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It's a bit weird visiting the motherland without visiting my side of the family, or even without my sister, for that matter. First time for everything, I guess. So what the heck were we doing in The Philippines, you ask? George + Annie's nuptials. Which was conveniently planned at the end of me and V's epic 6 country Asia tour. Our leisurely stay in Metro Manila most welcomed after backpacking and trekking our way through Asia. And man, did we veg out. We've spent an insane amount of time hanging out with friends, both near (Yi-Xuan of Singapore and Yvette of Makati) and far (Wassap, Mantaring sibs of Texas!), almost the entire time we were in the PI. Usually at the massive Ayala Center. We ate and drank and shopped and danced and lounged. And had a really, really good time. All day. Everyday. When a commercial development that size comprises of several smaller malls linked together and your hotel is smack dab in the middle of it, why leave the area? Ever?

Okay, so we did leave Makati for a bit. Sight-seeing is kinda inevitable even on vacation, no? With V and Yi-Xuan in tow, we went on a mini roadtrip to view the Taal volcano with Yvette and her hubsters as tour guides. Now, Yvette and I go way back. Like 14 years back. We had 2 semesters of Español together at the good ol' University of Houston and shared many memorable and hilarious misadventures with our fellow classmates. One of them getting lit at Tamara's (unintentionally of course =D), then somehow acing a major Spanish exam the next day. Huzzah! But anyways, shortly after the UH days, Yvette moved back to Manila, became a well-respected photographer, and kept in touch ever since. Fast forward to 2009, and here we are, hiking and lunching at various viewing points around the picturesque volcano. Occasionally stopping at a small food shack on the side of the dusty road to load up on more dried mango and chicharron and polvoron and various other yummy Filipino treats. Yeah, it was a nice lil get away from the conveniences of city life with great chats thrown in along the way. My kind of adventuring.

So what do I have to say about experiencing PI solely with friends and no family this time around? No obligations, uninhibited, random. I ain't gonna lie - it was pretty awesome. The different point of view of a familiar country is always refreshing, especially one you've been to many times. Probably the first and only time this will ever happen!

besos ... jin.