Wednesday February 15, 2012
I started my journey by Greyhound Bus to New York City to join my niece Lydia and her husband Henry who is going with us this time. I left the house at 7:30 AM. I Walked to Crystal City Metro to Union Station, walked 5 blocks to the bus station where I had a ticket for the 10:00 AM trip but I was early enough to catch the 9:30. The bus took off on time and the driver did the routine, announcement, low voice when talking on the cell phone, etc.
We got to New York Port Authority at 1;30 PM. Walked 7 blocks to the Penn, Long Island Rail Road train for Long Island. Henry picked me up at the station at 2:30. Lydia was still at work when we arrived in the house. We visited, watched TV until 9:00 PM when I got to bed.
Thursday , February 16
Woke up early and had breakfast at 7:00 AM. Got ready for our trip to Manila. We left for the airport by 9:00AM for our 1:10 PM flight. Asiana Airlines attendants distributed earphone, slippers and hot towels after the plane took off. We had two meals during the flight. The first one I selected steak, thick and tender, with potatoes, green beans & carrots, and cheese cake for dessert. For the second meal I had shrimps and pasta, fresh fruit. We landed at Incheon International Airport, Korea – 2:45 PM, February 17 after 14 hours flight. It was always terrible to travel for long flights. I did not sleep a wink like the other passengers in the plane.
Friday February 17
Our connecting flight to Manila was 4 hours later. We landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila at 12:45 AM , after 3.30 hours of flight. Nestor was waiting for us. We looked for Aida, Zeny’s friend who with her son came in their new large van to take us to Ising’s house in Quezon City, by then it was 3:00 AM.
Saturday, February 18
We were on our way to Las Pinas by 10 AM. We took a jeepney ride to portion of the trip, transfered to a bus for Baclaran, and another bus ride to Las Pinas. Our last transfer was to a tricycle to Vergonville where the family are all located. Visited with the family , gave some cash to nephew and nieces until and stayed until 4:00 PM. On our way back to Quezon City Nestor bought some fried chican for dinner.
Sunday, February 19
I woke up at 2:00 but stayed in bed until I heard Henry in the kitchen having coffee. Got ready for our trip to Cebu. We took a taxi to the airport at 5:30 AM and Nestor rode to the airport with us. We were all checked in and had breakfast by 7:00 AM. The domestic airport to Cebu, was fairly new . There were few people in the airport and we had a long wait. We boarded at 8:30AM in a 747-400.plane that was huge with an upper level. There were a number of male stewards in our flight. The plane took off at 9:00 AM. Our plane landed in Mactan/Cebu International Airport by 10:08 AM. We were met by a band and representatives of the Mayor’s Office. We boarded two buses to go the Elizabeth Hotel. The front of the Hotel is very interesting with swirly design motif carried over throughout hotel. There are also some murals along the hallways. We rested for a while before we met the rest of the group at 6:00 PM to go to Mass. The Mass was at the open plaza of the Basilica of Santo Nino, a huge open space with an open area in the center of the ground floor and several layers of seat on the second level on both sides of the plaza. After the Mass we proceeded to the Governor’s House where the Mayor hosted our dinner. The dinner was buffet style with native food. The Mayor came later and spoke to the Missionaries. The Mayor is very tall and very good looking with a great singing voice. He sang a couple of songs after his speech. We were back at our hotel by 9:00PM.
Monday, February 20
We started the Mission at the Cebu City Medical Center. Henry and I were assigned in the hospital to unpack boxes of medicines and other supplies, arranged them in right order so the runners , people who go around getting supplies for the doctors and nurses can find the needed medicines. In the afternon we went to the Hospital OR to take a look at the operations. The made up operation room was an auditorium. The doctors performed Lumps and Bumps Operations in a heated room with just a few fans. The hospital is a teaching hospital so there are tons of nurses going around and observing operations. We were at the OR at 2:00 to 4:00 PM. We went back to our hotel to take a rest.
The dinner was at the Government Building Party Hall. Henry was not feeling well so Lydia stayed with him in the hotel and ordered food from the hotel. There was a lecture after dinner on “Dengue Fever” by a doctor who specializes on the disease.
Tuesday, February 21
We went to the Medical Group working in Port Lapu Lapu The place is a big open place like a gym in the second level of the building. The Medical Section does most of the work on check up, examinations, registrations. That was the place where the pediatrics, dental, and humanitarian services took place. We packed clothes, shoes, crackers, chocolates canned goods and rice. After the patients got examined and treated we give them the package of goods. By 3:00 PM we were done and went back to the hotel to rest.
Our last night, dinner was at the Historic Library . It is an old , big historic building. The buffet dinner was great with two tables on two sides of the hall. There was not much wait since there were two lines to get food. Later on, the Mayor came and thanked everyone and entertained us again with songs. There was a female volunteer from NYC with great voice who sang Whiney Houston Songs as part of the entertainment. Tony, a male nurse friend of Lydia and Henry bribed the waiters to keep bringing us food and drinks. Tony is from Cebu and knew most of the people in the place. I had 8 beers which was way much more than my two beer limit. When the dancing started. one of the dance instructor picked me to dance. I told her I do not dance anymore plus I was so drunk but she pulled me and said to just follow her lead. The music started and it was a tango. She led me very well but I was not feeling anything and everyone was having a time watching me. It was 11:30 when we finally left the place.
Wednesday February 22
Woke up at 3:00 – 4:00 AM and got ready for our 8:00 AM Cebu City Tour . The first stop in our tour was the Taoist Temple on Beverly Hills which is one of the most expensive real estate in the city. One guide showed us how to pray and request favor in the temple.. The next stop is The Heritage Monument in the middle of the city. It is a huge monument that showed the whole history of the city/province. We were back at the hotel to check out at 2:00 PM.
We were all checked in the airport by 3:30 waiting for boarding back to Manila. Our flight tool off at 5:30 and we were in Manila by 6:30. Nestor was waiting for us . We took a taxi and were back in Quezon City by 8:30 PM
Thursday, February 23
We hang around the house in the morning. Lydia called someone to give us manicure and pedicure. We left for the domestic airport early to meet Echie, Lito and Tessie at 5:30 PM. Our plane took off at 8:10 PM and landed at Laoag Airport at 9:00PM. There was a van waiting for us that tool us to Fort Ilocandia Beach Resort. The Hotel was huge and beautiful, spread over vast landscaped park. There are a lot of buildings in the compound and the landscaping was first rate. The lobby was just unbelievable with huge chandeliers and a double curving staircases that led to the second floor where there is a casino and restaurant. There are a lot of bronzes all around although new but interesting. The pictures on the hallways are terrible. They are reproduction of European paintings of the turn of the century but the reproductions are very bad, some are cut off in certain area. There were a few restaurant in the compound, a Chinese restaurant where we ate our breakfast and some dinners, a PALM bar and a piano bar in the open area on the lobby.
Behind the compound is miles of beach with white sand. All around the compound are a fish pond, horse riding area, children area, several swimming pools, etc. Several beauty pageants were held in the place. Photographs of royalties, presidents and foreign dignitaries and the beauty pageants were all over the walls. I learned that the place was built for the wedding of Former Philippine President Marcos daughter. The Airport was likewise built to tranport guests to the wedding.
Friday February 24
We had breakfast in the house restaurant and had our first view of the province. We rode a van that took us for our Tour of Vigan. Our first stop was the Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Juan Luna is one of our National Heroes, a painter who made a name for the Philippines in Spain during the Spanish time, when he won an International Arts Competition with his “La Scolliar” Painting. The painting is huge and depicted the result of the bloody battle in a collicium where the defeated gladiators were dragged from the arena. The Shrine is a big structure with rooms decorated with the furniture of the period.
We passed through very fine concrete roads up and down the Ilocos Provinces. We stopped at Pinili, known for their Garlic produce. There were Garlic Stands all along the roads, took lots of photographs and bought some garlics and local red onions. The Burgos Museum in Vigan, Ilocos Sur was our next stop. The museum was an old two story structure where the rich family lived in the day. The interior of the building had family photographs and period furnitures. In Vigan, we walked around the Heritage Village where there are blocks and blocks of Spanish period buildings. The homes are preserved with the lower portions of the buildings made into antiques and gift shops. Also in Vigan, we visited the Crisologo Museum . The museum had lots of artifacts and antiques of the period and abundant in the area. We visited Pagburnayon which is another part of the province
When we got back in the hotel, we walked in the beach which is on the rear of the hotel compound. We later took a dip in one of three pools. Met the others to have dinner in the restaurant but it was closed. We settled in the PALM Bar and Grill, a small place in another part of the compound where they put the tables together to accommodate our party of seven
Saturday, February 25
The second day of our tour of Vigan is called Pagudpud Tour. Our first stop was Cape Bojedor Light House in Burgos, a two hour drive from our hotel. The light house is located on top of a hill with narrow steps up the stiff hill. On top, at the base of the light house, the view is beautiful and one can see all the surrounding areas. We proceeded to the Bangui Windmills. The windmills are located all along the stretch of beautiful bright blue water beach. There are twenty five of the forty windmills planned to be built. The windmills are white tall poles with three cross bars on top that catches the wind that drives the mill. The poles could easily be a couple of hundred feet tall and fifty feet in diameter.
We drove to Saud Beach next with a stop to take pictures of the salt stand along the road. The area is known for its salt product which is supplied to a number of places in the province. Saud Beach had a big restaurant and hotel rooms for visitors. It is only one of the places along the beautiful beach with accommodations for tourists We had native food for lunch. There were a lot of vendors selling crafts, bracelets, refrigerator magnets and kitchi stuff.
Sunday, February 26
We had an early start for our 8:45 half day tour of the City. First stop, Marcos Museum, called the Malacanan Palace of the North. Imelda Marcos built it as a 60th birthday gift to her husband. The rooms are huge and decorated with carved wood and marbles. One room had a few dummies of Marcos with the different outfits he wore. Another room had pictures and posters of Marcos. The house back on to a beautiful lake. In the next building is the Mausoleum of Ferdinand where his body lie in state. The room is deem with flowers all around, the walls were painted black and solemn music was played.
The next stop, the Museo Ilocos. The museum displayed local crafts, furnishing, transportations, building materials, tools among others. A room in the museum displayed living room setting with antique furnishing. We proceeded to the Sinking Bell Tower. a very old structure that had been sinking for sometime. The side door of the tower showed how much the tower had sunk, only about four feet of the door is above the street level. We visited next Saint Williams church but did not take much time to look around. Our last stop was the Laoag Public market. Our tour guide took us to a place where they sell a particular meat that is popular to locals. Lydia , Etchie and Tessie all bought stuff to take back to Manila.
We checked out of our hotel and got to the airport, checked in by 5:00 PM for our 7:30 PM flight back to Manila. The waiting room in the airport is small for the number of people waiting. There were two TV but only was working. The air condition was in full blast, it was freezing. Tessie and Ectchie looked for seats away from the air conditioning unit which was blowing directly where we were sitting.
We landed in the local station at 9:30 PM. Nestor was waiting for us at the airport and we looked for Aida, who came with her son and grand daugther in their new Van to drive us to Quezon City.
Monday, February 27
We had an easy day of relaxing. We went to SM Mall where Lydia bought Patajong and Baro at Saya for a parade in July when they join the Medical Association in a Parade. She also bought Henry a new Barong Tagalog. I was able to find a pajama for Jim. We went grocery shopping in the lower portion of the Mall. The fruit and vegetable were very fresh and some of the produce were wrapped in plastic. The meat were cut right on the tables on the floor. The cashiers were young women finely made up from head to toe and in lime green uniforms similar to airline stewardesses. We rested when we got home and Gilda’s grandchildren came for a visit with their great grandfather. They had dinner with us and left at 9:00 PM.
Tuesday, February 28
We stayed home because of a huge demonstration in Manila by the Iglesia ni Cristo. There was a scandal in which a supreme court judge was involve. The judge is an Iglesia ni Cristo so the members of the religion are demonstrating. Apparently the judge was appointed by Gloria Macapagal the evening of her last day and the people are trying to have him impeached. The news said that the judge has a salary of P145,00 a year and he had amassed 6 mansions and huge wealth while in the bench.
Lydia and Nestor went out to market .While they out, Nestor’s ex wife Mary came with her two kids. I do not remember her but she knew me and said we had met before when we last came. Her kid are 23, a girl who works and a boy 19 a civil engineering student. They brought some casaba cake and pansit luglug. They stayed for dinner and left at 9:00 PM.
Wednesday , February 29
We went to Morong in the morning to visit Flerry’s parents. We left the house at 8:30 AM to meet with Aida’s son who drove us in their new Van. We had a two hour drive through a number of towns northeast of Manila. We got to Morong at 12 noon and met Flerry’s parents. They live in a nice place with a steel gate that opens to a driveway that lead to another house occupied by his brothers. They seem to live together in the compound. Flerry’s mother is up in age and walked with a cane. Her father just had a mild heart attack and walk with a cane as well. Flerrys two brothers and their wives and other members of the family came and drove with us to a restaurant nearby. We had a 5 course lunch mostly fish dishes.
After lunch we went back to the house and had a quick tour of their place. The house seemd fairly new and neat. There were lots of photographs of the family. Flerry’s parents had 17 great grand children. Later on we drove to St Gerome’s church which is a very old Spanish church with an adjoining school. Unfortunately the church was closed. Our drive home seemed much longer We had a lot of food left over from lunch thet they had us take home. We got home at 4:00.
Thursday, March , 1
After breakfast Lydia and Ising went shopping. Nestor, Henry and I went to SM Mall and Landmark Mall next to it. I bought 3 DVD Philippine music and a pair of pajama for Jim. The pajama cost P350 and the DVD was P45 for three. Rested at home the rest of the day.
Friday, March 2
We left for the airport at 5:45 PM and got to the Ninoy Aquino International at 7:15 PM. Our flight took off at midnight and landed at Inchung Airport in Korea at 3:30 AM. The connecting flight we had was at 6:00 AM. We boarded at 9:00 and took off thereafter. We had several snacks and I watched three movies “In Time” with Justine Timberlake, “The Descendant “with George Clooney , and “J Edgar Hoover “with Leo Decaprio. Played Video game and slept a little during the flight. We had several meals, I do not know if it breakfast, lunch or dinner. We gained another day coming back to the States. When we landed in JFK Airport at 10:00 AM, it was still March 2. Dario, Lydia’s neighbor was waiting for us. He was the one who drove us to the airport when we left for the Philippines. We got to Quezon City by 11:00 AM.
Sunday, March 3
Ready for my trip back to DC . Henry drove me to the Wantagh, Long Island Rail 8:55 AM for NYC. I caught the 9:13 train and got in the city at 10:15 AM, walked to 42nd street and got the 11:15 Greyhound Bus. Finally. got to DC at 4:00 PM , Subway to Crystal City and back at home by 5:30.