Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 1st and 2nd: Traveling to the Philippines

Dear Pinoy Jeep Followers,

First of all, I apologize for the delay. I wrote this article two weeks ago, but I couldn't get internet until now. I'll try to post pictures and update the photos more often, but it may take a little while. Just be patient and know I'm still around! Thanks everyone for your support! :) 

The time is 3:30 am Philippine time, and not surprisingly, I'm wide awake. For the past two days, we have been traveling from our hometown in Boston, Massachusetts to Manila, the capital of the Philippines and the beginning of our long, three-week journey. 

With the Ates (Angela, Luz, and Riandra) at Boston Logan Airport
Our flight from the Boston Logan Airport was at 10:15 am, however, all of us were expected to arrive at the airport at 7:00 am. Eight hours before this, (meaning at 11pm the night of our flight) I was getting ready to leave my home in Stamford, Connecticut and make the three and a half hour drive to Boston. We arrived at 4:00 am, three hours earlier than the 7:00 am assembly time for the rest of the group. But hey, time flies when you're half a sleep belting out to oldies but goodies songs for three hours with dad while at the airport terminal just to keep ourselves awake. And when you've got butterflies in your stomach because you're just so excited for the trip, yes, time really flies wicked fast.  

By 7:00 am, everyone from our group of almost 50 was there dressed in our blue and white Rondalla uniforms. By about 8:30 am, we were all set for our first flight, which would take us to Chicago. The flight took a mere two hours, relatively short compared to the 15 hour flight we would be taking from Chicago to Hong Kong. 

The flight to Hong Kong was definitely brutal. Luckily, though, Cathay Pacific's abundance of games, tv shows, and movies from the little, bright TV box each one of us had seemed to keep everyone entertained for at least most of the flight. I think my seatmate, Nolen, would agree after playing for three hours a virtual game of battleship and Poker with Aaron, sitting three two seats across us. Several times, we experienced turbulence...with big ones while crossing the Alaskan peninsula into the north Pacific and another south of Okinawa, Japan. Once in a while a cart serving drinks and food would come by. With the 12 hour difference, though, we were continuously chasing the sun. We couldn't tell whether we were eating lunch, dinner or a midnight snack, but we ate all the meals anyway. Nathan even had a number of noodles specially cooked in-between meals. Eventually, after watching a marathon of Big Bang, Modern Family, community, and a Japanese variety show, I was so worn out, jet-lagged and stiff that sleep came easy to refresh my tired body. Luckily, when I woke up (after 6 hours of sleep) we were already on our descent to Hong Kong. Only two more hours before we reach our final destination -- Manila, Philippines!

Wearing a sampaguita lei given out by DOT
At Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Once we arrived at the Manila (Ninoy Aquino) International Airport, we were greeted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) official and a horde of Channels 2, 5 and 7! The DOT generously gave each of us the traditional necklaces made of sampaguita (jasmine) flowers, the national flower of the Philippines. Even our own Christi-Anne Castro was interviewed as we exited the airport. We were like superstars with our own paparazzi trailing our backs.

At the moment, I am stretched on the hotel bed. My aunts who came to welcome us just left, and my parents are getting ready to sleep. In the other rooms, my friends are probably doing the same. Next door is Resorts World, an entertainment complex where we will be having our first full-blown performance in the Philippines. Later this afternoon, we'll be meeting the President of the Philippines, Pres. Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino, Jr., at Malacanang Palace. In the afternoon, we'll have our first practice for our first performance at Resorts World. It's unbelievable how far we've come and how much more we still have to go. 

Sierra Jamir

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