Molo Church, Iloilo
This page contains almost nothing about cycling. Although my web site is mainly devoted to my bicycle tours, I did want to take this opportunity to record the last extended visit I had with my Mom while she was still healthy. (She died a couple weeks ago, 1/30/2007, at the age of 89.)
We were met at the Iloilo airport by Uncle Dave, Aunt Hazel, Rick Patricio of CPU, an alumnus from Mom's era, and the driver. Baggage claim was kind of a free-for-all. The Manila airport was more organized, with conveyor belts similar to the ones in San Francisco. One difference with Filipino baggage areas is the sea of 20 x 20-inch cardboard balikbayan boxes that ex-pat Filipinos use to bring gifts when they return home for a visit.
The Hotel Chateau Angelique is considered fairly good, but would be definitely second rate by US standards. It has spartan rooms with not everything working, rusty bath fixtures, unpatched holes in the plaster, etc. On the other hand, the hotel restaurant is pretty good and the price is only $16 a night. It's located just a few blocks from the back gate of the university. This is the NW part of the Jaro district, which is north of downtown.
Uncle Dave took me on a ride in a tricicad (actually one each for the two of
us). Cost for the 10-minute ride was 5 pesos each (12 cents). We went to his
bank to change some dollars into pesos. It took a half hour - very
Dave and Hazel's house on the university grounds looks kind of old from the outside but is fixed up very nicely inside. They live on the second floor. Their screened-in porch has a beautiful view over the neighboring rice fields. I helped Hazel figure out how to do some things on her computer with Adobe Photoshop.
Their housekeeper is a young lady named Zueda. She also is their video
cameraperson-trainee. (My aunt and uncle produce
Later we went downtown (by taxi) to do some shopping. Iloilo is crowded with about 350,000 people. There is poverty (run-down buildings, street beggars, lots of people getting around on clunker bicycles) but also fancy shops and smartly-dressed young people with the ubiquitous cell phones. Uncle Dave loaned Mom a cell phone to make it easier to call them, but the circuits are often busy.
Our lunch was a very nice Filipino meal prepared by Zueda. In the evening,
we went to the Del Rio Hotel for their
Saturday night buffet. For $35 we got good food, all you can eat, for four people.
|Mom is at the far side of the table with her brother
(Uncle Dave) at her left and Aunt Hazel on her right.
I was introduced to "Bong" who knows a local cyclist who can give me some tips on local cycling conditions and suggested routes. Later Hazel, Hum-Ding (their dog) and I took a walk over to the tennis courts. For dinner Dave treated us in the hotel dining room.
In the morning we attended a singing competition at CPU as part of University Day. The large auditorium was packed, mostly with students from the high school. The duet competition was taking place when we arrived. One couple from the high school were the clear favorites of the partisan crowd. (They won.) You could hardly hear the singing over the noise of the crowd talking.
Lunch was on the open-air patio of the Forest Cafe. I had sizzling
milkfish shredded and seasoned. It started to rain as we ate but stopped
before we returned.
Dave and Hazel gave a dinner party in the evening for Dr. Acanto and wife,
Rick Patricio, and two Vice Presidents, Juanito Falula and Walden Rio and
their wives. Dr. Rio is head of the College of Engineering.
The photo at right is of the street that leads from the hotel to CPU.
Afterwards we went back to the Stuarts' so Mom could use their computer
to type up her speech for the upcoming memorial service for my grandparents.
Dave and I took Hum Ding for a walk.
That evening the university put on a
for my grandparents, Harland and Guendolen Stuart. Sonny Proximo gave a
tribute, speaking for his recently-departed father, a close friend of the
family. Mr. Catedral read a tribute from his mother Esperanza Catedral
and Mr. Viray spoke as well.
Then Mom gave the speech she had prepared. Later she told me she was afraid "I made a fool of myself" because she stumbled and fell exiting the lectern. I didn't think anyone else felt that way.
The award was presented to Mom and Uncle Dave, who then gave an acceptance
speech. The Bahandi Singers performed several selections and Aunt Hazel sang
two classical pieces with piano accompaniment. (Hazel was on the BBC solo
singing panels and has taught at London College of Music.) Afterwards at
dinner the Bahandi treated us to another selection, "Song of the Ilonggos".
Dr. Rio introduced me to Dr. Armadillo, Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering who offered to show me around the engineering facilities. (I am an electrical engineer with Agilent Technologies.)
The photo is of the street leading to Dave and Hazel's home (at the right at the end of the street).
In the evening was a memorial service for Johnny Proximo, a wealthy
real estate developer who was Dave and Hazel's sponsor to come to the
Philippines. He was Dave's best friend as a child. The service was a
very emotional experience, for Hazel especially.
Later I walked to downtown Jaro to do some shopping. I checked out a "JolliBee" hamburger joint. Prices ranged from 20 to 55 pesos (50 cents to $1.30) for a burger. The combo meals were mostly around 30 pesos. The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world where a local fast-food chain has beat out McDonalds.
Central Philippine University includes a high school on campus. Mom is
a graduate of the class of '35. For University Day, the high school alumni
were meeting in the second floor of the high school building. Dave warned
us that most of the food was already gone and Mom would have trouble with
the stairs, so we just bought food from one of the stands and ate it
sitting on a bench outdoors.
Mom was asked to represent the high school alumni as their candidate for
Alumni Queen! Each candidate was escorted to the stage by a uniformed
cadet and had to answer a series of questions by the (comedian) Master of
Ceremonies. Mom cracked a few jokes that were well-received. When asked
what was her reaction to being chosen, she replied, "Gee whiz!" A
memorable line - I think many Filipinos may not have been familiar with
Everyone voted for their candidate by donating to the CPU
2000 fund. The highest school got 6000 pesos and the lowest 400.
The high school got about 1000, so Mom did pretty well. She is supposed
to return tomorrow for the talent competition. She's thrilled!
We got back just in time to head over to the Rose Memorial auditorium for the rest of the alumni program. It was mostly boring - introduction of officers, etc. But they also had the end of the Miss CPU contest. Mom, representing the high school alumni, came in fifth with 7360 pesos.
The photo is of Stuart Hall on the CPU campus. This is the building Mom and my grandparents lived in back in the 1920s and 30s. It is one of the few campus structures that survived the Japanese occupation during World War II. Today the first floor serves as the University store, with offices on the second floor.
It's starting to get a bit old eating the box lunches they give out at
these events, so Dave treated us to the buffet at the Hotel Del Rio again
We also tried to see Dr. Armadillo, Asst. Dean of the CPU School of Engineering, but he was tied up in meetings.
We had another delicious lunch chez Stuart prepared by Sueda. They were complaining about the toughness of the meat, but I thought it tasted great.
Dinner was at the Bavarian restaurant again. We lucked out since Monday is normally the Swiss chef's night off, but he was filling in for vacationing employees.
While the doorman/guard went to fetch us a cab, I was talking to the chef
who had come outside. He said they pay 3500 pesos/month to the security
company. After deductions for gun and uniform, the guard nets P2500/month,
The fish market had stalls with all kinds of items for sale. Mom found a
bamboo backscratcher for her handyman/friend Randy. When we went looking for
a toilet for Mom, I was pleased that I was able to translate the sign on the
door in Ilonggo, "Pahibalo palíhog sapatos sandals sulód kasilyas.
Salámat." = "Attention! Please remove your shoes and sandals before
entering the toilet. Thank you."
Looking for some good seashore for filming, we ended up driving on a dike out in the boondocks (a good Filipino word!). They were hauling logs (probably shipped from Guimaras Island) and one of the trucks got stuck. Hazel also needed some log footage, so it worked out perfectly.
We went as far as Barotac Viejo, but since the rain was getting heavier we
retreated back south for drier climate. We had lunch at a place that
specializes in barbecued native chicken, served on a bamboo skewer. It was
good, but you don't get much meat on those scrawny little birds, so I
ordered a second noodle/meat dish.
In the afternoon we took a cab to Guisano City, a shopping mall where Mom found some more back scratchers. There was a handicrafts store there, but it looked like everything was factory-made. I did buy a souvenir Iloilo wall hanging.
Dinner was at the Stuarts'. I finally got to see the Tiki (lizard) do his
trick of darting out from beneath the lazy susan to snatch a crumb of
food from the table.
We had lunch at the Del Rio Hotel with the computer technician who helps Dave and Hazel with their computer problems. He is in partnership with a guy starting up a company to make electronic scoreboards.
I wrote thank-you notes to half a dozen people who have helped me and Mom.
I gave 300 pesos each to the doormen for taking such good care of Mom and
her wheelchair and P200 and P100 to the two receptionists since one went out
of her way to help Mom with getting medical supplies.
The computer lab includes a PC at each position - I'm not sure what vintage. That lab is used for student homework assignments.
My company, Agilent Technologies, makes electronic test equipment. I suggested that perhaps I can arrange to donate some used equipment to CPU. Getting it through customs might be a problem. Perhaps in balikbayan boxes? He promised to email me a list of what kinds of equipment are most needed and procedures for shipping.
There are 1007 students in the College of Engineering (of 17,000 at CPU),
and about 60 faculty and staff.
That's the end of my diary. We flew back the next day, but I don't remember any more than that.
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