TRAVEL WITH KELLY Misa-Fernandez : In The City Of Angels, LOS ANGELES
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Ang ganda din ng Huntington Beach. Sarap mamasyal at kumain.

Back to Los Angeles to reconnect with family and friends

Para na ring second home namin ang LA, dahil sa dami ng pamilya at kaibigan namin dito

Travel to the US is very different from travelling to Europe. For many Filipinos, the US is like a second home. Aside from real family, we have extended families all over the United States, and some in Europe. My grandparents owned a pharmacy on Taft Avenue in front of the PGH. They also had a large house on Pennsylvania Street one block away where they accepted boarders. Students from University of the Philippines, St. Paul’s College, Philippine Women’s University, teachers from Paco Catholic School boarded with us, and every school year we had 16 young women including her pharmacists at the drug store living with us. My lola was ‘Mommy’ to everybody, including us, her grand children.

My Papa so happy with his persimmon harvest. Ang sarap magtanim dito.

Two of her pharmacists married US Navy men (Filipinos) and both moved to California, one in Los Angeles and the other in San Diego. The two couples had one son each. Both worked as pharmacists in the US and lived very comfortably, and anytime Mommy or any member of her family came to California, we were very welcome.

The Ad said “Buy 2 tickets, get one free, MNL – LAX – MNL.” My Papa just had a bypass 3 years before and we asked him if he was strong enough to fly to the US. After he was cleared by his cardiologist, we bought the tickets. So, our first stop and our last stop would be LA. In between, we visited San Diego, Las Vegas and New York City. From New York we had side trips to Washington and Buffalo.

I was five when I first went to LA. I vaguely remember Disneyland, Universal Studios, getting lost at Macy’s and our drive to San Diego. The next time I went I was 16. We attended the wedding of my cousin in Flagstaff, Arizona. I vividly remember Knott’s Berry Farm and the giant rollercoaster with a 360 loop! I also remember Tita E’s garden with the orange trees, full of tangerines.

This time, we arrived at LA International Airport at 6 PM together with five other flights from all over the world, so that there were around 3,000 people on the arrival area to be processed by Immigration. My Papa, seeing the lines said, I have to go to the toilet first, but even there the line was long. While we were waiting for him, an Immigration Officer opened a new booth and called my husband and me. So, we were first in line and were out after 2 minutes. We picked up all our luggage including Papa’s and waited an hour and a half until he came out. In my later visits to LA, I landed at Ontario International Airport, which was less congested and so much closer to Orange County.

Longtime friends who are like family. We make sure na magkita-kita whenever we visit this city.

My cousin with his young daughter was waiting as we got out and we walked to his Lexus SUV in the park building. Initial reaction of all Filipinos: WOW Lexus! But in LA, it was just another ordinary car. It was 8:30 at night but the there were still a lot of diners at In and Out Burger, one of our favorite burger places in California. It was 9:30 when we got to Luzon Drive, Cypress. When Tito and Tita came out to meet us I was shocked at how much they aged. I was last there 16 years ago! But they were so happy to see us.

The following morning, we were food spoilt at breakfast. Tito L. was a cook at a USVA facility and he was ready to prepare anything we wanted.  He needed to go to work, but if we wanted to drive around, the other car was available. The other car was a Cadillac. Again, the Pinay in me said: WOW Cadillac!

My two bestfriends from highschool live in California. Sobrang saya namin pag nagkikita kita kami.

With the GPS, we were in Huntington Beach in 20 minutes. Huntington is miles of white sand beach on either side. Children were on the beach digging tunnels in the sand and building castles as well. Their parents were laid out on beach towels or reclining chairs keeping one eye on the kids, and the other on their phones.  A few surfers were out that day in their thermal suits. Si Carlos, my husband, inggit na inggit. Gusto na niyang tumalon sa tubig, pero mga 7 to 10 degrees yung tubig.

The Pier started on the street above and extended about 500 meters over the Pacific Ocean. It was a wide pier with restaurants on both sides. That morning there were about a hundred people promenading, while others were fishing from the Pier. The sun was out and a cool breeze was blowing in from the sea. An ice cream stand was doing brisk business and we lined up for ours.

My Papa and I. We were so happy he could come with us after his heart bypass.

Carlos and I enjoying the cool ocean breeze. Were always so relaxed when were in LA.

Across the street from the beach were the shops that sold wetsuits and surfboards. Carlos was looking for rentals, but none were available. Buti na lang. We were back home by 4 PM and Tito and Tita were already home too. We walked around the garden and so many fruits needed harvesting. We asked permission to harvest and Tito gave us baskets. I worked on a tomato plant that had crawled to one wall of the garden full of fruits. It was the cherry tomato type and after filling a whole basket, I started on the oranges. Papa and Carlos were up on the roof harvesting persimmons. They came down with 4 baskets. On another wall was a vine loaded with fruits. Ampalaya pala. I harvested a basket. Tuwang tuwa kami sa mga harvest namin!

Siyempre, pinuntahan din namin ang Hollywood. Ang dami ring pwedeng puntahan dito. Just walking the boulevard and you’ll see so much.  My bestfriend Kristle was our tour guide for the day.

After a steak dinner (Tito had two chest freezers full of food), a cousin who lived in Long Beach came by to say hello. She invited us to the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax, an open air food market that was started in the 1930’s during the depression, but has since evolved into a giant market extravaganza with all kinds of goods sold. The food selection alone was overwhelming. Shop after shop was offering something new and interesting. At mura pa! It was good we had a power nap before dinner and that Papa was not with us because he stayed up chatting with the Titos. Four hours in the Farmers Market was not enough, but it was passed midnight. Jenny, my cousin went home with baskets of tomatoes, ampalaya, oranges and persimmons, aside from her own purchases at the incredible market.

At nine the following morning, Uncle Stan, Papa’s cousin picked us up to drive us to San Diego. After the initial traffic to the freeway, we were home free because we could take the special lane for more than two passengers.

The drive back from San Diego was thru San Bernardino where Uncle Stan lived. His wife had prepared a dinner party for us and invited our relatives in the area. Papa’s sister and her husband were already there when we arrived, plus 20 more of my cousins, most of them I was meeting for the first time. Malaki ang Misa Clan.

One of my cousins drove us home, way after midnight. The following morning was a Sunday. At noon Carlos’ best friend picked us up to transfer houses. John and his wife were US Army veterans of Iraq (battlefield romance), and John was currently a Sherriff at Orange County.

That evening, another party at John’s parents’ house was held for us. Papa and John’s grandma talked for a long time. After that, they announced that John’s grandma and my grandpa were cousins.

John’s sister in law was a student at the UCLA and was home for the weekend. Monday morning we went with her to drop her off at the UCLA campus. The campus is very big. Parang UP. We didn’t stay around the campus very long. We went to Rodeo Drive nearby and parked at the Beverly Center Mall. After walking through Rodeo drive, we looked for a place to have lunch at the mall, and after, we just walked around looking for celebrities. We found a celebrity on a fifth floor café – Eddie Gutierrez and Anabelle Rama were having their afternoon coffee! Papa and John left us there as we had a dinner in the area.

In the evening, we met up with my old classmates at a restaurant in Santa Monica, by the beach. It was so much fun recalling our school days! So fun, we were driven home at 2:30 AM by classmates who had work the next day.

For us, the next day was a designated rest day. Our jetlag was still hovering and early the morning after was our flight to Las Vegas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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