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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Back to California

Aloha Everyone,

Light breakfast at Club Lounge before leaving for the airport. Manila International Airport is one of the busiest places in Southeast Asia. The current airport facilities cannot handle the large number of passengers. It was pandemonium. By the time we arrived at the Mabuhay Club, we had 20 minutes to relax and for J.J. to have a bowl of Arroz Caldo.

Our flight at several times were extremely turbulent that meal services had to be halted.

Honu’s engine started at once but as we drove out of the storage premise, J.J. noticed that Honu’s brakes were not working properly. Contacted a towing company via AAA but repair garages wouldn’t accept a large vehicle. We parked Honu at ESA (Extended Stay America) and my sister came to pick us up for lunch.

Travel fatigue and time difference were catching up. The three of us parted company to regroup on Friday morning. 

Cindy, a woman who sat next to me on the plane had a problem with her iPhone. It would not shut off. Hopefully she is having a better luck.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Laundry & Packing Day

Aloha Everyone,

Samsung washer/dryer in our suite is not user friendly. A couple of times J.J. tried to accelerate the drying process. Then the bright green light “Hot” appeared & locked the door.

The two of us took off to have an early lunch and revisited one of our favorite restaurants in Greenbelt 5.

All is well with our laundry though it added two additional hours which gave me time to workout on a treadmill twice at the gym and ended up with 15,610 steps or 4.6 miles.

We had a light snack at Club Lounge to wrap up a busy day.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Dining In and Out

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I have been eating at our favorite restaurants in the Makati Greenbelt area.

We also tried the evening snack at the Club Lounge. At our checking in, one of the guests relations staff mentioned to us that if we have a late breakfast and come for the evening snacks at Club Lounge from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, you won’t have to go out for lunch or dinner.

Hummm, interesting proposal. We saw several groups and individuals doing just that in the afternoon. Their plates were piled up with food and then going back for more food.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, February 26, 2024

Breakfast at the Club Lounge

Aloha Everyone,

Quality food choices including Taho and sago and European cheeses. One of the two attendants brought J.J. cappuccino and for me fresh mango. What a great way to start our day!

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Chicken Pochero at Terttu & Richard’s

Aloha Everyone,

Pochero is Spanish-Filipino thick stew. It’s a one pot hearty dish and one of my favorite homemade dishes. Terttu knows I’ve been avoiding fresh uncooked vegetables so her chicken Pochero was loaded with veggies, beans, potatoes and saba, cooking bananas.

Though each one of us are dealing with some level of health issues, that didn’t stop us from enjoying Terttu’s homemade ice cream of fresh bananas and strawberries. Finale was a Black Forest cake from Goldilocks :-)

Today’s prevailing topic was the cost of health insurance. Richard and Terttu have international coverage with no limits as to countries and type of coverage.

Richard uses hearing aids and explained how he can control its volume effectiveness by focusing on large areas of the room, smaller groups or specific individuals. Richard tried to convince J.J. why he should consider getting them.

We discussed our upcoming travels and try to see if we could coordinate our next cruise. Somehow we lingered with hand holding and our farewell hugs were tighter as four of us reluctantly parted company.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Moving Day

Aloha Everyone,

Got up at 4:00 am. Latest email message from the Philippine Airlines is that our flight is delayed by an hour and we have been bumped down to economy seats.

Good news is that our Grab ride took only 20 minutes to the airport. At the check in counter, J.J. asked the agent who started to assist us about our Business Class seat assignments. J.J. handed her our tickets that clearly stipulated we paid for business class tickets. No luck. At one time, a total of 8 agents were trying to help. Finally, we were able to secure wheelchairs and access the Mabuhay Lounge.

Happy we are back at Makati Diamond Residences. We have a one bedroom called the Regent Suite.  A couple of privileges are usage of The Club Lounge on the 27th floor. For our final 5 nights stay, J.J. and I decided to enjoy a more luxurious accommodation.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, February 23, 2024

A Funny Conversation With Gym Attendant

Aloha Everyone,

This morning when I went to walk on a treadmill, the gym attendant came to open the door for me. I gave him a 20-peso coin. He looked shocked to receive it. After my 40 minutes workout, he was ready to open double doors and called the elevator for me.

While waiting for the elevator, he asked me how I liked Cebu. I told him I like it here very much. He then asked if I like local food. My answer yes and my husband especially likes Lechon. The attendant asked if my husband had already had some Lechon. My response, yes 3 times in 1 week. The attendant was surprised and asked if my husband is fat. I told him no not at all. The attendant then said then your husband is very rich to have Lechon 3 times.

Lechon served in specialty restaurants are often chosen for special events. Therefore, having Lechon 3 times during our hotel stay probably impressed the gym attendant.

The cost for our meals including a small plate of Lechon, mongo bean soup, calamari and a tiny bowl of garlic rice plus a bottle of water average 1,50O to 1,800 pesos.  ($1 = 55 pesos)

Every day we appreciate little things we have in our lives.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Philippines Minimum Wage

Aloha Everyone,

The government is raising people’s minimum wage by 100 pesos per day. Current minimum is 300 pesos and up depending on the area of the Philippines.

Interns are those who are newly graduated from hospitality schools. They work free for up to 1 year. If they stay on, they become casual employees and they are then entitled to minimum wage but no benefit.

The highest and most coveted job is to become regular employee. They receive minimum wage, benefits and are difficult to be terminated. Employer must go through arbitration, so the more likely scenario is to make their job harder and put them in difficult situations. This is done to force them to resign.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, February 20, 2024


Aloha Everyone,

Cebu is the second largest island in the Philippines. While it is only 1 hour to fly, the place is a distant land and many people from Manila have no interest in visiting. 

People in Cebu speak Cebuano. Mixture of Visayan, English, Tagalog with a hint of Malay and Cantonese. 

I overheard a conversation between a 30-something American with Southern accent talking to a local Filipina.

Man - I heard that Dumaghete is a good place to visit.

Woman - Yeah, I also heard that.

Man - I heard there’s a lot more westerners in Dumaghete. I want to go somewhere where I can understand what people are saying.

Woman - We speak English.

Man - But I don’t understand them.

Woman - We speak English, Tagalog and Cebuano

Man - That’s it!  You guys only speak Cebuano among yourselves. I feel isolated.

People we met in Cebu are friendly but unless you learn to speak Cebuano, you will always remain an outsider.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, February 19, 2024

Found Ways to Communicate with Concierge & Housekeeping

Aloha Everyone,

My sister was perplexed when I mentioned to her that J.J. has difficulty trying to speak with taxi drivers and housekeeping staffs.

They are very helpful yet if we cannot talk to them, it takes a lot longer to get things done.

I use three thumbs up system. When hotel staff help us procure Lyft or taxi, we asked them to find out 1) if there is an AC that’s working, 2) if the car is newer and thus the interior is cleaner (that is a matter of opinion) and 3) if there are seatbelts for passengers and most importantly, can they be used.

If you recall, we previously had written that seatbelts for passengers are not mandatory in the Philippines.

With our housekeeping staff, they are always happy but in order for us to request for their services, I leave them written instructions each day and post them where they can be seen. For example, for general cleaning, the note will be left on the table which can be seen as they enter the room.

For specific instructions such as change of used towels, the note will be posted on the bathroom mirror.

Ah, happiness is when we receive a signed note back with the message, “Your requests are already done na po.”  Na po translate done sir/madam or in the vernacular as, “Mamsir.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Exploring the Immediate Neighborhood

Aloha Everyone,

Unreliable weather. The two of us stayed close to Ayala IT Park. It cleared in the afternoon.

The IT Park was created for the Business Process Outsourcing industry, also known as call centers. These centers operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Employees are mostly college educated with excellent English language skills. Some centers concentrate on prospecting or cold call marketing. Many are involved in backroom banking services like settling disputes regarding bank balance. The most skilled work is tech support.

Aloha -- Cathi