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Journal of the San Francisco Ambassadors
on the Philippines Exchange

(including a pre-exchange trip to Singapore and Cambodia)

October 25–November 17, 2006


NOTE: This is a collaborative journal with different ambassadors contributing entries.


Manila, Philippines


Sunday, November 5: Manila, Philippines
Church and activities

By Jo Anne Roberts  

Mary Lou Hudson, from St. Louis, and I were staying with Bernie and Maricor Malitas and family. Sunday morning we left at 9:20 for Pastor Bernie’s Evangelical Church. We attended services, were introduced, sang songs, and read passages from the Bible. About noon, we adjourned downstairs and had lunch with the caretaker and others. After, Maricor gave vitamins to mothers with babies who are about 16 months or younger. She is president of a Rotary Club in Manila’s Chinatown and this is one of her projects as vitamins were donated to her. We left the church and went to a senior center, where she again gave vitamins to mothers with young babies. Back to the church, and soup was given to small children that had stayed around there all day. About 4:30, we left the church and made two stops so Maricor could visit with people as she is thinking of running for political office of Coolican and needs to see if there is support. After 7:00, we were dropped off by the driver at a supermarket, which we walked through and met two other hostesses, Marie and Vicki, and their guests, and we all had dinner outside at Guava Restaurant. Later, we went through heavy traffic and arrived home about 10:00.


Monday, November 6: Manila, Philippines
Women's University and U.S. Embassy

By Mary Lou Hudson

On Monday, we met the group at the Women's University, after a two hour drive with our host through the unbelievably busy streets of Manila.

We were excited to meet the chancellor of the University and have a fun photo op/reception with University personnel. The group was then off to visit the U.S. Embassy and our U.S. Ambassador Kenny. We were given a warm welcome at the Embassy and heard interesting information about the history of Manila and the embassy grounds and building.

After a photo op and a guided tour of the grounds, we went to our next destination, Imus Institute, a high school and college sponsored by the Women's University. A fantastic meal was served, and the host faculty members gave a presentation about the school. Several of the teachers there entertained with music and singing. Several of the group toured the school with some of the college students.

After the lunch and entertainment, some of our group enjoyed joining in the fun. We enjoyed a few songs from Dee Gustavson, and Anne Sander entertained students with her balloon animals.

Back at the University, hosts picked up members of our group. Since our host had a late meeting for Rotary that night, JoAnne Roberts and I were being picked up by the driver of Marie, host of Katharine Kleinke and Monika Boerger. The driver arrived at the University, only to be told by the guard that all had left. We were finally picked up at about 6:30. Karen, Barry, and Linda stayed with us until our ride came. The driver took the four of us to Marie's house for a fantastic dinner with Monica, Katharine, and Marie and her son.


Wednesday, November 8: Manila, Philippines
Corregidor Tour

By Ed Shannon

Our morning began at 5:00 a.m. with our departure from our host family’s home in the Paranaque District in southern Manila. We arrived at the port of departure for the Corregidor Cruise in Manila at 7:00 a.m. On our arrival, we were escorted on a walk around the harbor area and observed several groups participating in morning exercises.

We boarded the Sun Cruise ship to Corregidor Island at 7:45 a m. Our 8:00 a.m. departure was delayed to 8:30 a.m. because of internal problems on the ship. We arrived at the port on Corregidor at 9:45 a.m. after a smooth crossing.

We boarded our Tour Bus, #5 with our personable guide, Stella, in charge. We had several stops for photo opportunities at numerous remains of old barracks and three gun batteries, the largest of which housed a 12” gun that had a firing range of 17 miles!  These remains were a grim reminder of the many lives lost during the Second World War on the Island. Our guide told us of the events and dates of important points of history from the occupation of the island by the Japanese in early 1942 to the return of General Douglas MacArthur and his troops in 1945.

We had a nice buffet lunch at the Hotel Corregidor, entertained by an accomplished trio, who played “We Left our Heart in San Francisco” at our request!  After lunch we continued on our tour.

Other highlights of our day long tour were the Spanish Lighthouse, the Pacific War Memorial, the Filipino Heroes Memorial, the Mile Long Barracks, and the Manila Tunnel.

Many of us took the guided tour of the Tunnel, which was constructed from 1922 to 1932. The main tunnel was carved out of solid rock with many lateral tunnels that chronicled the many historical events that occurred on the island and within the tunnel from it’s opening to the fall of the Japanese Occupation. The show consisted of a walk through the tunnel with numerous stops at slide presentations and life size sculptured figures with light and sound.

We returned to the dock at 2:15 p.m. for our return trip to Manila. After departing at 2:45 p.m., we watched a movie on the ship about the life of General MacArthur.

We arrived in Manila at 4:00 p.m. and our group was then transported to the Philippine Women’s University via two Jeepney vehicles, which was an experience of itself!

We were greeted by our host families and were then transported to our homes.

Reflections of the Past  I was personally rewarded to be able to visit the island after a 53 year absence! I was a radar operator aboard the U.S. Navy Destroyer Walker DDE517 during the Korean War. As the war was winding down in 1953, we were then dispatched to the South China Sea. We received our provisions at the Subic Bay Naval Base, outside of Manila. We had the opportunity to visit the Island and at that time it was a barren rock island, pock marked with many bomb craters and very minimal plant growth. With all the restoration that began in 1957, the Island has taken on a whole new and fresh look.


Thursday, November 9: Manila, Philippines
Philippines Women's University and JASMS, Quezon City, Peace Park

By Wil Heiduk

This day, November 9, promised to be another busy one since we had to leave the house by 7:00 a.m. That meant setting the alarm for the unreasonable time of 6:00 and having breakfast at 6:30. However, any thoughts of resentment at having to get up so early soon disappeared after having been greeted by four smiling faces. Bing, our hostess joined us for breakfast that featured fresh tropical fruits as well as some new and exotic dishes. And the service provided by a live-in housekeeper and her two live-in helpers was outstanding.

By 7:00 we were on our way to Chinki and Nilo’s home being driven by Bing’s live-in driver. I assume his driving skills must be excellent since we arrived without incident after having driven through some really chaotic traffic. We lingered a while watching the U.S. election returns on TV. It seems that everyone was pleased with the results. We then departed for PWU, where we finally arrived after what seemed to be a very circuitous drive of 45 minutes. After an even longer wait there—but that also provided an opportunity to compare notes, check email, and do various other things—we boarded a bus for JASMS, an affiliate school of PWU.

We received a very warm welcome on arrival and were given a tour of the campus visiting almost every classroom. A cheerful “Good morning Friendship Force,” greeted us in every classroom that really made us feel like VIPs. This was followed by a reception where we were entertained by the JASMS Rondalla, a group playing bandurias, guitars, and octavias, a performance by the JASMS choir and songs by the music teacher, Mr. Armand. This was followed by introductions of the ambassadors by Karen who also explained what the Friendship Force is and presented a book to the school. Snacks and drinks were served next amid some lively singing and a dancing demonstration by the students. They were first joined by Dee but soon other ambassadors also joined in the singing, which included Xmas songs. It seemed that everyone enjoyed the occasion. It seemed to me that it was a bit early for Xmas music.

After leaving JASMS we drove along Roxas Blvd. through Manila to Quezon City to Quezon Circle where Max’s Restaurant, owned by a PWU alumnae is located. This is where we had lunch. Most had the “Fiesta Plate” and most seemed satisfied.

From the restaurant we walked to the Peace Park where signs welcoming Friendship Force were very visible. Everyone had the opportunity to ring the “peace bell” which was also a good photo op. Following a talk describing the peace bell and its origins by the director of the park, Karen talked about the Friendship Force and Linda presented the background and activities of the local Philippine Friendship Force chapter. An enjoyable dance program featuring Philippine folk dances was presented by a group of senior women. After the dance program the Friendship Force ambassadors were invited to participate in a Philippine version of line dancing. Many did. Food was served and was followed by more dancing including Tahitian dances. Afterwards many went to the nearby Mabini Hall where Japanese heritage photos were being exhibited. This ended today’s organized activities. We then departed the park for the long, slow drive back.


Friday, November 10: Manila, Philippines
Mary speaks to Philippine Women's University Med Tech students, Farewell Party

By Don Pelland

Today’s schedule:   Morning free with host family
                                Afternoon Farewell Party at 2:00 p.m. 

Mary and I came down to breakfast after sleeping in until 7:00 a.m. On the table we found fresh mangos, apples, bananas, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, Spam, bread, coffee, and tea—a typical breakfast for us at Lucila Mangubat’s home. Lucila is the sister of Dr. Amalia (Monette) Angeles. Dr Angeles and her husband Carlos are our “official” hostess and host. Dr. Angeles had a 10:00 a.m. appointment in Manila so we were brought down to her small condo in Manila.

Adjacent to the condo tower is The Robinson Place Mall. We spent an hour shopping before returning to the condo. Our roommate, Evelyn Lovett, walked into a Goldilocks store for her first time. Goldilocks sells Filipino food for dine-in or take-out. They are apparently world wide; we have one in Union City, near Fremont. Dr. Angeles was late in returning, so we went back to the mall and had lunch at Wendy’s.

During the welcoming party on Tuesday, Mary met Dr. Nini Lim, head of the Med Tech department at PMU, Philippine Women’s University. Mary spent 34 years working as a Med Tech. She was invited to speak with a group of Dr. Lim’s students at 1:30. Mary was excited to do so and the discussions lasted for over an hour. As a result we were 1½ hours late for the farewell party. It had originally been scheduled for 3:00 p.m.

The farewell party was kicked off by a pianist from the school of music at PWU and followed by the singing of both national anthems. According to reliable sources, Barry Rader, president of FFSFBA, gave an outstanding speech and added two “F’s” to our list of Filipino traditions. The previous four traditions, given by a speaker at the welcoming party, were Flowers, Food, Festivals, and Friendship; Barry added Family and Future—both very appropriate. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Mary and I missed the FFSFBA production number of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

After the formalities we played a game of “agaw biten” in which prizes are hung off a ring suspended from a pole. The ring is then raised and lowered while participants try to jump and grab the prizes. Don was able to get one Filipino hat but one of our ambassadors grabbed the ring itself and was able to clear the ring of the remaining prizes—this in spite of Don’s valiant efforts to remove her iron grip from the ring. Then quickly thinking, Don noticed many prizes had fallen to the floor, so he scooped up another couple of hats and a wrapped prize (seashell coasters). That night we caught the young girls who worked as house assistants for our hostess, Lucila, laughing and playing with the hats, so we left the hats with the girls. We then went on to prepare our suitcases for our trip to Baguio the next day.


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