Friday, March 30, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
1. For $100, we were able to rent a boat for the day, for just two people. This place just jumped a notch on the retirement option list.
2. I'm not sure we have ever seen water this clear. Apparently, we also lucked out in that March is one of the best times of the year to go snorkeling in the Philippines due to the fact that this month is one of the months with the calmest seas.
3. On the beach at Balicasag, you can walk up to a small tent, pick from an array of seafood and they cook it up for you while you are out exploring the coral reef. The crabs had amazing patterns on their shells.
4. Having never been snorkeling, I was not sure what to expect but this exceeded my wildest expectations. The sheer amount and diversity of fish on the coral reef here was amazing. Along the edge of the reef, there was a massive sea wall of coral that stretched down to the ocean floor. Seeing geography like that under water was amazing. Watching our guide Lydio, born and raised on this 1.5 acre island in the middle of the Bohol Sea, dive down that wall into the darkness with nothing but the clothes on his back and a mask covering his eyes was a beautiful sight.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
2. Had breakfast with a woman from Peru yesterday, who currently lives in Singapore. In a small world connection she has family in Centreville, Va (where I used to live for a year) and her husband grew up in NJ about 30 minutes from my old home. Her reflections on the what it is like to visit the US now compared to prior to the financial crisis were fascinating. To hear someone from another country describe the US as a place of hope and dreams but then hear them describe it as a place now, where there is "so much sadness"...that was eye opening. "Singapore is like Miami except everything in Singapore works."
3. The mangos here are incredible and seemingly limitless.
1. Military style eating where food is placed on top of banana leaves along a series of long tables. The "fight" is essentially a reference to the fact that it is "eat what you can get."
2. Philippine military term for a mess hall banquet where soldiers, enlisted men and officers eat from these banana leaves with their hands as a symbol of camaraderie, brotherhood and equality.
3. The term potentially has its origins in pre-World War II West Point slang.
4. My second of four meals yesterday as we said goodbye to a number of new friends that we met at the wedding here. Incredible pork and chicken adobo.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I come close to shedding tears sometimes during some pretty random occasions. Movies like Hitch for instance...don't ask. However, last night I was just one of many I think who were brought to the edge by what was a magical night. The wedding ceremony and reception was a marathon, starting at 2 pm and ending for us at 10 pm (at which time the party was just really getting started I think). The ceremony was held in an 18th century church in Dauis, which was an amazing setting for what was a 90+ minute Pilipino mass (fans handed out). Following the ceremony, we headed back to Amorita and the party began and for all I know it is still going. The food was amazing, gigantic prawns, marlin, squid, pork of all kinds, and more traditional Pilipino desserts than I could count. Every speech or toast was eloquent and everyone seemed to be an entertainer, singer, or dancer, with wedding attendees from literally almost every continent as we met people from Chile, Netherlands, Turkey, Minnesota, Brazil, Bangladesh, India, Australia and of course, the Philippines.
1. The Philippine people have a Tagalog saying called Bahala Na, or "Leave it to God," or "whatever will be will be." In a setting like this, one can easily see how this type of approach to life works.
2. Coca Cola signs are everywhere here, just like Johannesburg, South Africa actually. It's almost like everyone has opened a small shop next to their house, covered it in Coke signs, and then given a nickname to their store. You cannot turn a corner without bumping into Lucky's, Bong Bong, Angels or Tubag's corner store. They are everywhere.
3. I have seen at least 5 or 6 people walking either goats or pigs down the road with a leash made of rope. Most of the goats here are really small and it is common to see either a single goat or cow in the backyard of a home, idly passing the day.
4. Simple things like seeing a starfish in the water for the first time, stumbling on a mountain of coconut shells or watching a local guard shush away a stray village dog from an 18th century church, these are the types of things I want to remember and why I love to travel.
Friday, March 16, 2012
1. People are everywhere and if there is any order to the traffic, pedestrian, jeepney, motorcycle patterns, they eluded me.
2. Everyone was super friendly. So friendly that our car driver offered me fertility supplements when he found out that we has been married for 6 years with no kids. According to him, oranges work too.
3. Visual and audio noise everywhere in the city. This will be a perfect place to explore when we have a couple of days here after the wedding.
4. Pollution and smog were prevalent, more so than any other city I've been in. Saw a road sign today that read: Observe Cleanliness. Not a piece of paper hung up but an official looking street sign.
Seeing as our time was so short, these impressions are fleeting. We stop back in Manila next week for 2 days and I'm excited to see more.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
1. Apparently I like to rehash old action films on long flights. Watched Batman Begins and Any Given Sunday on the way over. That speech Pacino gives at the end about fighting for inches gets me every time. Whoever wrote that deserves an award.
2. Gotta love Marriott. They sent my wife and I emails, arranged for airport transport and greeted us with 10 people and a free upgrade when we arrived in Manila. And this stay is just using points. Great service.
3. Mentioned this via Twitter yesterday: Big mistake to watch Contagion (3rd movie I chose) on the flight over. Paranoia about exotic flu strains born of bat and pig gene sequences is not something I needed....
4. I almost never find myself wishing I was on AT&T but what's up with Verizon not having an international data package in the Philippines? Oh well. It's gonna help me unplug from work so perhaps it is a blessing in disguise.