While my kids are playing with their cousin Max, I invited Jesse at the dining table to share our BRUNCH, a coined term which refers to a meal that is partake between breakfast and lunch, that is freshly prepared by Max’s nanny. We savor some fried fish, hotdogs, omelet, rice, and hot drinks. I am terribly hungry that I like nothing better than stuffing myself with these heavy foodies to give me a head start and quickly gain my much needed energy.
After a full meal, quick shower, and putting on some descent clothing, we leave the house and proceed to Makati for my first itinerary of the day – to claim my matured pension plan. Jesse’s sister accompanied us to easily determine the office we are heading. Meanwhile, Andrei, who is at the moment, feels like playing the whole day through than going with us to the city, is left behind with his cousin Max and nanny.
I thought I can be successful and happy to accomplish my first agenda, but I am not. That is because some series of unfortunate events happened along the way. Not unless I have some virtue of patience and enough understanding that I will freak out and succumb to total frustration.
First, since it is already approaching mid-afternoon and the sun now cast its heat to the entire metro. In this case the traffic in Manila is already heavy and congested that finding a cab can be arduous. I am already sweltering and so is my baby. Not until fifteen minutes later we snared a taxi and motored on. I am completely flabbergasted that a taxi can now be some sort of a special privilege to those who can really afford to avail this kind of public transport. You see, when we get off the cab there is another 15%-20% percent of the total fare that we have to pay. Let say, we are billed 60 pesos but I added 12 pesos for a total of 72 pesos. I find this manner very ridiculous and unjustifiable. They said it is already widely accepted nowadays in Metro Manila and becomes a norm. But for me this is one good example of corruption that is so common in Philippines. I could not fathom as to this kind of wrong practice specially when the government wants to boost the tourism of the country but foreign visitors may feel that they will be ripped off simply by this kind of activity. If we want to promote Philippines as one of the top tourist destinations in Asia then the authorities must make appropriate actions to stop this illegal activity and abuse to commuters.
Then, I just shakes off my wondering and head straight to the building where the Philplans had office. At the counter, the customer relation officer examines the requirements I have on hand but find out that one very important document is missing- the certificate of full payment. At top of that, it is necessary to change my status and family name because I purchase this pension when I was single way back ten years ago. They require another supporting evidence to justify my claim like marriage contract and valid IDs showing my new identity. The processing all in all will take twenty five to thirty working days from the moment it is submitted in the office. In the next two days, we will be going home to the southern part of the country and so given the limited days of our vacation plus maybe some unavoidable circumstances, somehow, I have an instinct that it will be a bit impossible for me to claim the cheque personally, which came perfectly true later on. But anyhow, we have decided to comply first with the requirements, courier to my sister-in-law and file the claim by herself instead.
I leave the office empty handed and frustrated. Bewildered. Sad. My schedule is now in ruin. But dawdling too much on this temporary situation is not good option to hamper our vacation mood so I move on and find way to rearrange my itinerary.
We walk down town until we reach Greenbelt after which my sister goes to her work. At this time, Jesse buys a new Smart SIM card at a cost of 300pesos while I purchase a reload card, at 60 pesos, hoping that my old SIM card, which was haven’t been used in more than six months, will still work. These local cards are our means for communication and to tell to everyone our whereabouts in Manila. I need some sort of refreshment and a desire for coffee comes to my mind. We stop at Coffee Bean in Greenbelt 3 and order full mugs of coffee latte and choco cappuccino. Jesse activates the new SIM card while I also reload the card. I am surprise that it has been resurrected and now really working. Yeppey!! What a piece of relief from a little frustration a while ago. I guess there is still goodness and fortune that surround me at that very instant. Lucky me!
I make a call to my parents and sister who are now in Cebu, in time for our arrival, as well as my brother who is incidentally in Manila for training. Series of text messages I have sent to my friends and relatives. After an hour, I feel like I am now connected to the people in my native land.
One thing I should not miss is to call my former students and set up a dinner date. These are my students who extended their support to Jesse while he was applying for a job in Oman. Some have provided accommodation and accompanied him during his stay in the capital. They are really nice people and so good that they are now very successful professionals in their own careers. I am so glad they have come that far and also excited to see them again after three long years.
Finally, I have the arrangement for us to meet at Greenbelt 3 at 7:00 PM. After a while, we buy some groceries at Landmark and stay home to prepare for tonight’s get-together dinner.