Sorry about this; only got stable internet when I got into Sydney so here I am, keeping track of what has transpired so far.
Celebrating Christmas and New Years’ in the Philippines was such a great experience for me. I saw relatives I haven’t seen in ages and played ‘catch-up’ with most of them. I also experienced things I haven’t done in a while and things I haven’t done EVER.
Some very memorable things that transpired:
Shopping in the Philippines
So shopping there is quite different because:
– It’s cheap
– It’s crazy busy, especially during Christmas
So as I try to remember the currency conversion while haggling for the cheapest price, I kept an attentive eye on my wallet and other valuables. Every mall/shopping centre/boutiques I went to were packed so it was a mentally exhausting task on its own. The one place that stood out was Greenhills, mostly because it’s a mix of authentic Filipino-made merchandise and blatantly counterfeit goods (Rolex for $100; $500 for the top-grade replica!).
This was a definite first and a must-do for me. So initially, the famjam was planning to go to Camarines Sur (CamSur) to experience their famous wakeboarding area but as traveled east, we got in the middle of a typhoon that was hitting the eastern part. We got temporarily stranded and had to divert our plans because the boatmen would not cross the waters the next day, especially when waves are ~2-5m high! Eff that noise!
As an alternative, we went to a private island resort in the west side in Batangas, where I experienced riding a bamboo catamaran for the first time ever! So here I was, in the middle of the deep sea, heading to an island in a boat held by bamboo and abaca rope. Quite comforting to say the least but exciting nonetheless!
Christmas and New Years!
Christmas and New Years, Filipino style, is quite different. As a predominantly Catholic nation, our Christmas traditions are very different. For starters, we have Simbang Gabi or ”Night Mass”, which starts at either 7PM or 4AM, depending on your preference. So you’re suppose to do this every night before Christmas to show your love for the Lord. We also have Noche Buena, which is a night gathering on Christmas Eve where we eat and enjoy company to ring in Jesus’ birthday.
New Years is also different because lighting fireworks are legal! SAY WHAT?! However, as much as I wanted to do so, I played it safe and let the other people do it. We have various ‘levels’ of fireworks; ranging from the sparklers to ‘Goodbye, Philippines’ which is practically a bomb.
Judging by the various reports and graphic images I saw on the news on New Years’ Day, I think I did the right thing.
For me, this trip was mostly to catch up with family and just enjoy the company that I haven’t experienced for many years. It was a time for bonding and togetherness because who knows what the day will bring. It was timeless for me and magical.
Now if you don’t mind, I only have a week in Sydney and the sun is about to die.
PS. Photos will be mass-uploaded and posted when I get back to the homeland so stay tuned ^.^ !