All good things must come to an end. My Internship in the United States of America is over. Spanning almost a year, it has taught me countless lessons and broadened my scope of understanding of the American culture. I can go on and on about how it was one of the best things that has ever happened in my life, but I would like this post to be about one of the greatest struggles my family has ever faced – Yolanda/Haiyan.
Super Typhoon Yolanda, also known by its International name Haiyan, was the strongest storm ever recorded in history. The term storm surge was used to describe it. Of all the places it could have wreaked havoc, it chose Philippines, my home country. More specifically, the Visayan islands. Yolanda’s made about four or five landfalls. The first was at Guian, Eastern Samar. It had sustained winds of 195 mph. Now, I may not know much about storms, but I knew this was exceptionally strong. The second landfall was at Dulag/Alang-Alang, if I remember correctly. Then, it hit my hometown – Tacloban City.
November 8. 5:00 AM. My little sister Trixia was sleeping soundly when strong gusts of wind struck our homes at Fatima Village, Tacloban City. She woke up to the sounds of shrieks and furniture banging against the walls. Rain poured non-stop. Water levels rose fast. In a few minutes, the entire first stories were completely submerged. Survival instincts kicked in and Mom and the others climbed to higher grounds. That was only the beginning, though. Nothing could have prepared them for what was yet to come.
Yolanda sent roofs flying, brought about high levels of flood water, unearthed coffins, scattered corpses, drowned living people, and… claimed a staggering 10,000+ lives. Lots and lots of innocent lives lost. The storm surge was an apocalyptic destruction of epic proportions. All I could do was supplicate God to keep all my loved ones safe.
I was at Maryland when the storm surge hit, fresh from my Internship. My nights consisted of heavy prayers. My heart felt like it could have shattered to pieces at any time. Although I did not shed a single tear, not a single day passed that I wasn’t worried. I’m incredibly strong for someone so small. Living another day was still a reason to smile and be thankful.
All cellsite towers were knocked down, making it impossible for any type of communication. I had no way of knowing – not the slightest inkling – the status of Mom, Trixia, and my relatives. All I knew was that they would stick together no matter what. News coverage of Tacloban brought about mixed feelings. With varying footages, different parts of Tacloban City were featured. Glimpses of my city during the storm surge’s onslaught was painful to watch. Yet, without it, my imagination would have conjured images subject to morbid introspection. I am always an optimistic person. My faith in God remained unwavered. I knew that beyond the murky tunnel that my loved ones were in, they would find their way to the light at the end.
With flood water rising to incredible heights, Mom, Trixia, and my relatives held firmly on posts and its wires, ensuring they were complete. Waves were dragging them to the entrance of a subdivision just in front of our house. They didn’t have ample time to prepare. Amid the storm surge, all types of perilous items flew and flowed about: nails, screws, tiles, anything sharp. Since they were almost underwater, evading anything proved to be arduous.
Luckily, Mom, Trixia, and the others found refuge at Zilog, a Filipino restaurant owned by Mom’s brother in front of Robinsons Mall Tacloban. They, along with more of my relatives, stayed there for a couple of days. Word of their safety and status came from my cousin Gisella, one day. At that time, I was already at New Jersey. Overwhelmed with relief, I offered a quick little prayer to God. My faith grew stalwartly stronger.
While Zilog turned into their temporary sanctuary, they were not spared of the sight of the macabre aftermath of the storm surge. A plethora of corpses ironically adorned the entire city. As if dictated by law, it was temporarily in a survival-of-the-fittest state. Looting became a conspicuous choice among the victims. Basically, anything essential instantaneously became scarce. Even Zilog had limited resources.
On a side note: Trixia and the others enjoyed bacon everyday. Not too bad. Eventually, they would need to flee the ghost town-turned city. And they did.
Mom and the others agreed to go to Manila. The journey wasn’t easy. It took them two days. Tacloban City’s airport was completely washed out. Hopping on a C130 was the only means to leave by air. Realizing that the lines only kept longer (almost everyone wanted to leave), they decided to travel by land. I only have bits of details about their two-day journey as it was really heartbreaking to absorb. They went to Samar first. Then, Ormoc was their second destination. They found shelter in a little hotel on the way that kinda became a refugee station as well. They had to sleep in the lobby with other victims so they could have enough money for food and water. After that, Cebu was next. They had to wait on a boat for hours before being told that they had to switch boats. It was devastating hearing that. They had no choice. They had to wait for another boat, get on board, and wait for hours again before they reached Manila.
Parañaque City became their temporary home in Manila. Two days later, I arrived here in the Philippines. I flew from California. I hugged Mom and Trixia the instant I saw them. For almost one year, I was away from them. The warmth of their hugs was magical. I missed them so much!
I can proudly say, after enduring the wrath of Yolanda, Mom and Trixia are survivors of the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history. My hometown was almost wiped off the map. Now, everyone from all around the globe are helping rebuild Tacloban City. Just goes to show how strong Filipinos are and how helpful other countries can be.
P.S. Of all the places Yolanda could have hit, she chose Philippines. Certainly, there are countries far more advanced that could have withstood its might. Why? Because Philippines, despite all the criticisms, is built from the foundation of strong individuals. Philippines survived the strongest typhoon. Regardless of the hardships, we Filipinos are still able to flash a sincere smile and help one another. The Filipino spirit is unbreakable! Tindog Tacloban!
P.P.S. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the countries and individuals who donated to victims of Yolanda.
New blog post, same old dilemma – procrastination. My last post was about our Chicago days. That was weeks ago. I have around four states worth of blog posts to do. Five if you count our stopover at Delaware. In due time, I’ll cover those states. But for now, I’ll be focusing on California – The Golden State.
I’m currently staying at my friend’s (Jea) relatives here at San Jose, California, along with JJ and KR. Apparently, initials as nicknames are all the rage. Four has always been a good number. The folks here all speak our native tongue (Waray), except for KR. It’s fun speaking in the language I grew up with. We still have to adjust and speak our national language so as not to leave out KR in our conversations. Plus, there are two kids and a black chihuahua here. My kind of home.
As much as I’d like to share my Cali experience, I’m afraid I have to limit this post to today’s events. Initially, I thought I could cram at least one state’s worth of travel here. I thought wrong. Right now, I bet you’re wondering what happened today that would be worth an entire post. Well, if you’re not, I’m still gonna continue…
I climbed a mountain!
Yes, that’s right. I hiked all the way up of Mission Peak – a peak just to the east of Fremont, California. The mountain is around 2,200 ft. high. Imagine that. A skinny and out-of-shape little individual achieving something very unexpected.
The hike was a huge challenge, for me. Honestly, I was unsure if I was up to it. I was unprepared. But that was taken care of. I put on my Sketchers shoes and my Adidas shorts paired with my orange DC shirt. I contemplated whether or not I should wear my Under Armor thermal suit. It took a long time before I decided to wear it just in case. We packed some granola bars, candy, and water bottles in a black Nike shoe string bag.
The hike started at around 5 P.M. We made sure to warm up and prep for the long hike. Our guide was Kuya Jobin and his friend. For some strange reason, no one remembers his name. I’m pretty sure he introduced himself. Anyway, we took the path at the rightmost part. I recall Kuya Jobin mentioning a name for the path, so I guess the various trails have their own respective names. I should also mention that Jea forgot to bring the Nike bag. Smooth move. Peace, Jea!
On our way up, our topics were so random. We discussed just about anything we could think of. Politics, Philippines, prayers, etc. We even agreed that cable cars should be installed for ease of access. Probably because we weren’t used to walking long distances or climbing an actual mountain. No complaints, though.
Mission Peak is barren. It almost reminded me of a desert at first glance. Dry and chock full of sand. I felt like James Franco from 127 Hours venturing to unknown territory. I tried avoiding the image of being stuck under a rock. That was not a suitable image. Seriously.
Halfway up, the chilly breeze started creeping up on us. Glad I had my thermal clothes on. Wearing shorts did not help at all. There were benches along the way. We stopped on almost every bench that we came across on our trail.
After almost two hours of hiking, I was glad to see the top, which is what Mission Peak is known for. Rock formations were illuminated by the moon and a post with vandals stood firmly on the ground. The summit rewarded us with a breathtaking night view of Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz mountains, and the bustling city. It was worth every ounce of fear, sweat, and energy.
Precious memories like these are extremely rare. All of these are already archived in my little memory bank.
Incidentally, we ate at Jollibee for dinner. The last time I ate at Jollibee was roughly one year ago. Reunited and it felt so good. Or should I say tasted so good?
Note: I’m blogging about our 4-day Chicago vacation. Currently, we’re here at New Jersey.
Work is finally over! Being a seasonal employee slash intern at THE Grand Hotel forged unbreakable bonds and unforgettable memories. I won’t be dwelling much about that though. It’s what’s afterwards that I’ll be blogging about. I may blog about my Grand Hotel Internship in the near future.
As I was saying, work is over. Naturally, what comes next is… (insert drum roll here) a VACATION! First stop: CHICAGO, IL.
Chicago is known for being windy, branded with the title of Windy City. It lives up to its name. Of the four days we stayed here, not a single day was spared. Every day was windy. We had complaints here and there, but there was really not much we can do. We were powerless against the forces of nature.
We stayed at Marriott’s Springhill Suites Downtown/River North. Obviously, we were at the downtown area which was really convenient. Our room was on the 22nd floor.
We didn’t have an organized itinerary. We figured we’d just try to visit as many of the famous attractions as we can. Then we stumbled upon the CityPASS. Basically, a CityPASS is a booklet bundled with five admission tickets. It’s a one-time payment (costs less than all five attractions paid separately) that gives you a faster access to the attractions of Chicago. Do note that there are actually seven attractions, the last four split into two choices only. We didn’t follow the list, though. We did it randomly.
The Field Museum
First stop on our tour is The Field Museum.
This museum houses over 24 million specimens, only a few of which are ever on display. Upon entering, the first thing anyone would notice is a giant T-Rex dinosaur skeleton. Later on, we learned its name – Sue. Sue is a rare dino, its bones almost complete when it was found.
We saw Sue 3D, a documentary slash animation of how Sue supposedly lived. According to the movie, Sue lived a good long life. Sue’s kind was the king of the dino era, the highest of the hierarchy. This was pretty much the highlight of the museum.
The Shedd Aquarium
Second stop. VIP Entry courtesy of our CityPASS
The Aquarium contains tons of different kinds of aquatic creatures. The first few we saw were some manta rays and a huge turtle being fed. I kinda like that job, swimming with the fishes and feeding them.
Before leaving, they had a show, as expected. I forgot the name of the show, but it featured three dolphins as the main attraction. A couple of beluga whales and a sea lion joined the show as well. The show reflected how well taken care of the sea creatures are.
The Adler Planetarium
This was one of the places where we had to choose. The other choice was The Art Institute of Chicago. The Planetarium was decided by majority.
This was the best place, in my opinion. I like aquatic creatures, but space is just awesome! If I had an entire day in Chicago, I’d spend it here, learning as much as I can about the ever-expanding universe.
As with all the museums, there was a complimentary 3D show. We chose the Space Junk 3D movie. The other one was Sun 3D. It was a tough choice.
The movie was all about the bits and pieces and trash that we launch into space and leave it there.
The junk cloud keeps increasing exponentially.
At the rate we’re going, we’re only making Earth and space more and more hazardous. There have been reports of satellites crashing into one another. Luckily, scientists are trying to develop a breakthrough innovation which will help clean our space little by little.
Upstairs, there was a huge exhibit about the solar system. Each planet had its own island booth. Coupled with descriptions, images, and interactive iPads, anyone was sure to learn more about each planet.
John Hancock Observatory
This was also one of two possible choices, the other one being the Museum of Science and Industry. We’ve had our fair shares of museums, so we decided to do an observatory.
The observatory is where you can find Chicago’s only open air SkyWalk. We came here at night time. With a 360-degree view of Chicago, we were mesmerized at how the lights illuminated the city. Dazzling strokes of light formed in the streets. If I was a better photographer, I’d have utilized the lights and take bokeh shots. Yes, that’s right. I know a few terms.
Incidentally, we saw a family with a very cute family costume: a mayo dad, a mustard mom, and a sandwich kid. It was seriously the cutest thing.
SkyDeck at Willis Tower
Our fifth and final CityPASS stop. This has been delayed for almost three days due to bad weather (mostly fog). The weather did clear up and we had the chance to try it out.
At 103 floors, SkyDeck was easily my most feared attraction. But I told myself that no trip to Chicago would be complete without a visit to the Ledge – glass floor balconies overlooking the city. Being afraid of heights, it wasn’t exactly easy. Fear is a formidable foe. And I was able to conquer my fear.
Don’t I look cool? Sitting on that glass ledge, just casually smiling for a picture.
Also known as “The Bean,” the Cloud Gate is a public sculpture located at Millennium Park. Almost anyone would be able to recognize it from hundreds of movies it was fearured in, notably: The Source Code. Well, the closing scene, that is.
The bean there, done that caption is too cliché, so I had to stick with a simpler caption.
And this concludes my short-lived vacation in CHICAGO with JJ, Kaicy, Ara, and Mico. I had to jam all these in one slightly summarized post. Their company is what I’ll miss the most.
Next stop: New Jersey and New York.
For the past few days, I have been really busy here in the Grand Hotel. Thankfully, it’s not because of work. I’ve been utilizing my employee perks and trying out Grand Hotel’s amenities. Initially, I thought of blogging this in a chronological order. Instead, I chose to categorize it. Sorta.
Grand Hotel is known for its two main amenities: the Main Dining Room and Front Porch.
Main Dining Room
Grand Hotel’s Main Dining Room is huge! It can sit upto a thousand people. That’s right. A thousand people. I don’t want to go into detail about it. All I can say is it’s really glorious. I know because I started working there before I acquired my second job (which became my initial job after a few months). The Main Dining Room, or MDR as we like to call it, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all of which are open to the public. I was lucky enough to try all three with minimal slash zero expenses.
Breakfast – the most important meal of the day; often neglected by majority. I don’t understand why some people choose to skip it. I only do so if I have no choice.
I was able to try having breakfast in the MDR for free when my friend Jessa, an FO clerk, was given breakfast tickets by a guest with a hectic schedule. Along with Ela (Concierge) and Ben (Coffee Break), we dined there on an early Thursday morning.
I swear, their eggs were scrumptious! I always have mine over medium. They cooked it just right. That was only the first of many more dining opportunities I have yet to type.
Lunch – often the first meal of many; not for me, though. As for lunch, the hotel has two options: the Grand Luncheon Buffet at the MDR, and light lunches at Carleton’s Tea Store.
The Grand Luncheon Buffet starts at 12NN and last seating is at 2PM. This is what most of non-guests come here for, bombarding us with questions regarding it. I tried it yesterday, again, for free, thanks to Jessa. Ela came along with us. Yesterday was also my final day off of the season.
There were two lines of buffet tables; they expected more than two hundred people. That’s a lot. Most of the people were part of the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association convention which was held here in the hotel.
I ate a lot of shrimp. That was pretty much the highlight of my lunch. The entrées were meh. The desserts were good, but lacked variety. It used to be that they had macaroons and rum cakes, two of my best desserts. They didn’t have it yesterday. We left the MDR with our waists two inches bigger. We were so full!
As for Carleton’s, earlier this week, my friend Ysh and I ordered Ham and Swiss Panini’s. It was good. The manager took our order and he was really nice. I also took a couple slices of fudge which was by the counter for free taste.
Dinner – [insert description here]. Sorry for being so lazy. That description thing was getting old. But enough of that. Let me try to describe my two consecutive nights at the MDR. TWO consecutive nights of fine-dining.
The first was on the 20th. I got an out-of-the-blue invite from Brenda, my co-worker since December. She had a night off, couldn’t find anything better to do, and was bored. I accepted the invite. When it comes to food, money is no object.
The MDR serves five-course meals for dinner. For some, that’s a lot of food. Well, it is. But I wasn’t gonna let this chance of eating a five-course meal slip away. Not to mention, our entire meal was discounted generously. I ordered one from each course, wrapping it up with a huge scoop of my favorite ice cream flavor – Mackinac Fudge (with tons of fudge sauce). I won’t include the photo of the dessert mainly because I couldn’t get a good (or even decent) shot of it. Just take my word for it; that flavor is the best on the island.
My second fine-dining experience was on the next day. I wore the exact same blue H&M jacket. I didn’t really have much of a choice. It was JJ’s. I don’t have a jacket. Never really considered buying one. That was the only piece of clothing I repeated though. The rest of my look was redesigned. There were seven of us: Me, Jemuel, Meliza, Mico, Chiara, Kaicy, and JJ. Not sure if there was supposed to be an eighth one to turn our odd-numbered group to an even one.
Our server was Pao, a fellow Filipino. Pao was an excellent server. He made sure we felt the essence of fine-dining. He suggested that we be honest, letting him know if what we ordered were not to our liking. He was more than happy to replace our food if we wanted to. The food was delicious, in my opinion. Our smiles were more than enough to convey how we loved the service. Thumbs up!
Grand Hotel’s famous colonial Front Porch is 660 feet, making it the longest porch in the world. Divided into two: East and West, Grand Hotel’s front porch is a unique architectural masterpiece. White rocking chairs, beverage servers, and everyday people fill the porch. I’ve been working for the hotel since May, but I realized that I’ve never set foot on it and actually grasped its splendor. From my point of view, it really is magnificent. All the hype its getting is worthy to some extent.
Yesterday, after the Grand Luncheon Buffet, Jessa and I strolled on the East side of the porch. The weather was random, but it was nippy with plenty of sunlight.
It used to be that the porch was booming with people earlier this season. But as the days pass by and the end of the season nearing, the number of daily visitors reduced significantly. Nowadays, there are hardly any people there, except when the Grand hosts weddings or certain events. The beauty of the porch is unaffected by this, though.
Dorothy Draper Suite
I must admit, after trying out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a stroll on the porch, I thought my Grand Hotel experience was complete. Boy was I wrong. I never took into account an overnight stay, mainly because it never crossed my mind, until last night. When my roomie, JJ, got home, he told me to change.
“We’re staying overnight at the Grand. Kaicy got a room and all five of us (Me, Kaicy, JJ, Chiara, and Mico) should be present.”
Kaicy was lucky enough to get a named room (which are really hard to get). Not to mention it was a suite – the Dorothy Draper Suite. Carleton Varney, the person who designed the Grand Hotel in its late 19th century decor, was Dorothy Draper’s protege. The motif was red. The suite was spacious. It had a little shelf filled with books near the entrance. An enormous red bed was at the center of the room. Facing the bed was a red sofa and a mini flatscreen TV. The bathroom was located on the east end of the suite.
Sad to say, I don’t have any pictures of the suite. I was overwhelmed with the idea of staying. I know my description hardly suffices, but it’s all I got. One thing I’d like to note is that I slept like a baby last night. I slept so soundly that a million alarms were no match for my powerful sleeping skills. I was the first person to sleep and the last person to wake up.
Now, I can say for certain, that staying overnight at the Dorothy Draper marked the completion of my Grand Experience.
Live healthy. Live grand.
I know my last post was about my day off, but this post will be about yet another day off. Yesterday’s day off, to be exact. And this is how it turned out.
I woke up feeling so good. Got enough sleep. Woke up on the right side of the bed. Dorm is quiet. Sun shining down on my face. Pretty much an excellent way to start a day, right? Right. Well, it gets better.
I had thought about eating breakfast at Chuckwagon for quite some time now. Yesterday was the perfect opportunity. I got up at around 10A.M. Chuckwagon stops serving breakfast at 11A.M. I had one hour. I took a shower, got dressed, and hurried down. 10:55A.M., I was one block away. I was pretty sure I wasn’t gonna make it.
Breakfast. 8AM – 11:30AM.
The sign sat just by the window side. I was out of breath. I tried catching it before heading in.
The place wasn’t as full as I thought it would be. I sat slightly to the right of the cook. Space-wise, the place is really cramped. No complaints, though. I ordered The Great Big Breakfast. They didn’t just name it for nothing. It was huge. Three eggs, two types of meat, toast, and home fries. My tummy was very happy.
I had my mind set on watching a movie at Mackinaw City. Usually, the movies start at 2PM. I finished eating at 12NN. I didn’t want to arrive early, so I stayed at Starbucks for an hour. I ordered a Grande Double Chocolaty Chip and started reading my book that I always had to put down. It was a good read.
I rode the 1PM ferry. It took about 15 minutes to arrive at Mackinaw City. I stopped by the cinema first. On weekdays, movies start at 7PM. I checked the site beforehand. It did state that. But I thought it was an error. I had to change plans.
Out of the blue, I decided to book a body massage at a salon called Utopia. Not that I was stressed or anything. I just wanted one because… I wanted one. Then I changed my mind and decided to have a facial instead. And so I did. I had a Honey and French Green Clay Facial. It sounded so fancy. Just to let you know, that was my first ever facial here in America. And I absolutely loved it! The experience was new and very invigorating. I even considered coming back next week for another one. The ladies working there were very hospitable and fun. I only had a pic of one of them, the lady who gave me the facial.
I took the 5:30PM ferry and got back on the island in less than half an hour. I immediately went to Twist-N-Sprouts and customized my FroYo. I was disappointed because they were out of Reese’s. I still enjoyed my FroYo, though.
I was in a hurry because I was gonna attend Tuesday Bingo Night at the Community Hall. It always starts at around 6PM. I was running late. I arrived probably around half past six. I made it. They were just about to start in around seven seconds. I sat between Iris and Ingrid.
Bingo was so much fun. Anticipating the next number, sitting on the edge of the seat, waiting for that last number, practicing yelling BINGO. Time just slipped away.
Next time, for sure, it’ll be my time to
shine yell “BINGO!”
Last Tuesday, it was my day off. As usual, I had nothing planned and equipped my go-with-the-flow attitude. I tried seeing just how far my two feet can take me. This time, I stayed on the island. I’m usually off the island on the days I’m off.
I started my day by
waking up, of course having lunch at Millie’s on Main Street, an American Restaurant/Bar on the downtown area of the island. It was part of my Foursquare list of places to visit, thus, it was my first time there. I sat at the bar area as there were no more vacant tables. I didn’t mind. In fact, I actually would have preferred it over a table. The bartender took care of me, drink and food order and all. I ordered a Grilled Club Deluxe and a Coke.
The food was delicious! I could taste the freshness of the ingredients. I forgot to tell the bartender to remove the tomatoes. I don’t eat it. Dunno why. I just don’t. I opted for fries instead of the typical chips. Not exactly a chips person.
No offense. Admittedly, even for a heavy eater like me, I already felt full after the first sandwich. I was able to finish my meal, though. Fries included. I like fries.
As for the bartender, his service left much to be desired. Sure, he welcomed me, took my order, and served it right. But, service doesn’t end until the customer leaves. After I got my order, he never even bothered checking up on me. He was just roaming around. There weren’t really that much people on the bar. There were two, at most. I’m not complaining. But a bartender is supposed to be sharp. Or at least, engaging. He lacked that. He needs more experience. I didn’t bear a grudge or anything, though. I was still a satisfied customer, regardless of his lack of attentiveness. I left with a smile.
I went to the park to read my book. The weather was really beautiful. It wasn’t warm or freezing. It was just right. Perfect weather for hanging out at the park. I was alone, though. A few chapters after, I saw a couple of my friends. Well, I only knew one – Mae. I
used to work with her work with her at the Main Dining Room. The rest, I only knew by their faces. A simple hi or hello would suffice when we bumped into each other. They were: Claire, Dani, Gel, and Ivan (who introduced himself as Rudy, which I totally believed to be true).
A little bit of awkwardness was present. I wasn’t that good in interacting with fellow Filipinos here on the island. But something changed that. A little bit. A quick but very tiring game of Frisbee.
I haven’t really played Frisbee before. Well, not the way it was actually supposed to be played. I had a different version of it back when I was still a kid. I hesitated a bit, actually, before joining. But I joined eventually. And I swear, it was so much fun. We split into two groups. I was with Dani and Mae. The other group was composed of Claire, Ivan, and Gel, obviously. I had a couple of shining moments, namely: the first one who caught the flying disc with just one hand. I did it more than once. The others had their moments too. Mae was dubbed the “kneeling girl” for catching the flying disc while kneeling. Dani exhibited proficiency while playing. My team mates were cool. The other three were equally cool in their own way.
Incidentally, a couple with a pet dog passed by the park. Claire identified them as guests who ate at Village Inn where she works. I couldn’t help but go with Claire and interact with the couple. They were nice and friendly. They introduced the dog as Wyatt (not sure with the spelling). Wyatt was very trained. Claire and I played fetch with him. The ball we kept throwing was nothing short of dog slobber. I just brushed it off by the grass. Wyatt also knew tricks like playing dead, but was having too much fun with his new friends that he didn’t want to stay and was very active. I wish I had a dog. I plan on getting one someday.
It’s been a long time since I felt this good on any of my day offs. The reason being I always have to work hard if I am to earn a lot. I would sacrifice half of my day off working my butt off. Tuesday was my first day off in a while that I never worked a single second. This is the very definition of a day off. To rest, have fun, and let loose. And rest some more.
Everyone has that one thing they’re afraid of. Whether it’s water or spiders, fear is embedded in each and every one of us. As much as I hate to admit it, I, too, am afraid of something – heights. I know I’m not the only one, but still.
The common advice would be to face your fears one step at a time. A giant leap forward could just very well end up counterproductive. This is why I took one step to overcome my fear.
That’s right. Last Tuesday, on my off, I went parasailing with my friend Jessa (my sister from another mother and father). Honestly, I tried cancelling it to the best of my abilities. I failed. Jessa’s mind was already set. She made reservations the day before. No turning back for us.
The Parasailing activity was at Mackinaw City, a 15-minute ferry ride away from the island. Another branch is located on the island too, but rumors entail that the one on Mackinaw is better. We had to believe the rumors. Plus, we needed to get out of the island anyway.
We left early in the morning. We took the 8 o’clock ferry. The thing is, there was a promo for early birds at Mackinaw Parasailing. The price was considerably lower. We only paid around a hundred bucks for the both of us. A sweet deal, wouldn’t you agree?
There were only two people there when we arrived. One was Charlie or Charles. The other one was a guy with “V” as the first letter. I have a bad memory. We signed a couple of documents that I had to read because… well, just because. I love reading. The point was that they weren’t liable for anything that may happen to us. Figures. We got on the boat after signing.
To our surprise, there was a family of four who went along with us. At first, I thought it would’ve been awkward. But it wasn’t. That family was fun to be with. They kept asking us typical foreigner questions like where we were from or if we spoke Spanish. I answered all their questions. Interacting with people is my forte even though I was an introvert before.
The weather didn’t cooperate with us that day. The sky was gray. Storm clouds loomed on the horizon. It drizzled from time to time. The sun was nowhere in sight. Still, it was a now-or-never moment.
We let the son and daughter go first so we would know how it worked. Their testimonials proved to be encouraging. Next was the father. He went up alone. His wife only came as a spectator. Jessa and I went up last. It was a one-sided decision. I admit, I was scared when we were taking off.
Not sure if that was the correct term. We got way up high. Strangely, it wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it’d be. I mean, I came into the conclusion that if I were to fall, I’d just dive right into the lake. Not exactly deadly or anything, but it still would’ve hurt. High up in the sky, I felt like a bird soaring. Freedom. Except for the harness and the lifejacket strapped on me. The wind in my eyes, my hair dancing to the breeze, my feet swinging back and forth, it was über fun. Occasionally, I would let out a squeal or two. But other than that, it was bliss.
I learned to conquer one of my fears. Although not completely, I’ll do it one step at a time. No need to rush or anything.
By the way, we received certificates for completing the activity. And, we got the digital photo package. That’s one item crossed out of the Bucket List (which has yet been made).
Last Sunday, I was able to go to church and attend a mass. Finally. It seemed like forever since I last went. When I was still in the Philippines, my whole family had a weekly routine of attending the mass during Sundays and eating outside. I miss those times.
A couple of weeks earlier, Father Joel, a Filipino priest, visited the hotel and passed by where I was stationed. He informed me that he will be having a mass on the last Sunday of this month. Everyone was encouraged to come. Well, mostly Filipinos. It was gonna be in our language. I decided to come.
I realized that going alone would be too boring, so I asked a couple of my friends to come, namely: Jessa (my friend who has the same birthday as I do) and Ben (Jessa’s schoolmate slash roommate) tagged along with me. The mass was held at St. Anne’s Church, located at the Visitor’s Center. I must say, it took us almost half an hour to get there. I didn’t realize how far it was. Plus, Jessa and I spurting nonsense and cracking ourselves up made the walk seemed longer. Ben rode his bike on the way.
There’s a first for everything. That much is true. It was my first time at the Visitor’s Center. Also at St. Anne’s Church. The church is huge! White is the dominant color. The interior was very serene and calming. I didn’t take that much pictures, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
I was glad there were more of us Filipinos inside. More friends. And, we arrived almost just in time. The mass had barely started, although I kept reiterating en route that we were very late. I guess I was overthinking it.
The songs were mostly “Tagalog.” I couldn’t sing along as I only knew the English versions and our dialect’s (Waray) versions. I tried lip-synching. I was pretty good. Not!
After the mass, we were told to proceed downstairs. To my surprise, they prepared food for everyone. Filipino food. How awesome was that? Not to mention I didn’t get to eat dinner yet. Lucky! We had so much fun there. Bonding with my fellow Filipino co-workers never felt so good. We took pictures, talked about random things, sang karaoke, and planned next time’s meeting. Starting last Sunday, every last Sunday of the months to come will be the dates for our Filipino masses. We are to gather as many people as we can, and lift our hearts to God. Looking forward to the Sundays to come. May it be as fun as last Sunday. If not, even more fun!
The family that prays together, stays together.
Working here at the Grand Hotel isn’t as grand as being a guest of it. We don’t get as much hours as we hoped we would. (At least we get paid by the hour.) This is why opportunities for extra service are always longed for. In some cases, people make more doing extra service than they do with their regular job. Although, extra services aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea.
This week, there were tons of opportunities for extra services. They let us know by posting it on the window of our Human Resources’ office.
By the way, our HR office is only open from 1PM – 5PM. What’s up with that? I signed up for two different shifts. One was at The Fort yesterday, the other was at Tea Garden earlier today.
Yesterday was the 4th of July – America’s Independence Day. One can only imagine how busy it was at The Fort. There were hundreds of people. It was an event open to the public. I didn’t think there could be so many people on this tiny little island. It was nothing compared to the thousands of people I used to serve back at Busch Gardens, though. Never a non-busy day that theme park.
I’m not sure if there was a name for the event. It was a picnic-styled dinner. We had a pile of stacked linen, two lines for the buffet, beverage stands, lots of tables, and a gazillion chairs. Seriously. I commend the people who brought and put up all those chairs. I helped out a bit with the chairs too. Just to let you know.
The picnic dinner went well. A success, one might say. I even got a $5 tip for entertaining a couple. Well, all I did was talk (a lot) and take their picture. I miss that part of being a server. Satisfying guests is one of the many perks of being a server, and a reward too in its own way. With my current assignment, I am limited to, probably, less than a five-minute conversation with guests. Best part of it was that I get to be with my friends in a different environment. Plus, we got to see a couple of reenacments.
As part of July 4th, Grand Hotel held a three-day celebration with games and such. A mini carnival of sorts. People gathered to have oodles of fun in the sun.
Did I just use the word oodles ? I signed up knowing that the shift starts at 11:00 A.M. I even set up my alarm to set off at 10AM. Unfortunately, because the snooze button was so tempting, I overslept. I woke up past 11AM because of a late night despedida party (which was awesome) we had last night (which will be a separate post should I muster up the energy to blog about it). Funny how fast I can move when I realize I’m late to work. Usually, I’m as slow as a turtle in the morning. I got up, readied myslef, and rushed to the Tea Garden.
I was half an hour late. What would you expect? Everyone has already been assigned a specific area slash game. Honestly, I was ready to go back home if they didn’t need another person. I just wanted to make sure I at least show up. Good thing this Football-ish game needed one more person. I screamed “YES!” in my head.
I didn’t bother checking the name of my game. It was probably something like “Lions’ Football Game” or something. The mechanics were simple. All they had to do was hit as many bears as they can. The catch: there were seven bears. 4 in black Bears (probably a football team) jackets and 3 in blue Lions (definitely a football team) jacket. In actuality, they only had to hit all three blue-jacketed bear. Hence, the reason for the name I gave the game.
We were drenched in the sun for what seemed like forever. But it was really worth it because it was bliss. I love kids. I love entertaining them and this provided an outlet for my happiness. All sorts of sentences came out of my mouth (mostly encouraging words slash cheers) that I had no idea I would be using in real life. Seeing the kids (and kids in heart) have fun and their faces lit with smiles drained all the unnecessary complaints I had. Even though I didn’t have breakfast and lunch, and we finished at around 2P.M., I can say that it was the best extra service I ever did. More so because a couple of my friends were there as well.
Opportunities like these don’t come that often. Memories don’t just magically appear in our heads. We create our memories. This is why I’m so thankful for every single day I get, as should everyone else.
Yesterday was the Summer Solstice. That means SUMMER has officially started! Imma brace myself for heaps of fun under the sun. Warm weather, tank tops, board shorts, sun-kissed skin, ice cream (I always buy ice cream anyways), water parks, and late night parties!
Ever since we arrived, nights have been freezing, and mornings chilly. I just couldn’t get used to cold weather. My body is so tropical. Staying in Florida for almost six months didn’t exactly help. It felt like home (PH) there, even during winter.
As for my clothes, I didn’t gear myself right. I knew it was gonna be cold here but I never bothered buying winter clothes. I relied on my two grey jackets that provided minimal warmth. When it starts getting warm, my armoire will start getting messy and my summer-themed clothes will finally be utilized. Now, if only I can get enough confidence (and get leaner), I might actually be able to try wearing tank tops naturally. That’s something to look forward to.
Incidentally, I read a tweet regarding a Super Moon event tomorrow. I think I recall observing it last year. I’m not entirely sure though.
I probably should’ve said this at the start of my post, but I sorta left it out. I’ll say it now: