Family, Gaming, Slumming, Trips

Hurricane? What Hurricane?

Hi, guys!

I know some of you are concerened about us back here in Dallas due to Hurricane Rita coming Texas way. marielogan actually called me at home to check up on how we are this morning.

Not to worry, though, because we are 6 hours away from Houston, and it’s unlikely that we will be hit by Rita. If there was able an indication that Rita passed by, we would probably just have medium to heavy rain. Other than that, we aren’t in any danger.

Thank you for your concerns, though. It’s nice to find that there are people out there that care for us. :)

Some more tidbits:
– Lucien just came from Taipei this morning. He was in job training for week.
– My mom just came from the Philippines this afternoon. She was there for a week also.
– I’ve been addicted to the game Dofus lately, that’s why I haven’t been able to blog.
– Things have been pretty much the same, another reason why I haven’t been able to blog, because why should I say the same thing over and over again? :P

Well, I hope you guys are doing well on your end. Take care!

Adventure!, Pictures, Trips

More Pictures

I finally got some more pictures up. Ang bagal ko ‘no (I’m so slow, eh)? These pictures don’t even include pictures from Lucien’s camera, so marami pa (more) to go! These are slideshow-ready so you don’t have to keep clicking. Sit back and enjoy! :)

Banaue/Sagada Trip

Philippines

Sorry if you already saw this, but I just wanted to make sure that everyone was able to see the pictures. :)

Adventure!, Blah, Family, Movies, Trips, TV

Slacking, As Usual

Sorry for not updating since Day 6. I did mention that it was going to be busy.

As some of you are already aware, I’m back in the U.S…arrived last Monday. Technically, I was back in the U.S. last Sunday (in NY), but didn’t get back to Dallas till Monday. During the last couple of days of the trip, I caught some sort of bug, and I didn’t succumb to it totally until the day I got home. Since then, I’ve been under the weather and in bed, sleeping it off. Right now, back at work, I’m still not feeling up to par, but getting there.

I guess, right now, I’ll give a gist of what happened the remainder of my trip:

Day 7 & 8 – That night we did a bunch of rehearsing for the upcoming event. It was also getting together days with other relatives. Can you believe there are 40 of us in all in the immediate family? It boggles the mind.

Day 9 – We had a one-day family outing to a place called Villa Escudero. It was an old plantation that they made into a resort park. It was interesting also to find an old church in there filled with different antiques. They even had an old love letter written in the deepest Tagalog I have ever read. They could’ve done better as far as preservation of the artifacts (some of the old pictures were deteriorating). The place also had a restaurant where you could dip your feet in the water while you eat. A nearby waterfall was also a treat, for both children and adults.

Day 10 through 13 – Luci, my mom, my nephew Jorvin and I went to Banaue (also known as Banawe) to see the famous Rice Terraces, the 8th Wonder of the World. The hotel we stayed in overlooked the terraces and it’s always an amazing sight especially when you see them first thing in the morning. I was quite disappointed with the weather, though. Being in the mountains, we were told it would be a lot cooler than Manila, but it wasn’t even cool enough to give me a chill.

Also, I had the misfortune of tripping and grazing my knee before the trip, so my movements were limited though I did go up and down one of the cave sites we went to in Sagada, another town we went to for their famous hanging coffins. This picture was the exact place we went to. The way down was treacherous and you really have to use both hands to climb up and down most times. Of course, I had trouble but, I’m proud to say, I managed to do it.

Day 14 & 15 – Back to work for the event. This time, we went to a recording studio to record most of the songs we needed for the big day. It was also a chance to have all of my siblings, nephews, nieces, etc. together in an album full of Filipino folk songs and ballads.

Day 16 & 17 – I don’t know what we did during these days, but I do know that ever since I came back from Banaue, I was hooked to a local telenovela or soap opera called Full House. Actually, it’s a Korean soap opera, dubbed in Tagalog. :P My sibs keep laughing at me because of this, but I can’t help it because the story is so good. :) I even went and bought the complete season VCD of another Korean soap opera dubbed in Tagalog called Endless Love. I’m also waiting till the Full House one has come out with its complete season VCD so I can buy it. I even asked my sister back in the Philippines to let me know when it comes out. I laugh at myself by doing this, but I can’t help it, hehehehe.

Day 18 – Day before the big day. We finally get our outfits for the event, but still needed a little alteration on part of it. There was a little melodrama that went on that I can’t share since I don’t know most of the story (must be the soap operas I’ve been watching! :P), but later on, everything was okay.

Day 19 – Finally, the big day! I think I spent most of the time on my feet than sitting down as we did a lot of performing and other stuff for our grandparents. I hope they loved every minute of it. :) By the end of the day, I was dead beat, but then it was also the last day before we left for home, so almost all the sibs spent the night at our hotel room until we left for the morning. My sister Jeanne did a very touching speech followed by a likewise touching prayer.

Day 20 – That morning was the day we left for the airport. My other sister Leke and hubby already went ahead of us since they had an earlier flight.

That’s about it. Also some tidbits that went on during the trip: had some work done on my teeth, bought some contacts before the big day came, Luci lost his eyeglasses in Banaue so we had to get another pair made, watched Star Wars (of course!), I got together with a couple of my bestest friends in New York (Luke and Gayle) and had a short jamming session, and so on. I also learned that my mom and my sister Leke caught the bug also on their return to Dallas, so I wasn’t alone. Just wish it didn’t happen, though, because now I’m feeling tired all the time. Just hope I get better the next few days.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my somewhat summarized version of my trip to the Philippines. It still left me hanging, though. 3 weeks is too short of a stay. Oh well, someday, Luci and I will be back.

Adventure!, Family, Food, Trips

Day 6 – Philippine Trip

In a few hours, my siblings and I will be together again. We haven’t been together since back in the 90’s. This will definitely be a tearful reunion.

I still haven’t eaten any isaw lately. The corner where I usually get them is deserted, and has been cleaned out. Oh well. I’ll see if I can find any around here somewhere.

Last night, Luci and I went out to eat in a nice Filipino restaurant with my brother and his family before we went to pick up our mom from the airport. It was so weird to find myself so sleepy at 9pm. Maybe jetlag kicking in. Anyways, I managed to stay awake until we picked up my mom and got back to the hotel around midnight. Things will be pretty busy from now on, as we get preparations done for the big event.

There are some things I noticed that are only found in the Philippines, or so I think is only found here: green mango shakes, soft drinks being poured into a little plastic bag and straw, various condiments like soy sauce mixed with key lime, or vinegar mixed with various hot peppers, lots of soups, pork and fish dishes, San Miguel beer, lanzones, Manila mangoes, and the list goes on and on.

That’s about it for today. Short, eh? :)

Adventure!, Trips

Day 5 – Philippine Trip

I don’t have enough time in the Internet cafe today so I’ll try to make this short.

I had a facial the day before yesterday. My first time. Facial establishments seem to be popular here as they can be seen everywhere. It was a very interesting, somewhat painful experience, but then I had fun because Luci had one too, as well as my sister.

People here, though they know how to speak English, have a hard time understanding us. For example, when I asked the front desk of the hotel if I had any messages, the front desk said something about check-out time. Wha? And one time when Luci asked if they did any laundry service, the guy said that the restaurant was open at such and such time. Eh? It’s totally hilarious. I keep telling Luci to speak slower so they can understand his words more, but it seems to be of no avail. Ah well.

Coffee shops are in abundance here, too. Everywhere you turn, you see one. It’s just weird to me why people like to drink hot coffee when it’s almost 100 degrees outside. It boggles the mind. Speaking of temperature, you rarely see anyone not wear jeans and a shirt. Some of them even wear long sleeves, and it’s scorching! Just looking at them made me sweat, hehehe.

Pollution is bad here, too. When Luci and I checked out the rooftop swimming pool, the skyline was engulfed in hazy gray. It would be advisable to bring a face towel with you if you are riding out in the open air. Actually, bring a face towel anywhere.

Cash is more often the preferred way of payment. You can see some places that accept credit cards, but be ready to pay cash mostly. And when you buy something from the malls, they will put it in a bag and meticulously staple the receipt on the bag.

There are lots of security, too. Almost every establishment you go, you’ll see a uniformed man/woman screening each person and if you have a bag, they have to look into it. Good thing, the security check is quick, though.

Well, gotta run. Today should be the start of our busy 2 weeks as we make preparations for my grandparents’ anniversary. You probably won’t hear for me too much from now on. I’ll try to keep y’all updated, though! :)

Adventure!, Trips

Day 3 – Philippine Trip

Did I mention it’s so hot here? By the time I get outside the hotel, smoldering heat hits me like a jagged knife. No matter, it’s a way to lose weight, hehehe! In fact, I think I might have lost a pound or two already.

Anyway, I was able to get my cell phone activated here without even tampering with Cingular’s programming. Good thing for SIM cards! Now, I’ve been sending text messages like crazy around here. It’s so popular, almost every store in the mall sell cell phones and pre-paid subscriptions. It’s almost to the point of ridiculous, but then I’m glad that it’s readily available.

Luci and I also walked around yesterday and went grocery shopping for essentials we needed at the suite. We were so wiped out later on, we conked out at 6:30pm and woke up at 2:30am! And now, I’m still wide awake. I wish we could’ve slept longer so we don’t get too tired early. We’ll try to hold off on sleeping early if we can.

Things I forgot about this place: you have to provide your own toilet paper in the public restrooms (the seats are filthy, too – ugh – and your have to sometimes pay to go in there), there are malls almost all over the place, there are a lot of food stalls around the area, soliciting can be done but discreetly in different establishments, there is no such thing as free refills (there may be some, but just ONE free refill), Internet cafes are all over the place, and the list goes on and on. Ah, I miss it. ROFL! Also, my siblings keep saying that we should play badminton sometime as it’s all the rage here lately.

It’s also sad that I am sometimes having trouble finding some Tagalog phrases I used to know way back when. And, the different street slangs! I had to keep asking my sister what each word meant.

I ate some squid balls yesterday. I missed them so much, but not like the barbecue they have in the street corners that sell cut-up pig intestines. I know it sounds a little gross, but they are certainly good. :) I still haven’t eaten all of the food I want to eat, but there’s still time. We are also making sure we don’t drink the tap water here or we’ll get sick with diarrhea. Luckily, there’s a grocery store just across the street, so we can refill our water bottles if need be.

That’s it for now, I guess. Till then! :)

Adventure!, Family, Trips

Day 2 – Philippine Trip

Hi, gang! As you know, I just arrived in the Philippines. Locally it’s May 11th, 11:31 AM instead of the time that’s on here.

Luci and I left for NY on Saturday to be able to catch a plane to Taipei from there. You may think that’s a little far to be taking a plane since its route goes from east to west (Anchorage, Alaska) and then further west towards Taiwan. Well, we learned earlier in the week that the flights going out from LA, San Francisco, and Houston were booked due to a holiday in Taipei. There were less people coming from NY so that’s what we took.

When we were checking in for our flight to NY, we learned that flights going to Taipei didn’t leave until Sunday! *groan* Fortunately, I called around and got a hold of my great-aunt Nati and great-uncle Mariano. They took us in for the night, bless their hearts, amidst their packing as they were moving to Indiana with their son and his family close to Memorial Day. God was certainly good to us!

We attended church that following day (Sunday) and later on went to Burger King to eat a late lunch. Lola Nati reasoned that since it was Mother’s Day, all the restaurants would be crowded. Burger King was almost deserted. :P After that, they dropped us off at the airport and we were on our way.

We had to check in to China Airlines to catch the flight going to Taipei, but we were told that they couldn’t find our reservations! Good thing, though, that Lucien is a China Airlines employee and we were accommodated to go in the flight. All we had to pay was the taxes.

So, after a few hours, we were on our way. Our first stop was Anchorage, Alaska where they did a crew change and re-fuel. It took us about 6 hours to get from NY to Anchorage. It’s so funny how people like to be first in the line to get on the plane, but they are told later that other people have to go in before them, hehehe. Anyways, we left Anchorage an hour later.

Our 10-hour trip to Taipei went without a hitch, but the flight to Manila was cutting our time a little close. Our arrival time was 7:05 AM and our flight to Manila was 7:55 AM. What was worse was that we haven’t gotten our boarding passes to the flight yet, AND the economy seats were fully booked, AND we still had to get our boxes (they weren’t going on to Manila as we had to check-in again). God again intervened (He’s so good!). :) The person on the ticket counter offered us business class seats but we had to pay for the upgrade. We were up for anything so we agreed. Another blessing was that they got our boxes for us and was put in the plane. Also, since we were running out of time (it was almost 7:40), the guy from the counter called ahead and said that we were coming. When we got to the boarding gate, we were fortunate enough to find that there were still a lot of people boarding. Since we were in business class now, we were able to go ahead of them, whee!

So, after 2 hours, we arrived in the Philippines at 10:10 AM. My brother mentioned before that he was going to meet me in the baggage claim area, but when we got there I couldn’t find him. So we went ahead and got into customs. The customs agent was nice enough not to check our boxes (we only had mostly clothes in there anyway), and we were on our way outside. I was a little worried because we didn’t see my brother’s van yet, but as soon as I looked for a place to get a phone card, there they were, pulling up on the side. My eldest sister and her husband were there with my brother. It has been so long since I’ve seen them that I almost cried from happiness there on the spot. We went to meet the others later on for dinner and gave them their gifts. It was fun seeing them all again.

And that was my adventure so far. :) I’ll try to write more later…this one is getting too long. :)

News, Trips

One More Day

Sorry I have not been posting as of late. I’ve been busy getting everything organized, packing and re-packing, and just plain going crazy with our flight schedule (we are flying on standby airline tickets). I’ll be leaving tomorrow (5/7) at noon CST. We’ll be flying from Dallas to NY, NY to Anchorage, Anchorage to Taipei, and finally, from Taipei to Manila.

I’ll post as often as I can and give you some “play-by-play” happenings. :)

Reads, Technology, Trips

I’ll See You Soon, Phil.

Let’s see…I have 8 days to pack. Or is it 7 days to pack? I am ever so lazy. We can’t even get the house straightened fast enough so our house sitter doesn’t have to worry about clutter. We did manage to get something done yesterday, but we need to do more.

Today is my last day at work before I go officially on vacation. I didn’t want to come in, but then what is just one day?

Oh yeah, we went back to Fry’s to get a ‘fix’ on our missing AC charger for my camera. The tech dude told us to go back to the camera section and get a new one. Oooh, a new camera altogether? Goodie! My hopes were dashed, of course, when we got there. The sales dude told us that they ran out of the new ones (they sold out after a day, imagine that! -sarcasm-) and only had open boxes, which could only mean that there would be at least a missing part in the boxes. What he did as an alternative, though, was to take the AC charger from one of the open boxes and give it to us with the one we bought the day before. At least I’m happy about that.

I got this new book for my cousin: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark. I don’t know what to make of it yet (of course, I want to read it first), and it sure is a huge, thick book. I hope I can finish it before I get to give it to my cousin, teh. I even finished a cute cross-stitched bookmark for it, though I won’t be giving that to her, hehehe.

Anyways, I’ll try to journal my travels (luckily they have Internet Cafes there) as much as I can. Toodles!

Family, Pictures, Trips

Caverns and Bluebonnets

Last Wednesday, Luci and I decided to go Seminole, TX to look at his old high school. While consulting our map, I saw the name Carlsbad, and thought that was a funny name for a city. Luci said there were some caverns in Carlsbad that might be interesting to check out. So after our short visit to Seminole, we went onwards to Carlsbad, NM. You can click on the link on the picture below to check it out.

normal_DSC05562.JPG

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chuntaili/sets/72157600548398950/

After Carlsbad, we went home and decided to check out the Bluebonnet Trails Festival in Ennis, TX which was a 30-minute drive from the house. Look at all those bluebonnets!

normal_DSC05637.JPG

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chuntaili/sets/72157600548085225/

I also added newer pictures including my oath-taking pictures and birthday pictures, so feel free to browse. You’ll know what’s current by the date the pictures were added.