Friday, October 23, 2009

Fit4Life, Buglasan, & Balot

The reason I haven't updated lately is not because I'm too lazy, for once, but instead because nothing worthy of writing about had really happened.

Monday afternoon, my aunt took me to enroll at Fit4Life, the gym I'd wanted to enroll at since I got here. She even hired me a personal trainer for the day, and I spent two hours there working out. I really enjoyed it, and it must have intrigued her as well because the next afternoon, Tuesday, she and my mom joined me. They enrolled, and the three of us worked out with the same personal trainer. Straight after leaving the gym, my aunt and uncle took my mom and I to Buglasan (the Negros festival going on right now), and while my visited with my godmother and a few of her other childhood friends, the three of us walked around the booths.

Wednesday, my aunt, my mom, and I went to the gym again, still with the same trainer. But only after a delicious breakfast of squid, chicken intestines, and stewed pig parts! Hahaha, unfortunately, I stuck to my good ol' reliable fried rice.

We didn't work out yesterday or today, but I'm still sore! I'm really glad to be getting back into shape though. Thursday (yesterday) was a lot of fun. I accidentally lost track of time, so I wasn't ready to go to the gym when my aunt came to pick me up (my mom wasn't feeling well, so it was just going to be the two of us). It's just as well, though, because that afternoon my uncle took my mom and I to watch the Folk Dance Competition. It was so neat! I love watching people dance, and I especially love cultural dances. I didn't bring my camcorder with me to the show, but I wish I would have. It was in the evening so I didn't think there would be enough light to record, but they ended up having plenty of bright stage lights. I think my mom mentioned that we could buy the video if I want, though, so maybe I can do that. The competition was divided into two divisions: Junior and Senior. They were all so good! I personally wasn't happy with the grand prize decisions for either divisions (I can say for a fact that there had to have been some funny business going on) and it was soooo crowded (the woman sitting in front of me kept using my legs as a backrest and her obnoxious little children kept climbing all over me), but I still enjoyed it. I love the Spanish-inspired dances, and the candle dance (can't remember the name) has always been my favorite. One group performed tinikiling (the national dance, which is performed using large bamboo poles - it was awesome, and I think they should have won for the Senior division) and another group performed a bench dance (also awesome, but they only got third). There were plenty of other awesome dances as well, and I wish so badly that I would have brought my camera so I could share them here. All the same, it was fabulous. Afterward, we went to have dinner with friends of my aunt and uncle. Their children were in my debut and yesterday was the daughter's own 18th birthday, and I we were invited to dine with them. Today was pretty uneventful for the first part of the day. We were supposed to go to Buglasan at 8 am to watch another regional dance competition, but we overslept. At 2 pm, after having lunch with my uncle's parents, my uncle took my mom and I and his niece who lives next door to McDonald's to watch the parade go by. Instead of a marching band like last time, there were floats, dancers, musicians, and the Mr./Ms. of each Negros region. We didn't have good enough of a view for me to record anything, but it was fun to watch (when we could actually see!). I think my favorite part of all of this are the costumes! They're always so unique! After that, we came back home and called it a day, even though it was still early. Then, only an hour or so ago, we drove out to the Boulevard to buy some balot (balut). I won't eat the stuff, but they all love it. Bruno has been asking me every time we talk since I got here if I've tried balot yet, and today when I told him we'd be buying some (but that I wouldn't be eating it!) he asked me to record someone eating it. He wants to "learn the technique." That boy wants so badly to try that fertilized, partially developed duck egg when he visits. It's hilarious. Thanks to my mom, uncle, and cousin for allowing me to film them! :D

The final product, dissected:

This is for Bruno, moo cows!:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Santa Catalina & More

Saturday, we went to Santa Catalina to visit some relatives. It felt like such a long drive, especially because we stopped for lunch at the same cafe in Siaton that we stopped at last time and because it started raining midway through the drive. It was a really pretty drive, though, through the mountains and along the oceanside. Once we arrived, we visited my mom's cousins and other relatives who live there, and we didn't leave until it was already past nightfall. On the way home, we stopped in a city outside of Santa Catalina to see its very long boardwalk. We drove up and down the boardwalk trying to measure how long it is before finally giving up, then we drove around the city in the dark and rain looking for a restaurant before giving up on that as well. We finally made it home a little past 8 pm, and we were all exhausted.

Sunday (yesterday), my godmother flew in from somewhere in Luzon to visit us. She still had a picture I drew for her, like, forever ago. Or it feels like forever ago, at least - 2003. I was either a freshman or sophomore in high school. We visited at the house for a while, before heading downtown and stopping at McDonald's for coffee and sodas. We stayed there long enough to watch the parade for the Buglasan festival to go by and to dance with the fluffy Ronald McDonald mascot that left after the parade to dance with everyone at McDonald's. Afterward, we dropped my godmother off at her family's house, stopped back home for a few minutes, then went back downtown to watch a Dumaguete talent show they put on every Sunday this month, featuring a different school each week. We arrived late, and we had to leave early because my mom thought she dropped her wallet with her driver's license, credit cards, $100, and P500 in it. We searched everywhere, before heading home in the hopes that it was there. It was. My aunt and my mom told me we'd be going back out, since it was barely even into 6 pm at this time, but we never did. Instead, we sat at the house and visited for a while, then had dinner.

Today, it's not even 8 am yet, so nothing eventful has happened. My other aunt and I are supposed to go enroll at one of the gyms downtown today. I've been begging my mom to let me enroll since we got here, as one of my goals going on this trip is to lose weight. I guess she didn't want me going by myself or something. I'm glad to finally go. It'll give me something productive to do, instead of just sitting around the computer all day waiting for us to go somewhere.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Restaurant Hopping & the Buglasan Festival

Yesterday was a fun day. Well, it started off pretty uneventful, as the days usually do, but in the afternoon, it picked up. Around 2 pm, I went with my mom to Sans Rival to meet an old high school friend of hers. My uncle had to go into work, so he wasn't able to drive us like he usually does when we have to go somewhere. That didn't bother us, though, as we had both been wanting to ride the pedicabs. We left the house and walked down the road a little ways before we were finally able to flag down a pedicab (or rather, he flagged down us, oddly enough). We made it into town with plenty of time to spare, so we had him drop us off in front of the old historic Catholic church instead. We stopped by there, then walked to Sans Rival. Even after stopping at the church and walking the rest of the way, we were still early, so we went into a nearby boutique to look around and waste time before meeting her friend. They visited for a while and we had pastries. I had their Black Forest cake this time, which was okay. Afterward, the three of us went walking around town, shopping. We bought a few things here and there, but nothing worthy of mention. A couple of hours later, we had lunch at Bethel Guest House, where I had my debut last time I was in the Philippines. I had mashed potatoes (they weren't so great, but I'd been missing them since leaving the US) and shrimp tempura. My mom also shared some of her pancit (noodles with pork) and halo-halo (ube and mango ice cream with fresh fruits, gelatin, corn, corn flakes, and leche flan - theirs is my favorite) with me. We were there for hours as they talked. Eventually, around 7 pm or so, my aunt and uncle came to pick us up. My aunt visited with my mom and the friend for a while before the four of us parted ways with her. Afterward, we went to Why Not, a building on the boulevard owned by a Swiss guy. The building has a bakery/Swiss grocery store, a Swiss restaurant (also serving native Filipino food, pizzas, burgers, steaks, etc.), an internet cafe, a karaoke bar, and a disco (or what we would refer to as a club - no Saturday Night Fever in there, I'm sure). Anyway, we went to the Why Not restaurant (it actually had a name, but I can't remember it). We didn't order much, as my mom and I had already eaten. I was still full from our last restaurant, but I had been craving German food since arriving in Dumaguete and finding out that Swiss, German, and Austrian restaurants did in fact exist here. I had to eat something! It made me wish I hadn't even ordered anything at Bethel. My aunt ordered "Michelle's Soup of the Day," solely for the fact that it shared the same name as me:

Turns out, the soup was a broccoli soup with Parmesan cheese, which is really funny considering broccoli and cheese is my favorite kind of soup. This soup, this soup carrying my name, was made for me! We ordered bread to go with it, and it was absolutely delicious.

Since I'd already eaten, as I said, I ordered small:

Roesti, extra crispy. Bruno would have been proud. :) Okay, maybe not with the crispy part, but I'm sorry - I'm a shameless coon-ass and I like all my food burnt and extra crisp. It was delicious. I shared it with everyone else, who like it as well, and my uncle shared his plate with all of us:

He ordered the Swiss Schnitzel (with Japanese rice on the side, teehee). It was amazing.

Check out the Geschnetzeltes Zurich...try saying that one ten times fast. The tiny little Filipina waitress dressed in a Heidi outfit pronounced it for us, but had already forgotten what she's said half a second after she'd said it. Not only that, but my mom didn't trust that the waitress even knew how to say it right herself considering she's Filipino and not Swiss. I assured her that I'm sure the owner trains them how to at least pronounce the items that are on the menu.

Anyway, it was all delicious, and, as you can tell, the portions were pretty big. I mean, there was enough for all four of us to eat. Plus, there was a carrot flower with a cucumber leaf. How awesome is that? Kawaii desu. Soooo cuteeee!

Today was a bit interesting. We sat around until around 3 pm, when my aunt took my mom and I to Silliman University to have my transcripts evaluated. We were able to speak directly to the Head Registrar, an old friend of theirs, and basically what she told me is this: 1) pretty much almost none of my acquired credit hours will transfer over to Silliman, 2) it will take me about four years to get my degree there (basically, I'd be starting from scratch), and, worst of all, 3) apparently I was supposed to have gotten my transcripts evaluated at the Philippines Embassy in Washington and gotten a police clearance before I ever even left the US and came here. AWESOME. PLUS, I have to take all sorts of medical examinations and crap. It's ridiculous. My mom and I discussed it and came to the conclusion that it is way too much work and effort just to have to start all over again with my coursework. So I guess no studying abroad for me. I'm a bit disappointed because I was really hoping to take some Tagalog or Cebuano classes, but at the same time this saves me from having to make any difficult decisions. I was already having doubts about staying until March considering I'm newly engaged, my Grandma is ill in the US, I miss my family, and I feel ridiculously lonely here. Now, because of this, I'll be leaving at the end of December (what my plane ticket says; my mom was going to pay to extend it if I had to stay longer for school), without having any regrets. I don't really know what I'm going to do now, though. Part of me thinks I should go to school in Texas in the spring since I'll be back in time, but I can't really afford it. Plus, I think I'd rather be working full-time in order to save money for the wedding. I need to get my life figured out now. I know what I really want to do. I really want to go back to TCU and finish my Writing degree...without doing ROTC. The only catch is that without an ROTC scholarship, I can't afford it. I really want to wait until I can actually afford to pay for school, then go back. I told my mom that, and she thinks I should just take out a huge loan and finish school now because she thinks it will be harder for me to go back the longer I wait. I know she's right, but I'm already in way too much debt. I don't think it's a good idea to put myself into more. But enough about that. That's my personal life, and not fun and exciting Philippines trip stuff.

Anyway, later in the evening, we all (including my other aunt and her family) went to the Buglasan Festival. Tonight is the opening night, and it was very crowded. We didn't even stay very long because everyone was crammed together like sardines trying to move through the areas. It was at the same place we went before that has the huts set up for each area of the island of Negros, and there were so many people that you couldn't even hardly shop the booths in the huts! You'd wait so long to finally inch your way inside the booth, but as soon you get in you're already pushed back out the other door! It was crazy! We finally just left, but I think we'll be going back tomorrow when the crowd won't be as bad. The parade is also tomorrow, too, I think. After we left the festival, we sat in traffic for what felt like forever, then grabbed drinks at McDonald's for an hour or so, then finally made it home.