A weekend in Hong Kong

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - May 28, 2013 - 12:00am

HONG KONG – I haven’t been back to Hong Kong since I attended an Asian Film Festival four years ago. But since my family wanted to get away from Cebu for a weekend in Disneyland… Hong Kong was a perfect weekend destination for us, especially that Hong Kong is only a short 3-hour direct flight from Cebu. Suddenly, it dawned on me that the last time we had a foreign vacation with my kids was way back in 1997 when I brought them to Disney World in Florida. How time has truly flown.

Indeed with all those school activities; the years just zipped through and now that my children have grown and my eldest daughter, Dr. Fara A. Tequilo already gave me four, yes count ’em four grandchildren; it was time to do my “Apos-tolic” mission to Disneyland. With promo fares from AirPhil Express and special arrangements for us to stay at the Marco Polo Gateway from my good friend, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu General Manager Hans Hauri, we truly had a great Hong Kong vacation.

Okay, I submit it was a less-than-perfect vacation because somehow my two cellphones didn’t work as advertised to be automatically roaming. It also happened seven months ago when I went to Rome and only one cellphone worked and incurred a humongous bill! No matter how I tried, it just didn’t work in Hong Kong… so this was to be a cellphone vacation. Thanks to the Marco Polo Gateway’s Wi-Fi, I could still communicate via Facebook or email.

Unfortunately the Hong Kong weather did not cooperate last Saturday as we ran into a thunderstorm on our way to Disneyland. Our driver even suggested that we cancel the trip. But somehow we decided that for as long as Disneyland would open, we go. In the end, it was some sort of a blessing in disguise as there were fewer people (especially the local residents who didn’t go) and so we literally had zero queues for all the rides and shows that Disneyland had to offer. Best of all, after three hours of pouring rain, the bad weather lifted and the rains stopped. Call it a blessing if you will.

This was my first trip to Disneyland Hong Kong and most of the rides and entertainment shows are similar and familiar to what they have in the two Disney attractions in the USA. There’s Space Mountain, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Toy Story Land, Adventureland and Main Street USA. But honestly even if I’ve not been to Disney in decades it was still lots of fun because it was also bonding time with my grandchildren.

No doubt, Disneyland brings a lot of foreign tourists to the former Crown Colony and the biggest group was the Mainland Chinese…  wait! Shouldn’t we categorize them as domestic tourists? The second biggest foreign delegations were Indians and yes, there were a lot of Filipino tourists having fun in the land of Mickey Mouse. Yes, there were also a lot of Filipinos working as staff members in Disneyland and most of them are performers. The manual laborers we saw where mostly Chinese.

What about the Philippines? When will we get our own Disneyland? Singapore already has Universal Studios… but what we can only get for ourselves are huge casinos which doesn’t really bring children to our shores. But on the other hand, with the attitude of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima not to support our Tourism Development Plan by denying incentives to new tourism facilities for places like Metro Manila or Cebu, I guess we can never coax developers like Disneyland to come to our shores.

Hong Kong isn’t really a big city because I met many friends, like Rep. Eddie Gullas and his wife Ming Ming, Joel Rama del Prado and my classmate Henry “Eking” Abellana in Marco Polo Hotel. When I went to Mass in St. Peter’s Church at the Mariner’s Court in Middle Road, I got a big surprise when we bumped into our good friend, Bart Borja of the International Marketing Group (IMG), the parent company of MyTV Channel which I’ve been running for nearly two years now.

On Sunday on our way to Victoria Peak to see the best view of Hong Kong, we met along the road and in Central and Victoria Park a sizeable number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) most of whom work as domestic helpers in Hong Kong. This part of Hong Kong Island has literally become a part of the Philippines, as it is the Sunday off of Filipinos working there. They were sitting along the sidewalks (very much like home when our poor people commandeer our sidewalks) huddled with their friends in various groups.

Passing close to them, you could hear from their varied languages from which part of the Philippines they come from. They even put up a show dubbed, “Indayog @Musika ng Kulturang Pilipino hosted by the Livelihood and Entrepreneurs Association of Hong Kong (LEA). Seeing those Pinoy workers makes me feel sad that our politicians just can’t find work for them back home. Perhaps when we change our system of governance, the Philippines will finally find a place of work for them back home.

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Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com vsbobita@gmail.com

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