After moving into the house on December 22, and having Christmas with the family, I headed to the Philippines to spend a couple weeks visiting my brother, and his family. If you read my post from November 27th you know that my brother flies a helicopter on Northern Luzon, but he headed South towards ground zero to help out after the Super Typhoon devastated portions of the central Philippines in mid November. Zach returned with the helicopter to Northern Luzon in mid-December to resume his normal flight schedule to the surrounding tribes. I arrived in Manila on New Year’s eve to meet up with my brother and enjoyed the craziest fire works display of my life. The entire city was engulfed in haze so thick that jetliners are often diverted due to reduced visibility in smoke. Explosions can be heard through out the day, but after dark, on the 31st, there is a constant thump of explosions. By 1130pm the sky was lit by fireworks in a 360 degree display from the guesthouse roof top. I’ve never experienced anything like it, it was almost scary, and sounded like a war zone.
We flew to Tuguegarao city on the morning of Jan 1st to join up with Zach’s family and experience his flight operations. I spent nearly two weeks hanging out with them and got to fly out to three different tribes. It was one of the highlights of my life, and I thoroughly enjoyed each day. Zach and I also put several hundred miles on the dirt bikes as we explored the surrounding roads and mountains. Zach had heard a rumor of a mountain hot spring and one afternoon we explored with the bikes until we found it. This involved crossing a river … in a wooden canoe, pushed along by a dude with really good balance and a bamboo stick. Zach and I balanced on our dirt bikes with our feet braced on the sides, pretty stressful for this Alaska boy, but it was awesome. We also visited Santa Ana on the North Shore of Luzon. I guess this was where Survivor was recently filmed. The beach was perfect and it took a bangka boat to access it, totally amazing. I think we saw 4 other people on this mile long beach, and we were there all day!
It was a perfect trip. I love the country, the people, and the winter temperature. I look forward to another visit. But since words cannot begin to describe another country, and it’s culture, here is a photo dump of a few of the highlights.