[Diary] – April, 2013; Irons in the Fire, Blackouts, Clumsy-Cat

my life in the philippinesMonth of APRIL – 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.

Oh, subscribe using the E-mail box along the right-side of the site to know when I update with a new entry.  Many of the photos here enlarge if you click on them. 



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

[04/27/2013] —  It’s been 3 whole days.. no human contact.  Well, not in person anyway. In fact, I’ve been so focused on my latest web project that I haven’t even bothered to take the lock/chain off the gate in three days.  No telling what the local chisme is about me now islandofdoctormoreaur_coverhere in the village.  “What’s he DOING in there, locked up like that?  It’s not.. natural.  And why isn’t he married?!”  Hmm, images of Dr. Moreau come to mind.   But my new project is close to being ready, which you can sneek-peek here;  www.writersonthestorm.net .  I hope to have my own short stories and a novel up there in the coming weeks, chapter by chapter.  

Meanwhile I’ve been breaking up my marathon hours on the net with some breaks either to cook up a nice meal or spend some time out on the patio to enjoy the afternoon or late nights.  I stood out in the yard the other night under a full moon and.. there just aren’t words to describe how amazing that is here.  It’s like a spotlight shining down, it’s so bright.  There are distinct shadows it casts into the jungle and the ground takes on a sort of soft, blue haze.  The air is warm, no breeze and only the sound of the crickets as the occasional firefly flits by a few feet away.  It’s completely surreal.

Yesterday I was in the mood for a salad and I happened to have plenty here to make one.  Now, since I’ve gotten here I haven’t had a ‘real’ salad.  To me, a real salad is nothing less than something along the lines of a Cobb Salad.  So I hard-boiled some eggs and got to constructing it with some lettuce, raisins, apple, tomatoes and anything else that seemed right for a salad.  Although it wasn’t until I’d finished it that I remembered I had some honeyed-ham I could have diced up in there.  Then it came time to open the Tuna can.  Ii just want a salad was really dreading this because my first can-opener I bought here literally snapped in half the second time I used it.  Suggestion:  Before you move to the Philippines.. bring your best can-opener with you.  The ones here seem to really suck.  Unless of course you buy a ‘normal’ quality one for about $25 here.

The last time I used my new can-opener, which is a bit more robust and cost a bit more (about $15).. it was a disaster.  At first I thought it was built wrong, all it did was make a puncture and then slide off at each turn of the knob.  Then the knob would unscrew itself as I turned it.  Then I figured out it was made for a left-handed person.  WTH??  By the time I got that damn can of tuna open there was tuna oil all over me, the opener, the cutting  board and the whole time I’m dodging sharp metal edges it made to kinda-sorta open the can.  In retrospect I think stabbing it with a screwdriver would have been more civilized.

So now, this time.. I really wanted tuna in my salad so I messed with it slowly and patiently only to realize that not only is it made for a left-handed person.. it’s made to cut the can from the side.. not from the top of the can.  What kind of demented, dyselxic Asian engineer came up with this design?  Did he design it in a house of mirrors or what?  I got the can open without much hassle but now I had a can with a razor-sharp edge to it.  Not digging this at all, but at least I could lift out my tuna with a fork to separate it from the oil and add it to my salad.

Now.. I don’t know if this is a thing back in the States but I never noticed it until I got here.  A lot of the products that I’ve always bought either in a glass jar or a can.. here it is very often packaged in a plastic pouch/bag.  When you think about it.. it makes total sense.  It Corned Beef - In A Pouchweighs less, for one thing so it cuts down on shipping costs.  It has a flat bottom and displays easily enough on the shelf, doesn’t shatter or dent when it hits the floor.  And it’s less expensive.  I’ve seen the same product by the same manufacturer, one in the jar and one in the pouch and for the same amount of product.. the pouch version is cheaper.  Somewhere somebody is not thinking this through.  And best of all.. no can-opener needed!  

So now I keep an eye out for everything from salad dressing to soy sauce, cooking oil or even Baygon refills in a plastic pouch.  Makes my life a whole lot easier.  Which is why I was especially glad to find Corned Beef in a pouch.  All the goodness without the cursing and stress of using a can-opener that barely serves as a movie-prop.  My favorite breakfast here in the Philippines is still the Corned Beef Breakfast.  I start by making up some Garlic Rice.  While that’s cooking I put some oil and freshly cut garlic (about 3 cloves) into the pan on medium heat.  I then dice up a single potato into small pieces and add that to the garlic along with some salt and pepper.  Now..Smiley Breakfast dice up some cabbage into 2″ sized squares and add that to the mix.  I cook that with a lid for about ten minutes.  When the rice is ready.. I add the rice to a large bowl.. place the corned beef mixture on top of the rice and then top that with two sunny-side-up eggs.  A little soy sauce along the edges and damn.. that’s a good breakfast.  I was out of potato and cabbage when I made this particular plate.. so I compensated by making a Smiley Face out of my breakfast instead.

Today I’m thinking rather than push and finish out the web-project, it might do me some good to take a walk to town for some exercise to get to the mall.  ‘Iron Man 3’ just released and I’m thinking I’ll go see that.  For just 100 pesos (about $2.25).. can’t beat that with a stick.  I’ll have to readjust to being around people again.  Once I see all the cute girls that will take me about 3 nanoseconds.  But first I’ll wait til the heat of the day passes around 4pm.  People here seem to have figured there’s no point warning me about walking alone into town anymore.  Reminds me of that scene in, “American Werewolf in London” where the locals tell the tourist, “..and whatever you do.. don’t go out into the moors at night.”  Come to think of it, there’s still the last remnants of a full moon here tonight.  

 

[04/20/2013] —  It’s 8:59pm and there’s a bright half-moon hanging directly overhead right now.  I went out just beyond the edge of the front patio and a few seconds later some sort of large, flying creature went zooming by about 10 feet over my head.  It moved too fast and smooth to be a bat.  Was about 2-foot wingspan whatever it was.  Definitely not a rooster.  It circled another three times, each time catching me by surprise.  I went in for the flashlight and waited again for it.  Naturally, it didn’t return.

I don’t know if they have nighthawks around here, I’ll have to find out.  It wasn’t a starling, I’ve seen those all over the place and they are much smaller.  They roll and dive like bats but with a more linear movement.  Bats fly in a zig-zag motion like they’re high on crack.

Today was very enjoyable.  For one thing, when I first awoke around 7:30am I could already tell my cold/flu thing was pretty much over.  I got a drink of water and.. went back to bed.  I’d gone to bed early, around midnight and this 7am stuff is just not working.  Not here.  Around 9am I got up and remembered that today I’d be hitching a ride with the neighbor lady, Marilou, to town so I could get some groceries.  I don’t like to inconvenience or change their schedule since they have a family so I just go whenever they are already going to town.

Part of what I loved about today was the exceptionally cool weather.  It’s been HOT the last two weeks and as I looked out this morning it was gray clouds everywhere and the temp had dropped by at least 8 degrees.  Add to that some sporadic rain through the afternoon and it was just fresh and cool all day long.  After getting some things done online for a few hours Marilou pulled up outside the gate and off we went back to civilization.  She suggested taking me to a different mall rather than the usual ICM (Island City Mall) and instead she dropped me off at the BQ Mall in downtown Tagbilaran.

She said she’d be back in a little over an hour so I could get some shopping done and went on her way.  I looked around and.. this was different.  The ICM mall is somewhat isolated from town with not much else in walking distance aside from the main bus/jeepney terminal across the street.  There’s also a marketplace that sells fresh produce and meat there but apart from that, not much else out there.  So I looked around the street-corner bqI happened to find myself at and what I saw were lots and lots of people moving about.  I was definitely downtown.

But it was still nothing like Cebu.  Much smaller and despite the hectic pace of people there on this Saturday afternoon it still seemed relaxing to me.  I crossed the street and entered in.  The ICM mall I usually frequent is more of an ‘upscale’ mall, designed similar to malls back in the States.  Wide corridors, lots of room to move about.   Nothing like that here at the BQ mall.  Everything was ‘compressed’.  Not a square foot of space wasted.  Businesses operated every fifteen feet and all along every corridor and hallway.  Very crowded.. I loved it already.

At the center was an open circle from which the mall radiated on each of it’s four floors.  I went up to the second floor to look around a bit but had to get to the grocery store since I was on a time schedule.  Making my way from one end of the store to the other I found what I was looking for and got about a week’s groceries.  I couldn’t find the soup mix so I approached one of the grocery sales girls to ask.  Oh.. my.. goodness!!  She was SO cute.  She asked me to follow her to the soup aisle and I was really taken by surprise.  I see a lotstore clerk girl - sort of of cute girls every time I’m in town but this one was.. ‘wow’.  I’m still somewhat stupefied even hours later.  And sweet as can be.  Not stuck-up in any way.  Just very cheerful and kind like she popped out of a Japanese Anime.  With one of those hand gestures like you see the women use on game shows she presented the soup aisle to me and went immediately back to her workstation.  I just stood there a moment somewhat stunned and finally snapped back to the business at hand; choosing a soup mix.

A bit later, with three full bags of groceries I made my way through the maze of the BQ mall.  The whole time I kept looking for something that would tell me what ‘BQ’ stood for.  I do know that there is a Burger King.  But I have no recollection of a Burger Queen, although that certainly would make sense.  A burger empire needs to have both a king and queen I suppose.  The only other thought that came to mind was ‘Dairy Queen’.  I’ve long suspected the BK guy had a thing for her.  Maybe he has her out here in the Philippines on the side.  I’ll figure out this BQ mystery soon enough.  Mark my words.

I jumped back into Marilou’s mini-truck and as we made our way into traffic I took note of the main street around the mall.  Lots and lots of shops, some nooks and crannies that I will absolutely have to return to explore on another day and plenty of interesting people doing their daily routine.  Across the street from the BQ mall was another kinda-sorta-mall.  It was more like a big building with a mish-mash of random businesses.  I didn’t have time to go inside but I’ve been in similar ones before.  Kinda ecclectic and random a place to browse around but I like them because you never know what product or service you might find there.  Stuff like flashlights with Tazer prods built right into the handle.  Just make sure you hold it right.

It was just about dark when I got home and still nice and cool.  I made up some soup and some sandwiches since I don’t have a woman here to make me one. (just kidding.  but no, really.. I like it when women make me a sandwich.. always tastes better.)

Clumsy-Cat just came by the door.  He took off after wobbling around on the small bench in the patio.

Where was I?  Oh yah, women.. sandwiches.  I bought a huge newspaper, about the size of a Sunday edition for about 30cents at the store.  Not so I can work on my Tagolog reading, but so I have plenty of kindling to start up a bonfire outside.  It’s a perfect night for a bonfire.  Best part of this whole day though.. no mosquitoes!  I don’t know why they went into hiding and I don’t care.  I haven’t had to swat one all day, haven’t even seen one.  The place almost seems lonesome without them literally pestering me every hour.  Almost.  I hope they never return.

[04/16/2013] —  It’s 4:22am and normally I’d be awake at this time because I’d stayed up beyond my usual 2am bedtime.  But instead it’s that I just woke up after getting really exhausted around 6pm.  For those who know me, going to bed right at sundown, or even before midnight for that matter, means something must be up.  I had taken my second walk into town this week to get some things from the mall and I’m thinking someone in the crowd had the flu or a cold or something.  I went to bed with a scratchy throat and unable to stay awake.  I have some hot tea here with me now and after some rest I’m feeling better already.

Meanwhile it’s been a full plate of projects here in Bohol ever since I got settled in.  Many of these ideas I had put off while in Mactan because I was preparing to leave and I’m the sort of person who just hates having a project stuck midstream.  Drives me insane.  So ever since I got settled in here I’ve been working on two new website ideas, a short story, a novel, reading some classic literature, shooting video and organizing the next (huge) batchSinulog Sunday (148) of photos for an upcoming gallery here at the site.  It’s a full day of photos I took at the Sinulog and I think you’ll really enjoy it.  I hope to have that online in less than 48 hours.

What didn’t help is that lately here in the village there’s been some sort of maintenance (I’m guessing) on the electric system and the usual blackouts went from being an hour to pretty much half the day.  When the electric goes down the water stops too since it’s pumped in.  Fortunately I keep about 8 gallons in basins for showering just in case that happens.  But everything changes in an instant here when the power goes out for an extended period.

If it happens in the daytime the first thing you notice is that the oscillating fan turns off and the silence of the jungle is restored.  The place I have here is made of brick and is surrounded by trees so I haven’t even bothered to hook up my air-con since I got here over six weeks ago.  The fan does a fine enough job circulating cool air around.  But without it, it starts to warm up a little, not much but enough that I’d rather go out to the hammock in the front patio to do some reading rather than attempt projects on my laptop before the battery dies out.

So with all the extra blackouts here I’ve gotten caught up on some reading.  I’ve always loved to read and now that I’m living the country life again it’s nice to get back in the habit. Since my cooking is done via an electric range, meals become simple stuff like sandwiches, crackers and fruit.  Even though the humidity makes the 80*F weather seem hotter than it is, being in the shade on a hammock with a good book and a slight breeze is not a bad gig.  You notice a lot of things around you as you look up over your book every so  often to see salamanders, giant ants, butterflies, pepsin wasps (those things are huge), chickens, roosters, turkeys, dogs and ‘Clumsy-Cat’ as they all parade around spontaneously either in or just outside my property.

‘Clumsy-Cat’ is a tomcat that has recently begun to visit my yard during the afternoon.  It’s not that I feed him, I think he’s just bored.  Around here I’ve noticed that dogs and cats are extremely laid back.  Not like the States where they are always chasing each other or barking at you.  Here, dogs just kinda look at you at go back to sleep.  Cats just sort of slink around in the heat and even seem to meow in slow motion.  I haven’t seen a single dog chase a cat since I got here to the Philippines.  Too damn hot for that nonsense.  So there I was one day, reading from my hammock, when this cat slowly makes his way from the hot, corrugated tin roof down to the roof of my outdoor ‘dirty kitchen’ (which I’ve yet to use) and then he proceeded to sort of jump/fall his way from there to the fence and down to the ground into my yard.  He’s not exactly what you’d call ‘graceful’ in his movements.

He wandered about a bit and for kicks he decided to jump on top of a makeshift table at the other side of the yard.  It’s about a 3-foot jump and, well.. he screwed that up too.  He jumped.. landed spread-eagle on the corrugated tin.. scrambled to climb the rest of the way.. slid down slowly cartoon-style and then wiped out on the dirt below.  That’s when I decided to bestow upon him the moniker; Clumsy Cat.  At night I can always tell when he’s on the roof.  Most cats can walk on a roof as silent as a ninja.  Not Clumsy Cat.  He bangs around up there like a drunk sorting through a pile of bottles.  I really think he has absolutely no idea what he’s supposed to be doing as a cat.  He goes up there with no idea what his next move is.  I suppose that’s why he’s the only cat I’ve kinda grown to tolerate.  He reminds me a lot of myself.

As for reading, I began with Conrad’s, “Heart of Darkness‘ which takes place in the jungles of Africa.  It was the inspiration for the film, ‘Apocalypse Now‘ for those of you who may not have known that.  I’d read it in high school and wanted to reread it while on the way here.  I’m about 80% finished with it.  Just sort of slowly relishing it.  Meanwhile I finished Hunter Thompson’s, “The Rum Diary” which takes place in Puerto Rico, another hot and humid locale in the tropics.  I finished that while still on the isle of Mactan before coming to Bohol.  When the blackouts started here I then picked up a childhood favorite of mine called, “The Cay“.  It’s about a young boy and an old black man who become shipwrecked on an island.  The boy goes blind and the old man has to prepare him for living long-term on the island.  It’s a great book, a very good read.

After finishing that I then went to the National Bookstore at the mall in town for a new book.  It’s a huge chain, much like the ones in the States.  But their fiction section is a bit limited, although they say they can order whatever I want.  I perused the shelves and decided I might as well finally get around to reading Salinger’s, “Catcher In The Rye“.  I’d heard much ‘about’ it but didn’t know the plot so I read that last week.  Personally, I was disappointed.  The prose was consistent but the topic has more appeal to a teenager full of malaise and unjustified angst.   And the ending was lame.   Did not live up to the hype in the least as far as I’m concerned.  So I returned to the bookstore and picked up another classic I’ve been neglecting too long, Fitzgerald’s, “The Great Gatsby“.  Now.. even in the first gatsbythree paragraphs I was impressed.  This is a book.  I can tell I’m going to enjoy this.  So now, whenever my eyes can’t take the laptop screen anymore I’ll grab that along with a burning mosquito-coil and ease myself back into the hammock to continue with ‘Gatsby‘.  Next on my list after this will be Kafka’s, “Metamorphosis“.. I’ve already spied it on the bookstore shelves.

Now, when the power goes out in the evening.. there are only two things to do really;  Sleep.. or go outside and look at the stars.  Sometimes I’d use the flashlight to read and that works okay enough.  One of the times the power went out during the night, the neighbor invited me over to hang out.  When I got there he had some candles going and using a double-boiler and a fire outside he had managed to make some loaves of fresh bread.  He’s a chef at a local resort, has owned his own resto and is a darn good cook.  We had some bread with his kids indoors and then sat out under the stars at the end of the road in front of his home.  It was a full-moon that night, warm out and made for several hours of interesting conversation.

It’s 5:20am now.  The sun is rising in the window behind me and the roosters in the area are going nuts, crowing about every 2 seconds.  The neighbor down the road alone has at No shortage of roosters around hereleast 15 roosters he raises for Sabong.  My throat doesn’t feel so sore now, the hot tea with sugar helped.  Later today if it still bothers me I’ll make up some lemongrass tea like my Gramma in Texas used to make when I was a kid.  I have more lemongrass growing outside my fence than you could shake a stick at.  It’s also good for stuffing into a roasted chicken to add flavor.  On a recent short hike in the area I came upon a wild pepper bush in a field.  I plucked about half a dozen of the small peppers and used them later that night to make some Kung Pao Pork.  Wow.  Those little peppers really pack a punch even after lots of slow roasting.  These one burn twice, if you know what I mean.

I’m planning to return to that bush later today to get some more peppers, both for cookingPhilippine Hot Peppers in the wild and to plant some in a pot I have hanging in the patio.  I’m also of a mind to transplant the whole bush over if I can dig a hole deep enough into the coral base here in my yard.   I also want to get a photo of this spider that lives right near there.  It’s web is over six feet wide and the spider is about four inches wide.  Even from thirty feet I saw him easily enough.  I’m sure he’s still there so I’ll take my camera with me when it’s not so hot.

I can now tell that my throat feels better but I do have a runny nose and congestion.  This sucks.  I have so much to do today, no time for this sickness stuff.  I’ll make up some oatmeal, take a short nap and shower then see how the day progresses.

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

26 comments

  1. Walk back into town and get a massage. That seems to be the cure-all for colds and flu there. My future asawa went with her sister last night to get one so she could rest and get rid of her flu. Whether it works, I have no idea at all. Get well soon.

  2. Henry, U took that picture of the lady in the white/silver dress? What a beautiful woman she is. I can’t believe you would leave an island that housed her, WOWOWOWOW!

    What happened to the story of Wild Bill or whatever his name was (he lives in your jungle)?

    Thanks for the updates, Henry!

    1. Yah.. in fact I took lots of photos of her during Sinulog. Being a foreigner and having a camera I had no problems going right into the parade to get photos. 🙂 All I had to do was get around all the Japanese photo-dudes there as well. Wait til I post the huge gallery of photos from that day, I’m hoping by tomorrow to get them all online. SO many beautiful women here it’s insane. So little time. ha!

      As for Wild Bill.. I haven’t seen him since the first day I got here. Folks in these parts say he comes out from the jungle at random times to sell wood he collects and bundles out there. I’d like to buy some for my bonfire area I just fashioned from some large bricks in the yard. It’s kinda nice to just kick back with a fire at night here. Plus it keeps the mosquitoes away. 🙂

    2. Hey Kevin, just an update that the full photo gallery of Sinulog is now online. As for Wild Bill, he sent a stand-in, some other younger guy with a machete strapped to his side. But a nice enough guy so I bought 10 bundles of wood for about $1.50 (60 pesos).

  3. Hey Bro i loved those wild peppers locally known as ‘sili labuyo’. ‘Sili” is chili and ‘labuyo’ is a wild ferocious jungle fowl (i know it don’t make sense but what does). The young leaves of the same plant is used as condiments for ‘chicken tinola’ (chicken ginger soup).
    You should consult with the village elders for a local cure for your flu symptoms. Tell them you got the ‘trangkaso’ (flu) and see what they’ ll tell you. Can’ t wait to see your Sinulog photos, take care.
    Cheers!

    1. Thanks. Hmm, I’ll have to try the leaves in my next soup. I make soup more often here than I did back home for some reason. At least once a week so I’ll give it a try. Although I’m worried if maybe the locals send me to a ‘quack doctor’.. ha! I’m sure you’ve heard of those. For those that haven’t, ‘quack doctor’ is the actual name, not in a derogatory sense. Not exactly licensed by any medical entity other than maybe the dead spirit of the former quack doctor. 🙂

  4. Salamat! Thanks again for your nice stories! Sad to hear about your runny nose, hope you don`t let it run too far and get it back in a better condition very soon! Take care and have a nice day!

  5. No kidding! A quack doctor probably lives nearby, they’ re called ‘albularyo’ and they prescribed herbs for treatment from all kinds of ailments from insect bites to common colds to spirit possession 🙂
    Ask the locals how to cook chicken tinola, the more ginger and papaya wedges the better and good for your ailing nerves. You can substitute fish sauce for salt for just the right taste on your palate (half a small tspn to start). Or you can follow this direction:
    http://panlasangpinoy.com/2009/06/05/chicken-tinola/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXEjCvIMd7M

    Cheers!

    1. I do love to cook and I’ll have to try making some. I know about the fish sauce.. a little goes a long way. (Learned that the hard way when I first used it like soy sauce. ha!)

      Speaking of local herbs, tonight I cut some lemon-grass from the yard and boiled it with garlic and those ‘sili labuyo’ hot-peppers and then added sugar to make up a sinus-clearing tea. It worked. 🙂 I just finished a big glass, gonna make more before bedtime.

  6. Remember Henry, in the tropics viruses and bacteria thrive in the warmth and humidity. One of the keys to staying resistant and healthy is exercise and keeping your immune system tuned up. Do the work and you will be better for it. Keep drinking the lemon grass (tanglad) tea and do some cooking with it. My wife grows it here in Mississippi and uses it all the time. Also, a visit to the local ‘albularyo’ as Cosmic Wind suggested can’t hurt anything. Counting down, I remain!

    1. Absolutely! I walk a lot, both in the city and out here in the country.. much more than I did in the States. I also incorporate garlic into practically everything I cook and take vitamins. Every little bit helps. 🙂

  7. i love your articles Henry and your writing style. It puts me there in the scene you are writing about. I can hear the roosters, see the large spider in its web house, and hear Clumsy Cat thumping around your roof. Those are the signs of a good author, being able to bring the reader into the book as if he were your house guest. I truly did wish I was there to sample your neighbors homemade bread. Now that left an impression on me I couldnt keep to myself and quickly shared that reading experience with my son along with the words “if you were there maybe Henrys neighbor would show you how to bake bread”. that is a chef like undertaking I have been hoping my son would conquer. with all the different flora and fauna there you are not used to, I would say you have an allergy attack. your body has been adapting to a new country and now a new island so your immune system may be working a lot of overtime while it adjusts. I saw a utube video of the bee farm on Bohol and I think you should find a bee farmer in your area and get some fresh honey to add to your diet. It is great for the immune system but they say only local honey will work cause it is from the flora around you. one thing that amazed me about that video is how gentle and tame the bees were. not like the mean stinging kind we have here in America. It is at the top of my bucket list to travel to Bohol and not only take in the beautiful Chocolate Hills but also that bee farm which I think is nearby there. I always wanted to be a bee charmer and not a bee target. also, I think it is great you have a nice bookstore in the mall near your home there. I heard books are hard to find in parts of the Phils and it can be a fruitless endeavor to find even used books in English. at 66 years old I guess I have an excuse for my next statement. I am a little old school when it comes to “throwing out the old and bringing in the new.” although I do a lot of reading on my laptop, it is not the same as a book and never will be. there is nothing that compares to the feel of a book in your hands. a Kindle could never replace the comfort I find with a book. It is a physical comfort like wearing your favorite pair of slippers or having your toy poodle curled up beside you. and flipping through the already read pages to your favorite bookmark where the unknown words still reside. I like to rub my fingers across the pages cause I like the feel of the paper and knowing it is there from a massive plant which took maybe many generations to grow on this earth. It makes me sad to think our new generations may not ever feel that same attachment I have enjoyed for a lifetime of holding books in my hands. I am a picky reader though and only really have a few subjects I really enjoy. It sounds like you have wide variety of literary flavor. I can hardly wait Henry to be seeing, feeling, smelling and experiencing life in the Philippines as you are doing. I hope I will get there soon. Thanks for sharing your everyday life with us poor souls still stuck back here in the states.

    1. Hi Donna, and thank you for your kind words. Part of the reason I chose to come here (aside from a woman) was to finally get ‘away’ and pursue my lifelong dream of writing novels and short stories. I am currently in the midst of one short story and two novels. I am also about to launch a new website which enable new writers to sell their work online as well as participate in an online writer’s-forum. I’ll be sure to announce it here as it becomes ready.

      I’ve passed by the Bohol Bee Farm you mentioned, it is on the adjoining island of Panglao, only 15 minutes or so from where I am. I plan to take a whole afternoon there to do the tour. In the meanwhile they sell their honey in the local mall so perhaps I will get some this afternoon to help with any allergies I may be experiencing. Again, thanks for the wonderful feedback as it is good to know that my words are not simply being thrown into the ethosphere for naught. And I do agree with you on ‘real books’. I just finished ‘The Great Gatsby’ last night, reading from only the light of a flashlight and a small fire I had beside me to keep the mosquitoes at bay. For me, real books are the real thing. 🙂

  8. Thanks Henry for your exquisite descriptions of life in the Philippines. I read your posts with great envy as I sit here in Alaska in what is supposed to be spring time and flower season yet it has been unusually cold this year with even more snow expected on Sunday. I suppose I should be grateful I’m not cutting grass but I’d prefer to have put the plow truck to bed for the summer by now. My fiance lives in a farming area so not much jungle near there but plenty of roosters & chickens running around. I speak with her nearly every day and can hear the roosters in the background & it doesn’t seem to matter to them what time of day it is. Sometimes I hear the neighbors goat complaining or someones cow mooing along with the frogs putting on a concert on a rainy night and other kinds of bugs chiming in with background music. It all makes me crave to be back there desperately. She has been having black outs (which are called brown outs by everyone around there) 3 to 4 times a day and sometimes for more than an hour. A few days ago some poles needed to be replaced and the power was out for a day or so. I am guessing the power companies don’t have the capacity to supply the demand and systematically shut don’t sections of grid to lessen the load. I attended a sabong while I was there, it’s a huge pastime at least in the area where I was staying. The men take their roosters very seriously. I hope you are feeling better soon and yeah I’d go for the massage 4 sure.

    1. Hola Ricardo. I have a cousin living in Alaska who is the only other one in our large family ‘crazy’ enough to move away from mainland US. She is happy there though and has made the transformation from city-girl to spending her time catching crabs, fishing, hunting, canning and adjusting to the cold climate overall. Her fiance/husband who is in the Coast Guard is what opened her eyes up to the option of Alaska. As for me, I’ll take blazing heat over even the slightest cold weather. ha! I love the snow.. for about 2 hours and then I need to be warm again. Your description of the evenings here is dead-on. At night here in the province there isn’t even the dull, distant drone of traffic.. it is pure silence filled only with the sounds from wildlife. Add the stars, moon and a small bonfire and you have the makings of a pleasant evening. I’m planning to get a massage Monday evening, if not for this flu/allergy then simply for the sake of a getting a massage. I’m actually about 90% recuperated now. Back home in the dry climate of the desert my sinuses were always giving me prolonged colds and flus when they rolled around. But here, 2-4 days and it’s over. And I can live with that. 🙂

  9. love your latest diary entry and your trip to the city reminds me of myself and my son. we live in a rural area 2 miles from a small town here in Missouri and we have not owned nor operated a vehicle in 2 years now. so we only go to shop when someone takes us….once in a while it is a friend but mostly it is my oldest son who comes and takes us for shopping. that is usually only twice a month and nothing exciting because it is most often only to the same walmart or grocery stores we always go to. wow, I feel like an alien dropped off a spaceship when I am out in public again. so i really related to your shopping trip and the time sceduale thing

    1. When I was on Mactan I also didn’t have a vehicle but the entire town was just a few blocks away. And here, in such cases, you don’t need a vehicle with all the inexpensive ways to get around. Now that I’m out in the boondocks I’ve rediscovered my passion for reading. I just finished up ‘Heart of Darkness’ late last night. It was pounding rain so I built a small fire beneath the patio, turned off all the lights and read by flashlight there in my hammock until I finished the book around 2am. That’s the kind of bliss that’s hard to come by in the city with all it’s noise, pollution and activity. 🙂

  10. Hola Henry. Sounds like your cousin has acclimated to life here well, it’s the place to be if you’re into the outdoor life and don’t mind the cold. Me, I’m more of a victim of cabin fever here dreaming of nights on the front porch with a glass of Tanduay, a mosquito coil, watching my big lizard buddy catching bugs, waving to the neighbors as they stroll by with my dream girl at my side doing my nails. When the breeze was just right or with a fan we’d make a bonfire and flood the house with smoke and out would go the mosquitos. Here I roam around the house in 2 pairs of heavy socks, sweat pants, 2 long sleeve shirts and a sweater. I keep the heat as low as I can stand because it gets so dry in here my sinuses can feel like a knife in my face. I was concerned the transition from AK to the tropics would be a challenge but I appreciated the weather in the Philippines more than I expected. I did a lot of sweating working outside but when I’d get too hot I’d grab a book, shut myself in the bedroom, turn on the A/C and take a siesta. Having lived in S. Florida most of my life I acclimated quickly to the heat and I felt much healthier during my visit than I have here in “the greatland” for the last 9 years. No question about it, I prefer the Philippines over Alaska, no sinus problems whatsoever and the heat there was more tolerable than Florida. As I sit here in a “balmy” spring day at 47 degrees F and watch the snow fall I wonder where global warming went, it hasn’t been around here for several years. It’s too warm for the snow to stick but I’ve still got patches of ice and snow in my yard as May approaches. If I could, I’d be headed your way in a heartbeat.

    While I was there in Dec & Jan it was fiesta season. We threw a huge birthday party and had a monster karaoke machine on the porch blasting full tilt day and night for 3 days. The first late night I suggested we kill it so the neighbors could sleep (me too) and not complain. My fiance said “It’s OK hon”. The kids jammed all night and nobody complained. There were several celebrations at the barangay band shell and other neighbors parties throughout my stay there all of which had music so loud it radiated far and wide. It made me appreciate the peace and quiet of the typical tropical nights there and although the music could be louder than ever tolerated here in the states the people there really knew how to throw a party and enjoy themselves. It impressed me how happy and contented all seemed to be despite the lack of material possessions and living in poverty as we measure it here. As Americans we can learn much from the people of the Philippines about what is truly important in life.

    1. Yep.. and coming from a Latin family I’ve had my share of loud, all-nighter parties growing up. ha! I experienced the same thing in regards to sinus issues. Back home in the desert of SoCal my sinuses were always on the verge of one problem or another and when cold/flu season broke out it was not uncommon for me to spend up to three weeks down with it. Sometimes it would even go into bronchitis or walking-pneumonia. I hated it. But ever since I got here.. free and clear, man. I got a cold three days ago that was mainly just some head congestion. It’s already over with. Like a walk in the park, I didn’t even need bed-rest. I could get used to this. And nothing like swinging in the hammock with a book and the whole day to use up in the shade. I’ve finished four books so far and going for another one later today at the mall “in town”. I just made a fire-pit area for the yard and a make-shift bench. I see more relaxing evenings ahead for me. 🙂

    1. Ha! Now see.. I never would have guessed ‘quality’ in regards to the BQ mall. To put it kindly, it’s not exactly ‘uptown’. Don’t get me wrong, I love to slum it once in a while, I don’t mind the gritty side of town at all. People are much more interesting there. But ‘quality’.. at the BQ? Nope, never saw that one coming.

  11. Hi Henry- I read a lot of your stuff on here, and
    also watched your Youtube videos. I thought everything
    you’ve done was very well done, and most entertaining.
    I tried to leave a comment on some of your videos but
    it doesn’t allow me to??-why is that?? says opening or
    something, and nothing happens??

    I do commend you on the guts and intestinal fortitude it must
    take to journey out on such an adventure, and leave everything
    behind. It’s really somewhat paradoxical in that your leaving
    behind what people in the Phils-“all want”- sort of opposites.
    What is the really motives here??-gotta be the young women. I
    guess you could say-“I did it for love”. I’m in Canada, and just
    came accross your videos, and would love you to comment on this
    post. Good luck to you out in Bohol Henry.

    1. The Youtube channel has all new comments on pre-approval basis. If you submit your comment I can then review it before it goes Public. I did not prefer this method as it is more tasks for me, but spammers and hate-filled comments made it necessary.

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