The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Archive for the tag “Manila”

New Year’s in the Philippines

hello 2007

‘crazy fireworks here @ new years’ (photo credit: Jessica C)

December 31, 2011, Calamba City. – ‘Ka-BOOM!’ ‘Hiss’ ‘Pop, Pop, Pop’ – We were in my father’s hometown. It was early in the evening but the fireworks had already started. My Tita stuffed peso bills in our pockets and ‘the Chef’ and I scooted outside. We did not want to miss this. The sky was clear and a breeze blew over my skin and funny enough I got goose bumps even though it was a tropical 27-28 degrees. We walked to the back of the house and climbed the stairs to the empty balcony of the building next door. I was surprised we were the only ones out there.

The Filipino Tradition

The Filipino Tradition (photo credit: Paolo Dala)

The city was spread out in front of us in an almost unobstructed 180 degree view. Puffs of white smoke slowly dissipated in the black sky, the smell of sulfur lingered in our nostrils. – ‘BANG!’ ‘Crackle’ ‘Whiz’ – Fireworks from everywhere big and small exploded against the night sky. We didn’t know what time it was but I kept thinking it was midnight because the fireworks built to what I thought was a crescendo but kept going and going until our senses were satiated by sound and light. I thought to myself, ‘This is freaking awesome!” Satisfied, we finally called it quits and went back into the house.


My cousin gleefully eating Balut!

The table was set with a New Year’s meal – a big bowl of steaming soup, a dense, circular slab of puto (steamed rice cake), a pyramid of balut (boiled, fertilized duck egg), and a bowl of filled with grapes, longans and oranges – mostly round foods that would bring good fortune for the new year. Everyone wished each other a happy new year and we dug into the food.

As our heads hit the pillow I could still hear the distant ‘pop, pop, pop’ of distant fireworks as I drifted into happy sleep.

If you want to experience what it’s like in Manila just click on the YouTube video above. The next day we left on a plane for Palawan and marvelled at the haze and sulfur smell that still hung over Manila in the morning aftermath of the big celebration.

The Land Where I Was Born 018

Random photos and thoughts about the Philippines

Our environment, our experiences, and the people we choose to surround us shapes us into who we are. In this series I search the web for thought-provoking images about the Philippines, the country I was born in and which I am now rediscovering.


Twin Beaches

That’s a tough one. Do I really have to pick? Just one? Does it really have to be just one? And who could blame them? With 7,107 islands, the Philippines has more than its share of spectacular beaches! And choosing just one is not an easy task at all. There are a lot of things to consider: the sand, the landscape, their personal experiences. Still, after a long time of bugging, pushing, and — sometimes — blackmailing begging, they were able to give an answer. Here’s a list of 30 best beaches in the Philippines as chosen by some of your favorite Pinoy travel bloggers. ~


…..a few still think Filipinos all live in slums or in the jungle. WRONG.

To be honest, I asked many, many people (locals and foreigners) what they like about Manila, and over and over, I was met with head-scratching and silence. They all told me they would think about it and get back to me. I’m still waiting. You see, Manila is a city that people love to hate. ~ Surviving Manila – A Foreigner’s Guide to the City People Love To Hate


Cool Banaue

In its provincial boondocks, the Philippines has the ultimate paradox: the cool tropical town. Lower temps, however, aren’t the only things that make these towns cool. ~ 11 coolest towns in the Philippines, CNN, May 22, 2014


The Adventure Begins

Wow, what a day. I think we’re a little shell shocked. We spent mind and body numbing hours sitting in traffic just to eat to a handful of fried dumplings. We had three goals for today. Buy flip flops, buy an umbrella, and have lunch in the Divisoria district of Manila. Sounds simple doesn’t it? It’s not. In fact it’s excruciatingly painful and not my idea of fun.

Stuck in Traffic for Hours

Stuck in Traffic for Hours

For me, Manila is a crazy city. It’s a frenetic hive of millions of people going about their daily lives in a noisy, steamy and pungent environment. Read more…

Photos from the Shoebox: Philippines – June 12, 1998

If you had a 35mm camera you probably have a shoebox full of pictures that you never got around to sorting and putting in an album. In this series “Photos from the Shoebox” I take them out of the closest and shine light on them once more.

The Grandstand.

Today is Philippines Independence Day so I thought I’d share my photos from June 12, 1998 when the Philippines celebrated its 100th year of independence from Spain. There was a big celebration in Manila so we started the day early knowing we’d be competing with millions of people wanting to get a good spot for the parade.

Read more…

Harsh Realities of a Third World Country

Sometimes we tend to romanticize our dreams. How many people have wanted to play in a rock band, open up their own restaurant or bar or live on an island paradise? Sounds good doesn’t it? We can imagine ourselves living the dream lifestyle but seem to gloss over the hard work and realities of these dreams.  Read more…

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