1/16/16: Fontana

I woke up today at around 6:30 am to the sound of my nephew, Antione, screaming, “Tita Amanda!” at the top of his lungs. It was so loud that I thought he was right outside my room, but he was actually downstairs and outside. I joined them for breakfast where I ate a chicken empanada, which was a lot different that I’m used to because It had bits of hardboiled egg inside but it was still good. KaEstella, still looking the same, came over during breakfast and we talked a little bit. She mostly just kept saying how similar we all looked to each other. Then, we got ready to go to Antione’s doctor’s appointment at a health clinic in Bulacan. I wanted to go because I was interested to go because Ate Ara told me the story of how she went to several doctors and this doctor was the only one who was able to detect his heart problem and direct her to the best cardiologist.

It was extremely traffic on the way to the clinic and it was just in Bulacan. Ninong Andrew was the one driving us, so he wasn’t used to driving in such narrow and traffic areas. It was also his first time driving Ate Ara there, so he kept telling us how much he didn’t like it there. The health clinics here are nothing compared to the ones in America. I expected to be an enclosed building, but it was all open, where healthy people could be exposed to the sick ones because there were only two doctor’s office: one for adults and one for kids. Ate Ara didn’t want me to get exposed, so we waited in a separate corner of the office.

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Above: The front entrance of the health clinic for kids. There is only one doctor and it’s all first come, first serve. Nothing is by appointment. Since Antione has a heart condition, he’s first priority so we had to just wait for the previous appointment to finish and then we were next. The door and the charts are elevated in case of flooding. The charts also aren’t in any cabinet whatsoever, so if it floods they’re all gone.

When we went into the room, it was a cramped and narrow. In the states, it’d be the size of a room for one patient, but here, it’s a room for one patient, the family of the patient,the doctor’s office, the doctor’s supplies – including the desk and other files, the medical machines all in that one space. Also, the doctor did everything. There was no nurse to assist her in doing anything like checking height and weight. It was also surprising that they do not even use computers for even a doctor’s office. The doctor manually computed Antione’s BMI and hand wrote his measurements, prescriptions, blood pressure, etc all on a piece of binder paper and depended on a booklet that Ate Ara kept to keep his immunization records up to date. His chart contained only his personal information sheet and then several binder papers stapled to it. IMG_0073.jpg Above: I was sitting against the wall, so this is other side of the office. To my right was  only the patient bed. And to the left was the cabinets. They use a poster taped to a wall, to measure the height.

IMG_0074.jpg Above: The doctor and Antione getting his height measured with the poster.

The doctor said Antione’s heart was fine for now but to schedule an appointment with his cardiologist next week to have a 2D echo, which is basically an ultrasound but for his heart. She told Ate Ara that he needed to get shots, which Ate Ara said she’d get today but the doctor jokingly suggested not today because this was the only appointment that her and Antione got along. Ate Ara agreed and decided to wait until next week for the Varicella and flu shots.

While driving back, Ninang Evelyn got a call from Kuya Aron that he was at Fontana, with his in-laws, trying to get a villa but they weren’t accepting his membership. Apparently, when you’re a member you get 50% off of everything like the villa and food. He also wasn’t accepted because he was a member under the name of Ninong Andrew and Ninang Evelyn but since he’s over 25 now, he’s no longer considered part of it. So, Ninong Andrew and Ninang Evelyn had to be there in order for his to get the discount. As a result, we had a surprise trip to Fontana.

We drove back to Bulacan to get our things and then we drove three hours to Fontana, which was completely different from what I remembered. They recently built a really fancy hotel lobby, which was pretty much palace-like. While waiting for Ninang Evelyn and Kuya Aron to settle everything, the rest of us ate at their international restaurant. The food was priced insanely high but since Ninong Andrew was a member, they got 50% everything. Ninong Andrew ordered me a salmon steak, which was good but was also drenched in butter. The kids each only ate half a plate of mashed potatoes and then they ate cake and cupcakes for their meals.

IMG_8625.jpgAbove: My salmon steak – that’s not gravy, that’s butter.

After resting a bit, we went to go swimming. Fontana recently made a new addition to their water park by adding a hotsprings section. Antione doesn’t like the cold water, so he preferred swimming at the hotsprings, which I found funny because it’s already so hot in the Philippines and the reason to go swimming is to cool down but he wants to stay warm. Anyway, since we were only registered to swim at the hotsprings, it was way too hot for me. So, I opted out of it and just sat in the cool shade and talked with Ate Glenda, Antione’s Yaya. She told me that Fontana is nice but it’s only a place for the rich because it costs more than 1 million pesos a year for membership to Fontana, which is $20,905.07 approximately and that’s not including entrance to the waterparks or the food. It’s that much to just be a member. Since Ninong Andrew and Ninang Evelyn were members a long time before that, they only pay about 50 thousand pesos. Ate Glenda and I talked while the kids swam, which was only for about 1 and 30 minutes and then we headed back home, because Ninong Andrew was anxious about driving in the dark. The drive took another 3 hours or so back, where we arrived at around 8pm. We were all tired from the trip, so we ate KFC for dinner and then we all went to bed.

IMG_8628.jpgAbove: Fontana Entrance of the hot springs.
IMG_8634.jpg Above: Shallow hotsprings for the kids. We went to another one too, which had actually bubbles but there were too many people for me to picture.

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Above and below: Waterfall themed pool, which Zavier was too scared to swim in so we didn’t go in.

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1/15/16: Back to Bulacan

I woke up today at around 4am again. I thought I was no longer jet-lagged but I guess my body is still adjusting. I still got six hours of sleep though, so I guess it’s okay. I made plans to go back to Bulacan this weekend. Ninong Andrew and Ninang Evelyn texted me that they would pick me up at around 9am. I packed my things and I tried to go back to sleep but I ended up just lying in my bed the whole time. Once it was almost 9, I walked to the lobby and found them walking in at the same time and Kuya Adrian was there too. We drove to SM The Block aka SM North Edsa, where I ate breakfast at Fatboy’s Pizza, which had an interesting topping of extra cheese, pineapple, mushroom, pepperoni, and different sausages but it all came together well. Then we went to buy some school supplies for me and for Andre. Then we walked around more to look for a converter for my LAN cable to my laptop because I can’t connect the LAN cable directly to my laptop without one. Kuya Adrian and I walked to every single electronic store in the mall but none of them had one or others said they’ve run out. We basically went electronic store hopping because when we went to one store, they’d tell us to go to another, and it went on for a good hour until we gave up and called Ate Ara if she could find one near here in Makati. Ninong Andrew went to go get a haircut so while we waited, we went to a nice internet cafe. Afterwards, we went to eat lunch at Tim Ho Wan, a dim sum restaurant.

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Above: Baked Siopao and Spareribs with rice bowl. (Not pictured: Suimai, shrimp rice roll, spicy shrimp dumpling, Chicken with rice bowl, and fried tofu.

IMG_0067.jpgLeft: Glimpse of Manila traffic.

On the way back to Bulacan, it was pretty traffic so I fell asleep in the car pretty much the whole way there. When we got home, I was welcomed by my amazingly cold, air-conditioned bedroom. I laid down in the bed the rest of the time until I was called for dinner. For dinner we had nilaga chicken, bangus, and mashed potatoes which was the best meal for me so far since my stomach was familiar with it. Afterwards, my nephew, Antione, and I watched tv together and played with playdoh while we waited for Ate Ara to come back from work (below).

 

IMG_8617.jpgNow, I finally had internet to post all of my blog entries. The past few days have been pretty tiring and I feel rushed to update this blog so my writing isn’t the best but I will get around to editing the wording later. For now, at least the content is updated for my parents to read and stop texting me to update, even when I keep telling them I couldn’t. 🙂

I’m also happy to have internet again because I can finally catch up on the 8 episodes of On the Wings of Love that I’ve been missing out on. 😉

Also, I have been bitten about another 10 times while I’ve been updating this blog. I have no idea where they come from but at this rate, it seems like I’ll be covered in bites from head to toe by the time I go back home.

1/14/16: Move In Day 2

I finally had a good day of sleep. I woke up and saw that the mosquito lotion my mom gave me was working well. I went to the bathroom to see it was all cleaned and more equipped than when I arrived. I found out that today was the day that the rest of the students would move in to the dorm. After I got ready and changed, I texted my sister on WhatsApp, which is the only app that works here in my dorms for some reason and nothing else. The internet in my room is still spotty so I had to walk in and out of my dorm to get signal again. I was arranging my things again when all of sudden the door opens wide and I am faced with about 7 girls dressed in Ateneo uniforms. The roommate I had met introduced me to them and one of the other girls was another one of my roommates. 6 out of the 7 had short hair and they were all around the same height as me. It was kind of intimidating to be confronted with so many people at once, while I was just sitting on my bed completely off guard but they all seemed nice and just seemed shy to speak in English to me like I was shy to speak Tagalog to them. But I had told them I understood tagalog so they felt more comfortable around me. I was hoping that today would be my rest day since tomorrow was supposed to be my registration but my friend, Radiance, texted me that we were supposed to get our ID’s done asap so I had to get ready and meet up with her, Sebastian, and Kim to take care of that. Kim met up with me at my dorm and we walked to the cafeteria to meet Radiance and Sebastian, who were already eating. Kim and I walked around the cafeteria looking for places that wouldn’t upset our stomachs too much and ended up settling for pasta. We had a bit of trouble figuring out how the cafeteria system worked so luckily we found some of our Ateneo friends who helped us out. We then walked to the ID registration room to and while waiting in line to get our pictures, Kim had to walk back to the dorm because she was wearing a sleeveless shirt, which was unacceptable for their IDs. While we were waiting for her to return, I called my parents since the data was decent in the building, who kept telling me I needed to work on getting wifi- which I had already been doing the whole time since I had been there.. School hasn’t started yet so not everything at school is up and running yet so it takes longer than normal. Anyway, Radiance, Sebastian, and Kim had registration today – it’s ordered by alphabetical order of our schools- so we walked to the OIR room. I decided to just go with them because I had to talk to Jayson about the internet again by my parents’ demand. After talking to him, I decided to just wait for my friends and just watch their things for them because the data was better in the building. Once my friends were finished, I was about to leave when Ms. Bu, the assistant director of the OIR, called me to her and told me that I was “very lucky” because she was going to register me today instead of having to wait until tomorrow because I was already there. Also lucky for me, all of my classes had been approved so I was good to go and finished quickly. 

Afterwards, we walked back to our dorms where we were immediately told that we had to pay our appliance fees. Having brought a lot of appliances and I also had to pay for internet – which was basically just paying for a LAN cable to plug in to the dorm wall. However, the guy at front desk told me that the person who sets up the internet for people in the dorms already left and I would have to wait until Monday to get it set up. So, Radiance, Sebastian, Kim and I were going to take a taxi to the mall to eat dinner. I went to my dorm to drop off my things and when I went back to the lobby to wait for my friends, the laIMG_8616.jpgdy at the front desk came up to me and told me that she made a call to have someone help me set up my internet today if I was willing to do it right then but I had to cancel dinner with my friends, which I was willing to do because my parents were so adamant about the internet. Kim also didn’t have her internet set up in her room so she decided to stay with me anyway so the person could fix hers as well. Kim and I were invited to hang out at a house some of the French students had rented for the semester but it was 1 30minute walk and it was getting pretty late so we decided not to go and eat dinner somewhere near. Kim and I walked around campus to look for more cafeterias other than the one we ate at for lunch, but we didn’t really feel like eating at those ones. So, we walked across the overpass near Ateneo’s entrance and ate at Mom and Tina’s restaurant, where I ordered fish and chips (Right). Kim and I just hung out there until it was almost time to go back to the dorm because it was nicely air-conditioned and had wifi.

1/13/16: Last Day of Orientation – Manila Tour

I woke up today with a crazy amount of mosquito bites on my legs. I put bug spray and bug lotion on myself but I still got bitten. We got to orientation at around 6:30 but we still had to wait for the bus to arrive which was around 7am. Not alIMG_0015.jpgl of us fit on the bus, but there were mini bus seats for the middle of the aisle, where people could sit. The first and last ride, I didn’t have to sit on it, but the second ride I did and it’s very uncomfortable because you can’t lean back otherwise you’d lean on the person behind you. 

Right: Bus is completely filled. There’s no aisle way or anything because the middle seat is also taken.

 We traveled to Intramuros and visited Fort Santiago where we visited the Jose Rizal museum. On the way there, I had to sit beside 2 other french students, whom I forgotten their names, and they talked about how they loved the filipino transportation. They fed us snacks on the way there like Mamon and gave us Absolute waterbottles. I told my friends that Ninang Evelyn advised I only drink Absolute water for now because it was the only distilled water brand which was hard to find at restaurants. They remember this and they took extra water bottles for me to drink. By the time I got home, I got an extra 5 water bottles that could last me the rest of the week.

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Above, Left, and Below: Fort Santiago in Intramuros.

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Above: Golden Footsteps of Jose Rizal. It is believed these were the steps he took towards his execution.

Below: Part of the spine of Jose Rizal that came out when he was shot.

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Above: El Filibusterismo, one of Rizal’s famous works.

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Above: Marco, Noel, Me, and Sebastian at one of the lakes near the Museum.

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Above: Me, Noel, Sebastian, Batrisiya, Dina, and Datul.

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Above: Kim, a guard officer, Radiance, and I at Fort Santiago’s exit.

Then we travelled to Luneta Park where we saw the Rizal Monument and took a group photo below.


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Above: The largest Philippine flag in the Philippines.

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Above: Marco, Me, and Kim at Luneta Park.

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Group picture at Rizal Monument of Exchange Students and ASEC students.

We ate lunch at Max’s Restaurant where we ate fried chicken, chop suey, rice, lumpia, and beef soup. Then we visited the Ayala Museum in Makati which was very nice but we could only take pictures on the 2nd floor, which was just the historical representation part of the museum.

Below: Representation of the boats of the armada. The only things we were allowed to take pictures of.IMG_8610.jpg

Below: Arrangement of painted rocks outside museum donated and painted by famous Philippine artists.

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Everyone was pretty tired so we just all sat on the benches outside the museum while waiting for the bus to arrive again. When we finally got back to Ateneo, Radiance was still hungry so we walked to Gino’s Restaurant which was a pizza and pasta place and the other Singaporean, named Noel, joined us. Kim and I shared a cheese pizza because both our stomach were still getting used to the food. Afterwards, we walked to the grocery store near by to get some groceries to last for tomorrow because it was our rest day in case

we didn’t feel like going out. Radiance and Sebastian walked back to the dorm quickly while Kim and I took our time back. Today was the hottest day so far, so I was so happy to take a cold shower. 

Below: Finishing the pizza at Gino’s Restaurant.

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1/12/16: Orientation Day 2

I met up with Radiance, Kim, and Sebastian at the lobby of our dorms to meet up for our second day of orientation. They all told us to be there at 8:30 am, but it ran Filipino time so it didn’t start until 9:30. They were more presentations, like introducing us to the different school organizations and more about ASEC (Ateneo Student Exchange Community, which is the club that runs the exchange program). We then ate lunch at Buffalo Wings, because we get a student discount there, and I had Southern Fried Chicken, which ended up being really sweet.

IMG_8600.jpgLeft: Southern Fried chicken with sweet gravy, beans, and rice for less than 200 pesos. 

We went back to orientation, where they told us we were doing an Amazing Race, kind of thing for us to get to know the school campus. The people in our Amazing Race group would also be a part of our ASEC “barkada” for the rest of the semester. In my group was an our ASEC leader, named Bruce and an Indonesian girl named Monica and an Indonesian guy named Kafka. We finished third in the race, which was pretty good because we were one of the smallest groups. After the race, we had ASEC buddies mixer. However, most of the buddies, including mine, couldn’t make it because it was still winter break for them so a lot of them were on vacation. However, I did get to meet some Ateneans during the exchange and I got to meet up with another of my friends who exchanged at USF, named Trixie. I got to meet and get to know a lot more people then. I met 2 other french people named Bastien and Sebastian that joined Me, Kim, Radiance, Sebastian, and Marco for dinner, which was included for today’s orientation. For dinner they had girls from Ateneo dance the Tinikling and other filipino folk dances while we ate. The dinner was a fish tempura, beef with broccoli, chicken and gravy, and lechon. They also served unlimited dirty ice cream in a cart on one side of the room.

12604795_961963700549561_7844222947092723338_oAbove: Amazing Race Group – Kafka, Monica, Me, and Bruce 

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Above: At the Buddy mixer – Me, Bruce, Kafka, Monica, Coline, Deborah, and Candice

Right: Table decor for the orientation dinner.
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We talked to people for about a few hours afterwards and then we went back to the dorms because we had to wake up for orientation at 6:30am the next day. Kim stayed in my for a little bit and we talked until my roommate came back to sleep. I visited her dorm, which was all the way on the 5th floor and it was a lot scarier than mine. It was completely dark and had open windows along the hallway. She also had a lot of cats running around in her hallway, which made me more thankful about staying on my floor.

1/11/16 : First Day of Orientation

Because I am still jet-lagged, I woke up at around 4am for my 9:30 am orientation. I kept trying to go back to sleep but to no avail. At 4:30, I heard my roommate, Boom’s, alarm. She was getting up early to start her training sessions for basketball. Once she left, I still laid in my bed, staring at the wall because the internet in my room is the worst. I barely have service to text in my room. At around 6am, I decided get up and get ready for orientation. I hung out in the lobby for a bit, because that was where my internet was the best. I had made plans with Marco, my friend here at Ateneo who I met at my school last year, to meet up at my dorm so he could show me the building but he called me and said he was going to be late. But he then called me and told me he was going to be a bit late, so I decided to go out and find the building myself. I asked the lady at the front desk of the lobby if I could have a campus map but she said that I would have to go to the main office to get one. Since I didn’t know how to get to the main office, I decided to just walk around then. It was a good thing that I left early because it took me more than an hour to find the building. Ateneo’s campus was not only A LOT bigger than I thought but the buildings all the looked the same. I was circling the campus for a good hour. I would have asked someone but school only started for the exchange students, so no other students were around on campus. And I guess the other exchange students haven’t gotten up to go to the building yet.

Below: Ateneo school map that I tried to follow. And the actual building I was looking for – Faber Hall.

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Finally, I just decided to call Marco for help. It turns out the sign for the building’s name was all the way at the top and not on the bottom like all the other buildings, which was why I couldn’t find it. It was 8:30am then and Marco said he would meet up with me there. When he arrived, he was giving me a a quick tour of Ateneo and then he got another call saying another exchange student was lost too so we went back to go pick them up. When we arrived to orientation, I was welcomed by a nice air-conditioned room. I sat next to 3 Brunei girls, whoIMG_8590.jpg were very friendly and we talked for a little bit until the presentation started. The director of the OIR, Mr. Glenn de Leon introduced and made people stand up by country. When he called my name, he told me that I was the only one that he met in person. After his presentation, he went over to me to make sure everything was okay for me.

Right: Orientation schedule for Day 1.

Afterwards, we had a quick snack break downstairs, where I met 3 Singaporeans (one is named Radiance, which really fit her personality) and 1 fellow American girl (Kim, who’s half filipino and from Pennsylvania). I was glad to know that they also stay at my dorm. For lunch, I ate out with them, Marco, the Brunei girls, and some other people followed us. We ate a Persian restaurant called, Fat Persian, because the Brunei girls needed a place that was halal.

IMG_0009.jpgLeft: Finished eating our Persian food. I forgot to take a picture of. 

We were supposed to be back at around 1pm, but ended up being late because the restaurant was a far walk and the service took a little longer than expected. This day of orientation was mainly the information part so we just pretty much sat down and listened the whole day. Radiance and I along with other exchange students had to stay afterwards to talk to Ms. Bu, our OIR assistant director to talk about our schedule. While waiting, I met a lot of French exchange students, who’s names were all so similar that I would not be able to distinguish them without their name tags. Afterwards, Radiance and I met up with Marco and ate at Xocolat, a small cafe that sold everything with chocolate like chocolate milkshakes, chocolate cakes, and had some meals like chocolate chicken – which we have yet to try. I was so happy this place had free wifi so I got to text my family and friends that I was still alive.

IMG_8598.jpgLeft: Xocolat milkshake – Mega Fudge. Chocolate milkshake with brownie bits. 

Radiance wanted to go shoe shopping, because she only brought flip flops which weren’t allowed in Ateneo classrooms. We invited Kim and Sebastian, one of the other Singaporeans, to meet up with us to go to the mall. They met us near the cafe but Sebastian decided not to come with us. We decided to take the tricycle to the *LRT, their trains here, to go to Cubao, where they had a nice shopping mall. *I told my uncle and cousins that I rode the LRT later and they themselves have only ridden it once and were surprised I already rode it.* Lucky for us, there was a good deal on shoes. I found a pair of flats that were on sale for an equivalent of $12 but they were offering a buy 2 get 20% off so with Radiance and I each bought a shoe and got an additional 20% off. After shopping for a few hours, we ate dinnerIMG_0010.jpg at the food court. My stomach was still too queasy from yesterday so I passed on dinner and just ate crackers when I got back to my dorm. Radiance actually ate Rei Rei Ken ramen for dinner, but she was okay. And Kim ate Wendy’s because she wanted something familiar. Afterwards, we said goodbye to Marco because he had to go the other way of the LRT to go home. When we arrived back at the dorm, we said goodbye and went straight to bed because we were all so tired.

Right: Tricycle ride.

Below: The flats I bought. 🙂 Since I also don’t have any close-toed shoes here because they’re all in the Balikbayan box that I shipped a month ago.

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1/10/16: Move In Day

I woke up extra early today because Mass was at 9:00am. I went down and was able to eat breakfast with my relatives. Breakfast was Tender Juicy hotdogs and fried eggs and rice. I left the table early so that I could be ready on time. While I did, I still had to wait on the rest of my relatives to get dressed. We left for 9:00am mass at 9:00am. Luckily, the church was only a few minutes away so we were able to get seats. The church is open so there was just a line of fans on the walls but no air conditioning. My nephews were too restless to be able to sit through the whole hour so they played outside for most of the time. One of my nephews, however, ran out and all the way to the altar, where the Priest was actually still giving his sermon. My nephew sat on the steps of the altar and the Priest took his arm and asked who’s child it was. My cousin quickly grabs my nephew and sprints back outside. She was later upset about this because the Priest should have welcomed children to the altar instead of reprimanding them for it.

After mass, my cousins, Ara and Adrian both came with me to move into my dorm. It took a while to drive there, so we were going to have a late lunch. Two hours from Bulacan, we arrived to Ateneo de Manila University, my school for the next 5 months. The school is a lot bigger than I had imagined but very clean and nicely organized. I moved into my dorm, which was in the building called University Dormitory. I was assigned a room on the ground floor which was lucky for me because the elevators were broken. This made moving a lot easier. I received the key, knocked on my room door a few times, and when I opened it I was greeted by a young, small filipina who I had woken up from her nap. She was nicknamed Boom and she told me that she was a scholar and a student athlete at Ateneo along with one of my other roommates (I have a total of 3). My room is also a lot bigger than I had imagined. I have very tall ceilings and the room was nicely equipped with a ceiling fan that could barely reach my bed. However, the room is big enough to hold 4 people without bunkbeds and was nicely divided in a way that it’s like sharing a room with only one other person.

Below: Ateneo De Manila Entrance and dorm pictures (My bed is the white one)
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Left to Right:

Main door that is in the middle of the room. There are two beds to the right and two beds to the left of it. Right picture is my other two roommates’ side.

Once we were finished putting away my things, we went to SM to buy a few more things that I needed for school, like an air cooler, hangers, etc. First, we went to each lunch at Rei Rei Ken, a ramen restaurant. The portions were huge here and when I started eating the food, my stomach was feeling queasy so I really felt I couldn’t finish it. However, I felt bad that I would leave so much food so I tried to finish it as best I could. Thankfully, Ate Ara offered to help me finish it because she could tell I really couldn’t.

IMG_8589.jpgLeft: Rei Rei Ken lunch of chicken katsu and miso ramen.

As we walked towards the shopping part of the mall, it was packed. There was an insane amount of people. The amount of people on one floor of the mall would be more than the amount of people that would go to the Stoneridge Mall altogether. Kuya Adrian even said that it was too much for him to handle. He also said that you could tell it was crowded when even the appliance store was packed with people. We later found out that it was super crowded because it was the last day for their seasonal sale at the mall and filipinos love doing things last minute. Basically, everyone was at the mall today. When we finally reached the department store, there were long lines for every cashier. I was starting to feel claustrophobic by the crazy amount of people that as we were shopping, I started to feel dizzy and almost blacked out. Luckily, I began to feel sick near a bench at the corner of the store so got to sit down immediately. As I mentioned earlier, I was already feeling pretty sick from eating lunch and with the crazy amount of people, I felt even worse. As a result, I threw up uncontrollably on the floor… Since I was in a secluded corner of the store no one else really saw but Ate Ara and thankfully I didn’t throw up on anyone but myself. Also lucky for me was that Ate Ara said she was used to her son, Antione, always throwing up that she already  had wipes, vomiting medicine, etc for me. I really couldn’t believe that I had thrown up in public but it was really beyond my control. After that, however, I felt a ton better and I was really glad that it happened there with Ate Ara and not when I went back to my dorm and have it happen in front of my roommates. Anyway, Kuya Adrian bought the things for me instead as I waited in the car to rest. It was already night when we left the mall, so once all of my things were settled in my room, I said goodbye to Ate Ara and Kuya Adrian, took a shower, and went straight to bed.

 

1/9/16: Relax

I think my relatives could tell that I was pretty jet lagged today so they decided for me to just have a rest day and allow myself to adjust to the time. I did manage to go to sleep but I woke up at around 7:40 am and when I went out of my room, I was told that my relatives were already downstairs eating breakfast. After washing up, I was presented a large plate of bright red Tender Juicy sausages along with pan de sal and fried eggs. Because I woke up later than the rest of my relatives, most of them had already gone about their day. As a result, I ate breakfast with my nephew, who was watching Little Alien on his iPad while eating breakfast. My cousin (his mom) came down and we talked for a bit about my nephew, telling cute stories of him growing up that I had missed. Then my other cousin arrived with his wife and two sons. The two boys greeted me shyly, but were happily showing off their new bikes to me. While eating lunch, which was tingle and fried Bangus, they rode it around me as I ate. After lunch, everyone wanted to have their rest time in their own rooms and it was the perfect time to call my family. I FaceTimed my family for a good three hours and then my mom decided to talk to my cousins for another few hours. After finishing the call, I was about to rest when I heard one of my nephews screaming, ”NINANG! LETS GO NINANG.” My door was open but instead of walking in and calling me, he was shyly pacing around my door. He’d peer his head into the doorway for a little bit, call me, and then quickly move his head out. My relatives chose to eat at Shell. When they said Shell, I thought that was the name of the restaurant. To my surprise, it was to the Shell gas station. However, the gas stations here have restaurants at the gas station like Starbucks, BurgerKing, Jollibee, KrispyKreme, etc. It also had small filipino food stalls where my family ordered Balut, a hardboiled version of Balut (I forgot what it was called but starts with a P), and a kind of fried octopus ball filled with cabbage filling. My stomach probably can’t handle the more exotic street foods just yet so I ate a BurgerKing whopper (which is a lot smaller compared to the US) and a Starbucks drink. I did, however, try a little bit of the octopus ball and it was pretty good.

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Left: Shell gas station with eateries.

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We ate and sat around for a good few hours and then one of my aunt’s sister and her family came to Shell and they talked for a few more hours. My cousin informed me that they meet up at a restaurant every weekend and talk for hours… every weekend. Apparently that wasn’t enough time to talk, however, because they decided to continue the conversation at Jollibee’s but not at the Jollibee’s at Shell. They chose a Jollibee’s that was a few minutes away instead, where I met my aunt’s mom and dad.

They were all very happy that I understood and spoke Tagalog so they wouldn’t have to strain themselves with English. For a day that was supposed to bIMG_0006.jpge my rest day, so far I had 0 hours of rest. I was trying to fight my tiredness by now but luckily my uncle also wanted to leave his in-laws and told me that I could rest in the car so it would be an excuse to leave earlier. My nephews were also tired at the time so they rested in the car with me. I fell asleep and who knows how many hours later we were driving home. I was so tired that I passed out on the bed as soon as we got home. I woke up a few hours later and forced myself to take a shower and get ready for bed. I passed out again.

Internet Problems

My internet here hasn’t been working so I haven’t been able to post at all. I actually have to use a LAN cable here to get decent internet. It took a while to get things working again. However, I have been writing down my days so it’s still my true thoughts of that day even though I’m posting them now.

Basically, if you are living in Ateneo’s dorms and you have a Mac laptop, this is your life:

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Be careful because it breaks so easily. I had to buy three of them because they break so often. 😦

 

1/8/16 : First Day

As I got off the plane and into the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, I was greeted by a lady holding a sign with my name on it. She assisted me to where I needed to go in order to have an immigration officer provide my visa stamp. Afterwards, I went to the baggage claim and was immediately approached by a older man, offering to help me grab my luggage from the baggage carousel. I am forever grateful to him because without him, there was no way I could have carried all of my luggage.

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Left: Image of my window seat view of Manila. Our plane was delayed by an hour but when we landed, the reality started to kick in.

Below: Waiting in for my other luggage to arrive. All filipinos pack their things in boxes called Balikbayan boxes, usually containing gifts for their relatives.

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Afterwards, I left the airport and was hit with a gust of hot, humid weather. It was hotter than I had remembered and expected. I was greeted by another man who helped me bring my luggage out of the airport and into the pickup location. This was where I saw my uncle and aunt, whom I have not seen in almost 8 years. They both looked pretty much the same so it was easy for me to recognize them. Instantly, I was more at ease. It was traffic driving back to their home in Bulacan but it was a nice scenic ride. Everything was different from what I had remembered, even their own home was different but it was all good changes. 61e08654-0e8c-4cd4-b05a-212947eee7c8.jpg

Below: Outside my room window at my Aunt and Uncle’s home in Bulacan. 81 degrees Fahrenheit with 81% humidity and it was just in the morning.

After dropping my things off into my room, I met up with 2 of my cousins and got to meet one of my nephews for the first time. We ate homecooked sopas, fried eggs, and an assortment of breads. I finally got wifi to text my family and got to talk to them for a little bit. Within an hour, we went out to eat lunch at a buffet which served Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino food. While waiting for the valet to get the car, the lady beside me said that it was so hot outside. You know it’s really hot here when people from the Philippines even think so.

Then, we went to Philippine’s SM Edsa North mall, where we met up with my other cousin and my other nephew. It took a while to drive from the buffet to SM, however, because once my uncle missed a turn, it took another hour and half to get back and it was also traffic. The mall had more updated stores than I remembered. Some were similar to those in the U.S. like H&M, Forever21, Uniqlo, etc. It felt weird being there. I never acknowledged diverse the U.S. really is until I came here and see the similar faces all around me. It also feels strange because while I don’t really look like a foreigner here but I definitely feel a little bit like one.It’s overwhelming but also a bit comforting. It’s my first day so I’m sure I will get used to it. Anyway, we talked and walked around for about 2+ hours and then drove back home. I sort of fell asleep in the car. Once home, I was greeted by my other 2 cousins. And within less than an hour of being back home, we ate chicken adobo, chicken tinola, and crab with rice.

I thought sleeping on the plane for a good 9 hours was enough to keep me from getting jet lagged but at around 1:30pm I started to feel sleepy but I powered through. As a result, I’m going to sleep at 8:00pm. 🙂

*Edited: It’s a few minutes past 4:00am and I woke up to hearing mice walking through the walls. I can hear them clearly squeaking and trying to get into my room. For about 10 minutes, I sat up on my bed praying that they don’t break in. So far, I longer hear them but now I am awake. I slept for 8 hours already and I don’t know if I can go back to sleep now.

*Update: It’s 4:30 now and just as I was about to go back to sleep, the mice came back. Stay tuned.