Monday, August 30, 2004

Jeff's visit

Jeff was here for two weeks and I've barely written what we did during his visit, aside from the tour of Corregidor. That's most likely because he and Ian returned from Korea the second day of school so the weeks were busy with all that stuff.

So what -did- we do?

We watched a great deal of Olympics. None of the Philippine hopefuls achieved any high standings and we watched way too much boxing. Boxing is the thing here, that with cockfighting and chess. But boxing is not our thing so each evening we'd watch a bit and then search for something else on the tube. We couldn't stand watching too much of the crappy Olympics feed anyway. It would cut out mid-sentence from the commentators, there was no background for any of the competitors and medal ceremonies were few and far between. There were more commercials than sports, long lists of ads that would repeat every few minutes. Enough so that Jeff was reciting Tagalog catch phrases and we all wanted to go out and buy HOPE cigarettes so we could be as cool as the jet boating folks in the commercials. We even made a date to head to Petron to "get together, right now" in the convenience store. It was so very sad.
One night we played a decent game of Scrabble, most nights we talked loads and Jeff still had plenty of time to do work so he had billable hours and didn't have to take the entire vacation as leave. We went out to dinner at Le Souffle' at The Fort (good but nothing too impressive).
One afternoon was interesting. I'd bought a gift for a friend only to discover it had, of all things, termites. When all was quiet, we could hear a little scritching sound. And if we watched for 15 minutes, a little pile of sawdust would build up around invisible holes. I am not kidding. So I decided to put it outside in hopes that the little buggers wouldn't jump to our wooden floor and literally eat away the house. Jeff and I walked outside with the thing and as I looked for a place to hang it, he shut the door. I didn't have my keys. My wallet. My pass. The only thing I had was the extra key in the car and my cell phone. Thankfully the car was unlocked. It was time to pick up the kids from preschool so I called Ian and the next hour was spent remedying the situation. Could I get into Seafront without my pass or any form of ID? Would Ian get the keys to me at Seafront and how? Or would I be driving the extra distance to the Embassy with Katie on board as well?
In the end it all worked out, and even a little too smoothly. I didn’t get pulled over on the road, no surprise there. At the Seafront gate there was a car in front and a car behind so the guard recognized me and waved me on. Sometimes they scrutinize the ID through the window, as they should, but not that day. Katie fell asleep on the way home so she didn’t even notice we were going the wrong way or that it took longer than normal. And Ian did come to the Embassy gate and hand over his set of keys. Not a hitch and almost too easy.
Jeff is an adventurous soul, so I took my desire to try crappy food out on him. We ate at Jollibee. The food was as expected, but amazing guy that he is, he identified the special sauce on his cheese Yumburger. According to him it’s an exquisite mix of ketchup and mayo. Alright, I have to be honest and admit he didn’t use the term exquisite. We did concur that the Ube Macapuno Pocket Pie was downright tasty. I'm not kidding! For another lunch, we boldly stepped into Spam Jam at Glorietta. Ian wouldn’t dare go there so Jeff convinced me. The only items not Spam related are the drinks, hot dogs and fries. Had a hankering for Spam poppers? Spam and macaroni? A variety of Spamburgers? It’s all there and more. And you’ll get exactly what you’d expect from microwaved spam foodstuffs.
It’s a huge thing here, Spam and every other form of potted meat products. On TV there are ads for Kraft Chunky Chunks (a mayo spread with chunks of… spam?? Not sure, really) and Hormel Chunks. I can’t imagine that the Hormel version is better. Afterall they only have one Chunk in their name. Thankfully Jeff didn’t have me buy any of that. He bought enough odd snack foods from the Philippine snack aisle at the grocery. He said that people back home would eat them. I’m still waiting for the report to hear that it’s true.
We did put in one more day of Manila history by visiting Intramuros/Ft. Santiago/San Augustine on his last day here. Wouldn’t you know, it rained the entire time but we plugged on, chuckling at the sign on the Cathedral listing it’s five former lives and what destroyed the building each time. We toured the Rizal museum and commented on how dilapidated the Fort is. It seems that the caretakers do try to maintain the site, but it’s hard to appreciate when alongside buildings that housed Jose Rizal his final days, Japanese military men and Filipino prisoners of war, there are broken shutters and lamp posts piled high. Jeff seemed to carry the same sense of loss when viewing blackened paintings and centuries old tapestries wasting away in the heat and humidity of the San Augustine museum. The history is here, it’s just hard to see amongst the ruins of poor management and upkeep.
Ian took Jeff out to Burgos street near the end of his visit as well. I thought it would be interesting for him to see a different side of Manila and the most I’ll say about that is it’s a whole different ballgame when there is no accompanying woman.
Jeff left Wednesday, 25 August, though his flight departed at 12:30 a.m. Thursday. He made it home safely and by now is probably largely recovered. He did say that the first thing he did upon his arrival was take a shower to wash the Manila off. I don’t blame him. While here, he never did pass up a chance to us hand sanitizer either.
He’s a great houseguest and we loved having him. I think he bugged the housekeeper a bit, she didn’t seem at all thrilled that a single man was staying in our home. Oh well! We miss him already. In fact just today Nicholas told me that he was sad. Why? I asked. Because Mr. Jeff is gone. It’s OK, we’ll see him soon when we go back to Virginia.
But you know, we never did go on our Petron date.

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