Month of DECEMBER – 2012 Every so often I feel like sharing some short item I have on my mind but it’s not enough to write an entire article about. So, I decided to create a ‘stream-of-thought’ online diary, one page per month. I’ll toss in some photos & video links as needed for emphasis so.. no telling what you’ll encounter here. Oh, subscribe using the E-mail box along the right-side of the site to know when I update with a new entry. My mind is always spinning so.. try not to take anything I write here ‘too’ seriously. And if (when) I happen to post here while somewhat intoxicated.. pay even less attention. — Henry V.
[12/31/2012] — It is 12:12am here in the Philippines. Twelve minutes into the very last day of this year. Just slightly a little less than 24 hours before this year slips away and the new year begins. How will I spend this last day of the year? The 30th was somewhat uneventful, which is how I wanted it. I’ve been craving some peace and serenity now that I’m home from my little excursions the last few weeks. I know I’ll be living out of my backpack again by this time next week so I’m trying to appreciate the stability of the moment. I did get a brief visit from Kristine this morning, which is always nice. Her Mom did my laundry and the two of them stopped by to drop it off.
After that I decided to work from the Cafe Malmo today. But first I spent the afternoon tapping out the article, “Taking the Last Boat to Cebu“. I honestly thought I’d tap that out in about an hour and I ended up spending the entire afternoon on it. Around 5pm I went to the Cafe Malmo, got a good table by the window so I could watch the sunset and pretty girls pass by. Day turned into evening and six hours later I was still online apart from 15 minutes that we had a power outage. From there I went to get some rice at a sari-sari store since the mall had long since closed. Can’t make breakfast without rice anymore, not here. I gotta have it. After changing into some comfortable clothes for the night I answered some texts and heated up some dinner that Delia was kind enough to drop off the day before.
As can be expected, I’ve been a bit ponderous now that the year is coming to an end. I avoid making resolutions at the end of the year, it seems the motive is all wrong. Much better to make resolutions when the epiphany necessary strikes during the year rather than manufacture one due to the calendar. But reflection, well.. reflection and this upcoming move to Bohol have got me to thinking. I may be in for more of a solitary life ‘out there’ in the province. In general, anyways. Surprisingly, for being cut off from the main town I feel that I will actually be losing a lot of my privacy. With the very small
community (about ten houses) that are in close vicinity to where I plan to live.. it will pretty much be impossible to have someone over for dinner without everyone knowing about it. Or talking about it. It’s that small town paradigm in play out there in the province. Not much going on and any time a stranger enters their midst.. everybody takes note and has some sort of opinion on it. Not so sure I like that idea.
Perhaps I’m just being paranoid. But I doubt it. The last time I showed up immediately I was invited over to a neighbor’s for lunch. Now, that’s a good thing and I’m not complaining about lunch. What I’m noting is that nothing enters that part of the forest without being noticed. In the big, or even small, city.. you can go about your business and it’s just understood that everyone keeps to themselves. My business is mine and yours is yours. That’s what I’m accustomed to. But even here in Mactan I can’t leave my studio without some neighbor kid noticing me out on the street.
In addition to this, I’ve pretty much resigned myself to not having a girlfriend-girlfriend for an indeterminate time. Lots of reasons but I suppose the most basic reason is simplicity. In one sense there are lots of options still open to me.. but in other ways (such as my ‘no-baby’ requirement) the pickings are slim for me in particular.
So.. as I see it, the end of this year will usher in a new year of relocation and a refining of the objectives I’ve had all along. To build my business and explore the Philippines. How that all pieces together is what the adventure is all about.
[12/25/2012] — It’s Christmas Day! As it turns out my Christmas plans went all sideways before I even left. By the 23rd many of the boats leaving Cebu for Bohol were selling out. I went a night before to get tickets but got there an hour after the ticket office had closed. The next morning I left Mactan via taxi, then met up with a Filipina friend at Pier 1 in Cebu where we stood in line for over an hour (kinda like waiting for Space Mountain, I’m used to it) at 9:00am to get a ticket for a speedboat that was leaving at almost 3pm. With five hours to kill, we hung out at a bbq diner. But I did meet this cool French dude from Singapore who had just arrived at the Philippines the day before. He and I passed the time away chatting about business and life in the tropics.
The speedboat trip hit a few major waves, but other than that we arrived at Tobigon, located on the West side of the island, where we got on a Tricycle which took us to a V-Hire Van that was headed for Tagbilaran. After arriving at Tagbilaran (South end of the island) we had maybe a few minutes before catching another van to the city of Jagna on the Eastern side of the island.. where my friend’s family lives.
Now, she does speak fairly good English. But apparently there were some items I must have missed in the translation along the way. I thought she was going to visit them for a week and then return to Cebu. My plan was to just visit Jagna for Christmas Eve and then go to Tagbilaran the next day. As it turns out, she wasn’t raised by her parents but by her Aunt. Her parents were only 15 years old at the time she was born but, over the years she visits her parents every so often, usually holidays. I met her family when we first arrived for about 15 minutes.. gave the Dad some brandy, her Mom some sweets and candy/crackers for the kids. Then I went to town to get a hotel. The ‘plan’ was that later her cousin with a motorbike would pick me up for dinner around 10pm that Christmas Eve while she visited with her parents.
Well, evening rolled around and, long story short.. everyone that knew how to ride the motorbike was now far too intoxicated to drive. Christmas Eve at 10pm and there is not a taxi, van, bike, tricycle or donkey to be found for transportation to get me from the hotel to their home. So.. it was spaghetti and rice watching movies on cable at the hotel for me. Not quite what I had planned for Christmas Eve but.. things happen, so I just rolled with it. I had no clue where their home was and there was zero transportation so.. “where there is no solution, there is no problem.” That brings me to this morning, Christmas Day. After a bit of conversation and lots of texting she decides she’s visited her family enough and now wants to join me on my van-ride back to Tagbilaran, so we did that. Our van almost ran over a guy who had spilled his motorcycle into our lane but that was averted, narrowly. Lots of screaming and panic but it all worked out.
Finally we got here around 11:30am to Tagbilaran and I am now here at the Island City Mall. I went to a KFC for some light lunch and she caught a van-ride for Tobigon so she could return to Cebu. Meanwhile, I’ve been checking out this nice mall they have here near where I plan to live.. pretty nice! Movie theater and most importantly.. a big Net cafe.
Also got news via text that the trip to the province was cancelled for the New Year’s fiesta at Delia’s home barangay. Which, in a way is fine because now I’m in no hurry to leave Bohol. I’m already here so I’ll just wait for the storm to pass (did I mention there’s a storm?) and enjoy the beach for a few days. Meanwhile, gonna pick up some gifts here at the mall and then join Delia’s brother’s family to stay with them for a few days while I scout around the area I’ll be moving to.
All in all.. I’m okay with it went down. Meeting someone’s else’s parents is fine for about.. an hour. I really wasn’t prepared for 2 days of that anyway. My real homework is here in the Tagbilaran/Panglao area where I’m moving to. So for me, it all works out. I still have Sinulog coming up in January on Cebu so that should be fun with a breather between now and then to relax. But for now.. time to log off, buy some wine and make the next stop on my holiday journey.
MERRY CHRISTMAS To Everyone!!! 🙂
[12/13/2012] — With the typhoon behind me, it was time to take a trip to Bohol as previously planned. Wow. I absolutely did not foresee what an impact this trip would have on me. My close friend, Delia, had already planned a trip out there since her brother lives there on the southern tip of Bohol. She asked if I’d like to tag along for the day and do just a bit of sight-seeing so I grabbed a backpack and we got on a fast-boat from the Cebu harbor. Now, I already knew from both online and speaking with people that in order to really take your time and experience a glimpse of all that Bohol has to offer takes several days. But this was just a quick jaunt.. a ‘teaser’ if you will.
I was so amazed even by what little we had time to see that by midday I started telling myself, “I have GOT to move here.” I wasn’t sure how or when, but I had to make it happen. For one thing, there is so much jungle and greenery EVERYWHERE that it makes Mactan look like a desert by comparison. Green jungle everywhere there isn’t cement. And the overall percentage of land mass Bohol has is left in it’s natural state. There are some small cities along the southern coast of Panglao and Tagbilaran, which is where Delia and I went venturing. More small towns are along the rest of the coast, but it’s pretty much as ‘natural’ an inhabited island as you’re gonna get here in the Southern Visaya area.
After some exploring in a cave we checked out a restoration being done on a 200 year-old church that has some awesome artwork in it. We then visited a 65 year old man.. who is about the size of a 3-year old. (that was kinda crazy) We went on a short hike to see the Tarsier primates, which the island is known for as a natural habitat to protect them from extinction. What really confirmed to me though that I absolutely had to live in Bohol was a trip to the beach in the evening. That was nothing short of magical. It was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I’ve been to Mission Beach, San Diego, CA during the evening.. and it’s COLD, even in summer-time. But here, at Alona Beach.. I walked knee deep in the water and it was nice and warm. To my right were a string of restaurants with tiki-torches and small lights in the trees as musicians played live music all along the beach. We had dinner on the sand by candle-light under the starry-night at a Thai restaurant as the coconut trees swayed gently overhead. I’m telling you.. walking along that coast in perfect 72*F weather under the stars.. I just knew I had to get back there as soon as possible.
So that is the new game-plan. I’m looking at using Jan-Feb to trim down my possessions (again) to make the move to Bohol as easy as possible. It takes a fast-boat about 90 minutes to get there from Cebu so I want to take as much as possible on the two trips I plan to make between now and March. I may have already found a 3-bedroom home I will possibly rent out in the province/jungle area. I prefer to live out in the boonies after taking a hike out there. Being surrounded by jungle that just grows over everything is absolutely awesome. It’s like being inside the monkey/ape section of the San Diego Zoo.. only it’s real and goes on for the length of the island. This is what they call the ‘province’ area.. natural and green. Yet.. with a motorcycle I can take a (very) bumpy road for about 2.5 miles and suddenly come out at the edge of town, Tagbilaran. There is a hospital and a very large mall with a multi-screen cinema so, if I need anything from groceries to laptops.. I can get it all there. Plus.. I will be only ten minutes from some of the most amazing beaches such as Alona beach, Virgin beach and the Tagbilaran coastline. All warm water beaches kept in pristine condition.
Needless to say, I am really excited about getting resettled there. The only down-side to all of this will be that I won’t be able to hang out with Kristine, Delia, Jaem and Baby any more. Of all the people I’ve met here they are the closest to me. My other buddy, Minhaz from Bangladesh, returned home to prepare his family for their return to live on Cebu so I’ll not be seeing him until summer of 2013. It sucks to not be able to see them while I’m in Bohol, but I do need to return every 2 months to Cebu to check in with Immigration.. so I’ll make a point to spend the night and see them when I’m here.
Living here in Mactan I’ve gotten accustomed to having neighbors both next door and down the street with a busy mall only a 2-minute walk from my place. While the jungle areas fascinate me, out there the houses are a bit more spread apart and other than the few houses in the area.. there’s nothing else out there. Just stars. And jungle. So having a 3-bedroom place all to myself will turn out to be either really cool or kinda spooky at first. But at least I can blast my 80’s & Funk music as loud as I want. Plus the seclusion will help with my writing since taking off for town will pretty much eat up the day if I do that. I’m kinda/sorta thinking of getting a live-in maid. Partly for company and partly because left to myself I know I won’t keep up on the housework and laundry. Cooking.. love it. Washing dishes.. not so much. I’ll have to see how the whole maid thing pans out. Up until now I’ve had an afternoon-maid who just came in, did her thing and went home. But being way out there, I’ll give the live-in maid idea some thought. In the meanwhile I need to get some work done and start trimming down my load of ‘stuff’. Two months are gonna go by fast with Christmas only 2 weeks away, then the huge, annual Sinalog festival in Cebu I’ve waited a year for and then my birthday in February then.. bamm!, it’s March and time to move out by the 12th.
And there is still SO MUCH Bohol has to offer that I didn’t even get to visit during my quickie-trip. But I’ll be posting lots more photos soon of what I did see. A bit of video even. For now.. I should probably get some sleep!
[12/3/2012] — The more I keep up on this cyclone/typhoon thing coming at us.. the less I like it. I’ve cancelled a trip to Bohol due to it. However this thing has winds over 90mph and was headed directly at Cebu just 24 hours ago. Since then it has veered a bit south and is now looking like it will wedge itself between southern Cebu and northern Mindanao. At the minimum I’m expecting massive flooding in town and lots of power outages.. more than the usual 30 minute outages we have due to the heat or storms. It’s supposed to hit here around midnight tomorrow (Tuesday) night. Hard to believe as I look outside right now.. calm, sunny, slight breeze. Not even a hint of what is to come. I’m going for more groceries tonight and a flashlight so I can at least read out on the patio for when it blacks out. But I’m mostly worried for Kristine and her family who live downhill from me. The water from our community up the street usually flows directly to them.
One good thing is that here, people just sort of suffer through these sort of things. They don’t go into a looting riot like in Los Angeles any time the power is out for more than 4 hours. Whole different culture.. it makes a difference.
I’m going to try and either renew the tags on my moto-scooter today or possibly get my driver’s license today at the Mactan LTO. I was told online to not bother until after 1pm. Gotta do a drug test and stuff. If all goes well I should have it in a few hours. We’ll see how that turns out. Meanwhile, I had named one of the dogs that comes around for scraps on a regular basis, “Fat Doggy”. Out of all the local strays (about 20 of them) that frequent here every so often.. Fat Doggy was the only one that was actually plump. I haven’t seen ‘Black Dog’ in over a month, so I guess he’s not coming back. ‘Wheezy’, the dog with bronchitis still hasn’t gotten a whole lot better, slightly better but not by much. But it turns out that Fat Doggy wasn’t so much fat as pregnant. She showed up with 5 little puppies yesterday.. all cute as can be.
Around here, before anyone gets on their high-horse about ‘spaying’ and all that 1st-world jargon.. there are so many dogs that don’t belong to anyone around here that dogs are more like communal pets rather than private pets. And don’t even tell me that a family struggling to put food on the table has some obligation to spay/neuter every random dog that hangs out in the neighborhood.. it just aint gonna happen. Anyways, there’s a much bigger problem with young girls who keep ending up as single-Mothers by the time they are 20 to worry about. That’s where the real compassion should be directed. Get some birth-control available to these girls.. and the moral freedom to make use of it. Because, frankly, in the course of my dating ventures.. it is rare to find a girl over the age of 22 who isn’t a single-Mother. A girl I just texted with this morning was pregnant at 17, dropped out of school, boyfriend (Filipino) took off, no way to support herself and is living with her parents. That is just far too common here.
I’ll come up with names for the 5 pups as time goes by. One I already named ‘Calico’ since he has that sort of markings. Another is black with brown paws, just like Not-So-Fat Doggy, so I may name him ‘Darky’. I guess I’ll have to make a more concerted effort to bring bones home from the bbq place from now on. As for the Filipina single-Moms.. it’s just heartbreaking. No way I can make all of them happy other than to be a friend. And even then, that usually means they come to ‘the foreigner‘ every week when there is some crisis. Any my bankbook just can’t sustain that. Total bummer on so many levels.
[12/1/2012] — Well, it is now ‘officially’ the Christmas season here. Although I’ve been seeing Christmas decorations and listening to holiday music in the malls here since the last week of September. They start early here. With no Thanksgiving and Halloween not a big deal, they just go straight from summer right into the holidays. Which is fine with me, I love the holiday season. Things are finally starting to settle down a bit after a tumultous 3-week dating binge. The human body can only take (or give) so much of that before you go into a mental stupor and can’t even focus on what day it is or who’s name is what or where you met them. Besides, there’s much to be said for just hanging out with good friends over some grilled chicken and having some casual conversation for a change.
Today was a mess. After finally getting home from the club at around 4am, I decided to tap out an article on how the evening went before going to bed. After proofreading and uploading it was about 6am and some texts started rolling in. Then around 7am one of my friends was having a crisis so they came over and we talked it out until almost 11am. Needless to say, by this time I was wiped out after no sleep and a full night of dancing and just a little bit of booze. When I woke up it was just after 6:30pm and the sun had already gone down. And I still hadn’t had breakfast. More texts rolled in. By the time I took a shower and walked into town for some breakfast/supper at Manang Fe’s BBQ shack.. I was ready to eat just about anything. I loaded up on some awesome grilled chicken and pork along with some hanging rice and had myself a long, relaxing meal while catching up on texts. I love the food there, I try to go at least twice a week. Lots of protein and can’t beat the price.
You may not be able to tell from this photo I took somewhat inconspicuously, but.. see that woman behind me on the phone? I see them about once a week or so around here, different ones. I’d say about 80% of them are “not that great looking” and not fooling anybody. Another 15% are “kinda passable” and take about 20 seconds before you know for sure that she’s packing heat in that skirt of hers. But then about 5%, like this one.. totally passable the first five minutes. I’ll admit it, for the first five minutes I totally thought it was a really hot looking Filipina. Again, can’t really tell by this photo but, wow.. prettiest eyes and totally, totally looked like a woman. The only.. only thing that really gave it away was the make-up. Filipina women here, with the heat and humidity don’t mess with make-up unless it’s for work purposes indoors at the mall or in a club. But the Ladyboys.. yah, they’re using make-up every time. Apart from the make-up though.. it really did take me about 30 glances or so to finally convince myself it was not a woman. The mannerisms were also too overt. More like the way a man ‘thinks‘ a woman moves, not how a woman moves naturally. So.. around here it pays to pause and observe before just launching in and asking for their text number.
As I mentioned, the night out already has done wonders to get my head on straight. It brought things back into perspective for me. I feel a lot more comfortable with my friendship with Kristine. Same with Delia. We’ve been texting and had some dinner the other day.. looks like we’re past the worst of it and things are cool. I really can’t complain, I have 4 solid women in my life right now who offer me the companionship I need on a casual, easy basis. No commitments, no drama, just good friends I can really count on and that’s a lot to be thankful for. Plus I have Minhaz, my new buddy from Bangladesh. Until his family gets here in June, 2013 and he moves to Cebu.. I have a good chess partner and buddy to discuss various topics with from a man’s perspective. As well as Ed, who has recently joined my circle from the U.S., but has been living here for several years. I have much to be thankful for. And that’s not even counting the opportunities I have here for follow my pursuits.
Another update: I made the final payment on my moto-scooter this morning. Now I just gotta do the paperwork and get my license. Then I hit the open road! Soon as I figure out how to drive the thing.
It’s just after midnight, I feel I’ve barely started my day but, in order to get ‘sort of’ on a day-walker schedule again I’m going to take some Melatonin and go back to bed. I had a great dinner and feel rejuvenated both mentally and physically. Amazing what a little booze, some loud music and two cute girls can do to put some pep back in your step. All I had to do was get off my butt, outta my mood and do a reboot. We’ll see how this Christmas turns out. It will be my first Christmas, ever.. in my whole life away from family. Not really sure how it will go down but I’ll try to think of something. I still have 24 days left to figure it out. Geez, can’t believe it’s already December! What a ride.
About Me.. In 2011 I made the decision to move to the Philippines within a year. Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat. (Mactan, Bohol, Panglao, Moalboal, Dumaguete, Bacong, Boracay, Cebu) I recently spent the year living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Share with me here my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Dating, vlogging, cooking, traveling and sharing the information with you needed to make your own plans for living as a full-time expat in Southeast Asia.