Saturday, November 7, 2015

Our Vacation In Manila: Day 4

Well, my sore throat is gone and my mother seems to feel better as well. This just reinforces my belief that the irritation was most likely caused by the pollution in this city.

So, this happens to be the penultimate day of our vacation here. We leave at 6:45 PM tomorrow.

Today, my Aunt came early to our hotel room and after breakfast, we immediately took a taxi to the Greenhills Shopping center where my mother planned to buy some cheap bling-blings.

I love this place and I always make sure to visit it every time I'm in manila because inside one of the interconnected malls, there's a small wing with nothing but otaku and hobbyist-related shops -- not that I planned to buy anything unless I saw a Nagi figure that I didn't already have. Unfortunately, they only had a whole bunch of Love Live figures and tons of expensive Miku ones.

Anyway, I split up with my mother and aunt and went window shopping a bit. There were several other otaku hobbyists browsing the stores and I like how the store clerks know exactly how to deal with our kind: just let us browse in peace, we'll call you if we need anything. One thing I noticed is that otaku here don't fall under the fat, basement-dweller stereotype that America has popularized. In fact, otaku culture in the Philippines is a bit different in that people seem to be proud to be one and wear it as a sort of badge of honor for being one of the elite who can appreciate the finer things in life -- such as manga and anime... seriously, those are the kinds of vibes I get with the customers in this particular wing wearing expensive brand-name clothing and talking in English out loud as most socialites are used to doing here.

In any case, while I was tempted to buy a Ranka Lee swimsuit figure, I decided that it was either going to be a cheap, but authentic Miku or Nagi figure or nothing... so I ended up with nothing.

I went searching for my mother and aunt after that and stumbled upon a small stall selling self-defense equipment and knives. I ended up buying a cheap but really nicely made "balisong" or butterfly knife. I like collecting and practicing with weapons, you know.
This thing is called a "balisong"
I love knives! This one is cheap but really nice-looking.
I met up with my mother and aunt shortly thereafter and we took a taxi to a new mall called "Robinson's Magnolia." The place was reminiscent of SM Aura, but a bit smaller. It also wasn't fully-functional yet, but it was pretty nice over-all. We had lunch at a place called "Gumbo," which apparently was "a taste of New Orleans." The food was nice, albeit a bit expensive. My mother ended up buying two boxes of their muffins since we liked the samples they gave us.
I know someone who'd love the name of this store.
After lunch, we finished touring the mall and then took a taxi back to the hotel. I had a chance to use the GrabTaxi app that I'd downloaded at the start of this trip after the fiasco from day 1. It was great because the app gives you the license plate and the driver's name as well as a gps tracker of where the taxi is at the moment and how far away the car is from the pick-up point. I'd recommend that you make use of this app if it's available in your area. We rested up a bit because we were to meet and have dinner with a friend of my aunt who also happened to be a good friend of another aunt on my mother's side.

The Pena's were family of four with two teenaged kids aged 16 and 15. We took the hotel's transport service to the Greenbelt shopping center where we had dinner at a restaurant named "Contis." It was a pretty standard western-influenced restaurant with none-too-fancy dishes, which suited me just fine since I hate complicated flavors... and seafood.

Anyway, the Pena's were quite an interesting bunch. The father was a rather talkative man who liked to joke around while his wife was a bit more reserved. The two kids seemed quite shy since they could only communicate in English because they grew up in Brunei and didn't understand either Tagalog or Hiligaynon very well -- much less speak it. I reminisced a bit about my law school days with Mr. Pena who seemed quite interested in what law school was like. My mother seemed to get along well with the couple as well.

While having dinner, I overheard a mother scolding her kid, who seemed to be around 6-8 years old because he apparently wanted to stay in the restaurant forever. What she said (in English because people who are rich here distinguish themselves that way by speaking in English) sort of struck a chord with me. She said, "Do you know what your work will be if you want to stay here forever? They're going to make you wash the dirty dishes here all the time. You'll be like them (pointing at the waiters in the restaurant with a demeaning tone of voice)."

I thought that this reprimand was a bit inappropriate since it just emphasizes the culture of class-based shaming that is really prevalent in the Philippine. Basically, being a janitor, waiter, or a taxi driver denotes that you are from a lower class and that it's shameful to be that way -- and this is the message that this parent was trying to impart to her child, I would assume. Still, maybe I was just reading too much into this.

Anyway, after dinner, we took a walk around the Greenbelt, SM and Glorietta malls -- which were interconnected. One of the security guards at the entrance to SM greeted us with enthusiastic but a bit broken English. My mother found this amusing -- she being a strict English and speech teacher... I didn't. I didn't want to laugh nor make fun of this man because he was simply doing his job and being enthusiastic about it. I'm sure my mother realizes this as well, but it just felt wrong to me because I was already influenced by the scene from earlier in the restaurant.

We parted with the Pena family after we were ready to go back to the hotel. They were actually staying in the same hotel, but we had to take separate taxis because we couldn't all fit into a single sedan-type car.

Back at the hotel, we finished packing up our stuff since we were checking out tomorrow.

That ends day 4. Tomorrow is our last day here. It's been a really nice vacation so far -- even though we didn't really see too many new things. I believe that it's caused not by my limited knowledge of the place, but also because of the fact that age is starting to catch up with my mother and her legs really aren't as good as they were about a decade ago, so we can't really walk for long distances -- even just to find our bearings and go exploring for a bit... that's not really a loss though. Even if we are jut visiting mostly familiar places, the important thing is to have a good time and to unwind, de-stress and relax.


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