Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 42 - Lolo's 80th Birthday Party

Today I got to celebrate the 80th birthday of my friend Marvin's Lolo (grandfather). It was nice being included in a family celebration, even though no one really knew who I was.

We headed to the city of Batangas early in the morning so we could dodge the traffic of Metro Manila. There were so many toll roads to get there! I think you have to pay everytime you use one of the highways in the area, so we stopped at many tollbooths to collect tickets, and pay the fares.

We got there around late morning and I was introduced to everyone. They were all very friendly and made me feel at home. Again, it's times like these that make me miss home. I was just reminded of the family parties I would go to at my aunt's house whenever there was a holiday or big birthday celebration. Everyone was loud and raucous, just like my relatives at family functions.

Even though it was morning and I had already had a McDonald's breakfast, we started eating some of the food that was cooked. At these parties, food is eaten all throughout the day, with a siesta in the afternoon. I don't remember most of the names of what I ate, but I had some pancit, pig intestines, pig knuckles, pork rinds, and some other noodle dish...

After the first meal of the party, the karaoke machine was brought out – the same kind that I saw in Boracay, and all the grandchildren gathered around to use the machine. Marvin says that once the uncles get drunk in the afternoon, they take over the karaoke machine with their offtune renditions of various Filipino and English songs.

After lunch, we all sang 'Happy Birthday' to the man of the hour before the presentation of gifts from the Balikbayan Box. Some of the family members had just returned from a trip to the East Coast of the United States and brought back a Balikbayan box full of goodies for family members and the neighbors. Most of the stuff that was given to the grandchildren were clothing. Some of the other stuff I saw in the box was sponges and some bath products. I was a little confused why there were sponges in there. I would have thought that the Philippines would have their own high quality sponges to use, for cheaper than you could find in the states. Marvin didn't have a clue why sponges were brought back, but explained that the Balikbayan box is just a tradition that most Filipinos follow to bring things back for their neighbors and family members when they go on a trip.

Marvin and I took a bus back to Manila in the afternoon and decided to grab some dessert and a small snack at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati. The significance of this hotel was that it the location of the last attempted coup to oust the President at the time (November 29, 2007). Muntineers took control of the second floor of the hotel for several hours, before surrendering to governmental forces. Reporters were subsequently arrested during the action because they hindered the ability of the government to control the coup. There is a sort of reporter responsibility, and I wonder if there is anything written about that. Free and unbiased reporting, but not in a way that would hinder one's or another group's efforts?

Later on at night, Benny and I met at another CS event, only to see Sharapova lose at Wimbledon (sadness!). I met a couple of new CS friends there as well. They were all just testing it out for the first time, and I hope I inspired them to start travelling too! We all headed to another club in the city of Malate to end the night, drunk and happy.

Karaoke before the Uncle Take-Over

A Variation of Pancit with Thick Noodles

Drunk Tito Karaoke Take-Over!

Singing Happy Birthday to Lolo (with his Beautiful Lola)

A Picture with Lolo

Halo Halo Dessert - I thought it was too sweet for my tastebuds

Peninsula Hotel Makati

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