Tag Archives: province

Philippines Fiestas

The provincial Fiestas are a nightmare for bar managers and owners because every year they happen and every year more and more girls leave work and return to the province for the fiestas, often staying away for a couple of months. Just the other day as I was bewailing the lack of girls for the opening of Cambodia after being told a whole lot were in the province. Shagger who was sick and tired of listening to me said, “now there’s an article people would like to read, write up something about the Fiestas and their role in Philippine society”. Well Shagger does have moments of clarity and who am I to question him, so with that said here comes an article on Philippine fiestas and I hope all who read this, find it informative and entertaining.

To examine the Fiesta and understand what it means to Filipino’s I believe it is necessary to briefly look at the history of fiestas and see how they developed in Philippine culture. The beginnings of the Philippine fiesta go back to before the Spanish conquistadors arrival in the 1500s. In the original culture the indigenous Filipinos would make regular ritual offerings to placate the gods, and it is commonly accepted that these occasions of offerings together with the Spanish influence evolved into the fiestas we know today.

For the indigenous peoples the fiesta also marked a time to recognize their connection with the land and to celebrate the gifts the land had bestowed upon them. This connection with the land is almost a universal truth and it is celebrated by peoples of diverse cultures throughout the world. There are many different “harvest festivals” but perhaps the world’s best known celebration of mans connection with his physical environment, together with accompanying religious overtones, is Americas Thanksgiving Day.

With the Spanish invasion of the Philippines and their predominant cultural influence the fiestas took on a whole meaning. The Spanish kept elements of Filipino culture and simply combined them with their own creating the basis for Filipino fiestas as we know them today. For the Spanish the Fiesta meant a multitude of things. Firstly it was a celebration of life itself and secondly a celebration of the Spanish system or more accurately the Spanish way of life. Thirdly there were always religious overtones and fourthly political aspects. Last but by no means least the fiestas represented recognition and a celebration of the people’s closeness to the land and the importance of the physical environment in ensuring their survival. During Spanish times the Fiestas involved people from all levels of society. People from an entire provincial area through to a local Barrio, no matter how rich or poor, took part in the Fiesta.

The very word fiesta is a Spanish word originally so there is no denying the Spanish influence on these proceedings. For the Spanish the celebratory aspects of the fiesta were accompanied by a well developed sense of the dramatic and a natural flair for ostentatious showmanship with a healthy dose of melodrama thrown in. The Fiestas provided the perfect outlet for these aspects of the Spanish psyche. For example during the fiestas in Spanish times the women would be paraded down the street dressed in the most flamboyant clothing they could find. There was always joyous dancing and partying and this was in some ways the predecessor to modern day beauty contests. In this regard the fiestas were comparable to the Madri-gra’s. The concept of a woman’s beauty being displayed and celebrated is still very much part of Filipino culture and in modern times this takes the form of a beauty contest which are often an integral part of modern fiestas. Many provincial fiestas will include a beauty pageant featuring 15 and 16 year old girls and this will often include a parade where contestants along with various sponsors will be paraded down the street for all to see.

The Spanish were devout Roman Catholics and this Catholicism served both as a justification for colonialism (converting Filipinos to the Catholic faith) and as the major pervading influence on the structure of their society. From the most powerful and wealthy land owners through to the political appointees, the conquistadors and even the average Spaniard the Catholic religion influenced the society they lived in and helped define their place in that society.Given that religious beliefs were a cornerstone of Spanish culture it is only natural that they should play a major part in the Fiestas. Indeed the very basis for many of the modern day, nationally recognized fiestas in the Philippines, is religion. For example the most easily recognized fiesta throughout the Philippines is that of the Black Nazarene which represents a black statue symbolic of Jesus Christ carrying a cross. Every January 9 a blackened statue of Jesus Christ bearing a cross is set on a gold and red carriage and pulled through the Manila district of Quiapo by male devotees. The feast of the Black Nazarene is a time honored Philippine ritual that is reputedly as old as Filipino Catholicism itself. Even though in the modern world change occurs rapidly here in the Philippines time honored festivals such as the Feast of the Black Nazarene continue to draw larger and larger crowds every year.

Most fiestas in the Philippines will have religious overtones either in the form of a direct physical representation of certain sections of the bible or in a the form of celebrating a local patron saint. This is clearly demonstrated by the Feast of the Black Nazarene (as shown in the two photographs above) which draws literally thousands of male devotees as seen in the two pictures above.

Under Spanish rule the fiestas were used as an occasion to reinforce the Spanish political system that held sway over most Filipino societies. The political aspects of Spanish society were always emphasized from the wealthy land owners through to the political appointees. Often the fiesta was marked by an actual political appointment and nearly always a speech and maybe a present giving session by some of the provinces more powerful identities, all of whom were invariably Spanish.

Just as the pre Spanish fiestas recognized and celebrated mans connection with the land so to do the modern day fiestas, in fact it is almost as if in this regard, fiestas have gone the full circle. Initially an essential element of the fiesta was to celebrate mans connection with the land and the gifts it had bestowed upon him. With the arrival of the Spanish this element of the fiesta was lessened but never forgotten and in today’s provincial fiestas this connection with the land has been re-emphasized and plays an important role in most provincial fiestas. Many Filipinos who reside in the cities, come fiesta time, will travel to the provinces to experience the so called rural lifestyle. At these fiestas it is not uncommon to see the older folk engage in the traditional dances which mimic the peoples work on the land. This is a subtle reinforcement of tradition and recognition of provincial man’s close link to his immediate physical environment.

(A traditional provincial dance performed by the older generation in which they mimic work in the rice fields.)

Recognition of mans connection with the physical environment will often take the form of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. One perfect example of this is the Kadayawan Festival in Davao which represents a celebration of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. The fiesta is one week long and celebrated every 3rd week of August which is the season of good harvest of fruits and orchids.

The modern day Filipino fiesta incorporates all the facets of the indigenous peoples and the Spanish fiestas as well as some uniquely Filipino aspects. For Filipinos the fiesta works on multiple levels and represents numerous things. In Filipino culture the provincial lifestyle is romanticized through artwork, literature and movies and the fiesta represents a chance for city dwelling Filipinos to get back in touch with their roots and experience the rustic lifestyle portrayed in popular culture. The Fiesta also represents a chance for them to mingle with seldom seen relatives and friends. In fact the general get together element is a critical part of fiestas in the Philippines. .As one popular Filipino writer put it the provincial fiesta “is the tie that binds Filipinos from a region or an area together, a time to reunite with your extended family and you kababayans (countrymen/women.)

Another important part of the Fiesta is the social mingling aspect and the giving and sharing aspects. No matter where you are you are expected to attend and take part in the festivities. This taking part will include a variety of things from dancing and singing in the streets or at a designated meeting place (often the town basketball court) through to sharing food or drink with close friends and relatives. Again a Filipino writer has expressed it well, “no mater where you are, you’re expected to attend. It is a time to rejoice in friendship, spend all you have, forget the expense, just be happy you can afford to entertain and feed others, if you can”.

For Filipinos the fiesta often represents the recognition of certain physical aspects unique to an individual geographical region in the Philippines. For example the ebon-ibon festival which is held in the town of Candaba Pampanga Philippines. This fiesta emphasis environmental conservation and represents the people’s recognition of this areas unique physical attributes. The Ebon-Ibon festival is a showcase for the many species of birds and their eggs that can be found here as well as recognition of the unique marshlands and swamps that attract a huge variety of birds to this area.

One very important part of the modern day fiesta is inherited from the Spanish and that is the love of pomp and pageantry. The provincial fiestas represent a chance for the Filipinos to express their natural attraction towards pomp and pageantry as well as an excuse just to have some dam good fun. A perfect example of this is the Centurion festival held in the town of Pinamalayan on Oriental Mindoro. During this festival the townspeople dress up as roman centurions and parade through the streets posing for photographs with onlookers.

Filipino society places a large amount of importance on the social aspects of life and the fiestas are very much an expression of this. As one Filipino writer put it “The fiesta is part and parcel of Filipino culture. Through good times and bad times, the Filipino fiesta must go on. Each city and barrio has at least one local festival of its own, usually on the feast of its patron saint, so that there is always a fiesta going on somewhere in the country”. A Filipino friend of mine is fond of quoting an old maxim which says “The Filipino is a social animal” and the fiestas are very much proof of this. Most of the larger fiestas will have an overriding theme but beneath that theme the fiesta is viewed as an excuse to socialize and party with ones peers and friends. The fiesta is a social gathering which serves as a chance to mingle, a chance to party and most importantly, a chance to renew old friendships and family ties.

In summary the fiesta is part and parcel of Filipino culture and every fiesta has multiple levels of meaning to all Filipino patrons. For Filipinos the fiesta is an expression of religious philosophy and recognition of a certain way of life or a certain political system. It is also a reflection of mankind’s connection with his physical environment as well as a reflection of the unique characteristics of a certain geographical area. It is a chance for the older generation to reinforce cultural values, as well as, providing a chance to strengthen the all important ties of friendship and family. The fiesta also represents a chance for Filipinos to explore the rural lifestyle that is so constantly idealized in Philippine art and literature. Last but not least the fiesta is simply an excuse to have fun, to have a holiday, to engage in ones love of pomp and pageantry, to entertain and to socialize.

Below is a list of the more prominent festivals and fiestas throughout the Philippines along with a brief description of each fiesta.

Kalibo, Aklan
13-19 January

The Ati-Atihan Festival commemorates the 13th century land deal between 10 migrating Bornean chieftains and the aboriginal Ati King Marikudo. It also honors the town patron, the infant Sto. Niño.

The festival features thousands of drummers who ceaselessly pound their drums while festival attendees dance on the street with soot blackened bodies and colorful costumes.

Cebu City
18-19 January

This is Cebu cities premier fiesta., The Sinulog is a century-old tradition observed in this part of Visayas region. Included are a mass prayer dance which takes place on the streets of Cebu culminating at the Cebu Sports Center.

Iloilo City
25-26 January

This is the major festival celebrated in Iloilo city. Participants don Ati warrior costumes with black body paint then to the beating of drums they dance on the streets brandishing weapons and shouting ancient war cries.

Baguio Flower Festival
23 February – 3 March

This festival takes place in the City of pines Baguio during flower season. The townspeople of Baguio reveling in the cooler climate don multi colored costumes which mimic the colorful blooming flowers that can be found in the region. The flowerbeds are presented in a parade of floats, Panagbenga.

Malaybalay, Bukidnon
28 February – 1 March

This festival is features the tribal ethnicity of Bukidnon The fiesta commences with an an early morning pamuhat ritual which is then followed by an ethnic food fest, trade fairs, and a lot of native dancing.

13-20 February

The island of Marinduque is commonly referred to as the “Lenten Capital of the Philippines”,. During Holy Week, the people of the island engage in the age-old ritual of the “Moriones”. This will mean colorful warrior costumes are worn, together with carved masks which depict the Roman soldiers of Christ’s time. This parade supposedly depicts the story of Longuinus, the centurion who pierced Jesus’ side – and his subsequent beheading.

San Fernando, Pampanga
16-18 April

This fiesta features the villagers of San Pedro engaging in the act of self-flagellation. Villagers perform this on Good Friday whipping themselves with burillo whips. The event climaxes at midday when penitents are literally nailed to their crosses.

11-15 May

This festival is designed to celebrate a bountiful harvest and is marked by a dazzling display of colorful flowers and showcases the towns culinary traditions. There is a heavy emphasis on the kiping – a colorful, translucent rice tortilla that serves as an edible ornament and the suman-sweet, sticky native rice cakes.


A parade of the town’s loveliest ladies, depicting the search and discovery of Christ’s Cross by Queen Helena and Constantine.

Murcia, Negros Occidental
24 June

The underlying theme of this festival is oneness with nature. The main parade includes participants dancing down the streets clad only in mudpacks.

Daet, Camarines Norte
15-24 June

The people of Camarines Norte are renowned for their love of pineapples and this festival is actually in honor of the pineapple. Alternatively known as the Pineapple Festival this occasion features a colorful street presentation complemented by art exhibits, trade fair, cultural dances, and sport events.

Balayan, Batangas
24 June

Pampanga is renowned for its tasty lechon (Roast pork) and every June this culinary delight is celebrated in Balayan, Batangas, popularly known as the “Parada Ng Lechon”. This festival features a dazzling display of succulent pork .The festival coincides with the feast of St. John the Baptist, where people repeat the ritual of baptism by pouring water.

Tacloban City
29 June

For the natives of Tacloban tattoos in the pre Hispanic days signified aggression and courage. These days they symbolize a cultural revival, and a wild,fiesta called the Pintados. Participants in the festival deck themselves out in body paint, mimicking the warriors of old while dancing to the frenetic beat of drums.

Tagbilaran City
1-2 July

The Spanish colonization of the Philippines began with a blood-sealed peace treaty on the shores of Bohol. This event is remembered today via a fiesta at the island’s capital city. The festival incorporates a street parade featuring ten colorfully-dressed groups dancing to the beat of drums. There’s also a traditional Filipino carnival, a martial arts festival, and Miss Bohol Sandugo Beauty Pageant, and many other exciting activities.

Dapitan City
25 July

This is an exotic and colorful pageant re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars, with particular emphasis on the Battle of Covadonga where the Spanish forces under General Pelagio took their last stand against Saracan.

Davao City
20-24 August

Davao’s annual festival, Kadayawan Sa Dadaw is an entire week long and culminates. on Saturday morning when the Kadayawan parade is held. This parade features colorful, orchid-bedecked floats and more than a dozen “ethnic” groups dancing to the beat of wooden drums.

Surigao City
9 September

This festival features Surigao’s tribal background. The Surigaonons celebrate their heritage with a loud, frenetic street dancing parade.

Naga City
20 September

This is a 9 day long festival that combines religion with culture and tradition. The festival culminates at sundown with the fluvial parade as it makes its way down the river, surrounded by a sea of glowing candles.

Zamboanga City
10-12 October

The big fiesta in Zamboanga the city of flowers is the annual Hermosa Festival. The prominent spectacle of the fiesta is the vinta (native sea boats) race. Also featured are cultural and flower shows, art exhibits, and trade fairs. This is an all out celebration of life Chavacano style!

Bacolod City
14-21 October

This festival made Bacolod famous was originally an event meant to fortfify the locals to face hard times by putting on a smiling face hence the now famous parade of people wearing smiling face masks. The main part of the festival includes street dancing, drum beating, drinking, eating and just partying.

Building a House in the Province

As many of us have probably heard tale of or even been involved with, it is alot of filipina’s dream to build their family a house back in the province. Most of the bargirls, and even non-bargirls, come from meager backgrounds in the province where if they’re lucky they have both parents trying to grind out a living and provide for their ever growing Catholic families. They come to AC and Subic and a host of other places to make money to send home in the belief that it will help the family; school fees, grocery, health care are some examples I’ve heard for expenses and then there is always the drunk father or lazy brother who just piss away this money in gambling or drinking. Money earned by some filipina making a living on her back. It is their upbringing and philosophy to help the family and we’re never going to break them of that; family comes before them and way before their relationships with foreigners.

The house in the province is a symbol or sign of the families success; it is also a demonstration by the girl that she can care for her family properly. A well constructed house signals that she is now the provider of the family; a stature thing encompassing the father as provider and head of family. Now, MOST girls will NEVER achieve this degree of success by only barfining and getting her fair share of Lady Drinks. This type of success will only come thru securing a long time barfine, WU sponsor or by somehow finding herself a boyfriend or husband (which is extremely rare considering the insurmountable odds and number of bargirls).

Those of us on the board who’ve been involved in building a provincial house may not be willing to admit it due to expected degree of harassment that will come from the hardened mongers who see any type of compassion or support for a filipina as ignorant or SOMEHOW inhibiting them from fucking said girl. I have gathered some information that I’ll share with you. This is a Zambales house and the cost reflects that; it is potentially somewhat more expensive than buidling elsewhere off Luzon.

First off describing the construction technique; the home pictured was built on a piece of property where the family controls the land. The home replaced a single room wooden building with tin roof on piers. The new home is of block construction reinforced with rebar on a concrete slab. The kithen and CR were built first across the lot from the previous home which was later demolished to make room for new house. The kitchen acted as a base to support the family (cooking, CR and sleeping) while the remaining three rooms were built consisting of a main living room and two bedrooms. The kitchen comes with multiple venting blocks, a 12 foot concrete slab countertop, a sink, CR etc. No running water; water is stored in buckets in the CR to flush and bathe with and several surplus water jugs in the kitchen for cooking with. An electric water cooler provides cold and or hot water as needed and a two burner shellane stove for cooking.

Each room has at least one louvered window to allow for good air flow. Electric wiring was run to each room for lights, plugs, fans etc. One additional luxery was to put in a ceiling and linoleum on the concrete floor. Beds and some furniture were constructed out of the left over and surplus lumber; end tables, benches, tables etc. As time goes on, the linoleum can be replaced with economical tile and furniture purchased or acquired.

The whole place is being painted with the traditional filipina choice of pink, green or light blue with white ceilings. The exterior was not painted but skim coated with concrete to cover the block which looks nice but also serves to help prevent deteroation. The fence has yet to be finished to protect the lot from people walking in.

I will summarize the associated costs for construction of a two bed room, 520 square foot house (26 ft x 20 ft):

Block/cement/sand: P61,730
Wood/plywood: P46,200
Aluminum/metal/rebar: P22,028
Plumbing: P1510
Electrical: P5975
Misc: P17,917
Labor: P54,000
Total: P155,360 ($4425 USD or approx. $8.5 per square foot)

Which brings me to labor; this house as with many in the Philippines will be built by someone in the family who has some degree of experience in building. Don’t go down to your neighborhood construction company and expect this to be built for the same cost. This construction was done by one uncle and two helpers over a 3 month period and several hundred dollars worth of Red Horse and Emperador. There were 3 workers involved; 1 employee (uncle)for 12 weeks at P1500 a week. 2 helper employees for 12 weeks @P1200 a week and one cousin for 6 weeks who was paid P7200. Also, untracked was their food and meals which were provided as they stayed onsite 95% of the time. Overall, they did a decent job; the new house is a far cry better than the previous wooden shanty the family lived in raising 4 kids. It has already withstood one signal 3 typhoon and I expect it to sustain the family thru many more.

Now, to some this type of home would no cut it….it doesn’t have nearly enough luxery for them but for a filipina who came from a very very modest upbringing without a fulltime father to provide, this house is a dream. It can only get better with the addition of some furniture and necessities. It will remain like alot of provincial homes, a perverbal work in progress as money is available.

Early construction

Demo of the old house

Early view of the sala

Completed small bedroom

Completed sala

Almost completed kitchen

Completed big bedroom

A Trip to the Street Market

This morning on a quick ride out to get some breakfast Shagger and I noticed a small market that seems to have just popped up overnight.

After breakfast we picked up the girls and decided to check out this new market.

Once we arrived we got a closer look at what was for sale.

As expected there was a varied range of fruits and vegetables on sale. The seller was quite friendly and the prices were good. The girls seem unexplainably entertained by the produce.

Additionally a moderate range of affordable clothing for women and children were on sale, along with a sizable range of cheap jewelry and trinkets.

Across the street was another group of stores the first selling crockery and cutlery, another with CDs and the last with books, posters and assorted goods.

The atmosphere around the market was very relaxed which is something rather missing in the larger indoor shopping centers.

I have to say it is rather remarkable how these places can just appear anywhere then build and build until the authorities come through and drive them out at which point they will just start the process up all over again somewhere else.

We asked Ronalie (No Nose) to ask the store keepers which days of the week they are running. After about twenty minutes she comes back and says “One guy said they are open everyday the lady at the dress shop says it is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Finally the Food lady says it is open only two days a week (no idea which two)”. Admittedly we were not too surprised as this kind of response seems to be a typical Filipino answer.

Finally after a long hot thirty minutes of shopping we cooled off with a refreshing drink of buko juice, buko meaning coconut.

Day tours in and around Angeles City #4

Up the Mountain and back again.

“Gooday mate” shouted accross the bar and the bell ringing like there was no tomorrow. Yep Les ‘the fuck monkey’ was back in town.

Now I hadn’t seen Les for quite a while so after he ran riot in the bar reacquainting himself with anyone and everyone, we settled down for a quiet little session. He was on his fifth Jack Daniels and coke when he looks at me and says “when are we going for a ride mate”?

Now I know Les is a motorbike enthusiast and can ride like a demon so I cautiously responded “how about on Monday or Tuesday my days off”. Sounds good to me replied Les “I will go to nice bike and rent a Honda Steed so we can do a fucking thunder ride mate”. A thunder ride as the name implies means going fast, in fact it means going fast the entire time with no let up for traffic, caribous, or stray dogs who wander across the road like they own it.

At this point I had a quiet little chuckle to myself because I knew full well the Honda Steeds were all rented out and I couldn’t imagine Les doing a thunder ride on a little 125. Wrong again, Martin.

Come Tuesday I am round at Shaggers place when we get a text from Les let’s go boys it’s time for a ride. We meet up at Nice Bike and sure enough there’s Les and his mate Peter on the massive 125’s.

This is a sight for sore eyes and I was just about to laugh when Les turns to me and says “try to keep up mate”. Ok that was enough the gauntlet had been thrown down and who was I not to respond.

Les and Pete on their massive 125 rice burners.

We started off crossing over Macarthur Highway (a major achievement in itself) and heading down Mountain View road towards city hall. We were just negotiating some traffic when I felt the back of my bike wobbling. I glance in the rear view mirror and sure enough there’s Les giving my rear tire a little nudge.
Enough was enough so I pulled on the throttle and with a roar left Les eating my dust. We proceed along Mountain View road past city hall and come to a roundabout. Here we veered left following signs to Magalang.

We get through the town of Magalang with Les up to his usual antics the whole time. At one stage Shagger was minding his own business riding along at a sedate pace when Les goes flying past him on the massive 125. No problem for the Shagger man he was going slowly letting No Nose Ronalie take pictures but he was a bit perturbed when 5 minutes later he sees Les riding back towards him on the wrong side of the dirt road with every nut and bolt of the 125 shaking as he hits the pot holes. Turns out Les had lost his cap and was a bit worried about his bald scalp getting sun burnt. This procedure happen no less than 4 times and I am sure the local motorists were wondering what the heck was wrong with this crazy foreigner riding on the wrong side of the road, chrome dome shining in the sun and dirt flying everywhere.

We get to the end of the Magalang road only to find Les has a flat tire and wouldn’t you know it 20 yards away is a vulcanizing shop. Some people have all the luck.

Now was time for a little rest stop while the guy fixed the tire ably assisted by Les.

Les lending a helping hand.

Ronalie used her rest time wisely. Here she is trying to find her nose with the help of Shaggers bikes mirror.

15 minutes later all tires fixed for a mere 100 peso we were ready to hit the road again. With me in the lead our convoy headed out towards Mount Arayat. Along the way there is a little traffic but nothing to cause any prolonged delays.

Many small front yard businesses in the provincial areas.

We travelled about 20 minutes along the road then took a left turn following the sign posting to the town of Arayat.

Once you hit this road things get decidedly rural and it is like being in another world. Along the way we stopped at a local church so I could pray for my safety whilst riding with Les.

Could do with a bell like this in Neros.

Mount Arayat dominates the surrounding countryside.

The town of Arayat is a small rural sort of place but it is a distinct worry when a group of school girls call out hello daddy and the local cops are having a quick snack 30 feet away. Needless to say I did not acknowledge their calls.

After the town of Arayat we turned left again heading towards the actual mountain. Some weeks previously we had been told by the owner of Bar Hopping bar about some rock pools in the Mount Arayat National park and I was now on a mission to find them.

We pulled over in the town of Arayat and asked directions. This caused quite a stir for Ronalie who was the object of much attention being the only Filipina in a group of four foreigners. Once she had gotten the directions she hid behind Shaggers bike so the prying eyes of the locals would leave her alone.

We had a short conference on the roadside in Arayat and decided we were going to try and find these elusive rock pools.

The big conference in downtown Arayat.

Back on the bikes and Shagger asks me “Martin do you know where your going?”, to which I replied “not really but I have to find those rock pools”.

We travelled about ten kilometers then there was a sign saying Mount Arayat National Park next left. Ok now I knew I was on the right track and the rock pools were getting closer by the minute.

Taking a turn to the left we then stopped for Peter to cool down a bit and take in some refreshments. He had just come from the Australian summer but even that couldn’t prepare him for the humidity of the Philippines.

We literally descended upon a little eatery where cool drinks and foot long hot dogs were consumed. The lady running the store thought all her Christmases had come at once being visited by foreign celebrities, whilst other locals just gaped at us in awe.

The little eatery wasn’t quite ready for a horde of hungry foreigners

The infamous foot longs now renamed as the Thotoy Dog.

At one stage I asked Shagger why do some Filipinos just stand around and look at you with vacant eyes, mouth wide open. He replied “because they are waiting for a miracle, everyone knows that”.

Some of the locals checked us out as we devoured the foot longs.

Well after an answer like that I decided it was time to hit the road again so saying our goodbyes we roared away heading towards the mountain. After about 5 minutes ride we arrived at the Mount Arayat National Park.

Out here it is like another world and as we rode through the local township it seemed like the entire towns inhabitants had lined the street to gawk at these strange foreigners and cheer us on.

A very basic existence in some of the poorer rural areas.

Heading through the town we then took a right turn and it was then the going got a little rough. Normally I am the slowest rider so the boys put me up front and I don’t get left behind but I noticed when we hit the dirt road I was all of a sudden at the tail end wallowing in the other riders dust.

Once again here I am swallowing dust.

The dirt road is a gradual incline and gets a little rough in places but basically it is easy to negotiate and good fun to travel on. We travelled upwards with Mount Arayat looming up ahead when suddenly we came to a sort of hideaway retreat from which came the sound of a religious sermon and people singing.

Very clean and well maintained compound.

After the compound the road carries on to virtually the top of Mount Arayat.

I was curious to have a look but then thought the better of it as stories of weird Filipino religious cults came floating into my head.

This was an interesting place and even included a number of tree houses.

Some members of our species came down from the trees whilst others have climbed back up them.

Now I was in a dilemma. I still hadn’t found the illusive rock pools but it was getting late and darkness would soon be upon us. Weighing up my options I decided a ride back in darkness along a dirt road in the middle of nowhere was not really my idea of fun, so as a result the rock pools would just have to wait until another day.

The ride coming back was seemingly faster than the ride coming out and there are some great stretches of deserted road where you can get some serious speed happening.

With the sun sinking low on the horizon I was looking forward to a cold shower and a little tumble with the missus.

We negotiated our way through traffic and made it back to our respective homes and hotel safe and sound. Mr’s mjibbo had just arrived back from Manila and was not particularly impressed with her grubby man covered in dust and grime from the road, so it was time for a quick shower and then off to Stargate to party with BeauBrummel on his last night as manager.

The trip to Mount Arayat National park is really worthwhile and would make the perfect day trip for anyone wishing to get out and see little of the countryside as well as meeting the locals and seeing how they live. Pack some food and refreshments as the various food outlets along the way are primitive to say the least.

Day tours in and around Angeles City #3

Angeles City and the Philippines

Day tours in and around Angeles City.

I was just getting ready for an early afternoon appointment with the owner of the Orange Lion Hotel when I get a Yahoo message from Shagger

Shagger: What’s happening?
Mjibbo: Just getting ready to go Orange Lion for meeting with the owner.
Shagger: Sounds like a good place to have late breakfast and I’m bloody hungry
Mjibbo: Sure why not
Shagger: After that lets go for a ride
Mjibbo: Well I really wanted to do a few bar reports
Shagger: Well I just thought it might be a good idea to go for a ride because I have to go down to the Ponderosa Hotel anyway which is on the way and then we can go from there.
Mjibbo: Why do I have the feeling we are not going to do any bar reports?
Shagger: See you at my place 20 minutes not Filipino time ok.

With this I hurried up into the shower, pushed SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) to get ready which is a major achievement in itself, and headed towards Shaggers place.

First stop the Orange Lion hotel where we sat outside enjoying a delicious breakfast which people with an ordinary lifestyle would call lunch.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Cross over MaCarthur Highway and head down Mountainview Road towards City Hall. Along the way we stopped to view the construction of the new Ayala Mall. Judging by the amount of space utilized this will be a huge mall substantially bigger than SM on Clark.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Through the roundabout and veer right following signs to Magalang.

Angeles City and the Philippines

On the road to Magalang.

Angeles City and the Philippines

As you head towards Magalang you pass La Terazza housing development which seems to be conspicously absent of any houses being developed.

Angeles City and the Philippines

No nose Ronalie and Shagger enjoying the ride. Our respective girls are getting really good at snapping photos from the back of the bike.

Angeles City and the Philippines

The outskirts of Magalang.

Angeles City and the Philippines

The thriving little town of Magalang. Here agricultural produce tends to dominate. These are bags of feed for the financially important pigs.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Go through Magalang and when you reach an intersection turn right. You will go over a series of little bridges and then things begin to get decidedly rural.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Here Mount Arayat dominates the landscape.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City and the Philippines

Corn fields grow adjacent to the rice fields.

Angeles City and the Philippines

We travelled along towards Mount Arayat but since I had already done a report on the trip to Arayat I decided we should take a right turn and head out to an undefined place just to see what happened. Next thing you know we were literally in the middle of the rice fields.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Past the local cemetery which none to surprisingly seemed to be the best kept plot of land in the surrounding area.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Another turn to the left and there we were in the middle of nowhere. literally in the middle of nowhere. However this didn’t seem to phase Ronalie who thought this may be a good chance for a little exploration and prove that she was right at home in the province.

Angeles City and the Philippines

And even a game of hide and seek.

Angeles City and the Philippines

In fact she was right at home amongst the rice fields and was last seen sprinting through them heading towards Mount Arayat.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Some of the locals were looking on and didn’t seem particuarly impressed.

Angeles City and the Philippines

White men on big bikes and a crazy Filipina running through the rice fields was all a bit much for some of the locals. Still life goes on and this man had to feed his animals no matter what strange things were going on in the neighbourhood. I asked swmbo why he was carrying grass on his head, she gave me her best disdainful look and said “Mahal you cant feed the Carabao rice”.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Here’s another one of the locals with freshly killed nights supper in his hands. We did notice the chicken looked particuarly srcawny and just hoped it wasn’t meant to feed an entire family.

Angeles City and the Philippines

One more gaze at the rural surroundings the majestic Mount Apo and the gathering grey, rain laden clouds and we decided it was time to head back.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City and the Philippines

On the way back there was a little more traffic but nothing to really worry about. In fact you don’t really hit major conjestion until you hit MacArthur Highway.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City and the Philippines

Not all vechiles can be expected to maintain a steady speed and this includes the local garbage collector.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Back to the roundabout and turn right following signs to Clark.

Angeles City and the Philippines

This will take you along Mountainview Road where there is a lot of rural produce vendors. Their prices are significantly cheaper than Fields or in the malls.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Continue heading straight and in no time at all you are back in good old Barangay Balibago the home of happy mongerers.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Day tours in and around Angeles City #2

Day tours in and around Angeles City.

Day Trip Number #2

Recently I got a text from Shagger imploring me to accompany him on a bike ride. I am not sure if this was because he felt the need to get me back on the bike after my recent spill or maybe because he hadn’t really taken his bike for a decent ride in a long time. Anyway I said yes and so with Ronalie (no nose) armed with camera we took off on our second day trip.

After leaving home it was up Don Juico Avenue past Roadies heading towards Friendship Highway

Along the way we passed Stargate with it’s ever attentive guard guarding the portal

Past Easy Riders where we revved the bikes especially hard just to let them know we were around

Cross over Friendship Highway (the old Friendship Gate is on your right hand side) and head towards the new Friendship entrance to the base.

Just keep on following the road past the new Friendship Gate and very soon you are on a classic provincial road travelling through the now vegetated lahar fields

Very soon you will come to the new Expressway which heads towards Subic. After reading the signs promoting the development of this road for so many years it is really quite exciting to see it is actually getting somewhere near completion.

After crossing over the new Highway it’s a bit bumpy as the roads are half sealed and half lahar. The lahar is actually quite a pleasant driving surface and does not pose any real problems for adventurous travelers.

Fairly soon you come to Barangay Margot where the rural lifestyle begins to dominate proceedings. This is truly a rural area and only 15 minutes drive from Fields Avenue.

The locals were a little curious about our presence who are these crazy white guys on their noisy bikes

After Barangay Margot you will come to the last entrance to the base. If on a bike make sure you are wearing your helmet if going into the base and for car drivers make sure your seatbelt is on.

After the base entrance there is a small water hazard which the first time we did this trip proved a small problem wetting a spark club. However this time we heeded the advice of Thotoy and came prepared with condom covered spark plugs.

Then the next town of any significance is Sabatoda.

In Sabatoda life moves at a more sedate pace

In fact in many ways this is a very civilized little town

But even in the provincial areas modern industry is the order of the day

After travelling through Sabatoda it’s a slight downhill run to the bridge which marks the true beginning of your provincial expedition.

The view from the bridge.

Life here is very basic and close to the environment.

After the bridge it is a steady climb on a lahar road heading towards the infamous Mount Pinatubo

Passing through some very basic provincial areas

Where existence is somewhat primitive and basic at the best of times

But there are constant reminders that we are not that far from civilization such as the pristine jeepney which we found was utilized by Roadslut on his last staff outing.

As you progress up the hills the vegetation becomes more tropical and jungle like with banana trees Mango trees and lush undergrowth dominating the surrounding area.

After reaching a high point of the hills it was time to make a decision either turn round and head back to civilization or carry on up the mountains heading towards Mount Pinatubo. We decided heading back was the best option and this decision was duly prompted by miss no nose Ronalie complaining of a sore ass.

I had a look at the road as it headed onwards and it looked fine for travelling. I have no hesitation in recommending this trip to any adventurous traveler. The road heads towards Mount Pinatubo and eventually intersects with other back roads which in turn connect to Subic. Due to time constraints we did not take this road but plans are underway for this expedition in the vey near future.

As you travel through the small villages religion is always present and the signs remind you of the predominance of the Catholic Church.

As always there are the local sari sari stores which are considered a “nice business” by the majority of Filipinos

Carry on down the road heading past the new Friendship gate entrance to the base.

Turn the corner and it’s back to civilization

As the journey comes to a close I thoroughly recommend a trip along Friendship and a stop off at The Cold Drop for a drink and some good food.

This is a great Day Trip and will take you about 2 hours driving at a sedate pace and allowing for stoppage time. This is a good trip because you really get to see the provincial life style of the Filipinos yet you are literally in the very near back blocks of Angeles.

Evidence of the devastation from the Mount Pinatubo explosion is everywhere yet life goes on and it is a testimony to the Filipino hardiness to see how they have adapted. This trip will afford you glimpses of a hardy somewhat basic life and increase your understanding of the country we all love so much.

Understanding Filipinas

When Shagger asked me to write this article, I nearly fell off my bar stool. We were discussing potential subject matters for future columns and the conversation went something like this

Shagger: You know what I would really like to see

Mjibbo: I have no idea but I’m sure you are going to tell me and I’m sure I’m not going to like it.
(A wry grin from Shagger at this point).
Shagger: I would really like to see an article that describes how these girls think

Mjibbo: For fucks sake why would you want to try and understand a Filipina?

Shagger: I think a lot of guys would like to understand a Filipina and Filipino culture.

Mjibbo: You’re pulling my leg right?

Shagger: No mate, I’m serious. You think about it all the guys come here and spend time with Filipinas. Wouldn’t it be nice to understand how they think. Imagine the problems you could avoid.

Mjibbo: Yeah, I suppose your right.

Shagger: Come on mate, you have been dealing with these women for 17 years. I imagine the knowledge that must be stored in your head

Mjibbo: Yeah ok I suppose I should have a fairly good understanding of Filipinas but what makes you think I can pass this knowledge on and even if I did, who would be interested anyway?

Shagger: Well, I for one would be interested and I reckon there are a lot of AE guys who would be. I think guys would find an article like this quite helpful. You would actually be promoting better cross cultural understanding.

Mjibbo: You’re serious!

Shagger: Yes mate I’m very serious. I reckon an article like that would be really interesting and helpful.

(This is where I nearly fell off my bar stool)

Mjibbo: Well if you really think the AE guys would find it helpful then I will give it a go

Shagger: Good one and I better buy you a drink . Waitress ……………

So there it was. I had been manipulated and had foolishly committed myself to “mission impossible”. I mean, what man can understand a woman let alone convey that understanding to other men.

When I got home later on that evening I started to write down some thoughts and it was then that the enormity of the task hit me. It very quickly became obvious that this article would be no walk in the park in fact it was going to take me a long time and would be quite a challenge. Over the coming months I would just jot down some notes and then try and formulate them into a readable article..

This article is not designed to provide a comprehensive analysis of the Filipina psyche and culture rather it is intended as a brief summary of my observations gained through 17 years of living in the Philippines and dealing with Filipinas on a day to day basis. The result is what you see below and it is my sincere hope that readers find this article amusing, informative and helpful

The Filipina is, in many ways, unique among women. She brings to any relationship a set of culturally generated behavior traits and attitudes which, to us as foreigners, are totally alien yet to them are totally natural. In this article I will briefly highlight some of these behavior traits and cultural factors in the hope that readers will gain a better understanding of the Filipina.

The Family:

Recently I was sent an email titled how to tell you are married to a Filipina and I decided to use this email as a basis for this article. One of the jokes in the email was you know you are married to a Filipina when; the instant you are married you have 3000 new close relatives that you can’t tell apart, or you know you are married to a Filipina when; your in-law’s first visit lasted 5 years.

Whilst these jokes are obviously based on satire and exaggeration they do have an element of truth. The simple fact is 99.9% of Filipinas come with baggage and that baggage normally takes the form of the ‘ family’. Filipino families in my experience are never small and the average family has a minimum of 3 kids.

The concept of ‘extended family’ where cousins, uncles, aunties, etc become part of your direct family is ingrained into the Filipino culture and you will be expected to understand this and the resultant responsibilities it entails.

When you are involved with a Filipina, for better or worse, you inherit her family, particularly if you are a foreigner. This can be advantageous but in most cases it is a financial and emotional burden for both yourself and your wife, even though she will NOT see it as such.

Be aware that since you are now part of the family, your domain becomes their domain. You can expect the brothers and sisters to try and move in to your house and sometimes even the mother, father, aunties and uncles. The Filipinos mostly grow up in crowded conditions with a strong sense of sharing so for them it is only natural that you would want to share your house with them. To stop this you have to put your foot down from the very start otherwise the family members moving in is inevitable.

In my experience, when it comes to the family you will be expected to pay for just about everything from the younger sisters schooling and the daily food through to medical bills and a new karaoke machine. The day to day expenses always seem to fall upon the foreigner to the extent where you will wonder how the family ever survived without you. In their minds it goes without saying that theirs is a Filipino family and as such do not have enough money. As an extension to this logic, it is expected that you will have money simply because you are a foreigner.

Recently an Australian friend of mine was talking to the old Irish priest who performed his wedding ceremony in Lingayen up at 100 Islands. This particular priest has lived in the Philippines for 40 years. Speaks numerous dialects of the Filipino language and in general has probably had more experience concerning the Philippines than just about any other foreigner. The subject of supporting the family came up and the priest simply stated “always remember my son hand outs are the last resort”. He further went on to state that in his opinion the major problem with Filipinos is the attitude of “they have it so it is their responsibility to share it”. Many Filipinos who don’t have money, see it as your obligation to give them money. They figure that since you are a foreigner you must have money therefore it is your duty to share it with them.

In terms of the family, be aware that if you have money it will be seen as your duty to use that money to support the family. In short, you instantly become the bread winner or should I say the support mechanism for your partner’s family. Even if you manage to keep the family out of your house your partner will have pressure put on her to support her family and that pressure will in turn be passed onto you.

The family pressure will vary according to each situation but it is a constant and in one form or another will always be there. I have often had a discussion with girls along the lines of “in my country the parents actually support the kids”. They look at me mystified and cannot grasp the concept at all. It is ingrained into the vast majority of Filipinas that she must support her family. Be prepared for this and know that in the long run it will basically come down to a financial obligation.

I have witnessed the family pressure both in my own relationships and those of my friends but what I don’t understand is why the pressure to support the family always seems to go on the eldest daughter? I have known many girls who, when asked “are you sending money to your family”, reply yes, then when I ask them “do you have a brother” they reply yes, then when I ask them “why doesn’t he get a job and support the family” most of the girls will look at me like I am mad. Others have tried to explain to me “no job in Philippines” “my brother no earn money”.

Whilst it is true there are very few decent paying jobs in the Philippines and that these jobs are reserved for the people with appropriate education or family contacts it is also true that many of the brothers sit around and do nothing, never expecting to get a job and quite content to live off handouts or whatever other family members can supply.


Because they mostly grow up in crowded conditions Filipinas generally have no concept of privacy. For them it is totally natural to coexist within close confines to each other without ever developing a sense of privacy. This can be a problem when living with a Filipina especially when you require privacy and your Filipina doesn’t understand why. In fact, do not be surprised if she thinks there is something wrong when you seek a little privacy and solitude. This is a totally alien concept to the majority of Filipinas.


Again, I will refer to the recent email. “You know you’re married to a Filipina when; you are the only family in a 200 mile radius with 6 DVD players and 5 televisions”.

The concept of ‘face’, once thought to be the exclusive domain of Chinese culture, is alive and well in the Philippines. This concept is pervasive throughout all levels of Filipino society. From common everyday interaction of individuals, through to multi-million dollar deals, saving face will always play an important role.

In terms of your relationship with a Filipina the ‘face’ concept manifests itself in many different forms. From personal appearance and arguments through to shopping and material possessions the concept of ‘face’ will always be present.

For the Filipina perhaps the most common way of ‘face’ manifesting itself is in terms of personal appearance. In certain situations, like around the house, most Filipinas do not really care how they dress or what image they are projecting however, change that situation to a social gathering where they are interacting with other females or their social peers and all of a sudden it’s a whole different story. In these situations her shoes must be the latest fashion, her jewellery can be silver but gold is preferable and her dress must make a statement as does her hair style, choice of perfume and makeup.

In terms of social situations in the bar face again plays an important role. Recently inside the bar my wife was introduced to the owner’s wife. They said hello and acknowledged each other’s existence and then a frosty silence developed between them. When we got home I asked my wife “do you have a problem with the bosses wife”? She replied “not really she just look at me like she was better than me. I think because her (husband) is the boss and she has money she is better than me”.

If you listen carefully you will often hear Filipinas in the bar make bitchy comments about another and again this is related to face. For example “that girl thinks she is pretty but she is not”. “That girl pretends she is rich but she is only a bar girl”. “ Look at her clothes she looks like a slut”.

When the girls go out to the bar they are particularly aware of their self image and the image their fellow females are projecting. Some girls will go to extraordinary lengths to project a certain image. Some want to be seen as sexy and available so they will wear short little skirts, revealing tops tight clingy clothing, T/back panties and sometimes no panties at all. Other girls like to project the wholesome I’m a simple person image. These girls will normally wear jeans or a simple dress which is almost A-sexual.

When it comes to personal appearance, the concept of ‘face’ is even projected onto you as their partner. Your appearance somehow reflects on them. For example, recently a friend told me prior to him going out on a bar hop, his girl friend went to great lengths to polish his shoes, provide him with clean underwear and iron his shirt. When he asked her why she replied “I don’t want those other girls saying I don’t take care of you”. In short she equated her mans appearance with her ability to look after him and thought she would be judged by her peers on this basis. Her mans appearance was an important aspect of her maintaining ‘face’ amongst other Filipinas.

Personal possessions are also an important part of ‘face’. If a friend or neighbour has a 32” flat screen TV then to preserve ‘face’ it is important that her TV is just as flat and preferably bigger. The same logic applies to stereos, refrigerators, motorbikes and cars. Another friend of mine was considering buying a golf buggy to putter around Angeles in. When he asked his girlfriend what she thought of the idea her reply was “it’s up to you but I don’t like”. He then pushed and asked why don’t you like it and she replied “because it’s not a nice car and I don’t want my friends see me riding like that”.

There is also what I call “reverse face”. To explain this lets take the situation of the flat screen TV again. If your partner knows you cannot afford the same TV as that of your neighbours, to save face she will often come up with a cliché saying such as “well they have money but they don’t have love”. When the neighbour has something better than her, in this case a TV this is a loss of face so to then save face she makes the assumption that this possession was gained at the loss of something (love). In her logic she may not have the TV but she does have love and all Filipinas know, love is more important that a flat screen TV. This is an example of a Filipina engaging in what I call ‘reverse face saving’.

One final observation on the subject of “face”. Do not belittle your Filipina partner. If your partner puts her point of view across in a discussion then listen carefully and even though her point may be totally irrelevant or simply incorrect give it some credence because if you prove her wrong she will see this as embarrassing and a loss of face. Then she will accuse you of trying to make her look stupid in front of others when all you really did is point out that she was wrong. She will take the point of view that you pointed out her incorrectness and by doing so demonstrated her lack of education or lack of intelligence.


The differences between the Filipino diet and that of foreigners are clearly obvious for anyone who has been to the Philippines and is often the subject of jokes. Again I refer to the email

“your house isn’t really on fire, but there is a very charred fish right on
top of the stove burner”.

Like most jokes this is funny because it is exaggeration of the truth. When living with a Filipina you will often find her cooking dried fish. For most foreigners this smells and tastes bland but the Filipinos seem to like it. For them it is not exactly a delicacy but certainly considered a staple food. When living with a Filipina be prepared to have your nostrils assaulted by a variety of foods and worst off them all is dried fish.

“all the desserts are sticky and all the snacks are salty. She eats her fruit with giant salt crystals and her fried chicken with ketchup”.

This joke again has a basis in fact. Filipinas seem to genuinely enjoy un-ripened fruit such as green mangoes, green oranges and green papaya. The green mangoes are consumed with salt crystals and whenever possible a salty fish or shrimp paste.

“even the ketchup tastes weird . . . very weird”.

This is very true, prior to coming to the Philippines I had never heard of Katsap which is basically a banana based ketchup and it does indeed taste weird.

“you throw a party and everyone is fighting to chop the leathery skin off a dead pig”.

The pig on the spit is considered the perfect party food and the prime part is the skin which the locals call crispy patter. This in itself is not so weird since in many cultures pig skin is considered a delicacy. I can distinctly remember as a kid how much I enjoyed the crackling from the family ham but in the Philippines they take this enjoyment to a whole new level and it is not unusual to find them devouring the pig skin and disregarding the actual meat.

“The best fish dish includes fish heads and rice”

My father was a keen fisherman so I became familiar with eating trout however I could never bring myself to eat the head. However, in the Philippines many consider the fish head the best part of the fish. When living with a Filipina and asking for lunch don’t be surprised to find a bowl of fish heads and rice served.

“ Semi formed duck and chicken foetus are considered a delicacy and supposedly very good for you”.

Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of eating ‘balut’ is a braver man than me. ‘Balut’ is a semi developed chicken or duck foetus still within the egg and it is considered a delicacy in the Philippines. It is a general belief that this revolting dish is good for you the Filipinos will tell you it makes you strong where the Filipinas will tell you it is full of vitamins. Do not be surprised to see your beautiful Filipina munching on a duck foetus as if it was a perfectly normal, everyday event.

“all the vegetables she buys at the Filipino store look like they were grown at Chernobyl”.

This is so true, in general the vegetables available from the Filipino stores and market places look old withered and tasteless. In short do not expect fresh vegetables as a regular part of your diet when living with a Filipina. She will not realize the importance of vegetables, she will not understand why you like them and she will not be able to buy decent ones anyway.

Chicheron (Deep fried pork fat) This is considered a delicacy by many Filipinos and is sold in plastic bags together with a vinegar and chilli sauce. Filipinos will often devour this when travelling any substantial distance.

Last but not least be aware that rice is the one constant in the Filipino diet. The vast majority must have rice everyday or they have not eaten properly.


There are several old jokes which poke fun at the level of basic education that most Filipinas reach. Try asking a Filipina

• . What time does the nine o’clock bus leave Angeles and head to Manila?
• How many centavos in 1 peso?
• Where is the Sydney Harbour bridge and what country is it in?
• Which is closer to Angeles the moon or Cebu?

I am painfully serious when I say very few Filipinas will be able to answer these questions. This is not because they are stupid but simply because no one has taken the time to teach them basic geography, history, comprehension, or general knowledge. The vast majority of Filipinas never finish high school and exist on a day to day basis never expanding their knowledge or having to think beyond their immediate surroundings and needs.

When I first applied to manage a bar in the Philippines my ‘soon to become boss’ gave me some advice along the lines of “when doing this job remember you are dealing with, 18-19 year old girls with the educational level of a 10 year old”. At the time I passed it off as a flippant comment from someone who had been here too long. I was soon to find out just how prophetic his words were and many times I have managed to find my way out of a difficult situation by remembering this advice.

The average Filipina is not stupid but they do tend to have a low education level and in my experience this is well worth remembering. It is also important to realize that these same under educated girls are often street smart much more so than the average foreigner girl of the same age.

When you remember their low education level it explains why they do certain things that you consider stupid and nonsensical. Remembering this will also help you communicate more effectively and will save you a lot of potential headaches. I am not saying talk down to them just slow it down, use rudimentary English, do not discuss subjects that require a certain amount of knowledge and always assume she doesn’t really understand what you are saying.

Language and Communication:

They say communication is an important key to any relationship but when it comes to communicating with a Filipina, things can get a bit complicated. Because many Filipinas speak rudimentary English it is easy to think they understand what you are saying when in fact quite the opposite is true. Even though she may appear to understand chances are she doesn’t understand at all. If you are lucky she will comprehend approximately half of what you are saying and it is important to remember this when dealing with a Filipina.

The communication problem is compounded because it goes hand in hand with the concept of “face”. Even though a Filipina may only understand half of what you are saying she will not admit this to you for fear of looking stupid and as such losing face.

Another communication problem occurs when the Filipina appears to be listening to what you are saying but in reality she is not. Sometimes it appears to go in one ear and out the other and you will find yourself having to repeat what you are saying.

“other than eyebrow raising and lip puckering, her next most expressive form of communication is grunts and pssst’s”.

Once again, this flippant joke has its basis in truth. Body language and monosyllabic grunts and groans are common forms of expression amongst the Filipinas and you will be expected to understand this.

To indicate a direction the Filipina will often point with her lips rather than her fingers and when calling for another’s attention will often make the PSSSST sound rather than calling out a name. The other way of attracting another person’s attention is to simply call out “hoi”. When calling you over, a Filipina will have her hand pointed downwards (a bit like you would hold your hand to a dog whom you are letting smell you) whereas a Westerner will motion for someone by either pointing or by signalling them with one finger pointed upwards and curled. Whilst on the subject of pointing try not to point directly at another person as in the Philippines this is considered rude and inappropriate. The Filipinas will only point when they are angry or trying to emphasize the point they are making.

The Filipinas like most women have the ‘withering look’ down pat. The old saying “if looks could kill” is highly appropriate here. The Filipinas seem to have a large range of facial expressions including the icy stare, the hot impassioned look of anger (high blood) and the ‘what don’t you know that you stupid foreigner’ look, the lost puppy dog look, the adoration look, through to the ‘what rock did you crawl from under’ look and the ‘I’m going to kill you, chop of your balls and feed them to the chickens’ look.

Filipinas do not understand sarcasm or facetiousness and will often take a joking remark literally. For example I have seen friends of mine say to their long time girlfriends or wife “hey babe I’m going out to get two girls tonight” or when accused of having a short time they reply “of course I was honey and not just one girl I had three.” Most Filipinas take facetious joking statements like the ones in my examples, literally and will believe you are going to do exactly as you have said. The practice of exaggerating a statement or a situation to the point of absurdity is lost on Filipinas. They will not understand the humor, they will take you literally and in this case they will see it as an admission of guilt.


Every Filipina I have ever met has a broad jealousy streak and invariably the jealousy manifests itself as a violent reaction directed towards their partner. When a Filipina’s jealousy reaches boiling point more often than not she will lash out at you, try to slap you scratch you or in some cases punch you. Be prepared for any light weight object to be hurled at you and verbal abuse at maximum decibels.

In the Philippines women far outnumber the men so I guess in their minds the competition is fierce. Secondly they have an innate distrust of the males and this is further reconfirmed in their day to day interaction with both Filipino and foreigner men. All Filipinas have a natural tendency towards emotional drama and the jealousy tirades are the classic examples of this. Lastly. Filipinas see jealousy as an affirmation of the depth of their feelings towards their partner. Many times I have heard “I love you that’s why I get jealous” or “mahal if I am not jealous then I don’t love you”.

The Filipinas definitely have the capacity to genuinely fall in love with foreigners and it is the intensity of emotion that drives the jealousy. In the most part there is normally an age difference between foreigners and their Filipina and as a result the foreigners often find themselves having to adapt to their partners emotional immaturity.

As a general rule when dealing with a love struck Filipina I try to remember the intensity of my feelings as a youth. Nowadays I can look back on my adolescent love affairs and laugh but at the time I considered my relationships with girls as being tremendously important and when I am dealing with a Filipina I try to relate to how they are feeling by remembering my own turbulent emotions when I was their age. This is just a technique I use and I do not suggest it will work for everybody it is only possible to empathise to a certain extent and the empathy will only determine your reaction not hers.

The point to realize here is that the Filipinas are capable of intense emotions both positive and negative and for them their feelings are very real.

It is a generally accepted theory that jealousy results from insecurity. If we apply this theory to Filipinas we can see the effect of the greater numbers of females than males.

There is most often no set trigger for the jealousy. The smallest things can set them off and invariably it will be a physical as well as emotional reaction.
Filipinas tend to react emotionally. Do not expect them to sit back and analyze their emotions before acting. They will just feel the emotion and react accordingly. Jealousy can be a major problem in any relationship but in the Philippines even more so simply because it is so rampant, it often takes the form of physical expression, the Filipinas have a natural tendency to be dramatic and they can always justify their jealousy by saying I got jealous because of love.


The concept of love is the most important aspect of any Filipinas existence. Love is seen as an ideal which must be obtained. From day one the ideal of love is drummed into them from all aspects of their environment. They are taught ‘love is the most important thing’, ‘love is the universal panacea’, ‘love is what makes the world go round’, ‘you may have everything but without love you have nothing’. Clichés such as this dominate the Filipinas cultural upbringing and it is reinforced through the movies, television shows, magazines, pocket books, advertising, school friends, social peers family relationships and a myriad of other subtle ways in their everyday life. In the end, love is the dominant driving force for all Filipinas.

Because love is perceived as the ultimate ideal there is often a problem when the reality of this emotion confronts the ideal. In other words there is a gap between the emotional ideal and the emotional reality. In Philippine society love is presented as the perfect emotional state, the ultimate emotion that transcends everything else. The reality however is far from this. Love is not perfect, love can be hard work, love can fade over time and love can be very painful. Often there is a problem when the gap between reality and idealism comes crashing down on the Filipina. As a foreigner how you handle this is really up to you there is no magical cure but in my experience I have found being supportive caring and affectionate seems to work the best.

Another important factor is to set the parameters early on in the relationship. Set the ground rules for both yourself and your partner and make sure they are clearly understood and adhered to from the very start. This will prevent problems from occurring in the future.

As a foreigner dealing with a Filipina, remember love is very important to them, romance and overt demonstrative behaviour are expected of you wherever possible.

Sense of humor:

The Filipino sense of humour is not exactly refined in fact it verges on slapstick with elements of ridicule and self parody.

Most Filipinas enjoy a good laugh and one way to relate to them is to relate to their sense of humour. The girls will like you more if you appeal to their sense of humour and appear jovial and happy. Remember to smile wherever possible and to try and make them smile. Remember wherever possible smile as they are naturally attracted to a smiling face and happy personality.

Laughter in the Filipino culture acts as some sort of panacea. Quite often you will see them laughing at another’s misfortune or if something bad happens they will laugh it off.

Fantasy and reality:

When you are in a relationship with a Filipina be aware that she will inevitably have preconceived ideals that she will apply to her relationship and often the reality of the relationship will not match the fantasy ideals.

Most Filipinas grow up with visions of the perfect romance and love however cold hard reality is as always a different matter and the disparity between fantasy and reality can sometimes cause problems in a relationship. When something turns out to be not as good as expected, the inevitable result is disappointment. Your Filipina partner will not be able to express what is wrong but she will feel something is missing and you can expect disgruntlement, short temperedness and occasionally irrational outburst of anger.


Recently I was talking with a friend about the behaviour of Filipinas and he made the comment “to understand the actions of a Filipina follow the money trail”. This may be an exaggeration but it is certainly true that money or more correctly the pursuit of money is an influential factor in a Filipina’s behaviour. The vast majority of Filipinas grow up without money so the acquisition of money becomes very important for them and some will literally go to extreme lengths to attain it. Money represents an increase in power, in social status, in security for oneself and family.

Then again the opposite is also true. I know of several cases where Filipina women have left an economically secure position to become involved in a situation where there is so called love but no money. It is interesting to see how the different needs compete with each other in Filipino culture.

The Filipino boyfriend:

This is a touchy subject and the experience is somewhat different for each individual. For example Shagger says in his experience very few of the girls have a Filipino boyfriend or seem remotely interested however in my experience I have seen the opposite. I would estimate that as high as 80% of the Filipinas I have met have had or currently have a Filipino boyfriend or at the very least a Filipino lover.

I have heard stories and seen first hand examples of marriages between Filipinas and foreigners that work extremely well and inevitably the girls involved are not interested in Filipino men. I have also seen many examples of perfectly good marriages where kids are involved go out the window because the girl has gotten involved with a Filipino guy.

Just the other night I was talking with a long time resident of Angeles who was reciting a story about what happened with him and his wife. To cut a long story short she started spending extended periods of absence away from him and the kids then came the lieing and stealing. Next thing you know it was an extortion attempt to get money then she runs off with the Filipino boyfriend leaving husband and kids behind. I know of 6 other examples of much the same scenario.

I am not saying all Filipinas have Filipino boyfriends however as a foreigner it pays dividends to remember that the Filipino guys will chase a girl involved with a foreigner because they believe she can be used to get money, and it is their way of getting back at the foreigner who they see as stealing their women.
For the girls it is a temptation because here is a guy who speaks their language is normally younger than their foreigner partner, he understands their culture and knows exactly how to push their proverbial buttons.

Cultural differences:

There are a number of cultural idiosyncrasies that distinguish the Filipina from other women for example the desire to have a bigger longer nose and whiter skin. The vast majority of Filipinas don’t like having a flat nose and wish for a longer one. They also don’t like having dark skin and are the biggest purchasers of skin whitening crème in the world. These desires are pandered to and propagated by advertising. For example there is literally a plethora of cheap plastic surgeons who for a minimal price will perform a nose job. These surgeons advertise extensively in the magazines and newspapers that proliferate throughout the Philippines.

The importance of having white skin is also propagated by advertising. For example I recently saw an advertisement for ponds whitening crème where a girl loses her boyfriend because he finds a new girl with fairer skin. The girl then starts using Ponds whitening crème and all of a sudden the ex-boyfriend and numerous other suitors show interest in her.

Sleeping – relaxing:

The Filipinas and Filipinos seem to have an amazing ability to sleep or simply relax just about anywhere. They can sleep in the backs of jeepneys, trucks, cars, on the back of a motorbike or on hard concrete with a constant stream of traffic passing by. When it comes to relaxing they have the somewhat enviable ability of being able to relax in just about any environment.


The Filipinas in general are very caring people. For example when their man is sick they will be the first to wipe his brow if he has a fever, rush to buy medicine and be attentive to his every need.

In western cultures we have become somewhat self absorbed and maintain an imaginary wall between ourselves and other people. The Filipinas do this is as well but they are more prone to wearing their heart on their sleeves particularly when it comes to caring for their fellow human beings. Perhaps this is why there are so many Filipina nurses working overseas.

Giving and sharing:

The Filipinas are very aware of people less fortunate than themselves and will not think twice about giving if they think it will help a person less fortunate than themselves.

After living in the Philippines so long I have become somewhat immune to street beggars and hard luck stories however in this regard the Filipinas never seem to get hardened. I have personally witnessed many of the hardest core bar girls be the first to give to street beggars or those less fortunate than themselves.

If a Filipina has a sudden windfall of money it is understood by her and her friends that to some extent this money is not just her private funds but rather a sort of group fund. For example when this situation occurs you will often find them organizing a ‘blow out party’ all paid for by the recipient of the financial windfall


In my opinion Filipinas are some of the best liars I have ever seen. I have heard all the stories about Thai women but in my experience the Filipina is more convincing simply because she has enough grasp of English to convey her thoughts, secondly she knows how to pull at the proverbial heart strings and thirdly she can adopt the ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ look better than anyone. The average Filipina can look you straight in the eyes and lie to you point blank without batting an eyelid. They are so good at it they would probably make a PolyGram test useless.

For a Filipina to tell a lie is absolutely natural. In fact in their culture they even recognize different categories of lies. There are the little fibs which don’t hurt anyone and are seen as a normal part of everyday life, then there are the little white lies which are slightly bigger than the fibs but do not cause any real harm. You will often hear a Filipina saying “I lied but it was only a little white lie”. Lastly there is the big lie. In their culture they are taught that to lie is bad yet they still persist in doing it. Often it is a face saving exercise whilst other times it is merely because they have their own agendas which they want to hide from or they wish to avoid a problem situation or they have done something which they don’t want you to know about.

Lying is by no means unique to the Filipina but the Filipinas have it down to an art form and this is something all foreigners should be aware of.

Lying represents what I see as a contradiction in Filipino culture. They are bought up believing that to lie is bad yet at the same time in practical day to day existence lieing is seen as a necessity.


Most Filipinas are susceptible to gossip and the detrimental effects of gossip to a relationship can be devastating. With many Filipinas if they hear some gossip especially from a fellow Filipina they instinctively believe it to be true. Even if they have direct proof in front of their eyes they will believe something to the contrary if it is told to them. For example if you are with your Filipina partner at a certain time and place but she hears you were somewhere else at the same time she will chose to believe what she hears rather than what she knows.

Common courtesy:

In my opinion common courtesy is something that seems to be getting less and less in the Philippines. Little things like pushing in front of you in a line, shouting across the room to someone else when you are right next to them, spitting anywhere that takes their fancy, not cleaning up their mess after them, throwing rubbish anywhere. There are numerous other examples engaged in by Filipinas and Filipinos alike and they clearly demonstrate the lack of common courtesy that is becoming a very common behaviour trait amongst today’s younger generation.

Filipino time:

Filipinos and Filipinas are renowned for their inability to be on time they are nearly always late so much so that there is a common expression called “Filipino time”. Basically they see two sets of time normal time and then the time that suits them which is referred to as Filipino time in other words late.

When involved with a Filipina do not expect her to be on time this is just part of their culture and it will never change.


There are also a number of superstitions which to us are laughable but to the Filipina are very real. They seriously believe in aswangs (a Filipino version of vampires), white ladies (malicious female ghosts) or moo-moo’s which as far as I can ascertain are a cross between a ghost and evil spirit the Manananggal (a half torso lady with wings which bites you). Dwarfs also play an important role in Filipino superstition. There are evil dwarfs such as the red dwarf which will always fight with you the black dwarf which will make your life worse in whatever way possible and the white dwarf which is nice to you and can make your life better.

Other baddies include the Tikbalang whose body is half horse half human and the Kapre which is basically a large black man who lives high up in a tall tree and smokes a large cigarette. The Kapre does not do anything specifically evil but he is a scary figure none the less. Mangkukulam, this is a Black Witch who uses little dolls or effigies of a certain person and then sticks pins or sharp objects into the doll. This will course the said person pain and suffering. This is very reminiscent of Voodoo practices. Mangbabarang, this is another Black Witch but instead of dolls she will use insects to cause you pain and suffering. The Kamatayan who is basically the Filipino equivalent of the grim reaper.

I am sure there are many other superstitions but what the foreigner has to realise is these are very real for the Filipina and will often be used as an excuse to explain certain events or situations.

I distinctly remember sitting in Mistys at 2:AM when all of a sudden there was a mass exodus towards the door. Instantly I thought there must be a fire or something in the change room so armed with fire extinguisher I walk out to the change room to find one girl having an epileptic fit. There were several security guards standing round her just looking and I asked them why dont you help her to which they replied no daddy we cannot touch her she is possessed. Straight away it became very obvious I would have to do something so I hold the girl down turn her head to the side so she cannot swallow her tongue and just wait for the fit to pass. After about 1 minute the fit ended and some tall Filipino security guards were suitably impressed with this white man who dared fight a demon.

The point of this story is to realize that superstition can play a role in the everyday life of a Filipina and it is something foreigners should be aware of.

There are also a number of light hearted superstitions which can best be described as old wives tales. Some examples are dont go out in the rain and get your head wet if you do you will get sick. If you are suffering from lack of sleep don’t have a shower as you will get sick. If you have a fever don’t take a bath or shower as this will make the fever worse. If the gecko makes its clicking sound three times after you have said something that means what you have just stated is the truth. If you are sweeping the house at night don’t push the dirt outside because if you do you will also sweep out the luck. Sometimes in the bar you will notice salt on the seats or the actual bar top, this has been placed there by the mamamsan or head waitress to encourage good luck for the night. Prior to traveling make the sign of the cross to ensure safe travel. When eating and someone leaves the house turn your plate this stops that same persons spirit from entering the house should something bad happen to them whilst outside. When eating if you drop your spoon you will have a girl visitor if you drop your fork you will have a male visitor. Never point your bed towards the door as this will mean all the love will escape through the door.

Peoples physical characteristics are also part of Filipino folk law. For example if you have a big pimple it means you have fallen in love if you have a mole on certain parts of your body it indicates certain things. For example if the mole is on your lips it means you are very talkative on your ears it means you will listen a lot if its on your foot you will travel extensively etc.

If your right hand itches it means some money is coming your way and if the left hand itches it means you are going to spend money. If you accidentally step in dog shit some money is coming your way.

All cultures have superstitions and folk laws and even though these may seem laughable to us they are very serious for the Filipinas.

This article has been written for Asian Escapades by mjibbo. The purpose of this article is not to provide the definitive psychological analysis of Filipinas but rather to relate some of my observations and experiences gleaned over the last 18 years of living in the Philippines.It is my sincere hope that readers will enjoy the article and benefit from my experiences.

Acrobat Internet Providers

When I woke up this morning I had no idea the circus had come to town. But sure enough as I walked outside I was greeted by some amazing acrobats. I mean, these guys made the Flying Melinda Brothers I saw as a kid in a Ringling Brother’s show many years ago look like rank amateurs.

But the thing was, these guys weren’t performing high risk stunts for the amusement of pre-adolescent cotton-candy eating wide-eyed children, no these guys were risking their lives putting up a 120 foot mast so that we could have Internet access at the new house.

For you see, some things need to be sacrificed out here in the boonies. With the great beach front property comes the wonderful world of wireless service.

While the electricity is hard wired in and there is good running water (from a deep well) everything else is through the air.

Phones are no problem. As we are in the mobile phone capitol of the free world we all had one or two cells each and were all well versed in the workings of cellular communication. In fact just at the house alone there are 7 full time cells running 24/7 and the familiar chimes signaling an incoming text can be heard throughout the day and well into the night.

Television is also not a problem. ‘Cable’ TV will be through Dream Satellite. The dish is already installed on the roof although we haven’t yet filled it with load or ran the cables to the various rooms. We each have an Xbox in our room hooked up to large screen TVs and with over 400 movies and 3000 TV series all networked and available on demand through the Xbox media center, as well as over 2000 DVDs in the house, Dream TV has not been a priority.

So the big problem, the major end-mission, fold up and go home, deal breaker, don’t pass Go and don’t collect 200 dollars catastrophic problem, would be Internet. For if there was no Internet access here in our new estate on the beach it was time to pack up and move again.

DSL or Cable was out of the question. No service reached out this far into the provincial jungle we now live in. Sure you can get ice, fish, milk, vegetables, as well as other items delivered fresher than you’ve ever had it right to your front door, but there was no land line Internet access yet available.

Dial-up would be a joke. For emergencies and before the mast was put up we got online with our cell phones, but that wasn’t fast enough and only a temporary solution. No way in hell could we ever do what we need to do using our cells or by having a land line installed.

So that left wireless…

No biggie, we thought. We can’t be the first people to do this. I mean is it really possible that we were the first people who want our cake and Internet too?

Of course not. A quick search on the web and sure enough we found the right company to come out and put up a mast so that we could survive. And I don’t use the term “survive” lightly. No Internet for a Web company means death so this was set up even before we got to the island.

The appointment was made even before we had made flight reservations from Manila to Dumaguete. We knew that as soon as possible after getting to the new house we would need Internet so after we got an appointment for the mast erection (ok, stop giggling…) we then booked our flight for the day prior.

Weather though would have a hand in the logistics. Simply Mother Nature letting us know that we are not in charge and she will let us have Internet when she wants and no sooner. So even the best laid plans sometimes go awry and also this one. We would have to wait for the storm to pass.

So after a two day delay due to the typhoon, the boys were out early in the morning to put up the mast.

The entire process was actually quite fascinating. They simply drove up in a trike loaded up with all the equipment they would need and got to work. Not one of those wimpy AC trikes, no this was a province trike, the kind you can fit 5 to 6 people in…comfortably! And it was packed. Pole segments, antenna pieces, cable, wire, nuts, bolts, testing gear… the works.

The crew consisted of 5 guys and the salesperson/supervisor who we were dealing with over the phone thus far. One guy was the technician so that left four grunts to assemble and erect the mast.

First a hole was dug and the first section of ten was sunk in, buried and anchored into place. This first section was about 12 feet high and longer than the other 9 sections that were added later.

Each pole segment is about eight inches around and has a small metal foot/hand rest welded to the outside every two feet. By the time each segment was put in place there are 30 guide wires attached to the mast keeping it relatively straight and secure.

When finished the ten segments along with the antenna section itself stands about 2 flagpoles tall or around 120 feet straight up out of the jungle virtually reaching back to civilization bringing us the life blood of the Internet.

The only thing is, there were no cranes and the 10 sections were not telescopic so that a pulley system or something could be used to fully erect the mast. No, each segment had to be placed in manually and then guide wires attached one at a time.

So you would think a harness or some climbing hooks or some carabineers would be used, right? Nope, you’re dead wrong. This maniac of a crew climbed up and did all of this without any safety gear what so ever.

120 feet up in the air with their feet locked on to some small little strip of steel welded to a thin pole, all about 8 hours after a typhoon had blown through the area. I say feet because they were not holding on with their hands as those were needed to run wires and fit together pole segments.

So like antenna monkeys grasping onto poles they scurried up and down the mast like it was nothing at all. Each time making our hearts skip a beat as we just prayed there would be no accidents or miss-steps.

“At least you know they are doing a good job as their life depends on how secure the previous pole is put in place.” I say looking straight up into the madness.

Before the last piece with the antenna components was put in place I gave the guy who was climbing up a quick lesson on digital camera operation and and he took a couple pictures of the property from way above.

These are probably the only ones that will ever be taken of this property from that angle. I promise you that any more pictures taken from that high will not taken by me as I am NOT going up that pole just for some panoramic shots of the beach!

Watching him up there I almost felt guilty hoping he didn’t drop the camera. Very little thought was given to if he himself could hang on and manage to snap a couple of pictures for me.

Oh well, karma is a bitch and I’m sure I’ll pay for that. 🙂

So down he came with the last piece of the mast in place. All that was needed was one more trip up the mast to cart the antenna and wire up there and we would be in business.

And quick as that he was up and down and all finished. Now that the antenna was in place and the wire was run down and connected to a router it was time for the technician to take over. In no time at all we were up and running and now had Internet at the house.

Ironically we were worried about connection speed and usability issues as well as down times due to the wireless connection however the only down times we have experienced so far are from a loss of connection from the main hub in Dumaguete to Manila. So even though we are off the main island of the Philippines, Luzon is still the cause of our Internet problems!

I am sure that Comclark is somehow involved and is actually the ones who have the switch and are fucking with us. “Oh yeah?” I can hear them say, “Leave Angeles City will you? And you think you are out of reach of our Internet hand?” Then with an evil chuckle they unplug us.

God I do not miss Comclark at all!

Anyway, when the circuit is good here in Dumaguete our connection is somewhere around 350 to 450 Kbps. We do get bursts of up to 600 to 800 Kbps and besides the Manila problems (which there have been a few as they are still recovering from the typhoon) service has been very good.

In fact, so good that it is sometimes shocking.

One night we were all down by the viewing deck having a cold beer watching the surf and got a text message from the Internet tech informing us of another outage due to a cut fiber line in Manila.

What a shock! The guy was proactive and texted us about the outage even before we noticed it ourselves! After all the battles with Comclark and the ineptitude of their staff, this was a pleasant change and a type of service I could definitely get used to!

Our collective and proverbial hats off to the acrobatic Internet boys who brought service to the beach house.

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…


An Angry Sea

AE Staff Note:

Life in the province…

It will be different. There are of course monger opportunities here and we will report on them, but this section of AE will be used mostly for discussion about living away from all the glitz and glamour that is Angeles City and the strange and bizarre life which living on a beach affords.

We love AC and will never abandon her, no matter what. But the grand experiment of our move to Dumaguete is underway and we want to share it with you.

Read on and join in the roller-coaster ride that is province life.

The ocean is angry this morning…

It’s as if the last week of typhoons and tropical depressions has finally pushed the sea into fighting back in the only way it knows how. What is usually serene and tranquil is now violent and chaotic. Deep blue surf gently kissing the sand has been replaced with chocolate waves of power pounding the shore.

I look out at the local fishermen who have no choice but to sail out into these tempestuous waters searching for food and thank some higher power that life has afforded me a position where I can just watch in awe at the dedication of these poor souls as I retreat into the comfort of my dry home. I am once again thankful my life and my family’s do not depend on me facing the violent sea as an only means of survival.

Lately out here in the province along the shore the rain is also different somehow. Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind as the cadence of the downpours seems to be very disordered. In one moment the rain hits you hard and strong coming straight down then 10 seconds later there is a fine mist as if walking through a fog and then the fine mist is replaced 10 seconds later with a sideways shower hitting you in the face.

It’s as if someone is playing with a huge shower massager in the sky trying to find the right setting yet never finding comfort. And this has been going on for 3 days now. In the 15 minutes or so that I have been writing this essay I have seen 3 downpours with a few respites with it now sprinkling. Then, as I finished that sentence the sky just opened up and emptied a swimming pool on top of my roof.

What is most troublesome is the small river in the back of our house which is masquerading as the only access road to our small neighborhood. This group of houses at the end of this small muddy trail stand all alone and all depend on this path like a bunch of coconuts all grasping onto one lone palm tree for survival. Our van has 4 wheel drive and it has been tested these past few days driving out of this cull de sac for supplies.

So we hunker down in our respective rooms not going out much. The daily swims in the ocean have been put on hold for a while and as yet another black out hits we start up our generator and think of back in Angeles we would be hitting Roadhouse or somewhere to ride out the storm.

Here’s to all those that have been affected by the rains in the Philippines. May we all bask in the Sun and dry out soon…

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…


Dumaguete Death Lizzard

Switching over to province life has been a major internal time shift change. Like some bizarre inner-body day light savings time clock turn back, 20 years of being a night owl has turned into waking up at the crack of dawn and sleeping when it gets dark.

But I have not gone down gently.

Old habits die very hard and I still find that while I don’t lay down when the sun sets, I still find myself sleeping much sooner than usual. Morning wake ups are different here too. While in Angeles one is woken up by yelling street vendors trying to sell you something you don’t need or by trikes plowing by your bedroom window like it was the only bypass to downtown available, here in Dumaguete the waking up process is much gentler.

One might be woken form a wet dog nose poking you to take her for a walk down on the beach, or maybe the sound of the girls playing in the hammock. These are good days…

But this morning was alarming. I jumped out of bed from the screaming of girls yelling out, “TOOKO! TOOKO!

What the… Why is everyone screaming and what in the hell is Tooko?

My house here in Dumaguete is actually separate from the main house. It has its own private kitchen and is far enough away to provide some privacy when needed. I staggered out of bed, threw on some shorts and wandered over, still wiping the sleep out of my eyes, into the main house to see what all the yelling was about.

Inside looked like a scene from a Mad Max movie. Everyone was holding some homemade weapon running around screaming “TOOKO!” and poking at things. Two girls were standing up on furniture while my psycho girl with baseball bat in hand was poking under a table.

The Marine and the Dane looked on guard but quite amused at this whole process. Our driver was nowhere to be seen as he wanted nothing to do with this mayhem now ensuing in the house and was standing outside looking quite nervous. I later learned that because of this lizard he had actually spent the night in the van as he had seen one wall walking in his room.

Suddenly a blurry flash of reptile flesh scurried out from under a bench and ran up behind a painting which was on the wall on the staircase leading up into the master bedroom. I didn’t get a good look at it but I could hear it scurrying around behind the picture.

Being the stupid one without any of the information needed for battling a mini-Godzilla, I stepped forward to try and flush out the monster. I was trying to balance myself on the stairs and still have enough leverage to lift the large glass framed portrait all the while thinking to myself, ‘How bad can it be? It’s just a lizard,’ and grabbed the large portrait off the wall and pulled it back to reveal the beast.

And there it was, the Dreaded Dumaguete Death Lizard.

And boy, was it was horrific!

Note: This picture really doesn’t do it justice. Plus this is another one taken outside on the wall and not the one that invaded our house. But you can get a sense of it.

I was only expecting a slightly large misshapen gecko or something like that. But this eight to nine inch long thing had quite a large head on it with florescent blue and purple scales in a stripe from the back of its head down to the tip of its tail. Its eyes seemed to move independently like an iguana but the look on its face was not cute like some beer commercial spokes-lizard, no, this reptile meant business.

He seemed to stare at me with one eye while surveying the rest of the scene with the other. I stood there like an idiot holding the large framed picture off balance staring into the one eye of the death lizard. Looking at his mouth I saw that this indeed was not a gecko and could easily fit some of my flesh into its mouth with little effort. The head was quite large compared to its body and it looked to be 75% mouth!

And then he jumped…

Screaming girls to the left and screaming girls to the right made me jump straight up to a height Michael Jordan would have been proud of. Landing was not quite so graceful though. I came down awkward trying to dodge the now pissed off Death Lizard and maneuvering away from the jumping and screaming girls all the while trying not to drop the huge portrait still in my hands.

*Clang* *Smack* *Clang* *Crash*

I look to my left and see the bats and poles striking the ground chasing the fiend back underneath the bench which surrounds the dining room table. Placing the portrait back on the wall I join the hunt and we flush the creature out from there and towards the hallway.

Now my girl is getting brave. She’s walking around with one slipper off and the other using it like some sort of Dreaded Dumaguete Death Lizard Reptile Swatter and I can hear a *Swat* *Swat* *Swat* as she chases it across the wall.

Ador, our driver, is still outside and I finally ask, “What’s the deal with this mutant lizard and why is everyone afraid of it?” They explain that ‘Tooko’ is the sound it makes when howling, presumably before a kill. Also, legend has it, the thing has a pit-bull like jaw action so that when it bites into your flesh it will not let go until you or it dies.

Well, that would have been some nice information to have BEFORE I got close enough for it to see my jugular was well within leaping distance!

I got it!” I hear the honey-ko scream, “I got it with my slipper!

Is it dead?” I ask as I was now looking for some sort of pole like weapon myself.

No, it’s in the CR.

Does it need some toilet paper?” I ask.

She had somehow chased it out of the living room, down the hallway and corralled the monster into the CR and was looking to go in for the kill.

Ok, time out… Let me take some time and re-set the scene.

Tooko the Death Lizard is now in the CR while three grown men are well behind my girlfriend who is now charging into the CR armed only with a single flip-flop while another guy is outside hiding. The other two Filipinas are still back in the living room wondering how they can stack up furniture to get even higher off the ground and wait for a reported killing of the Venomous Lounge Lizard.

Our nemesis has now somehow crawled behind the toilet and is sitting just out of reach of any tool we can find to stick back there and poke him out or pierce his hide. It was then that our Danish friend recalls some of his Viking ancestry and comes up with a plan.

He goes and gets a big pot of water and places it on the stove to boil it. The plan is to cook the thing out of there letting technology accomplish what three guys with random blunt weapons and a Filipina with a shoe couldn’t do.

*SPLASH* the boiling water hits the back wall and we can hear the thing flailing about.

He is not happy.

He has now slipped far enough down that his tail is fully visible and my girl takes a large pole and stabs at the tail. Like its cousin the gecko, the tail comes off and is wiggling on the ground as if it was still attached.

That was enough for my girl. Being scared of snakes she thinks that is enough wild kingdom fun for the day and retreats back to the living room. Meanwhile Netguard hands me a long spoon and I’m stabbing at the thing trying to kill it or drag it out.

Finally the thing drops to the floor and tries half-dead to scurry away. Down came a pole from the hands of the Dane and the lizard is brought down.

I think its still moving! You don’t think it’s a Dreaded Dumaguete Zombie Death Lizard, do you?” I say but as quickly as I can get those words out another strike across the lizard’s head and Netguard finishes off the beast.

*Whew* Victory at last! The Dreaded Dumaguete Death Lizard is vanquished and no longer a threat.

I can only hope that there was only one of them on this island! If not I think we need to stock up on hot water and flip-flops!

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…