C How They Made Me! Chapter 32


Memoirs of a Philippine Mongerer

C How they made me chapter 32:

Sabang.

At first when the Albert announced the lack of fuel I was more than a little bit perturbed. At that stage I was a good swimmer and I was fairly sure I could make it to either one of the beaches I could see on either side of me but if I did this what would I do with Rosie and how about my luggage and possessions. I could just see me doing my macho hero act and swimming to shore while Albert inextricably discovered he still had some fuel and with a flick of a switch went chugging off into the sunset with Rosie and all my possessions.

So there we sat with a nervous Rosie jabbering away to a placid Albert who although we were floating aimlessly didn’t seem to have a worry in the world. In fact I got the distinct feeling this wasn’t Albert’s first occasion at running out of fuel hence his apparent lack of care. I was just contemplating this thinking to myself if this has happened before why doesn’t the clown carry spare fuel with him then just as I was about to ask him another bunker boat came into view heading straight for us.

In no time the other bunker had pulled up beside us and after a rapid exchange of Tagalog two guys started pouring diesel from a jerry can into our boats engine. After they had finished Albert hurriedly started the motor and then looked at me expectantly. I asked Rosie why is he looking at me like that and she replied “honey you pay fuel”. At this stage I was a comparative new comer but I was already resigned to the fact that somehow the foreigner always seems to end up paying. I dug through my wallet found 200 piso handed it over to Albert whilst thinking I will take that off the end amount when we reach Sabang.

The crossing to Sabang is actually quite a short journey and in no time we were gazing across the water at Sabang beach which lay glistening in the sun on the horizon. From a distance Sabang looked very picturesque but this impression was soon to change as we got closer and I got a more in depth view of the place. Sabang from a distance look like a glittering jewel in the sunshine but this impression is soon dispersed as you get closer. At this stage in my life I had within the preceding two years stayed in the Maldives for 4 months so I was expecting to see pristine sparkling white sand beaches with crystal clear aqua marine water gently lapping at the shore. Instead the sight that greeted me was more like a tropical version of a working class English seaside resort. The buildings were basic, old and shabby with corrugated iron roofs and on the side the brown slimy stain of sewerage trails gently seeping into the surrounding sea. The buildings were somewhat like a maze all crammed close to each other with very little privacy offered. Looking at this I felt more than slightly disappointed as it was very evident that in typical Filipino style they had just piled one building on top of another without any rudimentary planning or design work. My first impression of Sabang was this is nothing better than a concrete and iron camping ground on a sewerage strewn beach. Where was pristine sandy white beach, where were my little huts precariously balanced on stilts, where was the beautiful aqua marine water teaming with fish? This wasn’t my Robinson Crusoe lifestyle and it certainly wasn’t my luxurious tropical retreat. As I looked at Sabang a feeling of disappointment slowly descended and I found myself wondering what the hell I was doing here.

The banca boat slowly drifted into the main part of Sabang and when we were ten feet from the shore he Albert cut the engine and just let the boat gently run aground. We descended from the boat with Albert demanding to carry the luggage which he unceremoniously dumped on the sand and then held his hand out. I asked Rosie what’s he doing and she replied “you pay her now” . I asked Rosie to ask him how much and received the reply from Albert ‘500 piso”. I looked at Albert somewhat aghast and asked him have I bought the entire boat which elicited a smile and the reply “no, boat cost 2 hundred thousand”. I fished around in my wallet looking for three one hundred peso bills but of course the smallest I could find was a 500. I handed over the 500 to Albert and said “I don’t suppose you have two hundred piso change” to which he just smiled and shook his head. I figured I should deduct the two hundred I had paid for fuel but for the life of me I couldn’t see anywhere that would offer change so I just handed him the 500 grabbed my bags and started walking towards the nearest building of any significance with the plan of asking someone where was Big Apple resort.

With me carrying the bags and a somewhat churlish Rosie following behind we walked up the beach and entered the rabbit warren of small alleyways and ramshackle buildings that was Sabang back in those days. We negotiated the streets of Sabang but seemed to be getting nowhere so I asked Rosie to get some directions to Captain Gregs which caused another angry look but she did humble herself and ask the next woman she saw the directions. After another 15 minutes of negotiating the alleys of Sabang we finally made it to Captain Greg’s were we checked in and then indulged ourselves in a round of torrid sex before crashing out for the night wondering what tomorrow would bring.

The next morning after a late breakfast Rosie and I decided to have a look around Sabang mainly because I was sure there had to be more to this place than what I had seen on our arrival. I couldn’t believe that the much vaunted Sabang could be such a boring shit hole. We started out strolling through the alleyways again with me just absorbing the daily Filipino lifestyle. People were squatting outside their ramshackle houses doing the washing, some over made up garish looking girls decked out in bright shiny dresses were making their way home after a nights workout, small Filipino dogs were running around everywhere most of them barking at me to prove this was their territory and the big foreigner didn’t scare them at all. There were a number of bars and pubs most of which were not open and the daily supplies of san Miguel beer and bottles of Tanduay rum were being delivered by hand. The standard of housing was much as I had seen from the boat ramshackle and slovenly. Everywhere I looked snotty nosed kids would stare at me and the glares of the Filipino men were all verging on opportunistic to downright hostile. I did see a couple of girlie bars but at this time of day they were not operating so I took a mental note of their names and approximate location.

The main attraction of Sabang and Peurto Galera seemed to be diving as everywhere we went there were dive shops and signage advertising various dive tours. Not being a diver myself this didn’t particularly excite me but Rosie on the other hand seemed enthused and started telling me how an ex boy friend of hers used to take her snorkeling. I am not sure what Rosies motivation for telling me all about her ex was but I noticed she seemed to take a perverse delight in watching my reaction whenever she talked about him. At the time I should have recognized this behavior as a sign of things to come but I was still new and blissfully naïve so I just wrote it off as Rosie playing childish games and stayed determined to enjoy myself no matter what she did.

After a brisk ten minute walk we arrived at Sabang pool hall which I was to later find out was a general meeting place for the tourists on a budget. Basically the guys, both Filipino and foreigner, would hang out here drink cheap beer and play pool. The Filipinos were of course always looking for a chance to hustle and make some money whilst the foreigners were there to kill time and drink cheap beer. Later on I was to find out that this joint was a recognized place from which to purchase some weed and that explained why half the guys I saw there on my many visits were always spaced out and laid back. We stopped in Sabang Pool hall drank some coke and I played a couple of games of pool always losing but at five piso a game I figured what the heck it’s a cheap way to kill some time. While I was playing Rosie sat quietly in the corner talking with some young Filipino guy who later she told me new her best friend in Manila. I was a little bit suspicious of this but the guy seemed friendly enough and I thought to myself what the fuck it’s their country and I don’t understand what they are talking about anyway so I will just go with the flow.

While on my third unsuccessful attempt at winning a game of pool a flash of brilliance hit me as I suddenly remembered the lady we had met on the dock at Batangas and I rummaged through my wallet to find her now somewhat crumpled card. After I lost the next game of pool I headed over to Rosie and her new found Filipino friend and announced come on Rosie I am going to pay the bill and then lets go find that lady who we owns the hotel, you remember the one we met on Batangas pier. Realization slowly dawned on Rosie what I was talking about and she replied with a smile, “ok she nice lady much better we stay his place”.

Rosie showed her friend the card and asked where this place was to which the guy walked out with us and pointed with his lips. I looked at him thinking why is this guy blowing kisses up the road but Rosie seemed to understand completely and was soon strolling down the path as if she owned the place. After about five minutes walk the buildings gave way to another stretch of sand which for me was certainly a lot better than walking on the so called streets. As we reached the end of the minature beach Rosie suddenly veered inland and then as we turned the first corner she proudly announced “honey this ladies place same same on card”. By this time I was hot and sweaty, (a condition that was to become indicative of my everyday life in the Philippines), and it was with relief that I saw a nice little compound composed of individual nippa huts all over looking the beach along with what looked like a little restaurant which I instantly decided was the place we had to visit next.

We strolled up to the empty restaurant pulled up a chair each and then a pretty young girl who was obviously the waitress approached us and asked in halting English what we would like to order . Whilst admiring this provincial beauty with her provocatively swaying buttocks and pert little breasts I ordered a drink for myself and Rosie then when she returned with a refreshingly chilled bottles of mineral water I asked Rosie to show her the ladies card and see if she knew where she was. After a couple of swigs of water Rosie called th girl over again and showed her the card which caused the girl to break out in a beaming smile and proudly announce he my mother walang problema for a while I find mama.

Rosie and I sat there admiring the scenery and enjoying the gentle breeze lowing of the water and then almost like an apparition the lady who we had met on the pier was suddenly standing beside Rosie saying, “welcome to number 1 resort in Sabang” . The lady sat with us and engaged us in conversation for about half an hour. As it turned out her English was fairly good as she had spent 6 years in America working as a nurse and with her savings had returned to Sabang and set up her own resort. After we had cooled down and were feeling more relaxed she offered to show us around and since I was not particularly impressed with Captain Greg’s and for want of anything else to do I gladly accepted.

The tour of her little compound took all of ten minutes and it only took us viewing one hut for both Rosie and myself to decide we would much rather stay here. The huts were basic being composed of one double bed in the form of a cane bed and a thin mattress a small gas stove an overhead fan and a small window to let the breeze from the ocean cool things down. This was not exactly the Hilton but for 200 piso a night it was darn good value and Rosie certainly seemed to like it enough so for me it was an easy decision.

After seeing the huts I gave the lady one weeks deposit of 1400 piso then headed back to Captain Greg’s to pick up our gear and haul it back to our new home. As I was leaving Rosie asked if she could stay and have a chat with the lady and promised to make some lunch for me to eat when I returned. This seemed like a good idea as I figured Rosie would get the lay of the land much better than me so I sauntered off down the beach by myself. I had gone about one hundred yards when I heard a young female voice calling to me asking me to wait. I turned around and much to my delight saw my new land ladies daughter running down the beach with every part of her trim pert young anatomy invitingly waggling before my eyes. Being reminded of the movie ten I stopped instantaneously and as I watched her come closer I thought to myself there is a god after all.

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