For Christmas of 2007, I surprised my best friends (who are Filipino-American) by flying to the Philippines, 12 hours before they got there. This surprise was orchestrated by my friends' dad, who would join us all later.
In my friends' uncle's house, after I surprised everyone. My friends' mom is celebrating our arrival by performing karaoke. I tried it for the first time, by singing Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog." It left much to be desired.
My friends' relatives found me to be a curious sight.
The "tricycle," a common mode of transportation.
The jeepney, perhaps the country's most famous form of transportation.
This trip marked the first time I had crossed the dateline, so I was pretty wiped out.
My friends' sister, Myla, and her uncle Sonny (who also helped with the surprise by telling everyone his long lost love child had arrived home; I then emerged to shocked reactions).
Street in Manila
I really like this photo; it was a happy accident.
Poverty isn't the essence of the Philippines, but it's definitely there to witness.
From left = some ugly blogger, Edwin, and his brother (and my best friend) Adrian
Rice paddies are a common sight
I can't remember this volcano's name... but it's a freakin' volcano.
We arrive in Concepcion, a town in Tarlac Province, and are greeted by Adrian's relatives.
Myla and Adrian got quite the welcome.
I wasn't quite so popular ;-) But they fed me well!
Adrian's cousin Mark (aka "Bong") raises chickens for cockfighting. Hold the diatribe, please.
Another cousin holds up a different rooster
They're raised to be aggressive
Pretty chill vacation so far
Great sunsets in the Philippines
We would play basketball next to the house... I'd usually lose ;-)
How 'bout them sunsets?
This is where we'd spend much of our time, playing card games (see below) and chess.
Diversion from the norm = a road trip to Baguio (BAHG - ee - o)
Don't worry, I was happy.
Northern Luzon is very lush
The famous Lion's Head on Kennon Road, leading to Baguio City.
At our accommodation, Adrian puts himself in a timeout.
Horseback riding on a trail in Baguio
Me, one of the cousins, Adrian, and Edwin
Adrian and I ham it up in Baguio
Great view over the area
Edwin pretends to rob a store while wearing a balaclava
Densely packed houses
We stopped by this field to get berries
No beating around the bush here, no sir.
We crossed into Pampanga Province to go watch cockfights (again - hold the diatribe).
Two roosters enter the arena, one rooster (or none) leaves.
I'll spare you the images of rooster death - it's all on video anyway.
Later on = time for waterboarding deuces. How does it work? So glad you asked.
Deuces is a card game, called Pusoy Dos in the Philippines, in which you try to get rid of your cards first. In our variation, the loser of each hand has to drink a glass of water. Adrian wasn't doing so hot at first, while I had yet to drink.
Edwin was thirsty anyways.
I started to get into a rut = this is my fourth glass of water. Yes, I was aware of the effects of too much water in too little time.
Ninth glass of water (note = each hand took at least five minutes, and you drink after the hand)
Eleven... it's starting to taste like poison
Fifteen... I'm really not that bad of a card player, but I was getting awful cards and having bad luck.
Twenty-two... Myla offers her hand for the count
Twenty-five, one for each year I was alive up to this point. Since my birthday was two weeks away, I got to 26 glasses...
...and then I had to go lie down. In the bathroom.
The next day = the kids horse around on the tricycle
We headed back to Manila to pick up Adrian's dad; here's Adrian with his uncle Sonny (charismatic as ever)
Adrian's dad, Don, made my trip possible. He got to the Philippines late due to a passport issue. Better late than never!