Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Philippines - Chapter Three - A Storm, a Yum, and an Ant Colony

As a prelude to this entry, I'll mention something I noted on my first day in Bohol. Abel had mentioned that there was a low pressure system moving across the island. I'd heard the term low pressure from watching reports, and I figured that it was typically connected to storm systems, but I don't often hear them in daily conversation. Because of where Bohol lies on the globe, "low pressure" seems to be a frequently used part of the vernacular.

In the last entry, I mentioned that it had started to drizzle a bit.

Now to today. I wake up to rain. The low pressure system has turned into a tropical depression. This puts a bit of a damper on my plans...I was hoping to catch a boat to Cebu, spend a few hours there, and fly to Manila in the evening. Because of the rain, all boat transit from Bohol to anywhere else had been cancelled.

I'm going to have to book a flight out.

However, one big factor makes this tricky...apparently. on the previous day, a departing plane had trouble with one of its tires. The tire had to be repaired, which took a long time. After the tire had been replaced with a spare, things were looking alright...until it was discovered that the spare tire was defective. I mentioned before that the airport was tiny. Tiny airport = small tarmac strip. That one little tire prevented any other planes from departing from or arriving into Bohol FOR THE ENTIRE DAY.

As a result, several tourists had been stranded in Bohol for an extra day. Granted, there are certainly worse places to be stuck. However, as Abel and I arrived at the airport to book the ticket, we were greeted by this sight:

Please note Manny Pacquiao's face.
Abel is very well connected, so after a few text messages, we are told that someone is looking for a ticket and will notify us if they can find, though it sounds like the odds aren't great. Abel wisely says, "Hey, it's all part of the adventure." True words, my friend.

This gives us a chance to go back to Abel's home for a bit. I say a conditional (in case I'm able to stay in paradise for another day) goodbye to everyone, and Abel and I head into town.

We stop at a fine Filipino culinary establishment: Jollibee.

Ever since I heard about Jollibee from my friend Michael, I've wanted to experience it. It's a fast food chain , and its menu includes epic items such as Yums (burgers), Champs (1/3 lb burgers), and Chickenjoy.
We then head to the governor's mansion. It's beautiful inside.

Abel is a board member (legislator) for Bohol, so he's in frequent contact with the governor. He tells me that he would like me to meet the governor, and as he checks to see if the governor is available, I wait in one of the wings while watching a Top 20 Countdown of overreactions caught on tape...time well spent.

After a while, Abel calls me over, and I meet Governor Edgar Chatto. He's a very nice guy! We relax and talk shop for a few minutes about...stuff. (Fourth wall break: It's been a while, some of the details are foggy.)

Abel then gets a text. There's a flight to Manila available at noon. It's 11am. Time to rush...

We rush back to the hostel (thankfully, all my stuff is packed), we rush to the airport, we rush to the ticket agent and buy a ticket, we rush to the check in counter, Abel and I say a rushed goodbye...and I make it into the terminal with time to spare. This never would have worked in a big city, especially in the US.

Well...maybe it would have. The plane was about an hour late, but I was safe and not sorry.

The plane lands safely in Manila. My next mission is to meet up with another friend, Aristotle (Aris) Gaza. Aris came to the US on the same trip that Abel was on. He is also an amazing and very hospitable guy.

Per Aris's instructions, I head to a shuttle that takes me to a place called Resort World. I am reminded of how large the airport is. Thirty minutes after driving away from Teminal 2, we pass Terminal 1.

After a while, I arrive at Resort World, which is a large casino within a mall. It's ginormous.

Multibus display with neon steps to the left

Christmas is alive and well.
I search up and down for a wifi spot. Eventually, after much ado, I establish contact with Aris and agree to meet him at a cafe across the street. After a foot massage that runs a bit overtime, I head to the cafe. 

Before I can get there, Aris spots me crossing the road and picks me up...good timing! I meet his parents (amazing people), I become acquainted with Manila traffic (and I really don't wish to become better, we pick up Aris's sister Angie, and we head to dinner.

Aris, Angie, Papa Gaza, and Mama Gaza. Oh, and me. And so much food.
The drive to Hermosa, Aris's hometown, is about three hours long. Hermosa is a rural town in the province of Bataan. My lodging for the night is in a house in the middle of a small taro farm. Inside of the house, I see something that's just awesome:

On the left is a photo of the 2010 ACYPL Filipino delegation, including Abel, Aris, and me. On the right is Aris's ACYPL certificate. I love that Aris preserved these.
It's been a good day. Aris wishes me a good night, and I get ready for bed. I hit a light switch to turn off the lights. This proves unsuccessful, though I do manage to wake up an ant colony living behind the light switch. Wasn't expecting that. There's a broom close by, so I grab it and just start swatting. And swatting. Threat alleviated.

I laugh and head to bed.

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