happy new years everyone! it's been a long 18 days in the Philippines, but i am finally home! and i must say i am incredibly relieved to be back. that vacation was not only fun and a great experience, but also exhausting and long. it's so nice to get some alone time again! i was going crazy being crowded by people every single day. the only time i got to relax by myself was in the spa at my hotel in manila.
anyway, here are some photos from my adventure! i am actually half filipino, so it was a great experience again to take in my culture, and a nice visit back home for my mom and her relatives. i tried some local food i never had before and learned to speak some of the language. hope you guys enjoy the photos, i warn you though, there's a lot!
the last time i visited the Philippines was in 2005. back then, i got to hang out with my good friend Anton who lives in the Philippines, but he now lives in Singapore, so it was too bad i did not get to see a familiar face in this foreign land. none the less, i had a great time!
the good: cheap food and shopping. there's this store there called Bench which i absolutely fell in love with! a bit obsessed, if i may say so. i literally bought enough to change my entire underwear wardrobe. Bench/body has THE best underwear ever, hahaha!
the bad: pollution and cleanliness is a problem there. i had a hard time breathing in the Philippines, so it only promotes one of my new years resolutions to quit smoking. there was rivers filled with trash as if it was a waste dump, and some of the living conditions nearly broke my heart. i felt helpless in this place where the problems are so much bigger than you are. i tried to give out my money to the homeless and children as much as i could, i felt that's the least i could do :-/
the interesting: their obsession to have white skin. everywhere you went and looked, there were countless products and advertisements to whiten your skin! all the famous people: tv personalities, singers, models, etc. had very fair skin. i believe they equate light skin with wealth, beauty and a higher economic status. i'm not saying it's a bad thing because i understand their standards are different, but it's such a strong contrast with the people here in Hawaii because everyone likes to be tan as it gives us a 'healthier glow'. haha
i also found there are so much better looking Filipinos IN the Philippines than here in Hawaii! because of the immigration and plantation days, there is a very diverse population of Asians here in Hawaii. and Filipinos is a good percent of that. but the Filipinos here look sooo different than the ones in the Philippines. i guess that whitening cream really does make a difference!
the long 9-10 hour plane ride to and from the Philippines was unbearable. we stayed in Manila a couple days, then took a charter bus to the province (which was another 8 hours), and stayed in my moms family house in a town called Cabaroan in the historic city of Vigan, Iloco Sur. after spending a good time there, we went back to Manila (another 9 hour bus ride) and stayed in Global City where my parents previously purchased a mini condo in one of the high rise towers that will be finished hopefully later this year.
after an eventful 18 days in the Philippines, i take home great memories and valuable relationships i've made with distant relatives and new faces i've become friends with. not to mention great shopping i did when i was there :-)
anyway, it's nice to be home. i've missed you all
(ps. hope you enjoy the new song too, by Haruka Nakamura - "Arne")