Sunday, June 28, 2015

Feasting on Filipino Food

I've loved being in the Philippines so far and I have definitely enjoyed Manila but so far the thing that's been even better than the the stuff I've seen or done are the filipino people. They are kind, helpful, friendly, often smiling people and even the catcalling seems nicer - instead of "Hey sexy " or "I like the way you walk" I ended up getting "Hi Snow White". When I stayed at the Good Shepherds hostel the staff there were extremely nice and helpful and even the security guard Emmanuel who was stationed at the front of the building was friendly and I spoke with him a few times. I also discovered my first night that seemingly everyone here speaks great English. Since my grasp of the english is mediocre at best I'll even admit some people had better English than me, pretty sad since it's my first language. I actually feel guilty about speaking English here, normally I try and learn some language basics before a trip but since each country I'm visiting speaks a different language and I only had one week of trip preparation I have entered the Philippines as the ignorant tourist who expects others to speak her language.

After 3 nights at the hostel I tried couchsurfing for the first time ever and it's been such a good experience, so much so that I will definitely do it again. Jace was my wonderful host who lived in the West Rembos area of Manila and when I stayed there he had another couchsurfer Sabrina who was staying with him. Jace was so welcoming an easily one of the most generous people I've ever met, it sounds like he was a bit of a rebel kid a few years ago so has some wild stories.  Speaking of wild stories Sabrina, his other couchsurfer has spent the past few years travelling the world working as a journalist for  companies such as Time. She was working on a pretty intense sounding story and I even got to witness her in action. All I can say is anyone who thinks being a journalist is easy should try interviewing a filipino farmer who only speaks a regional dialect, has irregular hours due to Ramadan,  and bad cell service and may or may not even be the right person.

My couchsurfing friends Sabrina and ajace

After spending two days in Manila with Jace we ended up heading south to his family's home in Lipa where his grandfather lived and took care of his 3 wild grandsons while their mother worked in Canada. When I arrived it was such a contrast from Manila and the super touristy scene. Lipa is a small town consisting of mostly locals and the surrounding area is beautiful with forests of palm trees and mountains looming over it. Jace's family was extremely welcoming, when we got there we were first greeted by the beautiful Michelle and I Jace  translated the word maganda (beautiful) from when they were speaking tagalog, I sure hope she was talking about herself and not me because I hadn't showered in two days! Even Jace's little brother who started off shy was eventually asking to play plants vs zombies on my phone and telling me that he is secretly iron man and has 10 mansions. For a little kid he's certainly accomplished a lot! As foe Jace's grandfather,  he is such an incredible sweetheart who may possibly be a saint too after watching the unruly boys. When I entered the house I was immediately offered 3 kinds of desserts by Jace and Michelle and each time a new family member entered the house I was offered more food. Even after finishing heaping plates of food I'm being told to eat more and more. The part that makes their offers so dangerous is that everything seems to have coconut which is near impossible to resist.
Lipa Countryside

In Lipa we mostly hung out, Jace apologized that we didn't get to do the hiking he'd recommended we go there for but I honestly just really enjoyed hanging out there with the family in Lipa. We went jogging one day and saw the surrougnding area, we were invited to join and outdoor cardio class when they saw us walk by  (I would've joined but I'm pretty sure ladies cardio class isn't Jace's style!),  I had homecooked  filipino food breakfast/lunch/dinner there and Jace's grandfather even taught us how to make bbq satay over coals.Our first few were on the crispy side but near the end I was almost pro at it. Sadly I think Jace and I should swith nationalities, he prefers western food and I currently am loving filipino and Asian food. Though if other travelers are to be trusted I'll be sick of rice by the end of this trip. Luckily I'm not there yet. Now I'm off to Baguio for a night so that I should reach the layog Country Farm by Monday afternoon.

Words cannot describe my jealousy of these kids with a mini bike taxi

Jace's little brother helping us out with BBQing

 Things I can cross off the list: Filipino street food (fried hardboiled egg, some panacotta soy dessert in a cup, empanadas), plenty of delicious filipino foods - okay I didn't find the sugared tiny fish too great! Using a crowded jeepney with my pack, learning what a tabo is, wishing I never had learned what a tabo is.

Lessons learned: Cheese candy may not be bad after all. I have a sneaking suspicion the yellow candy I'm falling in love with may be cheese flavoured based on the yellow colouring...

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