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Tales from the Philippines
We are the Monkeys and Filipino as well, so maybe that's why I love the Philippines. Though I've spent most of my life outside the Philippines, the time I spent there is almost always positive.
I have taken the illegal boat from Borneo to Palawan, I've taken the bus from Manila to Davao; flown from Zamboanga to Manila; taken the Ferry from Manila to Cebu; Hopped into a fishing boat from General Santos to Manado, Indonesia; learned to dive in Bohol; flew the last MAS flight from Kota Kinabalu to Davao; planted trees on my friend's farm in Dumaguete; waited at the Iloilo airport for two days to get to Palawan - so many adventure that I can hardly remember.
But one of those trips that truly amused me was the one that involved applying for a passport. I was at the foreign affairs office in Manila to enquire as to how to apply for a passport. The guy at the counter asked for my documentation. I didn't have any so he told me to get it and come back. I asked how? He told me to go to Binondo (Chinatown in Manila) where I'll be able to get them. I'd never been to Binondo so he told me to get a jeepney outside to Divisoria, then take another jeepney to Binondo - it's a two rides by jeepney, or one ride if I go by taxi.
I arrive in Binondo but I couldn't find a place that says "office of foreign affairs." I did notice a lot of shops that had signs about all kinds of documents so I asked at one store "Where's the branch to get a residence certificate?" The worker replied, "Here." It didn't look like it was a government office but the guy didn't seem to be joking. He asked me if I needed more. "What about a voter's ID? You can get everything in Binondo." I noticed a sign that said; "College degrees and transcript available," so I got nosy. "Do you have a College Degree? Which University do you want to graduate from?" "Do I have a choice?" I enquired." Of course," he replied then showed me a bunch of college and University names, including University of the Philippines, Santo Tomas University, University of the East, Mapua Institute of Technology, etc. " Do you have any that are not so famous?" "Take your pick from the list: There are so many." Manuel L. Quezon University caught my eye as I hadn't heard of it. I asked, "Is this a good University?" He answered, "They're all good!"
Badiao Sea Gypsies, Zamboanga
"Okey! How much?" I enquired. He said, "Would you like a fake degree or an original one?" I asked "What's the difference?" He told me, "The original has the seal and the signature of the Dean and comes with a transcript with excellent grades, but it's more expensive.
White Beach, Puerto Galera, Mindoro
I have forgotten about this College degree until several years later when I was in Dumaguete reading my Guesthouse's newspaper. The front page said that a famous law school burned down. It was the Manuel L Quezon University School of Law campus and some of the alumna are current supreme court judges. I was shocked!
The guy in Binondo was not kidding, I could have a "real" college degree!
Best Places to Stay in MANILA
The Sheraton Manila Bay Hotel has everything you expect from a 5 star hotel. Super good breakfast. Large room and bathroom. Staff are awesome!
Makati Shangri La Manila is conveniently located for sightseeing in Makati City, with Glorietta and Ayala Center just a stone's throw away.
The dormitory rooms at Crossroads Hostel Manila are fully air conditioned and equipped with simple bunk beds. They are fitted with freshly laundered beddings and offer shared bathroom facilities.
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