This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Philippines: Day Eight

Today we headed to Anvaya Cove, which is an exclusive resort for the very rich.

How the hell did we get in there, you wonder?

It all starts with my Auntie Cely.

She owned and ran an apartment building in another part of Angeles. The units are rented to university students. One of those students became very close with my auntie. He also became a doctor. He is a close friend to hers and apparently was the one to inform her of her cancer, when first discovered.

He was invited to our Ramos fiesta from this past Saturday. During his visit, he invited us to the beach, to a place he owns land at. I loved when he said "It's not a vacation unless you've been to the beach."

He owns and operates his own hospital in and around Subic Bay, which housed an american naval base that closed in 1991. We drove through what was once Subic Bay Naval base and man, if you were stationed here? You were in paradise. The base still looks like it's been well taken care of, despite it no longer being an american base.

This trip consisted of me, Tim and the girls, as well as my Auntie Tess, my mom and Jhun. Once through Subic, there is a drive up mountainous roads which make your ears pop. Jhun told us to keep our eyes on the left side of the road for monkeys. It wasn't long after that that I spied one.

Jhun pulled over so we could get some good pictures. That little guy came across the street and we noticed two other cars stopped behind us to take a look. Damn tourists.

Auntie Tess told us to throw out some peanuts, so we did and he came right up to the car, along with another little guy. He was so close that I thought, hmmm...he might try to jump up in here. To which Jhun replied (since I recited my thought out loud) yes, I was thinking the same thing. So we got our fill of monkey pictures, rolled up the windows and headed onward.

We made it through the gate and headed to the pavilion, where we would meet Dr. Baluyot. When we got out of the car, we were awestruck.

It. Was. Beautiful.

I have never been to a place like this when I lived here. I went to the beach, maybe once, since we live in the central part of Luzon.

It's a shame too, since the Philippines is well-known for its beautiful beaches. And this one was amazing. Again, reminiscent of what you see in pictures of Hawaii.

This is a view of the reception area, where people check in. The walkway in the foreground is gorgeous and takes you into the 'resort' part of the area.

Anvaya Cove is a gated community of million *dollar* homes, with gorgeous views of the water, or the mountains, or both.

The part we are in are the amenities offered to the residents and their guests.

Their very lucky guests, as we were this day.

The beach sand was so fricking soft. There were spots were the sand was black but the surrounding mountains were not volcanic.

Although we were there on a Thursday, I can't imagine this place getting very crowded. More to the fact that it's more of a local site than to its exclusivity.  But being exclusive also helps...

The water comes from the China Sea. The water was so blue and so green. You can see MiMi's feet clearly through the water.

CJ, MiMi and I walked through the shallow water to one end of the beach. We passed some people that mentioned to a child "want to see the fish?" and then threw something in the water and said "see the fish? we are feeding them!" I thought: seriously, there can't be fish in this shallow of the water.  We walked by and sure enough, there were some average-sized fish right there where I would be wading.

I am not fond of live creatures in the water around my toes. I still waded throughout the day but I was on alert.

The pools were just as magnificent. There were several divisions to the pools, with watered walkways between them. A couple areas were jetted; two under canopies. So if you wanted some shade, you had your choice!

MiMi enjoyed her swim in the pools. At one point in the day, my mom asked me where MiMi was. I was like "i don't care" (I do) since I wanted her to enjoy ever aspect of the resort. She apparently hit all the pools, even the kiddie pool.

Tim mentioned that he could see her head poke out, giving him the stinkeye, that he wasn't in the water with her.

Lunch was at the restaurant on-site. It is beautiful - you can see the wonderful wood ceilings in the picture.

The pre-food 'bread' was chicharron, or fried pork  rinds. Don't freak out as they sell this in the states, in ye old potato chip section of your neighborhood food mart. But baskets of it appear with a vinegar dipping sauce. It's quite yummy.

The family fiesta was ordered, which was *a lot* of food. I opted for my favorite, pancit palabok. CJ had a burger and MiMi had mac-n-cheese.

The mac-n-cheese, despite it stating on the menu that is was noodles and cheese, contained some kind of meat in it. We ordered it again and requested "no meat". The nice waitress repeated, and wrote "no meat" and my auntie Tess expressed it again in tagalog. We got the second dish exactly as the first, including the meat.

At least Tim got his fill of mac-n-cheese...

Everyone, including Tim, was relaxed. Tim and I played in the pool, the beach, and walked the grounds. I laid out with CJ on the beach for a bit, so we all got a "tan", which is something CJ wanted most to get during this trip.

My mom seemed relaxed too. My Auntie Tess kept teasing her about finally getting out and traveling. Apparently she doesn't travel much which I think is a shame because there is so much to see here. Even if she has seen it before, it's nice to enjoy the surroundings. I know she wants to be with her family but *they can go* too.  I'm glad she went with us because we have built some great memories, of this beautiful place, with my mom.

My Auntie Tess managed to get this trip to happen. She was the one that contacted Dr. Baluyot and invited him to our soiree, which then lead to his inviting us to his place.

She is a riot, my auntie Tess. I call her Zsa Zsa because she has a wonderful way of talking..."Dahling, we must go here", "Dahling, don't you want to eat any of the food?", "Where are the children?", "Should the children eat?"

She was extremely happy to have my mom spend time with us, with her. They are usually at odds with each other, as sisters can be, but during our time today, they were the best of friends.

They really needed this time together. The next day, my Auntie Cely would be going in for her sixth, and maybe final, chemo treatment.

They are all worried about my Auntie Cely. It's hard for me to talk, think, or write about it without tears welling up in my eyes. To look at her, you would never think she was sick. But she is and in a lot of pain and hardship.

Nothing tastes right, even if she would feel the strength to eat. And after her chemo, it will be worse for her. And she's been through this many times before, since this is her second set of chemo treatments for her ovarian cancer. She knows what she's in for and, well, she really doesn't want to go through it.

I'm just grateful that I am able to be here now, have my family together, and see, as well as show, all the things that I recall. But I like seeing new things too, and I'm grateful for friends like Dr. Baluyot, who have the means to own places like this, as well as the generosity to share it. Especially with us. :)

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