Thursday, July 12, 2007

Returning Home: Unaccomplished Objectives

On 12 July, we came home.

List of objectives that were not accomplished.
  • Visit Lumanog Guitar Factory, Pampanga
  • Visit Alegre Guitar Factory, Cebu
  • Visit Bolinao, UP Marine Lab
  • Visit UP Marine Science Institute, in Dilliman (Quezon City)
  • Visit U. San Carlos Marine Lab, Mactan Island, Cebu
  • Dental Work
  • Rent an apartment
On the last day in Manila, I visited the Philippine National Museum, the Manila Orchidarium, and (very briefly) the National Library. I was able to visit they Hydrographic Offices in NAMRIA, as well as the map sales office.

I didn't pay close attention to my visa, and was fined 2500 Pesos for overstaying 2 days. I think this could have been avoided, if we had traveled together as a family, instead of Fe flying NWA with William, and my flying Continental alone. That was a kick in the pants. I went through 3 searches at the Manila Airport, including a personal search including carry on bags at the gate waiting area.

We had a lot of trouble cashing traveler's checks (American Express). Even exchanging a US$100.00 bill could be a chore! Surprising. In Cebu, we visited 3 banks that would not exchange a 100.00 bill for Pesos. The one that did, Banco de Oro, only cashed one: of two we wanted to cash. The SM Mall store had a foreign exchange department that could exchange a US$100.00 bill in less than 2 minutes, in contrast to the nearly 1 hour it took at Banco de Oro. We had obtained new series bills from the bank, before leaving, but one of them was not good enough for Banco de Oro: the clerk said that the watermark was obscure on one of them. Also, that bank did not cash an American Express Traveler's Check after 4:00. We had arrived probably before 3:30 PM, but the line was too long to get the transaction done before the cutoff, 4:00PM. Because of the lousy, slow service, it was too late. Every transaction required several forms to be filled out by the tediously diligent clerks. I say clerks, not tellers. We found Philippine National Bank (PNB) unwilling to exchange dollars; the PNB ATMs were lousy also. Equitable Bank would not accept US$ 100.00 bills in exchange either, at least in Cebu. BPI has given us the best service, along with Citibank.

It's certainly good to be home. Besides road stress, there's still lots more to report, and some pictures.

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