Q: We learned that Rizal is your province, isn't it?
A: Yes, Rizal is one of my province. Actually, my father is from Caloocan, Rizal (now Caloocan City). He was born and grown up there. I was also born in Caloocan, Rizal (now Caloocan City) and grown up there. I am very familiar in the province because as I said, I was born and grown up in the province.
Q: Your relatives and friends said that you were lived in Manila. Why is it that some folks said that Caloocan City is also called Manila?
A: Well, some folks especially in the provinces said that Caloocan City is also part of Manila because Caloocan City is near or adjacent to Manila. Caloocan City is also a rich city not only in the province but also in Greater Manila Area. Greater Manila Area consists of not only Manila but also the cities and towns of Rizal which are near to Manila.
Q: Could you please describe about Rizal Province if you are familiar in your province?
A: Well, Rizal is located at Region 4 known as Southern Tagalog Region. Obviously that most of the people in Rizal Province speak Tagalog. Rizal Province is located at south of Bulacan, west of Quezon Province, north of Cavite, Laguna and Laguna de Bay, and east of Manila. Most of the cities and some towns of Rizal Province surrounded Manila and these cities and towns are productive, rich, urbanized, and populated. Rizal Province was established in 1901 from the towns of old Province of Manila and towns of Morong Province. The province was named after our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, who was executed at Bagumbayan (now Luneta Park or Rizal Park). Dr. Jose P. Rizal wrote two famous novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. He wrote the two novels because of the cruelty of the Spaniards and Philippines was colonized by Spain for almost 400 years.
Q: How big is Rizal Province?
A: Rizal (Map of Rizal Province) is classified into two parts. The first part of the province consists of the following cities and towns:
Most of the cities and towns in the first part are rich, urbanized, and productive because they are near to Manila and they are now in Metropolitan Manila Area. Most of the cities and towns have more than one congressional district because of the population. The second part of the province consists of the following cities and towns:
The second part is known as the Morong Area. The capital of the province is now Antipolo City. Right now, Antipolo City has an own congressional district. Previously, the capital of the province was Pasig City. Antipolo City is now also a center of business in the province with lots of offices, businesses, condominiums, and subdivisions.
Q: We heard that Rizal is one of the rich province in Philippines, isn't it?
A: Yes. I had been in Binangonan, Rizal in 1990 when we had a plant visit at Rizal Cement Corporation with my classmates and professors at Mapua Institute of Technology courtesy of ChE-Chm Thinkers. Rizal Cement Corporation is a well-known cement company in Philippines for many years already. I remember that this plant visit was considered as one of the requirements in Industrial Stoichiometry 1, Industrial Stoichiometry 2, and Particulate Technology subjects in Chemical Engineering. Our professors like Mr. Jerry T. Gayap, Mr. Napoleon Saporsantos, and Mr. Ronald C. Leong were also joined in the plant visit. As ususal, the management of Rizal Cement Corporation did not allow us to take the pictures, videos, and even the tape recordings. After our plant visit, we went to Talim Island by the boat located in Binangonan and Cardona to have a nice picnic there. Talim Island is a small island located at the center of Laguna de Bay. This is a memorable plant visit and until now, I can't forget this memorable activity. I wish that I will see the Talim Island again in the future.
Q: We heard that you attended the MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association Homecoming on November 16, 2002, isn't it?
A: Yes, I attended the MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association Homecoming on November 16, 2002. After my arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) at 5:30 am, I did the arrangement of all my things at my cousin's house in Quezon City. I took a rest because of the jetlog and I got pressure, too. After my rest, I went to New World Hotel at Pasay Road in Makati City to Attend the MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Homecoming. Thanks to Mr. Jonathan M. Abaquin and the other members of MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association who send me an e-mail regarding the said alumni homecoming. I had already planned to visit in Philippines because I missed the Philippines for two years and I missed the MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association Homecoming for two years since I came to United States on November 11, 2000. This year was my 10th year as an alumnus of Mapua Institute of Technology. I am glad that I met my former classmates, friends, and former professors at the alumni homecoming. I like to attend the MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association Homecoming every year since my graduation in 1992. If I have a time to visit Philippines again later, I will plan and schedule it on the month of November so that I can also attend the MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association Homecoming.
Q: We learned that you were arrived in Philippines on November 16, 2002. Since you are Balikbayan and have a privilege to shop at Duty Free Philippines, did you go to Duty Free Philippines?
A: Yes, I went to Duty Free Philippines after I attended the MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association. I have to go to Duty Free Philippines because I have only 2 days left from my arrival in order to have a change to shop at Duty Free Philippines. I went to Duty Free Philippines with my niece Mrs. Jade Garcia Cruz, her husband Mr. Jerry Cruz, and their children on November 17, 2002. I bought different kinds of goods from United States such as chocolates, brandy, and doll for my god daughter. Well, the prices are almost the same as in United States and the prices of goods there are in US dollars although I am in Philippines.
Q: You mentioned earlier that you have a goddaughter, a daughter of your best friend, did you visit your goddaughter?
A: Yes, of course, I did not forget to visit my goddaughter. I went to Concepcion, Marikina City on November 19, 2002 to visit my goddaughter, Daniella Gorospe Fabricante, a daughter of my best friend and former schoolmate, Engr. Noe B. Fabricante (passed away in 2009). Engr. Noe B. Fabricante was a former professor of Mapua Institute of Technology at Mechanical Engineering Department. He had an own reviewing center for engineering, Steam Power Mechanical Engineering Review School, located at Room 301, Don Lorenzo Bldg., 889 P. Paredes Street, Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines. They were very happy when I visit them. My goddaughter is pretty and smart. My best friend has a third child and he asked me to be a godfather of their third child. I was so glad that I am also a godfather of their third child.
I went back to Concepcion, Marikina City on December 1, 2002 to attend a birthday party of Prince Dean Fabricante, the eldest son of my best friend, Engr. Noe B. Fabricante. In the party, I met his friends, guests, and relatives. They were entertained me very well because that was my last visit and I went back to San Francisco, California on December 8, 2002.
Q: Did you have a tour near to your cousin's place in Quezon City?
A: Yes, I did a tour with myself in Quezon City and thanks God that I had a time to tour. I went to New Manila, Quezon City on November 20, 2002 to visit my friend and schoolmate, Mrs. Zenaida Lee Ponce, at their residence. Thanks God that I met her and we had a tour in Manila on the following day. We had a tour once only because she was very busy in their business in Laguna. I gave thanks to her that she gave me a time to had a tour.
Q: We learned also that you had a tour in Cubao, Quezon City, isn't it?
A: Yes, I had a tour in Cubao, Quezon City on November 20, 2002. Since my cousin, Ms. Ester Garcia, was very busy in her beauty parlor, I had a tour with myself by taking public transportations like jeepneys, buses, and Mass Railway Transit (MRT). You have to be very careful in your things when you are visiting in Cubao, Quezon City because there are many pickpockets, bag slashers, snatchers, cellphone snatchers, holdapers, carnappers, and even kidnappers. Cubao, Quezon City is a well-known place in Quezon City for having many holdapers, pickpockets, and snatchers for almost 40 years, according to our old folks there. I was also a victim of pickpockets and snatchers there. There are many squatters near to that place. Squatters mean that these people are living in the streets, under the bridges, or near to the dumping site of garbages. Thanks God that there is a person that will solve these kind of problems in Metropolitan Manila Area, especially in Cubao, Quezon City. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Bayani Fernando, a former Mayor of Marikina City, will solve these kind of problems by demolition of squatters, cleaning the dumpsites and canals, and even punishing these kind of bad people and syndicates in Metropolitan Manila Area. These will affect also the economy and tourism in Philippines therefore MMDA will solve these kind of problems immediately before it is too late. I used to visit in Cubao, Quezon City when I was a child with my family and relatives especially at Fiesta Carnival. Cubao, Quezon City is also a tourist spot because of many shopping malls, restaurants, and coliseums. Araneta Center is a well-known shopping center there where the Araneta Coliseum is located and owned by Stella Marquez Araneta (Miss International 1960 and married to Jorge L. Araneta). Farmers Market is also a good place to buy fresh fish and seafoods, too even fruits and vegetables.
Q: We know that Makati City is the richest city in Philippines. Did you have a tour in Makati City?
A: Yes, after my tour in Cubao, Quezon City, I went to Makati City on November 20, 2002. There is no problem in Makati City (Map of Makati City)because most of the people there are came from the rich families. Most of the people that are going to Makati City are also rich people. Many foreigners are staying in five star hotels in Makati City. Most of the department stores there are classified as the 1st class, therefore the items in the department stores are really expensive. Well, I saw Makati City again two years after when I came to United States on November 11, 2000. Before, I used to go to many shopping malls in Makati City especially at Ayala Center, Glorietta, and Makati Cinema Square.
Q: We learned that you went to San Juan, Rizal and Antipolo City, too isn't it?
A: Yes, I went to San Juan, Rizal and Antipolo City on November 20, 2002. My cousin, Ms. Ester Garcia, was one of the judges at Ginoong Antipolo (Mister Antipolo) 2002. She invited me to watch Ginoong Antipolo 2002. It was my first time to watch the male pageant. I am always watching the pageant for women particularly Binibining Pilipinas (Miss Philippines) and Miss Universe. We went first at Ricky Reyes' Office in San Juan, Rizal to pick-up my cousin's friends there. My cousin was supposed to introduce his best friend, Mr. Ricky Reyes, to me but he was out of town so I did not meet him in person. Mr. Ricky Reyes is a godfather of my niece, Ms. Jade Garcia-Cruz in wedding. Mr. Ricky Reyes is a well-known make-up artist and hairstylist in Philippines. He has a lot of branches of beauty parlor and beauty schools anywhere in Philippines. After we picked-up my cousin's friends, we went to Antipolo City at Jamesville Resort to watch Ginoong Antipolo 2002. We met Mr. Teddy Gatlabayan, Mayor of Antipolo City and he was a Guest of Honor. Mr. Teddy Gatlabayan, is a brother-in-law of my uncle, Mr. Bobbie Vargas. We also met Ms. Patricia Javier, a movie actress in Philippines. She was a Special Guest and also a resident in Antipolo City. The pageant was successful and the winner will compete for Ginoong Pilipinas (Mister Philippines) next year.
Q: You mentioned earlier that your father is from Caloocan City, do you have relatives in Caloocan City and did you visit them?
A: Yes, I have many relatives in Caloocan City especially in Sangandaan. I went to Caloocan City on November 26, 2002 by public transportation because my cousin, Ester Garcia, was so busy in her beauty parlor. I visited my mother's best friend, Mrs. Corazon Gallardo Uy at their restaurant and residence. They entertained me very well and thanks God they have their own business. Many people including the employees of Caloocan City Hall, students and faculty of La Consolacion College, and employees of San Roque Church are eating to their restaurant. I went to Sangandaan, Caloocan City to look what happened to that place two years after I came to United States on November 11, 2000. I am very familiar in that place because previously, I live in Sangandaaan, Caloocan City since my birth on April 23, 1970 up to October 15, 1993. There are lot of changes in that place because there are more stores and new establishments, the traffic at the intersection of Gen. San Miguel St. and A. Mabini St. becomes heavier, and the place becomes crowded. I went to my relatives to visit my aunts, uncles, and cousins. They were very happy when I visit them. Before I leave, I asked them to attend my farewell party at my cousin's house in Quezon City before I depart on December 8, 2002. My tour to Caloocan City was very memorable because I saw again the place where I born, live, grow-up, and study during my elementary days. I saw also my relatives and my family friend two years after I came to United States.
Q: Are you familiar in some places in Quezon City? Did you visit those places?
A: Yes, of course because Quezon City is a well-known city in Philippines and it is 4 times bigger than Manila. I went to different places or districts in Quezon City already as I mentioned in my previous statements above. I am very familiar in that city since when I was a kid. One day, I went to Tomas Morato, Quezon City, Philippines with Jonathan Abaquin, my friend of mine and schoolmate at Mapua Institute of Technology. He gave me a tour there on November 27, 2002. After our tour, we went to Thai In A Box Restaurant to eat our lunch. Later, I met his wife, Arlene Velasquez Abaquin and their friend and they joined us also in our lunch there. The Tomas Morato area has a lot of businesses and restaurants in Quezon City. It is a nice place also and has a lot of condominiums where most of the wealthy people are staying. After our tour there, he dropped me off at my cousin's house and parlor in Cordillera Street, Quezon City.
Q: Are you familiar in Parañaque City, Las Piñas City, and Muntinlupa City, Philippines?
A: Yes, of course because there are many shopping malls, industies, businesses, and points of interest in Parañaque City, Las Piñas City, and Muntinlupa City. I have been in these cities already often especially when I was looking for a job in Philippines. I went there on November 28, 2002 by myself only because my cousin was very busy in her beauty parlor. I went first in Parañaque City to visit the Baclaran Church. I used to go there before and this church is so crowded every Wednesday because most of the people are attending the novena. Baclaran is also a place for buying clothes and other household items in wholesale or cheaper price. Next, I went to Las Piñas City to visit the Bamboo Organ at Saint Joseph Church. Bamboo organ is a well-known pipe organ in the whole world already. They are open everyday for a tour. There are many foreigners from different countries are also visiting the Bamboo Organ. It is also a tourist spot in Philippines. The church is so crowded every month of February because there is a festival or contest to play the Bamboo Organ. The contestants are came from different countries. They are also celebrating its anniversary on February, too. Lastly before I go back to my cousin's house, I went to Muntinlupa City to visit the Ayala Alabang Village, Alabang Town Center, and Alabang proper. When you say or hear Muntinlupa in Philippines, it is a main prison located in the downtown area. Alabang is a well-known district in Muntinlupa City because there are many rich people who are living there especially at Ayala Alabang Village. Alabang is also a crowded place in Muntinlupa especially at the intersection of Alabang-Zapote Road and South Superhighway. I like these three cities and thanks God that I saw these places again after two years since I came in United States on November 11, 2000.
Q: We learned that you were invited to attend a party at the barangay hall of Barangay Doña Josefa in Quezon City, Philippines, isn't it?
A: Yes, I was invited to attend the party at the barangay hall of Barangay Doña Josefa in Quezon City on November 29, 2002. I was invited by Jigo Garcia, a well-known movie actor in Philippines and a barangay chairman of Barangay Doña Josefa together with my cousin and her daughters. Her daughter and my niece, Jade Garcia Cruz, is also a kagawad there. It was a birthday party of Andy Natividad, one of the kagawad there and he gave a treat to all the baranagay kagawads. We had a lot of foods and beers there. They invited also Isko Moreno, a well-known actor also in Philippines and a city councilor of Manila (now a Vice-Mayor of Manila), and Quezon City Congresswoman Nanette Castelo Daza. There are many visitors and guests in the party. The people there are nice and approachable, too especially Jigo Garcia. After the party at the barangay hall, we had also a small party, too at my cousin's house because I had a visitor from the province, my second cousin, Marlon Dizon Moldon with his wife. We were enjoyed in drinking beer and eating pizza while watching television. I like San Miguel Beer and it is a well-known beer in Philippines for many years already. The party was so nice and memorable.
Q: Many people were mentioned that you are a former resident of Novaliches, Quezon City. Did you visit in Novaliches, Quezon City?
A: Yes, they are right that I am a former resident in Novaliches, Quezon City, Philippines from October 19, 1993 to November 10, 2000. I moved in Novaliches, Quezon City when I got a job there at Dyson Surface Coating Corporation, a powder coating company owned and run by my classmate in college, Mr. Michael Chua Dy and his relatives. Our manager there was Mr. Juanito Tan Dy, my classmate's father. The people there were very kind to me and I don't have any problems with dealing them. I worked there from October 19, 1993 to May 31, 1994 as a lab technician. From June 1, 1994 to September 15, 1996, I was working at Philippine Electroplaters Association (PEA) as a lab technician and secretary of the association as well. Since Mr. Juanito Tan Dy was also a president of PEA, he asked me to stay at Dyson Surface Coating Corporation because the association has no permanent or main office. Also, the purpose of staying at Dyson Surface Coating Corporation is to use his office like telephone, fax machine, and computer. I met different people and became friends later at PEA thru the board meetings and general membership meetings. I visited them at their shop and office. This is a memorable experience because I learned everything especially from Mr. Juanito Tan Dy. Mr. Juanito Tan Dy was treated me like his son because we are close friend with my classmate, Mr. Michael Chua Dy. My former residence address was 43 Reliance Road, Barrio Capri, Novaliches, Quezon City, Philippines. My landlord or owner of the apartment was Mr. Ernesto G. Artango and he is a friend of Mr. Juanito Tan Dy. Mr. Juanito Tan Dy and his secretary, Ms. Gene F. Sabran were helped me in finding a place to stay so that I can save a time and money from commuting. My former residence is about 1/4 kilometer away from Dyson Surface Coating Corporation and it is a walking distance for about 15 to 20 minutes only. This was a convenient location for me. The town proper of Novaliches, Quezon City is just 1/2 kilometer away only and I used to buy foods and things there always. The family of Mr. Ernesto G. Artango and my neighbors were very kind to me also and they treated me also as a family member. They were inviting me to the parties and other special occasions always. They were became close friends until I migrate to Unites States of America on November 11, 2000. I have also relatives there at Vista Verde North in Kaybiga, Caloocan City, Philippines. My aunt, Mrs. Eliza Balajadia Dalacat and her families, are a resident there since 1991. Their residence is just 1/2 kilometer away from my former residence. I used to visit them often when I was attending a Bible study there courtesy of Charismatic Outreach Ministries Foundations, Inc. (COMFI). On December 2, 2002, I visited in Novaliches, Quezon City, Philippines when I visited in Philippines to visit my classmate, Mr. Michael Chua Dy, his father, Mr. Juanito Tan Dy, my former landlord and neighbors, and my relatives as well. After two years, Novaliches, Quezon City is still crowded and traffic especially during rush hours. I missed Novaliches, Quezon City because I stayed there for 7 years and I made a wish that I want to see that place again. Thanks God that my wish was granted. First, I went to Dyson Surface Coating Corporation to visit all the people there especially Mr. Juanito Tan Dy. All the people there were gave me a welcome entertainment. Next, I went to Mr. Michael Chua Dy's company and office which is not so far from Dyson Surface Coating Corporation. Thanks God that my classmate is now very successful with his company. He runs his business together with his wife, Mrs. Thea Dy. Next, I went to my former residence and I met my former landlord, Mr. Ernesto G. Artango. Mr. Ernesto G. Artango has a lot of grandchildren there but I didn't see his wife, Mrs. Herneliza Tarectecan Artango. All my former neighbors there are already moved into another residence and bought their houses. There are new faces or people there but the store owners like Mrs. Cherry Mendoza Lemence, Aling Alice, and so on are still there.
Finally, I went to my aunt, Mrs. Eliza Balajadia Dalacat, in Vista Verde North to visit her and her families. They were so surprised with my visit and they gave me a nice entertainment there. Although my visit in Philippines was too short, I was so happy with my visits especially to the places that I visited and stayed.
Q: Is it true that you were invited to attend a seminar for a timeshare?
A: Yes, I was invited to attend a seminar for a timeshare in Philippines on December 4, 2002. I remember that after we went for a shopping at Duty Free Philippines in Parañaque City on November 17, 2002, I filled-up a form for a raffle there. On December 3, 2002, a company gave an urgent call to my cousin's parlor saying that I won at the raffle draw which is trip to Asian countries like in Thailand, China, India, Vietnam, and Hongkong. I was so happy at that time. When I went to that office together with my niece's husband, Mr. Jerry Cruz, we learned that it is a timeshare company which is Sunrise Holiday Concepts, Inc. located in Loyola Heights, Quezon City. They told us to attend the seminar first before we can get or claim the prize. After we finished the seminar or presentation, they told us to sign-up in the timeshare in order to get all my prizes. I was so upset with that because they fooled us and the other people there. They are using the raffle techniques at Duty Free Philippines in order to have many clients and guests for the seminar or presentation. They were urging me very well to join or sign-up the timeshare. I took the form and I told them that I have to think it very well first. They gave us a warning that if I don't submit the form within one month, I will loose all my prizes. After the seminar, we went back to my cousin's house immediately and my cousin told me that timeshare is not a good investment. According to her, it is also considered an advanced payment for a certain vacation. The usage of a timeshare is only for a certain period only. What I did is that I ignored all the forms and forget all those prizes. If these prizes are real, then they should come at my cousin's parlor and gave the certificates and proper documents. My cousin gave me an advice that if I want to travel later, it is better to earn and save money later. Also, she told me to book a vacation package thru Expedia, Yahoo Travel, Priceline.com, and other travel online websites if I want to get a good deal or discount.
Q: Had you been in Pasig City, Philippines?
A: Yes, I had been in Pasig City many times already since my childhood. I am very familiar with Pasig City, Philippines because it is a long time capital of Rizal Province and then later the capital is Antipolo City. Pasig City was a quiet town according to my relatives there. Also, Pasig City was a plantation of rice, fruits, and vegetables in 1950's and below. We used to go to Pasig City when I was a kid because my aunt, Mrs. Anastacia Teresita Dizon Moldon, was also a long time resident there with her kids, too. We used to play along the Pasig River with my cousins before. Pasig River was very clean especially in 1950's and below. Because of modern industrialization later, Pasig River becomes polluted. The old rice fields there are now crowded with tall buildings, shopping malls, and condominiums at Ortigas Center. Pasig City is now completely different compared with when I was a kid. In 1991, I was assigned at Republic Asahi Glass Corporation in Pinagbuhatan, Pasig, Rizal for my practicum as required in my chemical engineering course for 6 months. While doing my practicum there, I had a chance to have a tour at the downtown area of Pasig, Rizal especially at the public market, municipal hall, and other public places there. Later, when I visited in Philippines for my vacation, I had a chance to visit in Pasig City again on December 5, 2002. I went to SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City first to have a lunch first and to see the shopping mall again. I used to go there before in my spare time. Next, I took a jeepney ride going to different places in Pasig City. From Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), I went to Shaw Boulevard (Crossing) to visit the Rizal Provincial Capitol Building (later the capital is Antipolo City and the old capitol is returned to its donor, Ortigas Family and Company). From Rizal Provincial Capitol Building and Ynares Sports Arena, I went to Meralco Buliding along Ortigas Avenue. Meralco Building is now also a tourist spot in Pasig City. Next, I went to ULTRA Sports Complex, and Department of Education, Culture, and Sports Building along Meralco Avenue. At Ortigas Center, there are many tall buildings, shopping malls, condominiums, and businesses there. The Robinson's Galleria is a well-known shopping mall in Pasig City and it is located at the intersection fly-over of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue. From Robinson's Galleria, I went to the downtown area of Pasig City by passing thru Shaw Boulevard, Dr. Sixto Antonio Avenue, A. Mabini Street, A. Luna Street, and Urbano Velasco Street. At the downtown area of Pasig City, there are many public buildings there like Pasig City Library, Pasig City Museum, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig, Pasig Catholic Church, Pasig Public Market, and Pasig City Hall. This is my memorable tour in Pasig City, Philippines because I saw these places again after two years.
Q: We learned that you went in Pasig City, Philippines again, isn't it?
A: Yes, I went in Pasig City again on December 5, 2002. I was invited by my friend of mine and schoolmate, Mr. Jonathan M. Abaquin, to attend the victory party of MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association at the ballroom of Robinson's Galleria. As I mentioned earlier that I went to the MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Homecoming last November 16, 2002 at New World Hotel in Makati City and I met my classmates, professors, and schoolmates as well. Not all the members of MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association were invited at the victory party. Only few were selected and I am the one who selected. Well, I met many of my professors there like Engr. Dodjie S. Maestrecampo, Ms. Precy N. Tagala, Dr. Consuelo Viray Flora, and so on. Also, I met the officers who did the great job during the alumni homecoming convention like Ms. Nina V. Mangio (President), Ms. Glecy Cabrera Estrella (1st Vice-President), Mr. Jonathan M. Abaquin (2nd Vice-President), Ms. Connie Blanco (Secretary), Engr. Dodjie S. Maestrecampo (Treasurer), Ms. Edith P. Carpio ( Auditor), Mr. Roger C. Estrella (PRO), and the Directors like Mr. Eugene H. Real, Ms. Jo B. Recto, Ms. Precy N. Tagala, Mr. Benjie Tan, Ms. Helen J. Mangubat, Mr. Ronald P. Santos, Mr. Alex G. Tan, and Mr. Gerry M. Santos (Past President). There are many foods, drinks, and entertainments during the victory party. The Batch 1974 did a great job during the alumni homecoming and all the activities for this year.
Q: We know that you visited in Philippines again in 2009. Did you go to Duty Free Philippines and other places in Parañaque City?
A: Yes, I went to Duty Free Philippines in Parañaque City on November 10, 2009 with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan. After I took my rest in Baliuag, Bulacan, we went to Duty Free Philippines to buy chocolates, wines, and fruit cocktails for my friends and family friends. Duty Free Philippines is a nice place for shopping especially for the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), Filipino Citizens who are residing in other countries, and foreigners as well. All the prices there are in US Dollars but they are still cheaper compared with the prices in other stores in United States. If you are planning to go to Duty Free Philippines, you have to go there immediately because they are allowing you to shop there within 48 hours of arrival date in Philippines. After that, we went to Seafood Market in Baclaran, Parañaque City, Philippines to buy the live seafoods like crabs, prawns, and squids. Parañaque City is a well-known place for selling live seafoods along the Manila Bay for many years already. At the second floor of the market, there are many restaurants that you can asked them to cook your seafoods but you will pay for a fee to cook your seafoods. That fee includes the rice, soup, and drinks. They called those restaurants as "palutuaan" meaning places to request to cook your foods or dishes. There are many people at the send floor of the Seafood Market especially the businessmen and foreigners. The seafoods are so fresh and good and I love to eat seafoods. Next, we went to Baclaran Chruch just one block away from Seafood Market. Baclaran Church is a well-known church in Philippines for many years already for the novena of Our Mother Of Perpetual Help. This is a miraculous novena that's why many people are attending the novena every Wednesday. Baclaran is so crowded every Wednesday. Also, Baclaran is a well-known place for selling cheap items like clothes, household items, and school supplies. My tour there is so memorable and I am very happy, too because I saw those places again after 7 years.
Q: Did you have a chance to visit the Bamboo Organ in Las Piñas City, Philippines?
A: Yes, I went to Bamboo Organ in Las Piñas City on November 10, 2009 with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan after we had a tour in Parañaque City. Bamboo Organ is located at Saint Joseph Chruch and it is already more than 150 years. Bamboo Organ was made by a Spanish Priest, Fr. Diego Cera. It is now also considered a tourist spot in Philippines, too as I mentioned earlier. The Bamboo Organ Festival is always in the month of February and the whole church is so crowded because the contestants are came from different countries. I love to see the Bamboo Organ because of its uniqueness and style. The music is so beautiful, too. Thanks God that I had a chance to see the Bamboo Organ again after 7 years. This is also a memorable tour.
Q: We learned that there's a new mall which is SM Mall of Asia. Did you visit at SM Mall of Asia?
A: Yes. After we had a tour in Parañaque City and Las Piñas City, we went to SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City on November 10, 2009 to see the mall, too. SM Mall of Asia is the latest mall of SM (Shoe Mart) in Philippines owned and run by Henry Sy and company. I can't believe that SM Mall of Asia is the biggest SM malls that I've seen. I thought that SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City is the biggest SM mall that I've seen before but now, it is SM Mall of Asia. SM Mall of Asia is about three times bigger that SM Megamall. SM Mall of Asia has a lot of entertainment and amusement especially for the kids and they are located also outside the mall aside from inside the mall. They are closer to Roxas Boulevard and Manila Bay. Also, there are many restaurants and fastfood chains that are located outside the mall. There are so many stores, restaurants, and salons inside the mall. The main department store and supermarket is located inside the building proper. We bought clothes and ate our dinner there. This is my visit to SM Mall of Asia. There are so many people there especially the foreigners that's why there are many foreigners, too. If you see the big globe from Roxas Boulevard especially at night, you are near or close to SM Mall of Asia and it is a landmark there.
Q: One of your plans in visiting in Philippines is to have a class reunion with your classmates in high school. Did you have a reunion with your classmates in high school?
A: Yes. I had a successful class reunion with my classmates in high school on November 15, 2009. Our reunion was held at Patio Jose Resort located in Quezon City in Kamuning District. We were planned this reunion together with my classmates like Jennifer Agustin, Christina Pabustan-Nalopa, and so on thru e-mails and chat at Facebook. My high school days at Mapua Institute of Technology is so memorable until now because I gain friends and knowledge in Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry. I used to join the quiz contest in Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry in order for me to learn more not just to compete with other student but to gain my knowledge. Anyway, my classmates were picked me up from Oxford Suites in Makati City where me and my cousin were staying during my vacation in Philippines. Oxford Suites is owned by Makati City Vice-Mayor Ernesto Mercado and his family. He's the father-in-law of my cousin, Alvin Alvaran Magtalas and they allowed us to stay at their condominium in order to us to travel and commute easily because the traffic is so heavy especially during rush hours. It is also close to many stores, restaurants and even to Ayala Center as well. The reunion was so good because there are many foods and drinks that most of my classmates brought. We invited our teachers, too but only Miss Angelita G. de Jesus came in our class reunion. We were approximately 100 people in the class reunion. One of my classmate, Daniel Bonuel, brought music player and he played the songs of the 1980s. The songs of 1980s reminds us our high school days. Many of my classmates were late in the class reunion because they watched the Manny Pacquiao - Miguel Cotto live boxing fight. Thanks God that Manny Pacquiao won the boxing fight. Most of us were not swim at the pool because we were spend most of the time with chatting and socializing with our other classmates, drinking beer, eating foods, and watching the replay show on Manny Pacquiao - Miguel Cotto boxing fight. According to my classmates that the high school building located in Doroteo Jose Street in Santa Cruz, Manila, Philippines is already demolished when the Mapua Institute of Technology - High School Department is changed into Malayan Science High School and later relocated in Otis Street, Pandacan, Manila. Our class reunion is so memorable because we were almost 100 in the reunion and our teacher, Miss Angelita G. de Jesus, was also present, too.
Q: Since you were staying at Oxford Suites in Makati City together with your cousin during your vacation in Philippines, did you have a tour in Makati City?
A: Yes, of course. As I mentioned earlier that Makati City Vice-Mayor Ernesto Mercado gave us a nice accommodation during my vacation in Philippines by staying at Oxford Suites. I did my tour in Makati City on November 16, 2009 with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan. We went to Ayala Center, Glorietta Theater, Rustan's Supermarket, Landmark, and so on along Ayala Avenue, Buendia Avenue, Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), Paseo de Roxas, Makati Avenue, Pasay Road, Pasong Tamo Road, and so on. Makati City is still a business capital of Philippines but now it is more crowded than my last visit in 2002. Although it is crowded, the flow of traffic there is nice that's why Makati City is not so traffic than before. There are many designated bus stops for loading and unloading passengers. Most of the embassies of other countries are located in Makati City especially along Ayala Avenue, Paseo de Roxas, and Buendia Avenue. After our tour, we had a lunch at Mang Inasal at Makati Avenue and Jupiter Street. This restaurant is famous for chicken grill cooked in Bacolod style for many years already. We were lucky because there's a promo that you can have unlimited rice and soup if you order any kind of chicken grill. After we had a nice lunch, we went to Malabon City and Navotas City to have a tour also there.
Before we went back to Oxford Suites, we were decided also to have a tour in Makati City at night. At night, Makati City is so beautiful and have many lights in the buildings, roads, bars, and shopping malls. Still, Makati City is also a busy place even at night because of many offices for call centers. We had a dinner at Cabalen Restaurant at Ayala Center. Cabalen Restaurant is a Kapampangan Cuisine. I like Kapampangan dishes because my grandparents and their roots are native resident of Pampanga. The restaurant is buffet style but affordable price. I missed these dishes since I came in United States in 2000. I used to eat there when I was a resident in Philippines.
Q: You mentioned that you went in Malabon City and Navotas City. Are you familiar in Malabon City and Navotas City?
A: Yes, of course. Malabon City and Navotas City are also the adjacent cities in Caloocan City. I was a resident in Caloocan City for a long time since my childhood period. Malabon City is a well-known city for making fish products such as patis (fish sauce), dried fish, fish snacks, canned fish, canned sardines, smoked fish, and so on for many years already. Their popular dish is "Pancit Malabon". Pancit Malabon is made fron rice noodles with shrimp gravy, annato pork oil, cicharon (pork crackers), shrimp, eggs, squid, smoked fish, spring onions, toasted garlic, and fish sauce with calamansi (a native green lemon in Philippines). Also, the people in Malabon City are expert in making "kakanin", a well-known dessert in Philippines like puto, cuchinta, bibingka, sapin-sapin, biko, and so on. There's a place in Malabon City that you can buy the said dessert which is at Dolor's Kakanin. Dolor's Kakanin, is a well-known dessert store there for many years already. Whenever I visit in Philippines, I used to buy those desserts that I have to bring when I get back home in United States. Their desserts are very delicious and most of the people in Philippines are eating those desserts and even the foreigners that are visiting in Philippines. I am very familiar in Malabon City because I used to go there many times because I have many friends and relatives there. There are many tourist spots there like Malabon Zoo, the downtown area of Malabon City, and the public market. Thanks God that I had a chance to visit in Malabon City and Navotas City on November 16, 2009 in spite of my hectic schedule during my visit in Philippines.
Before we went to the downtown area of Malabon City, we went first to Malabon Zoo to see the exotic animals that are came from different places in Philippines as well as in other countries. The owner, Mr. Manny Tangco, started to collect animals at his backyard of his mansion in 1960's until it becomes a zoo. Today, Malabon Zoo is considered as one of the tourist spot in Malabon Zoo and perhaps in Philippines. It is located at #1 Governor Pascual Avenue, Potrero, Malabon City, Philippines and open everyday from 8:00 am to 5:00pm. There's an entrance fee of PHP 120. Although it is quite expensive but the zoo is cleaned and maintained everyday. Most of the animals there are beautiful and exotic.
Navotas City is a well-known city for the fish ports or pier for many years already. Navotas City is located besides the Pacific Ocean. Navotas City is crowded always in dawn till in early morning because most of the fish vendors in nearby cities like in Manila, Caloocan City, Navotas City, Valenzuela City, and Obando, Bulacan are going to Navotas Fish Port Complex to buy fresh fishes and seafoods that are going to sell in the market and groceries. There's a secret of the people in Navotas City which is called "bulungan". Bulungan is a Tagalog word which is whispering. At most of the fish ports there, the vendors are doing their sales talk and bargaining by whispering so that the other vendors will not reveal their secret trades.
Q: Did you visit in Caloocan City, too?
Yes, of course. I had to visit in Caloocan City because it is my hometown, too. I was born there and lived until I finished my college. Most of my friends, family friends, and relatives are resident there. We went to Caloocan City on November 17-18, 2009 with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan. When I visited in Caloocan City, my childhood memories were went back and refreshed especially during my elementary days at La Consolacion College. Caloocan City is now more crowded than before my last visit in 2002 and also, because it is an adjacent city of Manila. First, we went to one of our family friend, Mrs. Corazon Gallardo Uy, also known as Tita Azon. She's our family friend since my childhood days and she's almost my real aunt because she's my mother's best friend. They are still living at P. Zamora Street which is close to the city hall. She gave us a tour in Caloocan City. After we had a lunch at Rafael's Restaurant, a well-known restaurant for a long time located at the back of La Consolacion College and I used to eat there during my elementary days, we went to La Consolacion College, other family friends, and relatives. We visited my relatives like my uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews of the Vargas, Garcia, and Balajadia families.
I went to Laon-Laan Street in Caloocan City also to help one of my friend at Facebook.com to find their lost relatives. My friends' name are Lyn Jerningan and her mother, Virginia Enriquez Jerningan of Chicago, Illinois, USA. Mrs. Virginia Enriquez Jerningan is seriously looking and finding all her relatives at Laon-Laan Street. She got married and migrated to Chicago, Illinois and never visited in Philippines since 1940 during the Japanese Occupation in Philippines. From then, she has no news from all her siblings and relatives. When I met and have a connection with Lyn Jerningan and Mrs. Virginia Enriquez Jerningan thru Facebook.com, they were asked me a favor to visit and find their lost relatives in Caloocan City. Since Laon-Laan Street is a neighbor street of P. Zamora Street, we went there and talked to the residents as well as the barangay chairman and kagawads there. They were mentioned there that Enriquez families are really came from the rich family. Most of their businesses are furniture making and selling furniture. Most of the siblings of Mrs. Vriginia Enriquez Jerningan are migrated to United States, too and some of her siblings are moved into another resident because Caloocan City is now so crowded. One of our family friend, Mrs. Luzviminda Enriquez Garces or Tita Baby in short, was mentioned also that her father, Pablo Enriquez, came from the rich family. The rich families of Enriquez families in Caloocan City are very few and I asked the barangay chairman to contact Ms. Lyn Enriquez Jerningan and Mrs. Virginia Enriquez Jerningan thru phone and e-mail. They were mentioned also that the former Secretary of Finance, Salvador M. Enriquez, Jr. is also came from the rich family of Enriquez families. Salvador M. Enriquez, Jr. is one of the siblings of Mrs. Virginia Enriquez Jerningan. Thanks God that I found their lost relatives there. I send an e-mail to Lyn Jerningan and Mrs. Virginia Enriquez Jerningan about the results of finding their relatives there. I asked them to contact the television stations in Philippines like ABS-CBN and GMA Network so that they can help to conatct Salvador M. Enriquez, Jr. and other siblings. Later, Lyn Jerningan send me an e-mail saying that they got an assistance from ABS-CBN and GMA Network. Because of this, they have now a communication with Salvador M. Enriquez, Jr. and other siblings.
After this, we went to La Consolacion College (formerly La Consolacion School) to visit the school where I spend my childhood days there as an elementary student. We went there together with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan, and our family friends like Tita Azon and Tita Baby. I met many of my teachers there like Miss Divina Danting (now Mrs. Divina Cortez), Mrs. Evelyn Ponio, Miss Gloria Diaz (not Miss Universe 1969), Miss Agnes Peralta (now an Assistant Principal at Elementary School), and Miss Edith P. Tampinco (now Mrs. Rafael and co-owner of Rafael's Restaurant). Most of my teachers there are already retired and some of them are transferred into another school. The school is now more crowded because the school is now offering High School and College aside from Kindergarten and Elementary. Still, the school is operated and managed by the nuns of Organization of Saint Augustine. The structure of the school is almost still the same when I was an elementary student. The chapel is still there but the are many changes especially at the annex building. They have the Human Resources Department and Hotel and Restaurant Management areas. Before, it was a small building for the guards and janitors. Thanks God that I had a chance to see the school again after 26 years. This is a memorable place for me and I will not forget this place. I had many friends in the school especially my teachers, classmates, and staffs during elementary days.
Q: We know that you were visited at De La Salle University to visit your former co-professors there and you will have a plan later to have a get-together. Did you have a get-together with your former co-professors?
A: Yes. We had a get-together on November 18, 2009 at Yakimix along Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City. It is located at Hobbies of Asia. Dr. Susan Roces, one of my former co-professor and former Department Chairman of Chemical Engineering Department at De La Salle University, did an invitation to other former co-professors. She helped me in finding the venue and she recommend the Yakimix, an Asian restaurant that serves Japanese, Korean, and Chinese dishes in buffet style and grilling. She went there before and she liked the foods there in afffordable price. We decided to set our schedule of get-together on November 18, 2009 because most of the faculty members were busy and not available on other dates. She invited also the faculty members from other departments and the secretaries as well. We went there all together at around 6:00pm. Thanks God that some of the faculty members have their own cars and we went there easily. The foods there are very delicious because most of the seafoods are really fresh. This is a memorable reunion because I met my former co-professors again after 7 years. Most of my former co-professors are my friends since 1997. I wish later that we will have a reunion on my future visit in Philippines.
Q: One of your reasons in visiting in Philippines is to attend also the MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association Homecoming. Did you attend the alumni homecoming?
A: Yes, of course. I made a promise to my classmates and also to my professor, Mrs. Elizabeth So Espiritu, that I will attend the alumni homecoming of MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association. The alumni homecoming was held on November 21, 2009 at Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City. The alumni homecoming was good but the attendees are few compared to the previous alumni homecomings. I met some of my classmates like Melvin Dalangin, Alvin Caparanga, Michael Chua Dy, Ariziel Ruth Dizon Marquez, my fellow alumni members that I known in many years, my professors like Mrs. Elizabeth So Espiritu, Mrs. Denisia Avelino Villaos, and so on. This alumni homecoming is for the celebration of golden jubilarians (graduate from batch 1959) and silver jubilarians (graduate from batch 1984). My uncle, Mr. Jose Pangan Balajadia (ChE-1959), is also a golden jubilarian. Since my uncle has a Parkinson's Disease and lying on the bed, he was not able to make it in the alumni homecoming. The alumni homecoming of MIT ChE-Chm Alumni Association is still active after seven years and there are new faces there especially the fresh graduates who are also now active in alumni homecoming. There's a costume also in the alumni homecoming which is 1970's attire. That's good also because my hair is long but wavy. I met also Mr. Fortunato "Atoy" Co, a well-known basketball player in Philippines for many years and he's also a Chemical Engineering graduate in 1974. This is a reason that I set my vacation in Philippines always in the month of November so that I can attend the alumni homecoming also. This is also the get-together of fellow alumni members, classmates, and professors. This is also my memorable visit in Philippines and I wish that I will meet my fellow alumni members again later in my next visit in Philippines.
Q: Well, you're already visited in many places during your visit in Philippines. We know that you lived in Novaliches, Quezon City for many years. Did you visit in Novaliches, Quezon City, too?
A: Yes, of course. I went to Novaliches, Quezon City on November 22, 2009 with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan. As I mentioned earlier that I went to Novaliches, Quezon City in 2002 and I went again there to visit my former landlord, former neighbors, and relatives. Novaliches, Quezon City has a lot of changes also in 7 years. It becomes more crowded and more traffic as well. After we had a lunch at Kamayan Restaurant in Makati City, we went to Novaliches, Quezon City immediately because we know that there's a traffic there especially at the downtown proper. There was a plebiscite there that Novaliches, Quezon City should or should not be separated from Quezon City. Later, the people there decided to keep Novaliches, Quezon City in Quezon City and they are not yet ready to separate as an independent city. First, we visited the downtown proper. I missed this place, too because I used to go there to buy foods in the market and also the household items. Next, we visited at my former residence at 43 Reliance Road, Novaliches, Quezon City to visit my former landlord and former neighbors. All my former neighbors are gone already because they moved into another resident and bought their own house, too. I did not meet my former landlords like Mr. Ernesto N. Artango and Mrs. Heidi Tarectecan Artango because they were at work. I met their daughter, Edna, and she's already married with kids. Their house is still there but 1/2 of their house is already sold. Even at my former resident, there's a lot of changes, too. After that, we went to my aunt, Mrs. Eliza Balajadia Dalacat, in Vista Verde North, to visit her and her family. Thanks God, that my aunt and her family are in good conditions. My visit in Novaliches, Quezon City is so memorable, too although it's traffic there always.
During my visit in Novaliches, Quezon City, we went also to Holy Cross Memorial Park to visit the tomb of my grandparents, uncle, and great grandparents there. The memorial park is still maintained and cleaned because the grasses are still good. We noticed that there's an internment or burial besides my grandparents' tomb. A young man died at the age of 32 because of heart attack. Right now, my grandparents' tomb has many neighboring tombs. I remember that the family members of Isabel Andres Ong are very close to our family. We were always meet every year especially during All Saints Day. They were sharing their food to us if we don't have. The tomb of Isabel Andres Ong is located besides the tomb of my grandfather. I don't forget these people and I want to meet them later in some other time. After that, we went to the tomb of my great grandparents. My great grandmother, Flaviana Darlucio Vargas, was a businesswoman, according to the old folks in Caloocan City and Obando, Bulacan. She's a very kind person who adopt my father, my uncle, and my aunt since their childhood. This is a reason that our family is also very close to Vargas family until now. She also adopt my grandmother, Gregoria Darlucio Balajadia, when her mother, Feliza Evangelista Darlucio, died when my grandmother was a young child. Anyway, I gave candles and prayers to the departed people who are very close to our family. Thanks God that I had a change to see the memorial park after 11 years.
Q: And how about at the downtown area of Quezon City? Did you visit in Quezon City proper?
A: Yes, of course. I would like to visit the downtown area of Quezon City no matter what because I want to see what's inside at the Quezon Memorial Circle. I've never been there before when I was a resident in Philippines. We went there on November 23, 2009 with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan, by taking public transportation and walking. At the Quezon Memorial Circle, there are many restaurants, gardens, and stores. The city government of Quezon City did the improvements at the Quezon Memorial Circle. The remains of the late President of Philippines, Manuel Luis Molina Quezon is located inside the Quezon Memorial Circle. This city was named in honor for Manuel Luis Molina Quezon. Also, the remains of his wife, Aurora Aragon Quezon, and their daughter, Maria Aurora Aragon Quezon, are located there. The Quezon Memorial Circle is open to the public and it is also a tourist spot in Philippines. At the front of the Quezon Memorial Circle, the city hall of Quezon City is located there. Previously, Quezon City was a national capital of Philippines and then later in 1975, Manila becomes a national capital of Philippines. Most of the main government offices of Philippines are also located there. Also, most of the well-known TV and radio stations are also located there. After we ate at Max's Restaurant, we went at University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City. UP Diliman is a well-known government university in Philippines and most of the intelligent students are studying there. I love Quezon City since my childhood and I missed this city very much. After our tour, we visited my relatives like my uncle, Carlos Darlucio Balajadia, at Don Antonio Heights and my cousin, Ester Balajadia Garcia, at Cordillera Street. Thanks God that my uncle is in good condition but he's using oxygen always because he has a problem with his lungs. My cousin has a parlor at Cordillera Street and most of the rich and business people are her customers for many years already. They were very happy with my visit and I would like to have reunion later, if possible while my father and his siblings are still alive.
Q: One of your distant relative would like to meet you in person. Did you meet him in person?
A: Yes, of course. I would like to meet him in person, too especially he's also my relative, too although he's my far or distant relative. I met Mr. Jan Balajadia of Pasig City at his work in Makati City on November 24, 2009 after we went back from Kawit, Cavite. He likes to collect paintings and arts. Most of the Balajadia families in Morong are expert in paintings and arts. Anyway, we had a tour at Glorietta Theater while we were discussing about our roots. After our tour there, we ate at Sentro, a well-known first class Filipino restaurant located also at Glorietta Theater. I used to go to Glorietta Theater before in my spare time when I was a resident in Philippines. At Sentro, they served mostly unique Filipino foods but they are expensive. Although they are expensive, they are delicious, too like sinigang na corned beef (corned beef cooked in tamarind broth), crispy spare ribs, adobong kangkong, and Spanish style galunggong. We ate all together with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan. After he paid the bill, he gave us a drive going back to Oxford Suites. This is a memorable activity and I wish that we will meet later either in Philippines or in United States.
Q: Since you went to Glorietta Theater and you found out that there are many restaurants there, did you visit to Glorietta Theater again?
A: Yes, we went to Glorietta Theater again with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan, on November 25, 2009 after we had a tour in Laguna. We went to Oody's Thai Rice Noodles N' Bar to taste the Thai dishes because it is a long time already that I did not eat Thai dishes. Their food is so good also as a real Thai dishes like coconut soup, fried tofu in tamarind sauce, beef curry, papaya salad, and Thai iced tea. When I was a resident in Philippines, I'd never tried the dishes from different countries because most of their dishes are expensive. I learned to eat the dishes from different countries since I migrated to United States because the people in United States are came from different countries. There are many different cuisines in United States and I went there already many times because the foods there are affordable. Since the dishes at Oody's Thai Rice Noodles N' Bar are affordable, we went there and ate Thai dishes. My cousin liked the dishes very well. I wish that I can taste the different cuisines from other countries in Philippines so that my relatives and friends can taste all the dishes that I've tried.
Q: One day, you met your classmate in college, did you have a chance to go out to accomodate him?
A: Yes, of course. After we went to Talisay, Batangas and Tagaytay City with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan, we went to Glorietta Theater in Makati City on November 26, 2009 to accomodate and entertain my classmate, Mr. Reynaldo S. Almario. He's my classmate at Mapua Institute of Technology and finished mechanical engineer there. While we were talking and sharing our stories after our graduation at Mapua Institute of Technology in 1992, we decided to go to Glorietta Theater to try the Arabic and Indian restaurant there. Gilak by Hossein is a well-known Arabic and Indian restaurant at Glorietta Theater. The dishes there are also nice and delicious but there are few costumers there because the food there is expensive. Although they are expensive, they are delicious and their dishes are unique. My classmate is also working at Manulife, a well-known life insurance company in Philippines, and he's now a senior financial adviser. He's offering me to open a mutual fund but I declined his offer because I have already a 401k in United States for many years already. Anyway, he respected my decision and he told me that if I changed my mind later, I can send him an e-mail anytime. I was very happy at that time because I met my other friend and classmate on the spot.
Q: Right now, Rockwell Power Plant is a well-known shopping mall in Philippines. Did you visit at Rockwell Power Plant?
A: Yes, I went to Rockwell Power Plant on November 27, 2009 with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan after we visited in Quezon. The purpose of my tour at Rockwell Power Plant is to see and have a mini-reunion with my classmates in high school like Ms. Jennifer Agustin and Ms. Cristina Pabustan Nalopa. They were my classmates at Mapua Institute of Technology. Ms. Cristina Pabustan Nalopa is a resident of Makati City at Barangay Poblacion and they gave us a tour at Rockwell Power Plant. Rockwell Power Plant was a power plant that supplies electricity in the whole Metropolitan Manila Area. Later, the city government of Makati City decided to make a shopping mall rather than to demolished the said plant. There are many shopping malls, stores, hotels, and condominiums there. Most of the foreigners are staying or checked-in at the hotels there. We ate at Via Mare, a well-known Filipino Restaurant for many years already. The foods there are really homemade style and delicious. After our tour at Rockwell Power Plant, we went to Stumm's, a well-known exclusive bar and bistro in Makati City. We were enjoyed in drinking beer and cocktais, eating snacks, and watching the concerts of well-known singing groups like Fat Session, and so on. I will advice you guys to contact the management of Strumm's in order to verify or know the schedule of group singers there. They have no website yet. Well, Strumm's is a nice place especially for the visitors, tourists, and foreigners. We met Ms. Lorimel Orca Quilab, a member of Fat Session, and invited her to join in our table. We had a chat and nice talk with her while she's resting after their song performance. Before we leave, we asked her contact number and she gave her contact number to us so that we can keep in touch to each other and also we can have a chat thru Facebook. This is my memorable tour in Makati City and this is my last day of travelling there.
Q: One of your reason also in visiting in Philippines is to have a class reunion with your classmates in elementary. Did you have a nice reunion with your classmates in elementary?
A: Yes. I had a nice class reunion with my classmates in elementary on November 28, 2009 at COMELEC Building along A. Mabini Street in Caloocan City courtesy of my classmate, Ms. Aurora Garcia. This is a class reunion of La Consolacion School, Batch 1983 for Elementary and Batch 1987 for High School. They combined these two batches into one celebration because most of my classmates in elementary are also finished their high school at La Consolacion School, too. In elementary, the number of boys are lesser than the number of girls while in high school, all are girls and no boys. Because of this, the number of ladies in the reunion is much more than the number of men. Because of Facebook, we met almost all my classmates in elementary. Before, we thought that it is impossible to see and find our classmates because most of us are moved into another place or residence. Because of the modern technology that we have right now like Facebook, we met almost all my classmates. Ms. Prima Donna Asinas, one of my classmate in elementary, did a great job in planning a class reunion and inviting our classmates. Well, the reunion is very successful, and had a lot of fun there like games and raffles. Ms. Hazel Munsayac Angeles and Ms. Juliet Hidalgo are the masters of ceremonies in the class reunion. Since this is a first time to have a reunion and it is very successful, we were decided to have a reunion every year so that our other classmates who are not able to attend a reunion and also who are in abroad can attend the reunion next year. Also, we had an election of officers so that we can have successful reunions and to generate funds as well. I wish that I can attend the reunion again in the future so that I can meet my other classmates.
Q: Since your last day of your vacation in Philippines is on November 30, 2009, did you have a nice vacation there?
A: Yes, of course. I had a nice vacation in Philippines because I visited many places there, visited my all friends and relatives, and ate many Filipino dishes that I've never taste those. After my farewell party with my relatives in Baliuag, Bulacan, we proceed to my cousin's house in Multinational Village in Parañaque City to continue and finalize the packaging of my luggage and balikbayan boxes. Since Multinational Village is very close to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), it is very convenient for us in going to the airport and we avoid the heavy traffic. My cousins and their cousins were helped me in packaging of my baggage and balikbayan boxes. Since my things are already overweight by 80 pounds, we proceed to LBC, FedEx, UPS, and JRS Express to canvass the shipping cost because I would like to ship the excess amount of baggage but the shipping costs are almost the same as the amount of excess baggage cost at the airport. Since the shipping period of LBC, FedEx, UPS, and JRS Express is approximately about 3-5 days, I made a decision to bring all my things at the airport and pay the excess amount. I paid $300 at the airport because the excess amount fee is $150 for 50 pounds extra and another $150 for the next 50 pounds extra. 80 pounds extra is already considered as 100 pounds extra. No choice for me is to pay $300 extra. My lesson for me is to weigh all my things one by one first in order for me to approximate the exact required weight of my baggage. The requirement weight of the baggage is 50 pounds each for two baggage and 10 pounds for a hand carry bag plus a laptop computer. Anyway, this is charged to my experience. Before we proceed to the airport for check-in, we went first at SM Mall of Asia to eat our dinner there, we ate at Jatujak, a Thai Cuisine in the mall. We ate there to taste the Thai dishes there. The foods there are delicious and they are really Thai dishes. I gave a treat to all my cousins and their cousins for helping me a lot during my vacation in Philippines and also in packaging my baggage and balikbayan boxes. After that, we proceed to the airport for check-in and I gave all my Philipine pesos to my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan. Thanks God that I went back to United States safe thru Philippine Airlines. This is my memorable vacation in Philippines although it is only 3 weeks. I wish that I will have a vacation in Philippines later if I have time and money.
Q: How's the weather condition in Rizal Province?
A: Well, the weather there was nice. It is 90°F during days and 75°F in the evening. Thanks God that the storm is already passed when I visited in Philippines because last October of 2009, the storm or typhoon was very strong and heavy and almost the whole province was submerged with flood. I am so sad that most of my memorable things in elementary, high school, and college days are already gone because all of my things are destroyed by flood.
Q: Do you recommend to anyone to visit in Rizal Province?
A: Yes, of course. I will recommend to anyone to visit in Rizal because the province is very rich in history and culture. We have a lot of tourist spots there as well as resorts. If you want to visit in many historical places, nature places like caves, mountains, oceans, and rivers, Rizal is also a good place for you to visit. The foods there are delicious and you will love those especially during the town fiestas and festivals. Although Rizal is a crowded area especially in Metropolitan Manila Area, it is still a nice place to visit there.