Posts Tagged ‘Carbajosa families Philippines’

Manila 2008

April 19, 2021

In January 2008 I had the privilege of visiting Manila, the Philippines for about 8 days. My best friend in the U.S. was marrying his Filipina fiancée and he invited me for his wedding at the Manila Cathedral to be his best man. Although I had met a few Filipino families here in Chicago, I knew very little about the Philippines back then.

On January 1st, 2008, I flew to Tokyo and I was there for about 24 hours. The next day, which must have been January 3rd because of the time difference, I flew to Manila from Tokyo. At the time there were no direct flights to the Philippines from the US.

At the Narita International airport in Tokyo, I saw a large number of 747 jets on the runways. We took one to fly to Manila, despite the fact that the flight was only about 4 or 5 hours. I had never seen a jumbo jet being used in the US or Europe for such a short flight. Perhaps it’s because the population numbers are larger in Asia.

Inside the airplane, I immediately noticed the beauty of the Filipino staff. The Japanese appeared more homogeneous to me. The Filipino people are very handsome and it might have something to do with the diversity of ethnic groups who live there. I also found Filipinos to be very slim in comparison with Americans.

In Manila, I stayed in Quezon City, at the Holiday Inn in the Podium Mall, in the Ortigas center. It is a business district full of impressive condominium skyscrapers, some of which have helicopter pads. I brought some work with me from Chicago since I had two major translations to finish. I worked about 35 hours during my stay. I was very comfortable in my room and the wi-fi was excellent.

The hotel was basically inside the Podium mall. I would usually have lunch at the food court area, which, if I remember correctly, is in the basement. There were dozens of restaurants there and I quite enjoyed the variety of food. I usually had dinner in restaurants outside the mall with my friend who got married. I found Filipino food to be inexpensive and superb. Manila is a paradise for anyone who loves to eat. The seafood and fish are excellent and inexpensive.

Despite the work I brought with me, I was able to enjoy Manila during the two almost full weekends that I was there and in the evenings, after 5pm, when I finished my work for the day. You obviously would have to live a whole lifetime in Manila to know the city, but I was enamored by the climate, the food, the scenery and the people.

Unlike in Japan, almost everyone I met in the Philippines had a basic understanding of English. This made things very convenient. I only recall one experience with one person who spoke broken English. She was an attendant at a natural pharmacy type shop at the Podium mall. She was a woman of about my age back then, who also asked me if I was married. I’m not sure if she was flirting with me or maybe trying to find me a wife. In any event, she was very pleasant. She helped me buy some natural medicine she said would help me stay awake during the day since I was having trouble sleeping at night.

As a Spaniard, I found it very interesting to visit a country which was once, at least partially it seems, a Spanish colony. The Tagalog language has many Spanish words and there even is a language in the Philippines called Chavacano which is a type of Spanish Creole. I’m not sure that the Spanish quite dominated the Philippines because unlike other Spanish colonies the Filipinos never lost their own languages. What is interesting too is that a great number of Filipinos carry Spanish names and one Filipino woman I know in Chicago, explained to me that during Spanish rule the Filipinos were forced to have Spanish last names.

I found the security in the Holiday Inn to be excellent and one time when my passport was checked by a clerk, he said he knew some people with my last name. At the time I knew nothing of the fact that there are probably more Carbajosas in the Philippines that in my own native country of Spain, so I told the fellow “No way,” adding that my last name was not common at all. The poor clerk was very polite and was silent and I gave it no more thought. Years later I learnt how mistaken I was. There’s even a street with my last name in the San Carlos Negros Occidental area. There was actually a mayor of this Municipality named Pelagio Carbajosa in the early 1900s Either he or his father was an immigrant from Spain, I’ve been told, and he is probably a sibling or son of one of my ancestors. El mundo es un pañuelo, we say in Spain, which means the world is a much smaller place than you think and it fits in your pocket, like a handkerchief does.

I discovered many Carbajosas in the Philippines through facebook and I have hundreds of Filipino friends with my last name there who often times refer to me as a cousin or uncle “tito.” Some have even invited me to their homes for my next visit. In Facebook there’s a Carbajosa Families group, a Carbajosa Clan group and even some resorts I’ve found with our last name.

Unfortunately when I was in the Philippines I knew nothing of the many distant relatives I have there. But when I left Manila in mid January, I remember wishing I could stay and live there. It is truly a magical place. I hope I can go back one day.

Carbajosa Street in Calatrava, Western Visayas, Philippines. CREDIT: Geva Rivera

Copyright © 2021 Jorge Luis Carbajosa