Philippino Hospitality

Trip Start Oct 06, 2007
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Trip End Apr 06, 2007


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Flag of Philippines  ,
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Our first stop on our 6-week tour of Southeast Asia landed us in Manila, The Philippines, at the lovely home of Reena Ermitano. Reena, a former classmate of Jill's at Columbia, showered us with the hospitality Philippino's are known for. She arranged for clear skies, light traffic (by Manila standards), and a cool breeze that ruffled Jay's new 'do. Reena met us at the airport and sheparded us about for a four day whirlwind tasting and sightseeing tour of her home town.

First, we stopped at the Hobbit House, a restaurant-cum-bar that is completely staffed by little people. That night, we sampled adobo chicken while listening to Freddie Aguilar, one of the Philippines most famous singers. In the crowd with us were campaigning senators and council members who were hoping to win their races in the upcoming Philippine elections. This was a novelty for us as we're sure we've never listened to Bob Dylan with the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton. By the way, look for us in the upcoming Freddie Aguilar documentary that they were filming that night.

The next day, we visited Intramuros, Manila's walled, historic old-city. There, we hit up the Church of San Augustin, the Manila Cathedral and Casa Manila. From a plaque outside of the Manila Cathedral, we learned that while the building has been sited at the same location for 500 years, due to typhoons, earthquakes, the odd canon shell, and Ethel Merman, it has only been intact for about 50 years. On the way back from Intramuros, we rode in a Jeepney, the vehicle that may be responsible for many of Manila's traffic problems. Jeepnies look like tricked out jeeps on acid and are as common in Manila as cyclos in Hanoi.

We had ambitious plans for our third day - hiking up the world's smallest volcano, visiting a flower flower, and taking a tour of some honey bee colonies. Although two of these three events did not come to pass, it was our favorite day in the Philippines. We arrived late for our tour of the flower farm to find that our tour had already left. Fortunately, the proprietess, Mrs. de la Rosa, was wandering around, cigarette in hand, looking for something to do. So instead of the hands-off standard tour, she guided us around inviting us to sample "miracle berries" that turn sour foods sweet (really) and regaling us with how she managed to liberate a number of her fine specimines from gardens around the world. Our forty-five minute tour turned into two hours, and we arrived for our 1 p.m. lunch reservation at Sonya's Garden at 3 p.m. (According to Reena that's the norm when you're on Philippino time!) Sonya, a friend of Mrs. de la Rosa, grows most of the scrumptious food that she serves in her restaurant and we feasted on fresh greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc until we were overstuffed. Finally, forgoing the volcano and bee colony, we stopped for sisig and halo-halo at a lakeside restourant where we were serenaded with traditional OPM (Original Philippino Music).

In our final two days, we spent some time at the Ayala Museum and saw a Bamboo Organ Concert, but most importantly, Jill had the opportunity to visit Reena's reading clinic. At the clinic, Jill put her M.A. to good use (thank you Sallie Mae!) and taught three kids how to read - just kidding. However, she did observe some of the fantastic teachers and students. Oh, and the tasting tour continued with samples of bangus, Jollibee, buko pie, and drinks on the 31st floor.

A special HOLLAND & ITALY shout-out to Reena and CJ for a great time in Manila.
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