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Published: February 4th 2008
I left Colorado Springs on the 8th of January 2008 and arrived in Manila at 4:30pm on the 10th of January. The first of three plane changes was delayed from the get go. There were about 12 flights departing Colorado Springs. My flight to Los Angeles was the only one that had a blinking light at the monitor saying "delayed." After two hours the plane departed and arrived at Los Angeles. Of course my connecting flight boards in 30 minutes. I had to run to the International Terminal. If I waited for the terminal bus it would take longer. I finally get to the Cathay Pacific counter to get a boarding pass. And as usual there was a long line. I'm definitely going to miss this flight.
No sweat, I skip the line went straight to security. Explained to the TSA person that I have a confirmed E-ticket. I just don't have a boarding pass. He calls his supervisor. I showed him my E ticket. He gives the nod and tells me I can go. Onwards to the gate. The Cathay Pacific counter was crowded with people. I finally got to speak with a person. He tells me I
have to get a boarding pass. I have to explain to him. I only have this E ticket and I didn't have time to get a boarding pass. He calls someone. He finally gives me a boarding pass just in time for me to board the plane.
Of course the plane, which supposed to fly straigth for 15 hours from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, had to make a "technical stop" in Inchon, South Korea. I have never heard of a "Technical Stop." Well we did a 45 minute pit stop in South Korea. When they did that "Technical Stop" I missed my connecting flight from Hong Kong to Manila. Of course. Well the good thing about all this is went we deboarded in Hong Kong, the Cathay personnel were waiting for us, people who were delayed. They handed us our new flight. I only had to wait for four hours for my next flight. No sweat.
The last time I was in Hong Kong International Airport was in 1998. It is one of the newest most modern airport. And for US$14.00 you can take a shower. The problem is that I forgot my hairbrush in Colorado Springs.
No sweat. There's got to be stores that sells hairbrush. The terminal is pretty much well laid out. Stores left and right, food court, burger king, duty free cigarettes, magazines. I walked the whole terminal. Stopped at a couple of stores that you would think sells hairbrush. Finally the lady points at an empty spot. She tells me, "out of stock."
Great. I still have two hours to waste. I walked to the next group of stores. Finally the last store on that corridor. I ask the lady. She tells me that they don't sell hairbrush, however, she shows me this hello kitty make up kit for little girls. She has a blue and pink Hello Kitty make up kit. I said I'll take the blue one. Finally I am ready to take a shower. What a great feeling.
The flight from Hong Kong to Manila only took less than two hours. In fact there is no time change.
At last, I can see the city of Manila. It is now about 4:00 in the pm. I am prepping myself not to be excited. Also the humidity and temp is very high. Try not to move too much
because you will perspire and when you do sweat it will be sticky and miserable. Fortunately the weather is cool. I forgot December January and February are the cool months. Plus I took a shower in Hong Kong. So onwards to the Passport section. Always a long line. Try not to hurry. There is no need to. No problem. She didnt even ask me a question. Then to the baggage claim section. No problem. I am still in an air conditioned building so I am still safe from the dreaded humidity. Once I got my luggage went outside and I can feel the thickness of the air. It wasn't hot at all. So I went down the ramp to where you meet whoever is picking you up. No sweat. My high school buddy, Gerry Tee, was supposed to pick me up.
So here I am waiting and remember the airline was delayed. So I didn't know if he knew that I was delayed. So there was this guy selling raffle tickets. And I was told that everyone here has a cell phone or two. Even the poor. So I told the guy that I will get a raffle ticket
if I could use his cell phone. No problem the guy was more than happy to let me use his cell phone. Got a hold of Gerry and onwards to exchange money. We went to a mall in Makati got some food from Jollibee. And onwards to Malvar, Batangas. A town about one hour from Manila. Depending on traffic.
Jan 10 happens to be the Town fiesta of Malvar. We went to Nonette's parents home. It is now about 10:00 in the pm. Nonette came home from Sweden for the reunion. There were about 10 high schoolmates waiting for us. I havent seen these people in 30 years. We finalize the the reunion which will be in two days. Lots of food and kwento(stories) from Aque, Lynn, Jun and Pidio. Drove back to Manila and stayed at Gerry's place in Paranaque. That was about 2:00 in the am.
The next day, at 6:00 am, we picked up Tommy Opulencia who quit his job in Australia, so he can attend the reunion. We bought hot pandesal from the bakery. Gerry's wife Terre manages a few beauty parlor, Reyes Salon. So that day she treated us with manicure, pedicure, facial,
body massage and foot spa. I even had a haircut. That was a wonderful feeling. Ang sarap.(feels good).
From the beginning of the day of Jan 12, for some reason, it started to rain. And it rained. And rained. All day. Our reunion got rained on. But that didn't stopped us from having fun. I think is was for the better because it was cooler. Not hot. And we had a good time. All the way till the next morning. There was a lot of food, dancing, karaoke and kwentos.
The next day, I traveled to Zambales where my Dad is living now with his sister. My cousin Nards picked me up from Manila. The drive was uneventful. I was impressed on the construction of North Diversion Road. Our exit was at San Fernando Papanga. From there, the secondary road took us all the way to Olongapo and to Castillejos. Hopefully, when I go back to PI, the highway from San Fernando to Olongapo will be finished. You can still see Mount Pinatubo's lajar along the way. We arrived at Castillejos Zambales around 6:00 pm. Ate dinner and started drinking with my Aunt Emy, who is about 70
years old, my cousin Nards and our driver.
Olongapo is not the way it used to be when the US Navy was here. Of course no more drunken sailors, business is not as usual, clubs closed down. But life goes on in PI. And people are happy. A lot of people have no jobs, but a lot are still drinking......... everyday. And they seem to have no problems. Seem like they have no bills to pay. No mortgage. No car payments. No car insurance. Malls are always packed with people. I spent my last night in Manila before I have to go back to the US. I had my cousin drive me to Phillipine Vilage Hotel, a 5 star hotel where my wife used to work at. I was saddened to find out that it closed. I don't know when but there was a fence in front of the hotel entrance and the building was delapidated. So sad.
Gerry called up some high school classmates to meet up at the Mall of Asia. And we ate at this food joint called Baywok. After dinner we strolled by Manila Bay, where some of the food stalls that have live
music outside by the bay. We took pictures, said our goodbyes. And that was it. I got there on the 10th of January and left on th 16th of January. So many things to do....so little time. Hopefully I can spend more time.......... next time.
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