Celebration of Life

Day 16 of 24

I had a whole post for this day, but it somehow disappeared.

Yesterday felt like a week. When we arrived to Manila, we went straight to the funeral home, suitcases and everything. Mom and I got there around 1:30 or probably closer to 2 AM.

Funerals and viewings are a lot different in the Philippines. Instead of mourning, the life of the deceased is celebrated. We did the same thing when Papa Rudy died. The viewing usually lasts for about a week and every night a family member or a friend stays with the beloved. It might seem wierd and scary, but it’s actually comforting in a wierd way. BJ, Dad, Manong Mike and I stayed with Lola over night along with Lola’s neighbors. We all fell asleep on the job, lol.

In the morning, we picked up our other cousin and people just slowly started showing up at the funeral home. We met so many relatives and friends, a lot I didn’t even know existed. They all stayed, prayed, laughed, ate and told stories about Lola and the past memories from growing up. It was really cool to see so many people happily being in each other’s company.

My Dad never left Lola’s side until they had to take her that evening. They had to get her ready for the trip to Cagwait. It was a somber moment.

The next adventure starts with a flight at 4 in the morning.

Jet Setter Life

Day 15 of 24

I love to travel and see new things, but all this traveling we’ve been doing today is so unexpected and not exactly how I thought it would go. So here’s the deal for today.

✈️ Palawan > Cebu > Manila ✈️

All in one day. Damn.

Thank God we are flying though. BJ and Dad are going from Palawan straight to Manila. Dad’s siblings are waiting on him and Mom and I are going to get our stuff from Cebu and meet them there. Then on Sunday we travel back to Surigao to bury Lola in Cagwait. I’ve only been here for 15 days and I’ve traveled so much already… air, land and sea! Crazy.

I’m really not looking forward to the upcoming week. It will be hard to see my Dad go through this, but he’s a G – he’ll be aaaiigghhttt…

Lola came into his dreams this morning and told him she’s waiting for him. How can you not cry – I sure did.

On another note… the food poisening count went up today. It’s official, 6 out of the 8 of us who traveled to Palawan have gotten sick. Man, what did they feed us?! Haha… geezus. You’re still beautiful though, Palawan! On our way to the airport in P-town, we passed by Baker’s Hill. It’s a cute little tourist attraction with a bakery. None of us really had the stomach to eat anymore on that island.

Tonight, the 4 of us will be in Manila with the rest of the Vivares family.

The Drive Back

Day 14 of 24

Don’t really have any pictures of the drive back to Puerto Princesa from El Nido. We made the trip back in 4 hours this time. Pong, our driver is a G. The ride back made me naseus, but we made it back fast.

In Puerto Princesa, everyone was either sick or tired so we all actually just stayed in after a late lunch.

Just waiting on Dad’s plans as to what he wants to do and where he wants us to go. So we shall be patient and wait.

Island Hopping

Day 13 of 24

If you had only one choice to island hop at in the Philippines, island hop in Palawan. That shit is just hands down beautiful.

BJ & I and maybe Sistine got food poisoning from something we ate (probably bad sushi). I haven’t really been in the mood to write stuff lately especially after Lola, so I’m just going to post pictures.

We went island hopping and my favorite part was snorkling over a coral reef site in between small baby mountains.

Lola Lourdes

Day 12 of 24

We attended the 6 AM mass before heading out on the 4-5ish hour drive to El Nido. We were in the middle of mass, and I thought it was quite odd to see BJ go up to my parents and whisper to them something. During “peace be with you,” my Mom finally turned around to try to whisper/mouth to us what happened because I and the rest of the family were sitting in a different part of the church.

Lola Lourdes had passed away.

Lola (pronounced lou-lah, Filipino for grandma) is my Dad’s Mom, she was 91 years old. Visiting her was the first part of the trip when my parents and BJ first arrived to the Philippines. They stayed 5 days with her in Manila. I was going to see her when we got back from Palawan. Everyone kept saying she was just waiting for Dad & BJ to visit.

The family is doing well. My Dad’s a G. He decided that we should continue with our trip, because there’s nothing we can really do right now at this point. Sadly, he’s right. When it comes to moving forward, my Dad is the strongest in that arena.

The rest of the Vivares siblings are arriving towards the end of the week. Currently Lola is in Manila and will be taken to Cagwait, Surigao where she will be laid to rest next to Her husband Lolo Nino.

When we were growing up, Lola would spend a year in America and a year back in the Philippines. When she was in the US, she would stay with us. Growing up, she would make us rice and eggs for breakfast, read us bible stories at night or tell us ghost stories (whichever we were in the mood for) and she would always get mad at Dad for over disciplining us. She loved to sing and had a distinct laughter. Lola was always laughing. Sometimes when she stayed with us, it would be the same time Mom’s parents would stay with us as well. Lola and Papa Rudy were like best friends. Always laughing, buying lotto together and they always kept us fed. Not only will she reunite with her husband, but she’ll see her bff again.

Lola never remarried when Lolo Nino passed away over 45 years ago. She was a very classy lady. She liked the finer things in life and always expected the best out of you. She focused on her health and always took her vitamins. She was loved by many and will always be remembered by her great smile and beautiful voice.

Most of the pictures I have with Lola are from film cameras. This is the only digital one I could find right now. Like the Matriarch she was, she’s the lady in right in the middle of the family. This was taken in 2010 when my Dad and I visited the Philippines and we took her with us to Cebu.

Rest In Peace Lol, say hi to Papa Rudy for me.

Palawan

Day 11 of 24

Cue: Ocean Floors by Headphone Activists

That song perfectly played as I got off the plane.

The plane trip from Cebu to Palawan was fast AF! Plane rides are so much better than boat travel. Then when you have to walk down stairs from the airplane and walk to the gate, it always makes you feel like you’re important. The air was fresh and the place is very clean.

We were warmly greeted by Father Art who is our gracious host in this beautiful place! He got us a van with a driver and a tour guide. We grabbed a quick breakfast at Jolibee and we met up at his Cathedral where he introduced us to the Bishop.

Then we were off…. from the airport to the Underwater Cave, it’s about a 2 hour drive, but our driver made it an hour and a half trip. After waking up at 2 in the morning to make a 4 AM flight, you would think I would sleep in the van.

Nope.

Our driver was so intense and the road to our destination is not easy to navigate. The ride literally felt like a children’s rollercoaster ride. You know… the kind that doesn’t have loops or spins, just a lot of fast curves that whip you around and you feel like you’re going to have whip lash at the end of the ride. That’s how it was for an hour and a half…. one hour and thirty minutes we were sloshing around in the van. I sat in the first row – right in the middle – so if we crashed, I would have been the first one to fly out. But like the rest of my near death experiences here so far, I survived. He really was a good driver though, he just drove fast af (taking curves at 40-50 mph) and he didn’t GAF about how his passengers would fair out. I noticed that Filipinos honk their horns not because their pissed at drivers, they honk their horns at people on the road to let them know they are blazing down the street, so you better get the F out of the way!! Our driver honked a lot.

We got to Puerto Princesa. Another beautiful beach but with a mountainous view. The back drop reminded me of that one scene in Moana were Te Fiti is laying down and I was just waiting for her to awaken from her nap.

Our driver dropped us off at the pumboat docking station, it was a pretty touristy area. The streets were lined with souvenir shops and little huts trying to entice you with their fresh fruit shakes. The pumboat took us across the Listerine green/blue water to another beach that was home to the 7th Natural Wonder of the World, an underwater cave.

After the that excursion, Sistine, Miyake and I went down the zip line. Just getting there felt like an adventure on its own. We road a Jeep, similar to what you would take on a tour at Jurrasic Park. The road was bumpy and the scenery looked like Jurrasic Park. Then we walked across the beach to the small mountain that the zip line started from. Once we got there, it was over 600 steps to the top. Yes, all that trouble was worth it. The views were breathtaking.

We got back to the city and had dinner at Baywalk Palawan, which is basically their version of a boardwalk. We ate at this restaurant that had the freshest seafood that you can pick from and they cook it on the spot. It was so fresh, all the items had been fished that morning and the crustaceans were still alive. Man, best meal I’ve had so far.

One of my career goals is to be able to run my businesses from any beach around the world. I need to hurry up and make that happen already.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Day 10 of 24

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First of all, Happy Mother’s Day to my Momma! Mother Joy is basically everyone’s Mom and she will always treat you as if you’re her child. Love you Mom!

So today was another lazy day. I really shouldn’t get use to this because I have no one to cook, clean or do my laundry for me when I get back home… but might as well enjoy it while I can right?

We went to the mall today for last minute stuff for our next destination. We’ll be leaving for Palawan in the morning. I can’t wait to be surrounded by nothing but water, blue skies and palm trees… again.

SM (one of the malls close by) really is a special place.. haha. Seriously, that place has EVERYTHING. Of course it was super packed because it was Mother’s Day. They had special entertainment on 2 sides of the mall. One side had some sort of Bratz show going on for the kids and the other side had a live band, entertainment for the adults I guess. I didn’t get a pic of the kid’s entertainment.

We had dinner at Majestic, that place never fails especially when you’re hungry affff. Then halo-halo at Gerry’s Grill… was not a fan.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the loving mothers I know!