Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Black Saturday and Easter Sunday - Days 6 & 7

Before going any further, here are a few more photos from Ninette's camera from our trip to Nagsasa Cove. These were taken on the way to the cove when the waters were calm. Fortunately we were spared from photos taken on the way back when we looked scared but pretended not to be.
Larry & I on the way to Nagsasa Cove
I was still able to stand up due to the calm waters
Ninette & Ben
Elgee, Robynne, & Uno
So what happened on day 6 which was Holy Saturday or Black Saturday depending on whom you ask? Later that day, Black Saturday certainly lived up to it's dark name. Well, let's see. I woke up at about 5:30 and from Big Foot, I started walking towards downtown where they had the religious procession the night before. Other than people waiting for the buses and jeepneys, the crowds were gone. I turned around and walked back to Big Foot. I'm telling you, the dirt sidewalk was better in this town than the one in the city.

Walking to the Town Hall of the town which name I can't remember
The plan for the day was spend a few hours at Capones Vista Beach Resort then drive back home at about 3 or 4 p.m. We checked out from Big Foot rest house and by the time we arrived at the resort, they were already at capacity. The receptionist gave us a pass since we were repeat customers and allowed us to stay. Some went swimming (you can't keep Uno away from the pool), some like me just lounged around too exhausted to do anything else from the activities of the previous two days. After lunch, we gathered all our stuff, drove to where mangoes were sold on a roadside stand, bought some, then wended our way towards the main highway leading out of town. There were a couple of reasons why we left on Saturday instead of Easter Sunday: Larry, Ninette, and Robynne had tickets for Sunday to watch Les Miserables back in Manila, and to avoid traffic on Easter Sunday when everyone else who went out of town was expected to head back to the city. Well...
Sample of Philippine traffic (photo courtesy of
The first half hour or so, we were at top speed, then just as suddenly, we were creeping inch by inch (literally) in traffic somewhere in Subic. There must have been some accident up ahead but to this day, I still don't know what went on. As I was learning, or this is just how I perceive it, this is how driving is in the Philippines. On a narrow two lane road, you may fit a third vehicle, and if a dirt sidewalk has some space, then you can drive a fourth vehicle there. A double yellow line separating the street doesn't mean anything because one can cross that line and drive against opposing traffic. Cutting off another vehicle is acceptable and if you consider courtesy on the road, that means you don't hit the other vehicle when you cut him off or vice versa. Everyone fights for every inch they can get regardless of the miles-long bottleneck it creates. I'm guessing it took about 3 hours to cover a couple of miles, if that. At the end point of that particular bottleneck, we had to stop for gasoline and a bathroom break. The women unfortunately had to line up for one toilet, while the men were directed by a security guard behind the gas station with a request to please not to pee on the wall but do it on the gravel covered ground. There were a whole bunch of men plus a little girl (who was squatting) doing what they had to do for relief. After gassing up and perhaps passing gas, we were back on the road for more traffic. This time we proceeded in feet instead of inches. Traffic finally loosened up as we approached the former U.S. Subic Bay Naval Base. We traveled at a good clip until we only had a few miles left on the superhighway before home. Why the heck there is traffic on a superhighway at 9 p.m. on a Saturday, I don't know. By the time we arrived home, the drive had taken 7 hours or more, even longer than our trip outward bound. But at least we were safely home, sore butts and all.

On Easter Sunday, I woke up early as usual and went for my walk. I headed out of UP Professors Subdivision, made a right on Congressional Avenue, all the way to Luzon Avenue, went up the elevated walkway to cross the street, and walked back to where I came from. Afterwards we went to mass where a Vietnamese priest conducted the service, and since Christ died on the cross and forgave us our since two days before, I felt comfortable enough to receive holy communion. I may no longer be an actively practicing Catholic, but you still cannot take the Catholic out of me. Hey, I satisfied one of the holidays of obligation after all. We took Pilaring, Ninette, and Robynne home then Larry and I went the have the car washed.

After lunch and much later in the afternoon, I went with them to Solaire ( where they were going to watch Les Miserables while I explored the area. Well, I didn't really have to leave the building because there were enough areas to check out: a casino, some restaurants, and some kind of art gallery in the hallway. Plus there was free wi-fi.
Larry, Robynne, & Ninette

Les Miserables wall at Solaire
While my three companions headed to the theater, I went in the casino to find the cashier so I could exchange some dollars into pesos since I had run out of the local currency. The exchange rate was slightly lower than the one I got in Cubao but I didn't have any other options (I found out the next day after eating in a restaurant that the Solaire cashier had given me a couple of old, no longer accepted 20 peso bills). Afterwards, I was getting hungry, and knowing that the show was going to last 3 hours, I headed to the food court. The first eatery I went to had a twenty minute wait so I opted for another. Having had my fill (I don't even remember what I ate anymore), it was time to explore Solaire.

The casino was just like any other casino I've visited in the U.S. - smoky and noisy, which left me smelling like a chimney again. I didn't hang around long enough to develop a smoker's cough from the second hand cigarette smoke. The usual slot machines and card tables were present. I made a mistake to taking a selfie on the casino floor and a security guard approached me and asked me to delete it while pointing out a sign saying no photographs could be taken in the playing areas. I guess this was to protect the privacy of gamblers and/or if they were men, if they were there with their mistresses.
Weird Mona Lisa paintings in Solaire
I then walked up and down the hallways checking out paintings, then scouted the restaurants so I can give my companions a heads up on what was available for dinner after they came out of the show. Next, I went upstairs to see where the play was being shown. It was all in all a very nice resort, casino, and theater building. After the show, we went to eat at one of the noodle restaurants inside the building, then went home for the night.
Lucky Noodles Restaurant at Solaire

Thus ended day 6 and 7 of my vacation. The traffic in the Philippines was starting to turn me off and I was beginning to have second thoughts about possibly retiring there.

Some photos in this post courtesy of Ninette's Facebook page.

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