Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Philippines - Chapter Four - A Dead Sheep, a Monkey, and a Sunset

In the morning, Aris picks me up and we head to his home, where breakfast is served.

Spam, eggs, fish, rice, and my new best friend Milo

One interesting thing about traveling to places where friends call home is that I get a look at their day-to-day lives.  After breakfast, Aristotle takes me to a different piece of land he manages.

Noteworthy: When we get there, we find a dead sheep up in a tree. How...?

The sheep question will have to wait. We've gotta go.

We head to Balanga, the provincial capital. Aris has an errand to run, and I have a few clothes to drop off at a laundromat, so I go exploring. As I wander, I notice the continuation of a trend I've seen in Tagbilaran, Hermosa, and now Balanga; there's a town square pattern that follows a very Latin trend. The city hall (or some kind of administrative building) is across from a Catholic church.

One of the major heroes of the Philippines, Jose Rizal. Incidentally, we were here on Rizal Day.
Another thing that is hard to not notice: traffic.

Aris finishes his errand, we find a laundromat, and we stop by the Bataan building. Aris is a board member (kind of like a state legislator), so this building is definitely familiar turf for him.

After lunch, we hit the road, and soon, I see this in the distance...it may be tricky to see, but it's a large cross on a mountain.

We go up to this cross. It's actually a monument/museum (Mt. Samat) for the Filipino and US soldiers who lost their lives during the Bataan Death March. It's unreal.

I'm not allowed to take pictures in the museum, so I look at the exhibits (definitely recommend it) and hike up to the summit with Aris. The cool thing about the cross: We can go up to the top. So we do.

Awesome sculptures on the cross
Awesome view
Another awesome view
Awesome parking lot monkey
We're off again, this time to the small city of Bagac, home of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. Basically, some rich man acquired several historic properties, tore down the buildings, kept almost every material that was disassembled, brought the materials to Bagac, and rebuilt them as they were before. I found it intriguing. Apparently, you can stay overnight in one of these buildings for a hefty price.

It's a beautiful area, though it's interesting that the buildings, while original, aren't in their original locations.

I've loved these flowers since Hawaii.

Puto Bumbong in all its sugary, buttery glory

Find me if you can.

Break time.
Then...the sunset.

The sunset is not only beautiful, but perfectly timed. As we get back to the main area of Las Casas, a cultural show is about to start. The show includes several young men and women. They dance, and it's incredible. Sadly, my phone doesn't capture the show, but thankfully, Aris has a more reliable camera.

We are exhausted at this point, so naturally, we head back to Balanga and listen to a live band. I may or may not have acted as lead vocals when they performed "Wherever You Will Go." Sadly, there's no photographic evidence...consider this a test of your trust in the story.

There is photographic proof of the awesomeness of Rizal Day, as shown by this shot of the Balanga town square:

The mayor was speaking to this crowd, and he had been speaking for several hours at this point.
It's at least 1:00am when we return to Hermosa. We crash and sleep in, and rightly so...the following day is New Year's Eve.

And what a New Year's Eve it turned out to be! That's a story for another entry, though.

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