Saturday, September 24, 2011

Visiting the Philippines with my Family ☺ part 1/3

I am from a small island of Oahu, Hawaii with limited travel spots to go to.  I have been to the outer island of Hawaii, but my last couple vacations have been to California and Nevada.  Which were great experiences bad and good. As far as international travel I have only been to the Philippines.  The last time I was in the Philippines was when I was 12 years old for my Aunty Marilyn and Uncle Jojo wedding. It has been awhile since I have been there.

So 2010 was a crap year for me.  I got divorced and was in debt.  Most of 2011 all I wanted to do is work and pay off my stupid debt.  Whatever cash I had I decided to take my family on a trip, flights paid by me.  Why not take a family vacation to the Philippines!!!

Excuse me if I may sound like I am complaining or bashing. I want to warn you that I loved and appreciated every minute of this Philippines vacation.  It was definitely a family bonding, root's digging, eye opening, self discovering, life-appreciating and humbling experience. I took my mom, dad, my sister and my grandmothers with me.  We went to Manila/Makati and Kaibo, Aklan where my dad and Grandma Tina is from.  We also went to Camiling, Tarlac where my mom and my Grandma Conching is from.

We went in September, around monsoon season.  Thank god we did not get caught up in any crazy weather.  We were lucky to stay in the beautiful Makati city at the Dusit Thani, where we shopped and hung out for the first couple days.  Boy did it seem like a vacation: nice hotel, shopping, good food, lots of people, crazy traffic with cars/trucks/buses and business all around it, like any modern city.  It isnt so cheap here, but at least it was nice to be in a place where security was tight and bathroom and food was accessible.  We got to see the area where my dad grew up before he was lucky enough to come to America.

We then went to Kalibo, Aklan. This place is home to the Philippines' Mardi Gras aka Ati-Atihan which is the festival to honor the Santo Nino aka infant Jesus.  I always wanted to come here.  As a kid my grandma would let us participate in the Ati-Atihan in Hawaii during the Filipino Fiesta.  I was always embarrass to do it, because I thought I looked silly in my outfits.  I never understood why I had to do this, but as I grew older and took a class on Filipino language and culture, I grew to understand my culture, its traditions and its rituals and became proud to be a Filipino with roots in Aklan.

Coming to Aklan has made me excited to learn more about my culture and my family history.  Aklan is a country town with small business.  There are rice fields everywhere with people mending to their crops, drying rice and people trying to sale things in markets, haggling and bargaining.  Tricycles are the primary mode of transportation.  Life here is slow and down to earth.  You can tell life is hard and people have to work harder to get necessities because there are not many job available.  Although life is hard, the people here are so nice, helpful, respectful and appreciative.  They live in barios with homes that are made up with whatever materials can hold up a roof from rain.  for most people.

Strangely this place reminds me of Hawaii.  Green with mountains and laid back like home.I met up with my Grandma Tina, my dad's mom here.  I sent her there a couple days before to do "business".  Buisness in the Philippines is hard, and to be honest not worth it.  I think if you decide to loan money to the Philippines in hope to get profit, good luck.  Think of your money as a donation.  You can hardly find wealth here unfortunately.  While we were Aklan, we were able to go to New Washington, a small harbor town.  I could understand why my grandma and dad wanted to leave the Philippines.  Although very beautiful, there is not much here.

To be continued: We then went to Boracay, a small island hop away on little boats to the Philippine's Paradise

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