sorry i did not update about my Philippines trip sooner. even though it has already been 2 weeks since i got back, i feel like life just picked up right where it left off so fast. i've been really busy with work again and did not have much free time to do this big update. but anyway, here it is!
so this was my 3rd time visiting the Philippines, and each time is always so different! i guess because i come at different points in my life, so i see things through a different mind-set and filter. but none the less, always interesting and a good time!
in Manila i had some respiratory problems because of the city pollution, so i had a really hard time breathing and developed this horrible cough that was very painful. but when we took the 8 hour charter bus to the country side, it really made a difference since the air was much more crisp and clean! we always go back to my mothers country home in Cabaroan, Vigan City in Ilocus Sur. the main reason for this trip was actually for a memorial celebration for my grandparents. my uncle built a monument on their homeland, so a bunch of my uncles and aunties also flew up with us for the ceremony. it was very grand affair because many guests came to celebrate with us! including distant relatives and friends, the mayor and govnenors family of neighboring districts, the arch bishop of Vigan, and even the entire neighborhood came to eat!
and every time i go back to that province, it's as if nothing ever changed. it's as if time stood still and preserved its beauty and richness. as "boring" as some people might think it is up there, it was actually very relaxing and enjoyable for me. maybe because at heart i am a country boy. the days seem much more longer, the people friendlier, the wind sweeter, and even the surrounding noises can put you at ease... the afternoon crickets and nighttime insects sing a very happy tune by the way.
i also got to try a whole bunch of new food that i've never had before. i tried to be as adventurous as i could with the local cuisine, and it proved successful because so much of it was absolutely delicious. but then again, since i am American, my stomach became quite sensitive since it's not too accustomed to certain things, and i ended up getting the stomach flu for like a week and a half! actually my whole family got sick at one point! haha, but we are all okay now. i guess it's just apart of the experience when you travel abroad.
those beach pictures were taken at a place called Pagudpud. its apart of the northern most tip of Philippines, and it was absolutely gorgeous! i have to admit, even though Hawaii has some beautiful beaches, the shells and treasures i found on those shores totally beat the ones here! i was so shocked to find such big and beautiful sea glass and whole entire shells!
after about a little more than a week, we traveled back to the heart of Manila where we stayed at my moms condo in Global city. it's a booming city with high-rises all over and continuing construction all around. there are also many restaurants and cafes and shopping malls, and its just a 10 minute taxi ride to Makati, which is another huge shopping and metropolitan area.
but besides all the new and fancy attractions, Manila also shares the complete opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to living conditions. you can take a taxi just 10 minutes away from all the millionaire mansions and celebrity homes, and find yourself next to squatter shacks and pollution filled channels and alleys. just like many other places in the world, there will always be those extremes of "the rich and the poor", so it's always a good wake-up call and life-check when you travel and get to see that some children and families don't get to eat the full meals we are lucky enough to eat. or have any of the materialistic items we feel that we "need." reminding yourself and loved ones to not take anything for granted and to please be thankful for what you do have and continuing to give back and help out in anyway possible.
one of the main highlights of my entire trip was getting to meet up with some blog friends who live out there in the Philippines! the ones you may recognize and know are Edrick and Mike. i've never met them before, so it was such a pleasure to meet up with some new friends! they also introduced to some of their other friends as they took me around to various cafes and eateries. and i must say, the people that i've met there turned out to be some of the most friendliest, hospitable, funny as hell, talented, and smart individuals that i have ever met! they taught me so much about their art culture, politics, concerns, schooling, future endeavors, businesses, and anything in between. as much as they said that they were happy to meet me, i was actually the one who was overwhelmed with joy to hang out with such amazing people...
(on a side note, i also wish i could have met up with one of my good friends Anton, who used to live in Manila as well! i hung out with him a couple years back when i visited the Philippines for the first time, but now he lives in Singapore.)
as fun as this vacation was for my family, i think the main thing that made me smile was seeing how happy my mom was to be home. along with my other aunties and uncles who were born and raised in the Philippines, they all really do look forward to making their way back to their homeland and just being immersed in the culture they grew up in, and to eat the food they loved as a child. watching all that and just being lucky enough to experience it first hand, makes me feel very proud to be part Filipino. ♥