So, I’d been away for a quite a while this time. I was busy juggling all sorts of things for my upcoming wedding, and just totally had the time to sit down and log in.
Unfortunately, I don’t have very much in mind to write about. I go to work at night, fix things up for the wedding by day, and maybe go to sleep in the late afternoon – a tedious cycle I’d been doing for maybe a month now. It’s taking a toll on my body, and as I told my fiancee a few days back, I will probably sleep for months on end post wedding.
Just this past Saturday, we finished a simple pre-nuptial shoot that included a short video portion. And this is us, with our Another Great Day in Manila shirts, probably our only strictly “couple” merchandise.
The past few weeks had been filled with happiness and laughter between myself and the fiancee. Truth be told, I’d never seen nor hear her laugh so much, for minutes on end at times, over such mundane things like the supposed brawling event at a local hardware chain that went viral over the past week. She’s a pretty closeted person, and for me to hear her laugh is like divine assurance that the world, however snafu’d at times, will be alright.
Of course, we’d had our share of fights and moments of misunderstanding that tends to spiral into more fits of laughter over humor that could be classified as an El Nino event in terms of dryness.
We’d probably laugh at anything we can find laughable, proof that one does not always need THC in their bloodstream have a heightened sense of finding everything to be funny.
While I know it’s not all gonna be fun and games, I cannot wait to see how I will spend the rest of my life with her by my side.
For the first time in many years, I wasn’t able to go to Polilio during the past Holy Week. Due to popular Filipino superstition that certain people are more “attractive” to bad stuff happening to them during certain periods of their lives, with people who’re about to get married or graduate being the top choices.
It is nothing but a load of bull actually – I had planned my leaves carefully, well ahead of the holidays as I always do. But since I’m getting married, my family weighed in on the matter and successfully prevented me from leaving Imperial Manila altogether.
I acquiesced just so people at home would stop nagging me about the matter.
I’m looking to make the trip this May during the barangay fiesta. I will not allow myself to be stopped the next time – either that, or I choose on my own not to leave.
My fiancee’s family hails from San Antonio, a quaint little town in Zambales that had exploded in popularity in recent years as a jump off point for vacationers looking to go to the now famous Anawangin and Capones Islands. While it seemed to be all beach and sun when she first described what amounts to be her hometown for a length of time in her life, that wasn’t exactly the case. The so-called “jump off” point though is about an hour away from their house, which is a little bit inland. I didn’t get to see the famed beaches, but at least I got to spend a quiet weekend at their house.
Now in order to get to their place, which is a little shy of 170 kilometers and depends on which route one takes, one would either take a bus bound for Iba, or drive.
I chose the latter of course.
However, Aska had not been in tiptop shape for the past year or so. I neglected her due to all of the bad things happening in my life, sometimes all at once, during the past year. I’d never driven so far away from home with her either. Although I’d driven longer distances with her in the past, those were cumulative. We’re talking about a fairly long trip on tollways that do not really allow for stop overs, and with a speed limit to observe.
Since I had neglected Aska, she was in dire need of an oil change and a decent tune up. This isn’t exactly what I was worried about – the fact that she belches quite a bit of smoke through the exhaust and she loses oil like crazy through the block warranted more immediate concern. That does not mention that she will need to have her u-joints replaced, timing belt replaced, her cooling system “rejuvenated” and working shock absorbers be installed to get her to make the trip in one piece. I was fairly confident though that in her daily form, she can make the trip. The problem is I would be traveling with my fiance, and I didn’t want to burden her with worry in crossing vast lengths of secluded highway in a rickety car that might give out suddenly.
The first order of business was to gather the needed parts to get her ready for what amounts to be the longest straight distance (my father claims he already reached Subic with her) I’d driven her . We needed to deal with quite a few things, with the engine block oil leaks being the top priority – at the time, Aska was loosing so much oil, so much so that she will consume about a liter of engine oil every three days, and she’s only driven at low speeds due to traffic, from our house to Quezon Ave., every morning. She will clearly bleed like crazy if she’s running for prolonged periods at higher rpms. The other problem was she puts out so much smoke even at idle.
I had her brought down to a trusted mechanic friend’s shop. From my initial inspection, I was theorizing that the massive leaks were coming from the oil pump, and when I peeped behind the timing belt cover, I thought I could spot oil streaks. Also, I knew that part of the head gasket had started to give already – thankfully, there was no oil and water mixing yet. I had an idea that the smoke coming out from the exhaust pipe was coming through either the pistons, the valve seals, or both. The last time I changed the timing belt and other accessories was back in 2012, a couple of weeks before I was slated to run a trackday event, and while I haven’t racked up the needed 100,000 kms that is suggested for a timing belt changed, I felt that the way I had been driving Aska over the past years, it would be wise to change it. I was expecting a 200 km journey to Pebbles’ home in Zambales, almost all of it will be spent on the NLEX and SCTEX, where there is no easy call for help, and a breakdown will be very costly.
I went down to ATCO Pasay, and gave them a list of the parts that I wanted.They gave me a list of what they had, which apparently was everything plus some more. I trimmed the list down, and came away with the things I needed for the job. I left Aska with the mechanic, and got her back maybe a couple of days after with no smoke, no leaks. However, I was told not to drive her hard, and to come back after 1,000 kms so the tappets can be re-adjusted and everything re-tightened.
After I got the engine oil thing sorted out, I had a couple of rear gas shocks installed in the back – I’d been running with bad shocks for the longest time now. The shocks I used are ones that I had in stock inside the shop that is slated to be Aska’s garage in the future. The fresh shocks helped out a lot with smoothing the ride – the only problem left though is that the control arm bushings in the back are pretty much shot, causing slight body sway at certain speeds.
I also replaced the headlight bulbs with fresh 90/100W Narva bulbs – I wouldn’t want to lose my lights along the SCTEX and need all the light on the road available seeing as how desolate and dark some parts of the highway is.
The last order of business was to take the radiator cleaned and the block descaled. A long journey will put a lot of strain on a car’s cooling system, and the engine will greatly benefit from it. A friend of mine had suggested back in 2012 that I have the car given the “Lav’Ra’Mon” treatment, which is quite a mouthful, but works really well in cleaning up rust from inside the block. For this purpose, I went down to this place in Sucat called Sammy’s Radiator Shop that has this service, and also does a really good job of rebuilding and cleaning up my radiator.
I swear, these guys are good, and while the price seems pretty steep compared to your roadside radiator shop, you really do get what you pay for, which in this case, is awesome service. Each time I visit the shop, they tear down my old radiator (which is why I absolutely love all brass radiators), put it together and comes out looking brand spanking new. They also put in a new a thermostat (rated at 82 degrees Celsius) and the engine will run all day without breaking a sweat, even in the sweltering Metro Manila summer heat.
With all this done, Aska was ready for the trip to Zambales, which is also the first time I’d drive her that far north.
We left at around 0330 in the morning from my house, and arrived at SBMA around 0530, a trip of about a couple of hours via NLEX / SCTEX. As suggested by our mechanic, I didn’t gun Aska, and kept at a leisurely speed of about 80kph, occassionally getting up to 100kph for short periods. She felt a little bit less lively but, I felt that she was also running more efficiently, and no longer trailing smoke behind her. A little breakfast with my beloved at a McDonald’s, and we were back on the road to San Antonio, which is about an hour or so from SBMA.
I thoroughly enjoyed the drive to San Antonio – the place is quiet, the air is clean, and her house has quite a bit of fruit and veggie stuff growing all around. I’ll write more about that on a future entry, and we’re probably gonna be making more trips there as time goes on.
C’est la vie!