February 19 – 20, 2012
If you will only consider how much Shanghai has changed over the years. Everything, everything has changed and changed again. There are parts of this city I once knew so well, places I would walk every day, I now go there and I know not which way to turn. Change, change all the time.
That is a spot-on description of Shanghai, a city that’s dynamic almost to a fault, by a Shanghainese character in a Kazuo Ishiguro novel. Although the fictional story is set in 1930s Shanghai, the observation holds true in real life, today. Blink and you will find the skyline altered, your old neighborhood replaced by a pocket development. When I lived there, there were only three metro lines. A decade later, the number would rise to a staggering 14. Continue reading
Puerto Princesa City, the Philippines
March 24 – 26, 2013
Our airport shuttle had traversed the narrow width of Palawan, yet we were still within Puerto Princesa, the Philippines’ second largest city in area. Right smack between the city’s eastern and western coastlines are picturesque limestone mountains, one of which is Cleopatra’s Needle. According to my brother who had previously worked in Palawan, the mountain was originally called Cleopatra’s Nipple – its summit does look like a pointy teat - but local people felt squeamish saying it. I never knew if that was just a joke; at least he got a chuckle out of my mother.
Sabang Beach @ Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, Palawan
At the end of a two-hour drive through zigzagging highways over Cleopatra’s bosom, we were welcomed by the aquamarine vista of the South China Sea to Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort. The swoosh of foam-crested waves lazily lapping the shore summoned us to make a beeline for the beach.
February 24 – 25, 2013
“Why Nepal?” I had been asked too many times before my trip. I would give a terse reply, “Everest,” name-dropping the world’s highest mountain in the hopes of eliciting at least a streak of recognition on people’s faces. Instead, I was met by quizzical looks. Even at the Air Asia check-in counter in Kuala Lumpur, the airport staff confirmed my destination by asking, “Are you sure?” I wondered if I should’ve taken it as a last-minute escape clause.
The Himalayas at First Sight
Dumaguete City, the Philippines
June 24 – 26, 2011
“I’m back here in familiar ground,” my father waxed nostalgic in a letter to his “dear Kid,” an endearment for my mother.
The year was 1961. Theirs was a young family, but Dad’s peripatetic job led him back to Dumaguete and his college haunts in Silliman University, where he had received his Associate in Arts degree almost ten years before. Despite the hassles of earning a living on the road, they faithfully corresponded through weekly missives; his were imbued with a romantic remembrance of his collegiate days. After all, it was in the acacia-canopied campus that my father would find the two great loves of his life.
Poliquit Family Photo (by Ki) @ Silliman Hall with Dr. Horace Silliman’s Bust
Shortly after his death at 79, my friend Ki took me on a trip that turned into a sentimental journey for my family as we traced my father’s footsteps in Silliman to get (re)acquainted with the young man that we would eventually know as a loving husband and father. Continue reading
Corregidor Island, Cavite City, the Philippines
February 11, 2012
Corregidor Island: Mom, Are you Looking for Bond?
During the American occupation, Corregidor Island went by the name Fort Mills or, simply “the Rock,” a moniker that connotes more than a dash of testosterone. The sperm-shaped island seemingly swims at the mouth of Manila Bay between the Bataan Peninsula and Cavite, the province that holds jurisdiction over it. Fortified by the country’s colonists, the rocky island lies at a strategic point that guards one of the finest natural harbors in the world and the city of Manila, about 16 miles within the bay. Belligerent superpowers, the US and Japan, took turns in seizing control of the Rock through two battles that bookended WW2 in the Philippines.
Manila, the Philippines
January 21, 2012
Dancing dragons seemed to have taken leave. In their wake, fruit sprouted by the sidewalk. Tied on red ribbons, they festooned the length of Quentin Paredes Street in Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown. It was my first Chinese New Year in their turf, and I had not expected to see a virtual orchard.
Chinese New Year @ Binondo, Manila
San Pablo City, Laguna, the Philippines
November 11 – 13, 2011
San Pablo City may have its share of urban woes, both vehicular and human traffic choking its narrow two-lane streets, but within city limits a parallel universe exists. Two B&Bs in sprawling tree-dotted enclaves have become pockets of peace far removed from the bustle of the city just beyond their gates.
Casa San Pablo, Laguna