Monday, April 11, 2005

The Road Home: R&R on Monday

Yesterday was a rest & recovery day after being on the go since we arrived (other than Sabbath - which was relatively quiet too).

Auntie Lolita (Uncle Mateo's widow) came over to do our laundry - which is handwashed because our house doesn't have hot running water or a washing machine. I showed her pictures of our family here on my laptop - including ones of the twins in their incubators (the nurses in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit here called them "isolettes") after being born 2 months premature. She shared with me again that the family here are all very impressed with Cheryl, who is managing a household with five children and no extended family to help, as is done here.

My aunt Lolita and her granddaughter

Auntie Edna (who is from a different side of the clan) said pretty much the same thing, when she came to visit in the afternoon as well. She shared with me a little more about clan history and that there are several sets of twins - including an aunt who was a twin, but the other twin was stillborn.

We went out after breakfast to go to Mines View Park, where my dad said there were "horses" (ponies, really) to ride. Michael was looking forward to this, but our plans got side-tracked by another trip to Burnham Park to wait while my step-mom Sophie went to the dentist. While we were there, I took Michael out for a ride on the rowboats they have here for hire.

While we were out on the water, Michael told me he needed to 'go potty', and urged me to row faster back to the dock. Not to go into the gruesome details, but we didn't get to the 'CR' in time. Here in the Philippines, the public lavatories (bathrooms, washrooms, WC, etc.) are known as Comfort Rooms. Thus the initials 'CR'. For some reason, Michael couldn't hold his water (he's fine, no diarrhoea) and we visited, if not all, at least the majority of the CR's in and around the market area of Baguio yesterday.

We stopped for lunch in a local fast food place called the Jollibee, which has appropriately enough, a large smiling bee as its mascot a la Ronald McDonald. Jollibee is clearly the local competition for the global McD chain, and they do a very good job of it.

The Jolly Bee

Speaking of the golden arches, there was one just across the street from the Jollibee where we had lunch. Both places were packed all the way to the 3rd floor with the lunchtime crowd, so there's clearly plenty of room for each in this market.

The irony is that these fast food chains (and I include the previously logged KFC and BK chains) are the cleanest establishments here in the Philippines, owing to McD setting the precedent by having each franchise meet corporate standards. There is commentary that decries the globalization of the McDonald's culture, but I noticed that both McD and Jollibee employ a lot of students in order to meet those high (for here anyway) standards for fast service and cleanliness.

Jolli Menu

Students here, especially those who are attending parochial schools - primary, secondary, or post-secondary, have a tough time finding sources of funding. My dad worked his way through school doing a variety of jobs, from farm work to being a security guard. In the afternoon we had some students from AUP (Adventist University of the Philippines) working as literature evangelists come by. I was impressed to give them my business card with my e-mail address. I don't know what will come of it. At the very least I may be able to offer encouragement to some kids at the very start of their own path to independence.

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