As I told you in my last article, in 1990, I began writing letters to Feyma, we were pen-pals. By mid year, I felt that I wanted to meet her in person. We had written to each other for about 6 months, and talked on the phone a few times. I wanted to take the relationship further, though. The only real way to do that was to make a trip to the Philippines.
I booked a flight, scheduled at the end of July, and made all the necessary arrangements.
Feyma was studying in college in Cebu City at the time. She is from General Santos City, in Southern Mindanao, but we would meet each other in Cebu, where she was studying.
First, I would fly into Manila. Back in those days there were no flights into the Philippines except to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. These days you can fly in to Cebu or Davao City directly, but not back then. When I arrived in Manila, after some 20 hours of flying, layovers and such, it was about 11 PM at night. When I stepped off of the plane, it felt like I was stepping into an oven that was very hot and very humid! What a shocker! I was booked to stay at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Manila, and went directly there. I was tired and wanted to sleep.
One thing that I did not know and was not expecting was that on the night of my arrival, the Philippines was going to switch to Daylight Saving’s Time. I was very familiar with DST in the USA, but this was the first time (and only time) that the Philippines every used DST, and to be frank, they did not really understand how it worked. My flight to Cebu the next morning was scheduled at 8 AM, so I went to the airport about 6 AM or so. When I got there I was told that my flight was delayed until 9 AM. I asked why and they said “because it is Daylight Savings Time starting today, so everything is changed by one hour!” Uh, OK. 🙂
The one hour delay concerned me a bit, because Feyma was supposed to meet me at the airport in Cebu, along with her Aunt and Cousins that she lived with in Cebu City. I was not sure if they would wait at the airport due to the one hour delay, but I was confident it would work out OK.
Back in those days, for domestic flights, there were really no “boarding gates” in the airports. The plane was sitting out on the tarmac with some portable stairs pushed up to the side. It was quite a distance, but you had to walk there in the blistering heat.
When I got on the plane and found my assigned seat, there was a small Filipino lady sitting next to me. She kept staring at me, as I recall, I was the only foreigner on the plane, so it was not a surprise that she stared. A little bit into the flight, she finally got up the courage to speak to me:
Sir, may I ask, are you a Kennedy?
LOL, she thought I looked like John F. Kennedy. I just chuckled and told her that I was not. I don’t think she spoke to me again the entire flight.
We landed in Cebu City pretty much right on schedule, taking into account the delay for Daylight Savings Time. Feyma and her family were supposed to meet me at the airport there. When I got off of the plane, there were huge crowds. I had never met Feyma before, but I had pictures of her, so I kept looking for her. I never could see her, so without knowing what else to do, I went to an information desk in the airport and asked if they could call Feyma on the PA system for me. They did call her. One of her male cousins came and met me and he took me to her and the rest of the family. Feyma told me that I walked right past her when I entered the airport. I asked why she did not tell me when I was passing by, she said she was too shy! Shy she was, no doubt on that.
I had already booked a hotel room at the Montebello Villa Hotel in Cebu. It was a nice little Garden Hotel a little outside the city (it WAS outside the city, but now is practically in the center of the city, the city has grown so much). Feyma and I had not discussed our living/sleeping arrangements. When we arrived at the hotel, there we could not wait any longer.. I asked Feyma, “will you stay with me at the hotel?” To my surprise, she said that yes, she would stay with me.
When I went to the front desk to check in to the hotel, the lady helping me asked “Do you want a matrimonial bed or two singles?” How would I answer that? Well, come back and read my next installment and I’ll let you know!