Again today, we have a guest post from Tyleen, about her recent trip to the Philippines. Thank you, Tyleen for sharing your adventure, and you are always welcome to contribute as many additional columns as you like!
Well here I am again hoping to convey my love yet again for this fabulous country called the Philippines.
Jocelyn(my filipina friend) has friends that are brother and sister lawyers. Their family has a large farm near Dingalan Beach. (2 hours ?? north of Manila) Not far from where we were staying. They invited us to come and enjoy their hospitality. They even came and picked us up!!! I was continually surprised at the genuine kindness of people I had just met.
We went to beautiful Dingalan Beach… the sand was white white and powdery like baby powder. Wow !!! We were the only ones there at the beach on a beautiful sunny day. I couldn;t believe that such a place was devoid of people for miles and miles.
We all sat in a open air Nipa Hut for shade and talked about life and kids and cultures. A lady came by and asked if we wanted her to cook us some lunch. The conversation swirled about me in Tagalog and in a blink of an eye she was gone to make lunch for us …. 40 minutes later she came back and unfolded some newspapers on the table and dumped about 3 kilos of cooked prawns on the paper with lemon slices and lobster tails on wooden skewers,rice and vegetables and of course a lot of cold ice tea!!!! The best spread I have ever eaten !!!!! It seems they steam the prawns in 7up???? Wow I am going to have to try that at home when I have some friends over for a BBQ.
I am realizing that food is a very big part of the Filipino culture…..everywhere I am invited food is always being offered to me…it doesn;t matter what time of day.
I have lost weight (about 10lbs or 4.5 kilos) since my arrival in Cabanatuan City…..it has to be the heat and the humidity….it definitely is not because I am eating less, trust me on this one !!!!!
So we all were in a great mood after a great lunch and got to talking about the surrounding area and their family history. It seems that the Japanese used their family land as an R&R place for the senior officers.
It was visited often by a General Yamashita. And when it looked like the Japanese were going to lose the war, he supposedly hid some of the gold he had collected (read stolen) on their property. The brother and sister said that as kids they tried to find the gold for years with no luck. They have had many fortune hunters wanting to dig on their land for “General Yamashita’s Gold” (see www.rense.com/general13/treasure.htm )
They both told my friend and I some stories about the Japanese on their land during the war. Their father was part of the US army in the Philippines right from the beginning of the war.Many of the families friend’s fought as guerillas with US forces until the end of the war.
During my visit I talked to many people who had stories about the Philippines during the war. It seems that everyone in the Philippines is related to or friends with someone who had an active role in the war with the US in some way. In fact some of the old soldiers and some families are still waiting for the US to pay them. I gather the situation is before the courts and will be resolved soon. I hope so. I listened to all of the stories and marvelled at the resourcefulness of the people.
We left the beach and went to the family compound and saw the 2 huge ponds of Talapia almost ready for market. There must have been close to 5000 fish in each huge pond. Wow I haven;t seen that much fish in 1 place since I was at the Aquarium in Vancouver.
We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying their stream fed fresh water pool. It was the only time in the Philippines that I swam in cold,cold water. The water in the pools at the resort is warm and so is the water from our taps, even the ocean is warm. (Don;t get me wrong I love the warm water….just an observation)
It was a very interesting day I can tell you!!!!!!
We finally made it home around 8pm…my behind was dragging and I said hello to everyone and headed for bed. I was bushed. Laying in bed reflecting on the day I realized because there was so much laughter and food,stories and new friends…. it was another great day in Paradise!!!!
I seemed to spend a bit of my days looking at prices so I could decide whether or not I could buy things in the PI’s or ship the stuff over. I am so glad I did. The availablity of most things was surprising for me. I was happy to know I would not need to refit a ceiling fan to 220v ….I could get a lovely one at a very good price at the Handyman store.
That brings up another point about the people in the PI. Every where I went from Asia Pacific Mall in Manila to the smallest store in Cabanatuan City, I was greeted warmly by staff and had someone to help me find the things I wanted to buy. They were very helpful and NOT pushy. I am so used to being in North America where the staff are hard to find(companies cutting back staff) and not very friendly or helpful (staff not giving a wit for you or the customer service they were hired to provide!!!!) It was wonderful!!!!
Yes things were cheap for me to buy…..but I would have to be careful when I move…not to go crazy in the Malls. Believe me, as dedicated shopper it would be SOOOO easy to do!!!!! I have a PhD in shopping and I can tell you that I would buy 1 of everything!!!!! I when to the Mall here at home yesterday….I had to hold my tongue to keep from saying…..”This sure isn’t the Philippines……they actually care about customer service there!!!!” I drove home from the Mall frustrated that we have allowed our young people to let our customer service standards drop so low as to be almost non existent. Such a shame really!!!!
Oh yeah …driving in the Philippines…WOW!!!! I came to realize quickly that I should not look at where we were going as I would only scare myself. Our driver was very skilled but some of the situations we were in scared the heck out of me until I decided NOT to watch and just talk to my friend in the back seat or read. The city of Cabanatuan is fairly small but they had traffic like crazy all day long. When we had to go to Manila we left at 3AM to get to where we were going for 10AM. My friend had business there and they dropped me off at the Asia Pacific Mall. I hit the sidewalk in front of the Mall at 9:20AM. That is how bad traffic is in Manila. OH my GOD!!!! I will never complain about our rush hour traffic in Vancouver ever again!!!!
I love the people,place and the wonderful food!!!! I am seriously thinking about retiring in Cabanatuan City !!!!!
If I have the opportunity from Bob I will write about the rest of my trip and the honour at being asked to be a Ninang at my friend’s daughter’s wedding. It was thrilling !!!