Memoirs of a Philippine Mongerer
C How they made me chapter 48:
Bob makes his move.
As I drifted off into a well deserved sleep I vaguely recognized the voices of Bob and Rosie chatting amicably outside and I thought to myself it would be really cool if those to manage to get some good fish and we can have a little barbeque by the beach later on when the sun goes down. During that sleep I seemed to have the most vivid dreams. I know this because I can still remember the dreams to this day twenty years later. I dreamt that myself Bob and Rosie were all walking in the jungle with the two of them up in front of me. I could hear their voices as they called out to me but somehow I could never catch up to them. I followed the sound of their voices through the jungle until I came to a clearing where I stopped because there before me were Bob and Rosie making out on a blanket on the ground.
I remember feeling angry and was just about to have a non to gentle word with Bob when suddenly the dream ended. To this day I don’t really understand what the dream was about but I do remember how real it felt and I certainly remember the emotional rollercoaster it produced. In the years to come I was to have several intense dreams like this one and on each occasion they were almost like a premonition Invariably what I would dream about would actually come to pass in one form or another.
I don’t know how long I slept for but it only seemed like minutes and I woke up to the sound of children’s voices echoing through the room as they played outside. Groggily I raised my head to look out the little window and saw much to my surprise it was now nighttime. Outside Bob and Rosy were seated around the makeshift BBQ which was being attended to by a little old lady who had a fish cooking over the fire and off to the sides were several younger women (I would have estimated about 17 but it’s so hard to tell in the Philippines) who Bob seemed to be trying to establish some sort of rapport with.
Rubbing my eyes to get the tiredness out of them I stumbled across the room opened the door and then asked in a loud voice “evening all what’s for dinner”. Bob looked up from the fire and replied, “gooday mate you have a good kip”, to which I replied yes mate feel like a million dollars now and ready to win some money at the cock fights”. Looking back on it I suddenly realize just how much easier things were back then. I could sleep on the floor with only a mat between me and the bamboo lattice floor and not think twice about it. Then when I woke up I simply stretched and was ready to take on the world. Such are the advantages of youth. These days I wouldn’t be able to sleep and if I did get some kind of sleep then I would wake up with aches and pains all over me.
I made my way down to the fire where the little old lady had four pieces of fish soaking in a mixture of Soy Sauce and Calamansi juice. Rosie explained that this was the Filipino way of marinating the fish. The fish had also been slit in half with the guts removed and in their place was a mixture of tomato, onion and chili. Hanging above the fire was a little pot which must have seen a million or more fires and it was explained to me that this was the rice pot. It took about twenty minutes for the rice to boil and the fish to be cooked then we all sat around the fire and enjoyed the meal washed down with a glass of mineral water several bottles of which had been purchased at the local sari-sari store.
In some ways this was my introduction to Philippine culture. Even though I had been to Boracay and Peurto Galera prior to this these were both tourist frequented areas but down here in Masbate we were literally in the middle of nowhere where tourists were rarely seen. Life was rudimentary to say the least and the creature comforts were seen as luxuries rather than taken for granted comforts. Living here on a daily basis really gave me an insight into Filipino culture. Apart from a roof over our heads there was really nothing there. All the things that I took for granted in my normal existence one had to buy here. For example toothpaste was available in the sari-sari stores but only in the little plastic wrappers. When I asked Rosie where can I buy a tube of toothpaste she looked at me as if I was totally deluded and replied “people here no money buy big toothpaste only small toothpaste here”.
Living in the province day in and day out was in many ways pleasurable and in other ways miserable. As my buddy Barry is so fond of saying it’s the little things that are so hard to do in the Philippines and this certainly proved to be the case in the province. My usual days would start with a trip to 5 different sari sari stores to buy things such as toothpaste, shampoo, drinking water, soap, cooking oil, biscuits, rice, deodorant, sardines, coffee, plastic cuttlery and a host of other things. Of course one store would never have all of the items and it was a matter of going to different stores each day. This day by day existence was frustrating but the Filipinos seemed to take it in their stride since for them it was a perfectly normal way to behave. I have since learned that the inability to save and plan for the future seems to endemic in Philippine culture but at this stage it was still new to me and I found this living day to day frustrating. It would have been so much simpler to stock up on possessions but then again the stores never seemed to have enough items and I figured this was because the people here never had enough money to buy in bulk.
While I was living there the question of money continually bothered me. These people had nothing and apart from a few fishing boats and sari-sari stores I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where they were getting their money from. There was no industry, no jobs and no future so how these people earned money to survive I had no idea. Of course they cut their living costs to the bare minimum and their day to day expenses were virtually as low as anyone could get but still everyone needs money to survive and as far as I could see these people had no way whatsoever to earn money and therefore their existence was somewhat tenuous as well.
Still despite the lack of money these people seemed happy. Wherever we went in the village Bob and I were greeted with cheery hello’s and smiles as well as the ever present bottle of tuba coconut wine. The one session on Tuba that I had indulged in had been enough to put me off the shit for life and whilst being careful not to be rude I was determined never to drink this swill again. Life kind of drifted by where one day rolled into the other and each day was a little bit like ground hog day. There was very little variation in province life and the highlight of our day was normally walking along the beach with Rosie just before the nightly barbeque which signified cooking dinner.
During the walks Bob would always be a few steps ahead of Rosie and myself so as to allow us and him his private time. I must admit Bob had a certain boy larrikin charm about him with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes and this seemed to attract the Filipinas. He was not exactly a young man or a superb physical specimen but the girls seemed to like him anyway and whenever we would do the walks he would get the enticing flirtatious looks from girls as young as 13 through to the mothers of five at age 30.
During our walks Bob would always smile and flirt with the girls but then one afternoon after we had been in the province for about 10 days he actually stopped and went over to one girl and her group of friends, sat down and started chatting with them. When I saw this I looked at Rosie wondering what to do but she just smiled and tugged at my arm to signal carrying on our walk without Bob. Rosie and I walked for about an hour then on the way back we stopped where we had dropped off Bob and sure enough there he was surrounded by a group of teenage girls all drinking Ginebra with coke. Bob seemed to be regaling them with stories and I am not sure how much they could understand or how much effect the Ginebra was having but they all seemed to be hanging on every word and the group of them were all giggling and laughing at every second sentence Bob would utter.
I made my presence known to Bob with a gooday mate and then said, “hey listen mate Rosie and I are heading back for some dinner, you coming or what”? Bob raised his head and replied, “yeah mate I will be along shortly and I might bring back a few of these girls with me”. Rosie and I made our way back to our little house where the old lady who had somehow become my surrogate maid/cleaner/head chef etc was busy cooking fish on the barbecue. We sat down and then half an hour later just as we were about to tuck into some fish Bob showed up with two of the girls and boldly announced bought me new friends back for some tucker mate hope you and Rosie don’t mind.
That night Bob managed to get his hands on some beer and ice which tended to lubricate proceedings somewhat and we spent many hours just sitting around the fire, chatting and drinking, and enjoying each others company. The girls that Bob bought along spoke reasonable English and what they didn’t understand we would figure out between Rosie myself Bob and them. I had assumed that the girls were local girls from Rosies village but after having a long chat with them in Visayan Rosie turned round to me and said they were both 18 but they did not live here and in fact came from a little island about twenty minutes boat ride from Rosie’s village. Apparently they were in Rosie’s village looking for a job of some sort. They were staying with relatives and both were virgins.
When Rosie told me this story I was somewhat bemused. Here I had been wondering how the heck the people in Rosie’s village survived with no income, no jobs and no future and here were these two 18 year old virgins from an island twenty minutes away who had been sent to the big smoke
(Rosie’s village) to find employment or at least some way to make money. If I thought life was hard in Rosie’s village but God only knew how hard it must have been on the island. After a few hours Rosie and myself decided to call it a night so we headed up to our little hut but as usual Rosie refused to come in saying unless we were married she could not stay with me because it was against her families rules. I pointed out to her that she was working in the bar so her having this attitude just because we were in her province was a bit hypocritical but she simply responded by saying, “Manila and province different. When in province do as family say”. When she said this, visions of her fathers bolo came flooding back into my mind and I felt a small chill course down my spine.
Rosie left me at the door promising me that very soon she would find a way so we could be together then she scampered away into the night. Meanwhile Bob was still down on the beach so rather than toss and turn in frustration I decided to down a few drinks with Bob and the girls and hopefully quell my sexual frustration that way. I quickly put another log on the fire then setteled down on the soft sand for a prolonged dinking session of anything that came my way.
I remember having a great chat with Bob and the two girls and even though the girls didn’t say much it seemed like they understood everything Bob and myself were talking about and our conversation was continually interspersed with giggles and laughter. We must have sat there for a couple of hours quaffing down the drinks with me having three to every one of theirs. I can remember sitting there thinking how sexy these girls were looking and then suddenly a dark fog seemed to come over me and I fell gently into the welcoming arms of deep alcohol induced sleep.
I am not sure how long I slept there but I remember waking up and it was still pitch black so I threw another log on the fire but then as I tried to drift off to sleep I thought I heard a moaning sound coming from the hut so I shakily got up and stealthily made my way to the hut. As I drew closer to the hut the noises became louder and it was very obvious there was sexual activity going on inside the hut. For some reason the moaning sounded strangely familiar but not being one to barge in I decided to sit outside on the chair and give Bob and the girls some privacy. The way I figured it was if I couldn’t get laid then who better than Bob and good luck to him.
I sat on the chair for what seemed like an eternity but still the sounds of sex kept on coming from inside. By this time I had exercised as much restraint as I could so then I decided I would have one quick little peak and see what was so special about Bob. I knew this was an invasion of his privacy but I thought, what the hell, this will only last for a few seconds and besides there was no harm being done, so why not. Having now made up my mind I walked towards the little window with the movable flap, pushed it open then looked into the cabin.
When I first looked in, it took a couple of seconds for me to register what I was seeing. The whole scene was somehow surreal. There was Bob on the floor with the two young island girls watching and giggling while Rosie gave him a blow job. My first reaction was one of disbelief which was very quickly followed by heated anger. As I watched I felt the anger build up inside me so I pulled my head out of the window then stomped towards the door. I gave the door a good thump entered the hut and then shouted, “what the fuck is going on here”.