Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's Been A Year... since hubby and I arrived here in the Philippines. I vividly remember, we left the states January 5th and arrived at NAIA airport at around 11 PM on January 6th. I was so excited to see my family after 5 long years of not seeing them. They told me on the phone that my siblings will meet us in the airport using my sister's van. When we were already on the waiting area, I kept looking at those people waiting but I didn't see my siblings. We've been standing there for an hour already and my hubby and I felt so uncomfortable. We started to sweat because we were wearing thick clothes. It was winter in the US where we came from and then it was hot in the Philippines. Besides I already got worried why my siblings who were supposed to pick us were not there. We had no cellphone to call them. It's good I had some peso coins ao we tried to use the payphone. I had trouble using it and I was not able to connect. Hubby tried a few times and after a while he was able to contact my sister's cellphone. We learned that their van broke on the way to Manila. They were in Pampanga and their van had to hauled to a shop and had it repaired. We had no choice but to hire a taxi and spent the night in a hotel. The taxi driver asked us to pay him Php300 to take us to the nearest hotel but when were on the way, the driver told us that we should pay him an additional Php100 because we had plenty of luggages. Filipinos take advantage of balikbayans and I was not delighted. I paid the driver a total of Php400 in taking us to the hotel that he recommended. I know he also got a percentage from that hotel for referring customers there. Most of the customers who checked in that night were foreigners. When the bellboy took our luggages to our room, I asked him if I can use his cellphone to text my sister so she will know where to meet us in the morning. He said his cellphone had no load so I gave him Php150 to buy a load. I called my sister's cellphone and gave her the name of the hotel where we checked in. We were not able to sleep the whole night in the hotel because of jet lag. It was night here and it's suppose to be daytime in the US.

Early in the morning, my siblings, my BIL and my 2 nephews came in our hotel. The van was fixed and they told me they slept inside the van that night with all the mosquitoes biting them. They looked so haggard because of what happened. They showered in the hotel and I gave them chocolates to eat. The van was color coded that day and it can't be driven in Manila on that day until 6 PM. We had to kill the time until 6 PM so we rode a taxi and we went to SM Mall Of Asia and did some shopping. Then we went back to the hotel and got the van and my BIL drove it going back to our hometown.

We left Manila at 6:30 PM and before we exited Manila I drifted off to sleep. Then I was woken up because of a very loud voice. Two highway patrol officers had chased our van and my bro-in-law had to pull over. My bro-in-law was surprised what was his violation and one of them said that he was on the wrong lane. He spoke so harsh and he then asked for the driver’s license of my bro-in-law. The van’s window was open and the officer had seen my hubby in the window. My sister got off the van and approached one of the officers. She pleaded to excuse her hubby and not take his driver’s license. He didn’t listen so my sister went inside again. Then I can’t help myself but plead too. My bro-in-law said he will just pay right there and then because it’s a lot of hassle to go back again to Manila from Pangasinan and get back his license. Besides he’s working and he can’t drive without it. So he offered to pay a thousand but the officer didn’t accept it. Would you believe he wanted P3500 as under the table payment. He had seen my hubby and crooked officers here in PI thought that all Americans got lots of money. How disgusting! My bro-in-law made a bargain and ended up paying P2500. He said “nakibalato lang ako”. It’s a shame how those crooked highway patrolmen operate in Manila and that was the second time my hubby had witnessed it. The first time was during his first visit to the Philippines. I had to replace the money that my bro-in-law had to pay so he can concentrate driving. It was really a bad experience for him. Their van broke off in the express way and then got fined by 2 crooked guys in uniforms. Made me wonder if they're really highway patrols or they might be counterfeit.

My bro-in-law apologized to my hubby for the bad experience that he had seen there in Manila regarding the crooked highway patrolmen. My youngest brother had observed that they covered their name tags so it can’t be seen. What a way to make a living and what an experience we encountered on our first 2 days in the Philippines!