Saturday, May 29, 2010

extreme bicol!

May 21-27, 2010

Day 1:

work somehow led me to this exotic province and i never thought i could truly enjoy it once more, after all it's been 5 years or so when i last visited the place.

our first stop was in Naga where i was already psyched up with their gastronomic delights. thus after a quick visit to the Penafrancia Basilica, we took off to Ice Blink for their much talked about cheesy halo-halo.

Day 2:

the following day, we went early towards CWC or the Camsur Watersports Complex. although it is specifically designed for wakeboarding and waterskiing, we were not really able to try it out since there were just so many people queuing for the said activity that we contented ourselves with playing and hurdling the extra challenging flotation devices at the nearby Lago Del Ray and their kayak.

for the basics:

* taxi ride to and from the city center up to CWC is 250 per way
* we paid 200 pesos each for the half day (4 and 1/2 hours) at Lago del Ray
* tent is at 200 which can be shared by the group.
*kayak is at 100 pesos per hour.

Day 3:

had to work the entire day but we also managed to squeeze in food trips and ukay shopping in between. i actually got to buy 3 pairs of branded swimsuits at some sidewalk for 200 pesos a pair, and they are all brand new!

and yes, i finally, finally had a photo taken at Ateneo de Naga!

Day 4:

went to Daet to do some more business but also gave time to check out Bagasbas Beach. Daet is about 2 hours off some winding road from Naga and Bagasbas Beach is just about a good 10-15 minutes from the town proper. we managed to finish our interviews and got to check out the beach.

it was a bit inviting alright but there wasn't any facilities for shower or even some make shift changing area so we didn't bother swimming there anymore. we went to take a dip at the nearby pool resort though if only to cool down a bit but from the sweltering Bicol sun.

Day 5:

our last stop was in Legazpi City which is about 2 hours and 30 minutes from Naga. after resting for a while from the trip, we rented a tricycle for 400 pesos to take us to Cagsawa Ruins and Lingnon Hill. we were blessed with a real clear view of the majestic Mt. Mayon and had a great time taking photos with the help of kids offering their services with the many camera tricks that they have learned.

and i got to try the zipline too for 200!!

Day 6:

after wrapping up with work, we finally flew back home still bearing silly grins on our faces for having had so much fun.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


mom and i had a sort of early mother's day gift when we were granted our US visa last May 3.

a few days before that i sort of panicked when Pres. Arroyo declared May 3 as a non-working holiday especially since my mom was already here in Manila and we have booked our plane tickets for the following day, she was to go back home to Iligan while i had my work assignment in Palawan.

that very early morning of May 3, we left the house and headed to the embassy at about 6am. our interview schedule was at 8am and we were instructed to be there at least an hour early. the cab driver even asked us if operations continue even with the declaration of the holiday, we told him we were going there para mamasyal lang. as we were nearing the embassy though we saw a lot people queuing already. i was both relieved and anxious at the same time.

for a little bit of background, i was already denied of a visa years back. i was granted a Guam-only visa back in 2002 but got denied when i applied again supposedly for a work assignment in 2004. i've never really tried applying again since i'm never really good at rejections.

early this year though, my sister suggested that i try it out again so i could visit her along with my mom. i kinda forgot about it till she reminded me about it again just a few weeks before the appointment. i didn't really get to prepare. my bank statements were requested that friday, my employment records were signed by my boss the night before the interview. my mom was more prepared though as she had a lot of documents with her. my sister was able to send us her supporting papers a week before.

anyway, we were interviewed by an an obviously pregnant african-american woman and this is how the interview went:

consul: is she your grandmother?

me: no, this is my mother.

c: oh, i'm so sorry!

my mom (in her Bisaya English): mother only not grandmother!

(awkward moment here hehehe)

c: so sorry again. what will you do in the US?

me: we'll be visiting my sister and her family.

c: (to my mom) have you ever traveled out of the country?

mom: yes, to Hongkong and China for an educational trip. i have a letter from my daughter.

c: no, i don't need to see anything. how long do you intend to stay in the US?

mom: 3-4 months. i have a letter from our bishop.

c: no, i don't need to see anything. i don't need to see anything.

(i had to nudge my mom, apparently hindi ko pala siya na brief na dapat isang tanong-isang sagot lang.

c turned to me and asked: what is your job?

me: i am the assistant project director of a non-government office, the ____ foundation.

c: how much is your salary?

me: around XX,000.00

c: what countries have you gone to?

me: I've been to Japan, Hongkong-Macau, Singapore, Guam, Thailand...

sumingit ang mom ko: Malaysia

nabitin pa ata sa interview si mama haha!

me: yes, Malaysia

c: you've been denied of a visa before?

me: yes, mam, that was for a work assignment.

c: what is it all about?

me: we are involved in gathering research materials for overseas Filipino workers.

c: are you still in the same kind of job?

me yes, mam.

c: do you intend to do this kind of work there?

me: no, not this time.

c: okay, you are both approved. please go to air21 at the pavilion for the delivery of your passports.

my mom and i slowly walked away in disbelief asking each other, "tapos na? yun na yun?"

sabi pa ng mom ko, naiihi ata yung buntis kaya nagmadali.

here are the many documents we brought with us, for documentation man lang at para may silbi kahit konti hehe...

i had some photos of Xan and the rest of the family just in case we'll be asked. my mom even brought receipts of our utility bills, etc..we rehearsed so many answers to whatever possible questions and just prayed...i guess this time luck was very much on our side.

i received our passports a couple of days ago and found out that we've been granted 10-year multiple entry visas.