A Kawaii Holy Week: Pamalandong with Japanese Couchsurfers

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When I received a 2-night request from Jun and Sayaka, the first thing I checked was my duty schedule as always. Well, I was on off duty March 27 and 28 and AM duty on 29th because it was Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday. Then without thinking of other things, I said yes because, man, they’re from Japan! It’s a country my sister and I was dying to visit. The number of references and the fact that they’ve been living here in the Philippines for quite some time were just a plus.

I’ve already hosted around 3 or 4 foreign Couchsurfers but still, I never learned. I didn’t have a clear itinerary as to where I’m going to take them, like, a very detailed itinerary. I was thinking of going mountain hiking which was a common activity for outdoorsy type of people during Holy Week.

My cousins from Dingle told me about Mt. Manyakiya, which was located near Bulabog Puti-an (which, I think, is the more popular among the two). I’ve been to Bulabog Puti-an when I was in grade school or high school and remembered that our tour guide told us Manyakiya was a bit steepier than Bulabog Puti-an, although if you like caves and don’t mind the smell of bat poop, you can visit the latter. Or maybe, you can visit both in one day like my sister and her friends did.

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I consulted with Jun and Sayaka but they told me they’ll be travelling with their one-year-old daughter so, okay, we cancelled the mountain trip. So I just decided we’d just spend the Good Friday at home (Pototan) with my family. It was just really a come-what-may situation.

I told people at home and my mother, being the OCiest-host-ever, like, Best-in-Hospitality-Awardee-ever, she scolded me because how can I just say I’ll fix the room where they will be staying and the comfort room they will be using? I was explaining about Couchsurfing spirit that they are just looking for a place to sleep in. But then, well, the remaining days before Jun and Sayaka’s visit turned out to be general cleaning days of our little house and meal planning for those days.

March 27, I was supposed to meet them at the Pototan Plaza at around 8 PM but because I was absent the other day due to a very funny reason, I was told by my head nurse to go on PM duty on this day instead. So, my sister and mother were the ones who fetched them.

I met them March 28th in the morning. We had breakfast and I played with Yu, their one-year-old daughter. After breakfast, they had Yu take a bath before leaving her with my mother while we go to the market to buy the ingredients they need because they wanted to cook us dinner. They caught the attention of people in the market. I was surprised that it was just like any other market day and not so much like a Good Friday market day. One particular funny situation is when we passed by Manang who was selling kakanin. It was pretty hard to explain the difference between muasi, Inday-inday, suman and ibos.

They were supposed to make an Oyakodon. Jun explained to me it was just a simple chicken and egg meal which literally means “parent and child,” you know, chicken is the parent of the egg, gets? I find it amusing, I told Jun that. And then he told me there’s also ______ don (I forgot, but I looked at Wikipedia and maybe it’s the Tanindon) which means “stranger” because chicken is replaced by beef or pork which is unrelated to the egg. But then my mother told them about abstinence on Good Friday so they just decided to make the Japanese-style Curry with squid and shrimp instead.

They then gave me the Frixion pens and the DIY Ramen (which is actually a candy!) It was amazing, like there’s the white sort-of-bubblegum I used to make the dumpling cover and then red and green candies inside of it representing meat and veggies, and the egg and naruto. It hit me why Naruto likes food, because he’s named after a food, haha! And then the supposed to be soup is sort of like a powder which, when mixed with water, seemed like a cola drink. And the most amazing part is the noodle mix wherein when the mix was poured into the soup, it forms and curls up like noodles!

Then we had lunch and took a rest. In the afternoon, they joined us on the Way of the Cross procession around town. They are cool with it even though they are not Catholics. They told us they just wanted to immerse and wanted to know more about Filipino culture and way of life even though Jun had lived in Makati for 5 years and Sayaka for 2 years, I think.

We joined the procession and they got to meet a few people we know who we passed by during the procession. They were supposed to join us for the “du-aw” wherein we kiss the Jesus on the cross but Jun was already tired and we thought Sayaka wouldn’t go too but then there was sort of misunderstanding. But anyway, it’s okay with Sayaka, I guess. It’s just too bad I didn’t get to have them go around the plaza.

The next day, I went on AM duty and so my sister, appointed by my mother, gave them a day tour around Iloilo City. Jun had this list made by his co-worker who I think had a relative in Iloilo. He recommended places like Guimaras, Ephrathah farm at Badiangan, Asian Spoon, Calle Real and to eat Ilonggo food like batchoy, pancit molo, biscocho, etc.

When we met after my duty, they had a lot of stories for me like they went to both Deco’s and Ted’s and tried batchoy. They liked Ted’s more. We had the same opinion. Also, they went to Calle Real, ate the Queen Siopao at Roberto’s, bought pasalubong stuff at Biscocho Haus and had drinks at Asian Spoon. I met them at the SM City branch of JD Bakery where Jun’s friend specifically recommended the Pancit Molo. But it was disappointing because it wasn’t available at that time so we recommended the one at Casa Ilongga.

Aside from pancit molo, they also tried the ginataan and tambo. They especially liked the tambo. My sister and I laughed. We humored our mother when we went back home that day and told her that if only we knew they liked the tambo which was a common viand at home, she shouldn’t have had the trouble of thinking about what to serve our visitors.

Then they were off to the airport.

 

[I just deleted a few paragraphs. Maybe I should reserve it for another post. I wanted to talk about our (me and my sister) realization after that hosting, mainly on the topic that we agreed we would raise our child like how Jun and Sayaka raised Yu.]

I don’t know how to exactly end this post but here’s the reference they left on my Couchsurfing account:

We stayed with Lilac and her family in Pototan because it was during the holidays. There, we had a far greater experience than we had expected. They welcomed us even though it was during the Holy Week, when people usually spend time only with family and close friends, and treated us just like part of their family.

On Good Friday, we stayed at home and in the neighborhood all day and had a relaxing time chatting with the family and the neighbors, except for when we joined them in the Holy Week procession around the town in the evening. We had great homey food (without meat because on Good Friday!) four times a day, for one of which they let us cook some Japanese food to add on their plate. They even took a great care of our 14-month-old daughter, and she immediately became fond of them and took to them as if they were her real aunties, grandma, grandpa and great grandma.

And on Saturday, Lilac had to go to work but her sister accompanied us all day and showed us around in Iloilo city. There was no way we could get to see so much of the city and to try so many different local foods without her in only one day.

Lilac is a sweet, warm-hearted and accommodating person with cutest smile, and we recommend her to anyone who likes to have a relaxing chill time with a host. Thank you again Lilac, and please send our warmest regards to your lovely family!!

In my opinion, this was the simplest hosting I had with not much of an itinerary but so far the best Couchsurfing hosting experience I ever had so far. I think, even though my family was sort of troubled by what I brought at home, I think they enjoyed the experience, too!

Lykee.Wild.FREE.

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