Philippines

It has been 6 years since Kiana, Myla, and I have been to the Philippines, way too long. This was KJ’s first trip.

It takes 27 hours to go from point A to point B for this trip. A friend of ours who visited the Phillipphines told us about using a transportation service called 2go travel but we had already made our plans. The kids are troopers, their parents are super-troopers. When we arrive in Manila, Dusty has made it a habit to spend the night at Edsa Shangri-la for a night then the next morning, we make the drive to the factory about 2 hours north of Manila to Angeles.
this is how my camera takes pictures – till it adjusts to the humidity. It was an absolutely beautifully bright blue, clear day…but humid.
I love humidity. My camera, doesn’t.

the pool at Shangri-la, it had an incredibly fast water slide the kids loved
Alson & Myla met us in Manila for breakfast and it was so good to see them. I swear Filipinos never age, they look so incredible… They gave us a ride to Clark, where we stay. Clark base which is now known as the “Economic Zone” or something is the old U.S. air force base, when we go to the Philippines as a family we usually stay at the Holiday Inn there, it is the nicest & safest hotel available in the area. It’s about a 20 minute drive from the factory, and then we use Alson & Myla’s van for the week to get around.On our first morning, Tuesday, we headed straight to the factory with Dusty. This is what it looks like to pull into the factory, the entire factory is gated and a security guard greets us –
Before we left on this trip, Kiana and I planned a project. We both wanted to make our own pair of shorts. I wanted to have a more hands-on understanding of the process from the pattern/design to the finished project. Kiana thought it sounded fun and wanted to improve her sewing skills.

We decided we didn’t want to use a pre-designed typical pattern. We wanted to totally design our own style of shorts. We wanted to make low-rise, a little fitted, capri-length, basketball-style shorts… Dusty thought we were crazy.

First, we needed a pattern. Alson was so willing & patient to teach us how to cut our own patterns. Of course, he mentored us with a lot of hands-on help…

Kiana and I with our finished patterns and Alson
After our patterns were done, we chose our colors/fabrics
then we headed to the cutting room/tables to trace our pattern onto our fabric and cut cut cut


Alson & Helen gave Kiana private sewing lessons, it was awesome. I think she loved it. And, those industrial sewing machines are a bit trickier than the average home sewing machine. Stopping in the right spot is difficult!

Alson and Helen would find 2 scraps of fabric then draw lines and/or circles on one, then Kiana would practice her sewing/stitches being exactly on those lines. She also had to practice starting/stopping quickly on the lines perfectly. They were not going to let her sew her shorts until she was ready…



Wednesday morning, Alson & Myla hosted us for breakfast in their home. mmmm.
this is Tocino, it is one of my favorite Filipino foods. It’s pork, I googled it to find an explanation and it just said “cured meat” native to the Philippines. It’s similar to ham and bacon that it has a sweet flavor but it’s a bright pink/red color
This is Kiana, KJ and Myla with Amiel. Alson & Myla’s youngest boy, they have 4 sons. Amiel is 2, and this was our first time to meet him, he is such a handsome little guy!
Myla & I took a “trike” to the factory, this is a typical/low-mid expensive way to travel in the Philippines. The kids loved riding in these.
On a few mornings, we stopped by a supermarket on the way in to the factory for lunch food/etc, and each day KJ’s new collection of Filipino transformers grew. He was ecstatic to find these! They were really cool because they had a lot of steps to transform them, but are much easier then some of the U.S. transformers! Geesh, sometimes I can’t figure out most of them!
while Kiana and I were sewing our shorts, Myla & KJ spent hours very happy & content playing with scraps of material and socializing with all the workers. Actually, Myla was the entertainer of the week for most the workers. She would do the funniest things. She spent a couple of days braiding long scraps into jump ropes. Then she went in the office and had the staff jumping with her and KJ…
Sheryl
Nohr
KJ
Myla took Sheryl hostage by tying her to her chair…
We had lunch at a Filipino restaurant called, “Gerry’s” which is mostly traditional food.
It was masarap! (delicious)KJ ordered a watermelon shake, and when it came and he tasted it, he declared:
“mmmm, this is like a party in my stomach!”
Myla really wanted fresh watermelon and the restaurant didn’t have any, so Alson went to the supermarket nearby, bought her a full size watermelon and gave it to the chef. As a surprise, he carved it into this adorable turtle for her!

She loved it, but can we all say, SPOILED little girl!
After lunch,
Myla, KJ, and I hung out at the mall while Dusty went back to work and Kiana continued to practice her sewing…

In the Philippines, Malls are a BIG DEAL. They’re huge. They are amazing. Besides having really great shopping at super really great prices, they have TONS of activities for kids –
This is Alan & Mary Grace, they have been giving us massages in the Philippines for about 8 years! They are both incredible masseuse, and are so willing to be on-call for us when we visit. All of us enjoyed a couple of massages during our trip, the girls were so funny. Kiana fell asleep snoring in one of hers and was totally embarressed when she woke up and Myla would get the silly giggles when her back was being stretched-popped, they loved it.
On Thursday, we continued to sew… It was my turn to practice on the machines. wow, it was hard.
Kiana/me/Helen; Helen & Sheryl were such big helps with this project, we really owe them!
There were just a couple of steps during the short-sewing process that we couldn’t do ourselves. One of those was the design work on the logos. Diego cut-out Kiana’s “BEAR” and he did my “J.”
Kiana/Diego/Jane
ta-da, our finished projects!!! It was so much fun to sew our own shorts, I loved the entire process. It gave me my own little fashion-designer thrill. I have always admired the talent involved with designing/sewing the uniforms at the factory, but I have this huge apreciation for all the work that goes into each jersey, shorts, warm-ups now. I love how the entire factory is organized, these people are so talented.
A couple of the days for lunch, I went to the kitchen in the canteen and made the kids grilled cheese sandwiches. When we lived in the Philippines when the girls were little, I used to make a “merienda” snack once a week for all the workers. They loved it. At least, they had me believing they loved it. Sometimes I would make grilled cheese sandwiches, so one of the afternoons I made about 30 for the office staff. There’s no way I could have made them for ALL the workers these days, we have over 200 workers now. I would be sweating in that kitchen for HOURS to fry that many!
When we lived in the Philippines 8 years ago, Myla Bungay has a sister Lovelle “Luv” who lived with us for a couple of months. Lovellea is a very dear friend, and during that time, she was pregnant with this little girl Patricia “Trish”. Myla is just about a year older than her. During this trip, Myla & Trish were able to re-unite as such cute little friends. They spent lots of time playing togheter. Love is currently working in London as a nurse, so we didn’t get to see her, but we send our love and were happy to spend time with Trish.

Myla & Trish
Each day as we drove to the factory, we would cross over a few bridges. One morning, I had Dusty pull-over so the kids and I could get out and walk across this one. While we were crossing the bridge, these three little boys were walking by, and this lady selling fish was walking by. The boys asked me, “Mom, Will you buy us some fish?” {In the Philippines, most people will say”Mom” instead of “M’am” because they don’t use the long a sound, I have always loved this.} I didn’t have any pesos in my pocket, but I had given some to Myla, and she pulled out her money and bought them these fish. It was very sweet.
These are both pictures of the river/homes we were passing over the bridge.The little boys who asked for fish were so excited to stand and point to each of their homes from where we were standing. This picture shows the home/family of the boy in the yellow shirt. He was definitely the ring leader, and as he was yelling to his family that he had fish, they were all waving to us to have their picture taken…
My favorite road in this area is “McArthur Highway,”it is lined with these large trees on both sides, and it’s usually less hectic than driving in other areas. There are really cute food stands up and down it. We stopped by a corn stand, and we all enjoyed some yummy corn on the cob, the kids loved it!{I don’t think this lady realizes what her shirt says…}{Yes, those are flies.}
A tropical nursery. How I wish I could fill my bags with plants to bring home, and then how nice it would be if they could survive our winters-This is mowing the lawn, Filipino style. I have never seen a lawn mower. I’m sure it’s just too expensive to have them made or shipped there. So, everyone wraps themselves up like this to avoid sun exposure, and uses weed-eaters to mow the grass…
On Friday morning, we stayed at our hotel while Dusty went to work and spent some time at the pool…

The top of our hotel has an observation deck, where we took these pictures from above… Most of this land is unspoiled because it is Clark, the old air force base and has been very protected and unspoiled from development. It’s absolutely gorgeous.An aerial view of our pool, and a golf course in the background –a little sisterly horseplayMyla never won…
After our morning/afternoon of swimming, we headed back to the factory briefly…

Another trike ride for Kiana & Myla…Kiana has been on a “speed” frenzy lately, so she was playing cards with EVERYONE!

Kiana & Myla
Then Myla & Sheryl took us shopping at “NEPO,” it’s one of my favorite inside markets. Lets say, Nordstrom quality at better than Wal*Mart prices. Is that not the best or what?!? I think Kiana & I both finished the day with no less than 5 new pairs of shoes each. Kiana also discovered that she is FINALLY a size 3, which translates to a WOMENS size 5, and to her, life just got so much better. She has truly been dying the past year to fit into women’s shoes so she could shop with more variety…

KJ was walking past a little shop and spotted this Power Rangers jacket, he was SOLD.I was able to pick up some of my favorite rice cake, I had totally forgotten how much I love this stuff!a happy meal…anywhere in the world!
Alson & Myla have these pastors from their church that preach to the workers at the factory, once a week. Over the years, Dusty has gotten to be pretty good friends with them. And now, when he is in the Philippines he plays badminton with them. I didn’t know about this till we went, and had a date with them on Friday night to meet at the “Badminton center” to play. Who knew? Badminton Centers!?! I love Badminton, as do our kids! We were stoked! This place was so awesome. We had so much fun! There were about 15 badminton courts, a boxing ring, weight center, it was so cool. Some of the people that were there training professionally with coaches were amazing! I truly didn’t know Badminton was more than a backyard sport!
Saturday morning – some mornings we would start our day with room service, and that HAD to include fresh mango. There is nothing better than fresh mango, mmmmm…then we would spend the rest of the day having mango shakes, dried mango, and mango candy.

KJ and I in a trike, Dusty was driving beside us and I love this picture he took of KJ peaking back at him –
Nohr, who works in the office made me these two crochet’d bags while I was there. One was a holder for my cell phone and the other is a holder for my little digital camera, they are so cute and she is so thoughtful & talented!
The kids had waited all week to see some of their friends because they had been busy with school.
back row: Rourie, KJ, and Amiel
front row: Rap, Kiana, Myla, and TrishMyla & Trish built a spider-web out of scraps…then we headed to the mall again, this is a typical street/sight, driving towards the mall- and this is all the kids on the ferris wheel
Sunday morning, we had the breakfast buffet in our hotel…then we went to the mall, AGAIN…
I have to share this picture, because it made me laugh,
In the parking lot at the mall,
front row,
front parking stall,
You never know when the priest might be in a hurry to get in and out of the mall…
Kiana had been BEGGING to get her hair cut all week,
so we finally found a good place to get it done.
“Ricky Reyes” was the salon we chose, and she got a fabulous haircut for $3.50, and then she gave them a $2.00 tip! It’s widely-known in the Philippines that you should get your haircut by a guy. It’s very common, as Kiana did, to get your hair shampoo’d by a girl, cut by a guy, then styled by a girl…She loved the results! and, we did too.Next, we went to the waterpark “Fontana.” I used to take the girls here all the time when they were little, of course, they don’t remember the place at all…We rented our own little nipa hut…Dusty was so proud of his son. He has never wanted to go down any of the “BIG” slides at Seven Peaks by himself with his buddies. But, he finally gave in and tried it here, and then he loved it! He became a CRAZY kid! He would make himself swirl in circles on the way down, causing him to come out all kinds of crazy ways at the end…
On Sunday evening, we went to Alson & Myla’s home to have dinner and manicure/pedicures.

This is their home –this is a covered open-air area they have for a pool table, work-out gym, etc.Rinna is Myla’s on-call Manicure/Pedicure woman. She has been taking care of our families cuticles for years.

Kiana, Dusty & Rinna.I took some “OPI” polishes for Myla this trip, and taught them how to hand-paint flowers, it was fun…


Monday was our last day in Angeles. oh, how I would have loved to stay another week.

Our dear friends are the founders and one of the executives for XANGO, which main fruit juice ingredient is Mangostein. Mangostein is native to the Philippines and I have never tried it. I stopped by a few fruit stands during the week and checked at the supermarket and had no luck all week finding any! I thought maybe it was out of season and I wasn’t going to get the chance to taste it.

Till…our last morning, we passed this adorable fruit stand, and MANGOSTEIN!
She had it!

So, we bought a kilo, and cleaned it up, tasted it.
It’s really good, you eat the white segments on the inside. It is comparable to an orange, sweet/sour.I even thought it was pretty cute…
When we went to lunch on Monday we drove through some of the open markets for me to get some photos… This was my first time in the Philippines to not do a lot of shopping in the open markets. Whenever I usually go to markets I always end up stuffing my backpack all the way to the top with bits and bobs. I’m glad I found such a high quality backpack (this one: https://backpacks.asia/ph/fjallraven-kanken-classic-backpack-review/) for my travels! The markets in this area are 100% muslim owned and unfortunately Dusty didn’t feel it was safe enough for the kids and I to be walking around so I missed out on shopping. But, he was willing to drive us through them.this guy was greatI thought this grandpa was so adorable sitting on his bike taxi, holding this little baby girlOur friend Ron {Myla & Luvella’s brother} who works at the factory also owns this “Moto Pro” shop, we were so excited to find it and be able to stop in to see him!
This picture is a new development being built, I always contemplate if we would currently be living in the Philippines, what house would we have? Where would the kids go to school? etc. etc. Well, this is one place I’d consider, these modern homes were so cute! Everytime we passed them I would tell Dusty that was where’d we’d live…
We passed these ladies working, are they not the cutest!?! I was asking them to smile for me, and one of them said she wouldn’t because her teeth were too bad!
Trish made it home from school {to hang-out at the factory} right before it was time for us to leave to Manila. So, Myla was able to spend just a little more time with her before we left.
Also, before we left, Kiana shared one of her favorite computer websites/games with everyone in the office. Shortly thereafter, everyone was participating and Dusty’s competitive side came out. He had to win. We were laughing so hard, he made Kiana switch with him because she wasn’t typing fast enough. It really is a fun game, Kiana and I play it together all the time. I love word games, click here to check it out.
While Alson & Myla were driving us back to Manila, I had the window on the van open and was trying to get some pictures of the area, while the van was moving…

Most “mountains” in the area look like this, since they are ALL volcanoes, and many of them have already erupted, so many of them are missing their tops…rice fields
We spent our last evening at the Edsa Shangri-la, Dusty had a business dinner with the fabric supplier. But, before we tucked in for the night we made a donut stop at the new Krispy Kreme in Manila! The Philippines has most major fast food or good restaurants in the U.S.A., but for some reason, I was shocked to see this!That was it.
10 days, and an absolutely incredible trip.
It will not be 6 years till we go again,
We love the Philippines.

12 responses to “Philippines

  1. Wow! You got some fantastic photos girl!!!
    It looks like you had such a wonderful trip!
    Thank heavens for cross-continental food! I’m a wimp and would be eating KK every day!!!

  2. WOW! Looks like you guys had an amazing, busy time there!! I love the shorts you guys made. fun, fun, fun!! Love all the pics. It was like reading a fun book. hehe

  3. I am so glad to see your awesome photos and read all about your wonderful trip! It is such abeautiful country and has such a fun flavor! What a great time to visit dear friends and do fun, unique things as a family!

    And I have to say again that KJ’s goggles crack me UP! I love the shot of him on the slide! 🙂

    And awesome shorts, you girls made… Way to go! Maybe they’ll be the new cool thing! 🙂

    And lastly, I totally want to move there, just for the sake of having an on-call masseuse and mani/pedi woman! Ahhh! The life! 🙂

    Glad you are back safely and that you had a wonderful trip!

  4. What an amazing trip. You guys really get to experience the culture there. I think it’s great you were so brave to take the kids. It’s hard work but looks like it was definitely worth it. You have a beautiful family. I had to laugh at some of the pics seeing the same restaurants as in Japan. Mister Donut and we just got a Krispy Kreme as well. I don’t even care about them here but when you see something familiar so far away from home it’s a big deal.
    Thanks for the call to invite SAvi swimming. We just got it this evening. I need to give you my ccell number. She was running a fever today but has been really wanting to play with Myla. She says she’s her favorite girl at church. We’ll try tomorrow and see what you guys are up to.

  5. Whew! That is one amazing post! It looks like you guys had a wonderful time and you sure got some incredible pictures. How fantastic for your family that they get to travel and have these amazing experiences together.

    I love that you and Kiana made your own shorts. They are super cute! I think you could market those. 🙂

  6. What an incredible trip! I loved hearing all you did~Especially the kids!! Great idea to have Sewing lessons there. I was imagining Myla using the scraps and making Jump ropes etc.. she is totally Imaginitive and can find something to do anywhere!!
    KJ looked like he was LOVING the waterslide~ Such a cutie!

    Such a great Educational trip. I love how you showed them the Flowers for the Pedicures…

    Tell Kiana i ROCK at “Speed”!!!

  7. oh and you will love that you journaled all of this… when you have time go to Blurb.com! I just did my blog into a book and it is AWESOME!!
    (Pretty Easy too)

  8. It looks like you had a great time, and what a awesome experience for your kids. That’s one of my favorite things to remember as a kid were my family vacations, I’ll never forget them and I’m sure your kids won’t either.

  9. Wonderful pictures of course! Thank you for blogging all of this (previous post also) I would have been overwhelmed at the amount of pictures. It’s so nice to see what you did. How awesome!

  10. I know you’ll probably never see this comment because it took me till now to finally get on the computer and check out your blog. But OH – what an amazing trip! I loved reliving it with you step by step-I loved seeing the factory-WOW! Do you ever step back and say, Oh my gosh-we did this!? I loved see the people I hear so much about and get a feel for the country. I’m so so happy you had that experience! BTW-I love Myla and her creativity! I loved how she got them all jump roping on a hand made one out of scraps!

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