Thursday, June 29, 2006

Philadelphia, Family, Chicago, and Old Friends

Chicago is really a great city. It is big and clean and full of great things to see and do. 99% of the times I've been here I have been here for work, so I don't actually get to see many of those places, but I try to catch a few here and there.

Before I go on, you may be wondering why I am in Chicago in the first place. The answer to that is the same as the answer to why we have not created any blog postings for a week.

The evening of June 20, Tim and I took off from Manila to return to the US. Most of our family and friends knew we were coming back except for Tim's parents. We were coming back for a surprise party which was planned for their 40th anniversary before we had taken the Manila assignment. In order to make the surprise even more of a surprise, we decided to not let his parents even know we were back in the country. It definitely seemed to be a total surprise... more about that later.

We landed in Philly early morning on Wednesday, June 21st. It was SO GOOD to see Philly again. We were just so happy to be home. We got our luggage home (including our one casualty of a busted up suitcase) and excitedly lugged it all up the elevator. We got some teasing comments from our concierge who had not seen us for 5 months.

We opened the door to our unit and were smiling so much. There are so many little things about your house that make it your house. Some of the funny things that we noticed more now are how large our oven/stove is, that our counter tops in Philly are higher (probably about 5-6 inches higher), that Tim and I love artsy clocks and really do have a ton of them, and that we were very happy to be home. My uncle had also installed a HUGE ceiling fan for us while we were gone, so for all of you who have been bothered by those wired hanging from that hole in our ceiling, that problem has been remedied :-)

My mom had been keeping an eye on the house and so it was of course cleaner than it has ever been. I think I am a good house keeper, but my mom can get almost anything sparkling. Tim was very impressed by our clean stove. One could wonder why our house needed cleaned 5 times when we left it clean, but that is just my mom :-)

Although we were tired, we had a lot of work we had to finish before the party. We started by unpacking and putting things away and organizing our many gifts we had purchased for people. We were going to try to stay awake all day (I had taken this day as PTO) and then sleep at normal time that night.

We organized our things the best we could and later that afternoon, my parents came up with our car, which they had gotten from Gene and Darlene on a ruse. We had chinese food with my parents and I showed my mom the many scarves and gifts we had picked out.

They left after a few hours, and Tim and I cleaned things up a little and then laid down to try to get some sleep. We really would not sleep well for 3-4 nights, but we did get a little sleep.

Thursday, I had to work and Tim set about making sure he had all the photos set for his parents party. But we did start the day off with a walk to starbucks and around our neighborhood to see what had changed. Several things did change but most of it was the same.

Friday we started with the dreaded major dental work. Before we left for Manila, the dentist located several problem areas which we decided to get fixed. Note to all our blog readers: Novacaine and Jet Lag are a terrible combination. I was in pain, shaky, sick to my stomach, and twice as tired.

But, the show must go on, and off we were after the dentist to Elizabethtown to see my sister and mom. My sister is a hair dresser, and she trimmed my hair and colored it. She did her usual great job. Mostly, it was great to see her again. Jen is a squealer, and we were really afraid that Tim's parents would know we were in town, attracted by the sounds of Jen squealling. (Tim's parents also live in Elizabethtown - a fact which will become more poignant shortly).

[Kendra, Jen and Momo at Fusion Salon in Elizabethtown. Check out this article from Central Penn Parent]


After the festivities with the hair and eating some very late lunch, we needed to head over to see my sister's new house and get ready for dinner. We were planning to meet my dad and Jen's husband, Jason, at T.J. Rockwell's. On the way to Jen's new house, we turned onto the street Gene and Darlene live on. Tim and I immediately realized we were going to drive right past their house and were a little nervous about this. Our nervousness quickly turned to panic when we looked up and jogging right into the car on Tim's side was Gene!!! Oh no! Oh no! It turns out he did not see us, but this was very strange and caused us to be worried for a day until we saw him at the party!

Dinner that night was very nice. It was great to see the family again and spend time some talking. Tim and I were incredibly beat though. These long flights can make you feel so exhausted that you feel literally sick to your stomach.

[Kendra and Momo at T.J. Rockwell's]

[Jen and Jason at T.J. Rockwell's]


After dinner, Tim and I headed to the Harrisburg airport to pick up Aunt Marilyn who had flown in for the party. It was great to see her as always! (Aunt Marilyn is Darlene's older sister).

That evening we returned to mom and dad's and we got to see our little Elora again! Yay!!! She is so precious. I think this first night she was a little mad at us, but in the next days she would warm up and be her normal snuggly self.


We tried to sleep, but did not really succeed at all.

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning. My mom cooked us a nice breakfast, and then we headed off to Palmyra to see Sara and start getting set up for the party. It was a really great time seeing Sara and her friend Sam again. Also, it is always a great experience to work together on something like the party. We had helped Sara as much as we could with invitations and the photos before leaving, but once we were in Manila, Sara had been handling all of the logistics and I had set all the response cards to come to her, so she had her hands full. We were glad to be back where we could help again and transform the fellowship hall into a beautiful place.

After several trips to pick up more items, discussions over room set up and A/V setup, we headed back to Sara's to get changed and ready for the big evening and were all very excited!

The party turned out to be such a huge success. There were a little over 80 people there and everyone seemed to have a great time. When Gene and Darlene were brought into the room initially, Sara was at the podium and brought them up to the front of the room. They were shocked then. She then said Tim and Kendra have sent along for you some gifts and there is a special person to deliver them. Out walked Aunt Marilyn, and then they were more suprised. Then, Sara was explaining to the audience that Tim and I were in the Philippines for 5 months and Gene and Darlene started opening the gifts, and then Tim and I walked out! And then there was the maximum amount of surprise.

[Gene and Darlene cutting the cake...at about the very same spot they were back in 1966!!]


[And there it is...40 years and so many memories ago!! Thanks to everyone who came to the party and made it a huge surprise and a happy success!! Thanks to Sara and Sam for the planning and setup and Congratulations to Mom and Dad!!]


We spent most of Sunday with Tim's family, including a great lunch that Aunt Marilyn took all of us to at Flaver's in Elizabethtown.

Sunday afternoon we went to visit my Dad's parents, Mo and Fo. It was great to see them again, and we got some rare photos taken of all of us together. Fo is still in the Drum and Bugle core, which is so good for both of them, and they are both on a special diet with fruits and vegetables, and look great.

[Kendra with her grandparents]

[And adding Don, the son and Faye, the daugher-in-law]

[Father and Son in the backyard]

Sunday evening, against my body's advise (because I was falling over with exhaustion) we went to Jen and Jason's house for a great meal. Jen and Jason cooked up every type of grillable food there was, and Jason was a good bartender. Their new house is really awesome, and I'm very happy for them.

This week, I had to travel to Chicago for work. It has been good to see my co-workers again, and I even got to see some people from my previous projects that I have not seen in awhile - Jeff Harper, Rob Fuhrmann, Rob Friess, Abbie Terrill. It is great to be able to reconnect with all these people, although I fly back to Philly tonight, and I'm happy for that.

Tim has been getting some work in this week at IMS and has been kept very busy. Next week, he plans to take a day and visit his family again.

So, that is what is going on with us! We fly back to Manila for our final month at the end of next week.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Music Post


I've been able to put a few of my music tracks up on Download.com's music section. Nothing spectacular, just three of my more complete ventures into composing and producing my own electronica. I've made a ton of tracks, it's just that only a few end up with the structure and sound I like to deem worthy of adding samples to and re-editing into complete tracks. (Even then, they tend to last well upwards of 5 minutes...not so well-suited for radio play...oh well). There's a nice chill-out tune called "Brush & Chill" for those you not into the harder beats. I also have a few other tracks up on MySpace.

The Swatara Creek is a small, winding body of water in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, near to where I grew up and learned to love music. Living there in that woodsy setting was a season in my life that was quite instrumental in developing my character and personality. I thought it a fitting name for what I (attempt to) do musically.

In other music news, Starscape, the biggest electronic music event on the U.S. East Coast is happening this Saturday in Baltimore, Maryland. Put together by the famous Ultraworld Productions (Remember Energize and Engage at the D.C. Armory?], I'm sure it will be a great show, let me know how it goes.

[Checking the Line Up....]



Here's some pictures I took of last year's Starscape Event.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Baby Dedication and Barongs

[A dog who really wants to come out and play]

Today we were able to see the Repique's again. It has been quite a few months since our last visit, and it was genuinely really great to see them again. In addition to being a very loving and jovial family, they have one of the cutest little girls I think I will ever see. Crystel was her usual adorable self, and was even advertising it on her new dress sent to her by her Aunt Raquel and Uncle Jim from the U.S. She was also sporting the cutest pair of sneakers also from her aunt and uncle.
[Adorable]

As soon as we got into the car, she jumped onto Tim's lap and off we headed. We were going to Verna's cousin's house for the dedication of a baby for which George, her son, was the godfather. (Are you confused yet?)

We arrived at the destination after quite a long drive and passed a lot of interesting scenery on the way. Tim got a lot of good photos and I'll let them speak for themselves.

[Wooden bridge over a swamp]
[Panorama of a village by a field]
[Who says you have to buy a minivan once you have three kids?]


There was the usual enormous spread of food out when we arrived and people eating and smiling and greeting each other. They were playing rock songs from the 80's and 90's and George and I were singing along as usual. Before long, they brought us into the living room where they actually had a kareoke machine! George and I sang a few songs. (OK - George sang 10 songs very well, and I sang 2 poorly selected songs that were not exactly within my voice range).

[Posing with her new "Rubber Shoes".]
[George belting out the karaoke tunes]

[George and his newly dedicated god-daughter]
[Bringing back memories of "Lord of the Flies"...bon apetit!!! ]

[Crystel and her Kuya :-) ]

After a few photos of George with the goddaughter, some dialouge with some of the little girls who were very interested in who these white people were, and some dialouge with some very precious ladies who I think, again, thought that I had a medical problem preventing me from having children (I just usually smile at that, because I know they mean well), we headed for the car.

Maurice, the driver, had to do an 80-point turn after backing out of the driveway to exit onto the local road. The "driveway" to the home was a concrete slab, about 12 feet wide and elevated 3 feet above a marshy swamp with no curb. It was very impressive to say the least.

[Beyond the kid riding his bike into our van, is the concret slab we were driving on]

[Vanesa was kind enough to bring us out a drink before we headed home... very creative to say the least. Sort of gives a whole new meaning to 'a plastic baggie full of coke...' ]


On the way home, Crystel crawled onto Tim's lap again and fell asleep. Verna handed me a large bag full of stuff for Raquel, Jim, my parents, and Tim and I. It was very precious. She had purchased a barong for each of us. I especially really liked the male ones; they are really handsome. The female barongs are very beautifully embroidered, and although I am sure that few people have ever seen me in something quite so flowery and frilly, I am really happy I have it as a remembrance of the Philippines and the Repique family,

Now Tim and I are at home and he is making something for us to eat. We will plan to have a relaxing evening at home and then tomorrow it is back to work!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Things of (Semi) Interest

[a friendly reminder from the Metro Manila Development Authority]


Today we are watching the Germany vs. Poland World Cup match. It's amusing to watch because both sides are full of complex, 3- syllable names that the announcer has to try and say really fast.

("Schweinsteiger has the ball...he passes to Mertesacker, but it's stolen by Gancarczyk...he shoots...glancing off of Baszczynski for the goal!!!")

Last night we tried out a new place for sushi take-out. The pace was called "Zen" and it's over by the Shangri-La hotel. Pretty decent sushi, no avacado maki, but a few good tofu selections, edamame (a Kendra staple) and vegetable tempura.

There was really cool sunset tonight. I took a shot out of our window- I don't own a tripod yet, so the focus isn't so sharp at low light, but it shows off the colors.


The Plastic Bike. This is a highly mobile, plastic store on wheels. Chairs, brooms, buckets, hangers- all on one tricycle. You just have to find him!


Kendra has discovered her new "Top One" store here in Makati. ("Top One"= "Favorite" in Filipino slang) It's called "People are People" and has a similar style to some of the boutique shops in Old City, Philadelphia (sort of like Lost & Found, Molletta and G*Mart, but at about 3/4ths of U.S. prices). She's been telling me that I would like their style there, but I hadn't visited yet. Last week, she had been checking out a particularly funky t-shirt design (for me) that was on a manneqin in the store window. Yesterday when she passed by, the shirt was no longer out in the window, so she went in, inqured about it, and found it on the sale rack for a third of the original price (and in a size Large- amazing!). Way to go! (Even with the cost savings, I'm glad we only have 2 months left, or we'll need yet another suitcase on our return!!!)

[Bamboo is often used for scaffolding materials at construction sites- and for these guys it doubles as a fine place for a siesta]

[A Sidewalk Stove]


One more thing. The mohawk is on it's way out. The hairstyle that's been my signature look for the past 8 (yikes!) years has recieved it's pink slip. By the time you all see me again, I'll have a new style going on. Don't know quite what it will be yet, but I've been growing out the sides for about 2 months now (which makes for a really odd look...I've been hiding under hats recently) and am ready for a change of appearance to start up our post-Manila chapter of our lives. Here's to my sophmore year YCP college roommate Doug for giving me my initial Bic Razor job back in 1997!

I'm not sure where I'll finally do the chop..maybe during our 2 weeks in Australia on our way back, or maybe I'll go to the great people over at East End Salon once we get back to Philly in August. I certainly won't do it here..as much as people love to help, they seem very timid to take my sides down to the skin like I like. Last time I went to a place advertised as "The Best in Men's European Hair Style", the guy didn't own a working electric clippers and when he finally got one from across the street he took off an entire half millimeter of length. I didn't argue and just paid my $3.50. I grew that back just walking out of the shop.

[Safe Crossings! Outside the Greenbelt Mall in Makati]

Waterfight Video

I put together a video from all the clips I shot during the water battle with the Ang Bahay Parola girls last weekend (The Canon Powershot A20 only shoots up to about 30 seconds at a time). So here it is, in all the Super-Soaker madness.

I posted it in 2 different video formats...use whatever works best for your set up.


Get this video and more at MySpace.com

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Coffee, Cats and Rain

This afternoon, I met Kendra for some Starbucks at the Manila Stock Exchange building. She stops by about once a week, so the workers there know her by name and are super friendly.


[Yep, that's a Technics t-shirt. Cost me 350 Pesos. Pretty sure it hasn't been approved by the corporate legal department...] Afterwards, Kendra headed back to work and I went off to look for a used bookstore that I had seen a few weeks before. I knew the general area where I had been, but didn't know the specific location. I found it again without too much problem, and just in time, because as I was crossing the street to the front door, the skies opened up and brought down a massive deluge of heavy sheets of rain. Instead of going into the store, I joined with the dozens of other people on the street running for cover under the many overhangs that protect many of the sidewalks.

Luckily, I found an overhang that went nearly the entire length of a block, and was wide enough to shield me from the sometimes nearly horizontal spray. I took a few shots from my hideout and watched the rain pour down.


[These umbrellas are bigger than the people that carry them. Also, umbrellas carried at Filipino-head-height have their sharp pokey metal points directly at American-eyeball-height. I'll be wearing sunglasses whenever it rains here.]
[Trying to capture the intensity of rain on film. Not sure it worked. I guess you had to be there. I'll try video next time.]

[It's amazing how nice some areas of Manila smell after a good, hard rain. Get yourself into an area with trees and flowers and you almost forget the ever-present asthma-inducing pollution] The rain lasted for a good hour. I ran back to the safety of the bookstore and waited it out there. The bookstore turned out to specialize mostly in college entry-level Psychology textbooks from the late 1980's or dog-eared paperback editions of 99 Ways to Cook Pasta.

Earlier this week, I revisited the wet market for some fresh, non-urban jungle photo subjects.

[There's never a shortage of feline models. I miss my cat.]
[The tailor.]
[Mangoes, Bananas, Pineapples!]
[Boy's Best Friend]
[The candy store- also selling shampoo sachets]

Final Note:
I would have enjoyed nothing more than getting fully swept up into the global World Cup frenzy (I even picked Argentina and Italy as my teams to root for). I've never paid it any attention before and it seemed like a fun month-long diversion from the normal routine of things. Alas, I don't think it's going to happen.

It's not that there's anything wrong with the game in general. Soccer's a great sport to play (a ball, an open space, no expensive gear neccesary) and it's a blast to watch live (marshmallows were never considered contraband until Messiah College students got their hands on them).

It's just that the TV coverage here in Manila of this highly passionate and energetic world event is beyond dull. And it's not just because the on-air announcers have the vocal enthusiasim of a running commentary on planting cabbage. Whenever you turn on a game that's already started, there's zero on-screen information to get you up to speed and into the game. You can tell by the ball design that it's a World Cup match, but no telling which team is which, or even what countries are in the game. No time remaining display. Not even a score.

And you can't hear anything. There's a million crazed and wildly patriotic (not to mention wildly drunk) fans packing these arenas- each with their own chants, cheers, horns, whistles and all-out hollering. It all comes across on TV as a softly muted hum- sort of like the engine noise on an airplane that you are always trying to tune out. I may just try turning off the TV sound completely and cranking up some Concord Dawn tracks on the old iPod at high volume just to feel some energy in the room. I'm not going to sit 10 minutes waiting to find out who's playing who and who's winning while listening to 2 uninteresting guys in droning English accents talking about their cabbage. This World Cup event is supposed to inspire nations to rally together in passionate competition. I'm inspired to change the channel.

Even baseball, which is by far the most boring subject ever televised, has a billion statistics and other information on the screen to keep your mind into the game. Oh well...I'd like to think that my life is minimaly impacted by what is or is not on TV. And CNN does a fine job of covering the daily soccer highlightes.

(Of course, if it was broadcast in HD........)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Water Wars and Chocolate Fountains

Today was an incredibly fun day! We had arranged transportation in advance to visit the Ang Bahay Parola girls and our pickup was at 2:30pm, but we weren't really sure which activity we would do with them. We also knew that before going to visit them we had to make an exchange at the store of some casual pants for me (Tim had gone shopping for me on Friday and picked up 4 pairs of pants -found 1 style that I really liked, but the other 3 styles were not right - either too large or too small or cut for somebody 5 feet tall and 9 months preganant!). We had also tentatively planned to go to Circles for dinner. So, that was the agenda for the day.

We rolled out of bed just before 9:00AM, and I made us scrambed egg sandwiches. We followed this with Starbucks drinks in the mall on our way to Landmark. We were able to exchange the ill fitting pants and with the help of the salesladies found more colors of the same style I liked. (This amazed us ("Out of stock" should be on the Philippine flag) The entire process took about an hour, but we got what we wanted, so all was well.

After this, we turned our attention to what to do with the girls. I thought that maybe we would buy a pinata for them, but upon querying the staff, they had not heard of a pinata, and I didn't really expect them too, but thought that it was worth a shot. Next, we saw a lot of games and outdoor toys and then came to the water gun section (like super soakers). We both thought this would be a great treat for the girls (and the neighborhood boys that would inevitably join us), but we were a little scared. Although we would have our driver along, and he helps a great deal with the language barrier, we were wondering if we could really handle almost 25 girls plus an unknown number of neighborhood boys in a water battle that would be mainly in the street and partially on a basket ball court. We also worried about how we would refill the cannisters. Eventually we decided to hell with all our worries and just bought them.

When we got the guns home, we filled the bathtub and cleaned, filled and tested them. 6 of them turned out to be broken in one manner or another. So Tim ran back to Landmark (thank God, it's close by!) and was able to exchange them without trouble, so that was good. (We weren't about to be stuck in the middle of a serious water fight with over 2 dozen competitive little girls with a non-functioning weapon!) We put them in garbage bags, ate a small lunch, and headed down to meet our driver.

[Preparing for war in the bathtub]

Here I will take a sidebar to describe some interesting conversations on the way over to the orphanage. We have received occassional criticism by readers of our blog that we are too critical of the Philippine culture and people or misunderstand the same. Well, you can criticize us for sitting at home (in America) and having no clue of what goes on in the world around us or you can criticize us for trying to adjust to a completely new and vastly different place all while accomplishing a difficult job. Everyone is entitled to his opinion and we can take it. The fact is that there is not a country in this world, including America, that isn't misunderstood. People might put down third world countries for not having amenities or sanitation they are used to. People often do the opposite for first world countries by assuming that they have no problems or issues whatsoever.

For example, our driver, Ike (who I adore) asked us on the way over some interesting questions. The first was "Are there orphanages in America?". I explained that there were, but that the situations can be different. However, all the same, there are orphanages, battered women and children's shelters, and homeless people. I told him that I feel less children are abandoned in the U.S., but a lot of that can be because of the criminal penalties for doing so. Nonetheless, it still happens. He then asked me, "Are there poor people in America?". Again, I explained that there definitely were. There are people who are very poor, and homeless, but that poverty is not to the extent or degree that we have seen here. I feel this is mostly because America is first world and they have a lot of infrastructure in place to help shelter people and feed them. Nonetheless, there are absolutely people who are off the grid and starving and on the street corners.

I bring up this conversation to point out that it is very typical on both sides of the ocean for people to misunderstand each other. Also, please note that much of the commentary Tim and I place on our blog, and the things that concern us or bother us, are often commentary on general social conditions in the world or general interactions between people of different cultures. Yes, there are things specific to Makati or Manila that do bother us. However, there are things that will bother people about any city. We love Philadelphia (the city we live in), but it still has a world of problems - both social and sanitary. Politcial corruption still exists, people spit on the sidewalk, urinate in the subway stations and blare loud music. Gentrification is starting to be a huge issue.

People figure things out by experiencing them firsthand, and if Tim and I post that we have a frustrating day because a certain business isn't running efficiently, we can't find our groceries, or because people walk too slow, it is because we've transplanted every aspect of our normal daily lives to this foreign environment and haven't decided to lock ourselves in our apartment (which many expats do). Don't take it as a general commentary that all people here are terrible. Those things would bother us at home too. Tim and I are curious. We analyze things and dissect them. We try to figure out why things work the way they do, and like everyone else, we occassionally get frustrated. But keep in mind that this is typical of experiencing a new place, no matter where it is, and that we don't often stop to elaborate on all of this, because a lot of the people reading this are our family and close friends who will understand the background behind the commentary and our reactions to situations we find ourselves in.

Back to the day's adventure.

We decided we would start with a structured game to get the kids accustomed to using the guns, knowing that sooner or later, it would turn into a free for all, every girl for themselves, all out war. (Note to self: Next time, buy a big gun just for yourself for defensive purposes!)

When we got to the orphanage, the girls were all napping and very sleepy. They also had to complete their chores before they could play with us. So, we got everyone going and cleaning and met the two new girls that had arrived at the house. Mae Ann (one of the ones I am very partial to even though she doesn't speak much) was also back. This whole time we would not tell the girls what was in the garbage bags. We kept saying "It is a SECRET... do the cleaning and then we will go to the court."

As the girls were cleaning and getting ready, we noticed the the staff had given out some of the clothes and flipflops that we had brought previously. We were glad to see that they were out of some of the more dirty and torn-up clothes that they has been wearing constantly.

Eventually, it was time to go to the court, and so we all headed out. When we arrived, there were already a lot of neighborhood guys at the court playing basketball and there was not much room for us. But there was an elevated cement area that we could play on. It took me a few tries to remember the greeting to the locals who were playing in the area. I said "Magandag Umaga....(Good morning) No... Magandag Tanghali..(Good noontime)..No.... HAPON! (Good afternoon)". This brought a lot of smiles and laughter.

It took us about 10 minutes to organize the girls into the structured game, with Ike doing alot of translating the rules we had made up. Basically, we had 3 pairs of girls at opposite ends of the concrete and had them pass a ball back and forth. In the middle were about 6 girls each with a water gun. They were only allowed to spray the girl holding the ball...sort of wet version of a hot-potato.

This got not only the girls all excited for the water guns, but also the boys. We didn't have enough guns for the boys (we bought 24, just enough for the girls), but invited them to play anyway and get sprayed. So, after a few minutes, when the 'organized' game disintigrated into mass water-spraying chaos, we passed out all the guns and they ran all around, down the street and around the bend, spraying each other and laughing alot. We ran with them and watched out for traffic.
[Hands to the sky!!!]
[Girls with Guns. This spells trouble...]

[Lock and Load]
[Commence soaking!]


When the guns finally ran out of water, Ike and Tim went back to the house to refill them and I played some circle games with the girls. They had just returned from a 5 day camp and so they knew a lot of new little chants and songs. Here is a sample:

"Hey Ate (big sister) Kendra!!"

"Hey what?"

"Are you ready?"

"To what?"

"To praise the Lord?"

"Praise who?"

"PRAISE THE LORD!!"

"This is how you praise the Lord-
With hands up high and hands down low-
This is the way I praise the Lord...."

(And then Ate Kendra would make up a dance to which the rest of the song is sung).

"Praise the Lo-ord.
Praise, Praise the Lo-ord.

Praise the Lo-ord.
Praise, Praise the Lo-ord."

"Hey, Michelle!"

"Hey what?"

(and so on and so forth...)

Ike and Tim returned with the freshly filled guns. To make the game last longer we tried to start with two people with guns at a time shooting everyone in a tag game, but that, too, wasn't enough action for them, so we eventually just passed out all the guns again and let them play until the water ran out and everyone was soaked head to toe.

[Ike gearing up for round two]
[Aren't they so cute and innocent-looking...just wait until they have you in their sights!]
[Michelle keeping her teeth clean]

We had great luck for games like this. We collected all the guns back and, amazingly, only one was broken, so we could use them again with this group and others. (We would have gladly left the guns with the girls, but they tend to lose things very easily...Tim brought a nerf football once, and it has never been seen since... and they will get more use out of them if we just bring them back next time).

When we got back, we showered and got ready for our dinner. A few hours with the girls always wears us out, so we were excited to go to Circles.


Circles is the restaurant at the Shangri La hotel in Makati. It was a wonderful place, with great service and a cool atmosphere. We really loved the food and ate a ton. We were excited for some excellently cooked fish, avacado maki rolls (made with brown rice!), broccoli, shrimp and some interesting pumpkin mashed potatos. For dessert, they have a fountain flowing with rich, creamy semi-sweet chocolate, that you let drip over skewers of cake chunks and fruit pieces. We had one of the attendents pour chocolate from the fountain into a dish for us so that we could dip our fruits back at out table. At the conclusion of our meal, I witnessed Tim - the choco-aholic supreme- find himself unable to finish the dessert. This was a first. He is currently on the couch dying of a full stomach, and I will make some tea for us now. As soon as Tim is able to go through the videos and pictures we have, we will post this!

Here's a quick video clip of the girls water fight in the street. Let me know if you can't view the clip, I'm working on a new video host server.