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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Laundry, Grocery Shopping, and Casual Dining in the Philippines

Aloha Everyone,

Ahyi Laundry, recommended by a hotel porter, seemed professional and reliable. Their normal business practice is to weigh the clothes you drop off. Then the staff will sort them out by color. In our case, I pre-sorted per my requirements which confused them a little.

They charge per kilogram weigh. Philippine Peso (PHP) is approximately 50 to $1 US. The cost to wash and fold our clothes is PHP410 or $8.20.

We paid US$25 for our shopping at Rustan's Supermarket for daily essentials including fresh mangoes and avocados.

Before going out, I ate grilled vegetable and granola giving J.J. more flexibility in choosing his lunch. He tried a local fast food plate consisting of fried pork dumpling and steamed seafood dumpling. J.J. also had a coconut drink all for about US $3. He told me that it was not a gourmet or even a healthy food, but meant to fill you up.

For dinner, J.J.'s sister, Letty and her husband Peping invited us to Milky Way, an established restaurant known for Filipino cuisine. Although Letty and I exchange family news frequently via emails, it was wonderful to see them in person.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, February 27, 2017

Class Reunion

Aloha Everyone,

J.J.'s 50th high school class reunion was held at the Manila Polo Club.

As we walked into the large room reserved for the event, he was greeted by a number of classmates calling out his name, "Yeah J.J.!"  

De La Salle University (then an all boys school) is a Roman Catholic research university. You can start at Grade 1 and finish college. It is ranked as top three learning institutions in the country, although alumni consider it No. 1. 

Celebration commenced with an hour-long mass led by one of his classmates who is a priest. We had assigned seats, but the master of ceremony, one of J.J.'s close friends, called to transfer us to a "better table."

Buffet-style food choice was excellent and I was able to make a good selection of healthy items.

J.J. ate lechon. They had two roasted, whole pigs at the carving table.

Slide presentation of the entire class with photos of everyone then and now. There was also a tribute to those who are no longer living.

The entertainment was provided by some of his classmates whom J.J. recalls having a band while in high school. They were accompanied by professional singers and musicians. Choices of music were circa late 1960's reminiscent and reflective of their youth.

J.J. and I left before dancing got started grateful that we are able to attend the first event of his 50th reunion.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Greenbelt Mall in Ayala Center, Makati

Aloha Everyone,

The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands. Makati, located in the main island of Luzon, is in Metro Manila region and the country’s financial hub.

Our condotel (condominium hotel) is located in the heart of Ayala Center and next to the Greenbelt shopping mall. Opened in the 1980's, one can find  a mix of high-end retail shops, variety of restaurants and entertainment. The mall consists of five sections: two enclosed, two buildings with open-air shopping areas, and Greenbelt 5, just across from our residence, the newest section opened 20 years ago. Next to Greenbelt is another 5 sections shopping complex called Glorietta.

Since our arrival, J.J. and I are averaging 1-2 hours walk a day mostly restricted to the air-conditioned sections of the two shopping complexes.

Tonight J.J. and I along with Richard and Terttu were invited to  the private viewing of a documentary film produced by Dolores. The event was followed by a sumptuous Korean dinner. Definitely, this will be one of the highlights of our visit.

The documentary is about special needs children.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Getting Together With Friends

Aloha Everyone,

It's delightful to witness old friends reunite. Today J.J. and I met three of his high school classmates. After a quick fact finding; where do you live, how's your health, are you still working, it was a time for each to share photos of grandchildren.

Their interest with us is not our grandchild but why and how we embarked on our RV adventure lifestyle. Why South Dakota, what do we do when the weather is disagreeable, have we encountered bears on the road, etc. All fairly standard questions the two us are frequently asked.

After exchanges of contact information, we parted company until the first formal class reunion venue.

Dinner was at the home of Richard and Terttu, who are one of our oldest and dearest friends. Their 3 children are all married and they each have 2 children of their own. Terttu had prepared the dishes I could eat -- green salad, string beans and salmon. The four of us have opportunity to see each other at least once a year somewhere in the world. The hours just sped by us as our conversation flowed easily from one topic to another. It was nearly 10:00 pm when J.J. and I returned to our condo unit.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dining Out

Aloha Everyone,

We had our breakfast at Starbucks where their largest size coffee was US$2.00 and a croissant cost US$1.20.

Our lunch at Dekada was featured in our Thursday blog with 3 photos including bibingka, pancake like dessert made of cassava floor, butter, eggs and coconut. The mixture is baked in clay pots lined with banana leaves. Probably high in cholesterol, but absolutely delicious!   

Dinner with Dolores and her husband Totoy, her son Andreas and his coach, Miko at the French restaurant located in a membership only club. Sumptuous dishes prepared under the direction of a chef from Sweden. Here is a few close up shots of the dishes.

Fely J's serves Filipino and Asian cuisines. For lunch today, we chose Sinigan na Bangus (milkfish and vegetables stewed in tamarind broth) and fried calamari. The fish served by Larry, our waiter was excellent. Inclusive of service charge and tip , we paid US$20.

Here are a couple of interesting local customs:

1.  After taking  your order, it is read back immediately.  

2). When paying in cash, the service staff who accepts your money counts and informs, "I have received P1,000 from you. Please wait for your change."

The above avoids any misunderstanding between the patron and the establishment.

We met Ding at Via Mare coffee shop for merienda.  Merienda translates as a snack which locals seem to engage in any time of the day. The food potions are meal sizes. Merienda deserves a separate blog and I look forward to writing about it.  

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Aloha Everyone,

Let me first show you our condo unit, a one-bedroom. There is a living room with small kitchen and two separate bathrooms!  

A very active first day. Breakfast at Starbucks, exchange some funds to local currency, purchased SIM card and obtained a local number for our Italian phone followed by a delicious lunch. Purchased a coffee maker, did some grocery shopping and back to take a nap.

The two of us were fast asleep when our friend, Dolores, came to pick us up for dinner.

It was a fascinating first day in the Philippines.

Aloha -- Cathi