New Years on Boracay and my Parents have arrived!
Trip Start Mar 21, 2006
55Trip End Oct 05, 2008
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The excitement of this update is that I am writing while my parents are here visiting! Yes, indeed the Manning's have arrived to the Philippines! They have been here now for five days and tonight is a big night because we are heading up to my site for dinner with my host family and to celebrate my little host cousin Shiosa's fourth birthday. Before I delve into the many stories of the parents adventure here I will recap my New Year's vacation on Boracay.
Boracay is a small very touristy island off the northern tip of Panay in the Western Visayas region of the country. I have heard many a tale of the big New Years Eve bash that goes on along the 6 kms of white sand beach and it lived up to its expectations! While Boracay does have a beautiful white sand beach it is lined with restaurants, vendors ect. It was almost as if I was in the US again because for the first time in the Philippines the foreigners out numbered the Filipino's. I spent the morning's playing sand volleyball with the occasional dip in the ocean to cool off after being in the hot sun. We enjoyed great food ranging from Indian one night, to a real European deli sandwich my last day there! However Boracay to me is an example of mass tourism gone array. Only ten years ago it was a quiet, peaceful and clean white sand beach. However, now with mass tourism development the negative side of tourism is rearing it's head. While the white sand beach during the day remains fairly clean, in the evening the beachfront restaurants dump all their swage from the day in the ocean! Yikes! I found myself enjoying venturing beyond the stretch of touristy beach back to the real life on the island. Behind the "tourist" wall, I felt almost comforted with diesel trikes speeding by and the chaos I have become to know as the typical life here in the Philippines. All in all though it was a fun way to bring in the New Year with my PCV friends and enjoy some good food for a change!
The real excitement of this update began on Friday when I picked my parents up from the airport in Manila!! Yes indeed the Manning's have now been here with me for nearly five days. I was very impressed with Mamma Manning her first afternoon her she ventured the chaotic streets of Manila and went to the supermarket at the mall with me. She even moved in and out of the traffic ridden dirty Manila streets on our walk back from the mall to our hotel. My parents received quite the education in Manila simply through our many taxi rides. With a population of 11 million people you can only imagine the density of traffic and crowed little side roads taxis use. Mom repeatedly said to our taxi drivers how courageous they are to drive in such heavy traffic! Although to them this is all they know! Not quite sure how they took these comments but it is nice to see that she is still being her wonderful unabashed self here!
The following day was rainy, muggy, and gross but the rain does not faze Seattleites! After enjoying a decant brunch at our very nice hotel we hit the streets of Manila. Being that my Dad is a huge history buff we went to Intramurros for the afternoon. This is the old walled Spanish City in Manila founded in 1571 and has seen every side of invasion and colonization since then. Ranging from the founding by the Spaniards, invasion by Chinese pirates, short British ruling period and lastly the American and Japanese period. This is the site of what is called the Battle of Manila, when American forces bombed this section on Manila in 1945 during WWII. I had toured Intramurros when I first arrived to the Philippines but to see it again after living here for nearly two years it had a whole new meaning. It was also very fun because we toured the ruins of this old city on a calessa; horse drawn carriage left over from the Spanish period. Mamma Manning found this quite romantic and it was a nice introduction to the country for them to see the history of this all too often colonized and war stricken set of Islands!
The next day we had an early rise, we got up at 5.30 am so we could enjoy the incredible spread breakfast buffet at the hotel and still make our 8 am boat ride to Corregidor Island. Corregidor Island is anther WWII history spot so my Dad was in heaven hearing all the stories and seeing the old war missiles and what not. Corregidor is the site where Douglas Macarthur (US Army General) made his famous speech of " I Shall Return." He was ordered out of the Philippines by US President FDR only to then return two year's later, as he said he would to head the Philippine/US Army effort to fight the Japanese. Today, Corregidor has been turned into a wonderful memorial of the many battles and lives lost on this island and serves as educational tour of both US, Philippine and Pacific War history.
We had a fun dinner that night with some of my really good PCV friends and their parents visiting. My Mom and Pat's Mom just hit it off, they are already planning on staring a parent of PCV group and we all decided that they need to be text mates!
We arrived to Baguio two night's ago and I had no idea the place we are staying at would be so nice! Camp John Hay is the site of the former US Military base here in Baguio and where Lola Carmen grew up pre WWII. Needless to say things have changed since her days here, it is now owned by a big development company and is like a nice mountain lodge in Montana. Surrounded by the few remaining pine trees in Baguio City it is a quiet and peaceful place for my parents to return home to after riding in the diesel filled taxis and pollution of Baguio City.
In some ways I feel my parents have had a sheltered Philippine experience up to this point. We have stayed in very nice places, however it is important for them to see the drastic dichotomy of existence here. Which I think they did on our five-hour dive up from Manila. As the terrain switched from flat rice terraces to the steep mountain ridges my Dad was amazed and kept asking how these people make a living? I said by farming and if you could see the steepness of the terrain here you would also be amazed!
Yesterday we went to a wonderful free museum on Cordillera Culture. This was a wonderful introduction to my region for them. They got to have native instrument jam session, see the amazing wood craving's of the region and learn about the indigenous Igoroot (collective name of people in this region) way of life. The curator, Mr. Pikpikan is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about sharing his culture and my parents so enjoyed this introduction to the region that has become a second home to me.
Tonight we head up to my site for my little host cousin Shiosa's fourth birthday dinner. I know that it will be emotional for my two families to finally meet and I am anxious, perhaps a bit nervous, and most of all just excited for my parents to see how I live here and meet the wonderful Cosalan family that I am now apart of!
More updates to come soon!
All my love,