Batangas: A Weekend Getaway
#Throwback: Venturing beyond Manila to attend a friend's wedding. Read about my 3D2N spent at Batangas, and my experience as a bridesmaid! (It's my first time!!)
About three months ago I hopped on a plane to Manila, Philippines, to be a part of Mark and Pamela's wedding. It was week 11/12 of the semester then, so I was overwhelmed with assignments and I didn't have much time to edit my vlog and write about my experience, but I wanted to write about it anyway because this was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And this Thursday evening is the perfect time to publish this post because we're all going to find out the gender of Mark and Pamela's baby coming Monday. I'm so excited~
Pre-wedding: 6th-7th April 2018, Friday & Saturday.
My trip to Batangas got off to a very good start - I had a very pleasant conversation with the taxi uncle who got me to the airport from school, whom I later found out to be a friend's father. (The world is indeed very small!) Also had a friendly conversation with the passenger seated beside me - he was headed to the Philippines to attend his niece's birthday party. Little things like that made my day and reminded me of how precious human connections are.
So I got to Manila at about 7pm on the Friday evening. By the time we got to Batangas and our hotel, it was midnight so I passed out on the bed really quickly. Highlight of my Friday: Jollibee!!!!! The fried chicken and spaghetti tasted amazing. Pardon the horrible photo - I had to screenshot it from a Instastory video because I was too excited to take a proper picture.
Saturday was mostly spent at bride-to-be Pamela's house. It is tradition for the groom's family to be at the bride's house to help prepare for the evening feast one day before the wedding. Despite some difficulties in communicating, everyone was so warm and welcoming and so full of love. I saw how willing everyone was to contribute to this feast in celebration of the couple. I also saw the slaughtering of three pigs which was slightly traumatising for me but a unique experience nonetheless. I was told this is something they do when there are special events. I also did, however, eat the pork during the feast and it was pretty good. It was through sitting there and watching everyone interact, that I understood something about happiness: it's simple. It's as complicated as we make it to be. There was no wi-fi where we were and while everyone had mobile phones (and some with a data plan), nobody was on it - everyone was very present and was genuinely happy to be in the company of family. It was so heartening.
The evening was really spent enjoying the reunion of two families. It was an evening of having fun, of love and of music - Mark and ate ('sister' in Tagalog) Jane performed. When nightfall came, I was so exhausted but my heart was full. I had found a home in a place I had never been to.
Click here for more film photos I took on the trip.
Read on to find out what it's like to be a bridesmaid.
Wedding Day: 8th April 2018, Sunday.
I could barely sleep the night before because I was incredibly excited. I'm very honoured to have been given the chance to be a part of the entourage - i.e. a bridesmaid, and to have been so welcomed into a family who barely knew who I was. After a little bit of waiting for the bride and groom to prepare and after a little bit of a mini photoshoot at the hotel (with the bridesmaids and groomsmen), we went to the church.
It was a beautiful ceremony - some tears were shed. I don't know why but I've always found weddings to be so magical and the overwhelming sense of happiness that ensues always finds itself escaping through my tear ducts. To be able to witness a special reunion - almost sacred - of two beings made my heart so warm. In that moment I believed in love again. It was proof that love is a universal language. I mean, I couldn't understand anything that was happening because I wasn't familiar with Christian wedding practices and I didn't speak Tagalog.
We then headed for the dinner reception. It was a huge space - I think there were at least 50 tables? While I would've liked to be seated with my fellow Chicken Up colleagues, I enjoyed the company of my fellow bridesmaids who were very friendly and hospitable (I was seated at a separate table). I was grateful to have met and befriended Grace, who really made me feel at home. I wouldn't have enjoyed myself as much if not for Grace. The whole dinner reception reminded me of the one we have back home: the walk-in, the food, the stage programmes, the photo-taking session. Everyone had a great time celebrating the couple, and that was all that really mattered.
I had so much fun I actually considered pushing back my flight to spend one more day at Batangas, but it would've cost me too much money so I ended up making the redeye flight back to Singapore and headed straight to school for classes. And this was after an unintended drinking session at a bar near ndn hotel, so I was low-key hungover.
That said, this trip has really unleashed the wanderlust 'Sam' in me. While I regretfully was only able to spend a weekend at Batangas, the experience has given me so much. I've made so many friends at the wedding they're almost like family. Batangas was such a beautiful experience I'm already looking forward to going back in November when Mark and Pamela's child will be born.
Click here for more film photos I took on the trip.
Meanwhile, I've finally gotten my life back in order post-Chicken Up. I've started taking up production projects again; I'm going back to volunteering and making a difference in some people's lives; I'm doing things I love but didn't have time to do; I'm meeting with friends I hadn't seen in a while. Tomorrow will be the first Friday night I'm having to myself in a while (now that I've left my part-time job), and several people have asked me what I'll be doing. Honestly I don't know, and I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow when the time comes, but I'm excited to be spending my time doing nothing.