Bringing home (Philippines) an Irish friend

I WAS CONTACTED BY MY FILIPINO FRIENDS IN DUBLIN (IRELAND) if I will be interested to participate in a television programme. The producer sent an invitation thru the Philippine Embassy (Dublin) to look for Filipinos to be featured in the second tv series in summer 2010.

Yes Im excited in taking part, but I was having a second thought if I will be eligible to be considered in the RTE Irish tv programme entitled, “Welcome to my World” since Im not an immigrant and secondly, I’m not residing in the south of Ireland. Anyway, I emailed the producer and told them my interest; fortunately I got a positive response and the producer was happy to assess my application.

Welcome to my world” aims to encourage non-Irish nationals living in Ireland (south and north) to introduce the lives they left back in their home countries by bringing a friend, a family member or a colleague who is an Irish citizen to experience the culture, to travel interesting local places and meet the family, relatives and friends. The programme started in 2008 and the producer has already aired four segments which featured foreign nationals from Korea, Peru, Turkey and Namibia. The travel arrangements and expenses will be shouldered by the tv programme for the entire week!

I was interviewed thru phone in December (2008) and the producer asked simple questions about my life in Belfast for the past 4 years. If ever I will be chosen, she also asked of what things I would like to show to my Irish friend during the one week visit to the country. On the other hand, my friend was also interviewed on the same day by phone. He mentioned that the producer asked why he is interested to visit the Philippines. He replied that he wanted to know more about the country – the people and culture, particularly the place where I was born.

Honestly during my four years in Northern Ireland, my friend helped me a lot in embracing the Irish way of life – touring the countryside and coastline of the north, visited some places with historical significance and attended special events/occasions that provided me the opportunity to meet his families and friends. This is my chance to show him my hometown (my neighbours and relatives) and other interesting locations where I studied and worked; consequently having a quick sight of the good and bad facets of the Philippines.

I felt that I did not really impress the producer during the interview, but this is my proposed itinerary if ever I am lucky to take part in the programme.

Day 1: Visit the house in Quezon City where my siblings are staying and where my personal belongings are stored temporarily. Meet my sisters, brother, cousins and some of the relatives who are permanently living in Metro Manila just to prove to my Irish friend that I came from a big family! Visit the University of the Philippines in Diliman – once I dreamed to be an alumnus! Also visit my Alma Mater/first office – Technological University of the Philippines (Malate) where also teach parttime in the postgraduate programme (Urban Planning module) and meet some of my former officemates and professors. Proceed to Luneta Park (show the place where our national hero is standing tall), City Hall of Manila, Manila Hotel, Intramuros and Fort Santiago area (a glimpse of the Spanish colonisation), Manila Bay and Baywalk and then ends up in Manila Bay Area reclaimation area (Cultural Center of the Philippines, along Roxas Boulevard). Have a short tour around the Mall of Asia (one of the largest shopping centres in Asia). Have a dinner in one of the Filipino restaurants in Makati (Glorietta) – the financial district of the Philippines.

Day 2: Visit again Makati area – have a quick meeting with my former boss at the City Hall of Makati, Mayor Jojo Binay (who is running for Vice President this May 2010 election) together with my former officemates in the City Planning Office. A quick visit to Power Plant Mall just to show to my friend that we have outstanding urban regeneration project comparable to Laganside Regeneration project which also highlighting my PhD research work at the Uni of Ulster. Have a quick tour to The Fort area – another example of urban regeneration project initiated by the public sector, including the entire Glorietta redevelopment site which also part of my previous work in Makati City Planning Office. Have a lunch break at Kamayan Restaurant.

Later part of the day, visit another university where I teach part time – Rizal Technological University in Mandaluyong City and meet my colleagues in the College of Engineering. From there, proceed to Edsa Shrine – just to show to my friend the significance of the place during the People Power in 1986. Watch a live show in one of the popular karaoke bars (The Clowns) in Cubao, Quezon City, and finally have a quick stroll around Araneta Coliseum area and show to my friend the shopping centre named after the boxer Mohammed Ali.

Day 3: Depart for my hometown – Sibuyan Island (Romblon). Take a flight from Manila to Negros and 4 hours by a motor boat to Sibuyan. Enjoying the aerial view of the Visayas Region! Or another option is via Batangas port – taking a bus from Quezon City to Batangas and then a ferry to Sibuyan Island (10 hours at sea).

Day 4: Visit the town hall of San Fernando and meet the mayor (who happens to be my cousin). Visit my former teachers in Sibuyan Polytechnic College (high school formerly known as Romblon National Vocational School) and my primary school at Campalingo Community School. Have lunch with relatives and friends, including my former classmates in the primary and high schools to be organised in my parents’ house. Maybe organise a picnic at the Cantingas River resort – my friend has the opportunity to take a deep swim in one of the cleanest rivers in the world!

Also, a quick tour along the coastline of the island where the mangroves grow and with a panoramic view of the majestic Mt Guiting-guiting – the home of some of the exotic plants and animals! This is an educational tour for my friend in terms of the vulnerability of the island to any industrial and mining developments. I can also show to my friend the sunken ship, Princess of Stars waiting to be recovered after its final voyage in June 2008 carrying more than 800 passengers. Sadly, hundreds of people died in the accident and some of them are still trapped inside the vessel.

Day 5: A half day visit in one of the beautiful islets of the Philippines – Crista de Gallo. This will provide a glimpse of the richness of the Philippine marine resources and the impacts of dynamite fishing in my hometown. Have a conversation/chat with the island caretaker in terms of the protection of the island. This will also show to my friend that we have marine problems brought by dynamite fishing in the past.

Day 6: Explore the entire island of Sibuyan, the opportunity for my friend to see the standard living of the area in terms of livelihood, infrastructures and access to basic services. He will also experience eating some of our native food and delicacies like balut, penoy, lechong baboy, spicy shrimps, etc.

Day 7: Back to Manila by boat/ferry via Romblon and Batangas. This will showcase the water transportation to the various islands of the Philippines, not accessible by air transport. A stop-over in the capital town of Romblon will show the abundance of “marble” as the main source of livelihood of the community.

Day 8: A courtesy visit to the Irish Embassy. Leaves Manila back to Northern Ireland.

I GOT THE RESULT BEFORE Xmas that I was not lucky to be included in the next series but the producer might reconsider my application in the future programme series. I did not feel sad about the result because it helped me plan (in advance) the itinerary for my Irish friends when they visit the Philippines in April (9-28) 2010. At least, I have initially identified what things I could show to my friends – able them to relax and enjoy the hospitality of the Filipinos; and most importantly able them to know more about my simple challenging life back in the Philippines!

WHILE FINALISING THIS POST, I received another call from the producer, expressing their desire to reconsider me in the production. I have to wait for the final decision in two weeks time. If ever this travel documentary will push through, I will be going home by the end of Feb or first week of March. Even though that I already booked my flight (with my two Irish friends), Im looking forward to having it a go and prepare this rare opportunity to showcase my hometown and the Philippines in general to the Irish viewers that like with other foreign nationals living in the Irish isle, Filipinos have something to offer to the world!

NOTE: If you are a non-Irish national/immigrant and currently living in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, you are eligible to participate in the programme. If you are interested, contact Tony at phone +353 161 36052 for details or visit this link: Welcome to my World.

UPDATES: I had my personal interview last Wednesday (Feb 3) and the representative from the production team created a 40-minutes video footage of my interview as well as my Irish friend. I will just wait the feedbacks from the producer early next week  if my story will be featured in the second series of the tv programme.

FOLLOW-UP: My story is not good enough to impress a tv producer. Im still going home in April and pamper my two Irish friends during the 3-weeks holiday (plus a weekend escapade in Boracay, 5 hours away from my home town by boat)  – enjoying the Filipino hospitality! Anyway, my life is not really dramatic, it is just ” simple” but Im inspired to write my own autobiography or something like a travel coffee table!

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~ by reymos on January 31, 2010.

6 Responses to “Bringing home (Philippines) an Irish friend”

  1. Hi. I have google alert for keyword “Batangas”, so I saw this post. If you would like to notify us of your “Batangas” segment, our contact information is easily browsed. I don’t know how long ago since you’ve been to Romblon.
    We do not wish to alarm you, nor have you experience the exuberant “transportation agents”, “taga-tawag” or purportedly “alalays” swarming the pier. They are not really thieves – but they can be annoying and if you’re unlucky- charge you exhorbitant rates. I hope circumstances has changed since as I haven’t been to the pier lately … I wish you luck. I don’t want your trip to be marred by this small irritation. As you may know, our locals are sooo earnest …in always trying to help and earn a few bucks – no matter how undeserved.

  2. Hi Medz, thanks for the warning. Fortunately, my parents and relatives travel regularly via Bstangas. So, if there will be unusual happenings during our travel, we can handle it properly. I think this kind of people are present in every port in the Philippines or elsewhere abroad trying to prey travellers especially foreign tourists to take advantage of getting extra cash!

  3. Hi. Good luck and happy vacation then.
    I read most Batangas-related blogs. Sometimes, I see complaints on blogsites and we hope they are not prevalent, but just single unfortunate incidents
    We did a forum on Matabungkay and Talisay (Taal Volcano) and at least the people there do not jump on cars anymore trying to lure them to specific resorts, and the harassment of visitors to ride ponies and horses has been minimized. Imagine five horses around you all stamping their feet… it’s annoying and sometimes frightening. Too much enthusiasm is traumatizing our visitors.

    • Thanks alot. I will keep you posted if there will be unusual happenings in the port. Actually, I was in Batangas port when I did visit Puerto Galera last Sept 2008. I was surprised that the area is secured and safe now compared few years ago. I also chatted to the officer of the day at the DENR booth, collecting 10 pesos for the tourism fee. Puerto Galera is also changed alot – more resorts and accommodations available with night gigs during the weekend.

  4. Bringing home a foreign friend is a great way to encourage Philippine tourism. But doing it for free is even kicking it up a notch!

  5. […] that the producer will choose to be featured in this year’s series, Welcome to my World. CLICK HERE  for details.      It is indeed a white Xmas in Northern Ireland, unfortunately, I don’t […]

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