A few weeks ago a typhoon rolled through the Philippines. My area missed the worst of it, however, we did receive some severe rain which showed me my roof needs some work done. About an ounce or two of rain dripped into our new 55 inch TV. When I say new… I mean less than a week old. I tipped over the TV and drained out the water, and let the TV dry out for a couple days. The moment of truth came and I turned it on for the first time since the storm. Everything was fine. Whew!
A couple days after the typhoon, another storm system was heading towards the Philippines, but farther south, so it seemed safe to take a 30-minute boat ride and go shopping in the city (Dumaguete). We were sitting in the mall, having a refreshment before returning to the boat, when we started getting messages that the boats were no longer running. We started to contemplate our options. The first option was to go to the port and sit around hoping the boats would start running again. The second option was to go to a hotel and wait for the storm to pass. We chose the second option.
Besides my wife, I had 2 girls (14 and 17) traveling with me when the boat schedule was canceled indefinitely. The girls were excited as they had never stayed at a hotel. My wife and I were not so enthusiastic, as the hotel we would be staying at was very basic. We chose a hotel that was next to the largest mall in Dumaguete since we would need to shop for some necessities. Luckily, the hotel had 2 rooms available, despite it being almost Christmas.
You know the old saying, “when life gives you lemons…..”. We took the girls to the mall arcade, gave them a handful of tokens and watched for awhile, eventually leaving to hit a cash station where there was a line of over 10 people. Fifteen minutes later we had our cash and returned to the arcade where the girls already had a big stack of (won) tickets. They were screaming and laughing while punching buttons as fast as possible. We had dinner at one of the malls more upscale restaurants, another first for the girls.
The next morning we wondered if we should check out of the hotel, but after looking out the window at the pouring rain, we extended our stay another night. Once again at the mall, we gave each of the girls 500 pesos and told them to buy what they needed. My wife and I also bought a few needed items. Now bored, we returned to the arcade. With another handful of tokens, the girls went to work trying to win more tickets. I found a horse racing game and tried my luck, and found I had none. Then I snuck away to check out the show times at the theaters. Two of the three theaters were showing Filipino movies, but I finally caught a break as the third theater had Star Wars. Our 14-year-old girl had never been to a movie theater, so I figured Star Wars would be an exciting first experience. We all enjoyed the movie, even my wife, who is not a Star Wars fan.
While walking around the mall, I noticed our 2 girls hugging some displayed stuffed teddy bears. I looked at the price and it was only 300 pesos for a decent sized bear. I had a chance to win major ‘favorite uncle’ points for only 600 pesos and took the opportunity. Upon returning to their hotel room, many pictures were taken with the bears and posted on Facebook.
It was time for our sixth meal at the mall in 2 days. So far, 4 of my last 5 meals had been at Mang Inasal. In my mind, I thought, “I’m fine with anything, as long as it’s not Mang Inasal”. Can you guess where the girls wanted to eat, and where I ended up?
The next morning we awoke to sunshine, and quickly found out the boats were running. We checked out of the hotel and headed to the port where we waited for 4 hours before getting on a boat. Our minor ordeal had ended but was just starting for many strangers. Our house is a least a kilometer from the port, and cars were lined up from the port past our house waiting in line for a boat going to Dumaguete. All those poor people were looking at a 12 to 24-hour wait in line.
So, what can we learn from my experience? First, don’t travel unless you have funds easily available for minor emergencies or unforeseen circumstances. Second, have some id with you (needed at the hotel).
Third, very often public transportation is less of a hassle than taking your own car. In some circumstances, a car is like a giant weight tied to you. Oh… and one more thing. Consider hanging out with young people, as a lot of what we take for granted is new to them, and is fun to experience through their eyes.