Monday, June 30, 2008

Goodbye Philippines

Well we're broke and sitting in the airport in Narita (Tokyo), Japan waiting for our long-haul flight to Chicago. Our Philippines vacation is over. It was really sad leaving this morning. We're already talking about our next trip, but for now we've gotta get home and get back to work and pay off our bills.

I miss you Mindoro. I miss your people. I miss your beautiful countryside with your rice fields and Carabao.

Goodbye beautiful beaches. This is a shot of White Beach in Puerto Galera in Mindoro the day before Typhoon Frank blew in.

This is White Beach two days later with the remnants of Frank still hanging around.

Goodbye Mangyans. I can't wait to return to take more photos of these wonderfully friendly and mysterious people.

Goodbye Sabong (cockfighting). I miss your Meron and your Wala.

Goodbye to all of the malls in Manila. You've taken all my money. I'm through with you....for now.

Goodbye extremely poor, yet hospitable people of Manila. You have the most resourceful ways of making your homes, even amongst the dead. (Photo story to come from this one)

Goodbye to our wonderful bahay (home) in Mansalay. You're the best second home I've ever had.

Goodbye all of you unpredictable brownouts. Ahh life in the Philippines.

Goodbye Citadel Inn in Makati (Metro Manila). You're the best second-second home in the Philippines. Although we spent waaaay to much time with you this trip. Less time in Manila is a better time spent in the Philippines.

Now what was it I ran off and forgot to buy before leaving. "Honey! Where's the Fighting Cock Conditioner?"

See you in a couple of years Philippines. Ingat!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We're Safe

No pictures with this update, but I just wanted to let you all know that Alona, Sahar, myself and the rest of our family here in the Philippines are safe. We were in the resort area of Puerto Galera when the typhoon (hurricane) hit Mindoro on Saturday. This is the first chance I've had to get onto the internet since then. We arrived back in Manila this morning and will remain here until we leave for home on Monday.

The typhoon was wicked and I have my own experiences to share when I get home. The SuperFerry that sank was just off the coast of Mindoro in the Tablas Strait between the islands of Mindoro and Romblon. More than 750 people lost their lives when the ship capsized in midst of the typhoon. I know how it is first hand on these ferrys (I've traveled on a ferry three times this trip alone) and most of the passengers were most likely asleep or trying to sleep when the shipped rolled over. I can picture the scene in my mind, how horrible. The entire country is outraged that the ferry even set sail when the ship's company knew the area was under a Signal Three Warning (the highest warning in typhoon conditions).

My Kuya (brother-in-law Nelson) said most of the Filipinos in Mindoro and the other nearby islands, and maybe most of the country as a whole, won't be eating any fish or squid for the next month for fear of ingesting something that might have feasted on a victim of the sinking. Creepy huh? I asked several others the same question and they all confirmed it. Whenever a ship sinks and many lives are lost nobody eats the fish for a while.

I'll have some photos up soon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mansalay = Home

With a little over one week left in our one month vacation here in the Philippines I'm already beginning to feel a bit of sadness about leaving. Most of all I'm going to miss what has become a second home to me, Mansalay. Life in the provinces of the Philippines is a bit like taking a step backwards as far as the everyday things we take for granted in America. Like a fully air conditioned home, public water, hot showers, etc. But you get used to the change. My second home is very inviting, warm with friendship and teeming with life that you don't get back home. It's obvious that most people in the provinces here are very poor, but even when you encounter the poorest residents they greet you with friendly smiles that the you would never find from someone in their situation back in the states. This is a life people here are used to, they know no different and they are content with it. As long as they have food on their tables and health in their families they are happy.

The above photo is of fishing boats on Mansalay Bay getting ready to head out for a night of fishing.

Rush hour in Mansalay shot from the terrace of our house.

Street basketball on a Mansalay backstreet.

Schoolchildren smile for the camera on their way home from school.

The Mansalay fish market in the morning. You'll always find something interesting from the sea in the Mansalay fish market.

Students at Mansalay Catholic High School head for their classes after getting a back-to-school speech from their principal. MCHS is also where Alona attended school.

JR, my nephew, plays with one of the family dogs outside of the billiard hall run by Tatay, my father-in-law.

A Mangyan waits for other members of his family while shopping at the Mansalay Central Market.

Residents of Mansalay wait in line to buy government rice at Mansalay Central Market. There is a huge shortage of rice going on in Asia right now and the prices have inflated tremendously. To stem the price inflation the Philippine government offers rice at a discounted rate once a week to families across the country. Two kilograms a week for each family for .25 cents a kilo.

Mansalay and Mansalay Bay from the Globe cell tower hilltop.

I'm going to miss you Mansalay.

More to come.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

This Is The Life

Thought I would post some general photos of us enjoying life in the Philippines. This is me enjoying a San Miguel at Buktot Beach after spending the morning snorkeling around the coral reefs just off the beautiful white beach. Buktot Beach is referred to as "Mini Boracay" by the locals in and around Manasalay (Oriental Mindoro). The beach is just about 5 miles from our house in Mansalay. It is surely a little slice of paradise. I love that place. We've been there twice and I hope we can go back at least two more times.

Alona enjoying the scenery along the shoreline at Buktot Beach.

Sahar with a couple of the 2.20 pounds (or 1 kilo) of huge prawns we bought while in Mansalay. We paid less 350 pesos (or $7) for those suckers. Man I love this place.

Alona with a huge Mamsa fish we ate for lunch one day.

Our nephew Beryong with several crabs we also chowed down on. Paid $3 for these guys.

Another nephew, JR, with a bunch of bananas we harvested from the family farm near Buktot.

Alona's uncle Junior with a jackfruit that was also harvested from the family farm near Buktot. If you haven't tried one before, Jackfruit are delicious...just don't confuse them with a dorian. If you don't know what I mean then that's a good thing.

JR with a couple of starfish we found in the waters off of Buktot. No we didn't eat them but they sure were purdy.

More photos coming soon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sahar's Debut

For all of you who might have begun to think I had fallen off the face of the Earth or had been kidnapped by seperatist rebels in the jungles of the Philippines you can rest at ease. I have been a victim of a lack of technology (access to a good internet connection in Mindoro) and a complete lack of enthusiasm for posting photos to my blog. In short I've been enjoying my vacation immensely and haven't cared much about anything else. I am back in Manila for a couple of days (frown) and now have the means to flood my blog with photos from the past week.

We celebrated Sahar's Debut on June 7, 2008, at the Rembrandt Hotel in Quezon City (Metro Manila). The event was attended by our family, friends and close family friends here in the Philippines. The week leading up to the big night was exhausting, so when the day of the event came it seemed more like a big blur.

Sahar and her 9 candles (cousins and girlfriends)and 9 roses (cousins and guy friends) get ready for the debut.

Sahar's cousin Peter entertained everyone with his guitar.

Sahar's cousin Paulette gets ready with the other candles.

Alona helps one of Sahar's candles with her makeup. Everyone pretty much pitched in helping the 9 candles and 9 roses get dressed and made up.

Sahar's Tita (aunt), Alona's younger sister, Joean flew in from Japan for the day to attend the debut. Her arrival was a secret surprise for Alona's parents. Boy were they surprised.

Sahar looks over her dress. The dressmakers had to make an emergency visit to our hotel room on the afternoon of the debut to make last minute fixes to the dress after several flaws were discovered by Alona and Sahar. The dress was fixed and it turned out really beautiful.

The Debutant on the grand staircase of the Rembrandt Hotel.

The Debutant and her 9 candles.

The Debutant and her 9 roses.

The Debutant and her full court.

The Debutant makes her entrance to the event escorted by her cousin Leo.

The Debutant's cake.

The grand ballroom of the Rembrandt Hotel.

Sahar waltzes with her first rose, her Lolo (grandfather).

Sahar watches as each of her candles, lead by Alona, take their place in line during the candle lighting ceremony.

Sahar dances with her mother, left, Tita Joean, Lola (grandmother) and Tita Gemma at the conclusion of her debut's formal festivities.

Sahar with her Tita Gemma, left, Alona, Lola, Tita Joean and Tita DiDing.

I'll have more photos up soon from my adventures in Mindoro.