Sunday, January 30, 2011

Paete: The Wood Carving Capital of the Philippines.

Recently, I took a road trip with Sheila. And during this road trip we stopped briefly at the historical town of Paete, located in the province of Laguna along the shores of the largest lake in the Philippines, Laguna de Bay. Here, you’ll find an array of woodcarving boutique shops nestled in between quaint, narrow streets. The provincial town’s old Baroque style church, narrow streets, and boutique shops conjured an almost European-esque feeling. And to no surprise, as the town was founded by the Spanish in 1580 during its colonial reign.

But refrain from romanticizing about the town too much, because once the chromed, pimped-out looking jeepneys (the country’s most popular form of public transportation, which look like something straight out of a Mad Max movie) came barreling down the road past me, blaring music and filled with countless numbers of people crammed inside, any revering feelings I may have had towards the town quickly dissipated – just as fast as the smoke-belching jeepneys emit exhaust into the air.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Man vs. Manila: Surviving New Year's in the Philippines.

I opened the door to Sheila’s apartment, poked my head out the door as explosions in the sky lit my face, took a couple of deep breaths, and sprinted next door while covering my ears. Looking like a soldier running for cover from enemy fire, I sought shelter next door.

It was New Year’s Eve in Manila, and it was mayhem.

For New Year’s, Filipinos exhibit their passion for making a ruckus with an impressive shock and awe firecracker extravaganza. According to one of the million superstitions that’s shared in this country, making noise on New Year’s will drive away evil spirits, which of course – I mean, let’s be honest - is an excuse to blow shit up.

It was a war zone in Manila. And as someone who’s not a fan of fireworks, I was a bit uneasy. But forget about the fireworks for one second. Because not only did I have to worry about stray bottle rockets from invading my bubble space, I had to worry about gonzo gun holders who celebrate New Year’s with celebratory gunfire.

In the end, my feelings of uneasiness warranted legitimate concern because the moment the clock struck midnight there were a reported of 546 cases of injuries due to fireworks and stray bullets – and thirty-three percent of those cases involved children between the ages of 1 and 10 years old.

There’s definitely a good reason why my father didn't allow me to use fireworks as a child . . . because fireworks – in other words, gunpowder! - and children do NOT mix! Period.

I made it next door unscathed and viewed the city’s festivities from the third floor of Tita Helen’s (Sheila’s mother) apartment. It was an amazing spectacle to watch. I was just happy my body was completely intact by the end of the night.

Happy New Year’s!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Spending Christmas Away from Home - Again.

I know this blog is late, forgive me. But as of late, I've been busy traveling around the Philippines and I don’t own a laptop.

This was my second straight Christmas spent in another country. Last year, if you recall, I spent Christmas snorkeling on the island of Pulau Weh, Indonesia.

Good times.

This year, however, I've had the good fortune to spend Christmas in the Philippines. And even though it was a bit sad to be away from my family during the holidays, Sheila and her family filled the void, providing an atmosphere reminiscent of the comforts of home.

For Filipinos, Christmas Eve is celebrated more so than Christmas day. There’s a Christmas Eve feast, called Noche Buena, which begins once the clock strikes midnight. Our feast consisted of spaghetti, chicken curry, and menudo – a Filipino recipe which consists of green peas, ground pork in red sauce, carrots, sweet peas, raisins, and potatoes. Masarap! [translations: delicious]

On Christmas day, Sheila and I spent the morning exchanging gifts while speaking to my mother and brother through Skype. Technology really shrinks the world.


Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm A Model - You Know What I Mean . . .

Okay, so the title of this blog is meant for Sheila – not yours truly.

Let me explain.

The other day, Sheila left for work dressed in her usual dress attire. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. However, Sheila’s return home was nothing short of extraordinary.

I was typing a blog in her bedroom, minding my own business, when she returned and entered the bedroom – definitely a ‘blog-stopper’ entrance, I must say - looking like a runway model who’d just returned from performing turns on the catwalk.

"I'm a model you know what I mean,
And I do my little turn on the catwalk,
Yeah on the catwalk on the catwalk yeah,
I shake my little touche on the catwalk."

Imagine the sound of me typing on the keyboard come to a sudden stop once she entered the bedroom.

There was a momentary pause.

“Wha-What the . . .” I said, at a loss of words – and rightly so.

“Why are you . . . ?”

“Where did you . . . ?”

“Wait. What just happened?”

To find out, my assessment of her looking like a runway model wasn't too far from the truth.

A friend of Sheila’s, who’s a makeup artist, needed someone to be her model for her makeup portfolio. Naturally, she invited Sheila. And the photo shoot was held at the School of Fashion and Arts where Project Runway Philippines - a Philippine adaptation to the American reality television series, Project Runway – is filmed.

Lucky me.

". . . And I’m too sexy for this blog."