part of the article Malu Fernandez wrote that caused Filipinos to over-react:
FROM BORACAY TO GREECE
BY MALU FERNANDEZ - Summer comes and goes. Most of the time I am out if the country for work. But I’m stuck here, I ignore the heat and stay in a temperature- controlled room of 18 degrees – cold enough to make the windows sweat. This year I decided to go off tangent and pick places I have never been to before.
Much to my chagrin, I had never been to the beach. You see, I hate the sand, the bugs and the mosquitoes, but I figured it would be fun with everyone around. As we reached the villa I was spraying Baygon everywhere. I thought I had nearly killed myself with all the insect repellant and Lysol disinfectant I kept on spraying. I am so not into roughing it up. For me, the minimum requirement for traveling is a Holiday Inn.
A couple of days later saw us walking down to Station 2 where D’mall was and I was trying my best not to freak out as the beach was filled with algae, which were collecting on my Adidas all-terrain. (I refuse to wear Havaianas and scratch my pedicure.) Finally as we walked back , I was dazzled by a beautiful white structure, so white it glistened under the sun. This brilliant apparition was Discovery Shores, an oasis in the middle of the island. Not only do the staff headed by Jun Parreno make you feel at home, the food by chef David Pardo de Ayala is fabulous as well. And after seeing the whole poolside and the fabulous rooms done by Budgi Layug, I wanted to move there. But I was too ashamed to ditch my friends and forego the huge amount I already paid for my share of the villa. So I promised to go back another time in order to luxuriate in their fabulous surroundings.
Meanwhile, when all of this was going on, I was on the cell phone with my jet set buddy Ron Sato planning an impromptu trip. You see, Ron is my travel buddy who lives in Los Angeles, so between his schedule and mine, the logistics are a nightmare. The week of Easter, however, was open for both of us so I said: “Pick a country!” We decided on Greece and off we went. But getting there was a bloddy nightmare. To save on my ticket, I bravely took an economy class seat on Emirates as recommended by my travel agent. Ron excitedly told me to go for it – Emirates had won best economy class and some award. However I forgot that the hub was in Dubai and the majority of the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) were stationed there. The duty-free shop was overrun with Filipino workers selling cell phones and perfume. Meanwhile, I wanted to slash my wrist at the thought of being trapped in a plane with all of them. Of course, everyone in economy class was yelled at for having overweight hand-carries. Mine was 17kg (ssshhhh!). That was all my makeup and accessories I would never risk losing if my luggage ended in the middle of the Sahara desert.
While I was on the plane (where the seats were so small I had bruises on my legs), my only consolation was the entertainment on the small flat screen in front of me. But it was busted, so I heaved a sigh, popped my sleeping pills and dozed off to the sounds of gum chewing and endless yelling of “HOY! Kumusta ka na? At taga sann ka? Domestic helper ka rin ba?” Translation: “Hey there? Where are you from? Are you a domestic helper as well?” I though I had died and God had sent me to my very own private hell.
After a nine-hour flight, I finally landed and made my way around Athens to the Ledra Marriott hotel, washed the plane off me and got a text from my other editor Gianna Maniego. She told me my weekly deadline was moved up due to the holidays. In a state of panic, I was about to have a major meltdown because I hadn’t slept for 48 hours, the Louis Vuittons under my eyes were enormous and all I wanted was a hot shower and a bed. At that point, I didn’t know where to go as there wasn’t enough time to plan a sight-seeing trip and take in the sights in order to meet my deadline so I decided to go off on a train and head to the Athens Mall.
As they say – when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. My buddy Ron and I were laughing so hard because we flew all the way to Greece to go to a mall and eat in Ruby Tuesdays (an American chain like Chili’s). After covering my deadline, we planned to soak in the sites for the next day and headed off to the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, climbing every step in my gold, open-toed sandals. You see, I followed the weather report on CNN but apparently the forecast was wrong because it was still winter. So I bravely went about in a lightweight sweater and a throw, climbing the Acropolis and driving to the edge of the Aegean sea by the Temple of Poseidon.
After a whole day of sight seeing I decided I have had enough of the historical sites. I adamantly wanted to go to Santorini to see the Caldero houses but due to time constraints, we were unable to go. I guess God was watching out for us because the ferry we were supposed to take sank in the middle of the Aegean Sea. I could already see myself screaming “SAVE MY ACCESSORIES! !!!” And swimming with head above water so I don’t mess up my makeup… See, I told you I hate the beach! For the rest of the stay we ended up going around the shopping district in Monasteriki and the garment district in Ermou. Old habits indeed never die!
On my way back, I had to bravely take the economy flight once more. This time I had already resigned myself to being trapped like a sardine in a sardine can with all these OFWs smelling of AXE and Charlie cologne while Jo Malone evaporated into thin air. However, for the first time in my natural life I was elated to go back to the Philippines so I could go back to Discovery Shores in Boracay and sip a tropical drink under the fabulous hat I bought in Greece. There I was sending MMS pictures to my buddy Ron trying to entice him to come over, but I didn’t succeed. Instead, I got two other friends join me in sipping cocktails with a fabulous sunset and ocean view while planting my feet firmly on the bug-free cement flooring by the poolside of Discovery Shores.
All in all, it’s been a pretty good summer. Jetting from the Aegean Sea to the Pacific may sound a bit pretentious until you wake up in economy class smelling like air freshener...