Georgia on My Mind (Republic of Georgia That Is)

The Philippine delegation at Gudauri, Republic of Georgia. L-R: Pancho Piano, Riva Galveztan, the author, Mel Dizon-Dulalia and Buddy Cunanan

Upon the invitation of Mr. Thelmo “Buddy” O. Cunanan Jr., honorary consul of Georgia in the Philippines, I joined a group that would cover the Colors of Hope exhibit of Mr. Pancho Piano, the first Filipino artist to officially present his work in Georgia and the entire Caucasus region. Aside from Buddy, Pancho and I, also joining the group were Ms. Riva M. Galveztan (health food advocate) and Prof. Melissa “Mel” Dizon-Dulalia. Our Republic of Georgia odyssey was to last 11 days (November 24 – December 4, 2014).

Check out “The Colors of Hope Exhibit

Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga

On the first day of our trip, I met up with Buddy at Resorts World where a bus was to take us Diosdado Macapagal International Airport at Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga.  Along the way, we picked up Pancho Piano at Centris Mall in Quezon City.

The author at the check-in counter of the airport

Upon arrival at Clark, we met up with Mel at the airport.  Riva was to meet us in Tbilisi on another flight the day after our arrival in Tbilisi. While waiting for our flight, all four of us had a late breakfast at the VIP 1 Lounge of the airport.

On board our Qatar Airways plane

We all left the airport on the 10:50 AM Qatar Airways (QR 931) flight on board a Boeing 787-8 aircraft. A rather long 9-hour flight brought us to Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, our first stopover, arriving there at 2:50 PM (Doha time). Here, Pancho, Mel and I were in for a long 17-hour layover.   Buddy opted to leave the airport and check in at a hotel in Doha.

Check out “Hamad International Airport

View of Doha from our plane

Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar

We whiled the time away admiring the artwork, taking turns sleeping on airport lounge chairs and, come morning, having breakfast at a Burger King outlet.

The author, Pancho Piano and Mel Dizon-Dulalia at Hamad International Airport

Buddy joined us the next morning in time for our 7:45 AM (QR 251) connecting flight to Tbilisi, this time on board an Airbus A320 aircraft. Normal flight time is 3 hours and 15 minutes but we made a 1-hour stopover in Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku (Republic of Azerbaijan) to offload as well as load some new passengers.

Stopover in Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Azerbaijan

Touchdown at Tblisi International Airport

We arrived in Tbilisi International Airport by lunchtime where we were met by Ms. Ruby Bebita, a Filipina working in Tbilisi, who assisted us in getting a place to stay in the city. After buying and installing local SIM cards at the airport, we boarded a taxi to bring Pancho, Mel and Buddy to a hostel, near Meidan Square, while I stayed at the nearby Envoy Tours Hostel.

Check out “Hotel and Inn Review: Envoy Tours Hostel

Arrival at the hostel.  Ruby is the lady at left

Envoy Tours Hostel: 45 Betlemi Street (on Junction to Orbiri St. leading up to the Narikala Fortress), 0105 Tbilisi City, Georgia. Tel: +995-322-920-111.  Website: