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Bicol Region Roadtrip

March 3rd, 2014 No comments

A major benefit of living in the Philippines is employing a family driver! And we had him earn his paycheck this past weekend since he drove us to our last vacation spot that was 12 hours away. Kalani didn’t have school on Monday or Tuesday, so it was a perfect time for a 4-day weekend get-away. We left at 4am on Saturday morning and arrived in Donsol by 4pm. The drive down was beautiful with long stretches of lush green scenery with protruding volcanoes. There was a good 2-4 hours at least where we didn’t come across any McDonald’s or Jollibee fast food places because we were in such rural areas.

Day 1:

We left at 4am and slept for a while in the car.  But, when we were awake there was some beautiful scenery

We left at 4am and slept for a while in the car. But, when we were awake there was some beautiful scenery as we headed toward Donsol.

After 12 hours in the car the kids just wanted to hang out by the beach and especially on these hammocks. And luckily there were other kids from Kalani's school at the same resort so they all had someone to play with

After 12 hours in the car the kids just wanted to hang out by the beach and especially on these hammocks. And luckily there were other kids from Kalani’s school at the same resort (Elysia Beach Resort) so they all had someone to play with.

Also on our first day we went to see some fireflies. It was amazing to see thousands of these insects synchronize their flashes of light. It was like watching a bunch of “Tinker Bells” communicating with each other…or Christmas lights that kept changing their light pattern. However, none of our photos or videos turned out from the firefly experience.

Day 2:

We got down to the pier by 7:30am to try our luck at spotting a whale shark. Peak season is from March to May, so we were a week or so early. The weather was bad and we didn't have any luck.

We got down to the pier by 7:30am to try our luck at spotting a whale shark. Peak season is from March to May, so we were a week or so early. The weather was bad and we didn’t have any luck.

We then headed to Legazpi to try our luck on that side of the region, but because of the weather, we weren't allowed in the water. So we drove an hour to our second resort "Misibis Bay"

We then headed to Legazpi to try our luck on that side of the region, but because of the weather, we weren’t allowed in the water. So we drove an hour to our second resort “Misibis Bay“.

We spent some time swimming, playing table tennis and then everyone had a chance to play a video game

We spent some time swimming, playing table tennis and then everyone had a chance to play a video game.

Since we already paid to have a whale shark excursion at a location, we woke up early to try our luck again. And we had a beautiful view all the way to the pier of the Mayon Volcano

Since we already paid to have a whale shark excursion at a location, we woke up early to try our luck again. And we had a beautiful view all the way to the pier of the Mayon Volcano.

Matt and I got in the water twice to swim with a 10 foot whale shark. It may have been the same whale shark, but we were the only ones able to swim with it in the 2 hours we were on the water

Matt and I got in the water twice to swim with a 12 foot whale shark. It may have been the same whale shark, but we were the only ones lucky enough to swim with it in the 2 hours we were on the water.

And while we were suppose to be looking for whale sharks, we couldn't help but enjoy the view of the volcano

And while we were supposed to be looking for whale sharks, we couldn’t help but enjoy the view of the volcano.

After our whale shark experience we wanted to spend some more time in Legazpi, so we rented ATVs and headed to the lava wall of Mayon Volcano

After our whale shark experience we wanted to spend some more time in Legazpi, so we rented ATVs and headed to the lava wall of Mayon Volcano.

We took a small hike up to the 2006 lava wall of Mayon Volcano...then Matt took the zipline down

We took a small hike up to the 2006 lava wall of Mayon Volcano…then Matt took the zip-line down, but the kids didn’t want to try that so I walked down with them.

Apparently our day wasn't exciting enough since Kalani got stung by a box jellyfish. The resort had vinegar on hand (and I also had my own bottle that was used), the doctor was on sight and stayed with her for a couple of hours

Apparently our day wasn’t exciting enough since Kalani got stung by a box jellyfish in shallow water. The resort had vinegar on hand (and I also had my own bottle that was used), the doctor was on sight and stayed with her for a couple of hours.

She got stung on her leg and feet, but her arm was the worse with a tenticle wrapped all the way around her arm when we came out of the water. So one hand is scared and swollen

She got stung on her leg and feet, but her arm was the worst with a tentacle wrapped all the way around her arm when she came out of the water. So one hand is scared and swollen for the time being.

Day 3:

We left the Bicol region around 7am and again enjoyed the beautiful view of that area of the Philippines. 12 hours later we were at home nursing Kalani's wound

We left the Bicol region around 7am and again enjoyed the beautiful view of that area of the Philippines. 12 hours later we were at home nursing Kalani’s wound.

More photos our our Bicol Vacation here.

Wedding in Siquijor

February 20th, 2014 No comments

A couple of weeks after we left Siquijor for Christmas, we returned again. But this time it was for our cousin’s wedding.  Matt and I were asked to be sponsors, Kalani was a flower girl and Mason was an escort. It was a fun experience to see how they do weddings in the province. And the day before the wedding was our little cousin’s 4 year old birthday party as well…it was a short trip, but full of fun and memories.

We finally stayed at Coco Grove Beach Resort and wished we could have spent more time there. The downside is that this resort is an hour away from our family

We finally stayed at Coco Grove Beach Resort and wished we could have spent more time there. The downside is that this resort is an hour away from our family

The whole village from where our cousin is originally from showed up for the 4 year old birthday party

Many villagers from where our cousin is originally from showed up for the 4 year old birthday party

The Filipinos love lechon and a "free" meal

The Filipinos love lechon and a “free” meal

We had to leave the resort around 6am to get to our cousin's place to get hair and make-up done

We had to leave the resort around 6am to get to our cousin’s place to get hair and make-up done

The 12 passenger van we rented, turned into an 18 passenger van as we transported many people to the church

The 12 passenger van we rented, turned into an 18 passenger van as we transported many people to the church

Our family is ready for the wedding to start

Our family is ready for the wedding to start

Our lovely flower girl who had to wear a different dress since the other one was the wrong measurements...she is growing up too fast

Our lovely flower girl who had to wear a different dress since the other one was the wrong measurements…she is growing up too fast

Our handsome escort was bribed to behave for the 2 hours we were at the church

Our handsome escort was bribed to behave for the 2-3 hours we were at the church

Right after the parents walked down the aisle, it was our turn

Right after the parents walked down the aisle, it was our turn

During the wedding they had live singers and a chruch choir

During the wedding they had live singers and a church choir

The bride (our cousin) and groom with the flower girls and escorts

The bride (our cousin) and groom with the flower girls and escorts

Since we were the "sponsors" we got to sign the marriage contract

Since we were the “sponsors” we got to sign the marriage contract

When we arrived at the reception location, the village people were already eating before the wedding party showed us...its a different culture

When we arrived at the reception location, the village people were already eating before the wedding party showed up…that was very different than what we are use to

These boys wanted a photo with our kids...not sure if it is because they are "white" or because they are cute. I'm not ready for these older boys to be taking photos with our daughter

These boys wanted a photo with our kids…not sure if it is because they are “white” or because they are cute. I’m not ready for these older boys to be taking photos with our daughter

At the reception we found more relatives...these sisters are my second cousins

At the reception we found more relatives…these sisters are my second cousins

More photos from the wedding here.

Christmas with family

February 7th, 2014 1 comment

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!

 

 

 

 

Piano Guys

October 10th, 2013 No comments

A couple of months ago a friend told me about the group The Piano Guys and said they were coming to Manila.  I had never heard of them before, but after watching some YouTube videos they produced I quickly ordered 2 tickets.  It turned out to be a mother/daughter date and we had so much fun!  It is made up of a guy on the piano and another on the cello…and sometimes other friends help out.  They are very talented and very funny.  We were thoroughly entertained and the crowd was great that they came back 2-3 times for an encore performance.

We had great seats for our mother/daughter date

We had great seats for our mother/daughter date

The Piano Guys during their performance

The Piano Guys during their performance

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

 

 

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