18 Mar 2014

Boracay and Metro Manila, The Philippines

After a long 15 years away from my Mother's home town. I finally returned with my Mother and sister to be reunited with my family.

After a long flight we arrived in Manila. After a quick change of clothes in the airport, we were greeted by two of my aunts and a minibus to fit the 7 of us in. As we went in July/August, it was indeed typhoon season and I was astounded by the amount of rain, on the drive to my Tatay's condo (Tatay is tagalog for Dad, he believed that 'Grandpa' made him sound old), I saw multiple people in boats rowing down the flooded streets. Unbelievable!

The next morning we returned to the airport to catch our flight to Boracay. Even in typhoon season Boracay is absolutely beautiful! We were staying in a hotel called the 'Surfside Resort'. Potentially one of the most unconventional hotels I have ever stayed in. Rather than the rooms being all in one building, they were all separate, almost like little villas. On arrival we received multiple 'Surfside' keyrings and a fruity beverage. More than ideal! The hotel was located on a sandy strip lined with palm trees and quirky shops, bars, restaurants and clubs. If that wasn't enough the hotel lead straight out to the blue sea and white sand.

The island offers a variety of activities including helmet diving, jet skiing, driving buggies around the island, zip lining and even wind surfing. The buggies were by far my favourite. We were provided with guides to show us round the island and show us various landmarks, including an amazing tiny zoo. The people who ran the zoo were an American family and could not be more fantastic! They answered every stupid question we had and they allowed us to hold birds and even a baby crocodile. After about an hour and a half at the zoo we jumped back in our buggies and headed up to the zipline, where my sister and cousin zipped over the top of a forest.

My most memorable experience of Boracay, without question was the night that started off with a few quiet family drinks in a classy bar called 'Epic'. After 1 or 4 cocktails, my youngest Aunt (Me-An), my cousin, sister and I were buzzing. So whilst my Mum and my other 2 aunts headed back to the hotel to check up on Tatay, we headed to a shisha bar called Bom Bom/ Pat's Bar. With good shisha, chilled drinks and live acoustic music; we could not have asked for a better bar. We stayed until closing time. Even then we weren't ready to go home! We walked for about a mile and stumbled across a buzzing club called Club Paraw. After we prevented my cousin Sean from drinking a spiked drink given to him by a gay filipino man, we decided it was time to leave. And just as we stepped outside, the heavens opened. After waiting for 20 minutes with no sign of the rain letting up, we decided to toughen up and brave the storm. Literally. After about 10 minutes of walking and not even a quarter of the way home, the thunder and lightening commenced. Eventually, we arrived back at the hotel drenched to the bone and I was in the best mood I had been in for months.

After 5 days in Boracay we returned to Metro Manila back to Tatay's condo. Over the 11 days, we took a short trip to Tagaytay, staying in a beautiful house located on the side of a volcano (our activities mainly consisted of drunken karaoke). Back in Manila we went to various shopping malls (broke down in a typhoon on the way home and had to change a tyre on the side of the road), lounged by the pool, watched the Olympics and had some much needed family time with cousins, aunts, uncles and obviously Tatay.
The Dela Cruz family reunited!

Some more of my favourite photos from this trip.

First day in Boracay!

Meeting my cousin Ava for the first time

One of the drunken karaoke nights. My Auntie Gigi on the left and Mother on the right

The insane floods and some nutter trying to cycle through it.

The majority of my cousins

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