[Diary] – June, 2013; Catsby, Drinking, Hubal-Hubal & Ghosts in the Forest

my life in the philippinesMonth of JUNE- 2013  This is one page per month devoted to the more personal experiences related to my life in the Philippines.  I’ll toss in some photos & video links as needed for emphasis so.. no telling what you’ll encounter here.
—  Henry ‘Reekay’ V.

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(in reverse chronological order.. that means, most recent stuff is here on top.

[06/21/2013] —  The last two days have been kinda overcast during the day.  Evenings the wind would pick up and bring some heavy rain.. always with lots of lightning and thunder around here.  It’s one of my favorite things about being here.. the warm rains, lightning and thunder.  With the lights dimming I was almost sure there’d be a blackout. I’ve got my candles and rechargeable flashlights but doing without internet is a drag.  Fortunately the lights stayed on anyway.

So now, here it is a bright and sunny morning.  Well, my version of morning anyway at 11:30am.  I was up until 3am on some new ebooks I’m working on (and goofing off on facebook), so I slept in a bit more than my usual 9:30(ish) wake-up time.  Since I had a bit of a slightly sore throat from this flu/cold thing I got over a few days ago, I decided to make up the local remedy; Hot Calamansi.  The calamansi is a very small citrus fruit hot calamansi - great for sore throatlocal to the islands, kinda like a miniature lime about an inch diameter.  As I boiled some water in my Chinese-made whistling tea-kettle (which as it turns out, doesn’t whistle), I took about six of the calamansi, cut them in half and squeezed the juice into a glass.  I add a little brown sugar, the hot water and it’s just what the doctor ordered.  Some vitamin C and soothes the throat instantly.    Hmm.. I just looked out the window and one of the local roosters is making his rounds, checking my yard for any bugs available.  He can have all he wants.. eat the spiders while he’s at it.

Meanwhile, to my pleasant surprise, the storm has moved on and now it’s a bright and shiny day outside.  This is another wonderful thing about being on a tropical island, not just Bohol but any of the islands with lots of vegetation.. after the rains everything is newly green, clean and set against the bluest skies you’ve ever seen in your life.  It’s like opening-day at Eden, just a fantastic sight to wake up to.  From my desk I can look My office viewforward to my window view into the yard and jungle.  I’ve gotten into the habit since moving here of leaving the door wide open — all day.  The door is to the right of my desk so whatever breeze there is aside from Ruby (my oscillating fan) keeps fresh air just moving through the house all day, and night.  

The only time I close and lock the front door is right before bedtime.  There’s no screen door and I wouldn’t want one.  It gives me a clear view of the jungle area through my bamboo fence beyond the patio area.  Aside from a huge frog that lazily hopped in for a few minutes, oh and the one time a turkey ran amok in the house.. leaving the door open hasn’t been a problem.  Although I will close it if there’s a swarm of mosquitoes in the yard.  But, aside from that.. I usually leave the door wide-open all day.

As you might notice, I am back to using my laptop screen, not the big 20″ monitor I just put into place only days ago.  I’ve had the big monitor for a few years now and even before I lugged it over here it would black out maybe once a month for no reason.  But I would just unplug it, plug it back in and problem solved.  Yesterday it blacked out and now.. nothing.  Zero.  Not even the power light will go on, and that always worked.  I checked before ever plugging it in and it’s rated for 220V, so it’s not that.  I also have the consistent habit of unplugging my laptop stuff from the wall when I go to bed, or if there are heavy lightning storms nearby.  No, I think it was just some factory issue or maybe the humidity got to it.. doesn’t matter, it’s pretty much a stage-prop at this point.  I’ll try plugging it again next week, see if anything changes.  Otherwise, it’s back to the closet with it.

I made up some oatmeal with cinnamon and maple syrup for breakfast today, snacking n that as I type this.  I try to eat kinda healthy out here, lots of fruits, plenty of vegetables, lean bbq’d meats and every so often my favorite breakfast; 2 eggs, 2 Longaniza sausage and a cup of rice.  Oh, one other thing dipping sauce for bbqabout the calamansi fruit, whenever you get bbq’d meats on a skewer.. even if it’s just some 3-sided bamboo hut along the road with one chair and a table.. you will get the following; some Calamansi, tiny (very hot) peppers, vinegar & soy sauce with your order.  

What you do is you squeeze the calamansi juice into the small bowl they provide, a dash of soy sauce, some vinegar and then crack the chili peppers, squeeze and drop those into your little mixture.  This is the tastiest little sauce to dip your bbq’d meats into.  Which is primarily chicken, fish and pork here.  Some places will also offer fish sauce to add as well, which is some fairly potent stuff.. a few drops is all you need.  However I do like putting plenty of fish sauce in when I’m making up soup for a tangy taste along with some fresh-cut ginger root, garlic and soy sauce.

Well, I have a few new videos to upload today so that means a trek “into town”.  I haven’t done much outdoor exercise with all this rain lately so I could use the stretch.  Get my supply of “vitamins for the eyes” as they call it here.   I’m hoping to do a trip to Iloilo with some friends of the site here (Al & Rob) so a little getaway will do me good.  Tip a few beers and get into some mischief.  For now, it’s time to hit the road now that the rain has decided to move along, leaving me this bright, wonderful day.

[06/16/2013] —  It’s been a great weekend.  Aside from getting sick that is.  But everything else, a very good time.  Nothing amazing or life-threatening.  Just one of those rainy-day weekends where it’s nice to get out for a bit and then spend the rest of the time home as the rain pours down all afternoon and into the evening.  I had gone into town for some groceries.  I finally stopped to peruse the selection of DVDs offered upyah - seems legit for sale by one of the vendors outside the mall just between it and the route to the transport terminal.  After checking out his selection I finally decided on two DVDs, each one had (supposedly) 28 movies.  But really, each one had 8 movies.. broken up into 28 files.  Semantics I suppose, but still a deal at only 120 pesos for the two discs.  The usual price is 65 pesos each, but because I’m such a lucky guy they were willing to let me have the both of them for just the 120P.  Let’s see.. 16 movies for 120 pesos comes out to — about 16 cents per movie.  Yah, I’d say that’s a deal. I asked him how the quality was and (of course) he said, “Very good quality.”  Hmm.  I asked if I could preview a snippet on a portable DVD player.  Good news is he had one right there.  Bad news (wouldn’t you know it).. the battery was dead.  

But he seemed like an enterprising young lad and his older brother chimed in, “If you have problem.. you bring it back.  We’re here all the time.”  Okay, now this much I knew to be true because I see them there every time I go to the mall.  And the DVDs seemed legit.  After all, it had scenes taken from the films right there on the package.  So I forked over the necessary pesos and tucked the discs into my backpack.  I’d say we both came out ahead on that transaction.

I lucked out on the way home.  It had been raining but the rain was now taking a break.  I hadn’t been on the jungle road more than a minute when one of the neighbors, a guy named ‘Tino’, who lives about 2 acres from my place pulled up behind me to give me a met a moo-cow on the way home (1)ride.  We talked a bit.  He had invited me to his home for a party about three weeks ago but I didn’t get home until 10pm so, I missed out.  Nice guy, one of the wealthier Filipinos in the area.  He does island tours and his wife has a clothing line she markets so they do pretty good for themselves.  I thanked him and walked a short ways down the path to my place.  Lately I’ve been running into lots of Moo-Cows along the road.  More than usual.  Today was no exception so I stopped for a bit to do a little photo-op with this one.  She was very friendly and lumbered over to me, cooperating met a moo-cow on the way home (2)with the camera.  I scratched her forehead and patted her neck before moving along.

After getting home and hanging the wet laundry that was about as productive a day as I intended to have.  I’d already been coughing since last night and I could feel the strength draining from me with every hour.  The rain kicked up again but the laundry is beneath the eaves so, not a problem.  When I originally came to the Philippines I made sure to i finally set up the big monitor i brought with mepack my big 20″ monitor.  Since last year it’s mostly been sitting in the closet.  Today I finally got around to setting the laptop off to the side and setting up with the big monitor running the screen from the laptop to my table.  With only the keyboard and mouse.. I now had much more room.. and a bigger screen.  After this photo here, I switched off the laptop monitor since I really didn’t need or want it on in my peripheral vision.

I snipped some lemongrass from the patio area, boiled up some hot tea and some insta-noodles to ease my sore-throat.   I guess I got the flu from my interlude with a lovely young lady the evening before.  All I’ll share about that is that it was totally worth it.  I watched one of the movies from my newly acquired DVD collection and while the subtitles did not match the audio at all, apart from that I enjoyed the first two movies I watched.  (“Priest” and “Contagion”  As for now, it’s almost midnight and I’m thinking I’ll watch one more movie before calling it a night.  It’s been a peaceful Father’s Day and now that the day is dawning back in the States I’m getting some well wishes from my kids on Facebook already.  Lately I’ve been feeling like the luckiest dog on the block with where my life is at right now.  I have several projects I’m working on and it’s nice to wake up each day and tackle them at my own pace in such a beautiful part of the world.  Lots more places to explore so, stay tuned.

[06/15/2013] —  Well, this morning I took an early walk to town via the ‘new’ path I’ve found through the jungle.  It goes slightly more directly passing some fairly nice homes along the way.  There are some pretty incredible trails going about 50 feet down from the road into some really thick bush.  It looks like paradise.  Well, paradise with some cobrastaking the long way home and now I found out.. scorpions.  Nothing in the brochure about scorpions.  I’m just finding this out today.  Anyway, I got to ICM mall and took care of some errands that just had to get done.  But as I began to leave the house.. along comes Catsby tagging along.  At first I put him up in the rafters but he raced down and wanted to come along.  I figured if he followed me to town he’d end up under some cement truck or bus.  But no matter what I did, he insisted on tagging along directly under me feet.  “Okay, fine.. it’s your funeral.”, I told him and began my trek to the mall.

He was with me until we passed the neighbor’s house about two acres away and suddenly he dashes over to their porch.  Nobody is there.  They only visit there maybe twice a month.  I kept on walking as Catsby went exploring their porch and yard.  Fine with me.  Maybe he’ll venture a little further to where some kids live and they can handle him.  After 2 days of having a cat around I’ve had my fill.  So I continued walking and had gotten about half a mile away.  No sign of Catsby anywhere in sight.  But then, from deep within the jungle bushes along the road is.. another kitten in the woods!  Same situation, different day.  Different cat.  I took a momentary look and could hear it in there somewhere.  Finally I said aloud, “Oh.. hell, no.  I know where this is leading.”, and I kept on going down the road to the main street.

After getting to the main road which leads to the mall I was having second thoughts about taking this route.  There is no room along the side of the road and barely room for the two lanes of traffic.  I walked facing the traffic, but then passing traffic from behind me would end up only a foot away coming from behind me.  One time it was a cement truck going about 45 mph and seemed way too close to be zooming up from behind.  Not cool.  Around that time the road widened a bit and I saw this sign on  tree, advertising for need an elf - call nowan ‘elf’.  The only way this could make sense is that someone was willing to be an elf (instead of a clown) for kid’s parties.  But why an elf?  Do they really hate clowns that much here in the Philippines?  Not that I blame them.  To me, clowns are some shifty characters.. I don’t trust them.  Not that I’m afraid of them.  I’ll give them a good beat-down if they cross me the wrong way.  It’s just that they are way too shifty for my liking.  I’d trust a politician before I trusted a clown.  That’s just me.

So.. why an elf?  Why not.. a gorilla?  Or a super-hero?  This really perplexed me so I took this photo to ask around and get an answer at first opportunity.  A bit more down the road and I passed the local Terminal where the buses and jeepneys gather near the mall.  It’s been rainingsomething here wasnt planned correctly really heavy the last day or so and as I looked out at the parking lot flooded with about three inches of water I couldn’t help but think to myself, “These shop owners must hate the surveyor/architect every heavy rainfall with renewed passion.”  After asking someone at first opportunity about the “elf for hire” sign it turns out that an ‘elf’ is what we would call a flatbed truck.  Well, that’s a whole other matter.  Even so, it doesn’t change my mind at all about the clowns.

[06/13/2013] —  For cryin’ out loud.  Anyone who knows me knows I am just not into cats.  I won’t kill or hurt them, intentionally, but I’d rather not be around them.  Dogs are better.  But out here in the province there are already five or so large puppies that come into my yard every morning to snoop around before they go on their daily rounds.  So I don’t need a dog of my own.

So.. there I was walking through the jungle road in the pitch black of night with a penlight flashlight to light my way.  It’s all I really need now that I’m familiar with the road.  Saves me the hassle of carrying the large, rechargeable flashlight.  I was in the thick of the jungle area, away from any nipa huts and then I hear the loudest, angriest ‘MEOW’ I’ve ever heard from a cat.  It was coming from somewhere about ten feet into the foliage along the side of the road.  I could tell it was only a kitten by the sound of it, but it was really, really loud for a kitten.  And how it survived or even got out there is beyond me.

After shining the light into the dark trees a bit from the road suddenly this tiny, gray kitten comes tumbling out from the tall grass.  It’s meowing was just so loud for such a tiny animal.  It looked to be about three weeks old, although hard to tell because it was just skin and bones.  But it was angry, hungry (I presume) and as I was to learn.. very tenacious.

I didn’t want to deal with it so I left and continued on into the darkness.  I could hear it meowing behind me, somewhere.  After going another hundred feet or so I soon realized it was still only a few feet behind me.  It was following the penlight as it was the only light source for a half-mile in either direction with no moon overhead.  Whatever, I kept going.  Three kilometers later.. this stupid kitten is STILL following me despite the puddles and rocks the whole way.  And crying the entire time while almost tripping me several times as it tried to stay near my feet and the light.

So, I get home and he/she/it is still following me.  I got a better lookCatsby-01 at it and.. damn, that’s one pitiful specimen of a cat.  Tiny, bony and determined to move in with me.  “No, cat.  Not gonna happen.”, I told him as I managed to get inside before he could sneak in.  That’s all I’d need.. some little flea-bag infesting my laundry or blankets and complicating my nice, serene jungle hide-away.  No thanks.  But he just kept on crying.. and crying.. and meowing, almost ‘barking’ as he kept reaching his paws under my door reaching into the house.  It was like that scene from “The Evil Dead” with the hand coming out from the cellar door.  It Catsby-02just would not shut up.

So, fine.. I broke down and figured I’d slide some bread under the door.  That disappeared quickly and pretty soon he was quiet.

So I went about my business of late night video editing as I boiled up a chicken to make some chicken/noodle soup.  After separating all the meat from the bones I figured, what the hell.. I’ll put the bones outside where ‘the cat’ could have them.  I slowly opened the door to find it had taken up to resting on top of a little table next to the door. I put the chicken-bones there and he went to town on it.  I felt sorry for him and even put out a bowl of water.  “Next you’ll be wanting fresh cream, I suppose?”, I said as I went back inside.

Catsby-nextday (3)So a while later, now with a full tummy.. he begins with the loud meowing again.  Only now he is managing to walk along the window ledge outside only three feet from where I’m working on the laptop.  I took about an hour of that and figured it was time to set some boundaries with this little Cretan.  I got a bottle of spray alcohol and opening the slats just a bit gave him a few shots of that.  He lost his balance and disappeared off the ledge.  I guess he got the idea and stayed off the ledge the rest of the night.

The next morning I slowly opened the door and peeked out.  I couldCatsby-nextday (1) hear him meowing but now he was up in the rafters of the porch.  Judging by the chaos on my porch I’m guessing the puppies and the cat had a bit of a row and now the cat was taking refuge up there.  Through the day I left him up there, about ten feet up.  Meowing.. ALL DAY.  Finally I gave him a hotdog and some bread along with some water which there’s plenty of room for up in the rafter beam.  He can stay up there for the next five years for all I care so long as he doesn’t get in the house.

Catsby-nextday (2)And so now, that’s where it’s at.  He’s not ‘my cat’.. he’s more like a squatter who won’t go away.  I was going to name him, “Stupid Cat” since that’s what I kept calling him aside from “Fleabag”.  But I figured ‘Catsby’ had a better ring to it, especially if the neighbors were to ask.  The Not-So-Great Catsby.  Yah, that works.

Meanwhile, during the day, I spotted a seashell along the porch I’dMrCrabb (1) not seen before.  I picked it up and.. damn!, there was a huge hermit-crab living inside it!!  Biggest hermit-crab I’ve ever seen.  How did he get here from the beach?  I’m at least 3 miles from the shore.  I put a wooden bench along the wall so he could hide out there.  But at the end of the day he’d decided to move along.  I imagine Mr. Crabb might show up again sometime later.  For now MrCrabb (2)though it seems he was just passing through.  Unlike the local chickens, roosters, turkey, puppies and now this cat that won’t go away.

Even now, at almost 2am in the morning.. still with the meow-meow-meow at the window.  And he’s beenAngry Catsby meowing all.. damn.. day.  It’s not hungry, I fed it, gave it water.. even petted it a few times through the window.   This is why I never wanted a cat.. too needy.  Well, good thing is that I can sleep through noise.  Last night I slept just fine.  If I were Catsby.. I’d be getting some sleep because come 9am, those five puppies are gonna be ready to play with him.

[06/12/2013] —  Wow.. it’s already the 12th of the month. How did that happen? It seems like just the other day, back on the 1st, I was getting on a ferry bound for Cebu. A reader of the blog, David from Ireland, wanted to meet up so I got myself over to Mactan where met at the Grand Mall.. my old hangout from before I moved here to Bohol a few months ago. He’s a cool guy, young and somewhat conservative actually. When it comes to booze, he’s definitely of the Irish tradition that enjoys some good conversation (round after round) on a variety of topics not to the exclusion of sports, women, politics, the IRA, Filipinas and a bit about life here on the Philippines. He’s done a bit of traveling before to the other continents but this was his first time out to the East. After a few rounds there at the Mooon’s Cafe we decided to meet up somewhere later in Cebu at the end of the day. I needed to find someplace to sleep for the next two nights so I jumped on a tricycle which took me to the ferry and I was soon stepping off back into the area of Cebu near Pier 3.

I thought about walking to the Mercedes Hotel, which would take meat the mercedes hotel - cebu right through the same area where the whole mugging incident occurred only a few weeks ago. My guess is that the guy I slammed in the nuts (and accidentally knocked unconscious) was probably still sore, in more ways than one, and looking for some payback. I don’t know that I’d recognize him but I’m sure he’d recognize me so.. I figured it was best to do the boring thing and take a taxi to the hotel from the pier. I’ve come to consider the Mercedes my room-away-from-home when in Cebu. It’s not pricey and yet provides me with security, a clean and large room, cable t.v., good room service, breakfast for 120 pesos in the morning and a net cafe near the lobby. For 750 pesos a night (with my Oceanjet discount).. you can’t do better than that for the money. They even have real hot water coming out of real shower head. I’ve come to appreciate little luxuries like that when venturing out of the jungle for some city-time.

After a shower, a fresh shirt and a little cologne I was ready to head back out the door again. David sent me a text with the name of the British pub he’d found in the northern area of Cebu so I took a snapshot of a map off the net cafe and grabbed a taxi to meet up with him. After a bit of misunderstanding with the taxi driver (no.. I did not want to go to the power plant at 8pm, which is where he first took me).. I finally walked through the doors of the pub and we began a fresh round. We eventually joined tables with a Brit and his Filipina wife. I forget his name but he’d been in the Philippines for close to 20 years now and is very happy with his lot in life these days. The pub itself was very nicely done. It had genuine items from England to decorate the place, the cute Filipina waitresses were dressed up in little rugby uniforms and several flat screens above played the current rugby match. I don’t even follow American sports so I can’t tell you much about rugby except that involves much more running than I’m willing to do.

Now, I should have anticipated this but I didn’t. Even though David doesn’t strike me as a 3-mass-a-week Catholic, none the less he hails from that tradition. The Brit on the other hand was a Protestant.britain-ireland There were some minor skirmishes over a few issues during the evening but both remained gentlemen throughout the course of the evening. I can’t think of the last time I drank that much beer and engaged in so many various conversations of quality conversation. Usually, if I get to drinking that much I get antsy and feel the need for engaging with a female on some level or another. So having discussions about the history of the Philippines, Ireland, Britain, and the various topics that come up about living in the Philippines in general while downing that much alcohol was something of a unique experience for me. Aside from getting up a few times to heave up some alcohol out of my system (I usually burn it off with dancing, but no dancing this particular evening).. and I was good for another hour.

Eventually we called it a night. The Brit’s ever-patient Filipina wife only briefly entered the discussion once or twice while spending the rest of her time checking out music and the net on her phone. David and I shared a taxi that dropped me off at the Mercedes. I had hoped we’d have the energy to go to Chicago Joe’s that evening but I was running outta energy between the ferry-ride, more booze than food and the heaving. Even David later told me he found himself nearly dozing off once the taxi continued to take him over the bridge back to his place on Mactan. This is why, if I’m going to drink more than 3 beers.. I need to dance that stuff off. I got back to my hotel and, after yet another shower I settled in for some Discovery channel programs (I never watch tv in the jungle) and called it a night.

The following morning started the way every day should start.. with a sexy text from a lovely woman. I gave her my room number and within an hour there was a knock at my door. She even brought pizza.. am I like the luckiest man in the world or what?  We i love pizzaentertained ourselves the whole afternoon together and even took some time out for the pizza. Why can’t every day be like this? Oh, that’s right.. because now I live out in the middle of the jungle with the coconut trees and roosters that can’t tell time. Even so, I love it out in the province. City life is nice to visit, but I’m not one to live in the city full-time.

Meanwhile, David had been bar-crawling starting at the Leprechaun Pub (where he oddly enough met up with an old friend of his Dad’s from Ireland.. small world, eh?).. and as I walked down the main street by the Grand Mall it turned out he and a few other expats had gathered over at the Midnight Sun, just a few blocks from where I was.

this is not david - this guy went to lotus club with usThe guys I met there were a raucous yet fun bunch, jokers each one of them. One of them, from Arkansas, was there with his new Filipina girlfriend of 3 months he’d met on some other island. I couldn’t piece things together but somehow she now had a car and was to drive us to our next destination as we finished one more round when I showed up. The good news was.. she was sober. The bad news was.. she hadn’t quite learned how to drive yet. It was a toss-up.. inexperienced sober driver?, or experienced but hammered driver? The five of us piled into the small car and I was reminded of that feeling I used to get in high school during Driver’s Ed class where you just KNOW the person behind the wheel has no clue what they’re doing. Sure enough, we ended up going into oncoming traffic before long. Traffic here moves kinda slow, around 30 mph, so with the help of the passenger up front we got back into the right lane and even arrived at out destination without incident. We all had to exit the car so she could concentrate enough to park the car. We all got out pretty quickly, just happy to have reached our destination.

We were now in the area of Mactan known as Tamiya. Tamiya has a bank, several decent places to eat and quite a few places to drink. But the nicest place which had a complete dance-club with all the bells ‘n whistles was where we were heading.. The Lotus Club. It’s this was the nice girl who behaved herself - her friend was a bit more funthe kind of place where the local young scene meets up for the latest dance music. Filipinas in micro-skirts, and then there are the visiting South Korean women.. oh, my, gosh! Tall, slender and looking so good you just had to bite your knuckles as you notice them in the midst of the lasers, smoke and booming dance music. So.. technically, there’s a dress code. But not when you’re a foreigner. I’d been here before with Michelle, Denz and Leah and already knew that the doorman would let me (us) waltz right in.. casual as all get-out. Not a problem. I saw a few Aussies inside at some other tables and suddenly I didn’t feel so under-dressed. They were pretty hammered and casual but having a great time so.. who cares about the dress code, really, once you’ve downed a few.

I started on my beer as I surveyed the flashing, oozing rivers of CAM02421people surrounding me. My first intention was to finish up my beer and join in with the South Korean ladies in need of a dance partner. As the five of us took up a table suddenly Filipinas, about three of them, came to ecstatic to see one of the older men in our group.. the owner of the Leprechaun. Daisy (the driver) came in and joined her man’s lap and before I could finish half my beer two of these girls were beckoning me to the dance floor. So.. off I went.

After about an hour of that I was sweaty and thirsty so, another beer. I looked to the bar and there was an American girl, brunette, in a short dress and looking very, very nice. Me.. I think I’ve had my fill of American girls for one life-time, although this one was really, really pretty. So I shouted into David’s ear, nodding in her direction; “Hey!.. American girl. Over there.”. Now, I don’t mind saying that in all objectivity David is a handsome man. I knew this should be a slam-dunk for him. With his Irish brogue and charm this girl didn’t stand a chance and off he went on his mission. Next thing I know, the two Filipina girls wanted to dance again and off I getting my exercisewent to burn off my booze. One of the girls danced near me while her friend kinda danced ‘upon’ me. I guess you could say she’s very friendly and despite zero conversation with her we easily fell into sync the rest of the evening. All in good fun, of course. I was just into it for the exercise. Sometime later I looked over and David was back at the table and the brunette still at her location. I eventually went to find out what happened but the noise level was so high I really didn’t getDavid prefers a quieter place to drink - Me the louder the better much info aside from deducing she was immune to handsome Irishmen. David really did prefer the serene, if not intellectual, environs of a cozy pub to all this laser-fueled insanity that I absorb and love with a passion. I saw him skip out a few times for some air and one by one I noticed the other older guys in the group were disappearing as well.

Eventually he tapped me to let me know he was bailing for the evening. I was having a pleasant time with.. eh.. whatever-her-name-is so I wished him well as another one of my favorite songs got mixed. I ended up having a really fun time with her and her friend but even I could tell that if I didn’t call it a night I’d be sore as hell the next day. In fact, as it turned out I’d already passed that point an hour prior as I discovered the next day. I thanked them for a wonderful evening of dance and made my way to the door. Taking one last look at the fun still in full swing I ended what turned out to be four hours well spent.. better than doing Zumba in my estimation.

I walked out the door and with the dulled down pounding of the beat behind the closed door behind me I made my way to the conveniently located all-night breakfast place just a few dozen feetsinangag-station away. After ordering up my favorite (the corned beef breakfast with rice).. I took up a table near two very attractive Filipinas who likewise had left the club for some food. We got to talking so I joined their table and we had some conversation. Both of them were really, really cute. To be more exact, the one sitting across from me was more what you’d call ‘naughty beautiful’ while her friend was more like the ‘pretty and sweet’, saner of the two. The sweet one didn’t talk much, she was texting someone while her friend and I got into some semi-drunk banter over superficiality and the audacity of people who look at you like you’re just a piece of meat. “I know the feeling.. I’m with you on that. I hate it.”, I replied with a straight face. For some reason, being semi-drunk brings out the instigator in me.

As it turns out these two Filipinas were full-time promo-girls/models. I wasn’t surprised. They were.. well, very attractive to say the least. They’d been bouncing from island to island doing job to job and just happened to be on Mactan that night.  Next stop for them was  Cebu and from there to some other place. My breakfast arrived and I suddenly realized how famished I was. They were done eating but the girl across from me continued her diatribe on her adamant position regarding non-conformance to the whole marriage/baby-machine role expected of her. As she went on I finally had to turn to her friend and say, “She is one FEISTY woman, your friend, eh?” She looked at me from her phone somewhat apologetically and continued texting.

After a while they rose to wish me well and disappeared into the 1 a.m. evening. I finished up my corned beef breakfast, relishing every bit of it as I pondered the curves of their legs as they got into a taxi at the curb.

This much I do remember from the first two days of the month. As I said, it’s already the 12th and how that happened is beyond me. I do remember going to town for immigration and before I knew it some sales girl at the mall was asking me if I’d like a complimentary massage with one of their vibrating devices. In hopes that I would purchase it afterward, of course. I really didn’t want to get sucked into this charade so I declined her offer. But this girl was quite insistent. And pretty. It was only after giving in and agreeing to a 5-minute massage that my suspicion was confirmed. She was in fact a ladyboy. No surprise here in the Philippines, I’ve gotten used to it. Next thing I know her and her real-girl friend are asking me the usual 20-questions as ‘she’ gave me a massage with this device. In all honesty, the massage felt good but I still had no intention of buying one. The 5-minute massage turned into a 35-minute massage before I finally convinced her I really, really had to be going.

Later in the week I got my fill of exercise as it seemed each day I had new videos to upload and thus making a trip to town (walking) in order to upload them from one of the net cafes in the mall. The wireless net connnection to the province has only gotten worse sine Globe decided to do an ‘upgrade’about a month after I moved here. In fact, even now I am writing this off-line in Notepad because the only change from the usual slow-signal is now a new development.. no-signal. Nada. This is no-muy-bueno for a tech-guy like me whose only connection to the outside world is a cell phone and the internet. Normal people sleep after 10pm, but the Net keeps me connected and working late into the night. Something has to improve with this signal, and soon. I should have some wheels of my own in 2 months and then I can just jaunt over to the mall anytime. But for now, walking the jungle road is a 3 mile round-trip. It’s a beautiful walk.. but I’d rather be working from the comfort of home with my fridge and kitchen nearby for intermittent breaks.

It takes me 40 minutes to get to the mall from my place hoofing it. It’s 4:40p right now and the mall closes at 9pm so if I want to upload the 3 videos along with this article today I guess I better get a move on. If this is going to keep up perhaps I should get another book or just plan on coming to the mall first thing in the morning tomorrow so I can keep up on my various projects. But all in all.. it’s been a good first two weeks of the month even though the last five days I can’t seem to recall anything. Oh, actually.. one of item of note is that I finally was able to meet with a reader, Peter and his Filipina wife, alona-beachover at Alona Beach earlier this week. Nice couple, here on vacation and hoping to move here permanently in about year. I had originally planned on staying the night at Alona after dinner with them. But after walking the beach a bit it occurred to me (again).. that I’d forgotten it was the last day to renew my Visa the next day.

If I stayed in Alona there was no time the next day to get back home, put on pants and get to the immigration office here on Bohol.. which I didn’t even know where it was made it to immigration the next daylocated yet. Now, normally I will ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) for a short distance. A few blocks between malls or to a club. But now I had to get myself from Alona beach at 8pm back to Tagbilaran and no more jeepneys were running. It’s only about 10 miles or so, but I’m just not that comfortable with the idea of being a passenger on a motorcycle for that big a distance. That’s just me.

But I had no choice so I easily found a guy who would take me for 200 pesos (about $4.50) and off we went into the night down a semi-lit highway that is in very good condition along the east side of the island. Not like the banged-up trek I took along the west-side of the island via jeepney earlier in the day. But as I finally submitted to the circumstances I looked upward as we zoomed down the coast in the warm evening air and took in the sight of the bright stars overhead. It was a great ride.. aside from my butt hurting from sitting no a small seat after 15 minutes. He got me as far as the edge of town and I vanished into the jungle night until reaching my home.

I plan to meet with another expat, Rusty, tomorrow since he lives there in Tagbilaran town. I also met another expat, Mike, who grew up in Riverside same as me when I made it to the immigration office that following day. He runs and orphanage on the north end of the island so I plan to visit him and the orphanage next week to see about doing a write-up on his work. Hopefully get him some exposure and donations for what he’s doing there. Seems like a really nice guy.

I don’t remember much else except that I’ve been enjoying the peace and tranquility of the province out here. A woman in the village, who is running the sari-sari store for her relative for awhile, told me the other day; “I see you sometimes. You are walking the road to ICM all alone. You are not afraid?” I asked her, “Afraid of what? There is nothing out there but trees.” She thought about it for a second and said, “The forest is only good for ghosts. Not good for human people.” She may be right. Not about the ghosts. But maybe there is a wild-eyed crack-head or bandit hiding in the bushes all day, all night, just waiting for some lunatic like me to come along. Which is why I now carry a baton during my walks home at night. Until I get me some wheels, I gotta do what I gotta do.

And if it gets weird, well.. as Hunter Thompson said, “When the going gets weird.. the weird turn pro.”

Henry ‘Reekay’ V.
www.lifebeyondthesea.com

Author: Reekay

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!
— Reekay

38 comments

  1. I was worried you ran out of things to write about since it’s been a while since you wrote your last article. I was obviously wrong tho – great stuff, always an interesting story. Makes me wish I was back there.

  2. hey henry,

    I was wondering why the long break in between post? Glad to see your doing ok. My plans for moving to Cebu are coming more and more concrete as time goes by. I wanted to ask you if you would recommend using the Mercedes Hotel as a base camp for a few weeks while I find something more permanent? I’m thinking of looking for a place somewhere in the Sitio IC area near the University of San Carlos. Any suggestions?

    1. I’ve been busy doing lots of videos, lots and lots of them, ha! That and doing a bit of running around. Come this Sunday night I’ll be adding new stuff as I have a visitor to entertain for the weekend. 😉 As for Mercedes.. for the money you just can’t beat it for the reasons I mentioned. I’d definitely use it as a base/op as you scout around for a more permanent arrangement. I don’t know the Sitio IC area so can’t really comment on that. But Mercedes is right between the two major malls and Mango Square as well as the Pier 1 to Bohol so.. it’s in a good spot. Just stay outta the carbon market at night unless you want the kinda trouble I ran into. ha!

      1. i didn’t catch if the hotel has free internet for guest. I tried to check out their website but it was down last night. any info on what the hotel has to offer as far as security and internet, safe in the room, distance to bus stops, and any helpful info a “Just landed, wet behind the ears, Newbie” should know about the hotel and immediate area?

        1. There’s a Net Cafe downstairs which is independent of the hotel, but it’s part of the same building and only separated by a glass wall. It’s right next to the lobby so, very convenient. I don’t know if they provide free wi-fi or not, I’ll ask next time I’m there since I plan to do a ‘budget’ oriented article coming up soon. The net cafe only charges about 20 pesos an hour so at roughly 50 cents per hour it’s a great deal. I don’t even bother taking my laptop to Cebu anymore, I just use the net cafes. The hotel has 24-hour security at the door. I’ve had zero problems with security in the rooms and they seem to be striving to run a smooth, professional, legit place. I’m very happy with them and will be staying there again in a few weeks. If you’re not already signed up for the Newsletter, be sure to sign up so you get the upcoming article when it’s posted here.

  3. More very interesting experiences there, Henry. Thanks for sharing, as I enjoy hearing about the lives of expats in the other islands. It is always great hearing about wonderful experiences in the Philippines!

    ~ Gary ~

        1. No problemo. Anyone with a Philippines site can put a link to their site in the Comments section (and Forum). The only thing I don’t allow are spammy stuff, real estate ads or product sites. But any site/blog about the Philippines is fine with me. 🙂

      1. I think it’ll take a bit of brine treatment and lots of lemongrass to even begin working with it. ha! I remember cooking a field jackrabbit during high-school I’d hunted. That was some nasty meat. ha!

    1. Hubal. Well, depends on the connotation. ha! Technically, ‘hubal’ is sex, animal-style. haha! And due to the position of double-riders on a motorcycle, came the term ‘hubal-hubal’. (I’ve gotten this same explanation from 3 independent sources.) My first two weeks here some girls asked me if I’d ever ridden ‘hubal-hubal’ before. I told them, “Not that I can recall.” and they just laughed about that all night long at the club. Now I know why. 🙂

    2. Habal-Habal is a motorcycle that has an extended seat…very extended. I’ve seen entire families riding one (about 7 people). “Google” it and you will see.

      1. Yep. I was in a jeepney the other day and counted.. we had 25 people on board. And that’s not counting anyone I couldn’t see on the roof. On a tricycle, I rode a double-wide one and we had 14 people on board. 2 with the driver, 7 in the main-cab and four more outside the cab. Crazy.

    1. Yep.. sometimes I have to pinch myself, I’m having such a good time here. Even on a quiet day it’s just so peaceful and relaxing. By the way, I’m enjoying the photo-progress on the construction of your place. It’s neat seeing how they do it here and the hurdles crossed along the way.

      If anyone hasn’t checked it out yet, you can see it at his blog at; http://www.lifeinroxas.wordpress.com

  4. Hey Henry–
    I like your explanation for the Elf better.. To elaborate That’s the Isuzu Elf brand truck. Truck-style but like as the Japanese re-built Isuzu multi-cabs that are so popular. Just a sign saying that the Elf could be hired if you needed to make a move from one place to another.
    A truckload of elves would have been more fun though.
    I don’t trust clowns either.

    1. “A truckload of elves would have been more fun though.”

      I once heard my Mom (and one of my Aunt) telling us stories about when they were kids growing up in a suburb of Manila back in the 40’s to have seen elves playing in the garden at dusk yet the adults can’t see them when they told them about it. And she never wavers to this day about the whole story…Ha that’s how superstitious the old folks are in the Philippines!

      So Queeniebee5 may i ask where are you from? Do you speak the dialect?

  5. What a coincidence, didn’t know you’re from Riverside until after reading this post. I’ m currently working in your neck of the wood working next door to March Air Force Base. Took me 7 hours to drive this morning from San Francisco. You ain’t missing anything, its hot in the 90’s this afternoon and can’t even see the damned hills because of thick smog that blanket the whole San Fernando valley all the way east to Riverside.
    Anyways, good post Henry and nice to hear you’re enjoying the jungle scenery.

    1. Yep.. I know exactly where you’re talking about. I used to live in Moreno Valley, which back in the day was called ‘Sunnymead’. My Dad was stationed at March AFB back when it was still an active base. Now it’s an ARB, Reserve Base. I don’t miss all those dry, high-heat temps though. ha! I’ll take this mid-80’s humidity any day of the week. Especially at night.. love it here. The mosquitoes, now that’s a whole other matter.

  6. I just read this for the second time. think I mustve missed something the first time. Ruby? you named your fan Ruby? see what living alone will do to the mind. Ha!

    1. Ha! Yah, she’s my biggest fan here. Well, my only fan, really. I had a coconut named Jimmy, but he got the dropsy and rotted so, that was the end of him. The neighbors kept calling him ‘Wilson’. Jimmy and I would just look at each other and sigh.

  7. So I forked over the necessary pesos and tucked the discs into my backpack. I’d say we both came out ahead on that transaction.
    Ha!

  8. Hi Henry,

    I’m living in Philippines and so happy you’re having the time of your life.
    Been reading your diary and your stories and it was good. Your learning
    a LOT about my country. LOL! I can’t believe foreigners like you were
    so interested. I live in Cebu that’s why I can relate. I was laughing
    so hard about the Habal-habal and the ELF!! >___<

    Hope you have more adventures to come! Cheers!

    Roxanne

  9. Great story Henry, I been in the Philippines for 7 months now. I am living in Dasma City, Cavite, Ph. I sold house and everything I had and came here. I don't like the Ph. Government and I don't like how they treat the poor people and pets. I'm just gonna have to get use to it. keep up the good work. I enjoy your website. I'm from El Cajon, Ca. retired military with wife and child. don't go to bars anymore.

  10. Hi Henry. Ive read a lot of your stories and have also spent some time in Cebu, Mactan but never been to Bohol. I especially liked and agreed with your post about “who can be trusted in the Philippines?”. Yes I have recently had an experience with a Philippina I was lalnning to Marry and after sending her money on a regular basis, discovered on a website that she had a husband who was fine with her taking Australian Dollars from a foreigner on pretense that she was single and avilable. Your words on the matter, are very accurate. however she manged to allude the truth for over three years. You are correct about desperate people, taking desperate measures. I hope to get a p reply from you…and always enjoy reading your stories….as I have travelled a bit and written a travel blog myself. Your stories make me laugh.and can see, your serious side as well as the humour you display.

    Cheers, From Derek Potts, Sydney Australia.

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