Memoirs of a Philippine Mongerer
C How they made me chapter 15:
Bye bye Boracay:
As the old saying says all good things must come to an end and so it was with my trip to Boracay. Upon reflection I realize I could have stayed another two or three months and the drama that was soon to envelope my world would of never happened, however, there was no way I could see the future and in my heart of hearts I knew it was time to head back to the hustle and bustle of Manila if not for me then for the expectant mother Hilda. I had really enjoyed my relaxing stay on Boracay and during my two months there the millions of people who inhabited planet earth had seemed another world away. Life just drifted by one seductively lazy day after another and I literally had to force myself to leave the idyllic paradise of Boracay.
Having had all day to reflect on it and finally making up my mind I decided that Hilda and I would have two or three more days in Boracay and then head on back to Manila. That night over yet another type of fish soup and rice I informed Hilda of my decision figuring that she would probably like to get back to Manila as well but surprisingly she seemed a bit put out by my announcement and it was then that I realized Hilda had come to enjoy her comfortable hassle free existence as much as I had. After dinner we reclined in a hammock gently swaying underneath the coconut trees and it was then I bought up the subject of Manila again. Hilda listened patiently as I explained why I thought we should all go back to Manila then when I had finished she looked up at me with those beautiful Chinese eyes and said “no froblem it’s up to you”.
The next day early in the morning we packed what little baggage we had and then just as we were preparing to leave it hit me, what was I going to do with the monkey. I asked Hilda if it was ok with her if we took the monkey and she gave me another one of her withering looks that seemed to say how dumb can this man be. Just then the little old lady walked up to us followed by the young man who had acted as my pseudo body guard and in his hands he was carrying what looked like a bamboo cage with a monkey inside. When I saw this it dawned on me what had happened and I turned to thank Hilda only to see her smiling as she shook her head in pure bewilderment at how dumb her foreigner boyfriend could be.
Hilda gave the old lady a hug and a rapid exchange in whatever language they were speaking then she grabbed my shirt sleeve and pulled me into the corner. By this time I was totally confused and I asked her what’s the problem to which she responded just give me 2000 peso because I want to give it to the old lady because she has helped look after us so well. Well I could hardly refuse a pregnant Hilda with what seemed like a very reasonable request so I rummaged through my pockets found my wallet and pulled out 2000 peso which I handed to her and she in turn gave it to the old lady along with a hug and the age old sign of respect which in the Philippines equals the touching of the other a persons hand to ones forehead.
With our goodbyes to our new found friends complete we strolled down to the beach heading towards the bunka area with the young man carrying our bags and me carrying the monkey inside her cage. I could have easily carried the bags but the young guy and Hilda seemed most insistent that he should act as porter so I stuck to holding Hilda’s hand and carrying the caged monkey in the other. When we got to the docking area the boat boys ran to grab our luggage and but not before having a little snigger at the stupid foreigner carrying a caged monkey. I turned round to thank the youth for carrying our bags and slipped him a 500 peso note. When he received the money his features transformed as a brilliant beaming smile lit up his entire face. The young man shook my hand and then after assuring me he would always be there should I ever return to Boracay he literally turned and ran back up the beach towards the compound where we had been staying the last two months. I watched him run along the beach and then turned and waded out to the boat. As I walked in the crystal clear water I remember looking down at the sparkling white sand as it sifted through my toes and gently swirled around my feet and as I did so I couldn’t help but reflect on the idyllic time I had experienced on Boracay and I wondered if I would ever see this beautiful island again.
The boat ride was only about thirty minutes and it was a bit worrying for a pregnant Hilda and a somewhat distraught monkey, but for me, as I have always been a water lover, this was a fun experience. As the boat cruised through the sparkling waters and gently crested the small waves I turned back to look back at pristine Boracay gleaming like a tropical jewel in the sunlight and couldn’t help but wonder what the future would bring and I vowed no matter how this idyllic island paradise changed it would always hold a special place in my heart.
The ride to Kalibo was smooth and even though she was scared the gentle rocking of the boat and constant throb of the motor soon had Hilda lightly snoozing which left me time to have a chat with the boat boys and play with the anxious monkey. Within no time we reached the mainland and from there it was a thirty minute jeepney ride through the heart of Panay Island to arrive at Caticlan the capital city of Panay. Travelling in the jeepney with a pregnant lady and a monkey was a unique experience and we must have looked quite a spectacle because the Filipinos couldn’t keep their eyes of us or refrain from making sniggering little comments. As for me I didn’t really care what we looked like or how they judged us so I just concentrated on looking out the jeepney at the lush tropical scenery of Panay.
At the airport we checked in our luggage and I asked the lady if the monkey could travel with us on the plane to which she simply smiled and in a totally unflustered manner replied, “no sir the rules state that the monkeys and other animals must travel in the cargo hold. I tried to politely argue against this decision but she was adamant so in the end I put the monkey cage on the conveyor belt and she was transported into the cargo hold.
The flight to Boracay is only 20 minutes but while we were flying I couldn’t help but wonder how my poor monkey was faring down in the cargo hold. Hilda saw the worried expression on my face and asked me “what your problem honey” and I replied I am a little worried about the monkey she must be very scared. When she heard this Hilda just shook her head and turned to look out the airplanes window. In just under 20 minutes we landed at Manilas domestic airport and after walking across the tarmac we checked through the ticket collectors and hurriedly walked towards the baggage pick up area. We had to wait approximately 15 minutes and then the baggage began to come through. I grabbed our bags off the revolving conveyor belt and then looked anxiously for the monkey. I waited for a further ten minutes until everyone on the flight had collected their luggage but still no monkey. I turned to Hilda and in a panic stricken voice asked, “how do I report a missing monkey” when out of the corner of my eye I saw a uniformed lady approaching me carrying a monkey in a cage. Instantaneously I felt a surge of relief rush over me and when she presented the monkey to me I asked her why she was carrying the monkey and explained I had been waiting for it to appear on the luggage conveyor belt. With this she smiled at me and said, ”sir your monkey travelled first class in the captain’s cabin”.