Month of JANUARY – 2013 This is one page per month devoted to the more personal experiences related to my life in the Philippines. Daily life and the strange adventures that come up every so often. I’ll toss in some photos & video links as needed for emphasis so.. no telling what you’ll encounter here.
— Henry ‘Reekay’ V.
[01/31/2013] — Today went a bit better with the whole motor-scooter incident. I got a certificate from the Barangay Captain in the morning, stating that I had exhausted all mediation attempts. I took this to one of the police investigators at the police station next door and explained the situation and charges I wished to press. They said they would ‘compel’ her to show up at their office at 3pm the same day to settle the issue and decide on charges after that. Mediation seems to play a big part at the local barangay level of how things are done here. A bit different from the system we have in the US, but I’m working with it.
I have to say that so far, dealing with the Marigondon Captain and the police investigator, they have gone about this in a very professional manner. I feel that I’ve been given a fair shake without any prejudice or bias either way.
So, I returned at 3pm to the police station.. and waited. Two women, one being Delia’s sister and the other a local advocate, came to be present in case things started going too fast in the local Visayan dialect so they could intervene on my behalf. As it turns out, the advocate-friend is well known both here and in Cebu.. a modest woman who helps others with making sure their rights are respected. People here seemed to know her as having a good reputation, so that helped to have her on my side. Finally, at 4pm ‘Baby’ showed up but without the registration. The two of us sat in front of the investigator’s desk and she immediately began giving her side of the story.
She came at him from 4 angles. Her first approach was to flirt with him. That lasted about 2 minutes and he wasn’t impressed. When that failed, she then began to say that she was just a simple girl living under her father’s roof and that without her father’s permission she couldn’t provide the title because it was against his wishes. This is when I stepped in and handed the investigator a copy of the registration to examine. I said, “As you can see, she is the sole owner of this motorcycle. I did not make any agreement with her father, only with her. She is an adult. She made an agreement and now I expect that she be held accountable for what she agreed upon.”
At this point the investigator went into a lecture on her, reminding her that she’s not a little girl and must take legal agreements seriously. Seeing that she was getting nowhere with that approach, she then went into a diversion tactic and began to say that I practically attacked her at her home in a fit of rage. Again I calmly stepped in and said, “I arrived at her home and spoke as calmly as I am now, asking her yet again for the registration after being given excuses since November. She became loud and irrational and the only way I could get her to hear me was to raise my voice. I knocked one time on her door for her to come out and when she refused, I left. I was there no more than 3 minutes.”
She, of course, called me a liar and started with some light tear-works to get sympathy. The investigator finally said, “I have only been with you for fifteen minutes and already I am ready to pound my desk in anger.. I do not blame him at all for being upset.” Finally she went into her fourth approach and tried to be dismissive about the whole thing, as if nobody really had any right to be upset at all and that it was not a big deal. That’s when I chimed in and said, “I have 17,000 pesos at stake here.. do not tell me this is not a big deal.” At this the investigator looked surprised and asked her “How much did he give you?“, to which she finally admitted, 17,000P. Apparently in Visayan she had first told him it was a much lower amount, so.. she got caught in that lie.
Finally it was time to talk turkey and reach a resolution. He asked what would bring me satisfaction to settle this. I said, “I want the registration I paid for. I want it signed by her giving me ownership and I want her to sign the transfer documents. If I get that, we are done.”
I really do think she was convinced she could b.s. her way out of this. But, now that her attempts had gone down in flames she made a counter-offer of refunding my money ‘in payments’. Here in the Philippines they have a phrase, “Don’t piece-meal me.” I knew she was up to making a vague offer to give me my money back and it would turn into a ten-year plan at 100P a month. So I countered, “I want collateral, her credit with me is nonexistent due to her broken promise. I want the registration in my possession and I want a full refund in the same 2 week period that I gave it to her initially. Or.. I will settle for payments from her father for as long a period as he needs.. so long as she stays incarcerated during that period for violating her bail agreement with the court until I am fully reimbursed.”
So that’s where it’s at for now until this Saturday. By then she has to either sign over the registration to me or.. hand it to me as collateral along with a signed transfer document until I get my money back. We’ll see what happens.
Now.. you might be wondering (as I was).. if I already have the physical motor-scooter in my own possession.. why would she be so reluctant to give up the registration? Well, as I found out.. she can use that registration to take out loans at pawn shops here. They don’t require the actual motorcycle be brought in.. they loan out money by holding the papers on the vehicle. Ahhh… now it all makes sense! In fact, my theory is that her dad doesn’t even have the papers or is any part of this. My guess is she doesn’t have the title because she already put it up for pawn right after taking my payments.
All I know is.. come this Saturday, she needs to show up with that paperwork. Otherwise she’s violated her existing bail agreement by committing another crime and I’ll push for her to be taken back into custody with forfeit of bail. We’ll see what happens this weekend.
[01/30/2013] — Another exciting 2 weeks since my last entry. Lots been going on. Kristine recuperated from her illness, so that’s good. Meanwhile I’ve made 3 trips to the local Barangay Captain’s office to settle this issue with Baby ripping me off for the Title to the motorscooter I paid her for. According to the B.A. she told the process server she had no intention of cooperating and refuses to appear either at his office or for any court appearances. Well.. I gave her the chance to settle this the easy way. She’s on bail for other charges not related so, tomorrow I go to file new charges with the local police and they will most likely revoke her bail and toss her back in jail until her hearing.. and that could be a very, very long wait. But.. she chose the ‘hard way’, not me so while I can say I feel bad for her, I don’t blame anyone but her for her choices. If you’re unfamiliar with what this is all about you can get the short story from the Official Complaint.
Meanwhile I’ve been something of a home-body these last few weeks other than a few outings to Bohol and a photo-safari in the midst of the annual Sinulog festival in Cebu. That was a total blast. I’ll write more about that when I have the photos ready for upload. Those two days really wiped me out with about 8 miles of walking, crouching and sprinting to get the shots along the parade route. Speaking of Bohol, I haven’t even gotten there yet and already I’m having drama with the neighbor. Turns out he is the malcontent of the area and nobody seems to care for him or his bullying antics over the years. Now he is pissing and moaning because he wanted to buy the property I’ll be living on which Delia just purchased this month. Problem is.. he doesn’t have the money to buy it. But still insists he wants it.
Now, this is how unreasonable some people can be. Not just here, but where ever a-holes take up abode. This guy has no contract, no escrow and no money.. but he doesn’t want anyone else to buy the property because he wants it. And he wants it for less than the actual selling price. In his tiny mind, he’s being cheated. How he gets from ‘a’ to ‘b’.. only he knows. But he’s apparently gotten away with crap like this before simply by yelling and threatening until he gets his way. Well, he hasn’t dealt with me yet. If there is one thing I have zero tolerance for it’s a bully.
I’m making a trip there, on my birthday no less, and my first order of business will be to sit down with the homeowner’s association (yes, they have h.o.a.’s even in the jungle) and this ass-clown to set the record straight. He wants the property because he lives next door and says he will harass the tenants (he assumed it would be rented out) until the new owner sells to him. Well, I’m the one he’ll need to deal with and it’s not up for sale. The h.o.a. told him if he thinks he has some valid case to take it to court. He doesn’t have money for the down payment on the property, I doubt he has money for an attorney. More hot air. So.. moving in I may have to give this guy some clear communication that if he plans on dumping his garbage into my yard over the fence.. he’s going to find it back on his doorstep with me banging on his door.
Now I know why rich guys just buy the whole damn island.
Meanwhile, Delia took me to a cool restaurant here on Mactan that even she didn’t know about until a week ago. We went for lunch but they say the best time to go is just before sunset as it’s a floating restaurant that has a wide-open clear view of the ocean sunset from the southern end of the island, in the Cordova barangay. If you ever want to check it out the name of the place is ‘Lantaw’. It’s a very big place, very relaxing and not that expensive for being one of the more ‘classy’ joints on the island. Meals run about 375P and some as little as 275P, plus drink. Four of us had a very hearty lunch for 975P. (roughly $23.50 USD) Another great restaurant on Mactan, one of my favorites in fact, is the Maribago Grill, along the north-east end of the island where most of the resorts are. Just little more pricey, but for the jungle ambiance you can’t beat it at around 600P per person.
After a fantastic meal there the four of us went just up the pier to do some karaoke. I killed a few songs and then took a break to the CR (men’s room). I closed the door behind me, did my business and then prepared to leave. Problem was.. the door was locked and there was no doorknob to get out. Apparently maintenance was not on the ball with this item. There was no way to open the door. I tried texting the group, only 30 feet away.. but they couldn’t hear me over the karaoke volume. If I stood on tip-toe I could just barely get a line of sight to see them up the pier. By sheer chance Delia happened to look my way and saw me motioned (waving in panic) for her to come render some aid. She opened the door from the outside and I was back to cranking out tone-deaf versions of Elvis tunes in no time. There was a Filipino kid there who was doing a pretty darn good job of any song by Jon bon Jovi.
I’ve been hitting up the karoake places more often as a means of entertainment lately. But I prefer to go to the places that are run from the porch of someone’s home rather than the ‘legit’ establishments where you can’t get more than ten feet in the door without having a dozen girls hit you up for some company. That always turns into them wanting a beer, cooked food and a ‘date’. All I wanted was karaoke.. so the family-run places are what I prefer. Besides, they always get such a kick out of, not so much my singing, but hearing the vocals in an American accent. Also, sometimes the lyrics are translated incorrectly so when I sing them I use the correct words. It’s usually older ladies hanging out playing Mahjong while I do my thing. There’s family with a karaoke machine over by Kristine’s house, so she’ll come out if I happen to be there.
Other than that.. it’s been kind of quiet around here. Business was slow during December, usually is and beginning of January is slow too so I’ll be ‘working’ a bit more online to pick up the slack. Only one more day of January remaining and then it’s the countdown to Bohol. Gotta decide what stays and what goes. At least this time the pile of stuff is smaller than when I left California. The main issue will be getting my fridge and air-con unit onto the boat. But I’m kinda sorta sure how I’ll get that done. One day at a time, though.. one day at a time.
[01/12/2013] — It has now been a complete 6 months since I’ve arrived in the Philippines. Still alive. Still loving it here. I’ve learned a few things, but I’ll go more into that in a separate article. As for the last 72 hours, it’s been kinda a roller-coaster of emotions. On the one hand, I’m excited as the details for my move to Bohol are falling into place. It’s getting more real every day. I should be able to move in any time after the 15th of next month if all continues as planned. So that’s been a jazz. However I got a text two days ago from Kristine that she was in the hospital. I got over there and she was with a very high fever, not doing so good. I stayed with her, did what I could to keep her cool with alcohol wipes and then came back the next day. The following day she was doing better, but still a low-grade fever and abdominal pains. She stayed a second night there at the hospital. Finally she was released but still with stomach issues there was no diagnosis for. Seeing a second doctor for that and her sister is now showing signs of same problem. Still not out of the woods yet, hoping she gets better soon. I waited til she left the room to snap this photo at the hospital. The girl in the photo was some other patient waiting for her ride home..
Meanwhile, I spent some time at the marketplace yesterday to do some thinking. Lots of people there since it was Friday night. It was 7pm and I still hadn’t eaten all day. I know, bad habit I have. Often I’ll skip both breakfast and lunch with my mind just bouncing from one project to another. This was another one of those days and now I was famished. I started with some BBQ pork and chicken and a side of hanging rice. From there I went to another place for some lumpia.. 9 of them. While I was there a woman sitting next to me, by the name of Luz, started up some conversation. She was an older woman, curious about what brought me to the Philippines. After a while I asked about the porridge she was eating and, curious, ordered some for myself. That porridge is SO delicious! At least it was at the place I had it. It’s considered something of a poor-man’s dish at only 5 pesos (about 11 cents) a bowl. It’s just so incredibly good I’d have paid four times the price in a heartbeat. It looks something like the Mexican dish, “arroz con leche” which is a tapioca sort of hot dessert. But this was not sweet nor did it have milk in it. Instead it was a slightly cloudy broth with rice and a taste of cream of chicken to it. Very minor spicy but you had to really taste it to notice. Served very hot but so very delicious. I’m definitely having more before I leave Lapu Lapu just in case they don’t make it just the same in Bohol. I managed to snap off a few photos while talking to Luz.
She was surprised at two things about me. One.. why would I ever travel across the planet to sit down for dinner at this local dive?.. and two, why was I still not married?? I briefly explained what drew me here and as to her first question, well.. I love Filipino food. And until I either learn some recipes or get married.. out on the street is the easiest way for me to some home-style cooking down in the marketplace. A lot of these places in the marketplace are not exactly what you’d call ‘franchises’. It’s more like a make-shift kitchen where food is prepared every day in large portions. Kinda like you’d see at a boarding house rather than a McDonald’s. Maybe a bit scary for some people, but I have a fairly decent eye for spotting a good place to eat and haven’t guessed wrong yet in six months. (knock on wood).
From there I went to the main street where I could get some fresh Buko (young coconut) juice. A bit more meandering and I had some very large corn on the cob dripping with butter and chili-powder.. good stuff. I was there as the vendors were starting to close up shop and grabbed a kilo of mangoes for Kristine since she loves mangoes and I figured she could use the vitamin C. Or whatever it is mangoes have. I was able to get a ride on a Tricycle home for only 8 pesos. Of course I had to pile into a very small space with three other people. Imagine fitting four people into the back seat of a VW Bug.. about that cramped. But it was fun and half-way they got out so I was able to ride solo the rest of the way. For 8 Pesos, about 17 cents.. not a bad way to get across town. They let me off in front of the Grand Mall and I hoofed it the rest of the way home.
Now.. I was on no particular schedule during the day. I shot the breeze with that Luz woman in no particular hurry. Eyed the various wares of the vendors and even took a walk around the church in no big hurry as well. I had the mangoes for Kristine but as it was around 10pm and I got no response from her text I figured she might be asleep and I didn’t want to disturb her. I figured I’d put the mangoes into the fridge and drop them off in the morning. So I was a bit surprised when, by pure luck and chance (?) as I passed down the road.. out came her Mother and brother from a side-street at the exact same time I was passing by. I was able to give her the mangoes and they passed on my well-wishes for her.
Today I met with Delia at the SM mall for a movie and some hot-dogs. ‘Hot Dogs’ is an understatement.. they are called ‘Monster Franks’ and live up to their name. These are huge Bratwurst hot-doggies and they carry a good line of other sausages as well, all of which are grilled to order and piled on high with cheese, chili-beans and other fixings. Not expensive either, so that’s nice. Saw the movie, “One More Try” which was very, very good. It was about 90% spoken in Tagalog (no subtitles) but I was able to follow the movie along just fine. I didn’t understand the language.. just the situations and tone. Very good movie.
That’s my current situation and the move to Bohol is my main focus. Much to do and so far all looks good. I love it here and I’m glad I made the leap of faith to get here.
[01/02/2013] — Okay.. only the second day of the year and I’m sick. Uggh. Good news is that I’ve been worse than this before.. as in my first two months I arrived in the Philippines. It seems any time I’m stuck in a cabin with sick people.. I end up sick a few days later. All this boat riding back and forth kinda caught up with me I guess. But, so far just some sore throat and minor congestion, no big deal. I’ve been so sick before I coughed up blood and was knocked unconscious so this will pass without too much complaining. But mind you, I will complain.
Since I haven’t enough money lying around to have a full harem of women tending to my every whim and needs.. I guess I’ll have to shower and take a walk over to the nearby Chow King where I can get some breakfast and, most importantly.. some hot soup with chicken broth. That sounds really good right about now. That and some coffee. I should stop by the pharmacy and get some BioFlu for the runny-nose as well. Kristine and Delia both told me to get some meds and also a massage. Now.. I’m all for a massage but, one thing I’ve noticed from several people here is that there is this idea that getting a massage somehow helps with the flu/cold symptoms. Call me skeptical because.. I’m skeptical.
I mean, a massage feels good.. but then again, so does sex. Why not just shoot for the cure and load up on repeated sessions of sex when the flu hits? There’s a massage place next door to the mall that I’ve yet to go to. I’m still dealing with my heebie-jeebies about some stranger getting her soft, soothing hands all over me when we haven’t even had lunch yet. I’m easy, but I do prefer a proper introduction first. Otherwise it makes it so awkward afterward to have to ask, “So.. what’s your name again?” I mean, that’s what I heard. From a friend. Yah.
I’ll debate whether to get the massage or not while I get ready to leave the house. Meanwhile, lots to do and I’m just not feeling it.
[01/01/2013] — Well.. it’s the first day of 2013 for me here in the Philippines. Back home they are still catching up, 15 hours behind our timezone. I spent New Year’s Eve with Kristine and her family last night, had a really nice relaxing time. We had some dinner and then did some karaoke there in the neighborhood. Upon midnight there were fireworks for about 30 minutes from the mall down the block, but firecrackers have been going off for about 3 days and even still this afternoon. Much like the roosters that crow any time of day.. I’ve gotten used to it and sleep just fine.
Now it is about noon on January 1st, a Tuesday. I had to check my calendar to know what day it is.. most days I have no clue what day of the week it is here. Par for the course is what I hear from most ex-pats after spending time here. I had a good night’s sleep, went to bed at 1am. Took a really good shower this morning. I made a resolution about 2 weeks ago to start using a lufa-sponge more often and here it seems to make a difference. With the humidity it seems the sweat, dirt and city grime make you extra sticky so.. a bit of extra scrubbing with the lufa is a good practice here. Feels good on the mosquito bites too. As for the schedule today, I’m looking to clear out my work-queue and just stay home today. I might get invited to a dinner this evening, but other than that, just gonna try to be productive.
I’ve been doing a lot of pondering lately.. ‘less pro-active dating‘ and ‘more productive working‘ seem to be the direction things are going. Once I get to the province area of Bohol in about 6 weeks I won’t have as much a social life as I do so easily here on Mactan. I could if I lived in the actual city area of Tagbilaran, but I’ll be about 2 miles outside the city.. “in da jungle” where there aren’t many people around. I’ll still be open to making new friends during my intermittent trips to town for supplies, but I’ve resigned myself to the reality that I just won’t be out-and-about in the mix of people like I’ve been accustomed to here on Mactan and Cebu for the last 6 months.
But that’s okay, for now. Eventually I’ll get me a motorscooter in Bohol and start doing some short road-trips around the coast of the island. Have laptop, will travel. I’ve also recently discovered one other little treat here.. the “3-in-1” instant coffee packet. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, I sleep very little as it is. But I do enjoy a cup of coffee every now and then. It turns out there’s this pre-mixed packet with the sugar and cream already in it and.. it’s not bad. Just what a lazy, indiscriminate coffee drinker like me has been waiting for. I had some last night again at Kristine’s house and am convinced now to pick some up at the grocery store later today. Well.. lunch is calling my name it looks like there’s a brief break in the firecrackers for me to enjoy a peaceful lunch.
After 49 years living in Southern California, USA, I decided to move to the Philippines despite never having been here before. In July, 2012, I took a leap of faith and transplanted myself to the amazing Philippines. I am a single man taking an honest look at all that the islands here have to offer, one day at a time. I hope you find my LBTSea site informative, entertaining and hopefully a bit of each. 🙂 Be sure to visit the Forum and other parts of what the site has to offer. Browse around and be sure to sign up for updates via email. Enjoy!