This December, Double D and I got to go to the Philippines for about 2 1/2 weeks. I realize that most people don’t get to travel to places like that, so I truly count myself fortunate to have been able to experience this trip. Fortunately for us, Double D’s family lives there currently, so the cost of the trip was reduced since we didn’t have to have room and board money (except for when we went to the island). Also, my sister-in-law is a native Filipino, so we had a wonderful tour guide to show us around.
I’m splitting it up into two posts, since I did feel like we took a vacation within a vacation with the trip to the island included for a week. This first part is what we saw around Manila, where they live.
I’m not the best flyer, and since I hadn’t known what to expect on those long-distance flights, I have to say touching down in Manila was the best thing ever. The flights weren’t as bad as I had envisioned, but I’ve now experienced air sickness. Somehow my body didn’t appreciate being stuck in a plane for 13 hours. Thank goodness for Pepto-Bismal. To make it worse, we had a delay on the tarmac flying out of Japan for Manila, due to a warning light. Eventually, we all had to get off the plane and get on another one when they figured out it couldn’t be fixed. That made us about three hours late to our final destination, but it could have been worse if had happened to one of our previous connecting flights.
The first full day we were there, we took it easy, and only went to a couple of stores down the street from their house. There were a few things I noticed right away, like the armed security guards at the entrances of every store, unmanageable traffic, and the fact that everyone spoke English, the signs were all in English, and it seemed like everyone was very friendly, with a smile for you almost automatically. Other than getting up earlier than I normally would, I didn’t seem to experience any kind of jet lag.
Because we were both doing so well, we decided to venture out to explore on the second day. My SIL took us to Villa Escudero, which was about a two hour drive from their place. This is a working coconut plantation which has been around since the 1880s. We first went to the museum (built to be a replica of a church) located on the property, but couldn’t take pictures of the inside, which was filled with religious artifacts collected by the family from their travels around Asia. After walking around the property a bit, we ate lunch at the restaurant located at the bottom of the waterfall. This was quite the experience, as we got to eat with our feet in the water, and the buffet included traditional Filipino with lumpia, pancit, grilled fish, and fresh coconut water (buko). Wonderful!
Day three was shopping day! I wasn’t aware of how many malls Manila has, but we went to Green Hills first. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of things to see/buy, and the amount of people walking through the aisles. That’s not to say I didn’t buys items, but there was so much! The pearl market was my favorite place, and I did spend some money there. Shocking, I know:) What did surprise me was that a lot of the same stores, fast food restaurant chains, and basic shopping and eating experiences that we have in the States are readily available in the Philippines. There seemed to be a Krispy Kreme on every corner, and coffee was flowing practically down the streets.
Day four was spent at Corregidor Island. This was one place that I had wanted to go because I love history, but I have to admit we were kind of lagging by that time. My SIL talked us into going, and I’m so glad she did. Because the island is at the mouth of Manila Bay, Double D’s brother booked us passage for the hour long ferry ride, and got us tickets to tour the island, lunch included. Once there, we got to ride on a trolley around the island, stopping at the different ruins, like the bombarded US military barracks, the old cinema, and the Malinta Tunnel. We also visited the Pacific War Memorial, before we ate lunch. Corregidor has a sense of peace now, but one can imagine the paint and trauma, just looking at the ruined buildings with bullet marks, and bomb craters. In fact, the buildings have not been restored, and left as they were after the war as a memorial to the men who fought there.
We decided to take it easy on Day Five, since we had to pack our luggage for the island, and I needed a rest. Jet lag had caught up to me at this point. We just did a bit of shopping, and went out to eat for dinner on High Street.
Day Six was also pretty relaxed. We did go to the Manila American Cemetery, which was just right down the street from their house. The cemetery is very somber, and a place of reverence. On the day we went, it was overcast, and the skyline beyond the cemetery was beautiful.
We also went to Green Belt Mall to try to get a watch fixed. The oddest thing about this one is that there are five different buildings that make up Green Belt, and had elevated walkways, as well as ground level trails with streams and ponds, to navigate between the buildings. It had a park like feel to it, but it was definitely a retail setting. We ate lunch and walked around before heading back to the house to finish packing and getting ready for our trip to the island.
To read about our island experience in the Philippines, read Part 2.
Thanks for looking!