We had breakfast just inside our hotel room. The refrigerator was stocked with provisions that we hadn't used up yet -- including several cups of yogurt and ice cream.
Anyway, by 10:30, two of my mother's classmates picked us up in a Mitsubishi Adventure SUV. It was actually a short drive to where we were going -- a place called "Paluto" just in the outskirts of SM Mall of Asia.
Paluto was a pretty rustic place. There was a wet market at the center and several places where you could have your raw food materials cooked. They had fish, vegetables, and meat, as well as some miscellaneous items like sunglasses and cheap children's toys in their wet market. The way it works is that you buy your own groceries there and then head inside one of the many restaurants to have them cook the food to your specifications. There's an extra charge for that service, of course. Part of the reason why I think my mother's classmates chose this place is because the owners were "Ilonggos" from Iloilo City.
Anyway, we were led to a large long table where a few of my mother's other classmates were already waiting. Some of them wouldn't arrive until a few minutes later. Me having nothing much to do, I settled down to completing another mini painting. I was really loving these 4x6" pieces of watercolor paper.
When the food was finally prepared, I was quite impressed. The vegetable dish that they cooked made out of broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and a few greens was really something else.
The group spent quite a while taking selfies, asking me to take group pics of them and just having a fun chat reminiscing about old times in general.
By about 2:30, it was time for everyone to go on their separate ways. We were driven back to the hotel, of course.
Back at the hotel, we rested up a bit until about 5:30. We'd be meeting a younger batch at SM Mall of Asia -- some of my former seniors at the University of San Agustin Publications, and one younger individual who also went through the USA Pub and was a close friend of my mother's.
We took a GRAB car to SM MOA and it took just a little bit above 15 minutes to get there -- it was actually really close to where we were staying. When we arrived at about 5:30, no one was there yet. I decided that this was a good time to buy a few more clothes for Nagi. We went to a local toy shop called Toy Kingdom, where I picked up three more dresses for her. While I was paying at the counter, one of the people that were to meet, Jakeson, arrived. He worked at Call Center here and as I learned, was also into SEO and other virtual assistant stuff -- pretty much, what I do. Also, he'd become much, much more muscular since I last saw him. Oh, and he does Acrylic paintings too. He showed me a few pics of some paintings that he did on T-Shirts and canvas shoes. He's got some pretty competent skills.
We walked around a bit more and into the department store where my mother managed to buy some piece of makeup or something as a "pasalubong" for someone back in Iloilo City. A little while later, the youngest individual we were to meet, Pietros, To my surprise, he seemed like a rather reserved young man -- even moreso than I am IRL. (Yeah, yeah... I know it's hard to picture me as an introvert based on how I write, but you'll have to take my word for it that I really am.)
The last person who would be joining the group said texted us that he was still somewhere in Ortigas -- which was still a bit far away considering the traffic situation since it was the weekend. We decided to find a place to have dinner at this point. The group chose some kind of Asian-Filipino restaurant. We ordered in advance for the group. Greg, the last person to join us, finally arrived at about 7:00 PM, just about time for our food to be served. I was quite surprised at how fit and slim he'd become since we last met as well.
It was really nice sitting down and just chatting with this group. We learned a lot about each other and what everyone else has been doing the past few years. We also learned that everyone shared a mutual dislike for our current president -- because honestly, no matter what kind of progress our compatriots may perceive is happening, that doesn't justify the rampant murders being left unresolved in our country. We also talked about all kinds of things such as our views on literature, art, career paths and our personal philosophies. This is the kind of group that I like to be with, personally -- people who want to make more than just small talk and really dig deep into different issues. I also managed to complete another Nagi drawing on the paper placemat.
|Now if I could only remember the name of this place...|
After this, we took a taxi to a 24-hour Tim Horton's that was actually just a few blocks away -- of course, given how massive the buildings are in this area, a few blocks away probably translates to about 4-6 kilometers.
|If you don't know where I am in this pic... you really need to get a clue.|
|I recently sent one of my paintings to Greg as thanks for his genuine hospitality during our trip|
There was no more traffic at this time of the night during the drive back to the hotel. We arrived at exactly 12:00 AM. We started packing up our things a bit at this point, since we would be leaving tomorrow.
With that said, day 5 of our trip to Manila ends here. See you soon for the last day of our trip.