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Written on: Saturday December 29th, 2007

A journal entry from: ASIA PART II

Tandang Sora, Quezon City

Cortez Residence 

Christmas in the Philippines without snow was different to say the least. Although similarities include sumptuous feasts and malls jam packed with frantic shoppers. I can't really say that my mood has been festive. In fact, far from it. I have neglected my Christmas obligations and continue to eat myself into an oblivion. It's called Manila Mode and it entails 'The Manila Stroll' and countless siestas throughout the day. A pace unhurried and a completely relaxed temperament is how I can describe your typical Filipino here. After my brother Dennis arrived, I was knocked out for a day, confined to my bed in a febrile and delirious state, but I quickly recovered the next day and fell back into good ol' Manila Mode.

Surprisingly woke up Christmas morning to a little less than the usual hubbub of the Cartimar. The unusual tranquil morning did not last for long as the children have started again with their noisemakers and firecrackers. Spent the day visiting family in the Baclaran and made the rounds spreading our Christmas cheer. The food invitations were non-stop and by the end of the day we were all regretful of our gluttonous behavior.

We took a day trip out to Tagaytay Highlands, an exclusive country club perched on a cliff overlooking Mount Taal. A nice family getaway out to the province and a breath of fresh from the big city smog. The distance is only 60 km from Manila, but the drive takes nearly 2 1/2hrs with thanks to the traffic. The ride home was tight with nine others in our mid-size SUV, cramped and exhausted from the afternoon heat we sat propped up against each other. We paused along the way and visited my grandmother at the cemetery and we paid our respects to our other loved ones lain beside her. There we are reminded of the family drama and the iniquitousness that prevails in our world. It was an eerie feeling finding out that her headstone refuses to mount after all these years... May you rest in peace Lola.

The remainder of the ride home was peaceful except for the countless number of touts and beggars knocking at your window soliciting your attention and selling the most bewildering items from cigarettes, snacks and gum to remote controls, giant fuzzy party dice and yes, even those silly caps with a multi-colored umbrella attached to the top. Just in case people... Just in case!?!

On that note Merry Christmas everyone! Sending the warmest of wishes and hoping that the holidays are restful. Hope everyone is taking care. Lots of love and loads of kisses ;)