Visit to the Philippines, June 26 to July 4, 2010

Merle's Family (The Malaca Clan) Reunion, Part I

We departed Jacksonville, FL, from Merle's sister's place, to Atlanta, to Seoul Korea (Korean Air was great!), and on to Manila, with our two 50 lb suitcases each, which officially qualifies us as mules.   

 

On arrival to the Philippines, it was like we were in another country!  Traffic there is survival of the fittest, or biggest vehicle.  Most of the family live in an area south of Manila named Muntinlupa City.

On Monday, we went to visit some of the relatives who live in nearby Barangay (village) Bayanan.  These homes are packed in very tightly, but back up to a large fresh water lake, Laguna de Bay.  Here, Merle's sister Me Ann, Merle, Auntie Nelia, Cousin Roberto, and MW.
The people here don't have much money, not much air conditioning (I suspect), and much of the infrastructure seems a little crumbly.

At Merle's family's house, the watch dogs are kept in cages and don't get out too often.

 

I didn't verify this assertion, but one of the cousins said the dogs were in cages to prevent them from being stolen and...

(gulp)...eaten!

We went to visit the public school where Merle's sister Michelle works teaching math, here with Auntie Nelia, Lydia, MW, MS, and Uncle Freddo.

Here, I stand outside the classroom with Michelle teaching.

Apparently, with not too many white people being present in this school, I got a lot of stares from the kids.  I would wave and they'd all wave back.  I was like a celebrity!

 

At one point, however, a kid inadvertently pushed an ice chest we had off the second story ledge with a loud bang when it hit the ground.  Thank goodness, nobody was hurt, but not the best time to be a celebrity then!

View of the neighborhood outside the family compound.  Usually this street is full of motorcycles with side cars (tricycles) and other traffic.
Tuesday, we were off to visit another part called Tagaytay.  Here, Lydia, Nelia, Merle and I visit with Merle's mother, seated by the fan.
We stopped at a restaurant named Leslie's, with a great viewpoint of the Tagaytay volcano, and the surrounding lake, Taal Lake.  Fish are farmed in cages in this lake.
We had a big group, here MW, Uncle Teddie, baby Marcus, Freddo, Joseph, Uncle Edwin, Anders, and Flemming.
Here are the women (plus one dude):  Michelle (Merle's sister, the teacher), Auntie Violi, Lydia, Uncle Teddie, Merle, Lydia, Annie (Freddo's wife), Natasha (age 8), and Michelle (Ander's wife).
There was quite a feast at Leslie's, including serenading singers.  They did some nice versions of songs by the Eagles and Abba.
After lunch, we visited Sonya's gardens.  Uncle Freddo was suspicious of one of the plants there being marijuana, but nobody tried it out to see if that were true.
Merle admires the giant sunflower, noting that they don't seem to grow that big in GA.

Another interesting stop was the open market at Tagaytay.  Here I point to beef testicles, for sale here probably for excellent price!

 

Everything was covered with flies.  I was wondering if it would be more efficient to just buy a pound of flies.

Wednesday, we visited a resort called Villa Escudero, here at the entrance area.  Merle's nephew JM is pictured here, who at age 5 is small for his age.

The Escudero family had turned this old church into a museum with a real mixture of artifacts and exhibits.  There was a strict "no camera" policy, but the items on display included, of course, some related to religion, but also, natural history (stuffed and mounted animals), art, money, ancient artifacts (arrowheads, pottery, etc.), miniature collectables, furniture, and historical wardrobes.  We even had our own tour guide.

 

Here, Alexander, Flemming's son, waits, while Merle's sister Me Ann poses with us in front of the museum. 

There were also an airplane and a tank (not pictured).
As in the old days, ox power was used for some things.  They referred to these animals as Caribou (pronounced car ee bow), one of who was nice enough here to pose with us.
The lunch area at the resort was great.  The tables were at the bottom of a waterfall, and we would walk through the water between the tables (shoes optional) to get our food and seat ourselves.

Waiting in line for the lunch, Edwin, Lydia, Violi, Michelle, Joelle, Merle, and MW.  Note we're standing in the water.

 

Don't worry, Joelle, you'll get lunch soon enough!!

After lunch, time for more cooling off!

 

(from left, Edwin, Teddie, MW, JM, Joseph, Joelle, Jane)

The resort also had a great pool with a water slide.  Very refreshing!
The pool was right next to a river (that fed the waterfall below that flowed through the lunch area).  As I looked at this scene, I was reminded of scenes from Apocalypse Now, which was filmed in the Philippines in the late 70's.
for more pics, click here.
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