It IS More Fun in the Philippines! (San Felipe, Zambales)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 – 1:40PMSan Felipe, Zambales

From “the bubble” to the province – night and day. First off, so refreshing to be off the grid for three whole, extensive days. While time is not being consumed with email, news updates, social media, phone calls, and texts, you can really feel the expansive 24 hours. Waking up at 6AM isn’t bad when you enjoy 12 hours of solid sleep – three glorious days of 12-hour sleep. Amen.

We were able to see a good chunk of Luzon, the main island, through our 5-hour journey here; mountains, rivers, water buffalos, rice fields, more jeepney’s, and drive-thru jollibee’s, but one of the most fascinating things was to pass through barangay (small town) after barangay. It’s truly humbling/stimulating to see how each of these communities live, work and everything in between.

By this point, I’ve become slightly used to/expectant of the looks I receive everywhere we go. Somewhat like spectators at a zoo, I keep referencing myself (and Tomas) as a giraffe – “look at the giraffe walking, eating, drinking, swimming”. San Felipe is a residential area where tourists never really make it to on their trip. It’s clear to everyone that we’re American and I can honestly say that this is one of the few, if not most, times I’ve ever been the minority – anywhere. That said, the locals could not be more welcoming and hospitable to us – most people will smile as they stare, wave and speak the best English or Taglish they know. It’s incredibly heartwarming and comforting to experience.

The Delos Reyes clan runs DEEP in San Felipe; grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, yaya’s and friends, all within a few city block radius. Being an only child with a tight-knit family, this is fascinating to me. I’m automatically referred to as “Auntie Kara” and the notion that if I’m dating Tomas and have made it all the way to the Philippines, I’m family.

It’s also pretty incredible to witness Filipino family life first-hand. Until this trip, I’ve only heard of Filipinoisms but now it all makes sense. The mannerisms, the dialogue, the food, the jokes, the lip pointing, the family roots – it clicks!

We’ve had an incredible time the last three days that will stay with me forever. Between eating homemade Filipino food at their kitchen table and swimming in the regional waterfall that can only be accessed with local escorts to the endless eat-visit-sleep ritual and trying relentlessly to win over the youngest family member, baby Angelo, we’re leaving with solid memories and for me, what feels like a bigger family.

Before we said our goodbyes this morning, Tomas didn’t let me forget a promise I made in New York – that I would try balut in the Philippines. I lived up to my word and had my very first balut for breakfast. Not sure when/if that will happen again but at least I can say I tried it.

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Another special family affair was being able to celebrate Tomas’ birthday in San Felipe – glad he was able to ring a new year surrounded by so much love.

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We’re about to board a 50-passenger plane headed for the picturesque El Nido, Palawan – I’m ready for some serious post card-perfect scenery and a glass of rum. Cheers!

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