Day 6: Aboard the SS Great Britain
In the morning before the game vs. Clifton College, the boys were able to meet up with Touraid President, Andy Berry, who explained that the Bahay Bata tour was the 50th tour and had a special place in his heart. The whole group toured the SS Great Britain and Coach Cullen was able to trace some of his ancestral lines in the ships log book, finding 12 Cullen's who were on the original trips to Australia, in all the SS Great Britain made 32 epic voyages to Australia between 1877 and 1898. The ship has been fully restored to its magnificent grandeur and the boys were able to discover what life was like for the early settlers traveling to Australia.
Day 7: Twickenham and Sightseeing in London
The Bahay Bata group traveled across England to visit Twickenham Stadium, the journey took 2.5 hrs and the boys were taken on a 1.5 hr tour of the stadium which included the President’s Board Room, Nike Corporate Box, England’s changing rooms and running through the tunnel to enter the hallowed turf. The boys were amazed to sit in the top row of a stadium that holds 82,000 and they felt as though they were on top of the world as they gazed down upon the perfect green pitch.
The Stadium tour was arranged by ex-Clifton College teacher and current RFU Head of Elite Rugby, Mr. Kevin Bowring who joined the tour and was impressed to hear that Rugby Union was flourishing in the Philippines. The boys sat in the England players’ individual changing room places and Coach Cullen addressed the team with a old fashioned team talk about the upcoming game against Clifton College. The boys lined the sideline of Twickenham and imagined what it would be like to play in front of 82 ,000 screaming England fans.
From here the group traveled into the center of London to meet the Philippine Ambassador, Mr. Reynaldo Catapang who had visited the boys at Clifton College on Sunday and had invited them all to his office that is situated in between Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. The Ambassador welcomed the boys at the front of the Embassy and in true Filipino style made all the boys feel like diplomatic guests, showing them around the offices and inviting them to sit and eat with him at the Embassy’s large dining table. The lunch was typical Philippine style, Pancit, Chicken and Boiled Eggs. After eating British cooking for the last week, the boys enjoyed the opportunity to indulge in a taste of home. The Ambassador then explained that he was exceptionally proud of the Philippines victory over Clifton College and awarded each player a 10 GBP note to spend while on tour in England.
It was with pride and pleasure that Coach Cullen was also able to introduce current Philippine National Men’s 15s and 7s player, Harry Morris was able to take time out to visit the Bahay Bata team and meet the Filipino Ambassador. Harry has been representing the Philippines since 2007 and he and his bother, Freddy have played over 16 combined Test Matches for the Philippines, winning in 15 out of 16 games in the last five years. Harry is Filipino-Welsh and has recently relocated from Wales to London, so it was a notable gesture that he took time out of his busy schedule to come and meet the Bahay Bata boys.
The ambassador then walked the group through Trafalgar Square and directed them onto the world famous London Eye. Unfortunately because of meetings he could not join us, but he waived the boys goodbye and wished them well with their next game against Clifton College.
Coach Cullen thought he was back playing Monopoly, as the group walked past Pall Mall, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square to the edge of the Thames were they finally saw the London Eye. The boys were amazed at the size of the massive ferris wheel and ran across the Westminster Bridge to line up for the ride of a lifetime. Once upon the London Eye the group were then able to recognize several famous London sights that included, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and of course the iconic Big Ben clock tower.
The day ended with a long and sleepy ride back to Bristol and the Bahay Bata boys dreamt about their day visiting some of the famous sights in London and one of the great Rugby Stadiums in the world.
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