Nayong Pilpino Park
Taal Volcano in Tagaytay
Bohol Day 1
Bohol Day 2
Departure / Arrival
Sabin Beach Resort
St. John's Day
Comotes Islands Day 1
Comotes Islands Day 2
Back to Manila
Let's Talk Food
Bloopers and Out Takes
Not in Kansas
There’s No Place Like Home
There are many wonderful things you can say about the Philippines, but getting there is not one of them: a rush-hour drive to the airport to arrive three-hours before the flight; international check-in with heavy boxes of gifts; security lines; 13 hour flight to Tokyo; security; the endless time to read a map, in English, directing us to another terminal for our connecting flight; the bus ride; check-in at Japan Airways, more security; four and a half hour flight to the Philippines; Passport control; baggage claim; customs check; futile attempt to get change for the pay phone; borrowed cell phone to call our ride; pushing four carts of luggage to the passenger pickup area.
You might think that my four-year-old niece, Amber, would have been difficult through all this, but she was a pure angel. Until… We arrived at the pickup area to the greetings of Marietta’s brothers. At that point, Amber burst into tears and wailed, "I want to go home!"
Marietta led the way when we passed through Filipino customs. With five adults, one child, five checked bags, four huge taped boxes and five carry-ons, I prepared myself for a long, long wait as custom officials searched through our belongings and an even longer wait as we tried to cram all the stuff back in the boxes.
Instead, Marietta handed over the stack of passports with hers on top, a tightly rolled five dollar bill inside. The customs official opened her passport, deftly scooped the money under the table, and waved us through. Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
Are We Safe?
After loading all of Marietta’s boxes in the van, we noticed that there was only enough room for the driver, Marietta’s brother Fernando, Tom, and Mark. The rest of the gang took a taxi. Later on, Mark filled us in on their ride...
The drive from the airport to Fernando’s house was, to say the least, interesting. A few minutes out from the airport Mark and Tom (in the back seat) watched as Fernando placed a hand gun on the floor of the van. He had pulled the gun from under the back of his shirt. Even though it was in plain view, Mark assumed he was hiding it and thought, "Wow Manila must be pretty dangerous". All the stray cats and dogs roaming the streets, added to that impression.
At one point on the trip, they stopped at a kind of Quicky Mart and Fernando got out. Mark noticed a cop in the store and thought, "I hope we don’t get caught with this gun."
At the house, we discovered that Fernando carried a gun, not for safety, but because he’s in the Army.