December 31, 2014

Holiday Door Decorations

Christmas is a big deal in the Philippines.  In addition to decorations and music starting in September, the Embassy has a door decorating contest.

Each department decorates their door.  The themes vary from traditional to religious to recent movies.

December 20, 2014

Christmas Lights!

The Philippines start celebrating Christmas September 1 - as soon as there's a month with a "Brrr" in it!

The music at the malls becomes more Christmas themed, countdowns until Christmas show up everywhere - beginning at 90 Days Until Christmas.

And the Christmas Lights go up.  The park area near us has a huge Christmas light display.  It's set to music and goes every 30 minutes the entire month of December.  Nearby restaurants set up tables in the park and everyone flocks to see the show.

Light up decorations are sold on many street corners.  There's the traditional Philippine Parol  - which adorns many storefronts. We got one for our place - and then couldn't resist the light up Christmas palm tree.

December 19, 2014

Wedding Philippine style!

One of the best parts of living and working in another country is the opportunity to experience other cultures on a daily basis - not through tourism.  Celebrations give great insight and I always feel so lucky when I get an opportunity to participate.

So I was very honored to be invited to a colleague's wedding celebration.  It was a very formal occasion and I got to wear my long dress from the Marine Ball.  The wedding mass was held in a beautiful Catholic Church and there were lots of pictures with the happy couple after the ceremony.

Afterwards we headed to a nearby neighborhood for the reception.  It was so elegant with many wonderful details.

I've never seen a "Candy Bar" - lots of color coordinated imported confections for people to help themselves and fill bags to take home.

The wedding party and all of the sponsors were announced as they came in, and there were lots of photos and party games - all organized by the bride and groom's sisters.

It is so wonderful to experience other people's traditions!

Fun things I get to do for work

I am a Public Diplomacy coned Foreign Service Officer.  And even though I'm doing a Consular tour in Manila, every now and then I get to do some Public Diplomacy related work.  Recently for Global Entrepreneurship Week I got to participate in two events with the Public Affairs Office.

First - I participated in a Facebook Chat on entrepreneurship.  From the Public Affairs office I responded to questions from the public in real time.  It was wonderful to respond to questions from all over.

And then later that same week, I gave a presentation on entrepreneurship at a local culinary academy.  Not only did I get to meet some great instructors and students, but I got to give my speech from a demo kitchen bringing back tons of memories from my days at the California Culinary Academy.  

It was great to get a chance to work in my cone - and I can't wait to do more!

November 30, 2014

Neighborhoods in Manila

It's always nice to get out and walk around the real neighborhoods.   You get to see how real people live.

 Manila has a lot of traffic, and busy streets. But when you get off the main streets, you can walk through some interesting neighborhoods.

There are sidewalk cafes.

With outdoor seating and lights in the trees.

And even corner religious shrines.

And when the neighborhood streets come out of the neighborhood, sometimes they end on a river.

You can see people riding on the motorized tricycles / motorbike sidecars.

There are little corner bakeries.

With some tasty buns.

And some snack places as well.

We had some yummy lumpia.

And another restaurant.

Of course you can buy different kinds of rice.

And lots of vegetables.

Every neighborhood seems to have several roosters.  Since cockfighting has been in the Philippines for many years it seems as though every neighborhood has their own champion.

November 29, 2014


When we went on our recent Outreach to Bagiuo, we were fortunate to stay at the Ambassador's Summer Residence.

It's a beautiful place in the mountains around Bagiuo.   The air is fresh and cool year round and there are lots of trees.

I got to stay in General Yamashita's room - rumor has that it's haunted - although no one came to visit me.

The grounds are gorgeous!

It was even cool enough to go for a morning run! Something I haven't been able to do in hot and smoggy Manila.

In our free time, we explored the town on the top of the mountain.

I even got to dress up in native dress.  The Igorot people in this region are known for their weaving, amongst other things.

There were also lots of places to shop - I got some great woven items.

They're also known for having the best local style brooms.

I love visiting local markets!

It's a beautiful place - I can't wait to go back with my family!