Laoag and the north

Trip Start Feb 01, 2008
Trip End Apr 07, 2008

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

  Where to begin! We have been on the move since we arrived over two weeks ago, soaking in the culture as well as Dan's never ending Family! Sounds familar..hehe..For once someone has a never ending family like myself! It is such a gift to meet all these beautiful people, they have been nothing but generous and very hospitable. They have welcomed us with open arms and many kisses! In the phillippines they show a great deal of respect to age, so when you address an older member of the family you say Tita (for aunt) or Tito (for uncle) and Auty for an older female cousin and Kuya for an older male cousin. Also when meeting an elder you always place their hand on your forhead out of respect, and one can always give a kiss on the cheek. I really appreciate the respect and care they demonstrate to one another. Even the store merchants refer to you as Ma'am and Sir. For the longest tiime i thought they were calling me Mom, "Thanks Mom"...then Dan;s Aunt had a kick out of me thinking they were calling me "Mom" when really its Ma'am (trust me it sound like "Mom"..hehe). We were also hoping to brush up on our Tagalog and really absorb the language, but almost everyone speaks english, or they speak a mix of tagalog and english. Needless to say we are in search of a course, as the phillippines are a very nationalistic country and it will be the roots of our futur children and they should know their heritage! In the meantime we;re learning the basics!

     And once again i'm refered to as looking like a "Doll" or a "Barbie Doll" its so funny! Unlike Thailand their are very few Foriegners, except in resort areas. So i get starred at quite intensley whereever we go, especially by the children. They are so sweet and much more foreward they come right up to us shouting, "HELLO! HELLO!!". They are so sweet, yet there are so many poor little children all over Manilla that it is quit shocking to see beautiful apartment buildings and mansions, and then on the exterior walls passing makeshift shanties made from peices of metal and cardboard. They coexist with one another the very rich and the very poor, yet this underclass population is growing exponentially, as it is supressed with no education they are unable to enhance their living conditions. It has been my first experience witnessing such extreme poverty which is overwhelming and heart wrenching. One can only hope and pray that the government changes its ways and educates the next generations to come to give these people a chance.
         Sorry to be bleak but its part of our journey to bear witness to these environments which are unimaginable. To open our eyes and bring awareness into our hearts and minds to recognise that we are all part of the same picture and that this is a reality.

During our first week, we left for the very northmost tip of the phillipines....a region that many phillipinos never reach in their lifetime! (including Dans family). Tita Celia had a package tour to go up to Laoag (the city you would fly into) and tour the area with her high school reunion friends.  It so happens that a couple droped out at the last minute and were selling their tickets for half price. We were in!

We visited Vigan, a vintage town in the north... with cobble stones and a vibrant Spanish aura singing throughout the streets. We only spent a day there, so we'd consider it a taste woth reconnecting with in the future.

WHat really hit the spot on this trip was the place where we stayed.... "Sitilo Remedas" This was a dream Villa... made of mainly recycled materials, including many old smanish homes that had been torn down and rebuilt on the property.  It was /is a picture perfect  hide away from the ....

ran out of time... we will contnue this entry tomorrow
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