Casual Saturday


This blog entry about the events of Friday, December 31, 2004 was originally posted on January 04, 2005.

DAY 440:  On New Year’s Day 2004, I had a pretty hectic one trying to get from the bottom of Colca Canyon in southern Peru to the city of Arequipa with a Puerto Rican couple that simply had to get back in civilization right away since they were slated to be in a wedding in Lima the following day.  It was a crazy day of trekking, waiting, and organizing any sort of transport we could on a day when the public buses weren’t running like people said they would.

New Year’s Day 2005 wouldn’t be half as chaotic, or even a third; it would be a casual and laid back one to rest and recuperate from the festivities the night before, and to visit more relatives.

AFTER A LAZY SATURDAY MORNING OF TELEVISION and surfing the internet, my uncle, cousins and I hopped in the car to go to my father’s hometown, Malabon, not too far away from Manila, to visit my Tita Sedy.  It was a casual lunchtime family gathering of Filipino food, English conversation (so that my relatives could practice), and my little second cousins A.C., Trisha and Aaron running around as kids do, with toy swords, the Spider-Man mask, and a mask of Skelator from He-Man.  It was great to see my aunt again, an old teacher and author of numerous biology textbooks; she was thrilled to see me healthy and writing as well.

After a group photo, we left Malabon to continue our casual first day of 2005.  It was just like any other day, except things were a bit different because of the events of the night before.  Suddenly the big billboards on the highway of actress/model Giselle Toengi had a new significance, and now I was really into the Filipino rock scene.  We went off to the shopping center in Greenhills to shop for music CDs and bootleg DVDs, but they were closed for the holiday.  Instead we head back over to where we celebrated the night before, the affluent neighborhood of Makati.

MANILA IS A HUGE METROPOLIS OF THE OLD AND THE NEW, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Like many of the world cities I’ve seen, it is where poverty is juxtaposed to the super rich, sometimes abruptly without any transition.  One minute you’re driving through the slums and the next you’re in a ritzy neighborhood of luxury hi-rises

Makati is such the ritzy neighborhood and is definitely the “Madison Avenue” in Let’s Go‘s “Malay, Madrid, and Madison Avenue” description of the Philippines.  If “Hong Kong” was in that description, it would be that too; an upscale commercial and residential district, it is where HSBC’s skyscraper stands amidst other post-modern financial office buildings, where Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss grace the marble floors of the numerous upscale shopping malls, most connected to each other by covered walkways.  It is where all the international restaurants are, from the Hard Rock Cafe: Manila to the Manila’s branch of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., as well as the standard that should go without say, Starbucks, situated in a nice open-air courtyard that reminded me of Miami’s Coconut Grove (picture above).

“Not here, this is Makati,” my uncle told JayPee when he was about to put on the Spider-Man mask again.  The gag was getting stale anyway, and so he put it away.

“Spider-Man is retired,” Judiel said.

JayPee went off to meet his girlfriend in the first mall as his normal mild-mannered self, leaving the rest of us to casually walk around amongst the other people relaxing after the night of New Year’s Eve.  Jessica bought a new book to read since she was almost done with Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, and Joey and Judiel helped me find the CD of Bamboo, the headlining act at the concert the night before — it wasn’t so easy to find since some stores had it sold out. 

The casual first day of 2005 ended with a casual dinner at the local branch of California Pizza Kitchen, for Peking Duck and Garlic Shrimp Pizzas and bottles of S.M.B. (San Miguel Beer), an acronym I didn’t make up; “SMB” posters and flyers are seen all over the Philippines.  Nothing really exciting happened after that; we simply went back home and vegged, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  With 364 days left in the year, there was still plenty of time to do stuff later on.


Next entry: Quoth The Cousin

Previous entry: Peter Parker’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve

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Comments for “Casual Saturday”

  • OMG Erik, have you seen or been to Rockwell Mall?  That place is so high class and chi-chi that Short Hills Mall or 5th Ave has nothing on Rockwell!

    The pic above looks like Greenbelt, right?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  01:08 PM

  • STEPHANIE:  Is that the one adjacent to Glorietta in Makati?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  02:44 PM

  • Yup, I believe Greenbelt is next to Glorietta.

    What’s your itinerary? Everytime I think of something or some mission, you’ve been at that location already!

    Since you’re not at Boracay yet, here are a few for Boracay…see the bats, go to Puka Beach, Crystal Cove Island and take a picture of, or with, Jinggoy (hope he’s still there at Crystal Cove). I believe you can take one of those boat tours to cover all those places which lasts about 7 hours -and you can snorkel on that tour as well. It’s about less than $10 for the 7 or so hours and they cook you lunch!  You need to book it at least one day ahead so that they can go to the market and buy fresh food to cook.  Also, relax a bit from your journey and enjoy the sunsets!!!  Ooohhh, even better if you get one of those beach massages.  It’s an HOUR…on THE BEACH…for less than $10.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  02:59 PM

  • STEPHANIE:  Yeah, I’ll be doing a whole Visayan thing… Boracay, then the Kalibo festival, some scuba diving and hopefully some climbing…. possibly trekking the Chocolate Hills too…  I’m psyched to actually SEE the Philippines this time, instead of just seeing relatives.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  03:17 PM

  • Great entries, looking forward to more.  I am going to forward the Spider-man entry to my nephew….he will love the pictures (he’s 6)....

    I received the Vietnam postcard today…Thanks Erik, it is up next to the Nepal post card on my fridge!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  09:43 PM

  • I went to the Chicago Pizza Kitchen in Paris. It was very peculiar.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  09:52 PM

  • I am casting my vote to elect Lisa & Rose as representatives for Canada in New York City March 5th.  Liz, do you second that motion?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  02:23 AM

  • March 5th - Canadians in the City…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  12:19 PM

  • Wow, yes, please… come on down from Canada, eh?  For the going away party, friends flew in from Colorado and Miami…  It’d be great to get some international representation!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  01:58 PM

  • No dout aboot it!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  03:41 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
Quoth The Cousin

Previous entry:
Peter Parker’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve


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