Thursday, March 5, 2009

Roxas, the next to last stop

As we entered the city of Roxas, a feeling of apprehension came over me. Here we were, less than a week remaining before we boarded our flight back to Boston. It suddenly hit me that this trip, without a doubt the best experience of my entire life, would soon be coming to an end. Since then I've been trying to make the most of my time here. I've taken as many photos as possible, trying to commit to digital every aspect of our journey.

During our first night in the "Seafood Capital of the Philippines," as Roxas is known,I met my host dad Mark Ortiz, a real estate developer and hotel owner. I went to the Metro Central Roxas Rotary Club meeting, where we ballroom danced the night away.

The next day we went to the Church of Pan-Ay. First built in 1572, an rebuilt in 1884, the church, a beautiful structure, is home to the biggest bell in the Philippines. Cast by Don Juan Reina, it was made from 70 sacks of coins, and weighs 10,400 kilograms. We ascended the 67 steps (I counted!) from which we were treated to a breathtaking view of the city. We got to ring the bell, the sound of which left our ears ringing afterwards.

After a meeting with the city's mayor, Vincente Bermejo, we had lunch at the Fishpond, where we saw how our lunch was caught. Jon took a try at climbing a coconut try, and suceeded just as the camera ran out of power.

That evening we traveled to the Barangay Talon, where we saw some of the projects the Roxas Rotary have done. We saw a slideshow of the relief work they did following Typhoon Frank. Words can't describe how powerful the images I saw were. Utter devastation was all that remained, and the Rotarians there made a Herculean effort, bringing food and other supplies to the affected areas. Jerry, the Rotarian giving the presentation, got chocked up as he saw pictures of the children who had been left homeless following the disaster. I can only imagine what it was like to be there.

On March 4 we left Roxas and made the long drive to Iloilo, for the final leg of the journey and the Discon. As reluctant as I am to leave the Philippines, I do so with memories of a wonderful experience and friendships that I will treasure forever.

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