1: American Council of Young Political Leaders 2011 Delegation to the Philippines L to R: Ben Allen, Jake Perry, Clark Jolley, Gregory Gleaves, Lynn Padget, Meredith Harman, Beth McMullen
3: In November of 2011, I was honored to be chosen for the ACYPL delegation to the Philippines. Meeting my fellow travelers for the first time just days before leaving for Manila, I knew this would be a trip of a lifetime. Together we met wonderful, and sometimes historic, people, learned so much about the Filipino political system and toured this incredible country.
4: Upon my arrival in DC, I visited with friend Cecilia Retelle. The next morning, I woke up early and walked around our nation's Capitol.
5: Our first official delegation meeting was with the Filipino Ambassador to the US.
6: After two days of orientation in DC, we began our long day of flights from DC to Detroit to Japan to Manila. About 23 hours total.
8: Intramuros-old city of Manila
9: Our first day in Manila we got a late start, allowing us some time to get over jet-lag. Then toured Intramuros where we visited Fort Santiago, a cathedral and the Rizal Museum.
12: While visiting a church in Intramuros, we watched the processional of a wedding ceremony.
13: After our walking tour of the old city, we received an in-country briefing by US Embassy Political Section on some basics about the Philippines. Then we ended the day with the first of many hosted dinners.
14: Visit to the US Embassy in Manila and courtesy call with Deputy Chief of Mission, Leslie Bassett.
15: US Military Cemetery in the Philippines
18: Our first of several domestic flights from Manila to other provinces.
19: The welcome we received in Camarines Sur brought tears to my eyes - full band, dancers and the Governor!
20: Busy day of meetings, lunches, tours and dinners ...
23: It was a long day of activities and jet-lag was creeping up on us.
24: And then we got a mini-break - a morning to enjoy the CamSur Waterpark!
26: But by 10 am that day, we were loaded on the bus, headed back to the airport. Flew through Manila, then onto Laoag.
27: We arrived late at Fort Illocandia for an evening event with local journalists and then dinner.
29: We had a very brief stay at this hotel, Fort Illocandia, built in the '80s for the wedding of Marcos' daughter. Amazingly beautiful, but not many guests that we saw. | Bizarre sculptures in the gardens. | Beautiful plants too.
30: Started our day with a tour and meeting with a wind energy company. Got to go inside the wind turbines.
35: Unesco World Heritage Site Church of Paoay
37: In Illocos Sur, we toured the Marcos Monument and Museum.
38: Our hosts arranged on short notice a visit with ... Imelda Marcos. She talked with (read: "to") us for an hour. She also served us cokes & empanadas! We did not get to see her shoe collection.
41: We were greeted in Abra at the Oval Era Hotel with song and dance!
43: Gov. Bersamin has many fighting cocks at his home where we had breakfast.
44: The morning in Abra, I woke up early and took a walk with my camera through the town. I had two military escorts on my walk so was not very inconspicuous.
46: In Abra we visited a school and were treated to a school assembly for the flag raising and pledge of allegiance.
50: We then had a long car ride from Abra to Vigan. We had military escorts in front of us and behind us the whole way.
52: We arrived at Baluarte, the Governor's residence, and were taken to see the tigers in his private rooftop garden.
53: Lynn got a "special greeting from the tiger ... he sprayed her after a few of us got too close to the cage. Her reaction afterward was priceless!
54: After several long days, we arrived at a beach resort needing a little R& R. We spent the evening doing Karaoke, a favorite Filipino past-time. The next morning we got a few hours to enjoy the beach near the resort.
56: After a late morning start, we had lunch with the Vice Governor and then toured the city of Vigan.
58: We watched the Pacquiao Marquez fight with the locals!
60: Our Embassy staff person, Joe, always had a fan on hand for the sweltering heat. At the end of our trip we surprised him with one last group photo where we ALL had our own fans!
61: And this is the end of our trip ... one last domestic flight back to Manila before our long trip home, back through Japan, then to New York, at which point we all dispersed to our home states.
62: Now, I am going to show a montage of photos that I think show more than our official itinerary. I hope these photos are a portrayal of the people, the land and the culture ... and maybe some of the fun that we had too.
73: The jeepney is a holdover from WWII. Popular form of "public" transportation.
74: Two of the more unique gifts we received ... the clock from Imelda and the marble name plate from the NMYL alumni.