Potipot Island, Zambales

I've been wanting to go to Potipot Island for years now. So when my friends found out that I'm going to Manila, they organized a group outing. But the night before the outing, only 4 of us can go. The group outing became a double date.

And that wasn't the only surprise of the trip. Turns out, they don't cook food for the guests anymore so we had to go panic shopping at the marketplace. Good thing we found where the market was.

So the next morning, we got up really early to go to the island. It was lovely. It was super worth it.

But I don’t think everyone will appreciate the Potipot experience.

First, it’s an undeveloped island. No electricity, no running water, no restaurants and no amenities. It’s like camping – without the RV. So you bring everything with you: gas tank, gas range, cooler filled with ice, cooler filled with food, cooler filled with drinks. I don’t think my mom will enjoy it, unless she brings a maid or a cook with her. Her vacation must be housework free. As for us semi-domesticated yuppies, we did have fun cooking fried chicken by the beach.

And second, maybe it’s the timing, but it tends to get crowded there too. Remember: it’s a small island. Unless you’re spot is too hot, too rocky or is infested by insect, don’t expect seclusion. But for us, we enjoyed the crowd. We watched this dad make a fool out of himself, drunken silly. We saw him fall out of a chair, stumble over his 5-7 year old daughter, throw up on the ocean and pass out at the sunny part of the beach.

Some have called the island “the hidden paradise”. The 7 hour drive from Manila might give you the feeling that it’s hidden, but once your there, seeing all the people there with you. You’d think their giving away the map for free.

As for the paradise part, well I can’t argue with that. The place is beautiful.

On status updates...

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Barrio Fiesta, Calgary

So my Canadian friends and I thought about checking out this Filipino restaurant that allegedly played Latin music. They were all into salsa and I was just craving sisig. As we entered the restaurant I was appalled. They had red lights. The fear that a stripper will go out on stage started to creep in.

“So you feel at home?” one of my friends asked.
“Hell no.” was what I wanted to say. But I just laughed in an ‘are-you-kidding-me’ sort of way.

Seriously, if I was in the Philippines I would never in a million years go to a place like that. It’s putting all restaurants in the Philippines in a bad light – red, in particular. Considering the vast diversity in the Filipino art and culture, I feel sad that this restaurant had to choose ‘modern-day-strip-club-near-the-airport’ as its inspiration.

On the upside, the band was fantastic, the staff was super friendly and the food was great. The best part for me was the fact that they serve Red Horse Beer. After 3 bottles, I didn’t mind the red lights.