Last Christmas, I Gave You My Heart

12:08 PM

I think the title should be enough to describe all this jumbled thoughts and fluttering butterflies in my tummy about coming home for Christmas.

Whenever I think of the Philippines and christmas I burst into a song which is saying a lot since I can't carry a tune to save my life.

Last year, the whole family board the Thai Airways flight and squared our shoulders to face the mad dash of massess getting on w/ their own flights home. Thai Air flight isn't the most relaxing flight ever flew to the Philippines from Kuwait as it have 2 stop overs at Dubai and finally Thailand. It was supposed to be a luxurious vacation as luxurious as Shangri - La Makati hotel and business class flights can offer. Reality though presented itself once we boarded off the flight and fell in line w/ the other balikbayan at our somewhat decrepit NAIA immigration area. Before we arrive at the plush hotel, we passed by street children selling flowers and towels, we passed by houses that has seen greater times and houses that has never seen anything at all. The feeling of helplesness came over us but my mother wisely said, we have nothing to be guilty about as everything that we're reaping now is a reward from our hard work away from our families and our country.

Shangri - La is expensive but it wasn't impressive. Wheneve we travel we always check in at Hyatt hotel chains but I was curious about Shangri - La so I booked us there. All I could say is, that hotel has seen better times too. The only great thing about it is that it's just a mere 2 minutes away from Glorietta Malls. Nothing beats jet lag like good ole shopping and happy hour at Hard Rock Cafe also inside the mall. Shopping in itself is a challenge as we have to brave the crowd of last minute shoppers and Filipinos are known to be mall rats so it wasn't easy. Dinner at the posh Greenbelt was a challenge too. Restaurants got waiting list couple of hours long but thankfully we found this really quaint place 3 floors up that serves lobsters and good wine. Heaven. Our 3 days stay there was confined within the proximity of Makati as my companions were either too drunk to get up in the morning or not willing enough to face the traffic to get out of the place which is okay since Makati offers almost everything.

I on the other hand called up great friends who picked me up and introduced me to Mall of Asia for the first time. Hours was spent in that mall and I haven't gotten enough yet. Yellow cab pizza over a bottle of beer gave me a good buzz too. Breakfast or late night dinners craving for Jollibee was a memory I treasure.

I love Philippine Airlines and I love being in business class. What I don't love is getting sick thousand feet above the ground and for 1 and a half hour endure the ringing pain inside my ears towards the land of promise.

The best part of the vacation was and always still at home. At General Santos City we took out the whole clan for shopping, dinners and more shopping for boxes and boxes of liqours was the Old Man's pleasure. Despite the overflowing alcohol though I didn't get drunk, I just don't dig the drinking with the family thing.

We stayed at East Asia Royale Hotel, a place to be when in GenSan if not for the board and lodging they offer but because if you want to see old friends you go to Babes bar or Giacomino's which is at the Annex of the said hotel.

We treated the family out of town. 20 Minutes from GenSan is Alabel's very own Isla Parilla. A man made pond where cottages are erected in the middle of it. Their restaurant boasts of the greatest fried chicken I ever tasted. They have themed parks and acoustic singers at night which the kids and I delighted in jamming with. Swimming pool was great for night swimmings and pool table accentuated by 5 peso karaoke much to the delight of my grandmother.

Christmas was celebrated w/ a bang band. The old people celebrated all out and hired a band to play for us the night before christmas.

On christmas day we hit the road towards Davao City and checked in at Marco Polo Hotel. A stone's throw away from my old university the Ateneo De Davao. We planned for Samal island hopping but since it was christmas every tour was fully booked so the next day we proceeded to Eden Mountain Resort where nature and comfort combines perfectly.

New years was celebrated with fireworks by the beach with the 2 clans combined. The day after that we flew back to Metro Manila and this time stayed at the Hyatt where we binge eat on Korean food and played a little at Casino Filipino. I lost a couple of thousand bucks at Pontoon and got my pockets considerably lighter because of those slot machines.

Botherbrother got infected tattoo on his leg coz he had that really botched up done in some dingy Malate tattoo shop. I wasn't there to play tour guide for him coz I was feeling the love at Laguna. Happy, fun, loving times. Haaayy.

I almost took pity on him in Thailand, where we played tourist around their infamous red district, because he winced with pain everytime he takes a step.

The flight back via Dubai wasn't the best nor the most relaxing because people reeks of alcohol and insisted on reclining their seats waaaaayyy back.

I wish we can celebrate the season like this every year but practicality must set in and future must be planned.

Photos to follow soon. Everytime I go on vacation in the Philippines, I don't get to post about it and this time I'm going to try and even back post.


This Christmas, I'll give it to the world.

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