The Full Story: Part 1-3

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by mountainexplorer, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. mountainexplorer

    mountainexplorer 1/2 ton status

    Nov 14, 2001
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    Spokane, Wa./Ione, Wa
    I started writing a short story and it got out of hand. But it pretty much sums up my entire trip in detail. So those of you that are bored can start reading part one, two or three. If you like stories with a twist at the ending, you may want to read this. I'd rather have not had the twist happen, but it did. The twist isn't until part 6.

    For additional pictures that apply to the story, I posted a bunch in a thread earlier here in the lounge.

    I. The Long Journey Abroad

    It was a mad rush to be ready at 4:00 the next morning. My plans to take care of last minute business foiled by the time wasted when my tire and wheel flew off the car trailer. But with the help of friends, I got back home in time to square things away and we all got to the Spokane airport on time early in the morning of February 28th, 2006.

    There was my mom and her boyfriend Mike, my mom’s best friend Leonora and her husband Dave, my grandpa and myself all boarding a flight beginning our trip to the Philippines. I hadn’t been there since 1985, when I was about four years old. I had nothing but a few slightly clear memories in my mind from 21 years before. The first leg of our journey was from Spokane to Los Angeles, then from Los Angeles to Seoul, Korea.

    I felt sorry for the girl in the plane who sat in front of my grandpa for the 14 hour flight across the Pacific Ocean. My grandpa, very restless and at times forgetting where he was, would constantly grab the seat in front of him and pull to get up and walk to the restrooms on the 747. Half the time, he started wandering up the isle, not needing to use the bathroom, but wanting to find the door to leave. I had to have my mom tell him in Philippino that we were on and airplane and he couldn’t just leave. And then I’d guide him back to his seat, where he’d grab the seatback in front of him scaring or waking up the girl sitting in it. Once he picked up his shoes and put them in his hand and grabbed the seat in front of him again to get up, and there she had two shoes swung into her face. Like her, my grandpa was glad when the trip was over.

    At the Incheon International Airport in Seoul, Korea, we all had some time to sit and wait for our final connecting flight to Manila. Leonora listened to her Kenny Roger’s music on her iPod; I wandered around with Dave looking for compatible plug-ins to work with my laptop; and my grandpa walked around and rested some and got in a better mood. The final flight to Manila was just under 4 hours. We arrived at about midnight local time and got our luggage rounded up. One step out of the airport building and I was sweating. That sort of heat that comes at you from all angles, and the more you sweat it doesn’t help you cool off any; and this was the middle of the night.

    We had two vans pick us and our luggage up, accompanied by my aunt Rosita and uncle Esteban, and their oldest son and youngest daughter; my cousin’s Alden (27 yrs old) and Irishlyne (17 yrs old). Alden was named after my dad soon after my mom and dad were married in 1979. Luckily the vans had air conditioning. I rode with my aunt Rosita and cousin Irishlyne and Alden in one van, and the rest of our group were in the 1st van. Not having had slept much the day before our flights or during the flights, I was tired and the 6-hour drive didn’t look appealing.

    From the flights, lack of rest, and rough roads, I wasn’t feeling too well. I finally was able to doze off in the back seat of the van for a majority of the drive… often waking up and falling asleep again. As the sun began to rise, we were approaching the mountainous city of Baguio winding up the steep roads leading to the city of the Pines.

    The city was bustling with morning traffic. Jeepneys and people lined the streets and we wound our way to Quirino Hill, where our house was. I got up and videotaped despite having a headache and watched my surroundings as we found our way to our house. As we drove up the side-hilled, narrow street, we came to a steel walk-in gate with “Lundberg Residence” written into the face. We unloaded our belongings and the vans left as we began to settle in. Morning light shone over Baguio City as we stood on the front porch. This is a town of many people, built in the mountains of the Philippines; often referred to as the vacation capitol of the country.

    Our Gate

    Baguio City

    II. Somewhere New

    The woodwork floor and paneling of the house was beautiful as was the terrace porch. The house may not be a huge mansion by US standards, but my mom did create and very nice house built onto the small hilly piece of land. Pictures of my dad, mom and me hung on the wall as they had hung in the house since 1995 even though my dad never did make it to see the house, and this was my first time. Atop the stairway yielded 3 bedrooms and another veranda overlooking Baguio City.

    My mom and Mike stayed in the master bedroom, and we gave Dave and Leonora the rooms referred to as “Allan’s bedroom”. I stayed in the smaller 3rd bedroom on that floor of the house. Everyone else, including my grandpa stayed in the two smaller rooms on the main floor. Alden and I ran into town to find a plug in adapter and to get some meat. We hopped on a Jeepney and rode down into town. The plug in adapter cost about 42 pesos, which was less than a dollar. The current equivalency is approximately 52 Philippine Pesos per US Dollar.

    I showed a few 4x4 and other videos on the laptop computer and on TV using VHS tapes. We ate and got settled in and used to our surroundings and how things work. Water is on every other day. On water days, containers are filled up to ensure enough supply for the next day when water is unavailable. Toilets are flushed using buckets of water. Despite all plumbing being done, not all of it works. For warm showers, water must be heated up on the propane range. There is electricity (240 volts at all outlets), a refrigerator, and TV that gets several local channels.

    I fell sleep easily that night around 8pm and slept well. Before dawn I was wide awake and alert to tape the first sunrise over the city on March 2nd. And I was able to sleep at wake up early each night and morning. On Thursday we all got a van and went to “The Province”, which is what the family refers to as the area of where grandma and grandpa live and most of the family permanently resides. When you rent a van in the Philippines, it comes with a driver. The van that belonged to our driver had some loose suspension parts I could feel and hear from the moment we left.

    Traffic in the Philippines can best be summed up as “an experience” in itself. One traffic law is, keep right. But it only applies if there is another car in the other lane you need to avoid. The speed limit is whatever you can do; usually not very fast considering traffic or road curves- but when neither are in your way, then you can get going as fast as you want. The road from Baguio City to the province of Illocos Sur is a mountainous and winding road that seems to go on and on, but doesn’t really take you far as distance in relation to time. This main highway is the width of a residential US city street and traffic varies from Jeepney’s picking up passengers, Buses, slow trucks hauling concrete or produce and passenger vans. As we drove along the road around each paved corner you would hear the tires squealing and the suspension of the van shifting. Often just feet away to the side of the road would be steep dropoffs, people’s houses, or children playing. Drivers must be very alert. In the US we may call it reckless driving, or improper safety precautions… but drivers are forced to use on main thing- common sense. And the entire trip I didn’t see one accident or pedestrian injury.

    Once we hit the mountain town of Abatan, we turned off onto another road headed down to Mankayan. Most of this road is rough gravel/dirt with very few and short paved spots. By this time on Thursday March 3rd it was dark. We stopped in Mankayan for a rest break at Willy and Beng’s place. Willy is Leonoras cousin and I met him in 1998 when he came and visited the US. I had brought him around the Ione are to show him some scenery. They have a small store attached to their home. I met Willy’s wife Beng for the first time as well as Willy’s mother and Willy’s younger daughter. My mom and Dave were teasing about how they wanted me to meet Willy’s older “tall” daughter to try and hook us up. Beng (pronounced Bing) fed us some quick food and we were back on our way to Gitlangen, a small town where my grandparents live. This is where my grandpa was finally returning home to after spending almost the last year with us in Spokane. 45 minutes later, we arrived at the house where my grandparents live nextdoor to my Aunt Rosita and Uncle Esteban’s house. Though it was not quite as bad as Manila, you could feel the heat at 10:00 pm and I was sweating. I saw my grandma again for the first time since 2002, and we all talked for a while before bed. Again, I fell asleep easily and quickly.

    The morning of March 4th I was up again early before sunrise and videotaped it. This was the 1st day of the “Town Fiesta” in Cervantes, just up the road. This is what my mom wanted us to be there to be able to attend. We got a van and went into Cervantes and spent most of the day there watching activities put on by the children and meeting up with other relatives and friend’s of my mom. Our group stopped by a small place and had soda and different pastries. The Philippines has 3 major soda groups; Coca Cola, Sprite and Orange- all bottled or canned in the country. When we returned home, I wandered about the yard, watched my cousins children play around, and looked at the farm animals including chickens and pigs and stray dogs. In the backyard were coconut trees and pineapple plants and several other indigenous forms of plant life. I also had my cousin’s wife Bernalyn walk with me to show me the river and the hot springs, where hot water runs out of a mountain and into the river.

    The family all has meals 3 times a day and all comes together in one house to eat. By now it had been 6 days without American food, but I was surviving. On Saturday we returned to Cervantes for the Town Fiesta and the programs they were putting on including traditional and modern skits and presentations. I put in a request to “find any sort of beef or meat product” for dinner that I could make something out of. Pork chops was the closest thing, and my mom ended up cooking Pork Chops, mashed potatoes and green beans for Mike, Dave and me. Ground beef doesn’t really exist there I guess.

    During this weekend there I met my relatives and cousins. My aunt Helen, my mom’s eldest sister and her daughter Cynthia married to Clover; my other cousins- children of my Aunt Rosita and her husband Esteban- in order of age- Erma (32) with her husband Danny and 1-month old baby Kerleen; Alden (27) with his wife Olive and 4 year old son Kim, Sheryl (25) and her husband Roger and 3-year old son Darrin; Danny (22) with his wife Bernalyn and two children Daniel and Danilyn; and the youngest Irishlyn (17) not yet married but soon to be with Rudy; My uncle Remegio with his wife Marivic and two twin boys Randy and Ramil (14), daughter Nanette (12) and youngest 1-year old son Lee; My cousin Ruby (33); my grandma’s brother Samuel and my grandpa’s sister Maria. There were many others as well that are part of the family.

    III. Back and Forth

    Sunday, March 5th we began the trip back to Baguio City. My grandpa was going back with us to have surgery on his one better eye so he could see out of it again. Alden’s wife Olive and son Kim also accompanied us, crammed into the van with the driver’s wife and son, Leonora and Dave, my mom and Mike, aunt Rosita and myself. We left mid morning and stopped at Beng and Willy’s place again in Mankayan. It was a market day and people had their stuff out for sale, and Willy’s basketball team was playing. His daughter called him back to the house so we could visit since he was gone on business the other night we stopped. Willy is a very nice well liked guy who has a good standing position in his job and the local government. We toured his home and he showed us the public “pool hall” down below his house. Beng, Leonora, and others prepared some food and we all ate. Then my mom and Mike got professional massages from two ladies as the rest of us waited out a rain storm and talked. After I had to go down and tell them “the driver is wanting to leave” they finished up and we finally continued on our way to Baguio City.

    The road to Baguio is often in the clouds… and combined with the sun going down and light fading, and the fact that the driver’s Kia Pregio van had an in-operable defroster, led for a slow trip back wiping the windshield, driving slow and avoiding all the hidden obstacles beyond the fog. We got back late and went home and dropped off everyone at the house. Then my mom, Mike, Dave and I proceeded to go to Jollibee- a restaurant that serves burgers and fries and American type food. Traffic was so bad we were barely moving so we finally sent the driver on his way and walked… found the most crowded street in town to walk down, then found the only Jollibee restaurant in Baguio with a power outage and the hugest line of people waiting for food. Luckily power was restored and about 45 minutes later we ate and found our way home.

    By now I was starting to get bored. I had no vehicles to work on or drive. I was watching videos of home over and over again. I started staying in bed later because there was nothing to get up for. I didn’t want to go around town with everyone because I don’t like fighting my way through huge crowds of people. If I wanted to, I could do that around here in the US. So I lounged around the house, ate when there was food, and slept when I got tired of watching tapes or TV trying to figure out what they were saying in the Philippino and Japanese/Korean Daytime Drama shows. I went to a couple of the local mini-stores on our street and bought some snacks with some spare pesos I had. I discovered the CD my friend Nathan gave me when he dropped us off at the airport in Spokane and started listening to the songs on there and playing Spider Solitaire on the laptop. I thought about the things I had to be doing at home, and what my friends would be doing back in the US. One night I had a repeating dream that we kept flying back into Spokane over and over again. But I still had 10 days to go before that would happen in real life.

    A few times Dave and I walked down or up to one of the little stores on the street. Little stores are all over the Philippines at various houses… usually just consisting of a small counter with barred front that has an opening and closing front panel. For about 5-12 pesos we could buy a package of 3 cookies or a chocolate type bar… which translates into costing under 25 cents. Dave tried selling me on Willy’s older “tall” daughter again and I explained to him the requirements for what I wanted in a girl, most of which he already knew. If I wasn’t talking with Dave or watching TV shows or movies, I grabbed the pencil I brought and sketched a few quick drawings of my typical mountains and trees. My cousin Alden’s son Kim was with us at the house. Now there is one active little kid! I did my best to entertain him and play “uncle Allan” but I’d tire out way before he would. He discovered he could fit inside of the old cardboard box a microwave came packaged in. I then began to play a game with him where he would climb in, close the box, and I’d carry him to different parts of the house or porches to have him blast open the lid to see where he ended up next. We played that a lot. Even though he and I couldn’t communicate through language, I knew what he wanted when he came pushing the box up to me and jumping in it.

    Since I had no resources or means to do any automotive work, I remembered my old hobby of painting. I hadn’t made a painting for about 4-5 years and figured if I could get some brushes, paint and some form of canvas or drawing board, I could keep myself busy and have something to leave with my relatives from me. So we stopped by the National Book Store in Baguio and I got tubes of oil paint, a small selection of brushes, and six cardboard drawing boards. Since my grandpa’s eye surgery was done, we picked him up from the hospital and brought him back to the house. My cousin Irishlyn and her boyfriend Rudy had stayed with grandpa keeping him company. Rudy is a very nice and caring person. I am very glad that he is part of the family.

    The afternoon of March 9th we again traveled from Baguio to Gitlangan, driven there in the same Kia van with no defroster. This time we had everyone piled into the van… my cousin Alden with his wife Olivia and son Kim, aunt Rosita, cousin Irishlyn and Rudy, grandpa, my mom and Mike and Dave and Leonora (plus myself and the driver). It was a bit crowded for the 5 hour drive. We stopped for a bathroom and stretching break at the highest point in the Philippine highway system which was at 7400ft above sea level. The clouds were so low and thick we couldn’t see any of the
    view. We continued on the way after getting a few snacks at the little store there.

    The fog got so bad around the same time that it got dark that we had to slow down to almost a crawl. I was helping the driver wipe the windshield clear constantly, and at one point for half a mile it was so bad that all we could see is a white wall in front of us. I stuck my head out the window and looked down and forward and was barely able to see the edge of the road. I kept my head out the window in the rain and fog for a while until the fog thinned out a bit and the driver could see enough to tell where the sides of the road were.

    Finally clear of the fog, we had dropped back down towards the lowlands and hit the town of Mankayan. Here again we invaded Beng’s store at Willy’s house and all took another break from the road. This time Beng brought out Pepsi and a pineapple pie as well as some really good tasting muffins she had made.
    They started talking about Willy’s older “tall” daughter again and tried to get me interested. Then Dave asked their younger daughter that was there if she liked trucks and how old she was and she just stared at him with a grin as if saying “shut up uncle Dave”. I guess when she saw us show up and knew I was coming, she ran in and put some lipstick on real quick and then came back out (so I was told after we returned to the US). I glanced over at her a few times and did think she was pretty cute… but still too young. But I still did glance once in a while. I helped grandpa to the bathroom and after some chit chat, we all piled back into the van to finish the trip; and the van wouldn’t turn over (like a dead battery or bad starter). So I told the driver I’d pull out the block behind the wheel so he could roll start it backwards (luckily we were parked on a backwards slope). It fired right up, I hopped in and off we went for the remaining 45 minute drive over rough gravel/dirt roads to Gitlangan.

    End of Part 3
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2006
  2. bigjbear

    bigjbear 1 ton status Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 18, 2000
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    Marietta GA
    looking fwd to the rest
  3. spongeidys

    spongeidys 1/2 ton status

    Jul 6, 2005
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    Dillion, CO and Palmerton, PA
    more more more
  4. TSGB

    TSGB 1 ton status

    Apr 22, 2002
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    Centralia, Washington
    Awesome story! Did you keep any sort of journal to keep events in order? I have a memory like a 90 year old when it comes to stuff like this!
  5. Stomper

    Stomper ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ GMOTM Winner

    May 11, 2002
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    Great read! Thanks,

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