The return trip was much less grueling than the flight over: no overnight airport transfers in Japan this time around — though Chicago O’Hare was a pain to transit through, what with the standard bag re-check and a broken airport tram that forced us into a taxi for a terminal transfer.
Already knew it was going to be a great Christmas Day from the Manila Bulletin headline.
Dad at Christmas brunch with grandson (my nephew), and sister-in-law after jubilantly gifting my brother with a GoPro:
Toddler nephew also played around with my DSLR and managed to snap a decent photo of Amy. Then I pointed the DSLR at my other nephew Uno and said “DON’T SMILE”:
So Merry Christmas, here was our tree:
Next day we packed up and headed south to Puerto Galera by banca.
We stayed in the dive resort town of Sabang rather than the somewhat less quiet Puerto Galera town proper. Much scuba diving was done.
I’m not a huge fan of the Philippines’s New Year firecracker culture, but some of the resorts had nice fireworks. (Not pictured: drunken fistfight that broke out on beach in front of our resort.)
We had a couple days back in Metro Manila after the Puerto Galera dive trip, mostly spent packing for the flight home to DC. Lovely views of Manila right up to the Bay from our hotel room.
It was really nice to come back and reconnect with family after a few missed years. Full holiday photo album here.
Puerto Galera sits at the base of a peninsula on the northern coast of Mindoro, about 80 miles south of Manila and an hour’s boat ride from Batangas. Once a sanctuary from rough seas for Spanish galleons, today Puerto Galera is a thriving watersports town, with a yacht club, cheap beach resorts, and coral reefs teeming with sea life.
Quick time lapse of the sun rising over the hazy Metro Manila landscape on Christmas morning, as shot from a San Juan high rise, looking east towards Ortigas:
That may look like a picturesque mist but it doesn’t burn off quickly like radiative fog when the heat of the sun falls on it. That’s because it’s more a haze of particulate matter — smog — settling where there’s no wind.
I’m trying to formulate some dumb egg jokes for this egg-static breakfast but bad yolks like that are just too over-easy for me to bother the shell about.
As always the Greenhills tiangge (bazaar) is a great place for lovely jewelry made from the aggregated nacreous excretions of irritated shellfish.
This is a new snack to me: “butchiron”, or deep fried chicken esophagus bits. Not only do you get delicious crunchy fried chicken flavor but it is pre-seasoned in life with whatever the chicken ate, things like corn feed and worms. Yum.
I was very tempted to get a pint of durian frozen dairy dessert but settled instead for some mango ice cream.
“PotDog” turned out to be neither.
Flew to Manila for Christmas. This year’s itinerary was a bit of a challenge, with multiple layovers, including a 13 hour overnight Tokyo airport transfer from Narita to Haneda.
Since I’m in the First Baptist DC choir, the day of Christmas Candlelight Carols are an all-day event for me, from morning rehearsals and worship service to more rehearsals in the afternoon, to the Candlelight Carol service itself. During a break in rehearsals I noticed the sun shining through the famous stained glass windows and casting colorful light on the sanctuary pillars; quickly I took out my phone and snapped a photo. Seconds later a cloud had covered the sun and the light was gone.
Lola (Tagalog for “grandmother”) was actually more of a step-Lola, my paternal grandfather’s second wife after his first passed. I have vivid childhood memories of Sunday mornings in their old house, watching morning Mass on TV, and she would bring pan de sal around Communion time. We were never really very close, but she was the only grandmother I knew, and my last remaining grandparent.
Lola died early this week, peacefully, in her sleep. We’ll remember her.