Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Philippines Day 5 - cemetery visit then Aura Mall

December 26, 2014 - Day 5: A Funeral and a Mall
The most somber note of our trip to the Philippines was the funeral of a childhood friend. She died of cancer a few days before we arrived and lay in state for a week as her 3 kids wanted to “spend one last Christmas" with her. Her funeral was the day after Christmas. Funerals are very expensive and in the Philippines, everyone chips in and gives the family money to help with the funeral expenses. Some also bring flowers but almost everyone gives money. It’s community giving and grieving even if you didn’t know the deceased that well but know someone in his or her family.
The flowers we bought for my grandmother's grave (left)
The funeral was at the same place as where some of my relatives are buried, notably my grandmother who I miss to this day. She was such a forceful presence in our lives and her influences lives on. My sister and I bought some flowers to put at her grave. You might notice the second name on her gravestone and that’s actually one of my cousins, one of her grandchildren. It’s common for two names to be on a gravestone and two burials to be at the same site. Burial plots are very expensive and land is limited so often two people occupy the same plot. When the first person dies, they dig the grave deeper to place the first coffin in. When the second person dies, the ground is dug up again and the second coffin is placed atop the right one and covered.
This one was a bit odd as my grandmother was joined by my cousin who died 5 years after she did. I had expected her to be placed where my paternal grandfather, her husband, was but we couldn’t find his gravestone when we visited. In investigating this later, we learned that when my grandfather died many years ago, this particular cemetery, Garden of Memories, hadn't opened yet and so my grandfather is buried in the old town cemetery. Now we're aiming to have the tombstone re-done to place my grandparents' names together and for my cousin to get his own.
Christmas display inside Aura Mall
After the funeral and after we had paid our respects to the family, we went to the mall with my cousin Abby. It was our first foray into souvenir shopping and Abby took us to Aura Mall and Kultura, a store that specialized in Philippine-made products. You know how big I am about buying local. When I’m in the US, it’s made in the USA. When I’m in the Philippines, it’s made in the Philippines. As with anywhere else, there are plenty of goods made from other Third World countries with cheap labor but as I told Abby, I can buy made in China back in the States and I wanted goods made in the Philippines. Hence our visit to Kultura (or “culture” in the English translation). Kultura ran the gamut from jewelry to Christmas ornaments to placemats, wallets, handbags, t-shirts and kitchy souvenirs. Yes, I paid more than if I bought elsewhere but they were all locally made and that was worth it to me.
Aura is like any other mall in the States with some stores unique to the Philippines like Shoe Mart (the equivalent of Macy’s, Target and a little Kohls thrown in, despite the name, they sell far more than shoes) and other stores just as in the US like Forever 21, Abercrombie and Uniqlo. My nieces, both big Forever 21 shoppers, checked out the one at Aura and discovered the prices were actually better back home, even with the peso to dollar conversion rate. Go figure. We also found "Bay Max" from Big Hero 6. No idea who he is but my nieces knew. Good enough.
Filipino food at the Aura Mall food court
Filipino humor
Tapsilog: Tapa (beef) and itlog (egg) over fried rice
Also like any other mall, there was a food court and we stopped to have "merienda" or an afternoon snack. Merienda in the Philippines isn't a snack like a pretzel or a frozen yogurt. It's more like a meal. The food court held an assortment of various cuisines, mostly Asian. There was dim sum, Filipino food, Japanese food and some more Western cuisines.
Also, similar to back home, I found a cupcake shop. I know, I must have a magnet on me somewhere. This one was called A Royal Touch and like many cupcakeries, sold individual cupcakes that were decorated and had fancy flavors. The only odd thing is they only sold the cupcakes in packs of 3 or 6. I needed 3 so I didn’t question it that closely. I bought each of Abby’s 2 sons a cupcake based on their flavor preferences (vanilla for the younger one and caramel for the older one) plus chocolate for me to share with my nieces. The decorations were quite cute, especially the snowman with the penguin eyes on mine. The cupcake itself was just okay though. The chocolate flavor of the cupcake could’ve been more pronounced; it wasn’t dry but it wasn’t as moist as I would’ve liked. The frosting was quite good though, rich and creamy. Since I normally don’t like a lot of frosting, you know when I say it’s good, it’s good. The prices for the cupcakes ranged from 80 to 95 pesos, depending on the flavor and decoration, I suppose. So it’s somewhat on par with the $3-$4 range in the States; by Philippine standards, it’s more pricey than other baked goods so it would definitely be considered a luxury. Remember that Puto Bungbong was only 35 pesos and that was for a greater quantity than a single cupcake.

1 comment:

  1. That looks an awesome place. I'm gonna try to visit it. I'm pretty sure me and my friends are going to love it. Try visiting Circuit Makati, you'll love it too. Anyway, Thanks for sharing!