On Saturday we drove south of Manila to Batangas to celebrate with our driver, Garry, and his family. This city was the capital of the Philippines in 1572. We were welcomed warmly when we arrived and enjoyed seeing Ethan our God son and watching him slowly become comfortable with us over the afternoon. By the end of the day Justin was throwing him over is head to make him giggle. The entire neighborhood is Garry and his wife, Ellen's extended family. The party preparations were well under way when we arrived. We ate lunch, visited the biggest Catholic Church in Asia and played with the kids. It was a gorgeous breezy day in Batangas and a nice way to spend time with Garry and his family whom we have come to enjoy as good friends.
Ethan our God son and Garry's youngest son of four boys.Garry and the kids. He showed us around the city and introduced Justin to Quatro Ginebra (the local gin)Party preparations. All the cooking was done over open fire in the back yard. The amounts of food being made was staggering. They were expecting the entire barangay that evening for his sister and her family's farewell to Canada party.The biggest Catholic Church in Asia. It was gorgeous. Garry and Ellen were married here 11 years ago. He said the aisle was so long it took forever to walk to the alter.
The original church was build in 1575 and then the current structure was built in 1890. The littlest diplomats. Addie and Garry's third son Aldrin. He'll be turning 7 this May. Definitely the most adorable little boy in the Philippines. The day was great. Experiences like these force me to reflect on life in the Philippines. Garry and his family are warm, hospitable, and friendly people. They always open their home to us and we are so grateful for that.
It's almost completely impossible for us to get a genuinely authentic Filipino experience here because inevitably we are treated differently by their efforts to make us comfortable. We also find ourselves completely unfamiliar with real life in the Philippines. We make all sorts of mistakes like wearing our outdoor shoes inside the home and our children are clueless with the safety precautions required around fireside cooking. Addie stepped right in the pig waste trough. It's these little things that make it clear that we are ridiculously unequipped. We try to blend in but the extra attention and hospitality they show us (like dismissing our mistakes as no big deal over and over) seems to highlight our glaring differences. We don't want the extra attention. I'd prefer to sit with the other ladies and watch the children while business went on as normal but, we get the sense that it's as much of an out of the ordinary experience for them to have us in their home, as it is for us to be there.
These, as-close-to-authentic-as-we-are-going-to-get, Filipino experiences are what I am most grateful for during our time in this country. I've opened my heart and mind to the wonderfully happy people in this country this year and every time I do I am reminded how very lucky we are to have Garry (and Cora) in our lives. On the surface we may be as different as night and day but deep down our cores are the same. As Addie would say, we're all "just livin and livin".