Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Max in the Philippines... Classic... Part 1

My little brother, Max, came to the Philippines for a visit. Amid the earthquakes, tsunamis, and radiation scares my over protective parents let my 15-year-old brother fly half way across the world on his own. I'm very proud of them. I could actually hear them growing as parents over the phone, or perhaps that was their nervous sobs, I couldn't really tell a difference.

Max came to stay for about 10 days. I was thinking about the last time I spent a solid ten days with my little brother... Family vacation, Hawaii, Christmas, 2006, and I did live with him for the first seven years of his life. Of course I've gone home to visit my parents for weeks at a time, but I don't recall seeing him much between his cross country, football, basketball, and track meets, he's a pretty busy guy. So when I think of my brother, I tend to remember him as his eight year old self. So you can imagine my surprise when he gets off the plane and I confuse him with Justin Beiber. (To be fair, I wasn't the only one. Apparently, Filipinos have also caught the "Beiber Fever.") I kept staring at him thinking... I don't remember him looking like that. And then there's the fact that he talks more than just about anyone I've ever met, and uses a vocabulary that I don't entirely understand, which just make me feel old.

So I had ten days to spend with my little brother, and since he is the only person in my family to visit me in the Philippines... even though we've been here for two years, and even though I've tried my damnedest to guilt people into coming, he's the only one that made it... so I wanted to make sure we got to do as much as possible. (And make everyone else super jealous :p )

Day one I took him to Tunasan, to meet my favorite little kids. He brought with him sidewalk chalk, kaleidoscopes, rubix cubes, and princess crowns, needless to say he was an instant hit.

He also brought with him a suitcase full of his, and some of his friends, old running shoes complete with new socks, new shoe laces and new insoles, not to mention a few basketball jerseys he had out grown. The volunteers at the center were almost speechless.

Center Volunteers: Wow, some of these shoes, they look like they've hardly been used.

Me: Hmm...yeah... well, you know... kids... they grown so fast. (Pause...) Well, that's not entirely true, they are also very spoiled.

After a couple hours of playing with the kids we got back in the car to head to Manila.

Me: So, Max, what did you think?

Max: That was awesome. They're so cute. It really makes you realize what all we take for granted in the states.

And that was it. We could have not done another thing the rest of the time and my "Max in the Philippines" mission would have been a success.


The next three days were spent in Donsol, where we were to swim with the whale sharks. (Something I should have just kept to myself, and not told my mother because I know she just kept replaying a reel of the "golden child" being swallowed by a large fish over and over again in her head.)

We survived...

... despite some close encounters with giant mouths, head on collisions with other snorkelers, and more than a few flippers to the face.

Lee: I just got nailed in the head! I was swimming after the whale shark... trying to get a picture... and all of sudden... WHACK! I get smacked in the face with a flipper! And the lady that kicked me was wearing a thong!!

Me: hahahaha

Lee: What did you do this weekend? Oh, you know... got kicked in the head by a lady with her swimsuit up her butt! God!

Me: hahahaha

Max: Classic.


We also went shrimping with local fisherman one night, which inspired Max to say in his best Bubba voice from Forrest Gump, "I know every thing there is to know 'bout the shrimpin' business..." He said this every time he heard the word shrimp, or anything having to do with shrimp, we probably heard it 100 times in 24 hours. That didn't get old at all...


Some of my other favorite pictures from the weekend include...

"The Giant and the Dwarf," taken at the Cagsaua Church which was once burned by the Dutch in 1636, rebuilt in 1724, and then buried by the Mayon volcano when it erupted in 1814.

If it wasn't so cloudy you would be able to see the Mayon volcano in the background... bummer.

"The Giant and the Dwarf II," Max's first ride in a tricycle... they were pretty squished.

There was no room for me, I had to sit behind the driver.

"When in the Philippines, do as the Filipinos do," Max one on one against one of the local neighborhood boys.

And he played barefoot, in true Filipino fashion.

Part 2 coming soon...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's Normal Anyway?

I just got attacked by a 4 inch centipede while in the shower.... (centipede? ... millipede? I don't know. It was snake like, but with legs... lots of legs.)

I was in the middle of a particularly sudsy shampoo... when I feel something smack against my foot.

I think... "wow... I really hope that wasn't a clump of hair... My head can't afford to lose that much hair in one shower."

Then it dawns on me... it's squirming... hair doesn't squirm...

I peer through the bubbles to see a huge centipede/millipede clutching my foot like a life raft.

But that's not the crazy part... the crazy part is that I didn't freak out...

I didn't scream.

I didn't jump up and down.

I didn't run out of the shower.

And I didn't slip, fall, and bust my bum.

I brushed him off. Like he was nothing, like it was normal to have an encounter with an invertebrate while in the shower. Then, I watched him crawl away underneath the shower door.

What's. wrong. with. me?

My 15-year-old brother arrives from the states in 4 hours. I can't wait for him to be here. I'm looking forward to him seeing all this, experiencing this place, and to remind me what's normal. But then again, what's normal anyway?

PS - This was supposed to be a tweet. But then I couldn't remember my password. And then it was longer than 140 characters. I think I'll just quit trying to be a tweeter.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Top Three Things I saw Last Weekend

So now that the toll road is complete and I don't have to stop off in Sto. Tomas a couple times a week, I am witness to far less amusing things. Sto. Tomas is the home of the infamous water blowing lady... also the home of quite possibly the only Filipino in the country who sports dreadlocks. Best part about that guy?

He wore pants with the butt cut out.


The whole ass was cut from his jeans and you could see his bare bum. He seemed to think this was perfectly normal.

So as much as I don't miss the traffic and the wasted time in Sto. Tomas, I do miss the fact that I never knew who I would see.

Well, last weekend we went to Catalagan and although I didn't see anything as exciting as a butt baring Filipino I did see three things I've never seen before.

#3. A cockroach the size of a mouse.

This is not a joke. And no, this is not an exaggeration.
I was laying in bed, watching TV in our hotel room, feeling sorry for myself about how bad I was feeling, when in the dark, I something scurry across the room.

That's a mouse... definitely as mouse...

I sat up...

I looked closer...

Holy #%$!

That's a cockroach!!

The biggest cockroach in the history of cockroaches!!

I jumped up, flipped on the light and grabbed Lee's flip flop. (Not my first choice of weaponry when dealing with a cockroach of massive proportions...)

After finding the courage to get off the bed I chased the damn thing around the room, under the table and behind chairs, when suddenly he turned and ran straight at me.


It was terrifying.

I threw the flip flop at him... I missed...

He promptly turned around and slipped through the crack under the door.

I grabbed a towel and shoved it behind the door closing off the crack. Problem. Solved.

2 hours later...

Lee walks in.

Lee: Hey... why is my towel shoved under the door?

Me: (Half asleep) - Attacked.... by cockroach... size of mouse.

Lee: Sweet...


#2. Testicles the size of coconuts.

This is not a joke, and no I'm not exaggerating.
Lee and I were just getting over our excitement from the "#1 best thing" we saw this weekend, when we came upon the pig with his bum in the air, flashing his giant cojones for all passer-bys to see.

Me: OMG!

Lee: What?

Me: Those! Their huge!

Lee: What?!

Me: Balls! The size of coconuts! Big coconuts!

Lee: Where's the camera?!

Me: It's too late... That. Was crazy.


Later... at dinner with about ten new friends we met that morning...

Lee: What was that other funny thing we saw today?

Me: Umm... I don't know.

Lee: Yes, you do. It was so funny. What was it?

Me: *Shaking my head* Uh -huh

Lee: Do you remember?

Me: *Through gritted teeth* Inappropriate... in-a-ppro-pri-ate...

Lee: Oooohh ha!

New friends: Wait, what was it?

Lee: Tell them.

Me: It was nothing...

New friends: No you have to tell us, what did you see?

Me: A pig... with umm... really big... umm... the biggest I've ever seen... balls. A pig with giant balls, the size of coconuts.


Yeah, very funny.


#1. Cow in a Tricycle

Now, I've seen chickens, I've seen a small goat, I've even counted 9 people in a tricycle, but I have NEVER seen a full grown cow in a tricycle.

The best part is the front view, which I couldn't get a picture of...

His whole neck and face was smashed into the windshield of the tricycle. How they got him in there I'll never know... or how they got him out...

Also, please note how everyone is driving on both sides of the road... classic Philippine driving.

Lee: How slow do you have to be going for a tricycle, with a cow in it, to pass you?

Excellent point.