Wednesday, March 01, 2006

An Island Paradise

I know that it's been a long time since I posted but there hasn't been much to write about really apart from what I'm about to describe. I suppose it would be interesting to describe the political situation out here which is completely crazy at the moment but I don't know how safe it would be as freedom of speech isn't so great out here at the moment since the National State of Emergency was declared. Anyway, I'm sure you're much more interested to hear about my vacation when my sister Clare came to visit me for six days. It was so nice of her to come 7000 miles from London to Manila for such a short time but we both had such a great time and she didn't seem to be affected by jet lag at all really

She arrived on Saturday night and Fr Allan took me to the airport to pick her up. From there we went straight to our hotel, the Mabuhay Manor, in the city centre, close to the Roxas Boulevard. It was a lovely hotel, very comfortable with a very spacious room. The next day my friend Glenn came to accompany us around Manila. We had planned on going to mass at San Agustin church, the only remaining colonial Spanish church in Intramuros (within the walls) the old city of Manila. There were so many churches there before but most of Intramuros was destroyed by bombing in WW2. However, when we arrived I realised that the church is not a parish so only has three masses on Sunday, two in the morning and one in the evening. As we had missed the two morning masses we just went to the excellent musueum next to the Church that has the largest collection of Philippine antiques in the country, religious and civil. From there we went on to Makati, the fancy financial district and went to an Indian restaurant for lunch. Now, those of you who haven't been to the Philippines won't realise how rare Indian food is in this country. That one mall is the only place in the whole country where I have seen an Indian restaurant. And if you know British people, you know that we love Indian food. Indian food is more popular in the UK now than British food. Anyway, after that we went to stay with the Dominican sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in St. James Academy, Malabon City.

The next morning we came to Navotas to let my sister see what it is like where I live here. We had lunch in the parish and after that we went straight to the airport to go to Boracay. Boracay island is the no.1 holiday destination in the Philippines. It combines world class white sand beaches with all the stores and restaurants anybody could want. It's a very sophisticated and beautiful place where you can see people from all over the world. That is really rare in this country where there are practically no foreigners at all. To get there we took a flight from Manila to a placed called Kalibo, in Aklan province, Visayas. We went on a package tour so everything was arranged for us and it was very easy. From there we were picked up by our tour agency which held up a sign with my name on at Kalibo airport. We were taken on a bus for two hours to Caticlan where our resort, which had its own boat, picked us up and took us straight to our resort on the island. We stayed at Club Panoly, one of the best resorts which has a private beach, swimming pool, two restaurants, a cafe and a spa. It's very big with two kinds of accomodation: one kind is a high rise hotel and the other kind is single rooms in the style of native huts but with nice Western interiors! We had a wonderful time there and both of us couldn't believe how beautiful it was, we never thought that we would get to go somewhere like this in our lifetimes and especially for me at such a young age. The beach was so big but the whole day there were only about six people on it. I have to thank the Philippines for that. To see more of Club Panoly click on the link above. Remember you can click on the photos which will open a new window so that you can see them full-size.

In Christ through Mary,

Me on the beach

My sister and I by the pool