It was a quiet week in Tagaytay, or what was left of it.
And so it needed to be after having substantially exhausted ourselves from last week’s activities. However, the body is very resilient and so is the mind, mostly.
But this is a short week since I stole Monday to finish the report of Sandi’s eight day visit. Nevertheless I wasn’t entirely idle. I finally finished my Rizal book, Noli Me Tangere (you can see my review on Goodreads, here) but this left me with a sinking feeling because I had no more physical books to hold in my hands. I’ve examined the shelves of two branches of The National Book Store, all six shelves of them (the National Book store mostly sells office/school supplies), and I have yet to find anything I’d like to read – mostly true romance, in English or Tagalog, a bit of Shakespeare, and Ayn Rand. I’ve long intended to read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead but the thickness of these tomes are intimidating, and the paperback volumes in TNBS were not only thick but had very tiny type. I guess I’m just not sufficiently motivated. However I have finished
on my iPad. I am getting used to making frequent adjustments holding the bloody thing at various angles before it falls on my face. That said, I really like the built-in dictionary of ebooks, the way you can highlight passages and make notes that show up in the internet for other readers to sneer at. Regardless, I have started on two others,
and an interesting little Canadiana piece, by Sherrill Warke of Ottawa
And I continued with my own ‘career’ as an author, posting three more editions of my blog, Travels with Myself and getting my webmeister to put up two more pages on my AFSP website, including one for the Tagaytay Tribune.
At least I made it to the gym twice this week. Still having trouble doing sit-ups, or anything that requires me to sit too long – like long car rides!. TMI, I got a blister on my tail bone area (saddle sore?) from that horse ride down the volcano last week. Ow!
And speaking of living close to the edge, after that surprise volcano explosion on White Island New Zealand maybe I should be a bit nervous about The Philippines Seismology Institute and its warning system for volcanic activity on Taal Island, site of my climb last week. But really, the whole of Lake Taal is a gigantic caldera and Tagaytay is on the north ridge. I guess I should be content with a quiet week in Tagaytay.
We made a trek to the big malls in General Trias – Carmen to buy Christmas presents for all her grandchildren, and me to get an extension on my Philippines entry visa. I thought it would be just Carmen and me and her daughter Celca going on this little spree, but I was forgetting this is the Philippines and an excursion such as this is worth the whole family taking truancy from school. Eleven of us squeezed into the van. Nobody wears seatbelts, not even for the 8 spaces available.
While I was in Canada last August I got a six month reentry visa from the Philippines embassy (cost me $85 CDN, cash) but it has to be renewed every 59 days while here. My 59 days would come in ten more days, December 22. As it happens, there is an immigration office in the Robinson’s Mall in General Trias, and that sure saves an exhausting trip to Intramuros Manila! We arrived at the mall at 9:45 (only a 45 minute trip from Tagaytay!) and waited with the swelling crowd for the civic offices to open at 10:00. I reached the Immigration Office first! and was given a well-warn card to confirm my place. Take a seat. After about five minutes my number was called and I was admitted to the small inner office with three wickets; I looked around vacantly and eventually one of the clerks looked up to see my puzzled continence. ‘I need to get an extension for my visa’ I said. ‘You need to fill out a form first. Get one from the agent outside.’ Well naturally there is a form and you’d think the agent outside would have asked me my business first, but hey, that’s bureaucracy for you; I don’t want to suggest it’s worse here in Philippines. So I went back outside, and got a form from the ‘helpful’ clerk, aware I had lost status, and my No. 1 card. I began to fill out the form and when I was almost finished I realized I had put the wrong address on it: They didn’t want my Kanata address, they wanted my address while in the Philippines. But I didn’t know what my address is! Good thing I have an army of Carmen’s family with me to provide advice, though the three-year-old isn’t much help, even if she is cute. (Reine is her name and she suits it!)
I filled in the form for the second time, giving an approximate answer for my address in Tagaytay and gave my documents and passport to the security guard who seemed far more efficient than the immigration clerk. ‘Wait’ he said, ‘and when your papers are ready they’ll call your number.’ ‘But I don’t have a number.’ ‘I’ll remember you,’ he said, ‘I’ll call your name.’ And about ten minutes later the guard called my name. I was readmitted to the inner sanctum and stood at the same second wicket where I got belated attention previously. I got more of the same only to be told I was at the wrong wicket and needed to see the cashier. The cashier was at the next wicket but there was nothing to let you know that. ’That’ll be 7888 PhP, po,’ (that’s about $200 CDN; po means sir, but it also seems to mean madam) she said matter of factly. I knew there would be a fee, of course there would be a fee, but 8000 Pesos?!. She gave me the long receipt with about a dozen items on it; 1500 of those Pesos were for the privilege of being in the ‘express lane,’ I would get my papers the same day. Arggghh. At least we had the cash. (I would not have been pleased to have had to go back out into the mall and get cash from an ATM, and lose my place in line!) She took the cash and said to go back outside the little office and wait. We waited another ten minutes or so and was recalled, to be given my passport back and a piece of paper indicating my extension – another 59 days – and my receipts. My other documents would be ready in three weeks. Other documents?!? Yes, I would be getting an ACR i-card (Alien Certificate of Registration identity card) and that will make my next application much faster, and fewer fees. And all I thought I would be getting was a stamp in my passport. I guess we should be thankful for these small mercies.
My administration errand finished, it was time for Carmen to do her shopping for the troops. They all headed to H&M while Rickie (Celca’s husband) and I headed for the Beans and Leaf coffee shop. Amazingly the shoppers were done in less than an hour and it only cost me 25000 PhP! Lunch for the 11 of us at an unpretentious little Japanese restaurant was only 5000 PhP; Reine was not expensive.
I wish I’d known it while we were at the big mall but life is random and not always positive. I would have gone to the Apple store to pick up a new keyboard for my Mac rather than to discover only when I got home that four keys have died. With all the newsletters and blogs I am pouring out that is a bit of a loss; at least I can still use the keyboard on the Macbook itself and the mouse still works. But now I’m worried my Mac might not make it through the winter either. Just like a lot of my folks back home.
My ancient aunt in Peterborough died. She was 104 but it doesn’t matter how old a person is to prompt memories and heightened consciousness of how short life is. With this sobering thought I wrote to two of my best octogenarian friends and inquired as to their condition, but though deteriorating to some degree, they are both tough old birds and aren’t done yet. And then I got news from my daughter that my dog Bonnie, 13, has developed some problems. I began to wonder if they would all make it through the winter and whether I made a good decision to take myself off to The Philippines.