(This is the view from our hotel window at night.)
Monday morning, Sammy & I woke up early to hit the gym. After a good workout, we came back up to our room, showered & got ready for the day. We ate our standard breakfast buffet that the hotel provides, then waited to meet our relocation liason from the Philippines. Little did we know that she was waiting in the lobby for us while we were waiting for her on the couch across the way. It was a little humorous when we discovered that the lady we had been secretly staring at for 10 minutes was actually our guide! Her name is Catriona (Cat for short) and she is originally from Scotland. She has 16-year-old twin boys that attend boarding school in New Zealand. They are already studying for their engineering degree. Her husband works for the Marriott Hotel chain & they have been living in the Philippines for 4 years now. However, they have lived pretty much everywhere... England, Germany, New Zealand, in the Middle East, India, Russia & China... just to name the places I can remember off the top of my head. She was very thorough, very straightforward & very friendly. She gave us all a good laugh.
When I mentioned the common sight of old, white men with young, Filipino women, she said they had a phrase they used there to describe that: "Old farts with young tarts"
She also confirmed what we had suspected... you do have to ask for your bill to be brought to you at the end of the meal. They will not bring it without you asking first. Quite a different approach from the fast paced American life. We like to rush, rush, rush!! That is definitely not the case here!
She took us to see two schools yesterday, a very nice hospital, a great marketplace & outdoor mall. Today, we are going to see the International School of Manila & some housing in the area.
The two schools we saw yesterday were so completely different in every way! The first was a Montessori school & followed the core Montessori principles. The administrators were both educated at a University in the US (I want to say Loyola Univ.) and all the teachers have thier Early Childhood Education degrees from local colleges. Everyone was very friendly, but the kids almost seemed a little robotic. They were all doing their own thing, working on their own... very quietly. We saw a music class in progress & all the kids were sitting so perfectly, singing along with opera music. They do have outside play time & the kids looked happy, but they just seemed to be so quiet & focused. Which is a great thing... just not what I'm used to with my own kids! :)
The second school was so different. Their administrator was also educated in the US, at a school in New York. So, they follow American curriculum. However, they did a lot of work outside, also. They have an animal area with guinea pigs & rabbits. They used to have a goat & chickens, but they had to get rid of the chickens due to the bird flu... and the goat died. Hmmmm... And, each class has a garden outside their window that they tend. It wasn't as flashy as the Montessori school, but the kids appeared to be happier here. They were visibly having fun... smiling & laughing. The teachers were young & playful. They were active. I liked that about this school. It also helped that at the end of our tour, one American mother happened to be picking up her son. So, I stepped aside from the group & asked her if she would mind talking to me for a bit. She told me they had been at this school for 2 years now & she & her kids really like it. Her son that she was picking up is 4 & she has a 5-year-old that attended in years past, but I'm assuming attends elsewhere now. She said both of her kids really like the school & she likes it that they are happy there. She confirmed that they do a lot of outdoor work & play. So, talking to her probably did more to inform me than the entire tour! I'm more interested in my kids having fun & being happy than being #1 in their class.
After touring the schools, she took us to lunch at this fabulous Italian restaurant! I had spinach & ricotta raviolis! YUMMM!! Cat ordered raviolis stuffed with asparagus & broccoli sauce. They were delicious!! We're definitely going back there!
After lunch, she took us to see one of the best hospitals in the area. A hospital administrator gave us a tour of the facility, which was very nice. Seeing the Presidential Suite birthing room almost makes me want to have another baby here. Almost... but, not quite! It was a very lovely room, though! We toured pretty much all of the hospital & got to see the nursery where the newborns were. They were so precious & tiny! I just wanted to stay there & hold them!! I couldn't have cared less about the remainder of the tour, but I had to go along... I was relieved once it was over. I was tired of walking!
Then, we drove back into Makati to visit an outdoor marketplace (like a Farmer's Market) & an outdoor mall (like Firewheel Mall in Garland). The produce market was fun! I LOVE things like that! I saw so many different fruits that I have never in my life seen before! I can't even tell you what they were called, but they were certainly interesting... and a little smelly! We walked down a row of stands filled with foods from various areas of the Philippines. Foods that are customary to that region. We walked down a row of beautiful, fragrant, fresh flowers! Georgeous flowers of all colors!!
The outdoor mall had all the same stores we have in the states, plus much more. We didn't go in any, but just walked & browsed.
She also took us to a store called S&R, which is EXACTLY like a Sam's store in the US. In fact, we were convinced that it had to be a part of the Sam's chain. Everything was exactly the same! Here, they have all of the American foods that we're used to, plus a good variety of local cuisine. But, when I get hungry for Pringles or Hot Pockets or Cheerios, this is where I'll be heading.
Cat also took us to a eyeglasses store so that I could buy an extra pair of contacts. (It's a good thing I had my prescription on me.) I ordered my new contacts before I left, but they didn't arrive in time, so I've been wearing the same pair for a while now. However, my left one has been bothering me so much, that Cat finally insisted that I go get a new pair at this place. They did have to order my prescription, but I'll be able to pick them up sometime this afternoon! In the meantime, I'll be wearing my glasses today.
Oh... she also told Sammy & I about the American Eye Clinic here in Makati that does laser eye surgery for much cheaper than in the States. She has known several people that had this done & highly recommends it. I think we're going to look into it for me. Sammy might wait until his eye prescription stays steady for a while. This is probably what I'm most excited about!!
That was our day in a nutshell. It's 7:45 right now & I've got to get ready to meet her again at 9 in the lobby. I'll post later about how our day visiting the International School & looking at houses went. One thing we did learn about renting here... you have to put down a deposit worth 3 month's rent, PLUS you have to pay a year's worth of rent upfront. You can't pay month to month here, even if you sign a contract to rent for a year. You have to pay the full year's rent upfront! That is something Texas Instruments does not know about, but will soon learn from us! There's no way we can do that, so that will completely change the housing allowance they told us about. Oh well... that's why we're here... to learn how in the world we're going to move over here!!
I hope you are all having a wonderful Monday... or Tuesday!
Monday, June 18
(This is the view from our hotel window at night.)
at 5:50 PM