The following is an excerpt from my journal entries. I traveled to the Philippines with my Uncle Dave to be the best men for my Dad’s wedding. The last few days were spent traveling by vehicle from Tagbilaran City to Manila to complete two tasks 1) Dave and I were flying out, 2) Dad and Luz were selling said-vehicle to a buyer.
This is what happened …
September 15th 2008
Inday’s 19th birthday is today. Dave and I came to the house to drop off the Avanza for Dad and Mom to clean up the wedding. Inday, Dave, and I literally got fat on the couch while watching TV and movies all day long.
Dad treated the family to dinner at Bohol Plaza Resort and Restaurant. For our dinner purchase we could swim in the pool. I thought, YAS! Glad we brought the swim gear.
In the end, the boys discovered only Jea can swim. The rest of the girls can’t swim and were regulated to staying in the shallow end of the pool. Lemme get this straight, I mentally say, They live on an island, that’s surrounded by water, and yet they don’t know how to swim? Apparently, they never learned or taught, but I digress.
Since it was a birthday celebration and farewell dinner for Dave and I, we continued the fun elsewhere. We dropped in on the local karaoke bar called Myx. It was fun! I actually did karaoke for someone other than my family to hear. Yep, yep. Stayed with Ice, Ice Baby and We Like To Party. I didn’t “sing” per se, but I had the mic.
September 16th 2008
“Manila Bound and Down”
We tried to figure out flights from Tagbilaran to Baguio but that just wasn’t happening. Instead of just flying from Tagbilaran to Manila for us to catch up to our flight home we decided to road trip to Manila!! So Dave and I woke up and kinda puttering around thinking it was before 9a (we didn’t have a reliable time keeping device) We went downstairs for breakfast to find Dad and Mom were there already!? It’s 910a and we’re late. We tried to rush through breakfast and that didn’t work either.
There was 5 stages, 1,500 kilometers between the beginning and end. GAWD, help us all!
Stage 1: Ubay and the Roll On, Roll Off
To the north end corner of Bohol and port city of Ubay that I’m damn near sick of. It’s hella faraway and the drive there is dreadful. We boarded the Roll On, Roll Off (RORO) bound for Tacloban. Essentially it’s a passenger-car ferry… the first 2.5 hours of driving have been logged to Ubay, and another 2 hours on the RORO.
Stage 2: Tacloban, Leyte
We landed in Guadalupe, Leyte ready to rally to Tacloban!! Dave, Dad and I traded off driving duties (Mom doesn’t know how) We’d stop periodically for Kodak moments, gas, or food.
We’d joke that our sponsors are Caltex (gas) and Jollibee (fast food) and we could only use them.
After 2 more hours on the road, we arrived on the outskirts of Tacloban. We posted up in the “Budget Hotel”. Certainly was that – 2 beds, TV, shower, and toilet. Clinically white walls, floors, and linens. YIKES! NO karaoke tonight.
We finished Dad’s Johnny Walker outside on the balcony.
September 17th 2008
“On The Road Again”
Stage 3: Allen, Samar
We blazed outta there early since we gained an hour getting to this point. What we didn’t know was the road conditions on this island.
The dirt roads were muddy, and it was rainy on this island. The topography changed every island we drove through. At one point during my driving stint, several oxen passed me as if I were a stop sign.
We were attempting all-terrain roads with a passenger van. That doubled our travel time. GGGGRRR, still… Caltex and Jollibee kept us moving! That was a long-ass day, for sure.
Stage 4: RORO to Luzon
Once we arrived in San Juan, Luzon we kept digging another 65km to the city of Sorsogon. Now we’re dependent on ourselves; no more ROROs!
We posted up at the Arica Hotel for the night. Mom was hungry and no Jollibees in sight! The Mango Grill was nearby, and frankly, our only choice. Dad didn’t want to retire for the night so we stumbled over to the hole-in-the-wall, no signed bar. We got tore up on San Miguel beer, and sang more karaoke.
I tried my turns on rap songs like Vanilla Ice and Eminem which in my mind’s eye, didn’t work out. I decided to attempt to sing. YES… actually sing, with notes and a beat like a tried-and-true, dyed-in-wool Filipino. Admittedly, I’m only half-Filipino, or informally called tisoy (which is a shortened version of Filipino Mestizo)
I decided on Over You by Daughtry. At first I was weak, but several seconds in all the frustration, anger, hurt, and sadness just came flowing out in the form of this song. I felt great and thought I did a solid job. I scored 90 out of 100, the highest at that time in the evening. Then we continued to keep the place open 2 hours after close.
September 18th 2008
“Manila Or Bust”
About 2 hours after we returned from the bar, I heard a knock on the hotel door at 2 a.m. Mom is standing there in her nightgown. She woke up and can’t find Dad. Ah, shit.
When he’s crunk like tonight, he sleepwalks. I calm her down by going back into the room and surveying the situation.
His smokes, lighter, car keys, cell and dentures were on the dresser. He obviously didn’t get far nor intend to.
Maybe he locked himself in the car below or out of his room? We checked all the open rooms on the floor. No Dad! I grab the car keys and roll to the car. I accidentally set off the car alarm which ironically made Dad show up on a 2nd floor balcony in his boxers from his hiding place. FINALLY! He’s in trouble, and everyone else can go to sleep …
(Dad told us later that after using the washroom, he slept walked to an open room, and fell back asleep there)
[a few short hours later]
Stage 5: Manila
We piled into the clown car for the final time! AFTER 14 hours of driving we were still 129 km south of Manila and we stopped for dinner because it was 8 o’clock.
We ate at (WAIT FOR IT) Chow King, sister company of Jollibee. We rolled into Manila around 1030p. I took control of navigation after Dad barked at Mom for not knowing the cityscape after being absent for 20+ years. We finally decided on the Pinoy Club for the night so we could rest our heads.
The room Dave and I had was interesting to say the least … a one-poster bed. Yep, not 4 or 3 or 2. Just one. Oh and mirrors on the ceiling too. Then Mom and Dad had a bed shaped like a Spanish galleon. No lie!! Mirrors on the wall, and strategically place on the ship bed. Complete with a mast and ropes, etc.
We ordered room service beers and bullshitted each other until late.
September 19th 2008
“My Bags Are Packed…”
Time to go home! Our grand Filipino adventure is at its’ end. Mom and Dad dropped us at the airport to begin our long, long journey home to Seattle. We have a short flight to Taipei but an 8-hour wait for our Taipei to Seattle flight. Good luck to us…
So I must admit, my ever silent friend, that once I purchased my ticket for this trip I was hell bent to make this trip about me with the wedding being a background task. Selfish, I know.
Two hours upon my arrival at the house in Tagbilaran I tossed that game plan out the window.
Two weeks later I realize that this trip was about family and unconditional love. Certainly nothing to do with selfishness. I opened myself to the entire experience. I’m grateful I was able to. I caught up with an uncle that unless he was visiting Dad I didn’t speak to him. And of course, used the two weeks to get to know my step-sisters, and step-mother. All are very sweet, caring ladies in their own way.
In the end, it was a great trip with my new family so I slept with a clear conscious instead!
Until next time, keep diggin’.
‘los with the most