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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Update on Philippines Airlines

Aloha Everyone,

We received a phone call from the guest relations department of Philippine Airlines stating the following:

1). Our departure will be on the later flight, tomorrow evening LV 9:00 pm.

2). We have assigned seats.

3). Philippine Airline will give us a small cash compensation. It is sufficient to pay for our LAX hotel.

Doing two loads of laundry using the in room washer/dryer. Things are getting accomplished.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, March 20, 2023

LAX Reservations

Aloha Everyone,

The Asia Tower unit owner’s secretary showed up at the agreed meeting time. It was basically to settle the electricity bill and turn over the unit keys.

A farewell lunch with Joy gave us a chance to do a little catching up with one another’s affairs until our next meeting. 

J.J. was able to get our LAX hotel reservation confirmed. We are happy that in the midst of PAL’s rescheduling, we have made positive progress.

One of the difficulties we face as pedestrians is that vehicles and motorcycles do not stop even if you have the right-of-way. Today, a large passenger van literally block the road enabling us to cross the street.  Another time, a policeman waved us on halting the traffic with his hand with palm stretched out and waited for us to complete the crossing.

The weather is breezy, the sky above is blue.

It’s unseasonably cool for end of March in the Philippines.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Our Saga with PAL Continues

Aloha Everyone,

We went to the Legazpi Sunday Market to look for fresh fruits. This morning we purchased a freshly baked bibingka for our breakfast with coffee at the Makati Diamond Hotel, but otherwise our mind was not on food.

The Philippine Airlines (PAL) issued us new online tickets via email to J.J.’s iPhone. We stopped by at the hotel’s business center to have them print copies.

J.J. is spending an enormous amount of time trying to seek clarification on the contents of the message which is unclear and could be easily misinterpreted — perhaps done on purpose?

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Preparing for Stressful Departure

Aloha Everyone,

Received email from Philippine Airlines informing us that the flight our reservations has been canceled. Reason given is for aircraft maintenance requirements?

Reviewing options being offered all sounds as if the airline is doing us a favor. In the best case scenario, we will be taking a later flight, pay 1/2 day stay at Makati Diamond Hotel and we will arrive at LAX in the evening, requiring us to stay one night at a hotel in LAX. The delay will also mean that we will be checking in at the ESA (Extended Stay America) at a higher daily rate.

After not running the engine for 4 1/2 months, Honu may require to have the battery jump started. The parking facility will be closed after hours. We are dealing with a domino effects due to our flight changes.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, March 17, 2023

Preparing for Our Transition

Aloha Everyone,

Merienda Treats for Security Guards - to show them our appreciation for their services and to bid them farewell, we gave them meat buns from the Honolulu Cafe in Greenbelt 3.

Gifts for in-house laundry - The two of us prepared two large bags of clothing and miscellaneous items which we will not be taking with us and gave them to the in-house laundromat manager. J.J. also gave each of their two employees generous monetary gratuity. The laundromat manager was very happy and kept on asking us when are we coming back.

Email from Detsy informed us that the owner’s rep had a death in her family. Detsy is still in “very, very cold California.” J.J. and I agreed to meet the owner’s rep on Monday, March 20 in the lobby of Asia Tower to settle our utility bills and return the keys.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Sunday Treats

Aloha Everyone,

As we are now counting down the number of days remaining in the Philippines, J.J. has a few Filipino food he would like to enjoy again.

Seeing a large lechon or Filipino roast pig being delivered, J.J. asked if he could purchase a half kilo. The proprietor obliged and next thing you know, the seller was surrounded by other eager buyers.

Not wanted to witness any butchering of the pig, I walked away. A woman was selling roast beef package lunches. I told her that I am vegetarian. She smiled and said, a small bite of roast beef is healthy for you :-). J.J. bought a couple of small slices for me.

Before leaving the Legaspi Sunday Market, we purchased our favorite bibingka (coconuts rice cake with egg). It takes approximately 15-30 minutes to bake one over the hot charcoal fire. The bibingka maker said he usually makes 200 pieces or until they ran out of eggs.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Anime Fan Con at Glorietta Ayala Mall

Aloha Everyone,

Mostly in their preteen to thirty something, Anime Fans were there to see and to be seen. On the first day of Anime Fan Con, we heard loud cheers and clapping. Coming out of the nail salon, J.J. and I saw about a half dozen people dressed in costumes of Anime character. They seemed willing to pose for photographs but heard no exchange of conversations.

The following day, on our way to a supermarket, the two of us made a detour so I can go down to the mall center to get a closer look.  As you can see, there were souvenir shops of t-shirts, trinkets, flags, plastic swords and food. The entire Anime Fan Con is a big moneymaker for the organizers.

Behind bleached skin and long eye concealing wigs, these participants were faceless and nameless. Similar to adults having taken over children Halloween costume parties, Anime Fan Con attracts older, young at heart.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, March 10, 2023

The Reyes Family Tree

Aloha Everyone,

Over a leisurely lunch, I questioned Maricar and Marina trying to fill in the blank spaces of The Reyes Family Tree which Detsy had helped me get started.

J.J. and I are just focusing on our generation since we are now the elders of the Family. There are 8 siblings, including J.J. who is among the younger one half.

Going over the number of children, grandchildren, their names took most of our time between eating. 

Marina, Maricar’s 6th child out of 10 is the accomplished chef I’ve previously mentioned. Marina spent a couple of weeks last winter in Spain and France as a part of a mission to serve in Lourdes. This year, she is again planning to join her aunts and extend her travels to Italy including Rome and Florence. Marina is not a casual tourist. With her intense focus and passion on food, we can imagine how this travel will further develop her culinary skills.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Wonderful Medical Checkups

Aloha Everyone,

Anxiety is a natural reaction whenever you see a doctor. Dr. Uy, a sympathetic doctor went over the results of J.J.’s lab tests and declared him “healthy”!!!

It seems some of his conditions are from the high salt and and high sugar of the Filipino diet. She also said that air pollution might be a cause for his cough. J.J. cannot tolerate masks while I cannot step outdoors without one.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

I Will Miss My Daily Route

Aloha Everyone,

Store clerks, restaurant staffs and security guards greet me warmly when they see me walking. I try to complete close to 5 miles a day which often means going to Greenbelt 3 on the 3rd floor twice a day.

J.J. will go to one of 4 of his regular coffee shops or restaurant to wait for me.

Safety, cleanliness, feeling of security are all positive factors. Yes, I will miss my daily route.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, March 6, 2023

The Red Crab

Aloha Everyone,

Oh, how J.J. loves crabs! It warms my heart to watch him enjoy this crustacean. He ordered toasted coconuts crab, fried shrimps and Filipino spinach.

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo, which is served piping hot has some similarities to HaloHalo  It’s like a sweet soup. But HaloHalo remains my favorite Filipino Dessert. 

We had so many leftovers for J.J. to make a full meal. He is planning a return date prior to our departure.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, March 5, 2023

New Restuarant - Reality was Disappointing

Aloha Everyone,

On most days, the two of us take this corridor where photos of enticing dishes beckon us to come into their restaurant. Today we finally decided to give it a try.

No wonder these professionally executed food photos are necessary to get potential diners to make a long detour.  Poor location, ho-hum services and unfortunately the food was a sad representation of the beautiful photo.

I must say that ordering their blueberry cheesecake saved our lunch.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Cousins from Two Other Branches

Aloha Everyone,

They flew in from Australia and from different parts of the USA. One group of family members are here for a few days to attend a family reunion in Bacolod, a city in Southern Philippines. The other flew in to take care of family business in Manila.

The two of us have not seen J.J.’s cousins who are residing in Australia since we left for Europe and settled in Hawaii.  Grateful that Maricar offers her home with Marina’s fantastic food to give everyone a chance to get reacquainted.

Special features for today’s party were desserts.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Dispensing Medications

Aloha Everyone,

Common over the counter medications such as Tylenol, Advil, Aleve can easily be purchased without prescriptions, right? Not in the Philippines. You need to have a doctor’s order unless you are like us, foreigners. What is amazing is that J.J. and I needed to purchase additional Vitamin D3.

We showed our empty bottle to pharmacist, and she asked how many do we need? They are dispensed by piece, individually packed, so we purchased a total of 60 pieces just to last us until we return to the USA.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Creating Niche Market

Aloha Everyone,

Most Americans associate turkey and trimmings with Christmas dinner. However, in Japan and Philippines where people don’t usually consume turkey, Christmas is celebrated with huge buckets of panko fried chicken.

Not to be left behind, Chili’s Philippines has an Annual Burger Day on March 8th and Serta to promote their expensive mattresses also has a party with free cocktails and they coined it “Serta World Sleep Day”.

Especially in these tough economic times, even well-to-dos have to be reminded of when to indulge.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

February Readings

Aloha Everyone,

Since last night, we lost our two WiFi router connections.  Initially we blamed the bad weather all over the USA to our inabilities to email or send text messages. Eventually we realized that our WiFi routers needed more loads. 

The good news which came out of this is J.J. and I went to bed at 7:00 pm, woke up 3:00 am after 8 hours of sleep. Extra time in the morning gave us plenty of time to gather and drop off our weekly laundry. More importantly, extra time was available to finish reading the four books I’ve been working on for February.

Among these, Age of Enlightenment is my favorite followed by Viking. One of our dearest friends, late Per V. always presented him as a real Danish Viking. Actually, the church our younger son, Jeff, was baptized had a small replica of a Viking ship hanging from its ceiling beam. Well from Viking, it was revealed that Vikings were from Sweden.

Greater motivation was required to finish Mongols and The Black Death. The latter’s explanations on how art, music (especially children’s nursery songs) and literature were influenced gave me “ah huh” moments.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, February 27, 2023

Two Women & Their Resiliency

Aloha Everyone,

I had to ask myself whether it’d be fair to put these two stories in the same blog. One undergoing tremendous challenges of suffering from sceptic shock after childbirth. She lost both of her limbs and will live the rest of her life as a paraplegic. She’s young, educated, happily married with a supportive husband, family, friends and community.
Most of all, her two young children will give her motivation and incentive not to give up.

The second story is a very different nature. Her challenge is financial related to safe and affordable housing which people of all ages are facing.  What makes her story worth mentioning is her solution and now sharing her turning point with others.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Historically Bad US Weather

Aloha Everyone,

Stormy weather, historical snow falls, severe tornadoes and wind, warnings of dangerous road conditions are posted from the West Coast to Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard. Flights delays, rerouting or cancellations are common stories we hear.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Wherever you are, please stay healthy and safe.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine - 1 Year Anniversary

Aloha Everyone,

Hearing from friends we made on board the Azamara on our Mediterranean Cruises is happy yet a painful reminder that one year has passed since the Russian Invasion of Ukraine and no clear ending in sight.

Understanding the history of Ukraine, it’s unique relationships with Russia gives one a better picture of the complexities of the regional politics, social, economic ties including shared ancestry and common languages.

Zelensky and Putin are looking for decisive victory. With commitments by the USA and western allies while China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia’s posture of what’s in it for me, we are looking at another painful period in our history.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, February 24, 2023

Milky Way’s Famous Halohalo

Aloha Everyone,

J.J.’s recollection is that Milky Way, located in Pasay City then, was a place to go for merienda (snacks) and to hang out with his classmates. Milky Way was known for its mouthwatering and stomach filling Halohalo.

Funny how often our conversations shift to food and restaurants. Over our lunch yesterday with Marita, she mentioned Milky Way if we are looking for authentic Filipino food and great Halohalo.

The nearest Milky Way Cafe is located less than a 5 minute walk from our current condo. Immediately after we were given menus, we perused for familiar Filipino dishes. Finding none, we asked the waiter if he has another menu. We had sat in the wrong restaurant. The second floor, where we were is a Spanish restaurant and the third floor is Milky Way Cafe.

The appearance from the entry to interiors were old and dated. Nothing to write home about the two dishes we ordered. But then, JJ and I were there for Halohalo. Maybe my mentioning to our waiter that we heard that Milky Way is where we find the best Halohalo and we would like to share one. He instructed the person who puts together the Halohalo to serve it in two containers with no compromising on ingredients. It was very satisfying and filling. J.J. was all smiles after he also helped me finish my serving :-)

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Paul in the Philippines, a Social Media Site

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. participates in expatriates' forums where he comes across with helpful information on traveling in the Philippines.  Most of the social media sites are managed by bloggers targeted to English speaking audiences who are already in the Philippines or are thinking of visiting here.

This particular entry applies specifically to Americans. According to the most recent information, there are approximately 400,000 American citizens residing in this country. Hopefully, you don’t have to deal with any of the items covered here.

Expat Issues and Solutions in the Philippines/Homeless? Jailed? Dead? Me...

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Lunch at Kimpura

Aloha Everyone,

The name Kimpura takes us back several decades when we worked on their advertising and photography requirements. Since then, Kimpura has relocated to Greenbelt 5. We once knew the original founder who worked on a number of entities including management of a supermarket.

From a mutual acquaintance, we heard that current management is led by one of the sons of the original founder. This group now manages several restaurant concepts including Jade Garden, Peking Garden, Kimpura and our favorite no frill but simply wonderful Chinese food, Luk Yuen.

J.J. ordered Tempura Teishoku (set menu consists of shrimp, fish, squid and vegetable tempura, a bowl of rice and a bowl of miso soup). I asked for 2 pieces of Tamago (small bite size sushi of egg on rice secured with seaweed) plus cha soba (green tea buckwheat noodle) and tempura shrimps.

Our server was excellent, and he cleared our table and replaced dipping sauce without being asked. Female servers all wore what appeared to be a formal long-sleeve “kimono”, Japanese robe. Due to stiffness of the material including the size and the quality of the ready to wear “obi”, sash, whether walking or serving, the women were hampered by the long sleeves.

The spacious restaurant at 11:30 am was already getting filled. The amount of food we ordered was too much and we stood up without finishing. J.J. enjoyed the Buko Sherbet (sherbet made of young coconut) that came as a part of his lunch, and we declared that the restaurant was worth another visit. The total cost was $29. We would pay at least twice that amount in California.

Aloha -- Cathi