Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Philippines

My first trip overseas was to my mommy's homeland. We have a lot of family there to visit, and it's nice to see where you came from. I got a stamp in my passport and everything. It was a very long flight, half a day. But we finally arrived in Manila to be greeted by mommy's uncle and cousins. The Philippines are half a day ahead of the U.S. so it was daytime there when it's nighttime at home. We were pretty tired and had trouble adjusting to time, but there was a feast waiting at uncle's house, and all the cousins were there to meet us. Such a big family. I love family! We spent a few days in Manila and got to tour the Intramuros District, the oldest district in Manila where they fought in World War II. A lot of the buildings were all burned up, and there were old rusted canons still in place. Ruins all around.

After a few days in Manila we hopped a tiny propeller plane and an old banana boat to the resort island of Boracay. It looked like Hawaii to me. The water was super clear and the sand was as white as me. It was a really small, poor town on one end and an endless row of bars and nightlife on the other side. We got to go horseback riding, and shopping, and island hopping on a boat, and snorkeling, and relax on the sand, and eat a lot of seafood. We were very happy!

We stayed there a few days then we left sadly to Cebu. Only sad because we loved Boracay so much. In Cebu we met with more family and had another feast. We also got to visit Tops, the highest mountain in the Philippines and we got to zipline ride down it. Scary! But fun. We did a lot of sight seeing. We even visited a Taoist temple that was really pretty and peaceful.

Just a couple days in Cebu then we headed to another resort island called Bohol. It was different from Boracay, a lot quieter. No bars or anything around, just a small town with a nice beach. There we got to see the spot of the Blood Pact, the first treaty between the Philippines and Spain. And we met the tarsiers, tiny monkeys even smaller than me. We also visited Chocolate Hills, hundreds of hills clumped together and during summer they turn brown and look like hershey's kisses. And we took a ferry boat lunch through the rivers and visited 16th century churches.

Just a couple days in Bohol and we went back to Manila. There were family parties to attend and people to visit. We spent Christmas with cousins in Tagaytay, a mountain region with an active volcano. Yikes! But it was nice and we stayed up all night singing karaoke. We rested our last couple of days in the Philippines. So much we had done, so much we had seen. I'm glad to have seen the place where my mommy was born and hope to see it again soon.