With the help of one of my lab mates, Dace, I stepped into Narnia within the Philippines–more than once this week. First was during another trip to Manila, to check out the city and visit other Illinois Wesleyan interns working at the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI). This time we took public transportation, and wow am I glad Dace was there. After walking to a local market, catching a jeepney to another center within Los Banos, taking a bus to Alabang, and then flagging down a taxi, we made it to the FNRI interns’ condo in Manila. We ended up Ubering to another part of the city, Bonifacio Global City, which led us though the first gate of Narnia where our landscape transformed. BGC is more of a business district, but it is filled with artwork, greenery, nice restaurants, and best of all less congested traffic. Another mall, SM Aura, is found in this area. I would recommend a visit not necessary to shop, but just to enjoy ube and matcha churos on the top floor green space, overlooking the city.
After walking through the city during the day, we ventured back to the condo where I was able to spend the weekend night like a local. Work friends of the Manila interns came over and helped prepare dinner, shared stories, and taught us a little more Tagalog. Later that night we went as a large group to Videoke, a favorite Filipino pastime. It’s just like karaoke, except there is always a video in the background of the lyrics and typically you reserve a room for yourself or group to partake. Additionally- everyone is expected to participate. After great night, some us walked to an early breakfast including traditional Filipino dishes I had yet to try, like mami, pares, and bulalo, all pictured below. Ironically enough, the little shop was called “Chigago Bulalo,” a play on the Chicago Bulls. 🙂 That weekend I also tried kare kare, laing, and a sweet tofu similar to what I tried in Taiwan, taho! The Manila trip ended up being an ideal fusion of both the classy city ambiance and the authentic Filipino experience that I was really hoping to find as a tourist. I continue to be blessed with new friends within a once in a lifetime experience in the making.
The even more surprising gate into Narnia was discovered just last night within Los Banos. I think we were all starting to feel pretty confident in our way around after being here for over a month or so… until dinner the other night, when Dace showed us a shortcut through Raymundo Gate. Mind blown. This street connects up to a street we have walked down before, but we never realized just how close the other end was to us, or all the great shops and food along the way! We ate at a Fat Yard, serving up comforts from home like specialty burgers and tex-mex, along with Filipino classics like the sharable Boodle feast on a bamboo leaf. The group chowed down under a picturesque canopy with fairy lights strung about.
My workload in lab has picked up with my end-of-internship presentation approaching faster than expected. However, I find myself feeling much more comfortable as repetitive techniques increase my confidence in what I’m doing and because I’m now closer with those in my lab.
In other news, I accidentally ate cheese with ice cream…again. This time I ordered a blueberry cheesecake frozen yogurt, not realizing the “cheesecake bits” were more similar to a savory, salted white cheddar. Live and learn. Also, when we first landed here it was supposedly rainy season, but honestly, I didn’t see much rain. I was lucky, but the weather caught up with me. Now my umbrella comes in handy at least once everyday, and there are notably a few more grey clouds in my photos.