Month of FEBRUARY – 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.
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[02/27/2013] — It’s 2:46am and I really should be in bed. Normally I’m awake until 3am or even the rising sun at 5:30am many times. But I should be in bed because I have a movie-date tomorrow afternoon. And after the day I had today, my brain could really use a break.
Two months ago I started the process for converting my U.S. driver’s license into a local, Filipino driver’s license. It’s a simple process really, the tough part was just finding out what the process was. I started by first going to the City Offices, as I was told to, to visit the local LTO. Now, the LTO is the equivalent of our DMV back in the States. It stands for Land Transit something, I forget. So I go to the city offices and they tell me the LTO is across the parking lot.. somewhere. I eventually found the office and was told to fill out a simple form, make 2 copies of my passport and driver’s license. I was able to make the copies at a makeshift copy business behind the building. From there I went to another office (this is all in Lapu Lapu, by the way).. where I signed up for the required drug test and eye test.
I did the whole pee-in-the-cup routine and about ten minutes later they said I was drug free of both Meth and Weed. Good to know. I was all ready to take the eye exam but.. the eye exam dude had already gone home, so I’d have to come back another day. That was two months ago. I got busy with the holidays, going to Bohol, dealing with variants of drama that seem to plague any single man here and now it was February and I still hadn’t gotten that eye exam for my license. Fortunately for me the drug test is good for a whole year. But ONLY at the LTO in Lapu Lapu. Only nobody told me that, until later when it became relevant.
So today I went back to the LapuX2 LTO to get this thing done. I went in for the eye exam and while they were typing my data into a computer I made a point of quickly memorizing the smaller type on the eye chart. Here’s the deal.. years ago I had my eyes lasered, best thing I ever did. They did up my eyes so that I have 20/20 distance sight, and my left eye only for near-sighted reading. In daily life, I never even think about it. I see great and no problems because I use both eyes. BUT.. if I cover one eye (like I knew they’d be expecting me to for the test).. I can’t see small print with my right eye. Therefore, some short-term memorization helped to pick up the slack. Sure enough, when I covered my left eye (something I’d never do while driving, btw).. I couldn’t quickly make out the smaller text. So I just recited it out loud like I had been doing in my head and they said, “Fine.” Easy-peasy, just like in the movie, “Space Cowboys“.
They did some official stamping of documents and told me to visit the LTO Captain in order to get my license. Hot damn, I was on my way. I stepped into the Captain’s office, showed her my documents and she said, “We cannot give you an actual license here. You will have to go to Cebu City LTO where they can create a plastic license for you there.” So, I got a taxi to take me to Cebu 20 minutes away at 4pm, just before closing time at 5pm. I tell the clerk there what I need and show my docs. She says, “Yes, we can give you your license.. BUT (dammit) the LTO Captain from Lapu Lapu did not sign a transfer authorization so, you need to return there to get a signature and return here again.”
There was no way I’d make it there and back in time so, no license. I grabbed some food at around 5pm at the nearby E Mall which was my first meal of the day. I know.. bad for me but I really need reminding to eat and nobody texted me that afternoon to eat. They have not only a very wide selection of food at the food court but a massive amount of pretty young Filipinas from the various colleges and nursing schools nearby. Any guy looking for a responsible, good, hard-working girl will find one easily at the E Mall in Cebu. The neighborhood is kinda sketchy at night though, just so you know.
From there I went to the SM Mall where I got a snack and then caught a ride home via the V-Hire van for like, 30 Pesos (about 70cents). Much cheaper than a taxi for 180 Pesos, plus I met a nice Filipina sitting next to me that I spoke with during the ride.
I then started getting some texts from the same woman (see foto below) that stood me up the other day. She actually asked why I hadn’t been texting her. But that was just for starters. She then said it would be a good idea if she moved in with me to my new place in Bohol. Oh.. and that’s not all. When I told her that normally I would have to know someone for at least a year before asking them to move in.. she said it would be better that she moved in so we could plan out our marriage. Huh?? I’ve spoken with her a total of maybe an hour in my whole life and she’s springing Marriage on me already? And moving in together? Even for me that’s just.. too much, too fast. I declined as politely as I could and told her I’d have to leave town for a while to go to Iloilo (which is totally true). She responded to that by asking if she could come along. Again.. “No.”
The rain has come and gone so I figure I’ll take care of my license issues after the rains in another two days, before my trip to Iloilo. It’s 3:40am now and I really should be getting some sleep since I’ll need to get to the SM mall again by noon for my movie date. Time to call it a ‘day’ and put this one to rest. Tomorrow.. who knows what else lies in wait ahead for me.
[02/23/2013] — I just got word today that the rental home I plan to move to in Bohol is now vacant as of today! Naturally, I want to toss everything into a suitcase and get right over there. But, instead I’ll have to actually wait until March 8th or so in order to finalize this whole nonsense with the motor-scooter fiasco. (read here for details on what happened with the motor scooter). The balance of my money is supposed to be paid by mid-March so rather than make another trip out here just for that I’m going to stick around another week. Plus, I still need to arrange for all the heavy stuff to be moved via boat. Lite Shipping to be specific, they haul cargo and passengers. The A/C unit, refrigerator, tables and chairs plus stand-up closet will never pass for carry-on luggage so.. I gotta set that up.
It’s a Friday night and I’m actually home for the evening. I’ve been awake until 6am and tonight I decided to set my schedule back to my usual 2am-10am sleep period. I took some melatonin about ten minutes ago and already I’m feeling drowsy. It wasn’t until after I took them that I remembered I was going to make a call to the US after midnight. Figures. So I’m typing hoping it helps me stay awake another 30 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, I’ve now officially been ‘stood up’ on two continents now. Dating has been a breeze here, the way it should be, up until two days ago. I recently texted with a Filipina who lives, as it turns out, just around the corner from my studio. Her photo online looked nice but, I always take that with a grain of salt. Sometimes the photo is from a while ago, or the only good photo of them, whatever. I’ve been fooled before, mostly in the States by women who post one thing online and then BAMM.. where’d those extra 100 pounds come from? But this woman (photo at left) wanted to meet locally so we agreed to meet at the mall for some lunch and conversation. I’m leaving town so I really was just interested in talking awhile. I don’t want to start something new here when I’m about to leave the island in two weeks. But I figured I’d meet her out of curiosity and convenience, so I showed up at the appointed time. Thirty minutes later she’s still a no-show. I had checked her profile before leaving the house to make sure I had the right time but.. her profile was missing. Completely deleted. Not just ‘turned off’.. but completely gone.
I had her cell number so I sent a few texts. Finally I heard from her over an hour later. Now.. here is where I give you a disclaimer; “Do not do what I do.“ I know I have a screw loose. I know I take unnecessary chances. You, well, maybe you want to see your next birthday so.. take what I tell you as a lesson in how NOT to handle this sort of situation. Her text said she totally forgot about our appointment, she was very sorry but still wanted to meet me. She gave me her address, a subdivision just one block away and asked if I’d meet her at her house. The first thing that came to mind was, “It’s a trap.” I could see it now. They lure me in with some photo online. Get me there and three guys end up killing me for twenty dollars or selling my kidneys on the black market. They already deleted the profile online and who ever really tells anyone where they are going when meeting someone from an online site? This HAD to be a trap and they are counting on my horniness to cloud my thinking. Well, as I stated before, I wasn’t meeting her for some quick hook-up, I was just curious to do something for the afternoon. I called up Kristine and filled her in on what was going on. I then forwarded the text with the address to her phone and told her to check in on me in 30 minutes. She said something about “be careful” or “don’t go” but.. I was too intrigued as to how this might turn out.
So I hoofed it on over to the subdivision and asked the guard how to get to that address. He showed me on the subdivision map and onward I went. As I walked further into this subdivision it became quickly apparent that this was not one of those ‘nice’ subdivisions where foreigners live to get away from the grittier parts of town. No.. I doubt there was a foreigner anywhere in this compound apart from my lunatic self. I stuck out like.. a tourist. People watched me as I walked by the patios of people washing their clothes, kids playing in the street and seemed to wonder, “What is that guy doing here?” But I continued to my destination. I began to run through my mind every defensive move I’d learned in tae kwon do, every Jackie Chan movie I’d seen and a couple of MacGyver episodes for good measure. Whatever was waiting for me at this address, I was determined to find out. I arrived at the address and.. there she was. Even prettier than her photo. A younger girl (her niece) was washing clothes on the patio and an even younger girl (her daughter) was playing with some toys. The woman greeted me and welcomed me in. I spied around the place, sitting close to the door and sat down. Nobody else but us seemed to be there so I figured if anyone else was to show up, it would be from the door. Well.. my apprehensions were for nothing.
We talked for awhile and soon my phone sounded off. It was a text from Kristine asking if I was OK. I sent her a text to let her know that I was fine, but she still made a voice-call about ten minutes later to be sure it wasn’t someone else texting her back. Smart girl, I knew I could count on her. So.. this woman and I talked there in her living room and we actually hit it off very well. She was very personable and all seemed to be going well. However.. (there always seems to be a ‘however’ with me), she was looking for a serious relationship who lived locally. I told her I planned to move to Bohol in two weeks and.. you could pretty much tell it all went south from there. A real shame too because, apart from the whole single-Mother thing.. she is someone I got along with very quickly. I mentioned how pretty she is already, right?
Despite the fact that I’d be leaving soon she told me she wanted to meet me again for dinner the next day, so we set up a new time to meet. The following day I started to get ready about 30 minutes before our meet-up. That was when I got a text from her. She said ‘sorry’ but she had to cancel our dinner-date. I asked why and.. this is classic, the response I got was, “I need to clean my house.” Yah.
Now.. she isn’t employed, is home all week and her home is about the size of my studio. I was getting the brush-off, no doubt about it. But, the odd thing is that I didn’t mind. I mean, in the US it really sucks because setting up a date is practically a job in itself. But here, there are plenty of other fish in the sea and plenty of sea all around to fish from. So.. I didn’t sweat it. In fact, I immediately thought to myself, “Cool, I’ll have dinner with Kristine instead.” She and I met up at a place we both really like down the street and had a nice relaxing dinner. (as friends, of course) I figured it was the least I could do since she had my back for what could have been a set-up to part me with my kidneys. Not that it seems to be a problem here that I know of. That seems to be either a Chinese or Mexico sort of thing from what I hear.
But.. you never know.
So, I’m still here breathing to see another day despite myself. It’s after midnight so I’m gonna make my phone call, have some of that White Zin I’ve been chilling in the fridge and call it an early night.
[02/3/2013] — It’s another lazy Sunday afternoon here on Mactan Isle, 3pm. It’s a bit overcast with sporadic sprinkling every few hours. Ordinarily I’d be either at the cockfights or the marketplace by now but I spent half the day at SM Mall in Cebu yesterday and don’t feel like doing much more walking today. I’m making up some pork soup right now for a late-afternoon snack. I’ve learned to make some pretty good soups here, perhaps I’ll post the basic recipe later. I think soup is somewhat in keeping with my latest emphasis on simplifying my life even more. I’ll still cook up some pasta or stir fry but there’s something just so simple and clean about a good soup. Likewise, it’s fun to hit the dance club every now and then or whatever other adventure presents itself.. but it’s also kinda nice to just lean back and enjoy a large part of why I came here in the first place; a simpler pace to life.
As for the parts of life that are a bit more complicated, ‘Baby’ didn’t show up at yesterday’s appointment with the police to give me my registration (as she promised she would – again). She sent me a text later saying she would bring it along with the first payment of refunding my money by Monday. Whatever. All I know is I have my own appointment to press criminal charges by Wednesday so, if I don’t see some cash on the table.. charges are getting filed. Simple for me, simple for her. Otherwise, her life gets ‘not-so-simple’ in jail.
Before going to the SM yesterday I did make time to get a haircut. At 50 pesos for a haircut and shoulder massage that comes to about $1.25 USD. Can’t beat that with a stick. Speaking of the good old greenback, it has slipped from a strong 41.20P to the dollar (when I arrived in July, 2012) down to about 40.5P to the dollar. Not the direction I prefer, but not the end of the world either. Yet. I won’t go off on a whole political tangent here but, my gut feeling is that the USD will continue to slip downward at minimum for the next 4 years. I predict (with nothing other than my gut-feeling, of course) that by 2017 it’ll be down to around 34.50P to 1 USD. I hope I’m wrong, I really do.
I also transferred all my digital music (about 30 hours worth) back to my laptop for playing via the external speakers, which give me all the sound I need for music and movies. Pretty much everything by the Stones, lots of Blues, 70’s/80’s Rock, some techno and a bit of classical along with a few movie soundtracks, like ‘Desperado’ and ‘Blues Brothers’. One of my back-burner projects is to set up the laptop for some simple karaoke. If anyone knows of an easy way to do this via software, let me know in the comments section. For now I’ll play the Youtube karaoke tracks and see what kind of decent USB microphone I can find.
[02/1/2013] — Geez!! I really thought I’d never live to see this. It’s February, 2013. My birthday is coming up on the 9th. Do you know what that MEANS?? That means in 9 days I will pass over the threshold and become.. 50! How did that happen? Especially for a guy like me who, in my teens as I looked out into the future never, I never expected to live past age 22.. maybe 24 at the outset. I can honestly say that everything since then I have been living as ‘extra’ time. Not because I had any terminal illness at the time, but it’s just been my consistent mindset. I figured some people have short lives, other people have long lives.. beyond 100 years even. But I really pegged myself for a short-timer. And not because I led a dangerous or even wild lifestyle as a teen. In fact I was very conservative even then, maybe even more so as the years have softened up my perspective a bit over the years. No, I figured I was a short-timer because of the near-death instances I kept having as a kid. Falling out of a car when the door opened as I was leaning on it when I was 7. A carnival ride that disengaged with me in it when I was 8. Getting hit by a Cadillac on my ten-speed when I was 9. A skydive accident at age 17. It seemed like life was telling me, “Oops, sorry.. you weren’t supposed to be here this long, we gotta make a ‘correction’.”
Even years later I was one step away from walking backwards into a mechanic’s pit that hadn’t been roped off properly when I as 29. Another time the tire came completely off my VW Bug as I drove down the freeway when I was about 30. I figured I’d have to play out life with some conviction before my ticket was up. And now.. 50?? Seriously? That’s half a century. I’m almost a part of history now. Okay, maybe not that old but there’s a reason they make black balloons and it isn’t for kid’s parties.
My impression as a kid of people who were 50 is that they could barely walk and needed oxygen to get through the day. I’m glad to find out the only thing keeping me from doing zip-lining (yet) is my vertigo and fear of heights. But I do plan on doing it eventually since that’s a big deal there on Bohol where I’m moving this month. Speaking of Bohol.. that countdown is now officially in-play as well. The property is supposed to be vacant by the 15th for me to move in. Whether I’ll be ready by then is another matter. I have to logistically figure out how to get my heavier items there such as fridge, air-con and standing dresser via boat. The rest I can take in suitcases in 1 or 2 trips. And I’ll not be moving to the town-proper of Tagbilaran either. I’ll be moving to the jungle area at the outside of town. As it is most of Bohol has been kept in it’s pristine, natural state with no major city developments. Some very nice tourist towns with nice malls, resorts and such.. but no urban-blight inner-city nonsense. It’s a very nice island that is a major vacation spot for foreigners and Filipinos alike. I’ve spent a few nights out in the neighborhood I’ll be in and it was.. ‘a rustic experience’ to put it mildly. It’s about two levels away from being a castaway on a deserted island. No streetlights. No stores. No paved roads. Just a dozen neighbors spread out over a 40 square mile area of jungle with plenty more jungle to the south.
Fortunately there is a ‘road’ (if you can call it that) which leads back to civilization about 2 or 3 miles away to the edge of town. There’s a hospital at that end and a mall just a bit further in complete with grocery store and movie theater. The move to Bohol is definitely going to be a whole other side to tropical life, different from my experience so far on the tiny island of Mactan where I can walk to the mall only 2 blocks away and be at a huge dance club in five minutes. Meanwhile, it’s a beautiful morning here in Lapu Lapu. The rain and cold (about 67*F) we’ve been having for over a week has transformed into wonderful, deep blue skies.. puffy white clouds and refreshed foliage just bursting with deep shades of green everywhere. I’ve also decided it’s time to cut down this whole “rice every day” nonsense. After reading an article about the link between high rice intake and diabetes.. I’m cutting down to maybe one bowl a week instead of one or two per day as I’ve been doing since I got here. I’m still doing lots of walking and have kept off the 43 pounds I lost since moving here. But I now plan on taking advantage of all the fruits/vegetables and lean roasted chicken and fish that is so abundant here. Avoiding rice here is like trying to avoid french fries in the US. You gotta make an effort at it because almost ALL meals come with either rice.. or unlimited rice. But there’s plenty of prepackaged, raw chop suey and chow mien in the grocery store ready to go. In fact, last night I made some fried veggies with a bit of spicy kung pao sauce and my last official bowl of rice I’d already cooked before reading the article. Time to give the rice-cooker the week off.
Henry ‘Reekay’ V.
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.