Philippines Holiday (Christmas 2019)

Philippine Airlines A350-900 “Love Bus” at YYZ

Flew back to the Philippines to see my youngest brother Javi (and now sister-in-law Eka) get married, and spend time with family for Christmas and New Year. This was also Ezra’s first trip to the Philippines.


2.5 hours Halifax to Toronto, couple hours layover, then 16.5 hours Toronto to Manila, with gate delays and de-icing adding another good hour to that. That made the Toronto-Manila leg possibly the longest long-haul I’ve ever sat on a plane — especially fun with a three year old kid with a distaste for airline food and a fear of plane lavatories. He did have fun with airport elevators, though, and slept for a lot of the trip, and generally handled the trip as well as could be expected of a three year old. Plane was a Philippine Airlines Airbus A350-900, designated “The Love Bus.” (Sitting in the exceptionally hard coach seats for more than 16 hours did not impart a feeling of love.)

Family selfie on PAL flight 119

For some reason the inflight entertainment menu categorized Apollo 11 as a “Tear-Jerker.”

PAL A350 seatback touchscreen

I’d forgotten how much existential angst this arrival area gives me every time.

NAIA Arrivals NAIA Arrivals

Christmas in Manila

I haven’t been back for a while and a lot has changed since then: most notably my parents have moved from Greenhills to a new house in Forbes Park, Makati. Good to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at dinner with family, relatives, and pets.

Three Generations of Ordovezas

On Christmas Day Ezra even got to play a bit in the park.

Ezra in Mahogany Park

Clever girl.

Clever Girl says Merry Christmas

Wedding in Tagaytay

Javi and Eka were married at the Madre De Dios Chapel in Tagaytay Highlands, overlooking Taal Volcano.

Javi and Eka’s Wedding
View of Taal from Tagaytay Highlands

Ezra was “treasure-bearer,” delivering a cushion of traditional heirloom coins to the altar — a role I once served in weddings as a child.

Me, Ezra, and Raymond

He also tried on my tailored suit; it may have been a bit large.

Ezra Tries on my Suit

Cocktails and reception at the nearby golf club involved raclette, local craft beer, prawn and steak surf and turf, a uniquely Filipino variety-show-type song-and-dance program, and a designated hashtag.

Javi and Eka’s Wedding Reception Bulul Beer Reception Fare: Steak and Prawn Surf and Turf Reception Fare: Toblerone Cake

Halo Anilao

For our traditional New Year dive trip we stayed at Halo Anilao. Great food, dive facilities, and pool — not-so-nice view from our room.

Halo Anilao
Halo Dive Resort, Anilao
Lovely view from Room “Q” at Halo Anilao

Full dive log here.

For New Year they had a special dinner with lechon and fireworks. Batangas area of course turned into the standard New Year’s Eve war zone at midnight, and Ezra managed to sleep right through it.

New Year 2020 Fireworks

He did have fun with party trumpets through the day.

New Year 2020 Ezra New Year 2020 Ezra

Other Stuff Around Metro Manila

Cousin’s funeral at St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori Church in Magallanes; we weren’t close but it was still sad. Reconnected with some family over Tenya.

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori Church, Magallanes

Apparently traffic here has been really bad in recent years but the few times we had to drive around Metro Manila we generally lucked into light holiday volume.

EDSA drive

Also spotted a few interesting KitKat-like chocolates in stores.

Kit Kat copycats Kit Kat copycats

Went to Landmark Mall for some shopping and stopped for a photo with competing fast food mascots.

Ezra with Jollibee Ezra, Tito Abba, and Ronald McDonald


Thanks to trade winds, return flight was about an hour shorter than the flight here, but 15.5 hours is still pretty grueling. Ezra had an incident before departure involving spinning around while playing and landing directly on his face, resulting in a massive nosebleed and security and medical staff called in. He recovered quickly, and on the flight wanted to watch the Dora movie. Repeatedly. He really doesn’t like airline food much; I wonder if any standup comedians have addressed this topic.


Lucked into above-freezing temperatures on arrival at Halifax, but by next morning we were shoveling snow. This is home now.

Snowy Backyard

Full trip photo album on Flickr.