Although most people who go to the Philippines spend their time island hopping/traveling overland from Manila to Cebu to Boracay, Breda and I were determined to go to the Philippines and be as lazy as humanly possible. And fortunately enough, Breda had an old Korean co-teacher named Stacey (English name, obviously), who now lives and works at a Korean hagwon located in the Subic Bay/Freeport Area that you can see on the map in the post below this one. Stacy promised us that her local was really nice, and we jumped at the opportunity to have an ex-pat of our adopted country show us around a bit^^
Without further ado, some Filipino things:
- Home away from home away from home: SLC
We stayed at Stacy Teacher's hagwon, the Subic Language Center (SLC).
If you are thinking to yourself, "these look oddly like military dorms," you are on to something: Subic Bay was once the biggest Navy base outside of the U.S. In 1992, the U.S. pulled out of the P.I, and the area was converted by the feds into a Duty-Free Zone, similar to Hong Kong or Singapore.
SLC teaches English to Korean kids/University students looking to practice speaking with English speakers. Most of the Filipino teachers at the school speak Tagalog as their first language, of course, and as most Koreans are obsessive about speaking with native speakers when they are learning, SLC is a cheaper option for Koreans wanting to study English abroad. Interestingly enough, most students at SLC were headed to study abroad programs in the U.S. or Canada after being in the Philippines, using SLC's program as a kind of English initiation boot camp.
Since there are checkpoints all around Subic Bay (as it is a free trade zone), it feels really, really, safe, much like a military base. Because of this, there is a huge Korean community on Subic--tons of Korean massage parlors, Korean restaurants, even Korean convenience stores, like this fake Korean Family Mart.
- Bargain Booze
Beer in the Philippines is excellent, and is cheaper than water:
Meet my exotic new lover, San Miguel
Another dirt-cheap favorite: Tanduay rum, which I mixed in fresh mango juice, Diet Coke, and QUAFFED STRAIGHT FROM THE BOTTLE LIKE A SAILOR
- Fantastic flora/fauna:
We saw monkeys, which Breda insisted on feeding cookies:
- Reclusive resorts
There were lots of beach resorts on Subic, most of which were completely and utterly deserted:
Afraid of the other resort dinosaurs, Maddiesaurus hides in her eggshell
We snorkeled, ate fancy resort food, swam, laid out, and drank lots of tropical cocktails.
- Valentine's in the P.I.
On Valentine's Day, I ate a romantic dinner with Breda at a fancy pants resort.
Cheesy Asian heart pose
Look! It's a red bell pepper heart!
We also spilt a coconut:
- Olongapo Antics
Once know as a major G.I. off-base "playground," we wandered around the neighboring town of Olongapo and got into some mischief of our own:
The town center:
The infamous Filippino jeepnies:
Our harrowing/AWESOME sidecar ride:
If you look to the left in this one, you can see what we were riding in
DELISH street food, plantains on a stick:
And the coolest/most beautiful hillside cemetery:
- Filippino fooding:
We had fast food chicken adobo at the amusingly named restaurant Wimpy's:
Many a doughy Filippino bread sanck was eaten, as well:
We also ate a popular Filipino desert, halo halo, which was like an ice parfait with coconut, red beans, lychee, and red bean ice cream:
Photo via Breda
Amusingly enough, we also ate a bunch of Korean food at SLC's cafeteria.
There were also gorgeous flowers and plants everywhere:
Can't say I'm terribly happy with the prospect of going back to work now, but I'm feeling/thinking positive and feeling happy again, which is awesome. HOORAY VACATION. I hope I can make it back to the Philippines someday, as it is truly a special place filled with terribly friendly people^^