Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Visiting Tagaytay: Philippines Home Stay

My Philippines home stay was fantastic like all my other home stays. My foster family was a fun bunch! In an English-speaking country, I interacted a lot more with my family. My foster sisters and their employees were warm and extremely friendly.

As Antipolo City is made further away from Manila by the bad traffic, we did not manage to see as much of the Philippines. We did tour around Antipolo and visited a barangay office. What is interesting to me is seeing modern malls and nice houses in the midst of slums. They are all jumbled up together like nothing I've studied in my geography class several decades ago, hehehe.

I had a good experience with the Manila traffic as well especially on our last day as we were leaving for Nippon Maru. Ning, Becks and Uncle Tan had brought me and Pauline (SPY home stay mate) to the post office because I had wanted to send my clothes home for fear of excess baggage. When we got back to the house, mom was nowhere to be found. We insisted on leaving without her because we would be late with the waiting. Along the way, a call from mom came and we were to meet up with her somewhere. After quite a while, we united though both Pauline and I knew we were going to be late. Uncle Tan, who is the driver, was switched with another driver. This driver literally tore through the little roads (the short cuts, they called it) of Manila to get us to our destination. I have never been in a worse traffic jam before! He managed to squeeze in between cars through tight spaces. I was worried of the lateness and afraid of the driving. I shut those out with my eyelids. When we got near Manila Hotel, which is very close to the port, I was relieved. But little did I know, the traffic would go on static for an hour! We contemplated walking but the rest in the car were against it for we could be fined for jaywalking. We were supposed to reach the ship by 1.30pm but we were right in front of Manila Hotel at 2.30pm and we couldn't get into the junction to the port until 3.30pm! What an experience that was!

After surviving the home matching ceremony and the terrible Manila traffic, we arrived at the Mall of Asia, the second biggest mall in the Philippines, for lunch. We had Filipino food, none of which I know their names, at a food court. They were mostly soupy or had lots of gravy and were extremely yummy with rice.

After resting for a while at home, we went to Cloud 9 to view the night lights of Manila. We also enjoyed some Filipino snacks to the accompaniment of Filipino ballads by a trio.

In the morning, the kitchen was full of life as Dittas Ning and Uncle Tan were preparing breakfast.

This is a Filipino porridge which tasted immaculately savoury. It must have been the pork bits. I rarely take pork but this was really nice. I have to say, in Philippines, people eat a lot of pork, which isn't something I am used to because I don't really enjoy pork.

We took a long ride to Tagaytay where the view is spectacular. Taal Volcano is the name of the crater and is currently active. It is apparently reachable by boat. However, prolong swimming is not encouraged because the water contains sulphuric acid. The water surrounding the crater is Taal Lake. Recent activities recorded in the year 2008 where there were ten volcanic earthquakes.

This picture was taken from the garden of a hotel.

There seems to be a fishing village by the lake side though there has been reports of fish kill due to the high toxic level of the water. An interesting fact is that the lake was once connected to the sea but due to violent eruptions long, long time ago, this connection had been sealed off. In due time, the once saline water of the lake became pure freshwater.

We had a nice lunch at a nearby hotel. This is one of my favourite Filipino dish, Chicken Adobo. And, it's the only Filipino dish I know the name of! Before I left, my foster mum had made me Chicken Adobo and some Carbonara to bring back to the ship. I generally enjoyed the food in the Philippines except the ones with too much pork in it.

This is a dish of spinach and seafood.

I like this dish of stuffed fish too!

On our way back, we stopped by some roadside stalls where mom bought some fruits. This photo was taken from inside the car through the back window where the defogger circuits had been blurred.

At night, we visited the Antipolo Secondary School where the students performed for us.

We met Mayor Victor, the mayor of Antipolo City then.

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