Monthly Archives: January 2009

Chapter 4: I am Christopher Atkins

CHAPTER 4
I AM CHRISTOPHER ATKINS

Formative years.
I believe we humans collect certain experiences in our youth that permanently register in our brains as much more than mere memories. If the age is just right, some events that surround us may well DEFINE us. They determine who we are, how we are built. Pretty sure. Hell, why do most men seek women that resemble their mothers? (wait- my mom was NOT brown-skinned. Okay, never mind)

As an impressionable teenager, I pedaled my Schwinn fifteen miles on one humid summer afternoon to spend my lawn-mowing earnings on a ticket to the movie “The Blue Lagoon”. I think I sported wood in anticipation even before I got to the theater, but at that age it might have just been the friction of the bike seat. I haven’t seen the movie since, but I can still recall the underwater nude swimming scenes. Vividly. (I SWEAR I saw her bush) Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins played cousins (!) who were stranded on a deserted tropical island together as children, and eventually grew to teenagers who discovered their sexuality together. Under the hot sun. In the warm lagoon. On the beach. Free. Absolutely free. Adam and Eve. No one to tell them to wear clothes. No one to keep them apart. No worries about food (lots of fish). No society to apply pressure of any sort. They did what came naturally.
As a land-locked boy long-obsessed with tropical islands, this beautiful scenery tingled my mind. As a girl-starved boy newly obsessed with anything remotely female, the beautiful barely-dressed teenage Brooke tingled my naughty bits as well. I became Christopher Atkins. I could FEEL me feeling her. (most likely, it was just me feeling me) I hung my head the day I learned it was only a body-double who swam naked on screen with the colorful fish in the lagoon. I think Brooke was maybe a bit too young for a nude scene in 1980. So was I.

Without trying to, I think I spent the next couple of decades searching for my own Blue Lagoon. I can just taste that clear salty lagoon water. I can hear the tropical birds from the lush jungle and I can feel the warm sand. I can smell those wonderfully feminine scents that sweaty outdoor lovemaking in the humid afternoon sun brings to life. I can just see the Blue Lagoon. My blue lagoon.

Last month, these were my old vivid daydreams of fantasy swirling in an office that sported a large framed photograph of some random lagoon in Bora Bora.
Today, these are my new vivid memories of reality swirling an office that sports a large framed photograph of one Big Lagoon, Miniloc Island, El Nido, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines… Aka: Boom Boom Lagoon.
Fantasy is good.
Reality is better.
(Trust me on this one.)

Apocalypse Now.
I sang. I sang straight into the humid wind filled with the scents of exotic flora bombarding my virgin nose. My voice was colored with the smile of adventure. I sang very loudly because the wind was madly rushing at the faces of the six passengers seated next to me in the little white speedboat charging down the muddy Nyung river toward its delta.
I sang Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”. Okay, not really. I mean, there ARE words to this famous opera,(German words, whatever) but instead I sang “Bum Budda Da-da, BUM budda DA-da”, to the tune in my head. We were in Cambodia, and I don’t mean the bar. There was napalm in the air. It was 1969.

Well… okay, not really the Nyung. This river was actually in Palawan, there was no napalm that I could smell, and the year was 2008. But holy bejesus, this place did look familiar. No, I’m far too young to be a vet from ‘Nam. However I did feel like I was at that river delta in the movie “Apocalypse Now” where Lt. Kilgore lamented that the smell of napalm in the morning. {inhale}“Smells like victory.”
Strikingly similar.
Weird.
(yes, its just one old movie to the next with me!)

The muddy jungle river conveniently led straight to the warm ocean from back at the wobbly bamboo dock next to the gravel jungle airstrip that passes for El Nido Airport. The speedboat’s little outboard engine was revving with an ever-increasing pitch, competing with my rendition of Wagner, straight out of the movie… right on cue. The other passengers looked at me like I was insane. Except for Spinner. Spinner smiled. (Boss is singing. Boss is happy.) Few people get all of my humor. (Hey, I’m funny in my own head. I think.) Convinced that the little rusty outboard would explode at that RPM, I finally hit pause on my personal opera, turned back to Lt. Kilgore(shorter, browner though) piloting from the stern, and hollered over the roar:
“JESUS, WHY SO FAST?!”
He shouted back, “NO DIE!”
I could see the furious white wake twist behind the boat as we rounded a bend. Way too fast for wakeboarding. Oh well. Next time.
“WHAT?” I scrunched up my face.
“NO DIE GUNNING!!” Lt Kilgore shouted while staring back over my shoulder, eyes glued to something ahead of the boat like a kid with an Xbox controller in his hands.
“FUCKIN’ AYE!…NO DIE GUNNING!” I shouted back in agreement. Fuck. Must be Viet Cong snipers on the shore. Fuck.
Okay, I didn’t REALLY think there were snipers– just my kind of fun in the midst of my iffy comprehension. Much later, I decoded this conversation. “No die gunning” was actually “Low tide coming”.
Had I not spent a whole night studying Bar Girl Communication 101 in the classroom of Mjibbo, I would have completely missed his subtle lip-pointing gesture. (Seriously: Lips? Pointing?) I spun around in my seat to see what Lt. Kilgore was staring at, pouting at, just as Spinner’s knuckles went white while clamping onto my wrist. Spinner was already looking forward.

Crashing two hundred meters ahead of the boat were large white frothy waves at the exact point where the muddy river met the angry South China Sea. We were hauling ass in VERY shallow river rapids as Kilgore smoothly trimmed up the outboard to clear the rocks looming about 9 inches below us. We hit the frothy delta with all the grace of a jet ski barreling up the surfing side of a righteous wave.
“WHOOO HOOO!” I shouted as my backpack floated weightlessly at knee level.
We splashed down with the relief of Apollo 13 astronauts while Lt. Kilgore throttled back to cruising speed. I tasted adrenalin on my tongue. I tasted salt water.

The captain of the larger, slower outrigger who waited for us just offshore completely lacked Lt. Kilgore’s sense of adventure. That was just fine with me. That was just fine with all of the other passengers.
Fourty minutes of amazing scenery entertained us as we slowly traveled through the Bacuit archipelago with El Nido town and all civilization fading behind us in the distance. Dozens of ripped, jagged vertical gray limestone cliffs dotted with tropical greenery jutted out of the ocean off both port and starboard gunwales, as if unexpectedly pushed upward millions of years ago by some artistic force.
“Ohhh… this is cool,” was all I could utter.
As we passed each lush green and gray deserted island in the Miniloc Ecological Preserve, I examined the many white sand beaches. I held Spinner’s hand in the breeze. The daydreams started. The grin started.

When the outrigger finally slowed, we were just offshore from the very remote Miniloc Island Resort. It was almost completely hidden in a huge cove on eastern Miniloc Island, surrounded on three sides by those same gray jagged cliffs reaching thousands of vertical feet. The small resort with its white beach occupied the entire cove behind the breakwater, from cliff-to-cliff. Visible were many thatched roof huts, plush beach chairs, and on the left was a row of little cottages on stilts over water that captured my curious gaze. Déjà vu. Stilts. Of course. The photograph of Bora Bora in my office. My fantasy. My island. So it began.

The entire smiling Miniloc staff welcomed us with a cheesy song and dance routine complete with all the enthusiasm of the dreaded Angeles shuffle on a slow Monday in Lolipop. My polite smile and pained eyes did not match, so Spinner and I pulled a covert egress, finding the only place to eat for many miles- the resort’s outdoor restaurant. I had purchased the “complete package” which included three meals per day (minus alcohol) and all the water sports. The cheaper option was a room only, but I doubt that anyone could actually survive on just stray Lapu Lapu speared while snorkeling. (Christopher Atkins didn’t NEED no stinking snorkel, bro!) Luckily the restaurant was decent. Buffet style, it usually included a stir-fry chef to make up whatever Mongolian-style meat and veggie mixture one might fancy. Out of the dozens of spices, I successfully crafted tasty Indian, Tai, and Chinese meals with chicken, shrimp, and beef (I noticed the USDA imported fillet mignon boxes from the outrigger). Spinner usually stuck to mere meat and rice but with very creative sauce concoctions. She selected soy and chili sauce, carefully chopping up odd shaped little red and little green peppers, seeds included. I just had to taste her sauce. (haaa) I took a piece of chicken, drowned it in her creation, and tasted. BANG. Wow. I do like spicy food, but this was Dave’s Insanity hot, threatening to blister my lips. Spinner grinned.

Our thatched-roof air conditioned hut was not quite up to Western 5-star standards, but it was very hip. We were in a little bamboo cottage on stilts, just large enough for a bed and bathroom, no TV.(good call) Its saving grace was the covered porch that included a day-bed style couch and pillows. The row of water cottages were cleverly arranged, so that every porch was isolated from neighbors while still providing a great view of the lagoon. This thing was PERFECT for boom-boom after dark! Spinner and I explored the resort then took the rest of the afternoon to allow our bodies to become slowly reacquainted with the special kind of sweaty lust usually prompted only by teenage hormones.

Just before dinner, we boarded an outrigger for “bottom fishing”. I was a bit bummed about the lack of real sportfishing, but what the hell- give me a rod and I’m happy to go local and try for Lapu Lapu. Well, I went local, but it wasn’t exactly a ROD they handed me on the boat. It was more like a small bicycle wheel rim wrapped with 30# fishing line. Are you KIDDING me?? Nope. The technique was to hook some squid and let the line spool to the bottom, at which point we were expected to tug the bare line until something bit, then haul the line hand-over-hand. Fucking quaint.
“Hey Fish-Killer, do you have a rod and reel on board? I don’t need a Penn International, just lightweight tackle will do, diba?”
“Oh, no, sir. This is the traditional way we fish here. No need for rod and reel, sir,” replied the friendly captain.
It turns out that the SMLs I took on board were a life-saver. There was no need for a rod and reel because there was no real intention of catching any fucking fish. Maybe it was the mellow atmosphere at this resort, but I felt absolutely none of my typical knee-jerk angst as a result. (no heat/humidity education) Was I finally relaxing? First I was all wound-up to slay some big game, then relented to hopes of bottom fish, then was merely happy to be surrounded by 360 degrees of beauty with a cold beer. I just sipped my SML, enjoyed the sunset from the boat, and smiled at the fading orange light highlighting Spinner’s delicate features while she struggled with the pile of tangled fishing line at her feet. (technology trumps tradition, diba?)

After a scrumptious stir-fry dinner, Spinner let her SML do the talking, spouting some yang about playing really good billiards because of off-hours practicing where she worked. After adjusting for the wind velocity of the beach bar pool table, I promptly disposed of her misconception. We retired early for wound licking, and spent the rest of the evening on our front porch day-bed. Our sweaty forms were safely hidden by the darkness, yet Spinner’s noises were occasionally met with my hand to her mouth followed by our quiet laughter.

Boom Boom Lagoon.
As the next day’s hazy mid-morning sun grew hotter, we grabbed a two-man kayak from the white beach next to our water cottage. I was determined to paddle to the two famous lagoons on the island, owning the overly-creative names of Big Lagoon and Little Lagoon. We were politely warned not to go to Big Lagoon until after 12:00noon because it was not possible to enter the inlet during low tide. I think my right eyebrow raised slightly at this warning, while I recalled Lt. Kilgore’s shallow water technique from the speedboat. (when in doubt, go faster!)
We paddled along the picturesque jagged gray green East coast of Miniloc Island until we came across the tantalizing cliff-saddled inlet to Big Lagoon. The warm Bacuit Bay was rushing into Big Lagoon via crystal clear swift rapids that were only about 3 inches deep. You guessed it. Before Spinner could protest twice, I navigated our little yellow plastic kayak with the two inch draft into the “river”, dodging rocks and coral. (of course I was in back, steering) Sixty seconds of excitement without a punctured kayak or broken coral ended with a calm landing into the sparkling, incredibly deep blue Big Lagoon of Miniloc. I knew instantly. I could smell it. I could feel it. MY BLUE LAGOON. It was strangely familiar. If the climax of years of anticipation actually has a taste, then that was exactly the taste on my lips at that very moment. I caught my breath at the raw beauty. Spinner spun around just then and caught something magical in my eyes of wonder, suddenly smiling broadly right back at me.
“Baby? We’re going swimming,” I whispered, still in awe of the dead-silent tall gray cliff cathedral that skirted the glassy turquoise water, concealing this little paradise from the outside world. It felt right to whisper, though we were very alone in one of those rare moments of nature in which one is truly humbled by the creator of such splendor.

The dark circle of steep cliffs left absolutely no beach available, but the very thoughtful folks at Miniloc Resort had anchored a large wooden raft in the middle of the lagoon. We tied off our trusty rapids-worthy kayak to the raft and climbed onto the deck. Spinner dropped her paddle as I dropped my board shorts, unashamed to stand naked in the sun. Spinner’s mouth opened at my audacity, glancing cautiously in the direction of the hidden inlet.
“Come on, live a little!” I shouted mid air while executing a carefully over-rotated swan dive so as to avoid all possibility of the dreaded belly-flop with the junk hanging out. (!) Spinner finally dropped both pieces of her bikini onto the raft deck and jumped in with me. I will always remember my pure joy surrounding our slow-motion nude swimming through the sparkling sun beams. Dolphins. Dolphins in mating season, I tell you.

Onomatopoeia.
I now realize that Tagalog is PACKED with words that have meanings that sound just like the very action described by the word. On Boracay (in Chapter 3) I learned that “suka” actually SOUNDS like the puking that it describes. On the wooden raft in the middle of Big Lagoon, I learned that the action of “boom boom” actually SOUNDS like the phrase. The floating boards of the raft loudly reverberated like a bass drum across the lagoon as Spinner and I transferred our underwater dolphin-mating technique to the raft deck like two of Darwin’s creatures, quickly making the water-to-land transition.
BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.
“Boom Boom Lagoon,” indeed.
It seems that all other kayakers that morning obeyed the low tide warning, because we had a solid solitary hour in which to play Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins.
Good Times.

The Small Lagoon was equally impressive for scenery but completely packed with snorkellers who arrived by outrigger from El Nido town and Lagen Resort. Spinner and I explored this lagoon with the other tourists, but we shared many longing glances that hinted at wishes for privacy. The next morning, our unspoken wishes were granted.

Boom Boom Beach.
“Sir, you may choose from scuba diving, cliff climbing, fishing, hiking, wind surfing, kayaking, bird watching, sailing…” droned the smiling pinay hostess whose job it was to keep the easily-bored guests from running low on stimulation.
“Umm, can we just go to a remote beach?” I responded. I had read on the www.elnidoresorts.com website that there were many beautiful remote beaches to explore on the 45 deserted islands in the area. MY idea of fun, castaway style.
“Of course, sir. What would you like to do there?”
I fought the involuntary grin while I squeezed Spinner’s hand, seated next to me. I struggled, then I spontaneously exploded with a sudden snort.
“Snorkeling!” I volunteered. “We like to snorkel!”
Both Spinner and the hostess watched me crack up with confused amusement on their faces.

The wooden boat’s happy captain shouted only one question as we jumped from the tiny craft onto the pristine hidden beach of the unidentified deserted island mid morning.
“What time pick up?!”
“Umm, how about four o clock?” I shouted back as he was already motoring away.
“Okay, sir!”
We were officially marooned together on an uninhabited island in the middle of a very sparsely populated sea. Just as Spinner and I began dropping our swimwear as if we were still floating on a certain large lagoon, an outrigger appeared. Crap. Muslim rebels?
“Hello, sir! Your lunch is here!” shouted the guy on the bow.
Holy shit. Lunch, indeed. The two guys produced a real wooden table, two chairs, and enough food for maybe ten people. They planted the table under the only shade tree on the white beach, and then we were given fillet mignon, grilled fish of three varieties, and many other dishes. After serving up the feast, they quickly sped away but not before one of the guys shouted: “LIKE ADAM AND EVE!”

Spinner and I laughed, sat and gorged, lounged then finally waded into the inviting clear water. I spent the next few hours perfecting the fine art of love making in two feet of warm salt water, punctuated by love making on beach towels, sun on my ass. We were completely alone, completely naked, miles away from the nearest human. Free in the sunshine. Free in the warm salty ocean.

We were busy perfecting the ocean portion of this intimate paradise-love routine when we heard the sudden crashing of plates on our beach lunch table.
“Oh, look, there is a bird eating our leftover food,” pointed Spinner.
“Umm, I’m thinking bigger than a bird,” I responded after seeing a large tail hanging down one side of the table.
The monitor lizard that dropped right out of the tree onto our table was not a huge specimen at roughly one meter from head-to-tail. However, he was a bit larger than my naked self was cool with, for lizard-picture time. Fuck that.
It turns out that we were not really marooned, because at exactly 4:00pm we were picked up by the same friendly crew that dropped us off.
The next morning included scuba diving and rock climbing, but Spinner and I shared a longing look that inevitably led to Boom Boom Beach Number 2. We left the remote Miniloc Resort as nudists. We left as intimate partners, with a taste of true paradise.
Wow, is all I can write, stumbling for adjectives, adverbs, and similes.
Wow.
My old fantasy was fulfilled.
Big time.

Chapter 9: Negativity

Chapter 9

Negativity

I debated for sometime as to whether or not to include a chapter pointing out the negatives (more like things to be aware of) of being in the Philippines and in particular AC, but in the end I decided, for good or for bad, it was part of our evolution into a mongerer and should at least be touched on in some small way. Consider it more of a list than a narrative because taken as a whole it could seem to be a bit overwhelming. The list is not in any particular order of importance.

1. Time Consuming Travel. For most of us who live far away, the trip to the Philippines can take the better part of a day (and sometimes more than a day). You may experience long layovers, cramped seating, delayed flights, missed connections, constant disturbances from fellow passengers, mechanical difficulties, weather could play a key factor, bad food, little sleep, insufficient access to the restroom facilities, unforeseen expenses and lest we forget (especially in todays geo-political climate) the possibility of terrorist activities. Then there is the fact that many of us will be crossing the International Dateline. Not that it will have any apparent physical effect on you, but subconsciously we all feel as though we have been “cheated” out of a day of our precious time away, not to worry, on the way back home you will get that day back. If only the reverse were true. I do so envy those that live only a few short hours away.

2. The Opposite Sex??? During your time in AC (and other cities I’m sure) you will no doubt come across what are locally referred to as “baklas”, “ladyboys”, “katoeys” (mostly that is a Thai term). These are men, who for there own reasons have decided they should be women. You may recognize them instantly, as some are just insanely ugly and foolish looking, but you may also be fooled (it DOES happen). It seems that asian men have the ability to look extremely convincing as a female. Usually it is the voice that gives them away. They are a devious bunch to be avoided for sure. They prey on the unsuspecting tourist. Luring, mostly drunken, men to the ever present dark nooks and crannys of a nearby alley with the promise of some oral love all the while “friends” are discretely hidden near at hand for possible ambushes AKA a mugging (or, God forbid, something worse). Although in recent years their presence becomes less and less noticeable, they are there somewhere, lying in wait. Stay on your toes.

3. Freelancers. We touched on this earlier, but I will go into more detail here. These are girls, who for whatever reason do not work in the bars, walk the streets looking for a “john” to have a brief sexual encounter with, normally at a cost that is way less than what the bars usually get for a barfine, maybe P300 to P500 is the going price for a streetwalker. It is still possible to find one who is a diamond in the rough, but why take the chance. They have no mandatory hygene testing, so be aware of that. There has been an increasing amount of scams perpetrated by these women. Some will later claim rape or even worse, stating to the authorities they are minors and that you have lured them to your hotel for the purpose of raping them. When this happens (and pray it never does to you) there will almost always be the proverbial “hand out” of your hard earned cash in order to avoid prosecution, after which the police and the girl will split the proceeds. It is best not to engage any one on the street in a conversation, especially if you do not know them, as the outcome could be exactly what you are trying to avoid.

4. Getting Sick. I am not a doctor or scientist, but it is my opinion that age plays a part in this. It seems the older we get, the more susceptible we become to the viruses over here. In my early years visiting here I would never get sick (except for the one time I drank the water and was grateful I ONLY got the shits), but in later years (closer to mid life) I would always pick up some sort of bug on every trip. Pre dosing yourself with some (doctor prescribed) anit biotics and a regimine of vitamins will certainly help keep your immune system up to strength. Also eating regularly and continuing the vitamins while you are here will be most beneficial. Buy a package of BIO-FLU, you can get it almost anywhere in AC, it is truly a wonder drug (in my experiences). You do not want to be laid up in your hotel room, retching your gutts out and shitting yourself for 7 days and 7 nights, when your supposed to be having the time of your life.

5. Beating up your Body. It is so easy to get caught up in the fervor of a barhop to the point we lose control. You will be drinking and drinking and drinking, add the presence of half naked women all trying to get into your pants and you see how easy it is. You will be punishing your body (and your liver) to the extreme limits of tolerance. Now multiply that by about 14 days (the average stay) and think about what you are doing to yourself. Set aside some time to recuperate, one day here, one day there. Stay home and go swimming, go shopping and see the sites, watch TV, invite a girl to stay with you, but lay off the boozing even for just 1 or 2 days. Your body will thank you in the end.

6. The Girls and Moneybacks. Ok, lets not kid ourselves, there will be times when you don’t get what you expected from a barfine. Perhaps you take a girl home and she fails to live up to the expectations. Perhaps she gets an “emergency” phone call right in the middle of the “deed”. Perhaps she may even just run for the hills while your taking a shower. These things happen, but not very often, and sometimes they are legitimate reasons for the early departure. After all, noone among us is a mind reader, so who knows what they are thinking. There are some simple precautions we can take as “paying customers”. A. Talk to a mamasan before you leave the bar and specify to her (yes be very specific) what you are expecting, so the girls can agree or not to your requests, in front of a witness. B. Sometimes the girls will “bolt” when you are out of sight because they guy is an asshole, lets face it, chances are your drunk and not in full possession of your faculties and have somehow lost the charm you exuded earlier in the evening. Try and sober up a bit before you go home with her. C. In a nice way, ask her if she will turn off her cell phone while she is with you for the night, 9 times out of 10 they won’t belabor the point. If all else fails, return, with the girl if possible, to the bar and state your case to the management. In almost every case, you will get a fare shake from the manager. They didn’t open a bar to cheat people, on the other hand, they didn’t open a bar to be cheated, so make sure your case is valid. “She ran away when my 9 friends showed up to join the fun” is NOT a reasonable excuse to get your money back.

7. Do Not Fall in Love. Unless your looking for a wife or long time relationship with the girls, don’t become caught up in their charms. Anyone who has ever been there can tell you it is so easy to lose yourself to these girls. Normally what happens is you fall for a girl, go back home and end up spending all waking moments glued to your computer waiting for her to get online (usually at an internet café) where at some point she will ask for money (they have literally thousands of reasons) to which you will become a Gold Card member of Western Union in no time. It’s ok to stay in touch with the many friends you have made on your visits, especially if your going to return, just don’t fall into the trap of being “involved” with any one girl. It’s a headache (heartache possibly) you can live without, trust me, they will survive with out you, they always do.

8. Keep Tabs on your Tabs. Nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. On the odd and rare occasion you will even be cheated on your bar bills. Keep your cups (they use little wooden cups to put your bar bills in) in front of you and make sure no one touches them except the waitress. Occasionally do a quick talley to be sure everything is kosher, and keep it in mind when it comes time to pay your bill. Politely point out any discrepancies to the waitress and your bill will be adjusted accordingly provided you are not the one who can’t add.

These are just a few of the pitfalls that could occur, that’s not to say they will, just be on you’re toes and everything should be fine. When traveling abroad, especially to a third world country, use your good common sense. Keep in mind that the rules that apply where you live will not always apply somewhere else. Keep an open mind as to the customs of foreign lands, and try to adjust your tolerance. A good example would be the “baklas” we talked about earlier; in the Philippines it is sometimes considered good luck to have one in the family. Though they should be avoided, there is no reason to chase them in the night with torches and pitch forks then burn them at the stake upon capturing one.

There is no reason to return home from your trip of a lifetime only remembering the negative things that happened. Learn from them so your next visit will be a little more pleasant. Talk about them fondly and perceive the humor of the situation rather than be disgusted and dissuaded by them. There is no such place as Nirvana, Eden, Xanadu or whatever you think is the “perfect” getaway, so don’t look for it, but Angeles City, in my opinion, is as close as you will come to finding it.

PROLOGUE: Brooke Is Maybe Too Young

PROLOGUE
Brooke Is Maybe Too Young

Ahhhh yes.
My second trip to Angeles City.
The glorious end of an itchy four-month PPD (Post-Philippine Depression) infection.
Finally. (!)

As you may have read elsewhere in this section, my cherry trip in was merely a four-day Angeles frenzy that blended great comical disappointment with great wondrous pleasures. We all have our reasons, I guess. The fuel that propelled me to AC the first time was curiosity. The vehicle was Asian Escapades. The pilots were Mjibbo, Shagger, and others, if only with their prose.

For this second trip, I had big plans for a fantasy tropical vacation with “Spinner”, whom I met on my very last night of my very first trip. I was thinking “Blue Lagoon”, circa 1980 here. I get to be Christopher Atkins, and Spinner gets to be Brooke Shields. (ok, under-aged Brooke’s body-double, anyway)

Oh, but wait.
First, I had a debt to repay. You see, I blew right through this dusty town the first time around without even meeting anyone from AE. (Hey, I was on a mission) This time I needed to bring presents for two of the guys whose internet personas introduced me to this little hidden nirvana: Shagger and Mjibbo…

bluelagoon.jpg

Chapter 8: The Nightlife

Chapter 8

The Nightlife

So far I have only dabbled in the nightlife here. I have discovered many pleasures during the daytime and early evening hours. As far as I was concerned, I would have been content to continue that practice for my entire stay in AC. Indeed many people ONLY venture out during the day, that is the life they have become accustomed to. They have jobs and family obligations that only afford them a few daylight hours in which to indulge their carnal compunctions, some are just plain “early birds”. Whatever the reasons, I can certainly understand their desire to keep it that way.

It was time to experience what the night had to offer here. Time to see for myself what all the “hubbub” was about. I got my answers, in spades. Nighttime on Fields Avenue is where the party people come to indulge. It starts at about 6pm and lasts as long as you can keep up with it. Most places, I found, close at 2am to 3am, but a few go until the sun comes up. The music is loud, the booze flows freely, the girls party hard and the guys loose their sanity, innocence, inhibitions and sometimes even a few personal items (but that’s rare and only if your not careful).

Walking from my hotel to Fields (about 1 block away) I am accosted by “street vendors” trying to sell their wares. Viagra, Cialis (and other male enhancement needs), umbrellas (when its raining and whether you have one or not), CD’s, DVD’s, nick nacks, food, watches, sunglasses (whether your wearing any or not) and all manner of junk. They rarely take no for an answer the first time you say it. From these people I learned patience and tolerance. 10 to 12 trike drivers will ask if you need a ride, yet when you want one you always have to yell for one, go figure. Freelancers will propostion you, some wanting something to eat for a blow job, some wanting to go back to your hotel, some wanting you to have some fun with them and their sister,or cousin, or niece. I even had one ask me if I would like to take her daughter for a date. I have read the boards enough by now to know to stay away (even run away) from these situations whenever they present themselves.

Now I am on Fields. Do I go to the beginning of the street and start from there, or the other end. Fuck it, it doesn’t matter, start at the first one you come to. They are all the same to a degree…loud music, cold beer, cool aircon and pretty young girls. I decided to ease into the nightlife here instead of wading in head first and selected a bar that I had heard of on the boards. A so called “low pressure” bar, supposedly the best of its kind. This is the advice given to “newbies” so as not to go through some kind of shock at what they were about to experience. Newbies, I never really like that term as it carried a tone of arrogance from those that used it, although it is the most accurate, eventually I came to accept it and nowadays I even use it myself, but with no malice intended.

So I enter this bar I had heard so much about, “Streethouse” or “Alleyhouse”, something like that. I should note at this point, there were no door girls at this bar urging you to “Come inside sir”, just a couple of guards who would open the door for you and say “Welcome sir”. Kinda odd I thought at the time. I was greeted by a waitress who guided me to my seat and took my drink order, which was served promptly. She stood near by, but not so near as to seem like hovering. I watched the girls dance, more like slow shuffle (even to faced paced music), and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Occasionaly they would all do a choreographed step they had obviously devised themselves, kinda like you would expect from some high school kids. The mamasans were steadily watching the girls to make sure ALL participated at ALL times and that ALL obeyed the rules (no nudity or hassling customers). This after all was the trademark of this place.

I found this to be refreshing. I stayed quite a while. I “toyed” with the waitresses, seems they like to take your ashtray and replace it with a fresh one at the first sign of dirtiness, by hiding my ashtray behind me until I finished my smoke (and even after). An “icebreaker” at the very least. I noticed a cute dancer making eyes at me for sometime, so I asked the waitress (who I nicknamed “Trainee”) if she was allowed to sit with me. She relayed my request to the girl, and she came over and introduced herself, “Hello sir, my name is somethingLynn, then she sat there quietly smiling. We talked for a few minutes and I offered her a drink, and we generally had a good time for several hours.

I found out later that about 1/3 of the girls here have the LYNN extension to their names. Roselynn, Annalynn, Annlynn, Rinalynn and on and on. I also found they have extended families, and I mean extended. Every girl I have talked to up to this day comes from a large family, 5 brothers and 3 sisters seems to be the norm, and then there are the cousins. They seem to have “cousins” working in every city and every bar throughout the land. If you take a girl bar hopping with you, guaranteed you will meet, at least 1, of her cousins. I think this is more of a “sisterhood” type of term meaning a good friend they have known for a long time that they choose to introduce as a cousin.

It is the policy of this bar, and several others like it, to make the customer feel relaxed and offer up NO pressure to buy drinks for the girls. We as a customer will decide who sits with us and who gets a drink and when. Never, that I have seen, has a girl, mamasan or waitress ever asked me for a drink or to buy a drink for their friend (or cousin). That definitely adds to the appeal of this place, along with the girls of course. This place became a favorite nighttime stop for me during my stay, and subsequent stays also. Whenever I enter I am greeted with a loud cheer from the stage and staff, even a year later. Well run, well maintained and well managed, this is truly a good choice as a “newbies” first stop.

This bar is famous for two reasons. The first I stated above, the second is a certain dance number they will do for you upon request. It just so happens to be choreographed around a favorite tune of mine from AC/DC, and it is a thing to behold. It has often been imitated in other places but NEVER has it been duplicated to the precision and enthusiasm of the girls from “Streethouse”. It works particularly well in part because of the uniforms the girls wear, high rising tops and high riding skirts. If you doubt me, you can find a video of it on the internet at their website.

Now I had a taste of the “low pressure” bars, I was ready for something a little more spicier, so I thought. I walked a short distance to the one 24/7 bar in the city (I’m pretty sure there is only 1). Yelled at, laughed at, whispered at and even sung to by door girls from several bars as I walked to the 24 hour bar, I was never touched and often times stopped to joke with the girls about something or other all the while stating I would be back later, a lie to be sure but a harmless one they can live with. When I reached my destination I was immediately “grabbed” by a couple of girls and dragged into this place. They held me in such a manner as to present the appearance of escorting me in, but it was out and out dragging. As I was going in anyway I didn’t offer much resistance.

At the exact same moment a waitress led me to a seat, no less than 6 girls, ran full tilt to join me. Three were just downright ugly, two were on the cusp of being underage and I immediately shooed those two away only to be replaced by two others who were “cherry girls” and the third was non descript, a sort of “plain jane”. I admit I was taken by surprise and ordered a round of drinks for all of us, what they brought back to the table was seven drinks for us PLUS 2 for the girls I shooed away, and a request to buy 3 for the mamasans. Having read on the boards to treat the mamasans well, I agreed to the order.

While drinking my beer and watching my cigarettes disappear 2 and 3 at a time and listening to the girls talk among themselves, I found myself getting over the initial shock of this place. It was quite large, 2 floors in fact. There had to be, at a conservative estimate, 50 or more girls there not counting waitresses. They had a small dance stage in the center of the bottom floor that could fit maybe 8 girls dancing comfortably. They wore these ridiculous white boots that looked like something KISS had discarded back in the early 80’s. The poor girls could barely lift their legs to walk let alone dance in them. Their outfits consisted of swimsuits (all wearing the same color) with an occasional girl wearing a thong (here referred to as a T BACK). Of the 50 or so girls at this place, I would make an “uninebriated” guess that maybe 5 or 6 were not bad looking.

As I finished my beer, the girls all “gulped” the rest of their drinks and one of them called for the waitress and ordered more drinks. I hadn’t finished looking around yet so I dismissed this without a thought. Still the girls talked to themselves, the “cherry girls” sat by themselves drinking the second round I had no intention of ordering, the mamasans were no where in sight, having had their free drinks from me they left without a word and disappeared into the back somewhere. I did notice there were a few customers in here, mostly sitting on sofa type seating that went all the way around half the bar, surrounded by girls and some taking pictures. This place has not much interaction from the girls EXCEPT to get their drinks, then you will be ignored, yet some guys seem to like this place.

Why are most of the bars here successful, because everyone likes something different. Everyone has a favorite place to go regardless of what someone else thinks of the place, and they defend them zealously. Too each his own. A word about “cherry girls”. These are virgins and as rule of thumb are not to be bf’ed for sexual purposes. There are exceptions to this rule, but we won’t go into that right now. Mainly they are used as “eye candy” for the bars, pretty young things to attract customers inside. They will sit with you and drink and even talk a little bit but are basically hands off. Cherry girls have normally been only working in a particular bar for a short time, maybe 1 or 2 months. They are shy, scared, nervous and just in some kind of emotional turmoil, they can put a damper on a good night fast. I have learned to accept them for what they are, and even enjoy their company now. They feel safe with me and I feel safe with them. Also they usually have some very pretty friend who is NOT a cherry girl, motives are rarely selfless.

Well, I have had enough of this place. I call the waitress to pay my bill, she leaves then returns with a “3500 pesos only sir”. Upon hearing this, the girls gulp again then scurry away without so much as a by your leave, the cherry girls have vanished also. I paid the bill, vowing to myself to never return or even walk past, and gave no tip to the waitress, she understood why without me saying a word. My bill was “padded”. At the previous bar, I spent twice the time and about the same amount of drinks and paid only ½ of what they charged me here. From now on I keep the bill cup beside me wherever I go and nobody is allowed to touch it, I check it every so often to make sure no shenanigans are going on and nothing is being added without my knowledge. I don’t say this happens everywhere, but it does happen.

I have just witnessed the two opposite ends of the spectrum in regards to bars on Fields Avenue. In between are numerous places I have found to be very enjoyable. In fact I find that any bar (with 1 exception so far) can be a fun place to be, it depends on what your expecting when you walk in and your own personality you bring inside. If you’re a fun loving person, you will mostly find fun loving places and people. If your on the “pussy prowl” your going to be disappointed in most of the bars. The attitudes of the girls change from customer to customer and how they are treated. If you walk into a bar with the premise your going to spend some pesos and get everyone to have a good time, you will be treated like a king (worth every centavo in my opinion) If you walk into a bar, pull a girl from the stage, buy 2 drinks then leave on a bf, you will be forgotten quickly, if your remembered it will be in a negative way.

Fields Avenue at night is the place to be if you want to party. You are guaranteed to come across at least ½ a dozen places that you like and 1/2 a dozen you don’t like, and everyone will have a different opinion on each of them. The girls are just as varied. Some tall (4’9 to 5’) and some are short (4’2” to 4’6”), some are chubby and some are anorexic, some are drop dead gorgeous and some are just butt ugly, some are sweet and innocent (almost childlike) and some are outright bitches(depending if their menstruating or not). There are girls for every taste, so by all means start tasting and enjoy the nightlife.

Chapter 7: After the Shock

Chapter 7

After the Shock

Ok, I have been here about 4 or 5 days now and after the initial shock (in a good way) I settle into a routine. Whenever I wake up I always eat some food first thing. Whether I eat at the hotel or go to one the various eateries in the city, I put something in my stomach to battle the booze that I’m going to be consuming (in large quantities some days), and also to keep up my energy and resistance.

I found another “untapped” resource by eating at the restaurants there, NON bar girls aka waitresses. These girls I found have no real interest in their customers as possible dates to be wooed, only guys to be served (food that is) then forgotten. In other words, “regular” girls. Some are married with children and a stable family life, some are single girls trying to earn enough to further their educational needs, some are daughters and trying to earn enough money to help support their families while holding onto their dignity by not having to dance in the bars. This allowed me ample opportunity to practice my social skills (pick up lines) with someone in an informal, relaxed atmosphere. Practice makes perfect.

I was at a restaurant one day early in my vacation, which had a regular bar upstairs and a karaoke room above that. A very pretty little girl ( I say they are all little as they average about 4’6” tall only) in a semi tight t shirt that just hinted at how nicely shaped her breasts were and some very tight shorts that shouted what a nice round bottom she had, strolled over to take my order. She didn’t seem to be in a very particular good mood, yet tried her best to smile and not be rude. She took my order and relayed it to the cooks then stood by the door to get some fresh (not possible in this city) air, as it was a little hot inside. As I was sitting next to the door I struck up a conversation with her and invited her to have a seat while we were waiting for my food.

She told me she was hot and tired, her family was giving her grief, relatives were visiting and she had no privacy for a few weeks, blah blah blah. She went to bring me my burger and fries and started to walk away, I asked her to stay and have a coke on me. She accepted and nibbled on my fries and sipped her sprite, “I don’t like coke”, and we continued to talk about things. Just before I finished eating (the 7 or 8 fries she didn’t eat) I told her I was new in town and could use a “tour guide” to show me some of the sites. I said we could go swimming then head to the mall and maybe a movie after. It was her day off tomorrow so she decided she could use a diversion from her home life but only if she could bring a friend (cause she didn’t know me well enough to go alone), of course I said that was fine.

She wasn’t going to be finished working until 7pm so I gave her my cell number and told her to text me when she was finished and I would come back to collect her and her friend. It is now only 1pm, so I have time to put in some bar hopping hours before our date. I head down to Perimeter Road and enter a bar that has a certain reputation for having, shall we say “friendly” girls who are not to shy about showing their “friendliness”. I sat with a couple of cute dancers and bought them some drinks and we chatted for an hour or so, all the while they kept their hands busy playing with something I was trying to keep under control (to no avail). I could only keep one of my hands busy, as the other held tightly onto my SML. Rubbing here and probing there, my hand seemed to have a will of its own. Then my hand discovered some “wetness” on both girls down there, and I learned a new tagalog word, MALIBOG…that means horny. They both repeated the word several times, so I got the hint. We found a “short time” room at a nearby hotel and took care of business. They went back to work, I went back to my hotel.

I took a nice long hot shower then laid down for a short nap and when I woke I took care of the shit and shave part. Put on some decent clothes and waited for the text. About 7:45 I get the text that she is ready and waiting. I grab a trike and head to the restaurant where she and her friend are waiting outside. One gets inside with me and the other hops on the back of the cycle. She told me the mall closes at 9pm and if we can go there tomorrow because it is already about 8pm now. I said ok and we went back to the hotel to go swimming. We swam for about 2 hours then decided to go have a few drinks back at the bar above where she worked. We drank and played some pool for about 3 hours, then went upstairs for some karaoke and some more drinks.

She actually had a very good voice and even though she had a hard time keeping up with the song she tried her best and had a lot of fun, as did her friend. Her friend wasn’t very high on the looks meter but she had a stunning personality, I could understand why she wanted her to come along, she knew how to have a good time and make people laugh and generally feel comfortable. We sang for a few hours (something I would never do back in the states) then went back down to the bar for some nightcaps. It was at this point she told me she didn’t want to go home and could she stay with me tonight. I reluctantly (yeah right) said “Ok, if your sure you want to”.

It was about 3:30am when we got back to my room, and once again, straight to the shower go the girls. She wanted her friend to stay the night also. Now I am expecting nothing is going to happen because she wanted the friend to stay, silly me. Out of the CR they both come, naked as the day they were born, with funny little grins on their faces, “Your turn nah to shower”. I take my turn and return to the bed naked and climb in. What are they doing……..watching that show again…….Wowowee. Its been a long day for me so I doze off as they finish watching TV.

I am awakened by some moaning and tugging of the blanket. I look beside me and I can see her head peeking over the covers but no friend in sight, maybe she is taking a piss. I thought she was having a bad dream or something so I touch her shoulder, she opens her eyes and smiles then pulls the covers back to reveal her friend is down there “pleasing” her. I chuckled, closed my eyes and decided to give her some privacy and rolled over. She told me its ok and she wanted me to watch, so I did. Another local slang word defined to me, Tbird….that means lesbian. The friend is a lesbo. Fine by me. She blurts out between moans “I want to give blow job”. I offer him up, she is pleased, the Tbird is pleased and I am pleased.

The next day we all go swimming, then to the mall, then we eat and then we take in a movie. The Machinist. I never heard of it before but it was a ½ decent thriller. We went back to the hotel for some eats and another swim. About 5pm we parted ways with hugs all around. A few days later I went back to her resto, she showed no signs of having a bad mood when I ate there from then on. To this day, whenever I am in town, I make sure to hunt her down. Sometimes we go out, sometimes we don’t, but we always have a good time as friends.

When you go out on a “regular” date, meaning not a bar fined girl from a bar, it is a very different feeling, a very different experience. Somehow, wherever you go with your date, everyone seems to know that the girl is not a bar girl. She is treated differently by other waitresses, people in bars, people in stores etc.. I don’t mean to imply that bar girls are treated rudely, just differently, as if other people (Filipinos) know she is with a guy not by choice but because she has been chosen, not true with regular girls, everyone seems to know she is with a guy because she chose to be. Another mystery of this land.

So it became my routine now, at least for the next week or so, to go bar hopping in the afternoon. Sometimes I would “hook up” with some guys, sometimes I would go solo and sometimes I would bf a girl or 3 to bar hop with me. It is more fun when your not alone, but being alone has its own rewards at times. So I would wake about noon, eat then swim then clean up, head down to Perimeter and bar hop for several hours. Some days I would bf from the bars for an over night companion, but mostly I enjoyed the “short time” routine, which I (humbly) could do 3 or 4 times a day. Usually, after the bar hopping and on my way back to my room, I would stop in a Santos bar also, just to keep in touch with some cuties and let them know I was still thinking of them (for future reference).

I had decided, since I was close to this street, that Santos would be a frequent stop for me. The girls were a lot of fun to hang out with. We always had a lot of good laughs, some real belly buster laughs. They can be quite the characters, especially if they are comfortable around you. One night I was at one of my favorite bars and we decide to sit around with our underwear on our heads. Imagine 11 girls with their panties on their heads and one guy with a pair of “skivvies” on his head, all sipping a drink and acting as if everything was normal. People passing by would look 2 and 3 times before they realized. A couple of people stopped to take pictures and buy a round for giving them a good laugh. One of my Aussie mates saw us and joined in the fun.

For the first 7 to 9 days I was there, I would always be in bed by midnight (a few exceptions occurred). Wake at a reasonable time, then start the process all over again. This is why I was here after all, might as well enjoy every minute, even at a snails pace sometimes. I made quite a few friends; yanks, aussies, brits, germans, Scandinavians and even a few Filipinos. This was the life I was meant to live. This was the life I was going to have in the future. I had decided, on my very first trip to the Philippines, that this is where I would retire, or perhaps even sooner make a home there.

Chapter 6: Choosing Your Routine

Chapter 6

Choosing Your Routine

Now that you have experienced your first bar hop, your first bar fine and your first short time on Santos, its time you decided on a routine to follow for the rest of your stay. Why a routine, you may well be asking yourself. It is VERY possible to become lost in time when you are here. All night barhopping followed by a nap then an afternoon barhop, throw in some time to eat and bar fine a few times, maybe some side trips to here and there another all night barhopping session and soon what you thought was 2 days activity has turned out to be 5 days of booze induced madness that you may not even remember. It happens. So find a routine and try to stick to it. Once your bout with jet lag has passed, this will be an easy task to accomplish.

If your going to go out drinking, believe it or not some people don’t drink alcohol, make sure you eat first. Even if your not hungry, force yourself. Eat a sandwich, an order of french fries, a bowl of rice, anything, just put some food in your stomach. Take some vitamin B, vitamin C or whatever you feel will give you the best tolerance to what you are about to do to your body. If your going to be using “male enhancement” drugs, follow the instructions, they are not candy. Use a condom, for your safety, the girls safety and the next persons safety. Don’t take something home you can’t live with, the flip side being, don’t leave something here nobody else wants.

We will assume, for the purposes of this example, that you will be staying for 2 weeks. In AC (Angeles City) there are two main points of interest, three if you count A. Santos Street. The first one being Perimeter Road. The rule of thumb here is that Perimeter bars are mainly afternoon hang outs. Not true of all to be sure, but mostly. The reason to consider it an afternoon place to visit is for safety reasons. Perimeter is far from the bright lights of Fields Avenue and therefore a darker place at night. It is not dangerous, per say, just a little less safe. Easier to be mugged on dark streets, especially if you don’t know where you are or where you are going. Spend a few days doing “afternoon bar hops”. There are many gems to be found down Perimeter way. Some very fun bars, some very nice people and some very cute girls.

Some very “uninhibited” goings on can be found on Perimeter. A certain bar, just about dead center of the road, is known for their “under the table” antics of the girls. They are not shy (as most of the Fields girls are) about getting under your table and finding out first hand just what your packing in those shorts you are wearing, and if you “measure up” to their standards. Of course turn about is fair play, so you can inturn see if their “hidden goods” measure up to your standards as well. Think of it as a free sample, that doesn’t mean you can go for the gold, more like a taste test. Go around the corner to another little place, actually 3 bars all connected, and you may be given the special treatment. “Excuse me Daddy, can you out the knot of my panty, its stuck”, so you untie the knot for her then oops, the panties fall to the floor. “See how you are”, she giggles as she turns to pick her panties off the floor, bends over and exposes the goodies (quite by accident) for you to see close up.

Yes , a Perimeter Road bar hop during a warm afternoon can be quite delightful indeed. Head for home between 7pm and 9pm, eat a meal, take an hours nap, shower, then head out to find a bedmate and call it an early night. Repeat this routine for a few days, and you will have experienced most of the joy Perimeter Road has to offer. By the way, they also have some very good restaurants down there. Try them out, you won’t be disappointed.

The second main point of interest in AC is where you will hit the mother load. Fields Avenue. Three to five blocks (depending on what your definition of a block is) of BARS BARS BARS, and door girls. Door girls can be a little aggressive, but when they are so damn cute, who cares. They will attempt to lure you into THEIR bar, that is their job. Fields is where you will do the majority of your drinking and fining and general partying. The bars range from high end, huge places that are a little bit on the expensive side, to low end bars that are small, dark and dirty, but they are less expensive than their counter parts.

Spend the second week of your stay doing the nighttime bar hop on Fields Avenue. Eventually, everyone ends up here. The girls are a little more reserved than the Perimeter girls, but once they get to know you some, they can do some outlandish things, on and off the stage. Start at one end of Fields and just try to make your way to the other end sober and alone, I haven’t been able to do it and I doubt many can. Anyone who is anyone can be found somewhere on Fields Avenue doing what they do best.

One particular bar on Fields has a shower on stage, there maybe be another but I have never seen it. Put some girls on stage, turn on the water and you can guess what happens. Who wants to take a shower with their clothes on. When you get a couple of naked girls frolicking around under the shower, it seems only natural that they would want to explore each other. They lose any sense of embarrassment they may have had before and get caught up in the fervor. A sight to see I assure you.

Ultimately you will decide what is the best routine for you. Try and stick to it, it will make life easier and more enjoyable for you. Make sure you visit bars frequently, as frequent customers are treated better and better everytime they arrive. Decide on your favorite bars, restaurants and girls and incorporate them into your routine. If you like an early morning run, do it, if you like an afternoon swim, do it, if you like a late night walk, do it (on a well lit street of course). Whatever you do, wherever you go use your common sense and you will never have a bad experience.

Chapter 5: Catch Your Breath

Chapter 5

Catch Your Breath

The girls are gone now. The room attendants have cleaned the room, changed the sheets and provided fresh towels. I have been swimming for about an hour and catching some more sun, when my mates from last night showed up at the bar. I joined them and related my heroic tale of conquest with the 3 little lovelies from the first bar we stopped at. They seconded my opinion, that I should not have bf’ed from the first bar I went to, but tried to prolong the choosing until I found the right one(s). But they did understand my decision, as they have “been there and done that” themselves. “Silly bastard, we were all “cherry boys” at one time.”. I thanked them again with a round of drinks, and declined the offer to join them tonight as I wasn’t feeling 100%, they said I looked a little run down and that they knew what was coming. I headed back to my room, took a shower and decided to lay down for a nap under the nice cool aircon, before heading out for a bit of dinner.

When I laid down, it was about 4pm. When I awoke, it was about noon the next day. 20 hours of sleep, no fucking way. I called the front desk to confirm the time and sure enough, it was indeed almost noon. I just found out the true meaning of “jet lag”. Those Aussie swine should have warned me. I don’t know if everybody is affected the same way, but for me, too much sleep is just as bad as not enough sleep. My ass was dragging low the whole day, but I was determined not to waste anymore of my precious time on this trip I have been planning for about 7 or 8 months. I ventured out into the world about 2pm. First stop was the meeting place from the other day, where I got some food in me, that seemed to make me feel a little better. I wandered up and down the main drag, Fields Avenue, looking into the little shops for souvenirs for the friends and family back home. I never would have guessed that in a town with hundreds of bars, it would be near impossible to find souvenir shot glasses (for my brother). I settled for T Shirts, caps, nick nacks of all sorts. Back to the hotel to dump of this crap.

Its now 5pm and time is wastin. I hailed a trike and prepared for my first trip to the mall on McArthur Hwy. If you have never ridden in a trike before, your in for a treat. For better or worse it is a unique experience. Basically they are just motorcycles with side cars. Unfortunately for the foreigner, who all average about a foot taller than the average Filipino, they are very cramped and the plastic roofs are low enough to make you hunch. When its raining, you are glad even for a low roof. They way these drivers navigate McArthur Hwy., which has possibly the worst traffic I have ever seen in my life, will astound you. In and out of lanes, sometimes making their own lanes, speeding up til your right on the bumper of the vehicle in front of you, turning into oncoming traffic and praying they will slow down so as not to squash you, chasing pedestrians, ignoring traffic cops (what a joke they are). All to get the measly 50 to 100 peso fare. I guess it’s not so measly to them.

Into the mall I go. At the main door are armed guards. I don’t mean the pistol packing rent-a-cops we are used to seeing in the states, these guys are loaded for bear, full out assault rifles, quite an intimidating sight I assure you, but with a smile they open the door for me and welcome me inside. I head to the nearest store I can find that sells cell phones, I need one while I was in town in case of trouble. Also I needed somewhere to store the few numbers I got from the “freelancers” when I was arriving. All the while I was there I never noticed any public telephones. I bought a phone, kind of mid range price wise, and added a P300 load to it. I was all set to go back to the hotel when I noticed a particular restaurant I had heard so much about, Jollibee. The little voice in the back of my head said “Don’t do it!”, but I just had to try it out. If your into “fast food” then by all means go ahead and try it, even by those standards the food is terrible. Lesson learned. As I was here anyways, I decided to pick up some neccessaties, condoms, bio flu (in case I get sick, truly a wonderous drug), some ointment for small scrapes and scratches, candy for the girls (Hershey Kisses are always accepted with a joyful outburst), little gifts for the over night guests (T back panties, sunglasses, hair pins and wraps) little things they can use but don’t often buy for themselves. Arms loaded with packages, I headed back to the hotel.

Its now nearing 9pm and I am exhausted. Another short dip in the pool and a few beers, then its time to hit the sack. I toyed with the idea of texting one of the “freelancers”, but decided to pass on that for now. Sleep was all I needed. About midnight I finally doze off, fucking Wowowee must be on all day and all night, and once you watch it your hooked. 8am comes bright and early. I am awake now and feel like a new man. Full of energy and ready to go. The 3 S’s out of the way and off I go to the other “meeting place”. A lot like the first, but larger with screened in windows to keep the bugs out. About ½ way down Fields avenue, and not really that far of a walk. Its about 10am and not many people about except the locals scurrying here and there. The place is filled with waitresses, some exceedingly pretty and some not so much, but all with big smiles for everyone who walks in. Some even have time to play some pool with each other, whilst waiting for the next customer to walk in.

One thing I think most of us who have been there can agree on, whether you like the food or not, you DO get giant sized portions. Your money is not wasted when you dine out. In all the times I have been there, I cannot remember ever finishing a meal, there is just too much. Thus you learn the term “take away”, for westerners that means “doggy bag”. I do it all the time. Sometimes I give it to the girls at the hotel counter, sometimes I give it to the doormen, sometimes I give it to the girls in the bars, sometimes I will even give it to the children begging in the streets, but it NEVER goes to waste. I could never hold my head up in public if I had thrown away food in a poverty ridden country.

Now all the while I am eating at my window seat, I keep seeing lovely young girls walking by, going about there business whatever it may be. The urge starts to build again. Its about noon now and its time to try out a little thing called A. Santos Street for what has been termed a “short time”. That would be barfining a girl, from these bars that specialize in that sort of thing, for about 3 hours instead of all night. I suppose you could “short time” a girl from any bar, but it seems like the Santos Street bars were made just for this purpose. Back to the hotel for a freshen up then one block over and one block down and Im in the middle of “Blow Row” (an affectionate nickname I’m sure). There are about a dozen or so of these tiny little bars, all open air fronts with more girls sitting there than you can shake a dick at, each one beconning you to “Come inside sir”. I stop at one with a pirate sounding name (Parrots Perch or something on that order) and take a seat by the front. No less than 5 girls scamper over and ask “What you like to drink sir?”. San Miguel Light has become my drink of choice here, back at home it was always rum&coke, but this beer I like a lot. The girls sit with me and tell me I’m “gwapo”, later I find that that’s a good thing. I tell them they are all very pretty, but one of them is VERY “maganda” and has nice “susu’s”. I learned those words from the boards, now I get to use them. I wouldn’t tell them which one I was talking about and that they would have to guess, a fun little game indeed.

At first they are shy and they tell me “You make bola bola nah”. That means they think I’m bullshitting them. So I tell them the winner gets “short time” and P500 prize. Nothing brings out the pixie in these girls like a little competition. Off come the tops for all passersby to see and I get to judge the best “susu’s” (tits). Now I have my eye on a certain girl, she doesn’t have the biggest tits but she has a very pretty face and a fine body overall. With some testing for firmness and excitability (tweeking the nipples), I choose the one I wanted. I buy a round of lady’s drinks for all the girls (a lot cheaper on Santos street than the main bars on Fields), and we sit and talk for a while. After about an hour I pay my bill, including the “short time” fee (P500 or P600 something like that) and we walk hand in hand back to my hotel. We have 3 hours so I invite her for a short dip in the pool and she gleefully accepts that as if it were the highlight of the year for her. She really enjoyed swimming and playing in the pool, and I was glad to see her having a good time. We grab a quick sandwich at the bar, then head to the room.

I am starting to notice now that the very first thing these girls want to do is take a shower. That pleases me to no end as the last thing I want to do is go down on a sweaty smelly pussy. She invites me to join her so I can wash her back and she can wash mine. I think deep down she just wanted to make sure she didn’t have to go down on a sweaty smelly dick. We washed and fondled for a while, then I carried her still wet body to the bed (she weighed only about 75 or 80 pounds soaking wet). She “tossed my salad”, which I never dreamed in a million years would ever happen, then went to work on the little soldier as she straddled my eager mouth (69 is a true magical number). She did almost a hand stand and flipped her body over and mounted me in one deft maneuver. Agile things these Filipinas. She would grind away, and just when I was ready to release, she would stop, waiting patiently then start again bringing me to the brink over and over until I thought I was gonna have a heart attack. Finally she went into overdrive and pounded away until she and I both released at the same time, she knew what she wanted and knew how to get it. The 3 hours were almost up now, we cuddled for a little while, then I gave her the P500 prize for best “susu’s” and a P300 tip, she earned every peso. She showered quickly and I walked her back to the bar, I had 1 beer and left to go home to have a shower and a good sleep. That is how you catch your breath in the Philippines.

Chapter 4: Ahhhh, The Philippines

Chapter 4

Ahhhh, The Philippines

Into the comfortable, airconditioned car I go. Stopping at a refreshment stand for a couple of cokes for me and the driver (I call him Petey, as I can’t pronounce his name). Now I settle back and prepare for the 2 to 3 hour drive (so I read somewhere) on my final leg of the journey I have been anticipating for so long. I take a few sips of my drink and have another smoke, opening the window to allow the second hand smoke to escape so as not to bother Petey was a huge misstake…..more air pollution. I close my eyes and prepare for an hour (or 2) nap. What seems like 10 seconds passes when I feel the car make a sharp turn, opening my eyes in time to see us turning off the highway I check my watch, 45 minutes have passed since I “nodded off”. I feel better now. I assumed I was now in for a few hours of pot hole ridden, dirt road travel and braced my sore ass for the long haul.

About 10 minutes later we passed under a banner reading “Welcome to Barangay Balibago”, or something like that. I knew from my research I was going to Balibago, but had no idea how big it was or how near the hotel we were. Another 10 minutes of side street driving and navigating brought me safely (and surprisingly) to the hotel front entrance. The 2 to 3 hour drive from Manila took only 1 hour and 15 minutes, give or take a few minutes either way. That got Petey a decent tip (about P1000). Later I would learn the value/problems of tipping too much in the Philippines. In my youth I have had jobs in the service industry, and as anyone else who has held those jobs does, we normally tip more than the average.

I want to back up just a bit to the point we were driving on the side streets. That is where I got my first, up close, real look, at beautiful young Filipinas. Freelancers, as I would later come to know them, would saunter (sometimes run) up to the car whenever we slowed down to make a turn or allow a pedestrian to pass by. The first 2 or 3 just waved and seemed to wait for a response from me. All I could do was grin (ear to ear) sheepishly. Just seeing them roused my loins to attention, and when they smiled at me it was all I could do to keep from opening the door and beconning them inside. Between the 4th and 7th ones who wandered over to the car, I decided it would be prudent to exchange cell phone numbers, for a possible carnal interlude at a later time. That turned out to be totally unnecessary.

I have checked in at the front desk, gone to my room, passed out a few P50 tips to the bell boys and room attendants, and settled down on my NOT SO comfortable bed for a little breather and the unimaginable, delightful acceptance that I am finally here, and a weight was lifted from my shoulders (weight being the horrendous experiences of traveling 8,000+ miles). I made myself unpack, and commenced with the 3 S’s again and sat on the bed, air conditioner on full blast, and decided after a few minutes I would change and go for a swim, then get something to eat. Instead, I laid back to rest my eyes while cooling off and then awoke with a start from a most tantalizing dream involving 3 of the “freelancers” I had encountered earlier only to find it was now some 8 hours later. It is now 5am, Philippine time, and my first night here was spent alone. I wanted to cry. Instead, I ordered some room service (outstanding food), watched some TV and generally paced around the room til about noon. I went for a swim, and got a little bit of sun, ate some lunch at the poolside bar, and just generally “chilled” for awhile.

I was drinking my 3rd San Miguel Light, when a bunch of Australians entered the bar and started discussing the prior days football scores. Not wanting to be the odd man out, I introduced my self to some of them and bought a round of drinks. Some 3 hours later, my new friends invited me on my first bar hop. Back to my room to do the 3 S’s again ( I knew I didn’t want to be caught short in a 3rd world bar having to use the CR) and change to some “intelligent” clothing. Shorts, short sleeved shirt and flip flops (in the PI referred to as slippers). A little after shave and some cologne and I was all set. NOTE: DO NOT put on after shave immediately after you shave. Remember Home Alone and what happened to Macully Culkin? Then I got the call from Kevin, one of my new mates, saying they were all meeting at the favorite hangout/restaurant/bar/starting point of most of the foreigners that come to Angeles. It was located on the corner of all the action, and incidently, only 2 blocks from my hotel. Dodging trikes, street vendors trying to sell me Viagra or Cialis or DVD’s or other unnecessary items, “freelancers”, beggars. Motorcycles and cars, I made it there in about 10 minutes.

We stayed there for as long as it took to drink a beer, then made our way across the street to a rather run down looking bland little bar, I was not impressed UNTIL we walked inside. Bigger on the inside and looking as modern as any western upscale bar I have ever seen. The music blasted my ears into submission, and my eyes squinted to narrow little slits trying to pierce the darkness. Then I saw them, up on a stage of sorts, dressed in almost nothing, and doing what I could not in all good conscience call dancing, but trying to move to the music as best they could or wanted to. Pretty young Filipinas, lbfm’s, little maids all in a row. Smiling at me as I entered and saying “Hello Daddy” to the guys I was with, who had obviously made themselves known in this bar before.

We sat down in some very comfortable seats at a table known as the VIP TABLE. Later I would understand what this was for. Immediately a waitress walked up to us and said “Hello Daddy Kevin, how are you nah”, after some chit chat between the 2 she took our drink orders and wandered away, Kevin followed her and whispered something to into her ear and gave her a little pinch on the bottom, she turned and looked directly at me and giggled and said something back to Kevin. He sat back down and I asked why she was laughing at me to which he replied “Don’t be paranoid you bloody bugger, were gonna show you yanks how to have a “good time”, Philippine style.” “It’s sort of an initiation, just relax mate.”.

Shortly, our waitress brought our drinks and with her followed a rather portly, over middle aged woman called Mommy Matilda (or something like that). She was the “mamasan” of this bar. I knew what that was from my endless researching about the nightlife in Angeles City. “Hello Jeffery (not my real name of course because noone needs to know it for the purposes of this story), welcome to my bar”. “Sir Kevin tells me your “cherry boy”, is that true?”. After my mates told me what a “cherry boy” was, I told the mamasan it was true. She said I was lucky cause all the girls like cherry boys. Still not quite knowing what to expect, I savored my beer(s) and started to notice that behind my back, all me mates were pointing there fingers over my head and shouting “CHERRY BOY”.

Soon a new set of dancers climbed up onto the stage and the first set, all 12 of them, made their way to our table. We ordered “lady’s drinks” for all and 3 of them latched onto me. Grabbing my crotch, playing with my nipples, rubbing my head, making an “L” sign under my chin and generally flirting their little hearts out with me, I was truly in a single guys paradise. Within an hours time I learned what a “blow job” was, what a “body shot” was, a “lady’s drink”, a “ring the bell” and last but not least, what a “bar fine” was. So I barfined 3 lovely young beauties, and we commenced with our barhopping. Bar after bar we visited, and each held girls that were more and more beautiful and desirable. It was then I realized that it was not a good idea to bar fine from the first bar you visit. But I was still happy with the 3 I had in tow.

We started out at about 6pm and it was now nearing midnight. I kept my drinking under control, switching to mineral water now and again, so as to keep some sense about me. At the girls insistence (and I didn’t argue), I said goodnight to my mates and we headed back to my hotel. After all the bars we stopped at, at the end of the night, I was still only about 2 blocks from my hotel. There are so many damn bars, its almost unimaginable, and most are right next to each other. In fact at one point on Fields Avenue (the main drag), you can go to 15 or so bars and only walk 1 block.

Back at the hotel, I get a knowing grin from the doorman and the girls at the front desk, “Enjoy your night Jeffery, hehe”. Blushing slightly, we all head to my room. The girls tell me they are a little hot and can we go swimming for a little while. Well of course I smiled and said “Sure, why not.”. This being part of the foreplay I decided. As good as they looked in their work outfits, they were even more gorgeous in their street clothes, and then in their bikini’s they were just wet dreams walking. After some cooling off in the pool, they settled down to some snuggling and underwater frolicking with my manliness until I could stand it no more. “Lets go back to the room now babies”. They all held hands and we made our way to the room, where they all went to the CR together to change clothes and take a shower, I called room service and asked for a few more towels and they were quick to oblige.

When the door opened and they all walked out naked as jaybirds like it was a normal everyday thing for them, I knew what was about to happen. It was my turn to shower, and relieve my bladder and generally freshen up (meaning to make myself semi-hard). I could hear through the door they were watching TV. When I returned to the bedroom, they were all sitting on the edge of the bed watching a show called “WOWOWEE”, as I understand it, it’s a favorite among the Filipinas, old and young alike. Not one of them moved a muscle, except to giggle at each other when someone did someone did something foolish on the show, until the show was over, about 40 minutes later. My “semi hardness” long gone now as I caught myself engulfed in that damn show, even though I didn’t understand a word they were saying. Finally the show was over, the TV went off, the lights went low and the girls cuddled all around me. Just feeling the nakedness of them all gave me back my “semi”, and the fun commenced. First 2 with me and 1 by herself, then one with me and 2 with each other, the switching was non stop and all got a taste of the little monster they aroused. I “rewarded” them 3 times, 1 load for each. And I even got 2 of the girls to explode all over each other. We collapsed into a very deep and pleasant sleep.

In the morning, more like early afternoon, they woke up and 2 of them decided they wanted a second helping while the 3rd showered and got dressed. Eager to please, I gave them 2 more “rewards” and decided to take a taste of their hidden pleasures. They taught me the word “masarap”, meaning delicious, that afternoon. We lunched by the pool, then I gave each a P500 tip plus P50 each for trike fare, and sent them on there merry way with goodbye hugs from all. One turned around and shouted for all to hear, “Daddy Jeffery, your not “cherry boy” nah diba”. She said a mouthful. Ahhhhh, the Philippines.

Chapter 3: THE FLIGHT

Chapter 3

THE FLIGHT

Before we continue, I would like to express my sincere hopes that you DO NOT follow my example of booking your trip to a tropical island paradise, filled with half naked girls, quivering and gyrating their magnificent little brown bodies, whose sole purpose is to make you feel like a young man again (in more ways than one), 6 month’s in advance. I am reminded of a line from a song by Tom Petty, “…the waiting is the hardest part”. That statement, although not referring to travel, is the absolute truth. The agony of waiting, perusing the boards for current information, packing and unpacking multiple times, buying all the little things you will need at the last minute, seeing pictures of all the places you want to go, and seeing pictures of all the girls you want to see, its just pure torture. If your smart, book about 1 month (at the most) in advance.

That magnificent day I have waited for (impatiently I might add) has finally arrived. I am awakened that morning from a restless sleep about 9 hours before I have to leave for the airport. I give myself the obligatory (sometimes mandatory) 3 S’s, Shit, Shower, Shave. Eat some breakfast. Clean the house and rid the place of all trash, as I won’t be home again for a little over 2 weeks. I already have a hold on my mail, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Pack and unpack 2 more times, trying to save space for something I can feel deep in my marrow I have forgotten. Hit the Message Board to let all know I am leaving soon and hope to see them in the next day or so. Look at some more pictures a few members have posted, just to get the juices flowing. I have one last cup of hot tea to calm the nerves, as the excitement is almost unmanageable. Turn off the gas, and pour out the milk (and whatever else I know will spoil in the fridge). Call my brother to make sure he’s ready (my ride to the airport and guardian of my house) and off I go.

There is an old axiom that I have heard for what seems like forever. “Murphy’s Law, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong!”. I have come to accept this and believe in it wholeheartedly. On the way to the airport is of course some traffic, no problem, I made an early departure from my house for this sole reason. Then comes the unknown and unannounced and unexpected…..construction on the freeway. A few flutters in the rhythmic beating of my heart and soon (not really) we are out of the construction zone, but we are now 30 minutes behind schedule…..fuckin DOT (Department of Torture). I pull into the airport parking lot, at which point my brother exclaims I have made a mistake and should go to the Passenger Dop Off/Pick Up area. “That’s what you think, were running late and you are going to help me get to the ticket counter in time”. I park, drag my brothers ass out of the car and hand him a suitcase (the heaviest one of course), and we make a mad dash for the inside of the airport.

During my research into taking an international flight, I found that you are expected to arrive 2 to 3 hours ahead of your flight time so as to get through customs and immigration in time for your departure. Also allowing time for the occasional restroom visit, which I know I will have to do anyway, and allowing time to pick up your boarding pass and checking your luggage in. In my opinion, that is a GROSS exaggeration of time. Maybe it depends on the airport your leaving from, I know some are more busy than others. From where I come from, 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the time of day, is plenty of time with room to spare. I will remember that next time (I didn’t realize it then, but yes there was going to be a next time and a next and a next…). Me and my brother (looking suitably pissed) make it to the check in counter, we shake hands, I give him the keys and money for parking (stingy bastard, ie: kuripot, couldn’t spare 2 bucks for parking) he says “Be safe over there”, and then quickly departs. I get my boarding pass and check my luggage through the xray scanners and head to my departure gate. Going through immigration and security was a little unnerving as I was asked time and time again “Where are you headed”, “Business or pleasure”, “Do you know anybody there”, “What are your plans while you are there”. Interrogation complete, I now make a semi trot to my gate.

On the way to the gate, I see all the stores, restaurants, bars and kiosks and am suddenly struck with a terrible thirst. Do I have time for a beer and a smoke? Perhaps I can quickly down a coke. Checking my watch (I don’t know why I didn’t sooner) I gasp at the time. I have now 90 minutes to wait until my flight leaves, assuming it is on time. So into the nearest bar for a smoke and a beer. I didn’t notice right away, it took me a few years to realize, but it seems like everybody has a lighter except me, How do they get it through security? Another mystery of life I guess. After about 4 beers and ½ a pack of smokes (nervous I guess) I grab a coke to go and head for the gate. Plenty of seating available in the waiting area, so I plant my ass and sip my coke and await the announcement to board (still 30 minutes away). Another “reality check”, I have absolutely nothing to do. I didn’t bring a book, an IPOD, a Laptop, a Walkman, nothing. Now is when I realize that I have forgotten something…grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I have to be satisfied to watch planes take off and land.

15 Minutes til boarding and out of nowhere comes a hoard of people, all making there way to MY departure gate. WTF, where did they all come from. Old ladies in wheel chairs, couples in their early 20’s wearing backpacks, screaming, running kids, crying babies, adults milling around with friends and family. Now the whole area is packed with people. The pretty flight attendants (so I thought) now announce that boarding will begin. 1st class, those needing special attention, parents with infants may now board. Then the next section. Then the next section. Now its my turn, and the line to get on the plane is longer than the plane itself. I could have kept my seat in the waiting area for another 20 minutes. All aboard and taking off now, nothing to do but relax (as I have nothing else to do) for 5+ hours until we reach Los Angeles and what is arguably one of the busiest airports in the world…LAX. To rub salt in an open wound, I notice that everybody, kids included, has something to occupy their time. Portable games, IPODs, Laptop computers, books to read, crossword puzzles, mini dvd players, Walkman radios/cd players. All I can do is twiddle my thumbs and discretely try to adjust my scrotum as the seat is a little cramped.

A miserable 5 ½ hours later we land in LA. Now I have about 1 hour to reach my destination…Tom Bradly International Terminal. Since my luggage is booked all the way through to the final destination, Manila, I figured I had plenty of time to get to the next gate of departure. Wrong. TBIT is on the opposite side of the airport. I grab a shuttle bus, which drops me off 1 terminal early and I have to run (what seems like 5 miles, but in reality is only 2 football fields). I thought there were a lot of people at my airport, stupid me. I enter the terminal and head to the PAL (Philippine Air Lines) ticket counters, where as it turns out, ½ the philipino nation is waiting to return to their homeland. Plus they all had brought along every possession they own in huge ass boxes with the word BALIKBAYA written on them. They couldn’t ALL be related could they? No, Balikbaya is some kind of packing crate they use. But the state they were in suggests extended, multiple uses. Some were taped, some were tied with ropes, some were stapled, some were bound with bailing wire (the plastic kind) but ALL were semi crushed to some extent. At this point is when I realize what is awaiting me in Manila, a lonnnngggg asssssss waittttttttttt for my luggage. Through all the lines and passed all the security, I head to my departure gate once again.

Plenty of time to wait now as I decifer the OTHER acronym for PAL (Philippine Air Lines, no, Plane Always Late). About 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time is when they announce the boarding procedure will now begin. Once again, 1st Class, people needing special attention, and parents with infants may now board, then the next section, then the next section and again I stand in a line longer than the plane itself, which by the way is now a larger plane than the one I arrived in LA on. We take our seats and buckle up and head on our way to Guam for re-fueling, before heading to Manila. Again with nothing to do, I discretely adjust my scrotum, several times (at this point I don’t give a shit if anyone sees me doing it) and settle in for a little nap. Another red flag presents itself on this trip, 3 actually. 1. Philipinos can sleep like noone else I have ever known. 2. They can’t control their bladders (or maybe their colons), and make frequent trips to the restroom (henceforth called the CR-Comfort Room). 3. They eat as if there is no tomorrow, snacks, in flight meal, more snacks, more in flight meal, then more snacks. Yet they’re all so skinny.

We passed on the re-fueling stop over in Guam, so as to make up time, and that brought some trepidation to my thinking. Would we make it all the way? Would we crash into the Pacific or China Sea? All first time traveler jitters I suppose. We watched a crappy movie, then another crappy movie, then the first crappy movie again……torture. Please, for God’s sake, bring something to do when you make this voyage. On the entire trip from LA to Manila, I slept a total of about 5 hours during a 17 hour flight. When we landed in Manila (thank the God’s this was now over), we (I should say the philipinos) thanked the cabin crew with a round of applause. A superstitious people no doubt. We made our way out of the plane, at a snail’s pace I might add, and into the terminal.

I would like to make you aware of a few observations about airports and flying. I mentioned earlier about pretty little flight attendants announcing the boarding process. These are not flight attendants, Nowhere on the plane, either from LA or from my hometown, was there a pretty little flight attendant to be seen. Old, yes. Chubby, yes. Rude, yes. False advertising if you ask me. During the flight to Manila from LA, we were made to close the shades on the windows. What is it we were not supposed to see I wander. Possibly near misses? Who knows, as nobody dared to defy the Nazi stewardesses and look to see what was out there.

So we are off the plane now and making our way to Immigration. Another long line, and as some of you know, elderly Philipinos do not like to stand in line. If you turn your head for even 2 seconds they will take that opportunity to cut in front of you. Take my advice and keep your eyes on the prize. Again, “Why are you here?”, “Where are you going?”, “Who do you know here?”, blah blah blah. Onto the luggage claim area. After about an hour of watching semi crushed Balikbaya boxes come streaming down the ramps, I see my luggage come tumbling forward. Grab them and go, that’s my motto. Onto the customs agent now and the inspection of my luggage, another 30 minutes. Finally, out of the airport and into the open air and sunshine to find my (hopefully) still waiting driver.

My first taste of a tropical island slams into all of my senses at one time. In an instant I am drenched with my own sweat. You don’t know what humidity is until you have arrived in the Philippines. I am wearing blue jeans and a long sleeved shirt, what a fucking mistake that was, wear shorts and a short sleeved shirt and some flip flops. I take a deep breath and instantly wish I had not, air pollution takes on a new meaning in Manila. After gagging and coughing for 3 full minutes, I take a smoke out and start begging for a match, and once again, everyone has a lighter except me. Across the way I see a hugeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee whiteeeeeeeeeeeee signnnnnnnnnnnnnn, with my name on it. And some little guy standing there waving to me, how did he know it was me, I dunno.

As this all occurs post 9/11, seeing my name towering over all other people for all to see, gave me some goose pimples to say the least. Security is heightened everywhere in the world, with the threat of Islamic, Muslim, extremist, fanatical groups just looking for an American to take their frustration out on, I ran to the guy and begged him to put the sign away now, I was here. Finally I was here.