Memoirs of a Philippine Mongerer
A parting of the ways in AC
As soon as MayAnne spotted me she broke out in a big smile, shouted hello and then breezed over and planted a kiss on my lips right in front of Wally. At this moment I felt like total scum and incredibly embarrassed and all the time, even though I wasn’t looking at him directly, I could tell Wally was seething. In hindsight Wally had no right to be so pissed off , I mean he had gone first and he had just finished giving me a lecture on sharing is caring, but I guess it was hard for him to practice what he preached.
At the time Wally’s hypocrisy didn’t dawn on me, in fact quite the opposite. I was feeling about as low as a snakes belly and I waited in trepidation for the tirade I knew was coming my way. MayAnne although having been with Wally just a few hours before me, seemed completely oblivious to Wally’s presence which must have rubbed salt on his wounded ego, and I could sense his anger about to boil over.
Deciding diplomacy was the better part of valor I gently lifted May Anne of my lap and told her I was sorry but she had to go now as I had to talk with Wally. I held her hand and walked her out through the reception. When we were outside the hotel I hailed a trike and subtly slipped 300 peso into her hand while promising to come and bar fine her later that night. May Anne although a bit miffed at being sent on her way, seemed to accept my promise and she lithely jumped into the trike and headed on her way.
So now it was time to face the music and with a feeling of trepidation I headed back into the hotel to face an angry Wally. As soon as I walked into the restaurant area Wally confronted me saying, “you are a shit head Martin, you’re a fucking slime lower than a snakes cunt”. At this stage I was feeling pretty bad so I decided to take his abuse and let him blow of steam. Then maybe when he had calmed down a bit I would talk with him rationally. This was my thoughts, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out like that. Wally by this time was riled up, he had something to say and he was going to get it off his mind no matter what.
“Listen dickhead” he said, “you knew I liked that girl so why did you have to fuck her, there are so many other sheilas but you have to get her. You are scum Martin and I hope someone belts the shit out of you”. As I have said I wasn’t feeling exactly proud of my actions but Wally was going a little bit far, and despite my resolution to remain silent his latest tirade got under my skin and I was now going to fight back. “Listen mate what was it you were saying before something along the lines of sharing is caring? Seems to me you should practice what you preach”. Wally was momentarily phased by this but recovered quickly to say, “it’s different with May Anne I really like her and you fucking knew that”. “Wait a minute” I replied “I had no idea you really liked her, this wasn’t personal mate, she is working in the bar and besides she chose me, not the other way round”.
Upon hearing this Wally was a little taken aback but recovered quickly to say, “I don’t believe you. I told her I really liked her and was planning to take her out of the bar and when she left me she said she was going home to tell her mum she was stopping work and coming to live with me”. Now it was my turn to be taken aback so I sat down and tried to get my thoughts together then after a moments contemplation I told Wally, “well mate I had no idea about any of this and if I had I never would have gone near her”. He looked at me with smoldering hatred in his eyes and said, “well how thick are you then, you’re a fucking dickhead” and with that said, walked out of the room.
I have observed similar situations as the one between myself and Wally on many occasions and each time I do, I think to myself, why does one guy blame the other guy when at the end of the day it is basically the woman’s fault, as much if not more so, than the other guy. In this particular case it was definitely MayAnne’s fault as she was the one who initiated contact with blatant disregard for Wally’s feelings. Then again, perhaps she like me, had no idea of the intensity of Wally’s feelings for her. All of these thoughts were racing through my head and at the end of the day I was pretty sure I wasn’t to blame totally but the trouble was how could I convince Wally of this.
So now I was left alone in the restaurant with feelings of guilt rushing through my body, feeling just as Wally had described me, a dick head. Yet despite my feelings of guilt somewhere deep inside there was a feeling of righteousness. In the back of my mind I knew that this was an over reaction by Wally and that it was MayAnne who had initiated things, not me. I was kind of tempted to confront Wally with this and explain to him that I wasn’t a mind reader but in the end I chickened out, and deciding discretion is the better part of valor, I finished breakfast, made my way back to my room, packed my gear and headed off to Fields in search of another hotel.
I was walking up Fields Avenue and got to where Philies is now, where a young Filipino guy stepped in front of me and said, “hotel sir”? Normally I would have brushed past this very obvious tout but at the time my bags were beginning to get heavy and the guy assured me this was the best hotel in Angeles at a very good price. In hindsight it was probably a risky proposition following an unknown Filipino guy but luckily for me this guy turned out to be legit and even genuinely helpful.
Once I said to the guy, “okay I will have a look at the hotel” a trike appeared from nowhere and next thing I knew my bags were being packed on top of the trike, then with me tucked inside the minute trike cabin and my new found guide, sitting side saddle on the back seat, we made our way up Fields Avenue onto what is colloquially referred to as Perimeter Road.
I am never quite sure what to expect when a Filipino says a hotel is close. Sometimes it is literally a 5 minute stroll and other times it’s a twenty minute ride in a dilapidated old trike. This turned out to be the later and as we crossed over the railway tracks that mark Checkpoint I was thinking to myself shit, I wonder where these two are taking me but then decided well there’s nothing much I can do about it now so I will just go along for the ride and see what happens.
The trike ride to my new hotel took about twenty minutes as we were literally crawling along at a snails pace, plus the driver had to stop to have a piss by the side of the road. Eventually the trike took a left turn following a big sign saying Maharajah Hotel. The Maharajah sounds fairly opulent, I thought to myself, and I hoped I would be able to afford the place. We pulled up at the big glass doors that mark the entry to the Maharajah and within seconds my guide had my bags off the top of the trike and was standing around with an expectant look on his face. I asked him how much for the trike and he told me 100 piso which in those days was a hefty amount but I didn’t know so I rummaged through me wallet and handed him 100 piso for the trike, plus another hundred for himself. I explained what this was for and I must have done something right because this guy upon receiving my tip suddenly went from guiding stranger to my new best friend. He insisted on accompanying me into the hotel and would help me book in. He grabbed my bags and proceeded into the rather grand reception area of the Maharajah Hotel which unbeknownst to me was to become my home away from home whenever I was to visit Angeles in the coming years.
At first glance the Maharajah is really quite impressive, well at least for those times it was and again I found myself wondering if I would be able to afford to stay there. We proceeded up to the counter where two friendly ladies smiled at me and said in unison, “welcome to the Maharajah Hotel sir”. Okay I thought to myself, this is starting out okay, but I better find out how much this joint is. Before I could respond a piece of cardboard like paper was pushed at me and I was politely asked to fill in the form.
For me this was standard procedure that I was used to when living in Australia so I started filling in the form like a good little tourist. On the form there were all the usual questions name, age, country of origin etc then down the bottom was a space to fill in your rank. When I came to this section I told the ladies, “sorry I am not in the services, I don’t have any rank”. Upon hearing this she seemed a bit shocked but recovered quickly enough to say, “no problem sir, just leave that part” Looking back on it the ‘rank’ request on the form was perfectly natural because previously, 99.9% of their customers had been American military personnel. I however was the new breed of invader, and I like to think I was one of the first Southern hemisphere boys who discovered the Maharajah and I know for many years to come, when I met people in Manila who were coming up to Angeles, I would recommend them to the Maharajah Hotel.
After being told to ignore the rank request I asked the lady how much a night the hotel was and she replied 500 piso which in those days with an exchange rate of about 28 to 1 represented about 18 Australian dollars. I thought to myself well this isn’t to bad but since it is out of the way and I don’t see many other customers, I bet I can make a deal for a lesser price. I looked at the lady and gave her what I thought was one of my best smiles and asked her, “how about a discount for longer staying clients”, to which she replied, “how long do you plan on staying” and when I answered, one week, she replied, “okay sir we can give you a room for 450 piso a night but that’s 2 nights payment in advance please sir”. Once again I gave her my best smile and said, “make it 400 a night and I will give you four days payment in advance”. She looked at me with a mischievous sparkle in her eye as if to say who does this cheeky young foreigner think he is trying to bargain with me. She looked at my guide and there was a quick exchange in Tagalog, then she turned back to me and said normally our maximum discount is 50 piso sir but because you are staying one week we will give you a room for four hundred a night with four days in advance payment”. I replied you have a deal and after rummaging through my wallet, an occurrence that happens far to often here in the Philippines, I pulled out 1600 peso handed it to her and next thing I knew was being given directions to my room.
My guide wanted to carry my bags into my room but being a bit wary of this seemingly over friendly Filipino I told him thanks for the offer but I am a big boy and can handle my own luggage. With this said I thanked him again for his help, picked up my bags and made my way towards my room.
I did not know it at the time, but the Maharajah was to become my favorite AC hotel and over the coming years I got to know the staff at the Maharajah well. Some of them even became long term friends who I am still close to some 21 years later.
I was just taking my first steps into the outside dinning area by the pool when I heard a girls voice calling out my name. Thinking I had left something behind at the reception I turned around only to be confronted by a perpetually energetic MayAnne.