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Christmas with family

February 7th, 2014 No comments

The month of December was packed and full of fun. We had a full house and a lot of memories for Christmas 2013. My parents finally came to visit us and it worked out the best to have them here for Christmas. They only had 10 days in the Philippines, but I think that we packed it pretty full to make sure that they had enough to do and also time to relax. One of the highlights of the trip was taking my dad to the island where his dad (my grandfather) is from (Siquijor) and meeting his half sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. We also had Matt’s brother, Drew, come visit us since he served his mission in the Philippines and speaks Tagalog. After Christmas in Siquijor, we brought our cousin Sherwin with us back to Manila for a few days. It was his first time to Manila and his first time on an airplane!

We hosted a Christmas party for our help and their family and gave everyone gifts

We hosted a Christmas party for our help and their family and gave everyone gifts

We took Matt's brother, Drew, to Divasoria to buy some gifts to take to our family in Siquijor

We took Matt’s brother, Drew, to Divasoria to buy some gifts to take to our family in Siquijor

We spent an evening at Republiq Dance Club with friends

We spent an evening at Republiq Dance Club with friends

Less than 24 hours of my parents landing in Manila, we took them to Siquijor to see our family. Our cousins hosted us for lunch/dinner many times

Less than 24 hours after my parents landed in Manila, we took them to Siquijor to see our family. Our cousins hosted us for lunch/dinner many times.

One cousin opened a Sari Sari (store) and Kalani spent a lot of time there helping to sell items and acting like a security guard

One cousin opened a Sari Sari (store) and Kalani spent a lot of time there helping to sell items and pretending to be the security guard.

We took my parents to one of our favorite places, Combagahay Falls

We took my parents to one of our favorite places, Cambugahay Falls

We also found new places that we had not visited on the 3 previous trips we took to Siquijor. Like Infinity Resort where the view was breath-taking

We also found new places that we had not visited on the 3 previous trips we took to Siquijor. Like Infinity Heights Resort where the view was breath-taking and we were glad to share it with our many cousins.

Of course when you find a beautiful place the Filipinos take photos! Here Kalani is taking photos with a cousin

Of course when you find a beautiful place the Filipinos take photos

Drew at Lugnason Falls...a new area we hadn't been to before

Drew at Lugnason Falls…a new attraction we hadn’t been to before.

On Christmas Day our cousins rented a karaoke machine

On Christmas Day our cousins rented a karaoke machine.

Also on Christmas Day the boys learned how to prepare lechon (pig)

Also on Christmas Day the boys learned how to prepare lechon (pig)… from slaughter to table, we got the full on Filipino experience.

The boys also went to a cock-fight where our cousin had a rooster fighting

The boys also went to a cock-fight where our cousin had a rooster fighting.

We couldn't leave Siquijor without a basketball game...or 2 or 3 or 4! Matt was invited to play with the police against a club team one evening

We couldn’t leave Siquijor without a basketball game…or 2 or 3 or 4 games! Matt was invited to play with the police against a club team one evening.

Our cousin/tour guide takes us around in this rented car every time we come to visit. And we pack as many people as we can inside since not everyone has transportation

Our cousin/tour guide takes us around in this rented car every time we come to visit. And we always pack as many people as we can inside.

We love spending time with our cousins

We love spending time with our cousins.

My dad and his half-grand-nephew were similar is various things...even how they slept. It is a good thing they caught up on their sleep in Siquijor since the fun didn't stop in Manila!

My dad and his half-grand-nephew were similar in various things…like where they slept. It is a good thing they caught up on their sleep in Siquijor since the fun didn’t stop in Manila!

While waiting for our plane to arrive we spent some time in Dumeguete shopping mall with our cousin Belinda who lives there

While waiting for our plane to arrive we spent some time in Dumeguete shopping mall with our cousin Belinda who lives there.

Our cousin ready to board his first plane and spend 5 days in Manila with us

Our cousin ready to board his first plane and spend 5 days in Manila with us.

Our first meal in Manila was at the mall near our home where we had some yummy ramen noodles

Our first meal in Manila was at the mall near our home where we had some yummy ramen noodles.

We took the group to the Mall of Asia where we watched the firework show and also people ice skating

We took the group to the Mall of Asia where we watched the firework show and also people ice skating.

I don't know if Sherwin had ever seen a mall this size or as many malls as we took him to before

Sherwin had never seen a mall this size.

We had a wonderful buffet dinner at Manila Peninsula and Drew's "friend" joined us...who Mason liked to be with

We had a wonderful buffet dinner at Manila Peninsula and Drew’s “friend” joined us…who Mason liked to be with all the time.

One evening we invited the cousins living in Manila over to our home so Sherwin and my parents could see them

One evening we invited the cousins living in Manila over to our home so Sherwin and my parents could see them.

It was beautiful weather, good company and a lot food while everyone was visiting us for Christmas.  We felt truly blessed to have our family with us for the holiday season

It was beautiful weather, good company and a lot food while everyone was visiting us for Christmas. We felt truly blessed to have our family with us for the holiday season

M.C. Matt Daddy

February 3rd, 2014 No comments

As an expatriate, Matt was expected to perform at the work Christmas party his first year here. He did a wonderful job last year and can read more here. Now that this would be his second Christmas party in the Philippines, he wasn’t expected to be in the show. However the Filipinos had other plans for him. He was asked to co-host the evening with a local radio J.D.

The MSSC Year End Christmas Party was held at Sofitel Hotel. Since we got there early we took some photos in the lobby

The MSSC Year End Christmas Party was held at Sofitel Hotel. Since we got there early we took some photos in the lobby

The decorations were spectacular inside the hotel

The decorations were spectacular inside the hotel

Carnival Delights was the theme

Carnival Delight was the theme

Mimes were present to add a little something extra to the evening

Mimes were present to add a little something extra to the evening

We were one of the very few people allowed to enter early since Matt had to meet with people to figure out what he was suppose to do for the evening. And every seat in this tent was taken

We were one of the very few people allowed to enter early since Matt had to meet with people to figure out what he was suppose to do for the evening. And every seat in this tent was eventually taken

Matt getting briefed on the schedule while finishing touches happened in the tent

Matt getting briefed on the schedule while finishing touches happened in the tent

Show Time!

Show Time!

One of the four performances of the evening

One of the four performances of the evening

Each performance was then judged by some professionals and given feedback

Each performance was then judged by some professionals and given feedback

There were also co-workers that performed in the band during the evening

There were also co-workers that performed in the band during the evening

Everyone said that Matt did a wonderful job and held his own as a host.  I wonder what they will want him to do next Christmas Party!

Everyone said that Matt did a wonderful job and held his own as a host. I wonder what they will want him to do next Christmas Party!

 

 

 

 

Christmas in the Philippines

February 24th, 2013 No comments

Christmas starts in September in the Philippines.  They decorate all during the “BER” months (SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, DecemBER) and the decorations are pretty nice… it’s almost ridiculous how beautiful the Christmas decorations are when you remember that the Philippines is a developing country!  And during the second week of January they start to take down the decorations.  So, for a third of the year Christmas is “celebrated” in the Philippines with music and decorations!

There are over a million people who live in downtown Manila.  During December that number increases as oversea workers return to the Philippines for the holidays.  And then the number decreases as all of the Manila residents and oversea workers return home to their provinces for the holidays.  We decided to go to “our province” as well for Christmas…that being Siquijor island where my grandfather left around 1925 to go work on a sugar cane plantation in Hawaii.  However, he also left a wife and 2 children in Siquijor, whose descendants we recently made contact with.

We spent 5 days on the island with family.  We rented a car and our cousin drove us around.  There were no presents, no Christmas trees, not even cold weather.  But, we all had a wonderful time enjoying the company of our family and seeing the beauty of the land.  God must really love us to have blessed us with wonderful family members.

Enjoying lunch that our cousins provided and spending time at the beach

Enjoying a picnic prepared by our cousins and spending time at the beach

Tia and Mason getting ready to jump off the water slide.  Water doesn't run down the slide unless you pay extra for it...and after Typhoon Pablo many areas of this water park got destroyed

Tia and Mason getting ready to jump off the water slide. Water doesn’t run down the slide unless you pay extra for it…and after Typhoon Pablo many areas of this water park got destroyed

The kids loved playing on the beach, exploring the area and finding sea shells

The kids loved playing on the beach, exploring the area and finding sea shells

Village volleyball tournament held at least yearly.  (Cousin Judith Grado #18)

Village volleyball tournament held at least yearly. (Cousin Judith Grado #18)

While the village volleyball game was going on, our kids were introducing the village kids to an iPad.  Not sure if more people were watching the volleyball game or the kids with the iPad

While the village volleyball game was going on, our kids were introducing the local kids to an iPad. Not sure if more people were watching the volleyball game or the kids with the iPad.

Cambugahay Falls - We had a rope swing to use here and swam in the water...we all loved being here

Cambugahay Falls – We had a rope swing to use and swam in the water…we all loved being here.

Butterfly Santuary.  Sadly Typhoon Pablo destroyed a good portion of this...and we discovered that there is a local fee "donation" and a foreign fee "donation"

Butterfly Sanctuary – Sadly Typhoon Pablo destroyed a good portion of this…and we discovered that there is a local fee “donation” and a foreign fee “donation”.

Capilay Springs - swimming and relaxing ... parts of this area was also damaged by Typhoon Pablo

Capilay Springs – swimming and relaxing … parts of this area was also damaged by Typhoon Pablo.

Enchanted Tree - 400 year old Balete tree

Enchanted Tree – 400 year old Balete tree.

Cantabon Cave - Exploring where there really were not any rules (swimming and breaking off a stalactite for a souvenir) and our cousin carried Mason the whole time

Cantabon Cave – Exploring where there really were not any rules (swimming and breaking off a stalactite for a souvenir) and our cousin carried Mason the whole time.

Matt and Robbie watched this cockfighting where our cousin had a rooster fighting.  That rooster lost and I'm sure ended up as dinner

Matt and Robbie watched this cockfighting where our cousin had a rooster competing. That rooster lost and I’m sure ended up as dinner for someone.

Our cousin's finance invited us to his village disco where ages ranged from toddlers to elderly

Our cousin’s finance invited us to his village disco (a yearly celebration) where ages ranged from toddlers to elderly.

Christmas dinner at our cousin's house warming party.  Family was put into a separate room while neighbors ate in the living room area.  There was also a "brown out" during dinner so we ate by candle light.

Christmas dinner at our cousin’s house warming party. Family was put into a separate room while neighbors ate in the living room area. There was also a “brown out” during dinner so we ate by candle light.

We spent time doing family history.  Our cousin would point out a relative while driving who was sitting on the side of the road and we would pull over and Tia would interview them.  This old lady is my grandfather's niece

We spent time doing family history. Our cousin would point out a relative while driving who was sitting on the side of the road and we would pull over and Tia would interview them. This old lady is my grandfather’s niece.

Our cousins introduced us to  Julie's Bakeshop and we love it.  When our ferry boat got cancelled to leave the island, we hung out here to figure out what to do since we had plane tickets to reschedule

Our cousins introduced us to Julie’s Bakeshop and we love it. When our ferry boat got cancelled to leave the island, we hung out here to figure out what to do since we had plane tickets to reschedule.

 

We were able to leave Siquijor the next morning at 5am and some cousins went back to Dumaguete with us and made sure we got to the airport

We were able to leave Siquijor the next morning at 5am and some cousins went back to Dumaguete with us and made sure we got to the airport.

Siquijor isn't a tourist trap but more of a hidden treasure.  We look forward to visiting again and spending more time with family and enjoying the beauty of the island

Siquijor isn’t a tourist trap but more of a hidden treasure. We look forward to visiting again and spending more time with family and enjoying the beauty of the island.

 

More Siquijor photos here.

 

Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2010 No comments

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