Shortly after arriving in the Philippines, I asked Art and Sherry Ann if there were any trains. "There's a train to Naga City," Sherry Ann told me. "You can stay with my mother and meet my daughters." How could I refuse an offer like that? So we made arrangements for me to visit Sharine and the girls after my trip up to Tarlac and Baguio.
The train to Naga City takes about 10 hours and only travels once a day, at night. I was disappointed to miss the view during the day, but since I'm on a tight schedule it made sense to take the sleeper car for 306 pesos, or about $7.50. Luckily I decided to walk to the train station an hour early because it started pouring down rain as soon as I got there. The cool breeze from the rain felt good as I waited on the covered platform.
The train was surprisingly empty. I had a booth of four beds all to myself. They don't provide sheets, pillows or blankets and with the AC you need something to cover up with. Sherry Ann had warned me, so I wore long pants and a long dress over it, and covered up with a towel. It was barely enough. I'm not used to being cold in the Philippines. Mostly I slept through the night until 4:30 a.m. when the train was supposed to arrive. Turns out, it was two hours late, but I didn't want to text Sherry Ann again at that hour. Luckily, her mom lives very close to the train station, so she'd walked over, found out it was two hours late, and came back for me. She spotted me right away -- the only white person on the train.
I liked Sharine, Sherry Ann's mom right away. She invited me into her home without apologies and served me breakfast, knowing I eat everything. We had puto, little rice muffins
, cassava cakes and sweet sticky rice -- all yummy
. It was Saturday, but the girls were going to school. Ella, the 9-year-old, had baton practice, and 7-year-old Kyla had math tutoring with her 2nd grade teacher. We walked to the school and waited a while for the classes to start. "They're on Filipino Time," Charine informed me. I'm used to it. It's pretty much the same as Mexican Time, Guam Time, and Haitian Time. I amused myself by taking pictures of the students.
Finally, the baton teacher and the math teacher both showed up. I went back and forth between the two until the classes ended at noon. I used to do baton as a kid, but I haven't noticed girls doing it these days in the US, but it's a national craze here in the Philippines. I borrowed Ella's baton to show off what I still remembered. No one seemed much impressed. They're all better than me, even the little ones.
|I had this compartment all to myself. The bottom bunk was really cozy, especially after I pulled the curtains.|
|The toilet is not for the faint of heart, especially as the train is rocking and rolling.|
|Yummy breakfast of sticky rice and rice muffins.|
|Sherry Ann's beautiful mom and two daughters|
|The neighbors in Naga are very friendly.|
|Sharine introduced me to so many relatives, including her great aunt.|
|Information on Filipino heroes|
|The students wait patiently for class to begin.|
|Sherry Ann's daughter Kyla does well in math.|
|Some of the students aren't as excited about Saturday math class.|
|All the public schools in the Philippines are so beautiful, with nice gardens, bright paint, and spacious. |
This one has 1500 students.
|Here I am with some of the boys.|
|Me and some of the girls.|
|Mrs. Celia Bataller clearly loves her job.|
|The baton teacher|
|Ella marches in red.|