This is a continuation of our experience as a host family for the 40th SSEAYP. I made this two weeks ago but opted not to post without photos coming from Non and Kite.
Second day was jam-packed. The four of us (King, Non, Kite, and I) woke up at 7am to attend the 8am mass in our parish. I asked both of them the previous night if they’re going with us thinking we have different religions. They are both Buddhist but they said yes. I was actually happy because showing the 212-year old Our Lady of the Pillar Church is always part of the itinerary whenever we have visitors.
As usual, King and I were always not on time. Non and Kite were ready by 7:45am. We decided to take the tricycle for them to experience. The mass had not started when we arrived so we toured them around the church. They also met our fellow Altar Servers. Both of them brought their cameras to take pictures of the mass and the church itself.
During the mass, I was explaining to Kite what’s happening (the mass was in Filipino), why we do that, what’s that in English, etc. Non is not new with how the mass is celebrated as he lived with a Catholic host family in the United States for one year. Kite, on the other hand, mentioned that he has a friend in Myanmar who is a Catholic.
After the final blessing, we approached our parish priest and did the usual “pagmamano“ (placing of hand onto forehead). Surprisingly, Non and Kite who were at our back also did it! Seeing them doing the acts that we regard as sign of respect made me happy.
Before going home, we ate “taho” (soya with sugar syrup) and visited our grandmother lying in the cemetery. I showed to them how we bury our departed ones and how social status still separates the rich and the poor even after death (public and private cemeteries). I told them also the cost of a mausoleo (“musoleo”) which is around million pesos (exaggerated). Then, we decided to go home by tricycle.
Back in our home, we served “tinapa” (smoked fish), salted egg, chopped tomatoes, adobo, fried egg, and rice. After that quick breakfast, we left our home at 10am.
Next stop is Mt. Samat. We first dropped by at my Auntie’s house for them (Non and Kite) to meet our Lolo (grandfather) and Aunties. Then, we went straight to Mt. Samat. Inside the car were Papa, Mama, King, Christian, me, Non, Kite, and Uncle Jack.
As usual, I was more excited than Non and Kite to show the breath-taking view while going up. Again, it’s my nature. I’m very eager as always. When we reached the gate on top of Mt. Samat, one of us recalled that one of my mom’s previous students was a security guard there. Even if he’s not the one collecting entrance fee, we were given discounts after mentioning his name (there’s another story about this at the latter part of this post).
We parked our car at the parking area near the foot of the cross. By that, we would have to start at the top of Mt. Samat (from the cross taking the long stair going down the Filipino-Japanese hall and then to the underground museum).
Too bad. The elevator inside the cross which could have allowed us to see the entire province from the cross was not working. Anyway, they still enjoyed the sights while going down the stairs. As their tour guide, I shared my experiences of playing melodion (small piano with air tube) in the Fil-Jap hall when I was in grade school. We used to perform every Fil-Jap Friendship Day.
Before we entered the underground museum, we had met Mario – the security guard and mom’s previous student. We told him about the discount and he told us that if he was at the entrance booth, it would be totally free (more of this issue below).
Then, we went inside the museum where remnants of World War II were kept. Cameras are not allowed inside.
Before we left Mt. Samat, we took more pictures of Non and Kite.
Next in our itinerary was Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. The place is regarded as a place of collection of old Spanish houses in Luzon. As some of you might have been there, there is a tour schedule for the visitors. We chose the 1:30pm schedule. Since we still have enough time, we ventured the entire compound and told some stories about the houses. I’ve been there a couple of times so I sort of memorized the stories for each of the houses. Lol.
Before the tour, we had our lunch at one of the Casas inside. It’s a Filipino-Spanish Restaurant. This time we ordered pork binagoongan (pork with shrimp paste), sinampalukang manok (chicken with tamarind soup, not sure of these translations haha), sinigang na baboy (same as in Kanin Club), beef pochero (tomato-based stew), and rice.
After lunch, we had our tour. This time, let me commend our kind, witty, and competent tour guide. Before the start, I requested her to do the talks in English. We went inside the houses and again and again, for the nth time, I was still amazed by the façade and rich culture of our ancestors during the Spanish era. I hope Non and Kite appreciate them too. By the way, together with us (by coincidence) during the tour were Ms. Dador (Department of Education official in our province) and her nephew priest.
The tour ended at around 2:30pm. As a compliment, we were given cold towels to refresh ourselves. And the towels were ours already unlike before that we needed to give it back to them. Maybe it’s more hygienic to keep them rather than reusing.
We headed towards Subic, Olongapo City. Freeport zone as I described it to Non and Kite. It was my first time to go there by taking the Morong-Subic road. It’s not the usual route as Morong is far from the city especially if you’re coming from Manila. We hardly see other vehicles during the trip. The place was like a virgin forest with monkeys and tall trees.
Our car was still two-week old during that time and it’s very unfortunate that as we drive along the forest, a small seed coming from a tall tree fell exactly on our windshield. Luckily, it didn’t collapse completely. We had to take pictures of it for the insurance company.
As time is precious, we went directly to Subic Treetop Adventure, another first time for me. It was already closing time so we decided to try only one ride which was the zip-line. Honestly, I was afraid to try the free-fall and we value the safety of our guests, haha.
Same as other zip-lines, two persons can do it together. King and Non tried it first then Christian and Kite. Feeling superhero, I did it solo. The ride was shorter (less than a minute back and forth) than what I tried in Bukidnon (province in the southern part of the Philippines). But it’s fun! Really. 🙂
We had our dinner at Harbor Point. Guess where? In a well-known Filipino fastfood chain—Jollibee. Jollibee is already part of Filipino culture. Haha Two pieces of chickenjoy (fried chicken) and rice for Kite and one piece of chickenjoy, rice, and burger for Non. Mom, King and I left them there after dinner to buy souvenirs (Starbuck’s Manila Tumbler) for Non and Kite. We have no time because they’re leaving next day morning. And while were away, they had this picture taken, haha.
Trivia: Before dinner, Non was looking for a pharmacy to buy “Fisherman’s Friend” for his sore throat/cough. Honestly, I haven’t encountered/heard that before. Shame on me. I even asked him if “Fisherman’s Friend” is a common name. Or is it like Strepsils? Lol We went to a Mercury Drug and unluckily, they only had Strepsils. Last week, I bought Fisherman’s Friend to try it. Haha Here it is.
Going back to Bataan, we took the expressway because it’s nearer and Morong-Subic road is (for me) dangerous at night.
The ordinary Sunday was made especial because God made it meaningful and safe for us. We arrived home already late. Again, Non and Kite updated their friends and relatives through internet before going to bed.
Running time for Manila the next day was 6am. Kite was the first to sleep and then I followed. It was already 10 in the evening that I couldn’t sleep. Pretending asleep, I heard King and Non talking various topics: studies, trips abroad, exchange programs, plans, etc. It was an hour of eavesdropping. I intentionally did that or else we would have stayed awake so late if I joined them. Lol
However, because of my body clock, I fell asleep with their conversations. One interesting topic that I didn’t hear was relayed to me by King the next day. I’m not so sure of the exact story. Non told King a story of his friend having a project that sources funding from the Thai government. Because Non’s friend has another friend in their government (Navy?), he was able to collect more of what is needed. Excess goes to his/her pocket.
Non surprisingly related this “padrino” system to what had happened to us earlier. Little we knew, Non considered us getting discount from my Mom’s student as “padrino” system. And he is certainly right. Sometimes, we, Filipinos, value “debt of gratitude” or “utang-na-loob” even if it would cause us to break laws. What had happened to us is a small act of the guard’s repayment to my mom as his teacher which is technically unlawful. This has become a norm in the society. The entrance fee is allocated for the maintenance of Mt. Samat Shrine.
After all that happened during the day, this is the greatest lesson I learned. It’s good to have someone from a different culture see how we live. Perspective from the outside is a good way to see what’s happening inside as a whole. God sent us not only visitors but messengers as well.