Mothers’ Days Off (Year 3): Lessons in Life and Laughter
Twenty Ten brought us to Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia for nine (9) days. From a trio (Alyna,Amor and yours truly) who marveled at the amazing architecture of the Angkor civilization in Cambodia in 2008, relished the Yogya sultanese history and the endless footwork to breathtaking Borobudur and Prembanan in Indonesia with a more adventurous backpacker Monet in 2009, the mothers taking days off grew in size, weight and laughter.
The eight brave women who travelled without the husband and kids were Alyna, Amor, Ava, Bien, Joy, Pauline, Rizza and Vilma. Travelling with eight (8) strong women with different personalities, maybe split or schizophrenic because they assume a serious, hardworking , professional personality in their work has taught me lessons which can serve as helpful hints to those who wish to take time off abroad.
1. Always bring with you a caterer who is willing to wake up ahead of everyone to cook breakfast for the group every morning. She can prepare a good dinner and a party for nine, too.
2. Do not easily believe if one of your friends says that she has no money anymore especially if she is a lawyer ( and a judge) because she’ll be the first to look for a money changer in any mall. Remember she is a mother, too, and could be tucking some bills somewhere, just in case.
3. The easiest way to reach a consensus on which place to visit in the destination country is to head for the malls. SHOPPING. Yes, it seems to be one of the most common denominator of women. Never in my travelling life had I purchased a dozen blouses for the only woman at home. Girl friends tell you that the blouse looks cool, you look slimmer in it, of good quality and compare it with the prices at the mall where “they’ve got it all for you”.
4. The joy is not in the shopping but in the fitting. Nevermind if JOY has to go up and down to try each new blouse she bought. We tend to pry in each others’ shopping bags and boast about our haggling skills. It is fun to have a mini fashion show for people who always admire you for what you are and not for what you wear.
5. It is always wise to have a friend who has a husband who is willing to cook for his wife’s friends, shield himself from the chatter and sacrifice some privacy when the whole house is invaded by a large group. The upside is, he gets to be surrounded by eight beautiful women for several days. Boon or bane? More so if the husband can pull his connections in the destination countries to host the wife and her gang of wonderful women and to serve as a dependable tour guide. They’ll give you a better glimpse of the culture, family and national politics and bring you to fascinating places and taste authentic food.
6. Joint pains, arthritis, high blood pressure, stomach and heart problems are only invoked at home. They miraculously disappear in the next go. Lest they’ll be left behind.
7. Housekeeping is deeply ingrained in the system of some mothers that they sometimes forget that they are not in their homes. They’ll keep the kitchen spic and span and even turn off the valves in the toilet suspecting that it is leaking. They are more cost-conscious than the host.
8. Petty problems at home can affect the travelling mother which will make her hypersensitive even to cultural differences. She maybe the most game, patient and understanding in the group but can feel being “singled out” in rare times.
9. Our people, the Filipinos are still our best assets. The Filipino’s warmth, hospitality , customer –orientedness and English language facility is a lot better than others. The Filipino you meet on the train can give you directions to your next destination plus tips on how to go around the place.
10. Manny Pacquiao is not anymore the pride of the Philippines alone. He has legions of fans in Thailand who know about his fights, his humble background, and his political career. The moment they discover that you’re a Filipino, they’ll gesture a punch to start a conversation about Manny Pacquiao.
11. Start saving now for the next trip. Keep away from fatty foods, sweets, uric acid. Exercise. Keep yourself updated on promo fares.
Best of all, be thankful for the gift of friendship, for the husbands and children who kept the household sane while the mothers were taking their days off.