I was in Manila last week for an official meeting held at the National Museum. Well, it was not a bad idea to be holed up in the museum for a few days, and the farewell dinner was in fact held at a grand marble hall where they also served amazing Pinoy food. During my stay in Manila we also visited the San Augustin Museum and the Bahay ng Tsinoy museum.
I managed to sneak to Greenbelt to meet friends. They are pretty much strangers to each other but I had no choice but to meet them in one go because I hardly had any time to catch up with them. But that was fun.
Also, quite luckily, the Bitch of Bangkok was on holiday in Las Islas Filipinas with his wife. We just had a few hours to hang out (they just arrived in Manila from Vigan and I was leaving for Quezon Province early the next day). We hung out a bit in Malate over some beer, but our meeting was very short. Oh well, I hope there's a next time. I'm very relieved though the couple loved their trip in Las Islas.
As mentioned, the next day the conference participants were off to Tayabas, Quezon, about three hours south of Manila. There we witnessed the official declaration of stone bridges in the city as National Cultural Treasures. In the evening, we had a drinking "ritual" of lambanog, courtesy of the city mayor.
Back in Manila the next day, I headed straight to the Cultural Center of the Philippines to catch Agnes Locsin's "Encantada", a ballet about the clash of animism and Catholicism in the Philippines. It was magnificent because it was very Filipino, from the movement, to the costumes and music (the latter being a pieces of Joey Ayala).
After the ballet, we had a few hours break and then we watched the revival of "Noli Me Tangere: The Musical", also at the CCP. Gosh, it was clear I already forgot most of my "Noli" because I hardly recognized the characters and plot. Mark Bautista played the role of Crisostomo and Cris Villonco was amazing as Maria Clara.
Too bad I did not have time to fly to Surigao to meet my mom. But other than that, the trip, despite its packed schedule, was a very profound experience for me because, cheesy it may sound, it gave me the opportunity to rediscover Pinoy culture.