Month of OCTOBER – 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.
[10/22/2012] — Wow.. it’s been a busy 5 days! I have been burning the candle at both ends working on my latest venture, an online gift store for those wishing to send a gift to their Filipina without the delays, tariffs and cost of shipping something overseas. I still have more inventory to add over the next week but you can check it out at MyLovelyFilipinaGifts.com . Behind the scenes I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately speaking with various vendors, price-checking, logistics and then finally the web-stuff which I do myself. This left little time for disco, meals, showers or sleep. But now that it’s operational I can focus on a wider gift inventory and marketing. The extra income would be very helpful as well. Wish me luck!
Meanwhile it’s been a tough week for another reason. Things have been a bit shaky with my lovely girlfriend and I the last few weeks. We’ve been having many long talks trying to find a resolution to our problem and.. earlier today we came to the very difficult conclusion that, much as we’d each like to remain together, it’s best we part ways. I won’t go into details since that would be unfair to her and our privacy. All I can say is that she is a wonderful, lovely and good woman. But, sometimes it’s a matter of the right people paired up at the wrong time under bad circumstances. I am thankful for the last two and a half years we’ve spent together, words fail me at this moment to convey how happy she has made me during this time. In addition I would otherwise never have even dared to think of coming to the Philippines. She literally opened up a whole new world for me. For that and her kind heart I will always be grateful. Well, as Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
So.. the focus now is on the business end of living ‘in paradise’. Man cannot live on coconuts alone. I have tons of articles yet to do, the store to advertise, a possible business venture I’m having a meeting on tomorrow and my novel to write as well. Perhaps you may think it’s now time for me to ‘celebrate’ my new-found freedom with some wanton partying and skirt-chasing but.. nah. Not in the mood for any of that right now. What I need are solid friends and frankly, most of mine are back in the States. I do have four people here that I can comfortably speak with so, that’s a plus. But, it’s more like a time of mourning than celebration as far as that’s all concerned. As for my plans to stay in the Philippines.. nothing has changed. I still love it here and consider it my new home. Today a friend here told me, “The way you think, the food you eat and how you eat it.. I think you are maybe Filipino already!” I can only hope so. Someday.
[10/18/2012] –Whenever I want to swim in a pool I’ve been going to the hotel about 2 minutes from here. It’s small but private and I usually have it all to myself. The pool there is nice but not very large, only half of it is even 6 feet deep but it’s very refreshing and relaxing in the Japanese decor it is surrounded in. The other day one of the locals showed me a place about 5 blocks from my studio that has a MUCH larger pool, about 10x bigger and I get a full-day pass for 60 Pesos. (roughly $1.50 USD) It’s located in a nice subdivision and is pretty nice, well maintained. Very similar to the one in this photo. (rectangular, duh.) Since I’ve gotten here the weather is only hot in the morning and then around 4pm we get either sporadic rain or massive rain. I really want to have a full day of sunshine before I start hitting the nice beaches nearby at the local resorts. The last couple of days I’ve been doing up to 15 hour stretches at the laptop working on two new website ideas so my back and neck get kinda sore after all that. I got some massages which really helped out a lot but a good swim to stretch out would feel good today. I’m planning to ‘work’ until about 4pm and then hit the big-pool today and swim until evening.
Speaking of massages, my maid used to work as a masseuse so I worked out a deal with her to get them at 150 Pesos (about $3) on an as-needed basis. I can get them in town for about 250 to 450 Pesos (roughly $5-$10/hour) but after getting a good massage the last thing I feel like doing is walking home on the broken-up paths they have here along the road. Plus, the massage places vary.. some are legit as massage only.. some. Many are massage and ‘full-service happy-ending‘ type massage they try to sell you on once you’re in the private room. Plus I still feel kinda weird having some total stranger give me a massage. Getting it at home and following up with a nap and shower is much more relaxing, convenient and even cheaper in my case.
It’s unusually hot today so I’m pretty sure I’ll still have some sunshine and warm evening to do some swimming before the storm clouds make their daily appearance. Maybe I’ll pick up a bag of fried chicken on the way along with some water so I have something to snack on. Vendors on the street sell fried chicken for about 20cents a piece along with some hanging-rice. If I’m lucky we’ll have another massive lightning storm like we did yesterday night. I just love lightning and thunder!!
Another development is that I (finally) decided for the betterment of this site to start carrying and using a smart-phone. I love technology but I normally hate using the Net on a smart-phone. I don’t see it as a big phone, I see it as a too-tiny laptop that is difficult to type on with my big fingers. I’ve avoided them all this time and been using a stupid-phone that just makes calls, that’s it. But.. after my girlfriend’s second offer to switch my stupid-phone for her Blackberry (so she can give my simple-phone to her Mom), I finally made the switch after playing with it for a while. It has a hi-res camera and I can put internet on it which allows me to do real-time photo-postings to Twitter/Facebook simultaneously as I’m out and about town here in the Philippines. Plus I can check in Facebook (I’m a FB-Junkie) while in town where there’s a signal. Unless I take my back-pack along with me, I normally don’t have a camera on hand. The screen is a little bigger on this Blackberry so, with all the typing I’ve been doing the larger text does my eyes some good as well.
Well, it’s been really hectic here but I’ll have some new stuff posted for the site soon. I suddenly have a very full-plate of items to complete online and time for stuff like sleep, meals and showers have been taking a back-seat to being productive. But a nice, cool swim later today will be just the thing I need. Meanwhile I’m learning that while the Philippines is a very friendly place it also means you have to be a bit more selective about who you spend time with. Some people know how to be just casual friends, like in the States. Hang out whenever it’s convenient, shoot the breeze, have conversations over some food.. like it should be. But others, well.. there are some people here and there who only see foreigners as either a meal-ticket or as a fast-track to marriage. That kind of grasping, clutching self-interest really turns me off and I’m getting better/faster at spotting it. Nothing feels so claustrophobic as a group of people wanting to be your entourage day and night. No wonder celebrities pay so much for security and bodyguards.. the whole ‘fan club’ thing really loses it’s novelty after a few days. Right now I know two men, one from Bangladesh and the other from California and two women, which are my maid and a woman who lives across the street who I can just talk to without any weird self-interest. They don’t ask to borrow money, they aren’t looking for marriage.. it’s just some good folks who take it casual and have a “see ya when I see ya.. how’s it going?” mindset. That’s more in line with the type of friends I’m used to having back home. On that note.. a big “Shout Out” to all my wonderful friends in the States that I do miss having lunch and good conversation with.. you know who you are! Big hug to all of you.
While there I was sitting beside a young girl who happens to live just down the block from me along with her male friend. We exchanged comments about the different acts as they performed. She said she had a job interview early the next morning and would only stay for one more performance. I was getting kinda antsy sitting on the cement as well so I figured the three of us could catch a Tricycle together back to our same neighborhood. The next dance troupe came out and they had the best uniforms by far. As it quickly became apparent they were not your average hip-hop group with a few moves. Immediately they went into some very impressive back-flips, somersaults and about every minute were doing a maneuver where six of them would lift up the smallest one and send him soaring about fifteen feet into the air. If you look here you will see a photo I took despite the low light and lack of flash on the camera I’d brought along. It was about two minutes after I took this photo that they repeated the same maneuver.. when it happened. He flew about 15 feet into the air, did about three reverse flips and when he came down.. yes, he slipped through their hands and slammed the back of his head into the hard cement/tile pavement.
Everyone was immediately horrified. Not that he might have gotten hurt.. but that it was obvious he DID get hurt. Even with the loud music, there was a sickening loud thud when his head hit the cement that you could hear it above all the noise. Girls began screaming and rushed about randomly, not knowing which direction to go. I quickly stood up and rushed forward, trying to remember what I could of CPR that I took many years ago. I made my way to him and he was laid out on his back, writhing about. At first I saw no sign of breathing but then I saw him take big breaths. His legs were moving so I’m hoping that’s a sign he didn’t paralyze himself. But then, within 20 seconds his whole body began to convulse violently. My only thought was, “Oh God.. he’s dying.” Nobody else seemed to know what to do and were just fanning him, telling the crowd to get back. I saw that one of the event organizers had called for an ambulance on a smart-phone next to me. The boy was breathing, no more convulsions and was now unconscious. I felt so helpless.. there was nothing I could think to do. There was no blood however the impact to the back of his head was grave to say the least.
I turned around and the girl from my neighborhood was on the verge of tears. She stood there in complete shock and terror. I put my arm around her and making a path through the crowd, led her and her friend down the stairs and out of the building, away from the scene. I’ve seen a lot of things in my life including a head-on collision right in front of me as well as a truck flip over before impacting my car. But this.. it just filled me with such intense and immediate sorrow. And she, a young girl not more than maybe 19 or 20.. she was mortified, repeatedly asking me if he was going to be alright. I shared my consolation that he showed signs of going into shock and may not feel much pain until the ambulance was due to arrive and perhaps sedate and stabilize him. The three of us got a Tricycle with two other people and it began it’s way through the crowded street. As we did the ambulance came in with sirens blaring to render assistance.
It has been several hours now and I am still filled with just so much sorrow it feels like lead within me. I can only hope and pray that this young man will survive this without any permanent damage. If you are of an inclination.. he could use your prayers.
[10/12/2012] — Well, I’ve discovered a new favorite to cook at home.. Sweet Chicken Chow Mein. I found Chicken Tocino in the butcher’s section, boneless chicken breast marinated in the tocino sauce that is usually used on pork. It has a slightly sweet taste to it. I diced up the chicken and cooked that in a little oil.. added some bean sprouts with pre-cut carrots ‘n peas.. steamed up some white rice and for a total of about $1.75 had a huge serving of Sweet Chicken Chow Mein. The Chicken Tocino would go great with breakfast as well, some rice and eggs on the side.
Meanwhile it’s a quiet Friday night for me. I have a few DVD’s to watch but will first take my evening walk. Other than walking to the hammock I haven’t done any exercise today. Meanwhile it occurred to me that this is the first week of October. That is significant for two reasons. First, it has now officially been 3 months that I’ve been here in the Philippines! I landed here July 11th. It’s strange but in some ways it’s gone by quickly, but in other ways I feel like I’m embedded in my surroundings with a few new friends and a better knowledge of what’s around me.
The second reason is that during the first week of October, way back in 1993.. my whole life was shattered in that same week. First my fiance’ broke off our engagement and then I found out she was dating my best-friend. Yah, I was the last to know. That alone was devastating. But that wasn’t enough. That same week I got news my Father was critically ill and he passed away the next morning. Between losing the woman I loved and losing my Dad.. I had no will to live at that point. I didn’t eat or drink water for a full week. I had to wet my mouth to keep my tongue from swelling but I refused to eat or drink anything. I lost weight. I wept for hours on end collapsed on the floor alone at the end of every day for weeks. There wasn’t even the slightest gleam of hope for a future for me despite the great money I was making at the time. It took about six months to just return to thinking clearly but the depression hit me hard for over a year.
That was 19 years ago. Wow. Never in my wildest imaginations back then would I have ever pictured myself alive and in a foreign land years later. Pretty amazing how life can just turn on a dime, for better or worse.
Meanwhile, I met a fellow Californian the other day. An intelligent, cool enough dude of 48 years. He’s had a bit more of a rocky road here in the Philippines than he planned for and says he would return to the US if he could. I guess each person has to find their own path.
Well.. time for my walk. Whether day or night you always have to be aware of traffic around here. This is a crash-dummy in this photo here. These ‘hubble hubble‘ type scooters are used all over the place here in the Philippines. There are probably more of them than vehicles, or at least as many.. they are everywhere since they are affordable and use less gas than a car. If you’ve ever been in traffic in Mexico.. it’s even crazier here, I’m not kidding. Basically, the biggest vehicle has the right of way. Even walking down the street I am WAY more observant of traffic here than when in the US. The line in the road really is more of a decoration than anything else. The one good thing is that most traffic here only moves at about 25-35mph in congested areas. A bit faster on the open lanes or later at night when there’s less traffic.
[10/10/2012] — Finally! No more coughing so, enough of that. Been having some awesome days here lately. Had a relaxing day at the marketplace yesterday, I even wandered into the ‘wet market’ where they have all the fishies, squids and shrimp on ice for sale. I’ll have to bring my video-cam next time. I also saw some guy carrying a butchered pig, he passed me by as I was walking down the street. He had about five or six pigs to carry into the market so I was able to snap a few photos of him. Meanwhile I’ve gone for a relaxing swim at the pool down the street and been making more use of the hammock that’s in my front yard. Very relaxing. (now that I killed the giant spider in the tree.)
The last time I was at Chicago Joe’s I had noticed a video the VJ played (they have such a great sound system there) but I had no clue who the artist was. Very catchy style and an all-out video. It’s a huge hit here in Asia at the dance-clubs, just not sure if they’ve been playing it there in the States. The name of the artist, from Korea, is PSY and his ‘Gangnam Style’ vid is the one that I saw. (Finally tracked it down.) Kinda took me by surprise first time I saw it.. then it just kept growing on me. I mean, it’s so bold and weird, yet catchy. I’ve seen kids doing the dance-style at the malls, it’s quite the sensation here. You can check out the video here..
Meanwhile, back at the ranch.. Baby (the Maid) came over and did another knock-out job cleaning the place. I’m really getting spoiled. Dishes are done, floors are immaculate, not a trace of dust or lint anywhere and she’ll have my laundry done as well in two days. So glad I hired her. It’s evening now and I’ve still got a few things I want to get done before calling it a day. I’ve been waking up around 7am lately and it’s messing up my whole schedule. I’m usually more productive late at night. So this whole sleepy at 10pm is just NOT working for me at all. Well, I stocked up on groceries this morning, got stuff to make some marinated chicken with noodles. Kinda like a meat lo mien sort of dish. Well, time for an evening shower, a snack and then see what else I can get done today!
[10/07/2012] — It’s been a strange day. I had hoped to be productive now that I’m feeling much better from the sickness thing. I had a great night’s sleep and woke up refreshed, ready to go at 6am.. a rare thing for me, being a night person. But as the lazy Sunday progressed it seemed like the day just got slower and slower. I didn’t feel like cooking so I decided to get some breakfast at the local Chow King at the mall. While there I once again ran into an American ex-pat by the name of Niles. He’s about 68 and has traveled for years all over Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Lithuania, Berlin, Singapore, Italy, China, Germany, Spain, Malaysia and several other places. I’d run into him twice before this week so he joined me for some conversation over breakfast. We both enjoy reading and both happen to be big fans of Hemingway. Come to think of it, Niles looks a LOT like the older Hemingway with the same beard and all. Also as amazing is that both Niles and I knew that on a back-shelf, behind the counter of a small Filipino laundry shop down the street a ways, the woman there had books for sale at discount. It’s a shame Niles doesn’t do internet, he travels lightly.. usually one suitcase and/or backpack all these years. He leaves for Singapore in a week and then from there he’s off to the Middle East a month later. Says he was getting antsy to ditch his girlfriend of two years here on Mactan. He is the wandering gypsy if ever I met one.
So after talking about books, traveling, Hemingway, women and food for a few hours with Niles, I decided to return to my studio. I’d originally planned to go to the marketplace but it was getting really hot and humid out. So.. there I am on the phone with my girlfriend.. just lying there in the hammock looking upwards into the trees when suddenly my eyes focused on the biggest damn spider hanging directly over me! I got off the phone and ran for my camera. Imagine the LARGEST black-widow spider you’ve ever seen and just more than double that size.. that’s how big this thing was. From tip to tip it was an easy two inches with a huge abdomen. After getting a few good photos for you fine folks.. I then sprayed him into a quick death with a spritz of Baygon bug killer. There was no way I’d be back in that hammock knowing I’d left it to fill the tree with hundreds of baby-spiders to take it’s place. I haven’t been back in the hammock the rest of the day.. gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.
The day just sort of disintegrated from that point on. I read a bunch of news articles online, did some Facebooking and pretty soon I was too tired to go downtown. Right now I’m at the Cafe Malmo in town but this whole waking up at dawn nonsense has me barely able to keep my eyes open. However, on a positive note for the day.. I came across a photo my girlfriend took of me just the other day and I’ve definitely lost weight since getting here. About 3 inches from my waist. I don’t have a scale so, not sure how many pounds but I’d say at least ten pounds or so. I was 233 pounds when I left the States. Gotta find me a scale somewhere. All I know is I do lots of walking and eat lots of meat ‘n vegetables. Aside from drinking about four bottles of water a day, I also drink fresh-made juice I make from pineapples and bananas I get from the vendors around here.
All in all.. a good day, can’t complain other than the whole spider thing.. that kinda freaked me out. Being in the mall for several hours it’s amazing how many pretty women enter that place every few minutes. After a while it’s just kind of a blur from seeing so many. I changed my cell-phone number to eradicate some of the phone drama I was getting. Today was my 2nd day with the new number, which only a few people have.. and it’s been relaxing to not hear that thing ring with calls or texts anymore. My girlfriend and maid are about the only ones that make use of the new number. Speaking of which, I need to buy a new broom before my laundry pile gets any bigger so I can schedule another cleaning appointment next week. Meanwhile, I’m staying out of the hammock for now.
[10/05/2012] — Been a while since my last entry.. this sickness thing really sucks. But.. good news is I seem to be getting better and am about 90% back to ‘normal’ aside from the cough. Well.. during the last week of September the malls starting decorating for Christmas and now it’s pretty much in full swing here. After 49 years (my whole life thus far) this coming Christmas will be the very FIRST Christmas that I won’t be with my family. I do have my g/f here so I’m not completely on my own but, even so, first time in almost half a century to not be home with family for Christmas.. that’s reason for pause.
Yesterday, on a lighter note.. I had THE most awesome day. One of those days where pretty much nothing went wrong and all went right. It started in the morning, woke up around 8am fully rested. My g/f came by and I cooked us up some French Toast with bacon. I haven’t had that for breakfast in months, since before coming here. After spending the afternoon with my g/f (again, completely awesome) I asked her to drop me off in Cebu at the SM Mall. I got there with plenty of time to get some Italian Gelato at a place there called ‘Gelatissimo‘. So good! I got Apple, Berries and Lemon Cheesecake flavors in a sundae. From there I took a casual stroll to the indoor movie theater where I then saw the sequel, “Taken 2”. Afterward, got lunch at a place called ‘Monster Franks’ which serves up the best grilled Bratwurst Hot Dogs. From there I picked out a Halloween mask for an upcoming party and caught a taxi home. Got home and what awaits me?.. some leftover bacon I’d already cooked that morning. Mmm.. I just love coming home to cooked bacon. Some hot tea, I finished watching the last episodes of the final season of ‘House’ and had a great night’s sleep. Truly, an awesome day. 🙂
Today it’s Friday and raining. With my brain working a bit better without fever, I’ve made up a list of things I want to get done and it’s a long list! I don’t feel like hitting any night life tonight.. just want to continue enjoying the day and cook here at home. I figure if I get productive enough between now and Saturday, I can take the day Sunday to just kick around the Marketplace in Lapu Lapu at the end of the weekend. Meanwhile, I’m getting a thicker skin and getting better at telling people, “No” to their slowly diminishing requests for money. It’s slowly, slowly sinking in to a few people here that I do not have a magic box under my bed that spits out bags of money every morning. I do have a piggy-farm, but that won’t be profitable for another 6 months or so. And even then, sporadically. I did go visit the piggies a few days ago so I’ll be posting the photos ‘n video soon. But right now, time to heat up some water and have some real Tea. It turns out I did not like the Japanese tea I bought a while ago.. I was just so sick I couldn’t taste it. Now that I can taste it.. pretty bad. I gave it away and my g/f was sweet enough to bring me the Lipton Tea that I’m accustomed to. Oh, by the way.. if you ever get a dry-cough that is just driving you nuts.. I was able to get it under control with a gargle called; ‘Hexetidine – Bactidol‘. Nothing else was working until I started gargling with this. Works within seconds.. no coughing.. no cough-headache. Such a lifesaver! Perfect for Strep-Throat, which is what I had.
(PM – Update) — Well.. even though it’s Midnight I’m in the mood for some breakfast so I’ve got some Garlic Rice cooking in my rice-cooker, gonna have that with eggs and SPAM. 🙂 I really like my mini-rice-cooker.. it only makes enough rice for 2 people but that’s fine for me since it’s usually just me at my place except for when my g/f stops by. It seems like I’ve had rice at least once a day since moving here, usually Jasmine either plain, fried with veggies or as Garlic Rice.
Author: Reekay V.
Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.
Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.