet time to get from Point A to Point B, I think it would cut the traffic snarls by half.
It is their impatience on the road that creates the chaos and endless start-stop defensive driving and this leads traffic to build up. And of course the inimitable traffic Policeman who is seen waving both his hands in all directions while blowing on his whistle to make oncoming vehicles aware that he is standing right in their path of demolition; he adds more traffic congestion than is needed.
However, in a way, it helped to me to kill time as I could only check in at the Hotel in Malate at 2 pm.
It was getting closer to 3 in the afternoon on March 8th Thursday and I had to make that important phone call to the Taxi service for a Taxi to arrive at my Apartment.
The purpose was to reach the bus in time to travel to Kuala Lumpur to board the plane to Manila at 1 am the following day.
The bus reached the airport at 7 pm and it meant sitting it out till I boarded the plane at 12:30. The only reason why I bore this long and tedious 9 and a half hours is because it was a budget flight which cost me one third of the usual commercial flights to Manila.
And so it was, this would be my third visit to Manila in two years.
A Filipino Travel Companion
Moments before boarding the bus to Kuala Lumpur, I met Romeo Bertiz at the bus terminal. He was bound for the same airport and flight to Manila.
It was a chance meet and he was grateful that I corrected his airport destination from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal, thereby saving him the cost of taking a taxi from KLIA back to LCCT.
With the companionship of Romeo, waiting for five and a half hours at the LCCT went by happily. We shared experiences and I discovered that he had a lucky break in Thailand where he was hired as a Math teacher.
The Flight to Manila
We boarded the plane on schedule. Most of the passengers soon fell asleep as we roared towards MabuhayLand.
I had the aisle seat. Romeo had the center seat. And an elderly woman whom we later knew as Ate Eva had the window seat.
Conversation was alive throughout the flight at Seats 16A, 16B and 16C. We hardly took 40 winks throughout the entire journey.
Transcript of some of the Conversations
Romeo: Hey, this is Ate Eva and she is from KL. Me: Hi Ate Eva Ate Eva: (stretches her hand out for a handshake) Hi! Hi! Me: Where are you from in KL? Ate Eva: Bungsar Me: OMG! you are from one of the richest neighborhoods in KL. Why are you flying on this budget Airline? You are rich and you take away one seat from some other poor person who like us cannot afford to pay for Commercial flights. Ate Eva: (bursts out laughing) Oh nooo, Sir I am poor like you. I am returning because my father passed away. Romeo & Me: Oh! we are sorry to hear that.
The flight attendants rolled out their pantry cart and started to sell drinks and small bites.
Me: Ate Eva, what will you drink? Ate Eva: No thank you. Me: Ate Eva, I am giving you a treat. Now what would you like for a drink? San Mig? Romeo: How about a hot chocolate? Ate Eva: Ok if you insist. Me: One hot chocolate for her. A Coke for me and how about you Romeo? Romeo: Same. Hot chocolate for me.
We began sipping our drinks while the jet engines roared.
Then I remembered I had bought a packet of sugar-free Mints at Starbucks at the Airport. I pulled it out of my shirt pocket, opened it and turned to Ate Eva…
Me: Ate Eva, have a Viagra?
That woke up some passengers in front of us, beside us and behind us.
Romeo: OMG! Ate Eva: blushing like a baked lobster
Then all of a sudden, passengers started to chuckle and laugh!
Me: Come on Ate Eva. Don’t be afraid. It won’t hurt you. Here take the whole pack of Viagra. Ate Eva: (sheepishly held out her hand and took the whole pack) Romeo: You are going to get us all killed before we reach Manila.
When we went to Dapitan in December, we planned of doing some sidetrips on our way home.
One of our itineraries was to see Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City, monikered the City of Majestic Waterfalls, because of the presence of more than 20 waterfalls in the city. Maria Cristina Falls is Iligan City’s landmark (Wikipedia).
Maria Cristina Falls is a waterfalls of the Agus River. The Agus Hydroelectric Plant is powered by Maria Cristina Falls.
Unfortunately, this river was one of the rivers which overflowed that caused the deluge devastation in Iligan brought about by the killer typhoon “Sendong”. We were very grateful that when the typhoon hit the city, we’ve already had reached our respective home sweet homes. Talk about God’s protection!
Anyhow, our trip to Maria Cristina Falls was worth it and time very well spent.
Seeing its beauty and grandeur would make you mutter “It’s Indeed Fun in the Philippines“!
You may ask, why it’s fun in the Philippines? One of the many cool reasons could be the newest resort in Mindanao which is located in South Cotabato. It boasts of its world-class facilities: Moby Wave Pool, Adventure Rapids, Freestyle Swimming Pool and the Wiggles Kiddie Pool.
Please allow me to let the photos speak for itself:
We sure had a blast the entire time of the happy party there!
I have actually planned for a family outing there in December. But my mother doesn’t want her young, beautiful skin to be exposed under the heat of the excruciating sun (Ang arte! ); so I had to find another place with overnight accommodation, hence Lemlunay Dive Spot. Too bad Paraiso Verde’s open only until midnight.
However, I highly recommend this place to everyone who wants another round of awesome adventure. Paraiso Verde has succeeded in giving fun a different meaning and bringing Mindanao to greater heights.
During the short time that I was on blogging hiatus, I found the time to bond with my family. We took a trip to Sarangani’s dive haven, Lemlunay Dive Spot. It was actually my third time to visit the place but it’s the very first time for our Morning Dew. This is also his longest and farthest trip thus far 😀
I continue to be amazed at the breathtaking views at Lemlunay. I can’t help but press my shutter the instant we set foot at the resort.
It was a little cloudy when we arrived. The cottages were fully booked. However, I have long confirmed my booking for an overnight stay.
Too bad we weren’t really blessed with a good climate the entire duration of our stay. It was a cloudy, rainy morning the next day.
We were all disappointed because we agreed to rise up at 5:30 am to witness the spectacular view of sunrise from there. We can’t do anything but roll in bed till about midday.
Though it was still raining, we were too excited to take a dip at the inviting pool.
I thought I couldn’t get the chance to go down by the beach but hey! I was too happy when I learned that it was a low tide and we were able to see the spectacular beach.
I planned of taking a dive adventure for this trip. Do you think I was able to gather enough courage to do that? Do stay tuned! 😀
When we’ve reached Dapitan City at night time, we were all too exhausted after hurdling more or less 15 hours on the road. We had to fill our then hungry stomachs upon arrival, had our luggage arranged in the room, washed up and immediately went to bed.
We were scheduled to register ourselves up the next day at Dapitan Cultural Center. Our delegation arrived a day ahead as all other regions arrived on the official day of registration. So the next day, we felt a little relaxed as we had a good sleep the night before.
Too bad we weren’t housed at Dakak. It’s fully booked by some other regions who were willing to spend quite a hefty amount for their accommodation. We had to settle for Dapitan’s second best hotel. The government-owned hotel is a bit old but it gave us the comfort that we needed while we were away from home. It’s a lot more accessible too to the venue of various events not to mention affordable:-)
Before proceeding to the registration venue, we’ve got the chance to explore Dapitan City Resort Hotel.
What actually prompted me and my Boss to confirm our booking at this hotel as early as October was because of the inviting pool, aside from it being too accessible of course! 😉
More cam-whoring ensued before we’ve finally left the hotel’s vicinity.
The Regional Director gave a few important instructions to the personnel before we proceeded to the registration venue. We were the early birds so there was no rush. We took our sweet time. Thus, more time for photoshoots, LOL!
We then took the bus on our way to the Cultural Center.
At the registration venue, we had to queue up on a first-come-first-served basis. We always had to get our smiles ready for the camera as it snaps at any given time.
My cousin Mystique’s Mom, no other than my loving Aunt who is an Election Officer, was with the South Cotabato delegation. We were billeted at different hotels so everytime we see each other, we always make sure that we pose for the cam.
After we registered ourselves, we have had some idle time. We initially planned of going to Siquijor for a side trip just to kill the time. But the Boss wasn’t too enthusiastic about that. He wanted us to feel relaxed and not too exhausted for the next event- the Welcome Party dubbed Bienvenida a Zamboanga. It was slated to be held at a Thai Restaurant at Dakak Park and Beach Resort. I believe that deserves another post 😉