Tuesday, May 19, 2015

[LOS ANGELES] Filipinotown + Halliwell Manor

I’ve been telling everyone that I came to California to chill, which is half true. The real reason is that I decided to come to Los Angeles because I was doing nothing back in Manila, and then Cathay Fanfares dangled an HKD 4000 (~USD 550) HKG-LAX-HKG flight to my face. Could a mere mortal resist? The flight to Hong Kong was covered by Air Asia’s MNL-HKG route launch sale. The ticket from Macau to Manila was bought using accumulated Cebu Pacific rewards points. Did I mention how awesome all this is?

My supposed jet lag is not that bad. Come to think of it, if this is what jet lag feels like, then I conclude that every day is jet lag for me. Even so, I eased the transition of time zones by sleeping more. Sightseeing started at 5 PM today, after having really late lunch from last night’s giant Tonkatsu takeout. Meeting friends at around 7:30 PM, I just decided to make use of the two-hour free time by taking a stroll at the historic Filipinotown en route to the Halliwell Manor. It all worked out in the end.

The thing about Filipinotown is that there is a serious lack of anything Filipino in it. That or maybe I just did not explore far enough. The first major tourist attraction I saw was a Cambodian Temple! But then I found this little park commemorating the history of Filipinos in California, and the murals on the wall were all very informative and attention-grabbing to boot. And then I saw a Filipino flag. And then I saw a mini restaurant called Little Ongpin. And then there was the Pilipino Workers Center.

This is what I actually admire about Los Angeles. I have been here for more than a day already, and yet I have seen more Asians and Hispanics than Caucasians. I was beginning to ask myself if I am really in the United States, because it appears as though I did not leave Asia at all. The cultural diversity here is just so in-your-face that it feels as though one could easily blend in if they decide to relocate to this side of the planet. And of course there’s still Koreatown, Japantown, and Chinatown!

Echo Lake Park was the next stop. I could have taken the orange line bus to make it there quicker, but I prefer walking and getting to know the neighborhood. After crossing the freeway, it wasn’t long until the lake was within my line of sight. At first I thought it was artificial, but Google tells me that it is naturally legit. It did not seem so busy when I was there, although there were some people kayaking, walking their dogs, and jogging. If you want a peaceful spot, then this one might just work for you.

The Halliwell sisters claim that the manor is located in San Francisco, but this is obviously just a ploy to ward off warlocks who don’t know how to Google. The Victorian-era house is located at Carroll Avenue in Angeleno Heights. The street is more popular than the manor as it enjoys the distinction of having the most Victorian-era architecture in Los Angeles. And no, the Halliwell Manor is not even the most gorgeous among the bunch. If Victorian architecture is your thing, you’ll have a heart attack here.

A friend also mentioned that the house they used in the Fast and Furious franchise, yes the one that blew up in the latest film, was just around the corner. I didn’t know that, but if you happen to be in the area, do check it out. That neighborhood is so quiet, by the way, and those old manors just give it a different kind of vibe. After one too many selfies were taken, it was time to go home, but since I still wanted to walk around a bit, I decided to pass by Downtown LA where all the tall buildings are.

I was treated to a good view of the freeway while crossing the bridge. Everyone seems to own a car in LA, and traffic can be nightmarish at times. The multiracial setup and the existence of a rather modern skyline remind me of Singapore, except that I am not aware if the Southeast Asian powerhouse also suffers from traffic jams. It’s easy to stick to the Metro while in SG. For LA, you really have to get a car if you want to explore the outer areas not covered by public transportation.

I passed by a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood while walking along 6th street. I was about to generalize that they were all Mexicans until I saw ads for cheap calls to Guatemela. Wow, LA. Last night I thought I was in Seoul because of Koreatown. Now, the Catholic inspired graffiti on the walls are all yelling Latin America. Thinking I would be late for our mini-reunion, I decided to cheat and take the orange line, which is supposed to be part of the LA Metro system but is actually a bus.

I had dinner at Pasadena with five elementary/high school friends I have not met in more than 10 years. As I was the visitor, they all decided to just treat me for dinner. And now trying to account for all of the day’s expenses, I’ve just realized that I did not spend a single penny today. The orange line bus was covered by my 7-day pass. The dinner was free. My lunch was my leftover takeout from yesterday. I’m amused, really. Who ever said you couldn’t last a day in LA without having to spend money?

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