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Published: April 5th 2019
Generally, I need to get away every two months to keep my sanity, especially when I get really busy. So, my friend's wedding in the Philippines was the perfect opportunity. Joselet and I used to be office mates when I first worked in Dubai, and her twin, Joevet, also worked in our company. They were two of my first friends in Dubai and showed me around often. We've kept in contact over the years, even though Joselet moved on to another company. And now - she was getting married!
Despite a huge report deadline, and many other things hanging over my head, I still kept to my trip. A much needed trip. I worked in the business class lounge until 1:30 in the morning reviewing reports. Fortunately, when I made my way to the gate, as I checked in, the agent gave me another ticket: Business Class upgrade! woohoo! Our flight left around 3:00 in the morning, and I ordered a little bit of fruit for after takeoff, but I pretty much crashed immediately in my laydown seat with mattress.
Arrival and customs was pretty easy. The new Cebu Mactan airport is quite nice. I did not book a
shuttle but saw a kiosk from my hotel on the way out. He said the shuttle was not nearby, but he would get me a driver to take me for an agreed on price of 1050 pesos. I have no idea what a taxi costs or the conversion rate, but I said ok, even though while waiting I said I could take a taxi. He said that I should take the driver as it is safer or something. So, this driver comes up in a ratty suv, where the back door did not open. It took about two hours to get to my hotel, and for much of the time he was texting on his phone in the busy traffic. At one point we were going uphill and while he was text we started going backwards. The truck behind us laid on the horn and still the guy didn't look up until I kicked his seat. Ugh. Then he didn't have the correct change when we finally arrived. When I saw my friends the next day, they were truly outraged about the cost. It should have been 300-400 pesos!!!
Anyway, I arrived finally and somewhat safely to the Marco
Polo Hotel, up in the hills above Cebu City. From there, the rest of the trip went pretty smoothly. Check in was quite friendly, I forgot that I paid the extra bit of money for Club Level. The club level rooms (the upper three floors of rooms) were under renovation, and I'm pretty sure my room was one that still need to be updated. It was fine though, clean, with good views, plenty of water, and delicious fresh mango waiting for me. I arrived at the hotel at just before 6 pm and they said at 6, cocktails and some finger foods were available in the lounge. So, I had a nice light dinner, before heading back to my room to finish some work. Instead of going out to meet my friends for dinner, I finished the report and passed out early.
My sense of time was seriously messed up; I have a lot of trouble adjusting to the time change going east apparently, and this was 4 hours ahead of Dubai. Not to mention, I was just seriously exhausted from work lately. So, I was awake from 1-5am, then made myself get up for breakfast at 7. Came
back, passed out again until noon. Then, I went down to the pool bar to get a drink and hang out.
That evening, I met my friends a ten minute walk downhill at their cousin's house where pretty much their whole family was staying at the time. The cousin had spent a lot of effort renovating his home and it was really coming along - with a nice little "man cave" up on the huge roof deck, which overlooked the city. This was where we hung out for the evening and I met many aunties, uncles, and cousins. Everyone was super friendly and made me feel quite welcome. Joevet and her very quiet "brother" (her parents' godson) walked me back up to the hotel. We tried desperately to get a ride in one of the famous Jeepny's, but they were all full and it was only 15 minutes.
The next day was more of the same - hung out at the hotel while my friends were getting ready, then I got a cab (200 pesos) to the Archbishop's Palace for the wedding. Even though he dropped me off at the wrong church, I was not surprised as there
were four in the same general area. I found the right one easy enough, especially helped by the family I had met the night before. Also, the request was that everyone dress in varying shades of mauve, which I thought came out lovely. The aunties took good care of me and I watched the ceremony from the back with them. The priest was late, which I thought was very strange at first, but when he finally arrived around 20 minutes after the ceremony was supposed to begin, he apologized and said he was comforting a man whose wife was dying in the hospital. I guess he had a good excuse... Anyway, the ceremony went on and was nice. A lot of pictures were taken of friends and family at the end. Then the aunties led me to the shuttle bus to take us to the reception, which was held at the restaurant Bellini. Bellini is up the hill on the way to my hotel, with a great view of the city and sunset. There was just one long table, laid out beautifully. For dinner, they included a roasted pig, which was impressive; when I went to get my piece, I
looked at the sauce and Joevet warned me that it was pig's blood, so yeah, I steered clear. 😊
The reception is very similar to other western traditions, such as the bouquet toss, garter removal, speeches, and money dance, where you pin envelopes of money to the couple's clothes. The 'emcee' was their friend, who was really good and so funny. For instance, during the bouquet toss, of which I had to take part, he was speaking in Tagalog until Joselet said "Speak English!" for my benefit (which was not really necessary). So, he looks me in the eye and says very slowly, "Catch. Bouquet." Hilarious.
The next day, I was lazy once again before getting a cab to the airport (300 pesos). The airport is very nice, but a little strange. You have to have your boarding documents before entering at all; essentially, passengers only can enter the airport at all. I was not upgraded. But I found a nice souvenir shop to get stuff for the little ones and a good bar with a friendly bartender. My friend, Mafie, was on my flight and she joined me at the bar (though just iced tea) and eventually
we boarded the plane (even though it was a weird boarding process). My flight was good and I was able to snag one of the few remaining empty seats in the aisle at the bulkhead, so had a comfortable flight back. I got in at 1:30 in the morning and passed out before heading back to work and 144 emails just for one day!!! I am already planning my next trip.....
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