Manila, Philippines Simply Unforgettable!

Before Joe and I even made it to the line for customs in Manila, we were met with a man wearing a suit holding our names on a placard. We had no idea why, but I had a feeling it was the work of my treasured friend and classmate from HBS, Ms. Pinky Tobiano.

My hunch was correct, and in those first minutes we were given a taste of a world neither Joe or I had ever experienced before. It is impossible for me to adequately capture all that happened in Manila, however, I hope to share some highlights with you starting with an introduction to our most generous hosts Ms. Pinky Tobiano and Mr. Juan Carlos Robles. They met up with us at our hotel Edsa Shangri-La for breakfast to prepare for a very big day! We were also joined by a very nice man, who happens to be a doctor friend to Pinky. 

Juancho, Pinky, Dr. Francis Xavier Dimalanta, me and Joe at breakfast.

Our first stop was at a government operated hospital with approximately 600 beds trying to serve 1,000 patients called East Avenue Medical Center. We were welcomed by Dr. Bong Bueno and his staff and given a carte blanche tour of the entire hospital including; Burn Unit, Emergency Room, Intensive Care Unit, Operating Rooms, and Pre/Post Op.

I can not possibly thank Dr. Bueno enough, all of the care providers who so graciously gave us their time, and the patients who so freely allowed us to witness their private moments. A very special message of appreciation also needs to go out to a talented and wonderful young man, Erik Santos also known as "The Prince of Pop!" Yet another surprise by Ms. Pinky.

Instead of trying to use words to describe what we learned during our tour, I will allow the photos to speak for themselves: 

Pinky, Joe, me, Dr. Bueno, and Pam. 

Pam, Joe, me, Dr. Bueno, and Pinky. 

Burn Unit first bed held a baby. 

These burn patients were very brave. 

As Dr. Bueno was briefing us on the next patient. 

The Burn Unit staff.

Erik and I tried to bring smiles to the patients faces.

A very full ER. 

ER staff. 

Visiting with a 55 year old woman in a wheel chair who was so thrilled to share her story.

Our second stop was at Green Acres home for the elderly, which Pinky has supported for many years. She and Juancho thought it would be our preference to share time with the people of Manila versus shopping, and they were right. Here are the photos as we handed out cookies, crackers, and a smile to the residence:  

Green Acres home for elderly. 

An autograph was requested, which I was honored to share. 

It was time for their one and only meal of the day, so Pinky brought cookies and crackers on my behalf to share. 

A group photo before departing with Erik, Pinky, Joe and me.

Our third stop will forever hold a place in my heart...and Joe's...where we held the beautiful babies who have been abandoned. Look at these little baby dolls...and I dare you not to be touched: 

The babies left at the orphanage will either be adopted or stay in this system until 12 years of age.

After all of this, we shared lunch with Liza Schneider, Mrs. Philippines International 2012 and Pinky, and her assistant Anya, and Pinky's friend Mel at the popular Gloriamaris Dimsum and Shabu Shabu Restaurant. It was a very nice lunch and truly wonderful to see Liza again!

Liza, Pinky, me and Mel.

The afternoon was spent on a guided tour, learning about the history of Manila. We were in capable hands, and joined by Anya and Mel. We visited a WWII Memorial, which is maintained by the USA and we were overwhelmed by the more than 70,000 names etched in stone. Many were from Minnesota and some familiar names. We passed Makati City, which is the financial district, explored the "Walled City" of Intramuros with it's Spanish influence, and walked inside the church and museum of San Agustin. Our tour ended as we drove past Manila Bay and watched the sun set.

American War Memorial. 

Inside the "Walled City." 

San Agustin Church. 

Guarded Memorial. 

Sunset over Manila Bay.

Dinner was hosted by another one of my accomplished and generous classmates, Mr. Joey Antonio. It was so good to see Joey again, and we were also joined by Pinky, Juancho, and Pianne, who happens to be one of my favorite artists and the very sweet daughter of Ms. Pinky.

Pianne, Joey, me, Joe, Pinky and Juancho

Our first day in Manila was simply over-the-top! Thank you to all!

With deep appreciation,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012


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