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3 Days In Paradise



I recently had another weekend visit to my family in the Philippines. I'm a short trip away, based in Taiwan, but the visits haven't been as regular as I'd like. This was one of those day and a half plans, in Saturday morning, and out Sunday afternoon, just to fill the space between longer vacations.

Luckily, it turned into 2 and a half days, as my dad booked the wrong return flight for me to Manila, and I stayed an extra day.

Returning home is always interesting. My wife doesn't have a lot of money to work with, but time is on her side, as she doesn't work. She transformed our plain bedroom/living room into a very nice space, filled with dividing curtains and class. My 4 year old, Kira, was proud to show me her "bangs," as she finally had a haircut. My two-year old, Kiana, was a typical two year old, and as sweet as sugarcane.

One of the funny things about our house is that both my wife and step-daughter tend to have a lot of gay friends. These boys are really good with my daughters, and so as soon as we relaxed in the bedroom, my girls started showing off their dance routines and poses for the camera. I'll just say that they were 'fabulous,' and it's like having that TV show "Glee" produced right out of my house.

The first day, after not sleeping on the overnight flights there, we hit up the beach at noon, and stayed until the early evening, drinking Red Horse and having fun in the water. For the first time ever, both of my daughters were over their fear of the ocean, and allowed me to carry them into the deeper waters. They even attempted kicking and swimming, which made me think there's still a chance that they'll grow up to be oceanic beauties, exotic among Canadians. They've definitely got the tans.

I crashed early that night, but by the time I woke up, we were planning another day at the beach. I was nervous about it because I knew I would have to return early to get ready for my flight. I checked my tickets to get my timing down and realized my pops had made a mistake. He booked my flight to Manila at 7:30 instead of 19:30, when I normally fly back. In panic mode, I called Philippine Airlines, and they told me I could fly the next day, and pay the 1900 peso penalty the next day when I checked in. My daughters and everyone took off in their tricycle for the beach at that point, and I hadn't yet called Cebu Pacific for my flight to Taiwan.

That's when things got sticky. I was calling them ten hours before my flight was due to leave, had already paid for the initial ticket, and they still gave me a deadline of midnight to pay the penalty of 4100 pesos at a BDO bank, or I would lose the ticket. The problem was, the nearest BDO bank is an hour away in Tacloban, and it was a Sunday! I begged that I could pay the next day at check in to no avail, told myself, "F*** it," and went to the beach - without the stress of an early return home.

The second day at the beach was as good as the first, and this time I got to drink Tuba (coconut wine) with my basketball friends, and do some more swimming with my daughters. It was a great day. I got to rock Kiana to sleep for the first time in a long time, and we just had a lot of fun. I had more friends, and my daughters had more friends, and we had more fun.

At night, when we returned home, I called Cebu Pacific again. This time the girl conceded that I could pay at the check in counter five hours before my flight, but the phone ran out of load before we could finalize the flight details. I called back, and this new guy told me I COULDN'T PAY AT CHECK IN, and it had to be a BDO by midnight, to which I cussed his butt out, and hung up the phone.

After a splendid morning and afternoon the next day with my girls, I hit up the airport, and through some running around and scrambling, got the flight paid for, and secured the ticket. The Cebu Pacific staff at the Tacloban airport were helpful and nice, and I have no qualms with them. The company as a whole, however, is terrible. I understand that being a "budget carrier" means stiffer penalties and restrictions, but c'mon... .I've already paid for the ticket. You don't need me to pay by midnight at a BDO. I've flown with this carrier over 30 times. They could give me til the next day, as happened, but just feel like jerking me around. I hate that, and I hate them.

Unfortunately, I love their cheap fares! Aaaah.... I wish I could afford to be a man of principle, but I can't. I'm a slut for savings.

So that's my most recent adventure.

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