Monday, July 30, 2018

Manila Trip 2018 - Day 4

We didn't hit the pool today since it was raining hard. Also, if we took any more wet laundry along, we might have to pay extra for baggage on our airfare. I think the hotel had a laundry service, but we never really bothered with those -- in hindsight, it would have been easier if we did. I checked the prices and they're quite reasonable, actually.

We still had a lot of extra provisions in the refrigerator and it was already Friday, so we had a light breakfast of some yogurt and empanada (a type of small meat bun with the bread fried around the edges to make it crisp). We'd actually brought the empanada along as a gift for some of the people we'd be meeting in Manila and my mother brought a ton of it along. It's a Filipino tradition called "Pasalubong," which would literally translate to "for encountering." Basically, the gift is something you bring with you for meeting someone -- and it's usually a delicacy or some kind of novelty item/souvenir that's unique to your particular place.

Anyway, we stayed in the hotel room for most of the morning and then left to try and find a place to eat lunch somewhere out in one of the three adjacent malls. We'd be meeting my aunt who lives all the way to the North (we were at the Southern point of Manila) later.

We went to Glorietta first and tried to find a slightly pricey restaurant called Heaven & Eggs that we really liked before. Google couldn't find the place in Glorietta and the next one was a good 6 km away. Unfortunately, upon asking the Concierge, it seems the branch in Glorietta closed down quite some time ago -- which is a trend that I'd noticed since day one. A lot of the shops in Glorietta had closed down. 

Anyway, we walked over to the computer hardware stores section of Glorietta because I needed a new power brick for one of our laptops left back home. I brought the power adapter along so they'd know what type of replacement power brick to give us. There actually was one, but my mother declined to buy it and told me that we should shop around a bit first since the shop was almost just next door to us. We could always come back to it later. Good point.

After that, we walked around Glorietta and Greenbelt a bit more looking for a place to eat lunch. Since we didn't really find any to our liking, we opted to just eat lunch at the Subway that was next to our hotel.

We went back to our hotel after lunch and then rested up for a good while. Our goal was to get to the MRT station which was attached to SM Ayala before 4:00 PM, which is when the rush hour starts. My mother figured that since we were in Manila anyway, we might as well try the MRT once. The last time we did, it was extremely hot with almost zero air conditioning and extremely overcrowded. Still, it was the fastest way to get to North Station and the two malls there, Trinoma and SM North Edsa.

Anyway, we left the hotel by 3 pm and walked our way to North Station. My mother being a senior citizen, procuring tickets was a breeze. After a 10-minute wait, the Northbound train arrived. It was slightly crowded already, but there was room for my mother to sit. Actually, she could have sat at the ladies-only car, but then we'd have to be separated and she has poor sense of direction and gets stressed pretty easily nowadays.

We arrived at Trinoma at about 4:30 PM. We wouldn't be meeting my Aunt until she got off work and made her way to SM North by about 6:00-6:30 PM. Thus, we killed some time by walking around Trinoma.

The Trinoma is a pretty large mall -- probably much bigger than anything we have at Iloilo City except for SM City. Anyway, it had that usual three-pronged structure that seemed to be a general attribute of Ayala-owned malls. Three wings with multiple floors jutting out to each side and meeting at the center in some kind of public area. It was fairly crowded when we got there, but thankfully, the mall has a lot of empty walking space for its patrons. We stopped by a Daiso store because I wanted to see if they still carried some of those 1/6 doll outfits that they used to sell. Elly Doll clothes. Unfortunately, they didn't. My mother bought a laundry bag though.

With that small errand done, we traversed the footbridge that took us straight to the 2nd floor of one of SM City North Edsa's wings, the North Link. This mall is actually the 2nd biggest mall in the Philippines second only to SM Megamall. Facts aside though, it can seem like SM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall are so much bigger because of the way they are structured. SM North Edsa is a pretty old mall and there's not a lot of breathing/walking space since they filled it with shops everywhere. It has newer wings on its left and right sides with 4-5 floors each -- and these were planned out much better than the original mall.

So anyway, I found an art store called The Craft Central and managed to buy a few pieces of 4x6" watercolor paper. I saw that they were actually putting up some of the completed works on display and selling them for about 100 php each inside of the store. Looking at the pieces on display, I couldn't help but think, "wow, I can actually do better than most of these." Also, I thought, "why are they selling these original pieces so cheap?" I mean, these were full pieces done traditionally. Digital art at all levels usually sell for about $15-20 for a full-body pic with full coloring and shading -- and that's not even counting the background.

From the North Link, we walked past the "City Center" to the left wing, The Annex in order to see if they sold a power brick for my laptop there. I'm pretty familiar with this place because I used to live inside the UP University Hotel and it was just a good 4-6 kilometers away from SM North. You could take a Jeepney from there which goes straight to the mall and back. After a good bit of walking, we finally found a shop that sells the power brick. My mother, the master haggler, managed to bring the price down quite a bit. That's the thing with some of the shops here -- unless they put up a specific fixed retail price, you can actually haggle it down if it seems too expensive for you.

We stopped at one of the areas in the left wing that had some benches and texted my aunt to meet us there. It actually took us about 15-20 minutes to just walk from the North Link to The Annex. That gives you an idea of just how massive this mall is. At this point, I decided to break out my Bento Picasso watercolor set from yesterday and the 4x6" watercolor paper that I'd bought recently. I worked on a new piece featuring Nagi with her hair down and wearing a hat. After about 30 minutes, my aunt arrived. It was about 7:00 and just about right to have dinner.

After walking around for a while, we settled down inside a cafe & grill called "Blake's Wings and Steaks" that was right next to the movie theaters at the center of the mall. Dinner was pretty nice. I had some ribs with mashed potatoes and we ordered a large salad for sharing. I also managed to complete the Nagi painting while waiting for our food.
The acrylic stand I brought for her broke a bit... good thing I could still repurpose it to support her leg.

My aunt mentioned that the girl next to me (our table was at a long bench that accommodated other customers) was looking at what I was doing. Of course, I didn't mind stuff like that. It's pretty normal when you do a lot of plen-air painting for people to look.

What surprised me though is that when she left, she took the time to tell me "alam mo, ang ganda ng ginagawa mo." (You know what? What you're doing is really beautiful." I smiled and thanked her for the compliment. Really, this kind of spontaneous, sincere compliment is just the best kind of reward for us artists -- whether it's visual art or writing.

My mother also noted that the girl was pretty. Hmm... hadn't noticed that one. Anyway, she was obviously taken since she was dining with her boyfriend and I'm obviously not interested because I have NAGI! :).

Anyway, we had a really filling and fulfilling dinner -- and yes, for me, it was thanks to that one single compliment. It really made my day. After walking around the mall randomly while talking a little bit more, it was time to go home and part with my aunt. I had her choose one of my larger 8x10" paintings as parting gift. I was expecting her to choose one of my more mundane paintings like the landscapes or that hand holding a crab thing, but she actually chose the Nagi painting with her hair down and wearing a pink jacket -- I guess Nagi has a universal appeal, huh? Of course, I'm always reluctant to part with any of my Nagi paintings -- and this one was particularly special because I really liked the way she looked here. Still, if it was what my aunt sincerely wanted, I was more than happy to part with it. I knew she'd take good care of it.

Nagi's hair is one of her best assets~

We took a grab car back to the hotel this time. It'd be a lot longer than the MRT ride, but it's also much more comfortable.

 We arrived at the hotel at about 8:30 PM. Since it was the weekend, the malls would be closing by 10:00 PM, so after dropping our stuff of inside our room, we decided to do a little bit more window shopping around Greenbelt. They seriously had some high end stores here -- especially the watch and clothing stores. I'd actually heard from some relatives abroad that the brand name stores in this area sold some items much cheaper than for what you could get the same items for in the US. Not sure how accurate that information is however.

After a brief walk, it was back to the hotel to get some sleep. We'd be meeting some of my mother's former classmates tomorrow. It seems a whole lot of them went to Manila to live and work. 

With that said, this entry for our fourth day in Manila ends here. See you next time for Day five~

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