Friday, February 09, 2007

daddy

Coming up on 10 months, Charlize uttered that sweet word today that causes most fathers' hearts to melt away. She's been saying 'mama' quite regularly when she awakens and finds herself scared, hungry and disoriented but this morning I had her laughing and happy for about 15 minutes after awakening before she made the call for the happy, lumpy one with the milk that she calls 'mama'.

So, I am into my final week in the Philippines, land of the cold shower and ubiquitous ant. Having heard 'daddy' from my cute one I am loathe to leave, but leave I must. Monday we shall make a final trip to Iloilo to collect everybody's Filipino passports. Sadly, we need to bring both Rowena and Charlize with us to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) this time even though:

8 years old and below need not attend in person


The Filipino DFA website failed to mention that though you need not have your children attend the office to apply for their passport you do need to get their thumb print or, as in Charlize's case, footprint. Since we will be picking up our documents on Monday we now DO have to bring the kids as they will not release their passports without the imprints!

The trip to Iloilo is not the most pleasant of trips, by the way. It's about 3 hours on the windiest, bumpiest, shittiest road I have encountered since I was in Nepal -- yes, it's actually worse than the Nepalese road that I once took a bus upon. Luckily the Filipino bus was a good deal better, so that, when you hit those giant potholes going at break-neck speeds you don't have to bend your head forward in fear of gouging your head on the too-close ceiling. After Nepal, I had a kinked neck and bruised ass, while I presently am enjoying merely a bruised ass from my first trip to and subsequently from Iloilo.

My impressions of Iloilo are restricted to what I saw on our first short stay: heaps of McDonald's and Jolibee's restaurants. That's about it. Not much different from Kalibo or Manila save the proliferation of fast food joints. Our first night there we spent in the Castle Hotel which was empty save ourselves and one other guest -- about a 15 minute 85 peso (USD$1.75) cab ride from the Iloilo Ceres bus 'terminal'. The rooms were very nice but a tad expensive at 1400 pesos (about USD $30) for a double, however the rooms were grand enough to keep one from feeling as though it were a giant rip-off -- cold air (air-con) and warm water (hot shower) were abundant.

Castle hotel's room service is practically nonexistent, with no food available and canned cokes that were at first available but then

I can't find the key, said the hotel staff lady


Later she had apparently found the key but the coca cola became quite unavailable. To be fair they did provide instant coffee promptly when we called for it in the morning.

The DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs where one may obtain Filipino passports if one is very lucky) turned out to be about a 10 minute walk from the hotel which cost us a 35 peso taxi ride to discover. It is also about a 30 second walk from another hotel that looks like it has better room service with a restaurant at ground level and a "Matrimonial" suite of only 940 pesos.

Our time in the DFA was quite instructive. First we discovered that not only do you need to have 3 items of ID to obtain an adult passport but also one of those items should be an "old" ID!!!!! Meaning that if you walk into the joint carrying 3 brand spanking new items of ID like Rosi did on Wednesday, they will take you into a dark room and question you until you are blue in the face and then insist that you go home and return with some "old" ID to prove that you aren't trying to slip something by them.

Unless of course you are like Rosi and you happen to have a cousin who works in that dark room that vouches for you insisting that you have no "old" ID because, after all, "that lady is from the Barrio" (for the uninitiated read, "a tiny remote village" in the place of "Barrio" here). And so, fortune passes and as it has on occasion it has smiled upon me and mine for a change.

But fortune could smile a little harder like my Charlize if I could get my new Visa number on Monday so I can return to Korea, Visa in tow, on Friday. Not to mention the fact that I'm not quite sure how I can endure yet another bus ride to Iloilo this weekend, but I suppose it could be worse.

Hey, I could be freezing my ass off in Korea and worrying about my daughter instead of trying to keep her from flying out of the window on those particularly walloping bumps and corners.

She called me 'daddy'! Only 10 months and she is already talking more than me.

By the way, I have been gushing (if a man can truly gush) about my daughter non-stop and bloody hell so has everybody else! We stopped at a pharmacy in Kalibo for a moment to hear seven unoccupied young pharmacy cashiers shriek with delight:

Eewwwwww! She's so cute! Hello baby! What's your name? Oh, you have such a pretty smile!


It's been the same story everywhere that we have been. Charlize has a big, enduring smile and that gives her extra points but she is also cute as hell and everybody loves her. Especially the Koreans! We met a gang (for what else can you call a group of Koreans on one of their 2-day-guided-tour-holiday-trips) of Koreans on Boracay island.

I thought the women would never stop shrieking with delight and laughter. But, I am most certainly not complaining about this. Nevertheless, it would appear that if I go anywhere in Korea with my daughter in my arms I will most certainly need to leave early in order to get past the gushing Koreans and make it to any appointment in a timely manner.

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