Pinoyspotting: Fiji and New Caledonia

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 I watched a kava (narcotic sedative drink) ceremony at the Nawaka Village in Port Denarau, Fiji (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz)

I watched a kava (narcotic sedative drink) ceremony at the Nawaka Village in Port Denarau, Fiji (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz)

Fiji and New Caledonia are distant but unique destinations in the South Pacific. Spectacular scenery is animated by the vibrancy of the people. Fijians preach and practice the word bula (life)! But the relaxed way of life is the rule than the exception. New Caledonians have a saying: “A quoi bon le compter, il ne s’arrêtera jamais.” (Why measure the time, it will never end.)
 I caught the dance fever upon landing on the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz)

I caught the dance fever upon landing on the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz)

 Roger Villarosa, Nelly Creus Villarosa, and Rey E. de la Cruz. (Photo by Jerry Morales)

Roger Villarosa, Nelly Creus Villarosa, and Rey E. de la Cruz. (Photo by Jerry Morales)

I bumped into Roger Villarosa (Manila) and Nelly Creus Villarosa (Indang, Cavite) upon boarding the Carnival Spirit in Sydney to go on a cruise to Fiji and New Caledonia.

Retired and living easy in the Sydney area, Roger was an electronic technician, whereas Nelly was an accountant.

 Maelene Alfonso and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo by Danila Aguilar)

Maelene Alfonso and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo by Danila Aguilar)

Luck, be a lady tonight! Maelene Alfonso (Angeles City, Pampanga) is a casino dealer on the Carnival Spirit.

 Margarita Alvarez Sierte and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo by Francisco Garcia)

Margarita Alvarez Sierte and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo by Francisco Garcia)

Attention! Margarita Alvarez Sierte (Quezon City) is a security officer on the Carnival Spirit.

 Vita Mila, Rey E. de la Cruz and Peter Ly, Jr. (Photo Paul Cabading)

Vita Mila, Rey E. de la Cruz and Peter Ly, Jr. (Photo Paul Cabading)

Music is in the air! The husband-and-wife singing duo, Follow JC, performs at the Artists’ Lobby of the Carnival Spirit. Vita Mila and Peter Ly, Jr., are both from Baguio City.

 Arlyn Taripe, Rey E. de la Cruz, and Rejean Tatlonghari (Photo by Rosemarie Damian)

Arlyn Taripe, Rey E. de la Cruz, and Rejean Tatlonghari (Photo by Rosemarie Damian)

Cleanliness is next to godliness. Arlyn Taripe (Las Piñas, Rizal) and Rejean Tatlonghari (San Pascual, Batangas) are hotel stewards on the Carnival Spirit.

 Seated: Rey E. de la Cruz. Standing: Ricardo Panunlio. (Photo by Max Thomas)

Seated: Rey E. de la Cruz. Standing: Ricardo Panunlio. (Photo by Max Thomas)

When Carnival Spirit passengers want to be pampered in a spa, they turn to Ricardo Panunlio (Antipolo, Rizal) of the Salon Classique. He is a barber–hairstylist.

 Bugs Marcelino and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo by Jerome Castillo)

Bugs Marcelino and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo by Jerome Castillo)

I learned how to sweep the deck properly from Bugs Marcelino (Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental), who is an “able body” in the deck department of the Carnival Spirit.

 Rey E. de la Cruz and Roel Emnace (Photo by Michael Putra)

Rey E. de la Cruz and Roel Emnace (Photo by Michael Putra)

Strike a pose! Roel Emnace (Quezon City) holds the most elevated position on the Carnival Spirit. He takes photos of passengers posing at a spiral stairway. Cheese!

 Foreground: Rey E. de la Cruz. Standing: Albert Peñoso, Oliver Almeda, and Danny Barican. Background: Boyet Marquez. (Photo by Rodulfo Caharop)

Foreground: Rey E. de la Cruz. Standing: Albert Peñoso, Oliver Almeda, and Danny Barican. Background: Boyet Marquez. (Photo by Rodulfo Caharop)

And what is a cruise without a Filipino band? The Music Manila performs at the Club Cool of the Carnival Spirit: Albert Peñoso (Antipolo, Rizal), Oliver Almeda (Los Baños, Laguna), Danny Barican (San Pedro, Laguna), and Boyet Marquez (Quezon City).

 Sonny Navarro, Rey E. de la Cruz, and Nadine Teodoro Navarro (Photo by Neil Smith)

Sonny Navarro, Rey E. de la Cruz, and Nadine Teodoro Navarro (Photo by Neil Smith)

I took a city tour of Suva, Fiji, with Sonny Navarro (Bulan, Sorsogon) and Nadine Teodoro Navarro (Tacloban City, Leyte), who were my fellow Carnival Spirit passengers.

Residents of the Sydney area, Sonny is an accountant, whereas Nadine has her own bookkeeping business.

 Miguel Malsi and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz)

Miguel Malsi and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz)

Our city tour of Suva, Fiji, stopped at the Grand Pacific Hotel for some drinks. I “Pinoyspotted” Miguel Malsi (Tumauini, Isabela), who is the hotel’s banquet manager.

 Rey E. de la Cruz and Joan Tabellera Planchon (Photo by Roger Lémé)

Rey E. de la Cruz and Joan Tabellera Planchon (Photo by Roger Lémé)

I was so thrilled to find the only Filipino on the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia! Originally from Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, Joan Tabellera Planchon is the owner of the souvenir shop, Ile des Pins Souviner (Isle of Pines Souvenir).


 Rey E. de la Cruz

Rey E. de la Cruz

Rey E. de la Cruz, Ed.D., Positively FIlipino Correspondent, writes from Chicagoland when he is not loving the arts and traveling. He is the author of the children’s book, Ballesteros on My Mind: My Hometown in the Philippines, which also has Ilocano, Spanish, and Tagalog versions.


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