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My Experience in the Philippines

GoodnewsEverybody.com My Experience in the Philippines on 2001 & 2012


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November 11th-25th 2012

{Photo Gallery}

WEEK#1

Our plane left Saturday, November 10th around 1:10pm (Minnesota time) and we arrived in Manila around 10pm (Sunday, November 11th-Philippine time).It was a long 19-hour flight (14 hours from Minnesota to Japan and had a 1 to a 1 1/2 hour layover in Narita Japan; and then 3 hours from Japan to the Philippines). I took some beautiful pics over Canada as I saw a lot of snow on the ground. Fortunately, we didn't have any snow yet in Minnesota as it was 60's when we left. I even took a picture of the gas prices ($3.25/gallon) to see if it would dramatically go up after the recent elections. I'm thankful for my dad and sister taking us (Mom and I) to the airport to bid us a farewell.

I purposely chose a window seat as I like to see the landscape from up above, which you can see many of my pics on my album (linked on this site) if interested. I took some pics and videos of the flight landing in Manila, which this huge populated city was beautiful at night...

Plane Landing in Manilla

When we arrived at the airport, my mom and I were very tired after a long flight. Unfortunately, we didn't communicate well (unlike our last trip in 2001) with our relatives on where we were going to be picked up. We came out of the terminal and got overwhelmed by the many people going in and out. My cell phone didn't have service, so I wasn't able to call my relative on where she was at. We decided to borrow a cell phone from some individuals. Sadly, I borrowed a cell phone from an airport security police man, which I had to remember I wasn't back in "friendly" Minnesota. After using his cell phone, he told me that borrowing the phone wouldn't be free. He asked me to pay him $10....$20, so I gave him a ten furiosly as I was desparate to just get out and meet our relatives at a certain location I wasn't able to understand. I should've read my 2001 Trip Journal as I wrote down that there were locations alphabetlized to be found by the "Pick-Up" location. That's something I need to communicate next time. Well, my mom and I got to this "pick-up" location and had no idea where we can find our relatives. We had so much luggage, so it was hard to move around. I ended-up staying with the luggages (2 carry on bags each and 2 huge "check-in luggages and boxes each) at a certain area while I told my mom to walk around and look for our relatives. I thought they would notice my mom easier than me. I wished I did this instead because later, my mom couldn't remember where she left me (she was so tired as she was thirsty and didn't seem to be in her right mind or focus). This was just the beginning of a long wait. I had to describe where I was located several times using a kind strangers' cell phone (college student from Iran). I wasn't in one of the "alphabetelized" locations, so it was difficult for my relative to find me. It was around 11pm or so when I was finally found after the congested traffice of both vehicles and people around that "pick-up" area. I kind of lost my patience, but quickly calmed down as I was happy to be found and through many prayers! My mom told me she couldn't direct them where I was waiting because she forgot where she left me before walking around to find our relatives. I had her "stuff" and mine, which I couldn't leave as I couldn't trust leaving it behind. I eventually did walk around when the guy that borrowed his cell phone sincerely told me he'll watch our large amount of "baggage". It wasn't the best way to start this 2 week "vacation", but it eventually got better and didn't have too many problems afterwards...

Day #1

I didn't even look at my cell to see what time it was when I was found, but I know it was definitely pass 11pm. I was very exhausted after that experience of trying to find my relatives at the airport. It was calming for me on the drive to the relatives house as we drove through the night around Metro Manila. One of my cousins was uncomfortably sacrifically laying on top of the baggage in the back of the truck, which I though was funny. We then got home and ate some food (ate my airport meal that I saved as I wasn't hungry when I got it at the plane) as I was hungry after the "exhausting" airport experience.

1st Day in the Philippines


A Day in Valenzuela Manila Philippines

salphotodotbiz's A Day in Valenzuela Manila Philippines album on Photobucket

I can't remember when I slept the first night, but I remember it was really hot. I didn't even use a blanket, but I did use a mosquito blanket that I ordered online. However, it was a little small, so I was able to cover a little as some mosquitoes went through the paneless window in the house. I woke up early (around 6:30am) as the sun came out early (6ish)! Our relatives tooks us to SM Mall-Valenzuela, which was a newly built mall. It wasn't here when we last visited in 2001. I was suprise to see how many people were there for a Monday! My relatives told it was because it was "Valenzuela Day", which they didn't have school for residents in this north Metro Manila suburb/city. It felt like a Friday with the many people at the mall, but this is because of the populated city. We walked around the nice mall and they had this event where they were promoting "Green" (use a reusable shopping bag instead of "plastic") usage...
Photobucket
... I guess this "environmental friendly" lifesyle is becoming global, which I feel is important with this being a populated city. I think they should start doing this "green initiative" by promoting "clean-energy" vehicles as this city is heavily run by the many "diesel" vehicles driving on their "heavily" traffic congested streets.

I was able to ride on two different popular types of transporation (Jeepney and a "motorized" tricycle), which I rode with the biker and my mom and relative rode inside the attached cargo vehicle.

Day 2 in Valenzuela Manila Philippines

Later on the 2nd day, we visited another relative (Laarnie) that lived just a walk away in the neighborhood. She treated us with a big "marienda" (e.g. hot dogs, halo halo-my favorite). We joined other relatives on top of her apartment roof, which we had a nice view of the beautiful sunset. We then visited another cousin living next door (Chris) and had a chance to see his newest family for the first time!...

Photobucket

I was full already, but we were invited to "eat more" at my other relative's house (Marivic). We head more traditional Filipino food. Wow, we had almost 5 big meals within the 1st day (3 main meals and 2 mini-snacks in between). It was great to see Laarnie and her grown-up kids, which I remember his son ("Jim Boy"-see pic below in 2001) when he was just a baby..aww!

Later in the evening, I joined a family friend in the garage as he smoked. He started sharing his years working in the engineering field. He would work in various places (e.g. U.A.E.), so he has seen the world outside of the Philippines. He then asked a deep question that I rememberd again writing this today (after the "unfortunate" school shootings in Connecticuit yesterday :()-"Why is there so much violence in American t.v.?". I had to think about that first before giving him a quick response, which I can't remember what I told him.

3rd Day in Valenzuela Philippines

Chris' wife is a "medical tehnician" (e.g. nurse type of job), so she came somewhat early (6:30ish!!) just to give my mom and I a blood test (e.g. sugar level). I got some pretty good #'s, which I was pretty satisfied. My Uncle Ely & Aunti Lita arrived from another trip to the province. We had breakfast (e.g. pork) together. He then was going to do some errands, so I asked if I can join him to see more of the "city". We took a "manual" tricycle, which I was amazed how the driver was able to physically take both of us! I found this cool Bible verse, which I would find many similar "Bible" messages throughout my travels in this country...

We then walked around the busy commercial business area of Valenzuela. I took videos of the busy market, as my other uncle (Lou) suggested me doing after chatting with him and my aunt on facebook earlier. We both then went to this Christian bookstore, which I got some stuff (e.g. Bibles) for myself and gifts for relatives.

My mom joined my Aunti Helen to shop at SM-Valenzuela Mall, which Uncle Ely and I joined them later on. We saw a group dancing at the rotunda. My mom and aunti seem to enjoy watching them. Something I would like to see my parents do at their age! After watching for awhile, we then drove back home home.

4th Day in the Philippines

We would later drive Wednesday (14th) to the province of Pangasinan. We left around 1:15pm and got there a little late around 7pm after several stops along the way. I took a lot of pics through Tarlac for a friend of mine that is originally from this area. It was great to see the newly built highways since we were last here...

Day #4
Manila to Pangasinaan

Valenzuela to Tarlac Philippines

Tarlac Province Philippines

Day #4-6

When we arrived in the evenings hours in the province of Pangasinan. We stopped over at this seafood place, which we tried different foods from the sea...

Labrador in Pangasinaan Philippine

When we got to the place we'll be staying for several days. I had a "dejavu" moment. I pondered and started reflecting that I've been here before or had a dream of this particular area. I started praying as I wanted to see what God was showing me, which he would the next day...

When I got up early Thursday (15th) morning, I would meet some people around the neighborhood. I took my baseball glove and had them play baseball with me...

Baseball...http://sports.goodnewseverybody.com/baseball.html

..Later, my uncle took me for a walk to show his fish farm. We went towards Lingayen Gulf and saw the different fish farms. It was early in the morning, but it felt really hot! I walked through the fish farms and encountered lot of various animals. My uncle stopped over at a small hut/house to talk to talk to some family, which was an intersting place. While they were chatting, I decided to play with their little boy. I threw a hacky sack (smiley face) at the boy to make him smile, which he did and started playing with it. I then thought in my mind, I don't think I'll get my hacky sack back. I decided to just give it to the boy. Just seeing his big smile just made my whole trip.

Afterwards, we got back to the house and saw more people visiting my mom. She grew up in this town, so word got our she was home. People that she knew all tried to come by and visit. While she visited, I met some kids from nearby. I happen to have some "kids" stuff for them to "occupy" themselves. At my workplace, people dump a lot of "recycling", which I find some neat stuff. I found a whole packet of children Bible material. I decided to bring a handful with me on my trip here, which came in handy. These kids seem to be looking for something fun to do, so I brought out some crayons I brought from the US and had them work on these Bible (Mark 10-Jesus inviting children to His Kingdom) materials. Other kids would join us later on, which I felt like I had a classroom.

We then visited a doctor whose hospital-clinic unfortunately burned down recently. She was friends with my mom. Like many of these visits, I just stood around and not sure what they were talking about since I don't speak or understand the language. I would somewhat pick-up what they were talking in general if I followed closely. After we visited her, we went to visit grandpa-grandma's grave site. I was always curious what they did, which I asked Uncle Ely as mamang has told me (see stories) was a fisherman. While, Grandma would stay home. I then asked what they did during WWII, which my Uncle Ely would tell me they would hide when the Japanese came and then returned home when they left.

On our way back home, we visited Aunti Louse (who has visited our family back in Minnesota many years ago). She used to live in California, but decided to retire and life out her life back where she grew up. After a long chat in her cool looking "bamboo hut" out in the porch, she had us for supper (more fish and chicken). We then chatted more in her living room with a beautiful Christmas tree before leaving.

Pangasinaan Province Philippines

Friday, November 16th 2012: My uncle wanted my mom to get some exercise, so we got up around 5:30am to head to the beach (Lingayen). It was about a 20 minute or so drive. I was suprise to the see the fair amount of people at the beach so early in the morning. The waves were pretty high coming from the South China Sea, which would be risky going deep from the beach to swim. I didn't bring my swimming trunks (it was packed), which I wish I did! We drove back to Labrador and my uncle would "cooked" a goat with the help of other friends. It was a long process, but it was worth it as it tasted good! Since we got up so early, I was a little tired. I wasn't able to do much with the children (e.g. Peter and friends) as would've liked. We later drove to another town to visit this Catholic church, which was the same one we visited back in 2001. On our drive back, we drove through San Fabian and I noticed another Japanese mark-Tokyo Beach Resort San Fabian, Pangasinan, which I wasn't able to get a pic-video. When we arrived late in the evening back in Labrador, I was surpised when a group of 3 young adults came by and starting singing church music (hymns??). They gave an envelope to Uncle Ely as they were asking for donations while they sang as I video recorded. I thought that was unique!!

Pangasinaan's Lingayan Gulf Beach

Day #7

I had a so-called "divine" dream of tornados everywhere "back home" like the movie "Deep Impact" and thought of the increase of sin- sexual immorality!

We left Pangasinan early in the morning to go back to Valanzuela-Manila. My Uncle was willing to take me back because of an event my cousins were very interested in going to (UFC Fighting at the popular Smart Arena in Quezon City). On our way back, I took more pictures and videos of the sights along the way. When arrived, I uploaded more pics on the computer to make room in my memory disk drive. One of the things I wished I did was to buy extra memory cards as I didn't expect to take these many pics-videos. I then rode with Marivic and Sydney on the city bus to the Light Rail Hub. The bus ride was very long as traffic was bad because of it being a weekend. When we got to the hub, my cousin cautioned me to be very careful with the "pick-pocketers". I decided to not do any picture taking or videoing. The crowds going upstairs to the hub was packed. There were times that if felt like we were not moving. We eventually go through the crowd and took the less crowded train to Quezon City.

Pacific Xtreme Championship

Event was held at Smart Araneta Coliseum

Smart Araneta Coliseum From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
".. known as The Big Dome is an indoor multi-purpose sports arena located in the Cubao area of Quezon City, Philippines. It is the one of the largest coliseums and indoor facilities in Asia, and with one of the largest clear span domes in the world....
Construction of the Araneta Coliseum was started in 1957 and finished in late 1959. From 1960 to 1963, the Coliseum received international recognition and was recognized as the largest covered coliseum in the world. Today, it remains one of the largest clear span domes in the world and the largest indoor facility in Asia with a dome diameter of 108 meters. It occupies a total land area of almost 40,000 square meters and has a floor area of 23,000 square metres.[2]
The coliseum opened on March 16, 1960, with Gabriel "Flash" Elorde boxing for the World Junior Lightweight crown from American Harold Gomes. General admission then was 80 centavos and the reserve section was five pesos. The Araneta Coliseum during the 1960s
Among the notable events to take place at the arena were the 11th and 34th FAMAS Awards, the 1975 "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, and the annual Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant. The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has played about a thousand games at the Araneta Coliseum as of 2008...

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Tristan's Draw Lost

It was a great event as I never been to an ultimate fighting event back in the US. I probably would never go back as it was just a great one-time experience. I wanted to go check it out since a friend's (Geordan) brother was one of the fighters (up above). After the event, we strolled through the Christmas decorated scenes outside of the arena and then got to the parking lot to drive back with others instead of taking the "would-be" long bus ride. We bought some chicken and ate some before going to bed, which we got home so late that the doors were locked to my other relatives' house. I asked Marivic if I could stay overnight at their house, which I was just glad to lay on a bed!

Asian Filipino Food


{Sal's Travel Pics}

WEEK#2

Day #8

I woke up around 6am the following morning on a Sunday, which I went to see if the doors were open next door. They weren't, so I went back to Marivic's house and decided to upload more pics from the first week to allow more room for other new photos for the up-coming 2nd week of this trip. Somehow, it was uploading quicker here than my other relative's computer. I then went back next door and found out my relatives were getting ready for Sunday mass. I wanted to so, so I can see more around this city. We went to this open Catholic church, which we came in right when the service was ending. I decided to just wait and see what my relatives and mom did. They waited for the next service, which we sat throught the next service and I was very observant of what was going on. I couldn't take pictures as I was still uploading pictures from my camera at Marivic's house. Right when we were coming out of service, we were bombarded by locals trying to sell "stuff" at the front steps of the church. I wished I didn't recieve it, but I got a flier for a coupon at KFC or some fast food place. I was then reminded of that story in the New Testament (John 2 Jesus Clears the Temple Courts) when Jesus was "mad and angry" at a Jewish synagogue because there people w-ere "selling" stuff. We got home and get ready to leave for Angeles City for the Christening/Baptism of William (cousin's recent baby). We took a carpool of 2 cars from Valenzuela, which would be about an hour drive. Due to the many other "babies" being "Christened", the priest led about 4-5 other families in this special occassion (see pics). We then drove in a carpool to Sylvester's townhouse and hung out there for awhile before taking a "short-cut" back to Manila. Along the drive, my Uncle Ely pointed out to this area where there were still deposits from the Mount Pintatubo eruption back in 1991. They used these deposits in this open field for various ways.


"Lahar (used for road construction material)

Angeles City in Pampanga

When we got home, I did more uploading of pics and celbrated my Aunt Helen's Birthday..yummy "Filipino" cake! My cousin Chris came over and invited me to a stroll around downtown. We went to Luneta/Rizal park in downtown Manila to see the famous..

"Dancing Fountains"

While we waited for the foundtain show, Chris asked a "deep question"-"Atheists?...Why are there folks in America that don't believe in God? I can't remember too on what I responded, but I know I shared with him various reasons. He then told me a story on how the Philippines almost didn't allow Lady Gaga come peform because of her "wild-side".

Day #9

Dancing Fountains at Luneta Park in Manila Philippines

Others:
Fountain Show with music at Luneta Park, Philippines

Day #9
Monday, November 19th 2012: We took the longer scenic route (8 hour drive)to Isabela by visiting the famous tourist spot-Baguio. It was awesome to finally see this much talk about place by family and friends. We first went to this family park, where they had paddle boat rides. My uncle asked me if I was interested in riding, but I refused since I thought it was more for "younger" folks..lol!

We went to this shopping district to get lunch, which we went to McDonalds. We all had a small burger, which tasted a little different from the one they serve back in the "States". Along our walk through the busy traffic of Baguio, I noticed a lot of street sellers. I was tempted to buy some lumpia (preferred Filipino food than American) this guy was selling..hmmm!! I told him, I would like to buy a memory disk card for my digital camera as I'm filling my current 8GB SD card. We walked across this soccer field where some folks were playing a game, which was my first time to see a game like this going on. I would watch with amazement! We walked around downtown Baguio through the store front and finally found one. I bought a 8G for 500 pesos (around 12 American dollars), which I thought was an "ok" deal as I was desperate getting one. We then met with the others (Aunti Helen, Mamang, and ?) and then drove off. We drove through downtown and headed to the famous stairs-Lourdes Grotto. We would walk part of this as we drove mid-way. My uncle decided to stay back as the rest of us walked up. On our way to the stairs, we saw several (Ifugao) tribe people (dressed in their tribal clothing). They had a sign "Money for Picture Taking", so I wasn't able to take pictures; however, I was tempted to do a "walk-by" videotaping-I decided to not risked it. We climbed the stairs and reached the top, which I decided to run as I wanted a "workout"! I then took pics -video from above. As we walked back to the vehicle, I stopped over at the gift shop nearby. I would find out they had the best bargains (comparatively to Mile High area), which I wished I bought more. I got 12 "crafted-made" key chains for (100 pesos) $2 only, which it was a little high at "Mines View".

It took awhile finding "Mines View" as my Uncle got lost. In fact, he had a taxi cab driver (after picking him up) ride with us (around Baguio) to show him how to find the street to "Mines View". The truck was already packed with my relatives, mom, and I; thus he sat with me-nice being "small" Filipinos! We eventually got directed up the hill to this popular tourist spot...

We arrived at this "marketplace" where there were a lof of "stuff" (e.g. souveniers, produce, snacks, etc..)! I was glad I bought those "key chains" back at Lourdes Grotto. I was wishing now that I should've bought more over there if I knew that the prices here were much higher. We would walk around the area including the scenic view over the beautiful city. It was a very rocky area, so be very careful walking up and down this "rocky" path. There were "colorful" painted horses and dressed-up dogs. As I was searching online for pics of this since I didn't take any pictures of these, I just found out there was an earthquake (4.0 only) just 3-days earlier (16th)...wow! Talking about God's timing, which I just feel like our trip went pretty "smooth" overall (just a little mishaps)!Praise the Lord!

This was the same place (Wright Park) my mom and dad had their honeymoon, so it was very meaningful. It makes me want to look back at the "old" vintage pictures I remember looking growing-up of this place. I'll try to scan these pictures and share it with my family!..

Baguio Philippines

Across the street from the "rectangle" pool (similar to Washington DC's but in smaller scale) was the Mansion, which is famously known for a meeting place for "high-ranking" officials (e.g. President's "resort").

After our scenic stop in Baguio, we decided to head out to drive through the long windy roads out of these hills before "sunset". It was definitely a long windy road out of this mountainous region of Benguet province. We drove by the Ambuklao Dam and stopped for a brief-break. There was also a group that stopped over for "scenic pics" while we were there. Then we continued on of the mountains as it was getting dark. My uncle shared a story of this "short-cut" we took towards Solano, Nueva Vizcaya. He said this route was told to him years ago and his friend that was with him got scared because a rebel group used this same route! Fortunately, we didn't encounter anything like this. I was praying "hevily" through this part of the ride.

We stopped at Solano, Nueva Vizcaya (province between Benguet & Isabela) for supper. We had chicken at this place called "Mang Inasal", which was my first time at this fast-food chain restaurant. It was masarup (delicious)! We continued on and finally arrived at San Mariano around 9-10pm after a whole day (with a long-stop in between at Baguio) drive. While setting for the night, we watched this nightly "soap opera" show my Aunti and many other relatives love watching this time of the night. I then did my daily deotionals thanking God for getting us through the windy roads of the Benguet region!

Day #10-11 in San Mariano, Isabella

When I got up in the morning waiting for what's next my relatives has planned. I continued to read this booklet I started reading last night-"THE NEW EVANGELIZATION IN THE PHILIPPINE SETTING". I didn't agree with some of the Catholic agenda, but was in favor of the many "moral" beliefs this author tried to challenge "believers".

We then went out around town. We first visited my cousin (Relly) at his workplace where they distribute Coke products throughout this city. We then drove to his house to meet his family, which is where I gave the gift my younger brother bought a cute "Hello Kitty" headphones. I gave a stuff animal for the up-coming newborn baby that will be coming out soon. It was awesome to see their daughter smile when she receive the gift. She would continue to watch her television as we chatted with her parents. They would show us many photo albums, which was great to see! Then we had a short marienda (morning snack) before going out again.

Our next visit was our other cousin's house, which the whole family wasn't there. It was nice to see where they live. We would end-up seeing them back in Valenzuela-Manila as they would drive down there to "shop" for a truck to be used for their business. My cousin Erwin volunteered to take me around the city in his motorbike. We first cross the river on a raft since the bridge was destroyed by last year's typhoon. Relly told me that this bridge probably wouldn't be finish for 2-3 years! It was actually fun riding this raft as it reminded me of the computer game "Oregon Trail"..lol!

When we got to the other side of the river, we first stopped at the Crocodile Farm. I had the chance to actually hold a baby crocodile, which the keeper closed it's mouth first with a string. My cousin Erwin then held it as it tried to "bite" him...lol! The showers started to quit, so we then went on the motor bike. We went over at Al's in-laws place. They also have a storage place for all the "live stock corn" they gather to haul to the "cities". They are currently building the facility, which Erwin and I climbed up this tower to see the beautiful city landscape of San Mariano. We then continued to drive further west to see the river basin where they grow corn. Erwin and I went down to the river to ride on a small canoe, which we rowed for awhile on the "quiet" river.

We rode the bike back "home" and crossed the river. On our way back on the raft, there were several kids taking a bath or playing in the river. I thought this was the freedom of living out in the "country" or "province"! When we got back, we headed back to Erwin's place. The family cooked a nice meal for meal as we chatted more (e.g. Thailand, Canada, etc..).

My Uncle, Aunti Helen, and mamang came over and then took me to a bigger city (Cauayan) to do errands. My Uncle took us (Mamang & I) to this grocery store called Pure Gold. My Uncle had me try this Filipino food, which was sweet in taste. While we had our "marienda", the employees of the grocery store started this dance. A cousin would later tell me that they would do this, so they won't fall asleep in their daily mundane work. I feel this would be a great daily work routine back at home! The second dance they did was Psy' "Gangnam Style", which I ended-up putting on youtube. I walked around to compare prices there and the USA. I noticed the peanut butter was a little more expensive than the US. I ended up buying some rasin wheat bread to share with my relatives for breakfast tomorrow, which would be great with the strawberry jam I previously bought in Baguio the other day.

On our drive back San Mariano from Cauayan, we stopped over at this road-side eatery-Pancit Cabagan in Cabagan, Isabela. They supposedly had the "best" pancit, which I can totall agree after eating there. It was "masssssssarap!" We got back to San Mariano and stopped over at the store. It was my first time back since 01' (see pic down below) and it was great to see the new expansion (we took a picture from the roof back in 01' and now it's become the 2nd floor of the store, which is used as an apartment for my Cousin Erdie-now owner!).

Isabella Province Philippines Tour

Day #12

Thursday, November 22nd 2012: We left early in the morning around 3am to head back to Valenzuela-Manila. My Uncle took a different route instead of going through the dangerous windy roads of Benguet province. We stopped over in Jolibee for a late breakfast or marienda. I marveled at this "old" Spanish-style church, which was being "re-modeled" (some guy cleaning up high on the walls of the bell-tower). Then there was some type of parade (I think funeral memorial service as they had this band up-front, which was the 2nd or 3rd time I've seen this during my time here).

When we arrived "home" around 7:30ish. I would continue up-loading more pics even though I got a new 8GB memory card (from Baguio). My relatives next door invited my mamang and I for dinner/lunch, which we had some oysters-abundance of seafood around these parts! I then went back to the house to finish up-loading ore pics. My mom started feeling "sick", so my relatives came over to tend to her. I even prayed a couple of different times for her and "googled" online to find "natural" ways (e.g. drink plenty of water, eat vegetables, rest, etc..) to lower her "high-blood pressure".I would share this, which prayer also appeared to help as my Uncle didn't have to take her to the hospital as planned...praise God!

For supper, we had pancit, manok (chicken), etc.. Great traditional Filipino food!

My Cousin Al and his wife were in-town, so they were planning to head to Olongopo (by Subic Bay) for the auction. My cousin Laarine invited me to this morning aerobics at they local neighborhood park (where they play basketball). I decided to upload more pics as I waited till we head to Olongopo. I wished I did go just to see what the fitness groups are like here. It was good to meet him and his family as I haven't seen Al since 01' (remembered him crying when we left back to the States). His family took me along to this truck auction, which was my 1st auction overall. They drove to Subic Bay and I just marveled the scenery along the way, which was about a 2-hour drive...

When we got there around 10ish or so, the auction already started. We got to an open table and just noted the prices of the trucks. Some were around 20-30K (American dollars), which was almost the price of a "big" truck in the US. When it was time for the couple of trucks Al was "scouting", he wasn't impressed with the bids as they were too high. We left and then went to this nearby mall (Harbor Point, Subic) for lunch, which we went to Chow King. After, we drove to a auto-truck auction dealership that was next to the auction to look for "potential" hauling trucks for Al's business. It was so hot that they provided umbrellas while we walked around their dealership lot. After checking out the prices here, we drove around an industrial section of Olongapo City to "window-shop". We left that evening after an all-day outing and got back late that Thursday evening.

Olongopo City on Subic Bay

Day #13

Many of my relatives wanted to go shopping at a discounted place, so they told me "Chinatown" is a great place to find some "great deals"! My cousin Relly arrived late last night around 11ish with my other relative (Erdie's wife) from Isabela. He actually bought a couple of pies (Pineapple & Coconut) for all of us to eat, which I told him this was my "Thanksgiving" (it was Thanksgiving in the US today-12 hours ahead)! I had a piece of both, which I could've ate both pies!! When we got to Chinatown, my Cousin Relly and I walked around downtown looking for a store that sold spare tires for a dolly. It was awesome to walk the streets as I got some "real-life" observations of "city-life" in this part of Metro Manila. I was observing the construction of a nearby skyscraper while my cousin was ordering some wheels at this small shop.

After getting the "heavy" wheels, we walked back to where we parked by the shopping mall (168). It was a great workout, which my cousin and I took turns carrying since it was heavy. When we got to the mall, we walked around as we waited for the others that were already shopping to finish. We stopped over at Chow King, which I got halo-halo.."masarap"!! I ordered one back in Olongapo, but the servers forgot to bring it out...:(...it was yummmmy! We then went walking around more the different levels. We met some of our cousins at a Food Court, which I wasn't hungry since we just ate. I decided to walk around to check out the shops. I wanted to get another memory disk even though there were only a couple of day left of my vacation, but I wanted to have room for more picture taking and video recording. I found a dealer selling a 16GB for only 500 pesos ($12 or so, just like back in Baguio) , which I didn't have my $$ (peso) with me since I haven't had the chance to exchange more of my American dollars. My cousin (Al's wife) was so nice enough to borrow me some, so I went back and there was a new salesperson. The guy (instead of a gal ealier) sold it for another price-much cheaper (only 300 pesos or so), which was even a better deal! My cousins were suspicious that this might not be "quality", but so far as I write this (Sunday, December 22nd 2012) I'm currently still using it as it hasn't been filled and working good! Praise the Lord!

We would walk around the mall more, which I ended-up finding this battery powered mini-light. I plan to use it for my bicycle when I ride at night. I bought batteries with it as it was pretty cheap I thought. We then go back to the Food Court and ate more (afternoon marienda), which I got this seafood munchi. It was good! Then my cousin((Al's wife) bought us some cool snack, so ate some more! We finally left sometime late afternoon as we planned to meet my Aunti Marivic. We were going to pick her up and then head to Makati.

City of Manila Chinatown

We got to her workplace, which my cousin Relly and I waited in the lobby while my other cousins waited in a parking lot across the street. She finally came out after 30 minutes or so of waiting and then drove to Makati. I was about to get into architecture growing-up and still fascinated with it, so I was occupied taking pictures and videos from the front of the vehicle of the beautiful skyline! My cousins would speak Tagalog with each other, but I wasn't able to understand much of what they were saying. I can pick-up some words and guess on what they were speaking in general, but not speficic topics.

It was probably past 6ish-7ish when we drove through Makati after a long traffic back in Pasay and Manila City as it was dark. It was beautiful to see the lights (Christmas decorated too) of this "extravagant" city. My cousins got excited showing their kids of the big skyscrapers and Christmas lit decorations. We got to Ayala Triangle, which was a park in the middle of downtown Makati. We then watched the awesome "Dancing Christmas Lights"! After the 1st show, my cousin Relly and I walked around the area and took pics of a huge Christmas tree by some financial building next to the park. I noticed that this city has a lot of tunnels for pedestrians to walk under instead of crossing above. My cousins told me about the story (see down below) of the famous "Peninsula Hotel" take-over, which I decided to take a better pic. We stayed for a couple of 20 or so minute shows and then left through the busy Friday night traffic through Quezon City.

Makati Philippines

Makati,From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"..is the financial center of the Philippines. As the host of various embassies, it is also an important center for international affairs.
With a population of 529,039, Makati is the 16th largest city in the country and ranked as the 41st most densely populated city in the world with 19,336 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Makati became the financial center of the Philippines during the 1960s. Makati is home of the Philippine Stock Exchange and the Makati Business Club.
Makati is being known for its cosmopolitan culture because of its major shopping centers, condominiums, financial hubs, hotels, and entertainment hubs are located around the city. Although the city is noted for its cosmopolitan culture, it faces internal tensions owing to the wealth gap between residents, workers in and visitors to the newer part of city in the west, which contains the central business/financial district, and residents of the older part in the east, which is largely poor and where most of the slums are located. ..

The fifty tallest skyscrapers in the Philippines are all located in Makati such as the PBCom Tower and G.T. International Tower. The skyscrapers of Metro Manila are, for the most part, clustered in many locations although three areas are distinct for having the largest clusters in the metropolis. The first and biggest is the Makati Business District, followed by the Ortigas Center Business District in Pasig. The newest to rise is the Bonifacio Global City Business District in Taguig. PBCom Tower along Ayala Avenue is the country's tallest building, reaching up 259 meters. It is the headquarters of the Philippine Bank of Communications, or PBCom. One of the trading floors of the Philippine Stock Exchange is housed in Ayala Tower One and at the old Makati Stock Exchange Building, both also along Ayala Avenue.
The PBCom Tower is an office skyscraper ranked officially as the tallest building in the Philippines from 2000 until the topping-out of The Gramercy Residences in 2012. It has a total ground to architectural top height of 259 metres (850 ft), with 52 storeys[6] including an 8-level radio tower

Dancing Christmas Lights at Ayala Triangle Park in Makati Philippines

The Peninsula Manila From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
*cousin told me to "look this up" online during my time at Makati
"..Manila Peninsula Siege
The Manila Peninsula rebellion occurred on November 29, 2007. Detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, General Lim and other Magdalo officials walked out of their trial and marched through the streets of Makati City, called for the ousting of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and seized the second floor of The Peninsula Manila along Ayala Avenue. Former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona also joined the march to The Peninsula Manila Hotel as well as some of the soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The siege was ended after the military stormed the lobby and the second floor where Rizal function room was located and Trillanes was seized.
The lobby of the hotel sustained much damage because of gunfire that rattled through its walls, windows and the main glass door was obliterated by an armored personnel carrier on the assault to serve Trillanes et al. their arrest warrants.
On December 4, 2007, David Batchelor, general manager of the hotel, announced the filing of damage suit within 10 days, as some estimated the damage at US$ 1.2 million or P 50.766 million. Meanwhile, even before the reopening, it already received guests bookings or 51% room occupancy. The Peninsula Manila is 77% owned by the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Limited.[2] ...


Quezon City Traffic

*see John 14:6

We drove through Quezon and I notice more cool "Godly-signs". I felt like I was driving through the "Bible-belt" in southern United States! We then wen to Ali Mall to eat a late supper at the famous Gerry's Grill. They had some great "Filipino" food! It was cool to hangout with my cousins late at night (9ish). We then headed back to Valenzuela-Manila for less than a 30 minute or so drive, which it was a long day, but fun!

Ali Mall in Quezon City

Day #14

Saturday, November 24th 2012

I woke up around 6ish, so we (Chris, Uncle Ely, and I) can leave early for the boat ride to Corregidor Island. I was excited for this trip as I was looking forward to seeing some WWII "history". There wasn't much traffic in Manila, so we got to the boat pretty early. Along our drive, I notice the many people jogging along the bay. I just can't imagine breathing all that "smog" in the city air, which I'm very thankful to live out here in Morris, Minnesota-USA. Chris dropped us off and then headed off. Uncle Ely and I waited for the boat to depart, which he bought me some drink. It wasn't as tasty as halo-halo, but something different!

The boat departed a little after 8am and got to the island around 9:45ish. I enjoyed the conversations on the boat ride. I first met with a group of tourists from Japan. Actually, the guy I was chatting with works in Mindinao. He told me there are a lot of Japanese that live and work there, which was very new to me. I thought it was very honoring of them to take this special "memorial" tour. I would later see them throughout the tour as they had their own Japanese-speaking guide. I met an "older" couple from Canada that has been doing "missionary" (been running an orphanage in Cavite) work here for 20 or so years! Wow, I was so zmazed and highly gave them praise for their work. They then told me about a son (Steve Kwiecinski) of a WWII Vet, who was a gunner at Corregidor Island. I would personally meet him (ironically from Duluth, MN) when our boat landed on the island and was honored to meet him after being told about his great work just minutes ago!

Steve Kwiecinski (far right), an author from Duluth-Minnesota of the book-

-Filipino Military
Corregidor Island Philippines Tour

We went on an amazing 2-hour tour before lunch. I took as much video and pics I can, which there was so much to see. We rode a trolley to different memorials along the tour, but the stops were too short to really take a good look around. I'm glad I took pics (didn't have time to read), which I was able to read and re"search" more when I got back home to Minnesota tto write about this educational experience.

Lunch was served @12noonish and we had to get back on the trolley around 12:45pm. They had some great food at the fancy hotel at the island.I met an American, who was I was able to speak English and have a long conversation. He was from California and was visiting with his family (Filipino wife). I would end-up meeting him again on the boat back to Manila.

After lunch we toured for about 1 1/2 hours before heading back on the boat. It was such a beautiful sunny day, which was perfectly made for this tour. I would spend the whole time on the boat standing-up looking over the edge at the beautiful skyline of Manila and the surruounding scenery (boats, trash floating on Manila Bay, Corregidor Island in the back, etc...)..

Manila Bay Boat Ride

When we arrived around 4ish, my Cousin Chris came to pick Uncle Ely & I with his family. They took us to SM-Mall of Asia in Pasay City...

Mall of Asia Philippines

I believe this is the 3rd largest mall in the world (1st-Dubai, 2nd-China, etc..), wow! We first had our afternoon "marienda", which was I was till full from the buffet from our Corregidor Island tour! I just had Chris ordered "halo-halo" (2nd time), which I just had to take advantage of eating this before heading back to the cold-weather of Minnesota. My cousin shared more of his food (dumplings)he got from Chow King, which I couldn't refused.

We then walked around the HUGE mall and visited the popular "ice-skating" rink, which I thought was "cool"! My niece (Chris's daughter) never ice skated, so I offered to "try" teaching her. We would skate over 30-45 minutes as she didnt' wanna give-up. I admire her perseverance. Chris (dad) told us that we should get going, so we left and headed back to our vehicle. It would be a long drive back home, but I enjoyed my "last" full-day of our 2-week vacation here in the islands. I would sure miss it. I took pics of the night scene on the streets-particularly the Christmas lights. My cousins kept telling me I should visit here during Christmas when the country celebrates BIG! I told them, I already have seen the HUGE celebration already during my 2-week time here. I would've love to come later, which was my attended goal. However, the prices were almost 2x more during the Christmas season...someday! We arrived pretty late and I had to do my "last-minute" goodbyes, which I took some pics and tried to "hold" my emotions of gratitude, thankfulness, and sadness for their great warmth of hospitality the past 2 weeks. I printed my flight info and then "hung-out" with cousins out in the porch before going to bed, which I had to get-up in 3-4 hours for my early departure (8am) flight.

Day #15-LAST DAY!

I woke up around 5ish and then quickly got ready for our drive to the airport. We had a handful of relatives that wanted to ride with us to the airport. It was touching to see them want to get-up so early to see us off. I'm currently tagging their pictures from the past 2 weeks as I took so many on our "private" family facebook group. It was a fun memorable trip and I'm glad to record this for future trip, so others can learn from my experience and visit the many beautiful 7K islands!

Ninoy Aquino Intertnational Airport 2012

In conclusion, this trip was another memorable trip back to my parents' homeland. I thought 2-weeks was just "right" as it wasn't too short or too long. I would love to definitely come back, sooner now as I have buit some stronger bonds with my relatives.

Some of my unique experiences was watching some interesting television programs my different relatives would watch:

  • Eat Bulaga
  • (Eat "Suprise")
    -Eat Bulaga! From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    "...is a noon-time variety show in the Philippines produced by Television And Production Exponents Inc. (TAPE) and aired by GMA Network. The show broadcasts from The New TAPE Studios (Eastside Studio) at the GMA Broadway Centrum in New Manila, Quezon City. Eat Bulaga! is aired Weekdays at 12:00pm to 2:30pm and Saturdays at 11:30am to 2:30pm (PHT). The show is also broadcast worldwide through GMA Pinoy TV. The show celebrated its 33rd year on Philippine television last August 18, 2012.[1] Eat Bulaga! holds the record of being the longest-running noontime variety program on air in the history of local television.[2] Its first overseas version was Eat Bulaga! Indonesia, which premiered on Indonesia's SCTV network on July 16, 2012.[3][4][5][6] Eat Bulaga! became the first Philippine show, variety show in particular, to be franchised by another country. ...

    ...De Leon coined the title of the show: Eat represents lunchtime while Bulaga (which means "surprise" in English) represents their plan to fill the show with lots of big surprises..

    Oct. 3rd-20th 2001

    I (Sal) had an educational (cultural, spiritual, social, political, emotional, physical), eventful, and personal self-growing fun vacation during my 17 days in the Philippines (Luzon mainland area: Valenzuela-Metro Manila, Isabella, Laguna, and Pangasinaan) with my mother and sister. There were up and down times as I was personally adapting to the cultural change from my American way of life (I went to Mexico this summer, which somewhat prepared me to the Non-American conditions). It was also a time of reflection, examination, and seeking God in my life to this point of 24 years during my quiet times (prayer and read the Bible) or just staring out of the car window looking at the daily outside activities (both rural and city) of the Filipino people. I intriguely watched with amazement of this predominate Catholic-Christianized nation, which I was encouraged to see His wonderful work going on ("God" was publicly and unashamedly mentioned throughout public parts of the country to the city through jeepneys, schools, and other forms of signs displayed to get the attention of passerby). I just want to thank (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18God for answering my prayer (Matthew 7:7-see Bible Search Online) for giving me this opportunity to visit my parents' homeland, which I have much long awaited and anticipated for a long time. I never really got the heart and desire to come here until I went to college at the University of Minnesota-Morris (1995-1999) when I went full speed in searching my identity as a world citizen, Asian -Filipino American, and most importantly and recently-a Christian (since April of 1996). Like in the Bible "�for such a time as this!" (Acts 17)

    One more share, I had a chance to get prepared for this trip when I went on a mission trip with 9 young adults to Sonora, Mexico earlier this summer. Meeting many people that looks like you was something that I never experience living in Minnesota. I felt like I blended in with the people of both Mexico and the Philippines. However, I don't think my heart will feel like home until I go to Heaven when my Father and His Son Jesus are there to hold me with the other children in His Kingdom.

    Mabuhay!
    (Welcome!)

    10.03,Wed-04, Thursday-"Arrival in Manila". We left Minnesota 10.02.01 @2:30p CDT. We stopped over at Narita Int'l Airport in Tokyo, Japan and landed in Ninoy Aquino Int'l Airport on 10.03.01 @11:30pm (11 hour flight from Minnesota to Japan and then another 8 hours due to a delay to Manila, which usually takes 4 hours). It was 1am by the time we got out of the airport, which we met our relatives (Uncle Ely, Cousins: Erwin, ?) outside (there is a particular place outside the airport for visitors alphabetized A-Z by name-very orderly!). It took an hour to drive to the place we were going to stay in Valenzuela-Manila (located in the northeast section of Manila). As we left the airport, my eyes were drawn to the BIG billboards advertising the local businesses; such as Jollibee (fast food restaurant chain), Sony, and Coca-Cola. I had a chance to see the very beautiful color neon lighted buildings-big and small of downtown Manila along Rizal Blvd. that runs north and south along Manila Bay from the airport (located south of downtown Manila). There was not much traffic according to my relatives since it was late at night/early morning. During the day or rush hour, it would've taken 3 hours instead of an hour. It was 2am, and I was still wide-awake as I slept in the long plane flight because I thought we were going to land in the Philippines in the late morning. I decided to stay up late and chat with my relatives (Uncle Ely, Erwin, Reely, Redeen) outside the house till 4am. We talked about the current situations (Sept. 11th WTC fall) in America and in the Philippines. We then talked about family and relatives.


    @Philippine Copyright @1999-Nat' Bkstr:postcard

    10.4.01-Thursday "Manila Tour" I woke up around 10am this morning to the beeping jeepneys outside, which was a sign of a busy Thursday in our neighborhood of Pag-asa in the north side of Valenzuela-Metro Manila. The house we stayed in was far enough from the busy congested MacArther Highway, but I was still able to hear the jeepneys and tricycles that would past by our house on and on. In the afternoon, some of our relatives took some time to take us to downtown Manila. We went south on the busy MacArthur Highway to visit Makati. I met the very close (I mean close!) friends of my relatives (Marevick, Relly, Chris) at the mall. It was a beautiful mall that had pine trees growing inside towards the skylight ceiling windows at the center. We went out to eat our maryenda (snack) at the Pancake House (similar to the International House of Pancakes in southwest U.S.A.). We then went around to visit the Hard Rock Caf� (outside only), video arcade, and other stores that I would not find back at home. Later on the evening, we drove around (had a chance to sit in the back of the pick-up to smell the city air and salty Manila Bay) the city to drop off the friends of our relatives throughout a particular area of the city I don't remember. We passed through this neighborhood that was flooded with water, which Sidney said was normal. We got home to dinner already made for us at 9pm!

    October 5, 2001-Friday "Trip to Isabella (del norte)" I woke up and my mom brought me next door (it's very common in the Filipino culture to have relatives/family live next door to you) to visit Auntie Tita (mother of Marevick) for breakfast. She had a BIG breakfast prepared for us (more than you usual American cereal and milk!). We had rice, fish, photo (baked pastry size of a muffin), and some other specialties mixed with rice. I got so... full that I didn't eat lunch at all-I think? I had a chance to walk around the house and learn more about the culture-language through television, radio, and other forms of mass media-communications. I was very fond of the similarities and differences between American and Filipino culture. I was surprised too of how American culture has had an influence (positively and negatively) here, which I will mention more in this journal. We (mom, sister, and uncle Ely) left noonish for Isabella (a province close to the northeast corner of Luzon) because of the long 11 hour drive (about the same amount of time from the U.S. to Japan). Uncle Ely preferred to leave at night to avoid the traffic during the day, but my mom wanted during the day for more of a visible safe travel. Our relatives that were around during the day stood by to see us leave, which I felt like we were in the Love Boat (American television show that starts off the guests of the show waving goodbye as the colorful confetti falls from the top of the deck to the onlookers to see the ship set sail).

    *see My Videos
    We passed again through the highly congested traffic of north Valenzuela to enter the highway going north from Metro Manila. We had to go through a toll before we entered the 100km max highway. During the 1 hour on the highway, I observed the many coconut palm trees, the far distance hills, the usual gas/fuel-fast-food shops (Burger King), cars (mostly Japanese made: Honda Accord/Civic, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and occasional/very few-Ford pickup trucks) that would pass all the time on the side/emergency lane, and other beautiful landscapes of the Philippines. After we got off the highway, we had another 10 hours of countryside driving to go. I took my book on the Philippines and look at a map of the cities of the several provinces we were going through on our way to Isabella. I played some of my Christian tapes I brought from America and enjoy the ride. I would asked Uncle Ely or mom at times on what I saw that was unfamiliar to me along the ride, but I stayed quiet most of the time observing with amazement of the differences (skinnier cows, carabous, trashburning on the side of the highway, rice fields being plowed with man-animal power, and similarities (occasional farm equipment) in the provinces or rural areas. The highlight of this road trip was going up and down through the big hills/mountains towards the end of our 11-hour road trip. Sometimes the road wasn't smooth/paved in both lanes, so some cars had to wait to let the cars from the opposite lane pass through the narrow one lane stretch of the road. Rocks and other sediments that have slid from erosion of the hills when it rains overtook some roads. My eyes were also drawn to the different structures of houses and other buildings along this 11-hour journey. I was especially fascinated to the very large church buildings (Catholic, Iglesia de Christo, and others); some old and very modern. The houses varied from region to region, which I recorded on my video camcorder the traditional old bamboo made houses with rooftop coconut tree leaves. They also have the huge modern mansions located in isolated areas of the countryside. One of the rest stops along the way was at a fast-food restaurant, Jolibee, which I was surprised of a cop that opened the door for customers at the entrance. They menu contained: hamburgers, hotdogs, rice, pancit-noodles, chicken legs, and other small finger food. I slept the last 2-3 hours of the trip and we arrived at our destination in San Mariano, Isabella around 11pm-on time! My mom and sister went straight to bed, but I was somewhat wide-awake. I decided to stay up and chat with my relatives and their friends till 12:30am.

    October 6th 2001-Saturday "Caves of Callao, Cagayan" My mom and sister went to the river this morning that goes outside of San Mariano, Isabella. For me, I was still sleeping because I was knocked out and my stomach wasn't feeling well. I took my bath, which I had to pump water from a well outside of the house. I then just pour water on myself with a small pail. I then chatted with my cousin Al as we watched television in the living room until another planned trip by Uncle Ely. Later that morning, we ventured off to another long drive (only 4 hours this time). Our destination was to the Caves of Callao in the province of Cagayan (south of Isabella). The journey was another beautiful countryside drive under the sunny, but partly cloudy skies. In this area each morning, there are workers who would lay out corn seeds on the sides of the road to dry under the hot sun during the day. Then right before the sun sets each day, the workers would gather all the dry seeds (some that stretch a mile long on the road) in big bags and would get collected by large flatbed trucks. Along the way, Uncle Ely stopped over at this roadside restaurant. We had a meal that contained various Filipino delicacies. My sister was more drawn to the techno-music, which she went over to talk to the employees there. We arrived at the cave around 3pm, which the last stretch of the trip was bumpy, but beautiful as the scenery was mountainous covered with forest with a river basin-tropical rain forest! We had to first climb up some rocky stairs (75-100) before reaching the cave.

    I was able to videotape God's beautiful geologic natural-made caves (ceiling was about 7-10 stories high and stretched about 7-10 different atriums). We went up to 4 atriums and then stopped because it was becoming more dangerous (slippery due to the mud caused by the water dripping from the several open holes above some of the atriums). In the cave there were 2 rows of pews facing a lighted statue of the Virgin Mary high above at the center along the wall. We left the cave and saw some more visitors arriving at this popular tourist spot. My heart was drawn to a mom asking us for money for her children. They were dark in feature and had clothes that weren't from any store-more like tribal clothing. We gave them some peso and I said, "Jesus loves you" in a quiet tender voice. I've been thinking about them since I've left; wondering if this group of people (dressed very different and appeared darker than others) has been introduced to Jesus (Romans 10:14-15).

    I read this book about the "10/40 Window" (an imaginary area between 10 degree parallel north and 40 degrees parallel north of the equator that extends from Northwest Africa across the Middle East and Asia that was introduced at a mission conference in Manila back in 1990) and how 85% [Changing the Shape of World Missions by Byrant L. Myers] of the 10,000 "unreached" (group of 2.1 billion people-as of year 2000, who do NOT yet have a church to equip their people to share the Gospel or Good News of Jesus Christ-John 3:16 and don't have a Bible in their own language/dialect) people groups (ethnic group, tribe, or nation) live in this area. According to Signs & Wonders on pp. 404 by Pastor Dante Veluz of Jesus the Heart of Missions Team, 14 of these people groups live in the Philippines. I've been wondering if those people I met by the caves belonged to one of these 14-hmmm? Anyway, there are more stories from this trip on related mission type opportunities later on this journal.

    We arrived in San Mariano in time for supper that evening. I joined my sister, Al, and other friends to go to this place that had a videoke machine. We stayed there till 12 midnight singing and talking about all types of topics-it was a good old time! That night, I took awhile to sleep because of the dogs barking outside.

    Earlier on Saturday, I had an opportunity to share how I became "born-again or saved" my first-year in college with a relative of mine. He asked me, "what is this born-again". I pretty much told him that we were all born to sin due to the Fall (when Adam fell into sin in the book of Genesis). Humans are NOT perfect, only Jesus Christ! Philosophy, good works, going to church, or religion itself will not get anyone to Heaven. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will. This starts when anyone acknowledges he/she is a sinner and that Jesus died for you on the cross. Ask Him for the forgiveness of your sins (Romans 10:9). He rose again the third day to show that we will have eternal life (John 3:16) after you have invited Him to come into your heart-life (Revelations 3:20), so that you give your total dependence on Him each day until Jesus comes!

    more on the way..............

    PART II

    10.7.07, Saturday �Sabbath Rest� I was suppose to be up for the early 8 am service at the local Catholic Church, but I wasn�t able to get myself awake. My mom and sister were already at the service when I woke up at 8am. By the time I got myself ready after rushing with my morning bath, I thought it would be too late into the service. Cousin Al happened to be watching television in the living room. I joined him in watching a live/taped service of a Catholic-charismatic Sunday service in Hong Kong-called El Shaddai. I was fascinated with what I saw because of hearing of El Shaddai before from people I knew back in America. Also, I was drawn to the message, which the pastor/reverend was sharing a message outdoors to a large congregation on the need of unity amongst the churches (referring to how they must follow the examples of churches uniting in America during National Day of Prayer after Sept. 11th�s WTC Fall) in this region (John 17)-Jesus last prayer was on unity on believers before his crucifixion). We had to leave after awhile because he wanted to show me the born-again church in town. He wasn�t sure what time the service started. We walked only several blocks in town in the beautiful warm sunny morning of San Mariano. The workers already had the dry corn set out on one-side of the road to dry for the day. As we walk to the church, I notice some would be staring at me as they kind of knew I was not from that town (my clothes, my walk, and overall appearance). I decided to take my glasses off in most of this trip, so I don�t stick out. Not many wear glasses in the province or rural areas, so I didn�t want to appear more intellectual or above them. There were many times throughout the trip, I just wanted to blend in to feel apart of the community or people. Also, my Aunt Toni in the States and I talked about how we (sister and I) should be careful how we dressed (don�t wear clothing that might make people think we are from America) here because of possible anti-American feelings due to the political situation since Sept. 11th and before! Plus, people that think you�re from America presume you might have money and fit the stereotype they see on television. We reached the born again church, which was called Jesus the Word of Life Ministry. It was a small comfortable building, which the service already started as someone was sharing a message (Tagalog). I somewhat understood whenever they mentioned a verse from the Bible. They played some praise and worship (kids played the instruments) music, which I understood more because it was in English and it was familiar. Then the pastor came up and shared a message, which he shared a message that had some reference to Sept. 11th too. The service (9-11a) ended with some more praise & worship songs (one or two was in Tagalog/Illocano-local dialect), which I left and spoke to some of the leaders about who I am and how I�m related to Al. We went back to the house and decided to do a tour of the city. First, we stopped over at the store (my uncle and aunt owns) and picked up Thelma to join us. Al drove us out of town and showed me the river that goes outside through town. The bridge that goes over it was only big enough for a car and a jeepney to drive through, so other cars had to wait if another car is on it. When we went on the river shore, I had a chance to get close to the nation�s famous and national animal-the caribou (almost big as American cows)! However, it would not let me get closer to touch it because it walk or move away from me. Al shared us some stories of this river and the mayor that lived along the river. Currently, the town folks are not too happy of their corrupt mayor (who has a nice new car!). We headed back and rested throughout the day. I watched a channel called Lakbay television, which was a national tourist/travel channel that showed the various beautiful places of this country. I heard the term balikbayan for the first, which is a term used for any Filipino coming back to the Philippines or back to their homeland. For lunch, my mom brought several chicken eggs called bulot, which was ok for me to eat as my stomach (answer to prayer-Praise God!) has gotten better after it wasn�t earlier for the past several days. My sister taped this on videotape because eating this particular food is like a challenge to people outside of this country. Later that night, our cousin Erdy wanted to hang out with him and his wife at the local video hangout. We did more singing and chatting with him, Al, and their friends till 11pm because we had to get up early the next day for another trip. I went home and I just stayed up for an extra hour to watch a Filipino made movie with some of the people at the house. It was an action Filipino-made movie as there was some fighting and romance/drama! I went up to bed, but couldn�t sleep right away after my quiet time (read Bible and prayer) because of the loud dogs barking outside of the house.

    10.08.01, Monday �Trip to Medella, Quirino� (map)
    I did it again, I woke up later-around 10am. In fact, I was being waited on for our long 3 hour trip to visit the waterfalls in Medella, Sorino (a province south of Isabella). I got ready quick and went for another beautiful countryside road trip. We (Uncle Ely, mom, sister, and I) stopped over at this restaurant and had ihaw-ihaw (barbecued fish). It was an open-wall place made out of bamboo and rooftop palm tree leaves. We headed out to the waterfalls and got there around 2pm. The path to the waterfalls was not too reliable or secure (no rails preventing any tourist from falling into the falls or stream), so we really had to watch our step! The beautiful sight was nothing comparable to our video shot. The falls was so curvy and high to the top that we couldn�t see where it started. We enjoyed the view and got some pictures taken for an hour or so, and we had to leave for another long 3 hour ride back before it go too dark!

    Sal trying to climb a cocount tree in the base of the waterfalls

    Bisangal Waterfalls (Maddela, Quirino) LUZON-Philippines

    "Some beautiful views of the bottom of this waterfall in Quirino Province (north -east central part of Luzon)-Phillippines..."
    Waterfalls: "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me."-Psalm 42:7

    Related Sites:

  • Explore Philippines >> Quirino >> Description, from tourism

  • " Quirino - Forest Heartland Of Cagayan
    spacer spacerBrief Description Long before its formal creation as an independent province, Quirino was the forest region of the province of Nueva Vizcaya, inhabited by tribal groups known as the Negritos. They roamed the hinterlands and built their huts at the heart of the jungle.
    Quirino lies in the southeastern portion of Cagayan Valley. It is situated within the upper portion of the Cagayan River basin and bounded by Isabela on the north, Aurora on the east and southeast, and Nueva Vizcaya on the west and southwest.
    The Ilocano dialect is used widely in the lowlands of the province�s various municipalities while Ifugao is predominant in the uplands.

    Things to Do and see in Quirino...
    "Bisangal Waterfalls (Maddela)
    It rests on a virgin forestland and serves as a sanctuary for endangered species of wildlife. Located within 35 kilometers from Cabarroguis town.

    Along the trip back, we stopped over at this place to have coconut juice-fresh from the source. It was hmm...good! I then enjoyed the rest of the scenery of how people lived in this province on our way back to San Mariano, Isabella. One heart touching scene was a young smiling adult that had large tumor that covered part of his face that made his face look awkward. I last saw this on a documentary on television in America, which I didn�t expect to see in person. I started to pray for him in my spirit that in God�s will and the young man�s too that this tumor will be gone. It was around 9pm when we arrived, which we stopped over at the store...

    ...to find out there was a blackout. They had candles to light the store up and Uncle Ely parked facing the store for more light from the car�s headlights. The blackout lasted for a short time, and several us made our way up to the store�s rooftop to talk. It was a beautiful night as the stars were out. Uncle Ely, Aunt Helen, mom, and Thelma talked about church. While, I talked with Al, Erdy, and a couple of their friends about variety of topics (Christianity, Sept. 11th-WTC Fall, America overall, and life itself) till the late hours. Cousin Al put a huge beetle on my arm and told me not to pick it out or I�ll start bleeding. This scared my sister when he tried to put it closer to her. Cousin Al and I started to look at the stars as we talked about our dreams in life, which I told him that God knows his heart desires (Psalm 20:4). Al then saw a falling star (actual meteor showers: big/small rocks going through Earth�s hot atmosphere), which he shared his wish/dream out loud. The clouds got thicker covering the beautiful star filled sky, so we decided to head home. I watched more news on t.v. to see how things are going in America and found out a new development-America has started air raids over Afghanistan. They are beginning to target hot spots where they believe the Taliban are hiding. I went to bed with many thoughts, but got it cleared during my nightly quiet time with God (prayer and reading a chapter from the Old Testament in the Bible).

    October 9, 2001-Tuesday �Last Day in San Mariano, Isabella� We weren�t going to leave for Manila until evening, so we had the whole day to spend time with our cousins and check out the places in San Mariano before we left. Cousin Al and Erdy bought a videoke machine (karoke machine with a video monitor that displays words for the song with a video in the background). They brought it in the front driveway of the house, which we sang most of the later part of the morning. Mom even sang one song, �Do, Re, Me..� from the popular family movie Sound of Music. Al took me to town to meet Pastor Bill from the church I attended yesterday at the store he owns at the market in town. It was a small store that had Christian resources: books, music tapes, etc� He also ran a little candy booth for kids. I had a good long 1-hour conversation with him on the work God has called him in his life to do in the city of San Mariano, Isabella. It was an encouraging personal story that I would like to keep his story private. I asked him what God is doing in this area. He told me that JHMT came over to do a crusade in 1998. I told I knew JHMT, when they too did a crusade in my home area of Minnesota-U.S.A. He shared several other stories on the strongholds (anything that hinder God to do his loving work) in this area, which God has overcome through their prayers. One example, was a healing of a deaf/mute person that visited Jesus the Word of Life Ministry. God willingly, I would like to continue in contact with him as I got his mailing address before I left. My sister and Al were still waiting for me, so we left and went back home. We did more videoke till sunset. I watched more television as I was amuse to Filipino shows, movies, and the primetime network (ABS-CBN) overall because of the unique similarities and differences. Pastor William and friends from the church came over to the house to visit my relatives and family. We talked more about each other�s calling to serve God and a possible opportunity to meet one another again in the future to do mission work. They left after about an hour, and we left one another by doing a group prayer (including my mom) holding hands. We (Matthew ) prayed for each other�s calling to serve God, our families/relatives, and the city of San Mariano that God will pour out blessings (financially, spiritually, physically) to the people here. I then finished packing and got ready to leave around 10pm saying goodbye to our new friends we met and the relatives at the house. One of the friends told me, �don�t forget us�. I told him, �I won�t as you and the others will be in my prayer when I go back to America�. We (Uncle Ely, Thelma, mom, and a friend of the family) then went to the store to pick up Aunti Helen and then left at 11 o�clock in the late evening for another long 11-hour drive. We stop several times along the way; including a restaurant that was opened late in the early morning (1or 2 am) to eat chimpirado (warm rice with cooked chicken). I pretty asleep most of the night, which I opened my eyes for awhile especially during up the narrow steep windy road going up the big hills.

    October 10, 2001-Wednesday �Back in the City of Manila� Early in the morning, many of us were awake, so we stopped again at our becoming favorite fast-food restaurant-Jolibee. As I was getting out of the car, the familiar salesperson (newspaper, sweets, fruits, souvenirs, and other hand-made items that pleases any tourist) ran up to a car if we wanted to buy the morning newspaper (War on Terrorist was a frequent topic in the front-pages during our vacation). Yes, they serve breakfast, which we ordered pancakes and sunny-side up eggs. We were now close to our destination-Manila, which we arrived around 9am! Uncle Ely just went straight to sleep in the couch in the living room. I decided to take a nap too after talking with our relatives there on some of our experiences at San Mariano, Isabella. There was no big trips plan today, so we pretty much stayed home and relax. I reflected on a week�s worth and then I wrote on a rough draft journal entry of our trip so far. Many of our relatives were out of the house doing errands in town or at work. Cousin Larni and his husband Roy invited us to go shopping for the up-coming baptism of their son-Jim �Boy� Lourd. They took us to another Mall just north of the start of Rizal/Roxas Boulevard. It was supposed to be a discount mall that had more affordable prices compared to the one in Makati. As we entered the mall (like many of the others), the security was very high compared to America. There was a metal detector we had to go through, and another entrance had a police/security officer that had a metal wand detector to check our body up and down for any weapons. We found a beautiful cute barong (traditional formal Filipino thin see-through dress/suit in special occasions) for Jim. Due to the lower monetary rate/value of the Philippine peso compared to the US $, prices for various items were cheaper. For example, I bought a pair of formal dress shoes for about 500 pesos, which is about $10 dollars! I was reading a magazine that contained the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or average annual income (GNP/population): Philippines GDP $324 (78 million people) compared to U.S.A�s GDP $33,000 (260 million people). *These figures are just a rough estimation. One restaurant that we saw at the mall that I later found out was a national chain was Kenny Roger�s Roasters (a chicken restaurant with several popular American hotdishes/food). For mayeyenda we went to a popular national chinese fast-food chain. We each had different chinese noodle soups with various ingredients, which tasted good and appeared healthy! Cousin Chris came home at his usual time @9pm in the evening from work. I talked about his old friend in San Mariano, Isabella whom I met when I attended a church this past Sunday. We then talked about both of us being �born-again� (we both got �saved� in our first year of college) and how life has changed ever since. The day was coming to an end and there was another long trip plan for tomorrow.

    October 11, 2001-Thursday �Visiting our Uncle in Paranaque� We got up around 6:30am to beat the early morning rush hour to Paranaque (south of downtown Manilla). Our relatives� friend Muding, who drives a city cab for a living, drove us. The purpose of the trip was to visit Uncle Totoy(Dad�s brother), who we visited at Marcelo Green Village (private guarded housing area). I videotaped the area because the name of the village inspired my dad to name my brother Ceo (fullname is Marcelo). When we got there, we notice the old pictures of our (sister, brother, and I) youth. My sister and I got more surprised when we saw the old pictures of our Dad, Auntie Toni, and Uncle Totoy. Uncle Totoy gave us a photo album containing pictures that we sent him of us 10-15 years ago. Also, they had pictures of his friends and other significant people in his life. We visited an old friend of his in another village around this south Manila suburb. This meeting was the first time with our Uncle Totoy since we were kids (Sal-3 & Thelma 4), so we went out to go shopping. We went to the Super Mart Mall in Paranaque. According to Uncle Totoy, this mall is just 1 years old. My favorite part of the mall was House of Praise Incorporated, a worship music, video, and literature booth. I was able to find Steve Kuban�s CD (performed at a recent JHMT �Hear & Obey� Conference in Minnesota early September of this year. I also found various Christian CD�s that I would not find in America-I think. What got my attention to this booth was the Christian music (Psalm 150)-a great evangelism idea! We went to the popular chain store, National Book Store (like Barnes & Noble), where I bought my Filipino-Tagalog Bible. Shopping made us hungry, so we went to Jolibee for lunch. This eatery has become a favorite of my mothers during this trip! We went to a cathedral church located downtown along Rizal/Roxas Blvd. facing Manila Bay. There were many people coming in and out to pray during the afternoon. After prayer, we went to seek the open-market outside (food, clothes, gift souvenirs, etc�). As we drove back home to Valenzuela-Manila, we passed the �slums� or poor neighborhood. We�ve been passing this area many times as we traveled in an out of Manila. It really made my heart sink everytime we passed this area. I remembered watching a video from Compassion International. They did a brief story of a poor girl that would go dig in the city garbage dump for food. Watching it on video for the first time just upsetted my stomach and got my eyes glued to the t.v. set because I never knew something like this happens. I finally got to see this unpopular city garbage dump that the many poor in this part of the city have open access to because their shafts are built right behind it! The gap appeared to be bigger between rich and poor based on my observation compared to America. It was very unfortunate to see this huge difference wondering if anybody cares. I watched the news right before I left the country torwards the end of my vacation here, and found out the government was doing something about it as it was shown in the local news. My relatives told me that the government has been doing something about it. They built new houses for them, but the poor ended up moving back into their streets. As I watched them in their living conditions when we passed them, my sister and I noticed how happy (child smiling in their parents� arms) they appeared to be happy. I notice a church sign in one of these �shafts�, which I thank God for sending a servant to be willing to be used to reach these people (Luke). After a long traffic, we came home in-time (around 6pm) for maryenda. Someone bought a baked cake from the popular national chain bakery-Goldilocks. I see this as the Philippine version of Dairy Queen! Our relatives were going in and out of the house when we arrive (a common sight). I watched the news again, which I frequently did (especially the new development of Anthrax cases). The security in the post office heightened in the country after the first case of Anthrax found in a letter in Florida-U.S.A. One news story they televised in the evening news that got my attention (both my eyes and heart) was this: A postal worker was aware of the heightened security in getting mail. She got a package with no return address and it was mailed to Abu-Sayaaf (the terrorirst group in southern Philippines that have been charged for kidnapping and is linked with the world known leader-Osama Bin Laden) in the large southern island of Mindanao. Following security measurements, she contacted her supervisor and the national bomb squad and intelligence agency came. When they carefully opened the package, they found: a Jesus Video, a True Seeker booklet/track, and a letter addressing to the Muslim group that ��Jesus loves them and I�ll be praying for you� (I�m paraphrasing as I still try to recall or remember). I was soo�touched that my heart sank with love and excitement about this evangelism outreach to the �enemy� (Matthew 5: 44)and also a light to the viewers that saw this in the evening news from across the nation. According to the report, they later found out the letter was sent from Virginia-U.S.A. Cool huh-praise God!

    Why they (Israelites & Palestinians) might be fighting?
    [I was doing my nightly quiet time (during my stay in San Mariano, Isabella) and the Holy Spirit led me to Genesis: Story of God�s covenant promised to Abraham�s kids Isaac-Sarah�s kid & Ishmael-Haggai�s kid. It includes how Israel (Genesis 32:28)came about. I read several chapters on this story, which gave me now a better understanding on all the fighting currently going on the Middle East that has gotten many nations and more in the future I feel involved. On my way to the Philippines on the plane, I read �The Last Word in the Middle East� by Derek Prince. The author had some good references to the Bible on understanding past, present, and future situations in this hot spot that has currently spread throughout the world.]

    PART III

    October 12, 2001-Friday �Valenzuela-Manila� Thelma and mom went to town with some of our relatives for a family ?. Cousin Chris, Sebastian, and I went to the neighborhood market to rent some movies from the local video store. It was cool to see videos in Tagalog, which we rented one that was about values of the traditional Filipino family. We played it Friday evening, but no one seem to be interested as some of our relatives were barbecuing (shiskabobs) out in the front yard. Most of the men were outside joining the barbecue, while most of the woman were in the house. Earlier this evening, I went with Cousin Reley, Chris, and Sebastian to play pool/billiards. I rode the national vehicle of form of transportation for the first time-the jeepney! It was a unique personal experience as it was a small passenger service (seats up to 20 people facing each other). After watching these jeepneys drive by from another car, it was pretty exciting to finally ride on one. The ride was only a couple of minutes to the pool hall, which it was packed-up as it was a Friday night. Chris told me that the game of pool has been popular these past years because a Filipino won the pool/billiards world professional championship. This explained the many people playing this sport I saw when we drove through the country and city. I didn�t stay up too late that evening because we had to get up early the next morning for another long trip.

    October 13, 2001-Saturday �Narcalan, Laguna Trip� We had to wake-up very early again. This time, we woke up at 5am for a weekend! Yes, a weekend! The weekend around here in the city gets jammed up to because many people travel to the country outside of the cities to visit their relatives (like what we were doing) or to escape the hectic congested city life during the week days. We left by car around 6am and picked up our Uncle Totoy to head to our Dad�s, Aunt Toni, and his hometown of < Narcalan, Laguna. We visited several old friends of our dad�s and his when they grew-up in this area. Laguna seem to be more hilly and filled with more trees compared to the northern area of Luzon of Isabella. The cities, towns, or barrios we went through were: San Juan, Nagcarlan, and Majajajay. I was reading this book on the Philippines called �The Philippines-Odyssey Passport� by Evelyn Peplow. An interesting fact about the province of Laguna was that the movie �Platoon� and �Apocalypse Now� was filmed here. The terrain or natural surroundings are similar to Vietnam, so I�m guessing that was the reason for having these films made here. The big difference I saw between here and Isabella was the greener and much forestry tropical forest. Laguna is about located in the southern tip of Luzon, and a bay in its northern border mostly surrounds it. We then left around 1pm to get back to Valenzuela-Manila. The drive back was like another beautiful scenic ride. There were huge beautifully tree covered hills touching the cloudy sky that you can see miles away. We drop Uncle Totoy over along the way and went to our frequent favorite maryenda stop-Jolibee. I tried another Filipino specialty (pancit, shrimp, and another ingredient) there, which I wanted to try a dish that I couldn�t in the U.S.A. We went home and found our relatives cooking up some more ihaw-ihaw (barbecue shish-ka-bob) out in the front of the house. Our relatives chatted with my sister and I for awhile; talking about variety of topics as we get to know each other more. Tomorrow was going to be a big day for our cousins� kids (Josie and Jim Boy), who are both getting baptized (Christening).


    (l-r: Thelma, Mom, Sebastian, Larni, Jim Boy, Josie, & Jane)

    October 14, 2001-Sunday �Josie & Jim Boy�s Baptism� My sister and I woke up around 7am because we were planning to attend an early born-again church service (didn�t know what time) prior to the baptism of Josie and Jim Boy at a Catholic service @11:30am. Our cousin Chris called a neighborhood church, and it was going to start at 10am. We decided to attend this other Catholic church (Fatima) in Valenzuela (8am-service start), which it already started. To avoid missing the whole service, we (Chris, Thelma, and I together) took a tricycle to MacArthur Hwy. Then we took a 15-20 minute jeepney ride to the south part of Valenzuela-Manila. The building was already packed, but we were able to squeeze our selves into a pew. Growing up in a Catholic church in most of my life, it was nice to see the differences of the services between the Minnesota-U.S.A. and this particular one in Valenzuela-Manila. One distinct difference was the bowing of heads and eye contact with each other instead of shaking hands during the "peace be with you� in Minnesota. After the service ended at 8:45 am, we got some time before the 10am service at this born-again church. We then rode the jeepney a little further south of Fatima Medical School from Fatima Catholic Church. It was around 9am and we still had an hour to wait, so we looked at some CD�s being sold on the streets. Chris and I heard some contemporary praise & worship music coming from this other church by the CD booth. Instead of waiting for this 11 o�clock service, we decided to check this church out. The music drew us to this upstairs 2 story building, which there was a large (50-75 seated) room with surround sound speakers. A couple of people were at the door to greet us. This helped us feel welcome! They had an open mike for shares/testimonies after praise and worship, which only 1 shared. I wanted to share as Chris encouraged me to do so, but I didn�t feel right doing it as a visitor. Then the pastor shared a blessed message about �God is in Control� as she talked about the recent Sept. 11th-WTC Fall in N.Y.C-U.S.A. Please contact me if you would like more details about this prophetic-inspirational message, which I don�t want to go in detail. I kept on looking at my watch as the service went close to 2 hours because we had to get to Josie and Jim Boy�s baptism. The pastor was just finishing the message and did a group prayer. That�s when we left and headed out for another church service (3rd one). Chris and I talked about the message for awhile, which I shared some of the Biblical verses that were given. We talked more about the message a couple of days after, as we were personally touched! It was time! -The moment we�ve been all waiting for, which encouraged my mom to visit the Philippines at this particular time in the first place-Josie (Cousin Erwin and Josie�s daughter) and Jim Boy�s (Cousin Larni and Roy�s) baptism. On our way, we stopped over at McDonald�s to meet Chris� girlfriend. From there, we took another jeepney further north on MacArthur Highway to the baptism. About 7 other babies got baptized, which I was able to videotape Josie and Jim Boy�s.

    Many of our relatives were there to help celebrate this big event for both families. We all went home and continued this spiritual celebration with a BIG lunch as many tables were set up in the driveway of the house. This was probably the best meal I had this whole time I was here because pretty much all the popular Filipino dishes (lechon, pancit, fish, chicken etc�) and desserts (kare-kare and a decorated frosted not too sweet/sugary cake) were represented here. It was a good time eating and fellowshipping amongst one another. There were so many people in the house that there were some that I haven�t met yet. During the festivities, Marivick's friend took some of her time to teach me some Tagalog. We did this most of the afternoon as we did various activities, such as playing frisbee out front, swing sets in the neighborhood playground, lighting up firecrackers, and launching firecrackers up in the sky above the house. Sidney, Thelma, and some other relatives talked more about some various topics/issues between American and Filipino culture. Again, more ihaw-ihaw was getting cooked on the grill, as it has been the past 3 nights now! I headed to bed early because we had to get up early again the next morning.

    October 15, 2001-Monday �Labrador, Pangasinan Trip� Another early morning to wake-up @4am! Muding drove us (Thelma, Mom, Aunti Fely, and I) to Labrador, Pangasinan. This ride (only 4 hours) was a lot shorter than the one to San Mariano, Isabella (only 11 hours). I was so tired that I just slept most of the way with occasional glances of the scenic drive. We got there @8:30am and met more relatives in our mother�s side. One of them was Aunti Fay, who is the younger sister of my Mom. She appeared very excited to see my Mom as they hugged each other with all smiles and affection. The house we were at was Grandma and Grandpa�s (Mom�s side) old house, which they have already past away. I met my grandparents once when I was 3 years old, but it was such a young age that I don�t even have any memories of them at all. When they died, I did remember this time because my Mom was crying when she heard the sad news over the phone when I was young (?). I could just feel the presence of my grandparents as we got a tour around the house-downstairs and upstairs. Our relatives then served us some fresh coconut juice fresh from the coconut tree. They cut the coconut in half over a bowl to save the fresh-pure-clean juice. Then they served the half-cut hollow coconut to us, which we ate the juicy thicker fruit of the inside. I heard this is the purest and cleanest form of liquid on earth, which is very good for your immune system. We then skipped a house down the road and met more of our relatives. This time, it was Aunti Lita and her children (Uncle Lou was in the United Emirates): Sherwin �Sylvester�, Jong-Jong, and Amelia �Mia� or �Diana Ross� (after the famous African-American singer in the 70�s). While waiting for the Jong-Jong and Sylvester to come home from their day at college, we went to visit more of our Mom�s side relatives just across the street. We met Aunti Tita & Uncle Aster and only one of their four children: Herald (Gigi-Saipan Vanny-Dagupan, Gladys-Toronto, Canada). Later that evening, Aunti Lita and her children all went with us to a mall an hour drive from Labrador. It was located in the bigger city of Dagupan. It was a very newly built mall, which we went a huge supermarket to buy some groceries. Thelma bought a pair of shoes. It was getting late, so we got some food from McDonalds and headed home to Labrador by 9pm or so.

    Tuesday, October 16th 2001-�Labrador Tour� We had to get up early @6am�well, I chose to as I was awakened by my cousins getting up for school the same time. Amelia had to go to high school-palaraan , but Sherwin and Jong-Jong had classes at the college (in Dagupan) a little later (separate times) in the day. My Mom, Thelma, Aunti Lita, Jong-Jong, and I went to a high school where my Mom taught for many years (10-11) when she used to live here. It was like a great homecoming for her! Aunti Tita made a large bowl filled with delicious pancit for a welcome back party for our Mom. My Mom too brought something as a gift to the teachers that were present at the party. She had Aunti Lita, Thelma, and I pass pens and snack food to each teacher (a hand few of them has taught there since my Mom left, which the rest were new teachers). Several kids then performed a modern techno-dance for my Mom. Then the teachers wanted my sister and I to dance-no specifics of what happened! My Mom then joined some other teachers she has known for a long time to dance together to the rest of the audience present at the party. I caught a little of this �kodak moment� (happy once in a lifetime event) on videotape. It was indescribable, but it was awesome to see our Mom so happy! Yes, we had to leave this great moment. As the party ended, Thelma and I ended up talking to the only male teacher present about all sorts of topics and Sept. 11th. We then drove to visit one of our relatives (92 years old woman!). After a long conversation between my Mom and her, I asked if I could pray for her. I wanted to pray for her that God would give continual physical strength to live longer (God willingly 100 years old!). She wept and hugged me. Then did the same with the others that were with me as we left. We had our lunch (seafood: crabs, shrimp, and fish) and then I took a short afternoon nap. Uncle Ely happened to be in town to go fishing with some friends he knew in this area of the province. This man seem to be the �energizer bunny� when it comes to driving because he has been driving long distances since we came to the Philippines. Our cousins told us that he does this often-he drives a Nissan pick-up if you readers are wondering what type of gas-mileage vehicle he drives. I�ve been up so early this morning, so I decided to take a short nap. Later in the afternoon, we visited Uncle Aster (mom�s brother) and Aunti Tita, who lived right across from Aunti Lita�s. They shared some past stories of our (sister and I) last visit when we very young. My sister, Mia, and I played a game of badminton out in front of the house. We waited for Mia�s brothers to come home before eating our supper. It was not till 8pm when Jong-Jong arrived, when we started to eat (Hapunan). After our fellowship time, we went to bed at 10pm because of another day to get up early.


    @Philippine Copyright @1999-Nat' Bkstr:postcard

    Wednesday, October 17th 2001-�100 Islands� We woke up around 5am! We (Aunti Lita, mom, Thelma, and I) had our small breakfast (noodle soup) and drove to Manaway, Pangasinan for an early morning service. The message by the priest that morning was still memorable, as he shared about (paraphrase) when you go to heaven, what matters is what is inside your heart (right with God?). The service was like the one back in Valenzuela-Manila. We toured the facility area of this pretty large church building. They had a store to buy Catholic memorabilia (statues, rosaries, crosses, hymn books, etc�). On our way back home to Labrador, we went through the big city of Dagupan. Prior to downtown, we went to a beach looking at the Langayen Gulf-South China Sea-Pacific Ocean. It was only for a short time because we planned to be going to another beach closer to Labrador. Dagupan had a very busy downtown packed with small buildings, people, and cars congested together. We just went through it because Thelma and I just wanted to check out the beach. Outside of Dagupan, we met our cousin Vanny (son of Aster and Tita) working at an open outside market. He used to work in Saudi Arabia as an oversees worker, which is very common to many Filipinos. It was around 10am when we arrived at home in Labrador-in time for our morning maryenda! After our stop at home, we continued on the coast towards 100 Islands (northwest of Labrador in Pangasinan)...
    100 Islands in Luzon-Pangasinan, Labrador- Philippines

    *see YouTube.com-Goodnewsusa

  • Hundred Islands National Park by Jenny Exconde (worldisround.com)

  • "The Hundred Islands is Pangasinan's best-known attraction. A cluster of small uninhabited islets located a short boat ride from Lucap pier, five km north of Alaminos, Pangasinan. These eroded rocky outcrops have a few small sandy beaches that can get crowded on holidays.
    Because of its special characteristics, scientific importance, uniqueness and high scenic value, the national committee on geograpical sciences declared the hundred islands of Pangasinan as a national geological monument last Sept. 2001."

    Island Souveniers
  • Island Philippines,from images philippines.com
  • *bought a whole bunch, which was very cheap (American $)

    The 30-minute (estimate) ride along the Langayan Gulf was a scenic route. About halfway, we stopped on a hillside and look at the beach were earlier on in Dagupan City (videotaped!). It was around 12 noon when we arrived at our beautiful destination. It was a tourist spot, so as we came out of our cars-some lady came to us trying to sell us some souvenirs (beautifully and colorfully decorated seashells with painted words on them). Instead of our intended 30-minute boat trip to one of the 100 islands of the coast, my mom was drawn to the merchandise/souvenir shop. The beautiful different types of seashells caught our attention so much that we didn�t have time to take the boat ride. We were able to get these seashells personally made with whatever we wanted to say (e.g. �God/Jesus Loves You�) as the artist asked us to write down what we wanted painted or printed. After shopping around, we got back in the van and headed to the beach close to Labrador. At the beach, we ran towards the in-coming waves and dove straight at it. The waves left a salty taste in my tongue when I came out from the water. I felt like a kid again as I played on the water and searched for seashells underwater. My cousin, Sherwin, was able to find a seashell with a baby crab in it-cool! I decided to collect some seashells and brought it to America in a container for memory-sake. Sherwin and I talked with a group of young ladies at the beach after Thelma was conversing with them. They came from Sam Miguel, and they were in town for some sport camp. After the beach, we went back home and had our late lunch (fish and rice). We were planning to head back to Manila this afternoon, so we spent the afternoon packed and saying goodbye to neighbors and friends. As we left, our relatives and friends gathered together to say goodbye. I was here only for several days, but it seem like I�ve been here the rest of my life as I�ve grown to know and love my relatives. It was a 4-hour drive to Manila-much shorter than the drive from Manila to San Mariano, Isabela. I was more awake on the way back to the city compared to away, so I enjoyed the scenic drive as we drove through a fairly large city-Tarlac City. We stopped over for gas only, but I wished we could�ve toured the city of Tarlac. The city appeared to have a lot of restaurants and unique places to check out. It was late evening (9:30pm) when we arrived home in Valenzuela-Manila. Our relatives there asked us how our trip was, so I stayed up a little late sharing our short trip in my mom�s birthplace. I stayed up with Chris and Reden watching �Here on Earth� (American movie), which was a good movie about a young woman and a young man meeting in a �divine� way in a small town of Putnam, Massachusetts. As I was about to go to bed, Uncle Ely arrived with his friends who fished (shrimp, crabs, and fishes) with him in Pangasinan.

    Thursday, October 18 2001-�Antipolo-Manila� There were no plans today, so we slept in and relaxed throughout the day. Thelma and I watched more Filipino television-Asia MTV; curious about the similar-different MTV culture here. They played many �American� videos, but they also played some videos from Asian artists that Americans would have no access to. Larni, Roy, Jim Boy, and I decided to go together in town to buy some groceries and check out the nearby Christian bookstore. We got back home and got ready for our evening trip to Antipolo-Manila-Laguna Bay. We left close to sunset-5: 15pm and headed for an hour drive west of downtown Manila to Antipolo. In this little city section, we were able to see the whole beautiful city of Makati-Manila. The location was at Cloud 9, a romantic restaurant located on a huge hilltop overlooking the entire city. The evening wasn�t over yet! When we went home to Valenzuela-Manila for supper, our cousins were waiting for us to take us to Pasig-Manila (heart of downtown Manila). This part of the city is known for its non-sleep and party up-all nightlife. Chris, Maravick, Thelma, Roy, and I went to a comedy place called the �Library� and a night dance club called �?�. Compared to the dance clubs I�ve been in America, this was the first one I�ve been to with two live bands singing great to the music we were dancing to. They played all types of music: 70�s, 80�s, 90�s, rock, rap, r&b, and alternative. Roy went back to the car to sleep around 1:30am, which the rest of us dance, ate, and talked about all types of stuff as this was the last night out together before heading back to America. After the long night, we went home and went to bed at 5am!

    Friday, October 19th 2001-�Last Day in the Philippines� I didn�t want to sleep all day in this last full day in the Philippines, so I slept only 5 hours. I got up and at a short small breakfast-pandisal (bread) with special cream (?). My sister and I spent time together as we watch more Filipino television (Asian-MTV)-reflecting our 2 and half week trip here and how our experience here will effect our life back in America. We did our last karoke too! I also did my last networking with the Christians here, so I went back to the Christian bookstore nearby. I got some Christian praise & worship tapes (Ang Diyos Ay Mabuti-JHMT, Pupurihin Ka Sa Awit-Musikatha, , souvenirs for friends/relatives, and a contact address of a youth pastor to possibly network in the future. Before going to bed, I spent my last evening hanging out with my relatives. They told us �not to forget us when you go back home to America�.

    Saturday, October 20th 2001-�Flight to Minnesota-America� Thelma and I (mom was going to stay another 2 weeks for �Saints Day�) were all packed and ready to go as we woke up around 5am. Our mom and relatives took 2 cars to say goodbye to us at Aquino Int�l Airport. Our plane left at 8:30am and arrived 1pm CDT in Minnesota-America.

    *Note, everything above might not have the right spelling or the information on particular sights in the Philippines might have not been accurate. If you happen to find any mistakes, please contact me with any correction. Thank you!


    Reccomended Resources

    Transportation

    The Vice Guide to Travel - Philippines Jeepneys Part 1

    " To see Part 2 go to: http://www.vbs.tv/player.php?bctid=11...

    In case you're a little fuzzy on your South Pacific history, here's a quick little primer on the complex state of Filipino-American relations in the early 40s from a fresh Swedish perspective: Americans wanted back what they rightfully owned by purchase, so they gathered a bunch of Filipino troops and chased out the Japanese. This was just a couple of months before a little device called The Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, thus ending WWII and warfare as it was known up until that point.
    A couple years later they decided/were forced to jam. Apart from the kids born out of soldierly love, the Americans also left their army supplies behind. It would have been more expensive to bring it back home, and anyways war as they knew it was over so who gave a hoot, right? Among the stuff they left floating around were the infamous Willys Jeeps. Even if you're a girl or hate the History Channel, if you've only ever seen one war movie or flipped past an episode of M*A*S*H you know exactly which vehicle I'm talking about.
    Metro Manila, with its estimated 18 million inhabitants, is a transportation nightmare the likes of which my spoiled Swedish brain cannot even begin to wrap itself around. I'll start getting mad at "the city" when it takes 20 minutes to take the train across town, but who do you get mad at when there are millions of busted down old Toyotas and overloaded scooters between you and the other side of the city? Apparently, if you're Filipino, you don't. You just take whatever car you've got, rip the roof off it, then flip the roof over and graft it to the back to double your carrying-capacity and call it a bus. This healthy attitude toward open-car surgery is what spawned the Jeepney and made it a mainstay of Manila's dusty network of roads. Wherever you are in the city, all you have to do is wave and one'll stop for you. They're the perfect blend of a taxi and a bus and they are really (bleeping) cheap.
    As with cars in most parts of the world, completely tricking your buscab out soon became an essential part of the equation and you will rarely a Jeepney pass by that is not covered in layers of chrome and airbrushed paint, and filled with a disco's worth of party-lights. If you look close enough, you can sometimes even make out the influence of 50s American hot rods through the piles of Filipino insanity. (less) Added: August 01, 2007 "

    Travel

    Philippines tour part I

    " Not a masterpiece of documentary in the world. Just some messages I want to share with y'all"

    ...more on the Philippines

    An image you might see in the province or rural areas of the Philippines: A bamboo tree leaf house

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