Banaue2009 created on: 2009-06-20
  July 28th - Troy Returns Home Tuesday, July 28, 2009 11:38:03 AM
  Mon, July 27, 2009 - Where Troy is...and is not Monday, July 27, 2009 10:30:57 PM
  Mon, July 27, 2009 - So, Troy's in.......Detroit Monday, July 27, 2009 03:34:59 PM
Troy called at 1:50pm from Detroit. YAY - he made it back to the U.S.! Actually, by the time he called, he had already gone through Customs and Immigration and was having lunch -- a cheeseburger -- one of the foods he said he missed.
So, here's "the rest of the story" of how Troy made it out of the Philippines with no cash in his pocket to pay the "cash only" departure tax:
Before Troy left for the Philippines, we gave him a prepaid Visa card with a few hundred dollars on it to be used as emergency money. We also told him that he needed to have some cash on him to travel back to the U.S. because the Visa card is a credit card and not an ATM card. So now it's 5:00am and he's in the Manila Airport with no cash, and a Visa card that he thinks is an ATM card. What to do? Call Mom, of course and get the PIN number in order to get cash to pay the departure fee. He asked to borrow 100 pesos (Philippine Pesos - PHP) from a "load" guy. A "load" guy is a person who sells prepaid phone cards. He calls, I tell him it's not an ATM card, I give him a couple options and he says, Ok, he'll figure it out. He tried the check-in counter but they said that most people pay by card and not cash anymore (this is for extra and over-weight-limit luggage). Off to the concession stand where he asks the woman behind the counter if he can buy some food and get cash back. No, she says she can't do that. An American guy standing in line behind Troy overhears his plight and gives him 100 PHP ($2.11 USD at the current rate). Then the "load" guy asks Troy if everything's alright and Troy says no, his flight leaves in less than an hour. As luck would have it, Ryan, a friend of the "load" guy stops by and gives Troy 600 PHP ($12.65 USD) and the "load" guy gives Troy another 100 PHP ($2.11 USD). Finally, he has enough cash to pay the departure tax! Troy gets Ryan's phone number and tells him he'll repay him and his friend the 800 PHP they gave him. Troy said he didn't get Ryan's address because he figured we could just Western Union him the money. Hmmmm...maybe not, but we'll find a way to repay the money. Thank God for the kindness of strangers, right?! :-)
  July 26 - No Money for Departure Tax Sunday, July 26, 2009 09:15:14 PM
The excitement was almost more than we could handle. It seems Troy checked in at the Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), made it through security and then realized he was supposed to have $15 for the Philippine Departure Tax, and they only accept cash. Oh, #$&%*! So why didn't he have at least $15 cash on him? But more importantly, how does a 16-year-old raise $15 in the Manila airport at 5:00AM? We don't know, but we're anxious to find out. In a panic we called every Northwest Airline, Manila Airport, and Dept. of Tourism number we could find online. Then, we finally called cousin Johnny. Johnny works in the Dept. of Tourism, but it was 5:30AM on a national holiday. Trying to verify if a passenger made it to the gate is almost impossible. By way of many phone calls, we were able to verify there were no "missing passenger" announcements for Troy's flight so, by default, we knew he made it to the gate. At 6:45AM (FL time) Northwest Airlines was able to verify that all passengers were on board. So the question remains - how did he raise the $15? We then received a phone call from Johnny via Skype. He confirmed everything was fine, and then we had a nice 40 minute chat. President (Gloria) Macapagal-Arroyo was due to give her last national address on the state of the nation, so we said goodbye and thank you for all his help. Johnny is anxious to see Troy's photos online. Now we wait for news that Troy has boarded the next leg of his flight in Tokyo. Stay tuned, it's not over yet!
   Sunday, July 26, 2009 07:23:40 AM
  July 24th Phone Call with Troy Friday, July 24, 2009 07:36:00 AM
It is 7:30AM (FL time) We called Troy and only talked for about 3 minutes. We needed to hear from him to make sure everything went OK and he made it back to Manila without any trouble.
Troy was at a mall in Metro Manila. He told us they had a fun trip to the caves in Sagada, except that he got a small cut on his foot. "No big deal" he said....we'll see. The bus ride back to Manila was long and now all his carvings are safely stored in Uncle Roger and Auntie Linda's house.
Tomorrow morning Troy will be traveling south of Uncle Roger's house, with all his cousins, to a first-class resort near the beaches of Batangas. Luzon is the main island in the Philippines. Uncle Roger and Auntie Linda's house is in a region called Laguna which is about 45 minutes south of Metro Manila and at the south end of a big reservoir. Batangas is south of Laguna, on the southern coast of Luzon. This map has enough detail to see Laguna and Batangas
  July 21 (PM) Phone Call with Troy Tuesday, July 21, 2009 09:31:05 PM
It's 9:30AM (7/22) in Banaue. Troy just called us from atop a Jeepney on his way to the Sagada caves. Try to imagine Troy and his cousins Janjie, Gerlene, Jayvee, and Lloyd (Troy's cousin Shaleen's fiance), and Bat (Lloyd's friend) sitting on the roof of a Jeepney, traveling along a mountain road with incredible views of the rice terraces. Now imagine the road...a single lane, mostly unpaved dirt road with no guardrails and 1,000 foot vertical drops. When two vehicles need to pass, the smaller vehicle has to back up to a wide spot on the road and allow the bigger vehicle to pass on the dangerous side. Amazing, but nail biting. We hope Troy takes lots of pictures. The Sagada caves are about a 4-hour ride north of Banaue. Unfortunately, Archie didn't feel well so he stayed back at the inn. Once in Sagada, the group will have maybe 2 or 3 hours to explore the limestone caverns, which are extensive, wet, cold, watery, and filled with bats. Then, we're sure they'll ride on the inside of the Jeepney heading back because after that exhausting adventure, they'll want to sleep! There's even going to be a solar eclipse later this morning starting at 9:00AM, viewable only from Asia. Troy will probably be watching it from atop the Jeepney - how cool is that?!. Tomorrow (7/23), he will collect his boxes and head to the bus station for his nightime ride back to Manila. But this time he won't be traveling alone, he'll be with his cousins.
Click HERE to see pictures of the Sagada Caves on FLICKR
  July 21 Phone Call with Troy Tuesday, July 21, 2009 05:59:52 AM
  July 19, 2009 Phone Call with Troy Sunday, July 19, 2009 08:17:15 AM
Troy called us again at 8:00PM FL time, so Grandma and Grandpa could talk with him. We called him back using Skype on the Internet. He only has 7 days left and he'll be on his way home. He said he has done so much more than just wood carving. He learned to cook a few Filipino dishes, speak Tagalog & Ifugoa, play the guitar, and how to make and apply henna. He said he will fill his memory card with pictures before he comes home. When his cousins arrive later this week they will all go a little further North to Sagada and explore the caverns. He only has 2 more days to finish his wood carving and then his plans turn more towards R&R.
  July 17th Phone Call with Troy Friday, July 17, 2009 07:57:31 AM
Troy called us at 6:00AM (FL time). We called him back and then we spoke for almost 1hr on Skype. If was Fri night in Banaue and he was in the kitchen making dinner with Archie and workers at the Inn. He has learned the carving techniques much quicker than Jerick thought he would. Troy has carved 16 cats, 1 chair, 2 masks and is now working on carving figures. He and Archie will go to the Internet cafe and look for some carving ideas on the internet. The upcoming week they will spend with Mr. Domingo and carve figures. Archie is going to work on a horse and Troy is making some figures he hopes to sell when he comes back to FL. He will try to find similar wood (paper wood) so he can continue carving when he gets back. It's the weekend now so he will be going into town and buying more of the candies he likes and he'll start looking for souveniers to bring back. He plans to give away many of the things he brought to the Philippines to make room for what he has made and wants to bring back. He said he some what a celebrity when he and Archie go into town. Everyone knows he is the American student - the first one ever to come to Banaue to learn carving.
  Saturday, July 11, 2009 Saturday, July 11, 2009 05:51:33 AM
Hey Dad, I have been sitting here at the Internet cafe for over an hour and a half now trying to upload pictures... After all that I guess it didn't work. I tried to upload them to Facebook but the transfer failed. I have new pictures of our 3-day hike, the trip to the hot springs, and other stuff. I'll try again in a few days. See ya later
  July 10th, Phone Call with Troy Friday, July 10, 2009 04:19:23 PM
We called Troy around 8:00PM (P.I. time). We all sat around the laptop while sitting on the deck at the Outrigger Beach Resort in Fort Myers Beach (west coast of Florida). Nanny and PopPop, Gramma, Grampa all got to say hello. Troy said everything was going well. He already finished making one chair and will return tomorrow to continue working with his new teacher, Eddie. Eddie specializes in furniture and masks. Archie and Troy have designed a mask that will be an Ifugao version of Optimus Prime from the Transformers movie. The weather has been a little overcast in Uhaj so Troy hasn't been able to wash his clothes - otherwise, they won't dry on the clothesline. The weather has been cool (60's and 70's) so he wishes he brought more jeans and long pants as opposed to the bathing suit he usually lives in, in Florida. Kevin returned safely to Manila so now it's just Troy and Archie who will focus on woodworking until his cousins, Gerlene and Janjie, and possibly other cousins arrive on July 22.
  July 8th, Phone Call with Troy Wednesday, July 08, 2009 08:51:23 PM
  July 4th, E-mail from Jerick Sunday, July 05, 2009 10:37:10 AM
  July 4th, Phone Call with Troy Saturday, July 04, 2009 01:00:25 PM
We spoke to Troy this morning. He is waiting for Kevin and Archie to arrive. Troy went to the internet cafe and uploaded his photos but the videos were taking too long and he couldn't wait for them to finish. He went to Jerick's house and met Jerick's family. It seems like half the village is related to Jerick. More people have been arriving at the inn where Troy is staying. It almost sounded like it was getting crowded. (that would mean that all 6 huts were occupied!) Some couples are staying there, which made him miss Arianna even more. Mr. Taylor, owner of the inn, hasn't arrived yet so Troy hasn't been able to meet him. Mr. Taylor is in Manila and hasn't been feeling well. He will return to Banaue when he is feeling better. Troy's doing well but he is very lonely. He was sad he didn't get to see any fireworks for the 4th of July. When his cousins, Archie and Kevin arrive, they will make sure he has a good time.
  Where I am it is Sat. 4 July Friday, July 03, 2009 10:29:32 PM
Look on my facebook acount. I have now finished uploading all the photos that I have taken. I tried to upload my videos onto Youtube but the internet connection was way too slow and it was going to take too long. alright, talk to you later. bye
  July 2nd, Phone Call with Troy Thursday, July 02, 2009 08:23:20 AM
We called Troy at 8:00PM (P.I. time) and he sounded tired. He said he completed carving 3 pairs of cats. He also said he cut his foot 3 times because they hold each piece with their feet as they carve. Small cuts, lots of hydrogen peroxide and bacitracin. He had a good dinner of pancit and a side of hash-browns. He loves the hash-browns so Renalyn and Elli make them with every meal. Troy is still the only one staying at the inn so they basically cook the dinners for Troy on request. Troy's cousins, Kevin and Archie, will be joining him on Saturday. Kevin will visit for one week, but Archie will be staying and joining Troy in his woodworking training. Archie is a talented artist but he is out of work so he thought this would be a good time to refine his skills and spend time with Troy. Troy will take a few days off when Kevin and Archie arrive so he should have time to upload photos, Youtube videos and maybe go on a few sightseeing trips.
  July 1st, Phone Call with Troy Wednesday, July 1, 2009 10:23:28 AM
  June 30th, E-mail from Jerick Tuesday, June 30, 2009 01:14:22 PM
We received email from Jerick. Troy napped for a very short 3 hours after he arrived in Uhaj, and then he wanted to get started right away working with Mr. Domingo. He walked down into the valley with Jerick, where he was introduced to Mr. Domingo, the wood carver. Troy learned how to safely handle each of his 16 tools which were handmade by 2 blacksmiths. The tools are razor sharp ranging from an axe to fine chisels and carving knives. Jerick said Troy was very enthusiastic. He also pointed out that Troy is the first person EVER to come to Banaue for wood carving instruction from the Ifugao people.
  June 29th, Phone Call with Troy Monday, June 29, 2009 11:01:25 PM
We heard from Troy while he was at the Atlanta, Georgia airport. That was good because gramma was so worried about him trying to find the international terminal all by himself. He did fine. He called Ari from the Tokyo airport after he managed to exchange some money and found a payphone. We called Gerlene around the time he was supposed to arrive in Manila and we were glad to hear he was safe, in the company of his cousins after his 28-hour flight from Florida. And finally, we just got the call we have been waiting for... he has arrived in Banaue! He survived the 9-hour, nighttime bus ride! He managed to get a seat right behind the driver, which was a good vantage point for filming the white knuckle scenes as the big bus navigated through the mountain turns. Troy was greeted by Jerick, and then had a 50-minute tricycle ride (motorcycle with a side car) to the Uhaj Native Village Inn (Uhaj is pronounced "oo-how". He said "his body has had it". He was exhausted. He said his "hut was intense". It's all Philippine mahogany and the view was "picturesque". He has a cell phone thanks to Gerlene, and four, 40-minute buddy SIM cards. He was eying the bunk and was probably ready for a nap, although there was so much to see. We expect his cousin, Archie, will be joining him in a few days.
view my YouTube video
  June 28, 2009, Day 2, Arrive in Manila and Greeted by My Cousins Sunday, June 28, 2009 1:29:29 PM
Well it's about 8:27AM over here in Manila. I arrived at the airport in Manila, went through customs and immigration with no problem using the V.I.P assistance. I waited about 30 minutes for my box to come out of the airplane to put onto my cart. When it was my turn to go through the last line out of the airport a curious staff member saw my industrial-looking Rubbermaid box and questioned what was inside. I stood there answering the same question several times because I guess she was not persuaded by my answer - "clothes". She finally let me pass and I was greeted by my cousin Kevin and he took me home so I could get some rest. This is a "Hi, I'm still alive." message to my family (mom and gramma... RELAX). People who are reading about my traveling experience, and especially to my Ari (I miss you). GOODNIGHT Also dad this one is for you... "what is a GMS phone? Are you sure it is not GSM, because Kevin and I both don't know what it means."
  June 27, 2009, Day 1, Depart Palm Beach for Manila Saturday, June 27, 2009 01:28:29 PM
No one likes taking a big test, it makes everyone nervous. For the people who really study, it may not be as scary. Well, maybe Troy was feeling like he should have studied just a little bit more. The final hour of packing was tense. We arrived at Palm Beach International Airport with 2 hours to spare. Cordella, Rick, and Eric got passes to walk Troy to the gate and wait for take-off. During that time there were lots of questions, nervousness and writing things down in his journal so he wouldn't forget. This is his first time flying alone and boy is it a BIG ONE! He will be in Manila in 24 hours after passing through Atlanta, and Narita, Japan. Troy had to lighten one piece of luggage by 3 pounds. Luckily, he still had room in his carry-on. We sat by the gate, said goodbye and then stood by the window watching the plane take off. We are now anxiously waiting to get a phone call when he takes his seat on the flight from Atlanta to Japan. We'll feel better when we know he's on the last leg of his trip. Arriving in Manila may test his ability a bit when he navigates through immigration and customs but we've been spoiled by Cousin Johnny who always sends an international agent to greet us and give us the VIP treatment at the airport in Manila. We have no worries knowing all his cousins will be there to shout out his name and greet him with a big MABUHAY! when they see him exit the terminal.
And now we wait...
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