Philippine Trip 2007

The Garcia’s, Davis’ and the Little’s in Dumanjug, Philippines.
Our trip to see our family in the Philippines from July 15 to August 12, 2007.

July 15th, 2007

Well, we flew from RIC to JFK which was ok but got lost in JFK to find Singapore Airlines. But we had a layover so we were cool. Once on Singapore Airlines it was great, they served us many meals and great meals to. Everyone tore into them like hey hadn’t eaten in days it was do good. Each spent most of their time watching movies, playing games and sleeping in our chairs. It was a long flight. But I figured if you stay in a plane long enough you’ll end up somewhere FAR AWAY.

July 17th, 2007.
Once we arrived in Cebu on Tuesday around 3pm. we met family at the airport and they gave us rides to Plantation Bay, a resort where we are staying now. A brief tour through town with all of the little vans giving ppl rides. There is no speed limit or really any traffic rules. It looks like you’re going to run over and into ppl all the time. But that’s how it is here. The resort accommodations are great. There is no tipping but we’ll get the plus plus (++) treatment when we check out. Plus Plus is resort tax (12%) and local tax (12%). So far we’ve spent most of our time in the pool…it’s the coolest spot other than our room. The food is great but expensive. I ordered a hamburger for 480p (pesos) = $9.60. The exchange rate is about 45 p = $1.00. So double it and that’s the US price. This morning we all woke up at 5am. (Wed.) We couldn’t sleep anymore. I ate breakfast buffet which they had everything from cereal to mangos, to pastries, to bacon, to regular breakfast items, peanut butter, salads, fruit, omelets, coffee, mango and orange juice…it was great…I kept thinking it was a dream.

July 19th, 2007.
We will be leaving the resort tomorrow (Thurs.) because the food is too expensive, plus I think we’ve done most everything we can do here anyway…time to move on to the rest of Cebu and family.

I will be going to get my full body massage soon. We’ll be leaving the resort to go to dinner tonight outside of the safe and comfortable resort. So I’ll let you know how that comes out.

July 2oth, 2007.
The massage was great. They had me take a shower and put on disposable underwear. Then they lead me to a room for the massage. They took my robe off and I laid on the table for my massage. It was a full body massage with stretching and pulling. The best part was the butt massage. That’s why I had to take a shower thank goodness. She pulled my underwear down and massaged my butt…that felt so good. Then we went into a hot tub to relax, then into a cooler pool of saltwater, then into the cold freshwater pool to close our pours. They say you don’t want to have your pours open after the hot tube.

The later that evening (July 18th) we all piled into cars and went out to dinner where 27 of us ate for $200US. plus tip. it was good to get out.

Thursday, July 19, we left the resort and were divided up among the family members homes to settle in.
The jet lag finally hit me at 4:oo on Thursday…I took a 3 hour nap before dinner at my father-in-law’s house. At approx. 8pm we when to my father-in-law’s house for dinner were the whole family (34) was there plus a few friends. The we returned back to our home. My room here at Marvin & Marite’s (my brother and sister in law) is very nice with A/C, a fan and bath…with hot water! Most showers or bathing is in cold water…but after the heat of the day and cold shower is fine.

Once again I woke up at 7am. It seems that I’m awaking 1 hour later each day I’m here.

We’ll be going to the mall today (Fri), Sat. my father-in-law’s birthday party, Sun. kids July birthday party and Mon. we are going to another island; Bohol to tour the beaches and sights (changed to Tuesday).

July 21, 2007.

Saturday was my father-in-law’s (Tomas) 80th birthday party at a club where he is a member for the elite. It’s a really nice place, a huge building built around 1927, complete with a lane pool, tennis courts, badminton court, fitness room, bowling lanes, a bar, outdoor bar and sitting area with many large rooms for conferences, parties and banquets. They also have a large parking area in the basement. Over 80 people attended the party where we had special presentations from family members such as singing, dancing, speeches and best of all videos of special presentations that included photos of days gone by.

A photographer from the SunStar newspaper was there for picture taken and the family and guests were featured on a full page in the August 8th newspaper. Newspaper page photo to the right.

July 22, 2007.
We spent time at Tomas’ house where all of the family (40+) met to eat dinner and sang karaoke. It was a great feeling to be apart of a huge family again. All of us, Tomas, 6 of the children and spouses sat down to dinner around a large round table with a lazy-susan in the middle with both American and Philippine dishes. The youngest son, Paco is in Australia working as a mechanic and could not be here. There is a total of 7 children with each family having 2 or 3 or 4 children each.

July 23, 2007.
Today, we will be visiting friends before going to Panglao, Bohol, Philippines tomorrow.
I am back on schedule now, going to sleep around 11pm and waking around 8am and not being tired during the day. I’ve been taking a shower morning and night to clean off the sweat. It’s very humid here, the sun is very hot, I stay in the shade most of the time, where there is a breeze.

July 24, 2007.

On the island of Bohol. We took a ferry southeast with 3 vehicles to the island of Bohol where we toured to see Chocolate Hills and to take a lunch trip down a river. We stayed at resort for 2 nights and 3 days and returned to Cebu by ferry again.

July 27-31, 2007.

We were at the beach house in Dumonjug, Cebu, Philippines. The highlight was when we visited the mayor’s office for ice cream and met most of the government staff that had served when my wife worked there and when my father in law was mayor for 15 years. We spend a lot of time visiting with all of the family playing games, singing karaoke, watching movies, swimming, etc. We when swimming every morning in the Straight..the water was comfortably cool and the clear. At early evening (low tide) we go shell hunting and mostly find sea urchins and star fish. We had many villagers come to the house to sell fish and chickens. We contracted workers to do some landscaping and build a grill house for outdoor cooking. We will be returning to the beach house on Aug. 3 to spend time with our family for the last weekend in Cebu City.

August 1-2, 2007.
We regrouped from our weekend travels to return once again to our beach house in Dumonjug. We went to a small resort just inside of Cebu City to go swimming called Tubod. A tubod is a fresh water spring and the locals take advantage of it to make a resort for swimming and water source. It was great…the swimming pool was clear as a regular pool with no chlorine. Any day I could swim whether it be fresh water or saltwater was very refreshing. We went to the malls, shopped and saw the movie, Ratatoulle.

August 3-5, 2007.

We spent time at our beach house with family. Played mahjong watched movies, ate, swam, and started making plans to expand our living quarters. We hired locals to build a outdoor grill for cooking and to fix up the landscaping. We toured the area and experienced more of the local people and culture. I was disappointed that the tide had changed to going out at 4am and coming in fully by 4pm. because I couldn’t have my morning swims. The water at the beach was great…not too cold, not to deep and not many weird little creatures. Uncle Don (my brother in law), my brother in law, and two of my nephews went to a shooting range that some locals let us use with them. I’ve been hunting in my younger days but never had experienced shooting a .45 caliber, a .38 caliber or an M-16. (part of the email I sent home: When the Americans (3) fired these weapons for the first time and hit our marks the range owners thought that we were trying to con them into making them think this was own first time. They don’t get much training in marksmanship because the bullets cost so much and it’s not in their budgets. Photo #315 the hole in the top of this 1/2 inch thick metal plate was made by the M-16…the other marks are from the .45 caliber which barely made a dent.)

We went to the marketplace in the middle of town (Dumanjug) where people have their shops. Sundays is the best time to go to the market because all of the mountain people come down and sell there products to the town people.
It was a great time. We all had a great time but were ready to get back to our air conditioned rooms back in Cebu.

August 6-10, 2007.

This was the week we all regrouped, got our gifts for back home and ate and ate and ate. It seemed that’s all we did was eat. We had all of our meals planned to meet with friends and family for lunch and dinner. We were invited to people’s houses to eat and visit. After spending some time in Bulacao, Talisay, Cebu, Philippines, where my father in law lives and my wife grew up, I got to experience some of the joys they had from when they lived there. Visiting people in the area and talking street side, all within walking distance. There is so many communities packed into one place…you could go down and alleyway and there would be a whole new community…very interesting. Just like a neighborhood in the states but very compacted. And with it being compact it seemed like family outside of family. Basically hanging out with friends, family and the locals.
We also went to the mall and saw Rush Hour 3 which was not out in the states. Victor (my brother in law) and some friends took me to see the cock fights…wow what an experience. Very entertaining but not for the cocks. Even though the cock won…it was surely to die anyway. They fight to the death and the cock could win by a breath, figuratively speaking.

Aug. 11-12, 2007.
We started our journey home. The airline had a stop over in Davao which south of Cebu to pick up a few passengers before flying to Singapore. Davao is nice little place, tucked away in a bay, with great scenery. We may have to travel there sometime. NOTE: Now that I have travel halfway around the globe what to keep me from doing more! I have the bug.) We fly on to Singapore where we had an 8hr. layover. The Singapore airport to the best! It’s like a mall. They have huge TV monitors and other smaller monitors to watch TV on, free Internet, free XBox 360, free movie theatre (with old movies), a huge food court with just about any kind of world food, a hotel, an outside garden (now what airport has it to where you can go outside?), for a small fee you can use their fitness room, take a shower, sleep in a bed, get a massage, watch TV and snack with beverages in on area. They have an electronics store that rivals Circuit City with many selections. No wonder there’s an 8 hr. layover. The layover was probably so long because we had other flights to join ours. Then we flew on to Frankfurt, Germany…the worst example of an airport I’ve ever experienced and the area we were in was new! They seem to be going backwards in the airport experience. For travelers that have been traveling for 9+ hours to have little to no access to food or beverages and small restrooms is unforgiving. No comfort there. After our 2+ hr. stop for refueling in Frankfurt then on to JFK airport, New York for another 9+ hr. flight. (This was not the first time my butt had been killing me from sitting.) Once in New York we had a 4+ hr. layover there…which was good because we had to report to customs and recheck our bags and stand in a long line to get our boarding passes. It gave me a bit of time to realize I was home and I was just like everybody else and everything was expensive. No more special attention. After trying to stay awake, (which didn’t happen) so I can get readjusted to the time change we flew on home to Richmond, Virginia to be met by friends to take us home after traveling for more than 36 hrs. Once we arrived at home everything was fine. The house and our belongings made it through the hot weather and our planning paid off.

It was a great trip. Not to say it excitingly enough but it was the best trip of my life. To have traveled half way around the globe, met new people, family and made new friends, to see another culture and their way of life, to have experienced a new life…it was great and I will be returning. This is a new driving force so that I can return.

Now that the kids (my kids, nephews and nieces) are older…they’ve been given a new driving force. they said, I want to fly to Australia and to the Philippines and to…

August 13, 2007 in the US.
Wow, while posting I saw the mail lady pull up and get out. They delivered all of our mail to my door! I didn’t have to go to the post office and pick up all of our mail!, Wow. Now, that’s customer service. I feel like I’m back in the Philippines. The customer service there was the best!

Photo albums are by request only. I’ll be sending out links to the photo galleries to friends and family.

Observations:
As I expressed my likes, without a word to me, I found that the family in it’s special way accommodated me. At one particular meal they gave me my own chicken (the whole chicken) the way I like it…out of all the family 30+ they made sure that I had the kind of food I liked and wanted. That’s love. Thank you.

Transportation:
Very few have cars like ours in the US. Most Filipinos travel by bus, taxi, smaller buses like vans, motorcycles, tricycles, trisikads or walking. Tricycles are motor bikes with a side car and trisikad (sikad meaning pedal) is a bicycle with a side car, which the operator pedals the bike with passengers. Sometimes you’ll see 4 to 5 people on one motorcycle. With all of these types of travel methods the roads are very hectic…it’s like organized chaos. People fill the streets. Little children are coming and going from school.

Places:
There is a shortage in water, that is why at Plantation Bay Resort there are three saltwater pools and only one fresh water pool. The salt water is pumped from the ocean and filtered somewhat. They drain the pools to clean them with bleach. The resort has three shifts to run it 24-7.

Malls are ten times the size of our malls (3+ stories), with many food restaurants and the malls and it’s air conditioned! A great place for refuge.

Houses:
All of the houses are very different in design, interior and exterior. Most bathrooms are tiled except for the ceiling. Most house floors are tiled. Windows with louver glass with screening. Steel gates. Steel bars on windows. Concrete walls to surround the yard. Most chairs are made of plastic or the older ones are steel, so that they don’t rust.
Faucet water is not potable. All drinkable water comes from bottled water. There are many water filtering companies and I even though it’s filtered water, I found that some did unset my stomach. I found the distilled water to be best of any brand.

Prices:
Prices at the supermarket are about 1/3 to 1/4 cheaper than in the states. They have the same variety of products if not more to choose from like we do in the US. They sell liquor on the shelf with the wine. Electronics are the same price or more than in the US. Cooked food, like restaurants the food is much cheaper. China bought 100 pieces of skewered meat for p300 ($6). Services are cheap as well. Gasoline costs the same. Movie theatre is about $3 (Harry Potter) -$6.

Food:
We ate prons which are large shrimp. Once I find a Philippino food I like, I eat alot of it. They have alot of franchise food places. We can get KFC here. It’s always a good alternative meal for the Americans. Small venue food spots are named what they are: Taters, Thristy?, Tacos, Potato Corner. They take a whole chicken and wack it with a beef clever…bones and all and serve it or cook it like that. You can’t tell the difference between a breast or a thigh or a drum stick. It’s all mixed in. Basically, it’s chicken. I found I was safe with BBQ. Which is either pork or chicken barbecued on a stick. I can survive on that. Most anywhere we went they had BBQ.

Environment:
In Dumonjug, a marketer said they would pay for every starfish brought in…so the villagers took all of the starfish on the coast and sold them. Starfish eat sea urchins. Sea urchins are everywhere and they are venomous. If they poke you, it stings and the relief is urine and several days wait til the spike dissolves from your skin. The sun was there, not as biting as in the states but I could feel the warmth and see the brightness. I didn’t feel the burn that I feel in the states. But over time my skin was getting tanned. I don’t know what it was…was it the sunscreen I used regularly or did I stay out of the sun or because the sun is closer to the earth being near the equator. But I feel that I got a much better tan in the Philippines than in the states. Not that I’m really made for tanning (light skin) nor care about it but I feel I get a much slower and even tan from the Philippines.

Services:
They have high speed Internet. My brother in law has DLS. They have cell phone service…They go crazy over test messaging. Everyone has a cell phone. They text message more than they talk on the phone. Text while driving, walking… I saw a festival precession and one of the honored ladies riding in the back of the car (who is supposed to be waving) was texting. All of our family’s kids that had cell phone were texting all the time…the phone was glued to their hand. I’m not complaining just making an observation.

Schools:
There are schools everywhere. Kids walk or are taken to school around 7am til 5pm. They get an hour off for lunch. In most of the villages we past while traveling the kids of all ages where walking to and from school. They walk to school and walk home for lunch and then back again.

Churches:
Most of the churches I saw were old Spanish fortress like churches. I went to (Catholic) mass one Sunday and found that the mass is said in their native language but from me being Catholic as well I could follow along with what was being said.

Business:
A great businesses I see to be in is concrete, tile, food and most of all cell phone text messaging.

A Google Map of Dumanjug, Cebu, Philippines