Expatriates in the Philippines

Monday, October 03, 2005

Peter Gets A Lesson

His Pinay honey teaches him that appearances can be deceiving.

Note: This is going to be a very long article of 21-pages. There is correspondence between ‘Peter’ and I, about his involvement with a Filipina in Mindanao. Towards the end you’ll find an investigative report from a firm in Cebu.
For regular readers: Below this article you will find two more new articles written in October, plus more photos. Rik

“Peter” is a fictitious name. He has requested anonymity.

Peter is a middle-aged fellow from a north-eastern state. He’s never been married. He plans to retire and move soon to the Philippines. Peter has decided he’s now ready to be married. His plans are to live permanently in the RP, take a Filipina as his wife, and perhaps even have children.
Peter first contacted me by leaving a message in a comment area of ETP. He was seeking help in learning if the Filipina with whom he was having an Internet love affair was all she said she was.
All of Peter’s later email’s came to me via my private email. The readers therefore had no knowledge of the ongoing story taking place.
I do attempt to help people at a more private and personal level when it fits their nature, and if it is not necessarily relevant to the main purpose of ETP. It’s one of the reasons I sometimes ‘disappear’ from my website. I become so involved with writing in the background with private correspondence that ETP suffers. I can only sit at this computer so much before the pain in my bad back becomes too acute.
Now that the story has played out, and with Peter’s permission, I’m going to share Peter’s story and how he discovered that all is not what it seems between foreign men and many of the Filipina's they meet on the Internet.
It’s an important lesson for all those who contemplate moving to the RP and who begin their journey by starting a long-distance Internet affair with a Filipina.
Below are excerpts from Peter’s emails and portions of my replies. Be warned that some of Peter’s messages can be hard to understand, as occasionally he drinks J W Black while he writes. Although I will edit (correct punctuation, etc.) some of his correspondence for necessary clarity, I have neither the patience nor the desire to spend much time rewriting everything.
Some of the excerpts are unnecessary to the story, but are simply shameless promotions – and for vanity - to the ETP site.

Peter: Thanks Rik for your quick response. I have greatly enjoyed both your pictures, your explanations of the culture, and your invaluable advice on the Philippine woman. Everything you have stated in your blog seems very rational and well thought out. I look forward to reading your blog and check daily for any new blogs.
My gameplan, subject to change, is to live in the Philippines and commute back to the States once or twice a year. The electronic age is becoming so global that where you live is not very important.
I have never been married. Your description of the American woman seems right on the mark.
I have been on the internet dating sight, Filipina-Heart, and have received at least a thousand responses in just a couple of months.
My intercourse with you was to primarily have the groundwork in place. I may be very close to corresponding for the PI and then again I may not. I will thanks to you, be checking the background of any prospects that make the finals.

… I like your input because you are there and you have Celine as a possible advisor.
… the information download that you have provided is priceless. I am an intense researcher and have done a boat load of work on the Philippines. That is how I ran into your website.

… Your website easily boosted reliable information by at least 50% and I experience everything you say to be true. There is no way that I would have known the best technique and the only technique if not for your blog. It was through your blog and other research found at the end that changed my final destination in life from the Caribbean to the Philippines. Thank you.

… decided to join the website Filipina-Heart in July. And of course you get immediately bombarded with ladies. Now I know from other research all about a lot of scams, including the one you detailed in your blog. While it is not foolproof the best answer is the web cam. I selected Filipina-Heart because it received the most hits. If you don't have a good hit meter try www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic, they also give reviews of various websites.

- I decided to join the website in July. And of course you get immediately bombarded with ladies. Now I know from other research all about a lot of scams, including the one you detailed in your blog. While it is not foolproof the best answer is the web cam. I selected filipina heart because it received the most hits. If you don't have a good hit meter try www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic, they also give reviews of various websites but I take thoughs with a grain of salt.

Now using submissivewives.com without joining, I broke down a profile of their women and I set myself up a score card. I also looked for women that sat up straight or stood at attention I like that body language. Now I wanted a submissive wife, not just for sexual purposes, just in general… I have never been married.

… My strategy in life has been to make money first, women second.

… I no doubt have been charmed beyond anything I thought was possible, although I have not yet lost my sanity,(again thanks to you), by a certain 20 yr old. She is from the Provinces above the dangerous area of Davao. About a 4 hour drive. She was not the only contestant as I told you. She is a virgin. I have actually never had a virgin because I never wanted that lack of experience and all that goes with it. Now I am not giving her to you Rik , but I would have felt better if she had a little tiny bit of experience. The virgin thing makes breaking up significantly more difficult and perhaps more dangerous(family).

Of course they are poor. She is non materialistic in her profile. That along with her posture and education caught my attention along with my scorecard. The non materialisticness is taken with a grain of salt. However, she has never asked for money. About a month ago, however, I felt a money request coming, (She had something important to tell me that she needed my advice) and I shut her down before I heard the request. Broke off communications completely. Again thanks to you. I decided after a week that that was an unfair way to end this relationship. I told her my aunt a filapino, said she was a bad woman and that she had someone in mind for me. I most certainly had her attention. I have been in the drivers seat ever since.
She works in an internet cafe. 7 days a week, 13 and a half hours a day. She makes 160 pesos a day. She gets free room and board. She has to pay to use the internet. (I can't believe this). She is the cashier. I know from other reading that they obviously are trusted.

Rik: It is... smart of you to take the advice - arguably the best advice I can offer - to have your Honey Ko investigated. And I sincerely hope that's all you need to find that your sweetie is honest and trustworthy. However, even though you may get a good report, I still caution you to take things slowly. If you plan to take your Honey Ko back to the States, then you should also plan to marry her there, as well. As you should know from reading ETP, there is no divorce in the RP. I am currently into my fourth year of trying to get an annulment from my wife (not Celine), and I don't see myself getting any closer to my goal. Although my attorney rested the case last October and I was told by the judge I would get a decision within 60-days... I'm still waiting, and I could be waiting for many more years.
It's far better to marry in the U.S. where a divorce is quick and easy, and which is recognized by the Philippine government. If you're planning to move here to retire or work; even if your PI gives you a 'pass', you should live with your Filipina for years - at least three - before you make it legal. If you marry in the RP - getting married in the church will make an annulment even more difficult. Marrying at 'City Hall' makes things at least somewhat easier.

When you contact a PI, it would help the investigator to know in what Barangay she lives in. A Barangay is like a neighborhood or county, but in an official sense. Mail reaches me because the mail delivery guy, who shows-up occasionally (there's no daily mail delivery, and it can take a week or more for the mail to travel the 2-kilometers from the P.O office to here) on a small motorbike knew to come to the right Barangay, then to the village, then he asked around to learn which house I live in, Then he remembered me on later deliveries.
So you need to get your Filipina's best address to provide to the P.I., in case you're just writing her through the Internet.
… Now, here's my next best advice: protect yourself - protect yourself - protect yourself!

Peter: She lives about an hour from her parents… They all know about me... She send part of her earnings back to the family. (We spend so much time online, it can't be much). When I sent her my picture at her request along with a square of my blanket I enclosed $50.00US. I have read somewhere, where the postal people have x-ray vision, but as the package was going to her cafe and said pictures on it, it made it. I thought it a reasonable gamble. It took 14 days. I just felt guilty that she was spending so much money on me. We have communicated via email, chat and web cam. The cafe cam was recently stolen. (Problem) She said she put the money in the bank…
…I got mad at her a second time the day I corresponded with you. Again, I want to thank you for your rapid reply. I was mad that day because we had a phone date at midnight PI time. They had a festival in town and she wanted to go to a sing and dance event at the gym with her girlfriends. The operator said "your call is either unattended or out of the listening area. I was not crazy about either of those prospects, but she did set up the date that day. She does not own a cell phone and has to borrow one. She never did answer her phone.
The next day, I received your email before I received any of hers. I had sent her an email prior, prior to sending you one, with the operator quote. I told her, I think I am your boyfriend. Mid-afternoon she sent me two emails and explained that tere had been a bad storm that took down the satellite. I told her that I had set up a chat date with my aunt's friend, which I had, and had made connections with several (only you) Americans living in the PI. I also quoted one paragraph from you letter ananymouly: David, "Now, here's my next best advice, protect yourself - protect yourself - protect yourself!".

… Second JW… When I sent her the $50.00US, I told her that it is probably too late(I had to make sure she got it, I couldn't tell her that it was coming), however I would prefer she didn't tell anyone about it. i told her that I gave it to her precisely because she never asked for it. That I never give money to people that asked for it because, you don't get it back and they often spend it on booze or drugs. I don't mind helping people, and I don't. I know there are a lot of poor people and I am sorry, but I only give money when I want to and never when anyone asks for it. (Thanks Rik) She said she understood.
… I have been clocking her period, I think I have it. This is indespensible information that very few guys know about. If you know where you are in the period other than the obvious, a lot of things make sense.
… She said she wanted to bring a girlfriend with her and that she would stay at her aunts in Cebu. She wanted to stay by my side day and night. She said that she had never been to Cebu was scaried to fly and scared to take a ship. Her safety was a major concern, it made sense what she told me, the other girl had been to Cebu. I said I would pay for both's expense when I meet them if they had receipts. I said the internet and or phone was not foolproof. She agreed and was very happy.
… She asked me if I wanted to sleep with her. I told her that that decision would be made at the appropriate time and not over the phone/internet.
… I found out (accidently), that she was a virgin when we were in a chat and I asked her if she was a good hostess. She immediately went offf about that fact that she is not that type of woman. She is a woman no one can touch. This chat was a couple of days ago.

Rik: If you decide to, and then marry your Filipina, it's far, far easier (less time consuming by as much as 18 months) and much cheaper to get your 13(A) Permanent Resident Visa (for married persons) by first telephoning the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco or New York City, having the proper paper work mailed to you, filling it out and getting the required documents. Once you have the documents filled out and mail them back to the Embassy, they will request that you go there to see a consul official. They will have you go a second time to pick-up your papers. The two trips I made to S.F. was spaced over only 5-days - because I went on a Thursday then had to return on the following Tuesday. The processing took three days only. I was charged about $57 for everything.
I've talked to Americans who started the 13(A) process here and it took up to 18-months and cost $700 or more, mainly because in the RP you will need an attorney to do the work for you.
If you do contact the S.F. RP consulate, be prepared to have to call numerous times as they are inept and will shuttle you from office (phone) to office and you will be hung-up on and disconnected. Have patience and keep at it. Try to be as clear as you can about what you want to accomplish. The best thing is to tell them repeatedly that you need to talk to a consulate official about getting a 13(A) Permanent Resident Visa, and that you need the documents to apply for it. Doing that myself required telephoning the Consulate between 12 and 20 times over a four day period before I got through to someone who could or would help me. But then, I didn't know what I was doing, and had no one to advise me.

If you want to go very slow and be very careful about who you're marrying, you might want to just live here with your Honey Ko, sans marriage, using a 59-day visa. You can renew it for a small fee at the local immigration office. There's foreigner's who've claimed to have lived here for as much as 15-years on a 59-day (renewable) visa. When you're absolutely certain you can trust her, and want to marry your Filipina, go ahead and do it. You might consider, I repeat, flying her to the States just long enough to get married, and then return.
She will need a passport, of course, and an American tourist visa which will require her (you) to put up a P450K refundable bond before she can get the visa: that's about $8000.

About terrorism in the Philippines. Yeah, it's here, but mostly in the Manila area and in Mindanao. I wouldn't live in Mindanao for anything, nor will I visit there; it's too dangerous. There's some danger to living in Pampanga (Angeles City, Clark air-force base area some 60 miles north of Manila) because of the large number of foreigners. Angeles City has the highest number of retired Americans at over 3000 people, so I'm told. That's where all the bars and wild goin's-on's are located. If you like to drink (I do not) and like cheap sex by volume (quantity of females; bar-girl prostitutes), or being continuously chatted-up by retired military types, that place may be a good place for you to live. However, there's Rebels (as they're called here) in the area who on occasion kidnap foreigners for ransom.
Terrorism has a decidedly financial motivation in the RP.
In Mindanao, there's more kidnappings for money. But there’s also plenty of political terror. Many more people die in that area, as there's a penchant for public bombings.
Palawan is peaceful and quiet in contrast to the rest of the RP islands.
Palawan is separated from the rest of the RP by the Sulu Sea. Although there are some Rebels here, in the far north and south; they are generally content to kill policemen and military people. Puerto Princesa City (PPC) is free of rebels, and in the four years I've been here I've never had to worry or feel afraid. It's a good place to live. Manila or Cebu can be reached by a 55-minute plane trip. There's great resorts and some of the best dive spots on earth. Palawan is known as the "last frontier." There's still mountain tribes living in the old ways of a thousand years ago in the south.
It's growing (PPC) and will become like everywhere else before too many more years, but I would rate Palawan as the best spot in the RP. However, if you need your city fix and you can't live in small towns, you need to stay somewhere in Luzon - the island where Manila is located – or in the Cebu area. Be warned that Manila is a horrid, filthy and dangerous city, where the pollution will coat your skin with an oily mess within minutes of stepping outside.
When you fly into Manila, I would suggest that you stay at the Swagman Hotel in Ermita (a section of Manila). It's cheap compared to the big hotels and is only one block away from the US Embassy. There's good low cost food to be had at the Park Embassy Hotel dining room, which is directly across the street from the US Embassy, and around the corner from Swagman's.
Don't wear jewelry or carry a cell-phone openly in public. Keep your wallet, passport, money, etc. secreted. Try not to dress like a typical tourist or in fancy clothes. It's best to travel with a cloth belly pouch (which has an elastic strap) under your shirt. You can buy one in most travel shops or online for about $10.00. Buy a good and comfortable inflatable neck pillow for the plane trip. You'll thank me for that advice every time you fly for 11-15 hours.
Before you leave the States buy one spray bottle of OFF mosquito repellent to bring with you. When in Manila go to one of the Mall's like Robinson's Mall, which is also close to Swagman's Hotel, and into a department store (Robinson's) and buy one or two more. You can also get OFF at the drug stores. The RP is full of mosquitoes, including Manila which even has dengue fever.
You might be interested in going to this website to look at the Filipina's and read profiles: This is the home page: http://www.submissives.net/
It may help give you insight into the difference between the women of the East and West.
I can't say enough times that you - or any Western man - should just come here and taste of the exotic fruits (so to speak) and enjoy yourself for awhile. Get to know the ways of the people and the ladies. We Westerner's often feel the need to have something 'waiting' for us in advance before we come here. I plead guilty of doing that, myself. But I've long since learned that you don't need to. Very quickly after setting up house here the jungle drums will start beating, and before you know what's happened you'll have mother's bringing their daughters, aunties bringing nieces, sisters bringing sisters, men bringing groups of women to your door to offer them to you.
You won't be lonely for more than a few days or weeks - if that long. But know that if you let a girl through your door on some sort of permanent basis, it can be very hard to get them out again when you discover they lie, deceive or steal from you.
You need to tell the girl, the parents and everyone else your rules beforehand: "Lie, cheat, steal , deceive and I'll throw you out. Period!" If you are extremely clear in your rules, you'll get little or no argument from relatives when you do toss the girl out for breaking rules.
That means you should be careful what you promise.
Some parents will try to sell you their daughters for the price of a multi-cab or tricycle so they can start a business. They may just want money. Some parents will offer to sell you their 13, 14-year-old girls. If you take one of the young ones, you can and may be black-mailed to keep from being turned in to the police. But, if you take good care of the parents - build them a bamboo hooch, give them some money now and again, pay some of their doctor bills, and so forth, they'll protect you. But it’s against the law to take a girl under the age of eighteen. So you take an underage girl at the risk of finding yourself in a Philippine prison. Believe me, you don't want that.
It's quite common for girls as young as eleven to marry. However, they mostly marry Filipino men. Girls are bought and sold. There's a large segment of Muslim's in the Philippines. Buying and selling brides - as well as multiple wives - is way people can see that their daughters find husbands who can afford to give them a good life, and the parents can benefit financially along the way. I personally don't see anything wrong with it. I think one needs to live here for a while to recognize he necessity, the logic and the benefits of that sort of marriage. Prior to 200-years ago, virtually every marriage marriage in the world was arranged for financial and personal benefit. Can we say that the 'contemporary' style of marriage for love is better while 52% or more of all marriages end in divorce?
Anyway, it's a weird world here, and nothing... nothing like the USA.

It may be a good idea to have some honey's to meet when you get here but, unless you're in a big hurry to marry, take your time and don't talk too seriously with the Filipina's - and don't stick to only one. Tell them up-front that you are 'looking' for the right girl and that means you have to 'look' at more than one. Think of dating as interviews for a job. and don't hire the first applicant that comes through your door. They'll **** you anyway.
When you get information of a girl's address let me know and I'll have Celine send text messages to get you a PI in the Mindanao area.
… I suffered when I first came here and had to learn through the trip, stumble and fall method. I just hate seeing others go through that when I can help them without a lot of effort.
… I hope all of your dreams come true for you once you're living in the land of endless summers.

Peter: …The only evidence (refresh you virgin thought) she has presented or I quiz up was that she broke up with her boyfriend about six months ago as he married another. I beat he was from the fh website I originally thought he was a Filapino. I probably will cross-exam her on this.
One of the problems with virgins is that they never forget their first one. I also think about the family and religion problem. She said she would die when I died and was crying that my man is the key part of the menstual cycle. That and other evidence. However, I told her foolishly that was and email her after the phone conversation about the foolishness of her comment, but it is a concern. Rik these women are loyal, she doesn't even know me.
… She loves the way I respect her (I know what you are thinking), I am not profane at all and I am very respectful at least initially of everyone. She said other men turned profane after a while and that she is not that type of girl. The profane part is most likely true. I have seen to much evidence to discount that.
I told her from the beginning that I am a man that believes in a back up plean always. I would have a #2 ready if this didn't pan out. However, I told her the truth and that I haven't decided on a number 2 yet, but that I am still looking. She understands. The only thing she acts concerned about is my aunts friend (fictious). She also did not like the fact that my aunt said she was a bad woman.
Sidebar: I did not know that a hostess was essentially a bar girl, hadn't ran across that.

… How do I keep her from being materialistic. I like when she says your the boss, I was trained to be firm and fair. This materialistic question bothers me. She has seen that I own three TV and countless other electronic gadgets on web cam. She claims and I don't necessarily doubt that she is a simple woman, I got her definition of the simple woman. That one incidently is from your (I have no connection to the website – ETP) submissive wives website and asset. Your thought about this problem and of course this whole letter I would truly appreciate.
When to purchase the PI? I am going to be greatly surprised if he finds out anything about her that I haven't already known. However, her family??? I am sure she protects the family.
Not crazy about the inabiltiy to test the exotic fruit. However, we are dealing with a possible virgin here. Celine's imput would be interesting. Seems like I need a plausible line. I have laid on her several times that jealousy is very unappealling (thank Rik). She is not very jealous and I am thinking about building a bridge to Japan from PI. However, if you are publishing the correct answer is if you can ditch your woman get another hotel room.
She will bring ID, don't ever be so stupid.
I expect to use American Express, but how much cash is smart to have, I have long used the money belt, but thanks for the pillow, I have one, but would not have taken it.
Where to go after Cebu? I would imagine I would like to experience other safe parts of the country obviously with her.
… Where else in the Philippines is there my need for mass communications without interruptions and safety? Perhaps were I can raise children. What are my best connections for this? I have not done any research on this, however I have had mixed reports on Cebu. I am talking about permanent residence.
… She said I can take her anywhere I want to go.
… I am not use to having a woman by my side. I used to operate on the one hundred **** theory, that nothing good happens after that. However, I am getting older, I don't feel comfortable my sister and I believe I need to marry. I will be surprised if this lady is a 9 or 10, but she has an education and comes from a Province and no doubt is a 'simple woman', certainly a prospect. It will be “heartbreak hotel” if I drop her. I know that shouldn't be in the equation. I will make her time montarily prosperous if we split.
So I trust my instincts, but I have some problems. Your imput would be greatly appreciated.

Rik: I have to tell you that you should stop at the first drink when you write email's of such duration. There's a lot I don't understand. Perhaps you could re-read the email's and see what I mean.
I don't drink, so I don't experience those problems. Nor do I smoke. And, for the record, I don't like being 'profane' either. I'm not a religious nut - even as a Buddhist - believing religion is best served by more action (of personal responsibility) and no talk
… Ok, I'll start following along on your train(s) of thought:
… statistics don't do a very good job of predicting which Filipina will be a good one. There are more variables than even (chose one) God can get on a statistical chart. God must have been drunk the day he made women, because they are the most unpredictable creatures on earth.
Exotic Fruits: You should definitely stay away from any kind of entanglements before you come here, and after you get here. I know it is, and will be, very tempting to do mating 'display' when playing on the Internet - it's safe, and can be fun. Internet dating games in the RP are a major industry. Filipina's will tell you all sorts of things - endless variations of things. There is no way to tell what is and isn't true. But if you play with telling your Honey Ko how you feel, etc., over the Internet ("I'm your boyfriend"), she'll take it as bring carved in stone.
You should consider saying, "Let's meet and see what happens. I'm searching for the 'right' girl, who must be a certain way (your criteria). So I must spend time and meet many girls... I can't and won't make any promises." Once you're in your sweety’s arms - and before you **** her - you should tell her that ****ing her doesn't mean you've picked her to be the one, so... "are you sure you want to do this?"
My earlier advice stands: Although it's nice to have some girls lined-up to meet and spend time with; it's better to live here for awhile and enjoy being single.It will be like being a kid in a candy store with an unlimited selection. Girls will be coming out of the woodwork. You can get a house-keeper, and she will find you girls. All you want. I used my house-keeper (H-K) as a procurer and she brought me many girls. I never went into a bar but once (taken there by a Pinoy (man) on a 'tour' of Puerto), except for the time I made one trip to AC (Angeles City).
The only real way to learn what you need to learn in RP is to live here and 'experience' things. Don't be in a hurry.
As for Celine and giving you advice about "exotic fruits"; Celine is private in the most extreme sense of the word. She wouldn't even consider advising you. She talks to almost no one, and completely shuns the pinay habit of chika-chika (gossip) - which you'll soon learn about to your regret. She won't talk to the neighbors, and will hardly talk to her own sisters. She stays in the house and does needle work and other crafts, and listens to the TV while I sit at the PC. She works outside in the garden daily - eschews jewelry and showing-off, and goes nowhere unless I send her. She's as about as perfect a partner as a man could hope for.
On chika-chika: You will have to be very careful about what you do and say to anyone. I call the compound's maids and house-keepers, “The Maid Mafia” - and for good reason. Everyone is in a conspiracy of chika-chika about each other's "bosses." You will always be called "boss" here. It's best to say nothing you don't want anyone - everyone - else to know. And, believe me, they'll all know.
Find yourself a girl who hates chika-chika and doesn't want friends, and you find yourself to be a much happier man.
As to being the "boss": You can be as much of a boss as you wish. Here, your word is law. Tell your woman how she is to obey you - right away - and that breaking your rules will get her kicked out the door. Use the words 'training,' 'discipline' and 'punishment' often. Tell her that you're going to train her how to behave. It won't faze her. Discipline your woman how you wish. Filipina's are designed to obey and defer to men. You can spank her, tie her up, **** her until the cows come home, and she'll take what you give her as a matter of course. Training is everything, so you should have a plan on what you want and how you want it... then implement it.
Filipina's, as you probably know, are known by the term LBFM's (little brown ****ing machines), and they deserve the title. You can *** your Filipina as much as you want. It's not America and Americunt's here, Toto.
Do not allow her to indulge her friends at your house. Keep the family at bay by telling Honey Ko you don't like or want company, but are a very private person. Tell her she must want to live that way or you won't 'take' her in. Filipina's, for the most part, love chika-chika, to visit and have visitor's. Once they learn that she's living with a foreign man, long-lost friends and family will soon start arriving if you don't preempt it first - all wanting - expecting - to be fed and given sugar drinks with their chika-chika. If you allow it in the beginning, you'll regret it. Be tough but soft. Calm but firm. Love your woman and play and laugh, but be in control - like a boss would be. But not like a tyrant 'boss.'
I joined Intimate Submissive's, but never met anyone. It quickly became apparent it wasn't necessary. You'll understand once you're here. There's girls everywhere. But you need someone to introduce you. Bar girls are no good. But dating is almost impossible. Shy Filipina's won't talk to you.
Get a house-keeper. She'll be your gateway to women.
Intimate Submissives is good because they screen and only accept submissive's. Filipina-Heart takes anything. If you don't get a submissive woman, you'll generally get trouble. Many Filipina's now want to be Westernized, and so behave as if they are. You have to be firm, controlling and discerning. If your Filipina doesn't behave right away, or shows signs later of rebellion or deception either punish her or throw her out. There's an unending supply of honey's waiting to get in your door.
I told my H-K to talk to Celine when I saw her walking down the street. I stood off about 20-feet away while they talked. Once I saw Celine look at me and keep talking and listening, I knew I could safely go over to where she was without frightening her. I immediately told her I was looking for a proper Filipina that wanted to serve a loving, responsible, but demanding man. About ten days later she was living with me. Try that in America!

My strategy has been to be happy, and make money in the process. Women are great, and can be a lot of fun. I wouldn't want to deprive myself of their company for long. But in the USA I didn't want to get deeply involved, since they only manipulate you once they know you care about them.
AIDS is a problem, no doubt. Stay away from the bar-girls if you're afraid of it. There's plenty of girls everywhere. There's lots of virgins here. Celine was a 25-year-old virgin when I met her. I don't like virgins, either. But I've had a wonderful time training Celine. When you're older - and retired, you have a different perspective - not to mention plenty of time - on sex. Most any Filipina will learn, and enjoy, whatever you teach them, so new kinds of sex and new tricks can be a source of fun for you, also. And virgins have no real pre-conceived notions of what to expect. Asian women are used to serving and being dominated… They seem to like sexual gadgets, and porn movies. If you'd like to or want to provide sex toys, you can't get them here, so you must bring some or go to Hong Kong or Thailand to purchase them.
The Catholic's are in charge here. Many levels of society are very strict.
The virgin thing won't get you in trouble with the parents. Mostly, they don't care. Sex is viewed differently here - people don't have those puritan hang-ups like in the USA.
But you need to talk to the parents even more than your honey about what you expect and will and won't do for them, and what you expect from their daughter; absolute obedience and loyalty, no deceptions, blah, blah, and how you will throw her out if... Get their full understanding about those things. "Do you understand that I won't tolerate or permit..? and what I'll do if...? They may want you to give them a monthly stipend for loss of money from the daughter who will no longer be working and giving bucks to them. It's up to you whether you will or not. I told Celine's parents "no." Once that was established, and after I saw that Celine was a good partner, I gave help to them. They appreciated it - and me - a lot more when I did it from the goodness of my heart rather than having to. But they never ask for anything.
... Of course they're poor (Peter’s girlfriend’s parents)... most everyone is. Many dream of the American's riches. Plenty of girls will tell you they don't want money when they do. Don't be deceived by words. Again, the experience of being here is your best ally. Trust at your peril. Plenty of Filipina's will tell you they don't want anything from you, because they know that will turn you off to them.
Steady as she goes, mate!
You shouldn't lie to your Filipina (the “auntie” lie). The truth is always best. The American games aren't necessary here.

P160 pesos-a-day sounds about right (how much the girlfriend earns per day). And most children give money to their parents.
She probably gets free time on the PC, though, as she would only be able to get online before or after hours or when things are slow. She'd soon be broke if she had to pay. It's likely to be a feel-sorry-for-me line.
Free room and board is standard for many jobs in the Phlippines. It binds workers to the owner.
One thing to learn is that Pinoy don't normally come out and ask for something like American's do. We Americans are very straight-forward as a people. Pinoy's, no. They'll beat around the bush for days on end and try to get you to offer. They may never actually come out and ask for what they want. You're supposed to know somehow what they want and give it to them. That also makes it easier for them to never pay you back.
Put that info to the front of your brain and keep it there.
It's possible that a storm took the satellite; that sort of stuff happens, all right. But... you can never know.
The $50 gift was a silly thing to do - under any circumstances. And to think she won't tell everyone you sent it is, at the least, unrealistic. That was very American of you. $50 is more than half-a-month's pay. Big money. Imagine if you had 17-days extra pay given to you as a bonus. Don't think she saved it; a Pinoy saving money is too rare to contemplate. Money pours through Pinoy fingers. She may have given a little to the parents, but it's probably spent.
But it's your money to do with as you please.
Your honey may or may not be educated, but education here and education in the USA is two different things completely. Don't expect her to be smart. Most Pinoy - even University trained - are ignorant as all get-out, and superstitious in the extreme. You're in for a lot of laughs when you hear the things you're going to hear from your Honey Ko.

About women's periods: Yeah, there's a lot to be said about knowing that stuff. Celine, to my delight, has never once been in a bad mood, even when her cramps bother her.
Whether you thought of it or not, you did exactly the right thing writing on the envelope you sent that there were pictures inside. I use that trick when I have new credit cards sent to me. Always have the envelope hand-written and put a piece or two of thin cardboard - like on the back of writing tablets or a cereal box - on each side. Better still, pay for FedEx delivery to your door or the office.
A fourteen day snail-mail trip is normal.

There's tons of festivals here, and girls love to go to them as well as to dances and kereoke clubs. Don't allow it once you're here. Many Filipina's with foreign husbands will have a boyfriend hidden somewhere, and they'll support them with your money. You should always control the flow of money. Don't leave it laying around - not even a change jar - where she can get a hold of a 20 or fifty peso bill.
You'll probably give her an allowance. She'll take as much as you'll give her. Most want P10K ($200) or more. I never gave more than P3K a month, and I only give Celine P2K. For the last year I've given her nothing except small amounts when she needs it. I'm using all my money to invest in fish cages and rice buying and selling and loaning for seed and pesticides - plus I help her parents with bills. Since the businesses are in her name, her allowance goes there as a share of the investment.
Usually when you give an allowance, the girl is expected to buy all of her own things - make-up, shampoo, conditioners, lotions. tampax, clothes, and so forth. Do one or the other, but not both.

Cebu, according to Celine isn't a very safe place top live. There's not a lot of terrorism, but there are kidnappings. Celine continued that Cebu City is full of crime and criminals. Celine says most of the criminals in Manila come from Cebu - meaning it's a breeding ground. Personally, I wouldn't know. I've never gone there.
...Cebu, and Manila, is a one hour flight from Puerto.

Your lady friend is doing the normal thing in taking a companion (read: ETP) - it's normal. It's not surprising that she's never been there or flown on a plane. This is the RP, after all. Asking for receipts is a good idea. Better remind her more than once and just before she leaves; Pinoy have a habit of forgetting practically everything - except who owes them money.

Peter: "I said the Internet and or phone was not foolproof."
" ... She immediately went off about that fact that she is not that type of woman (bar-girl). She is a woman no one can touch."
"She asked me if I wanted to sleep with her."

Rik: Hmm, that opens lots of questions and rings bells in my head. That would not be the normal question for a Filipina virgin to ask. Do you see the incongruity between the statement and question?

Hostesses: Yes, there's an example of language translation and different meanings. A hostess is a bar-girl, but may (rare) be a greeter in a good restaurant or even bartender. But, yes, mainly it means bar-girl/prostitute.

The boyfriend was probably a Pinoy. But there'd be no surprise if she was writing other men, either, like you, keeping her options open, or for play. Pinay love to email and chat with foreign men.
A lot of Filipina’s practice their skills of deceit and get money from many men on the Internet.

Celine has also told me that she wants to die when I die. It's standard fair in this part of the world, and has nothing to do with menstruation. Filipina's will attach themselves to you either through loyalty and love or though your bank accounts. That's why I keep saying don't jump into the first spiders web you come across. Some of those girls will make it very hard for you to get rid of them.
One girl refused to leave and informed me that she was staying right where she was when I told her to get out. I had to take her by her hair and drag her to the door and toss her through it. But before I could close the screen door she had her body up against me and both hands clinging to the door jam as she screamed and tried to push herself - and me - back inside. It took three tosses to get her far enough away to get the door closed. She raced around the house screaming and crying and demanding to be let in.
I ignored her.
I finally wound up giving her money to go to college for a year to get rid of her, and a P15K loan (never paid back, of course) to the mother.
In the beginning of the relationship I had promised to give the daughter's allowance to the mother as she had been working and supporting the mother and was paying the cost of putting a brother through school. When I threw her out, she went to school and the mother had nothing.
It was the right thing to do under the circumstances. But I told the lot of them never to bother me again. That was my most expensive lesson.
Because she kept threatening to cause me trouble and demanding to be let back in for weeks, I called my attorney for legal advice.
Under RP law, if you let a Filipina into your house to live - if you let her bring her clothes, etc., into the house and she sleeps there - you can't legally throw her out. My attorney advised me that if she refused to leave and stayed inside the house, and if I then threw her out I could be arrested, so the best thing to do was to rent another place, move out and stop paying the rent. That's legal. But if you buy property for you and your wife (or girlfriend) to live in, and you throw her out, you are in effect throwing yourself out - and you will lose your investment.
Because all property must be in your wife's or woman's name, and not yours.
Something else for you to remember.
When your Filipina said that men became profane on the Internet, she meant they talk dirty about sex - what they would do to her, and vice-versa.
I think you're making a mistake trying have a number one, number two back-up plan. And I believe you'll see the mistake after you've been here awhile. In the USA, life is one way, and the man-versus-woman culture requires a certain attitude of management.
But this is the RP - a totally different gig altogether. You're a shark in a pool full of minnows. Why bother giving one or two minnows special attention?
PLDT (the national phone company) has the best offer for communication. I have high-speed unlimited-time broad-band 124K-per-second DSL for P2500 ($44.60). The phone charge is now P897.00. You can get good PLDT service in Cebu, I'm certain. Power goes out a lot though, even in Manila.
I don't doubt that your Filipina is a simple woman. Again, standard stuff in a land of poor people. The question is: will she stay simple once she's under your care?
About jealousy: Simply said, "I will not tolerate jealousy. Period. Play jealousy games with me and you'll be standing on the other side of that door. Obey me and you'll be all right."
Your American Express card may not be very useful to you. Better to have a Visa. Bring in traveler's checks, and expect to use them. You can cash them at any bank. First, though, get a few photocopies of your passport. Many, if not all banks will require that before they'll cash your checks. When you use traveler checks and buy pesos with dollars you'll get the going daily rate - which may rise. Four years ago it was P49=$1.00. Now, P56=$1.00.
Everywhere the power is 'iffy' - on and off. You can't get around that. I don't recommend wi-fi communications as that can easily be tapped into from outside your house. Use PLDT.
I recommend that you rent some place. You'll probably want to move at least once when you find something better. Get some place (in Manila or Cebu) that's secure - somewhere you can have you house or apartment guarded - in a guarded compound or apartment building. An apartment might be best at first - so you can safely leave your belongings and travel. Tip the guard a small amount to make sure no one breaks in. Tell him you'll give him a nice tip upon your return if your apartment stays unmolested while you're gone. Travel to find where you'd really like to live.
I don't necessarily agree with your sister. Marriage may not be what you need - at least for awhile.
You will need someone to take care of you as you grow older. If you pick well, - unhurriedly - there's hardly a better woman to take care of you than a Filipina.
By the way, the more highly educated Filipina's can be far more dangerous and deleterious to you than a simple girl. A 'forest girl' as they're known as here can be the best. They live simply and are already well trained in obedience and submissiveness by their father and mother, relatives and neighbors.
Celine, for your edification, has a third grade education, has worked more or less steadily since she was eight years old. She's a forest girl. But, she is one of the smartest Filipina's I've met so far - certainly the most trustworthy, faithful, obedient, loyal and hard working. She's unassuming and satisfied with what I give her. City girls - college educated girls want MORE, and expect to get it. They know the ways of the Western world and want their piece of it. Forest girls are happy if they have electricity and a fan.
I would never let a city Filipina through my door. They preen and love to spend money and, worse, they love to show-off. They practice deception and dream always of more. They're never satisfied. They want you to take them to the States and live in the land of golden opportunities. Stick with simple; you'll be much happier.
They are far easier to train to do what you want.

You might be interested in looking through this site: http://www.pointmancebu.com/. They offer, among other things, investigative-style services. The gentleman who operates PMC tells me that he is not a licensed private investigator and does not advertize his services as such. However, confidential interviews are performed. The Filipina will not be informed that she's being interviewed for her potential foreign mate.

Peter: What am I doing to prepare myself?
I daily reread one of your months great lessions. Everyday a different month and about every other day reread your personal correspondence with me, that I greatly appreciate the time you took and the great of detailed personal instruction. Thank you so much. I believe the deprograming process is gradually working its charm.
Of course being a weak, sensitive American sent me astray back into some communication with my honey-ko. However, do to your instruction, I am in complete control of the situation. I was already in pretty commanding position with the last email that I shared with you. It set her back a day or so to respond. I told her that it was at best a 10 to 1 chance that I would see her after a couple of exchanges. I asked her last week, what kind of a wife would she be to me and demanded an answer by Wednesday this week. (Notice I am not drinking). She delivered a response on Wednesday (quite long) and ended with a. .. to be continued... She mentioned that she was sick with the flu. That sickness was brought on by the stress I placed on her.
… With her Friday response, I went on the attack, and told her she must obey me at all times. I told her that that was such an easy question that I did not think it should take three to five days to answer. I said to put it another way, if we were getting married and the priest presented you with the marriage voes, would we have to wait three to five days for you to answer his question. This was totally unexceptable, that if you were living with me you would be out the door. Or else I would leave. I cannot have a rebellious woman. Rebellious women is what we have here in the states, they think divorce is okay. I do not. You must obey me, obey me, obey me. Now there has to be punishment. I may not see you at all this year. I want you to email me each day for the next five days with your response. If you do I will email you on the fifth day. If you cannot do this I will email you in ten days.
She emailed back that she would obey me all the time and do whatever I want etc., etc., in some detail. Of course I will stay firm to the five days if she follows through.
… I like your idea of a guarded residence or else an apartment and explore next year with a base camp.
…I look forward to your future blogs and any advice you may have for me.
… Speaking of trust, the www.pointmancebu.com web-site rated filipina internet ladies with a 20% honest rating.

Rik: What is your agenda, now, concerning the girl you've been talking love and possible marriage to in Mindanao? Are you still making her the focus of your affections?
For most Filipina’s, Pinoy (men) are worthless. They find it almost impossible to be monogamous. Most affluent men have many lovers, mistresses and concubines (for children) - all at the same time. Even many of the very poor will have at least one lover on the side.
Pinay don't mind all that much unless it affects their own and their children's well-being, by virtue of the man spending all of the money drinking and on the second household where he keeps the mistress.
Keep giving serious thought to staying single for awhile. You can keep renewing your 59-day visa as many times as you want for a small fee. It's far, far cheaper than what it would cost by having a woman who steals everything from you, or having to pay a girl off - or her family - to go away.
In the RP most foreigners have to pay the girl to come and then to go.
... Flirting is common and acceptable in the Philippines. Don't be afraid to flirt. But don't be lewd. Compliments will take you far. Telling a girl how affected you are by her beauty, charm, etc., is very effective. "Would you have dinner with me? I'd like to get to know you better and know more about you." is a good line.
Steer clear of sexual innuendo.


I think this is enough for the reader to get an idea of the inter-play between Peter and his Internet girlfriend. There's just a bit more needed, however, to lead you in to the investigators report.

After going to www.pointmancebu.com, Peter made arrangements to have his Filipina interviewed, In the following portion of this article you will learn just how close to knowing his Filipina Peter was, and what kind of a person he was really dealing with, and also how much ‘truth’ Peter was actually getting from her.

Peter: Of course, I am still communicating with the Mindanao lady. I have been very honest with her and the little money that I sent her will take care of any communication or picture expenses she has incurred. It is supplementing my education on the Filipina culture, she is very beautiful and I plan to have her investigated, if for no other reason than my curiousity.
I receivied an email from Pointman Cebu. I hope they are a reputable agency as I can find nothing good or bad about them.
… As far as going slow, my world record is three months with a woman. I was in a forum yesterday on WSG, with single never married men. They all seemed to want to get married but they cannot bring themselves to that elective. Only one guy had a solution, he was about our age and he found a killer woman as his main woman and had three college girls on the side until he thinks now he can be monogamous. I don't have any idea what kind of therapy I need. The main reason to get married is to have children which I think would be nice.
…Thanks for everything, Rik.

The following is the initial report from Pointman Cebu, who did the investigation of Jukie, Peter’s “girlfriend.” Jukie is not the girl's real name.
In the reports of those from Pointman-Cebu below - I will also not use real names of the interviewer's, and Pointman-Cebu will be recognized as "PMC."

Hi Peter,
Here is our report on Jukie for you:
Jukie, upon first communicating with her, seems to have a very nice personality. In fact, she is an attractive girl. However, when you dig deeper, below the skin is where you find she isn’t quite so attractive.

First, she wants to use you (in her own words) as a “stepping stone” in the US. This means that she will leave you after she has become established there, as many scammers will do with their foreigner husbands and fiancé’s.

Second, she said that you are too old for her and that she wants to find someone else who is younger. She only wants to gain your trust so that you will take her to the states.

Third, she still chats with other men online. She is allowed all the free time she wants online, in exchange for her working, as it is part of her agreement with her boss, whom I happen to meet as well while there.

Fourth, she has received money from other men she chats with online.

Lastly, she uses her personal cell phone at work and was sending text messages on it while we were there.

So, from what we found out, I would strongly suggest not taking her to the US to be with you. Please feel free to contact me regarding any questions you may have. I realize that you may not wish to talk by phone. However, in this case if you make an exception I will be happy to discuss any of this in further detail with you. My number is: 1-912-228-3385 I will be happy to ring you back, if you prefer.



Peter: … Thought you would be interested in PMC's final report. I am going to call him to see how he formulated each of his decision points.
Rik: Due to time-zone confusion, an email was dispatched to PMC, instead.
The following is first the questions from Peter, then the answers from PMC.

On your report:
How did the (going to) United States get brought up into the conversation?
How did you learn that she thought I was too old for her?
How did you find out that she still chats with other men online?
What did you learn from her boss about Jukie and/or our relationship?
How did you learn she had received money from other men online?

General Questions:
Did she seem shy?
Were you a party of four?
What were your wife's general observations/conclusions?
Do you think she is married or has a boyfriend?
Did you feel that I was her main boyfriend?
How long of a conversation did you have with her?
How busy was the cafe during your visit and did the weather have any effect on there business at this time?
How time consuming do you believe her job to be?
Did others in your party have any good/bad observations?
How safe is the area that you travelled through for americans?
What would be your recommended method to travel there?
Did you use any of the computers at the cafe if so did they appear to have poor internet connections?
Did you notice a web cam? There web cam was supposed stolen about a month ago. Only the web cam was taken.
Do you have anymore pictures of interest to me?
If you were hiring an employee, based on what you learned about Jukie, would you hire her to work for you?
What is your best guess on how Jukie would handle your report if I told her?

Have you made any general observations during your time in the Philippines about islands that have better prospects than others? Are there islands to avoid?
Is there anything I can do for you, such as a letter of recommendation for your web site. I will ask Rik to include your firm in his blog.

Many thanks, PMC, I am glad you are safe, thanks for the picture, it seems to me like a fine report.

Hi Peter,

I apologize for the late reply. Anyway, here it goes:

First, she said she was surprised by our visit as she was expecting me (us) to arrive the day before.

Now, regarding your “On Your Report” questions:

How did the (going to) United States get brought up into the conversation?

Answer: At first, Yeti asked her how many there were in her family. She told Yeti there are 6 of them, from near Tandag. She is the eldest. Her mother is a house wife. Her father is a driver.

Yeti then asked if she were content in living like she does now. Jukie said, “No, I want to go to the states, because the Philippines is very poor and you cannot find a decent job here (in the Philippines).”

How did you learn that she thought I was too old for her?

Answer: Jukie was discussing other chat mates (did not specify how many others) and was comparing his age to her other chat mates.


Regarding your General Questions:

Did she seem shy?

Answer: No, she seemed very willing to talk with me, whether Yeti was in the room or not. (Yeti had to step out and assist her sister with our brother-in-law.

Were you a party of four?

Answer: Yes, there were myself, Yeti, her sister and her sister’s husband.

What were your wife's general observations/conclusions?

Answer: Jukie has a bad character when it comes to relationships with *any* foreigners, certainly concerning the one she has with you. She has no good intentions in her heart. She is, what they call in the Philippines… ambitious. That is a bad term to use concerning someone here. That means the person in question doesn’t care what they have to do in order to achieve their goal in life, including using others to accomplish that goal.

Do you think she is married or has a boyfriend?

Answer: I do not believe she is married, although that isn’t impossible to find out. She could have a Filipino boyfriend, but we could not prove that with the information we have, currently.

Did you feel that I was her main boyfriend?

Answer: No. When talking with Yeti, she never mentioned anything of the sort, although she did tell the foreigner (me) what I wanted to hear, that she was your girl friend.

How long of a conversation did you have with her?

Answer: Yeti and I spoke with her for a little over an hour while she was at the café. Incidentally, we have been to that café a number of times in the past, while visiting Hinatuan for other clients.

How busy was the cafe during your visit and did the weather have any effect on there business at this time?

Answer: The place was fairly busy, but Jukie made it a point to tell us it was only busy from about 5pm to 8pm, daily. The weather was clear and dry, so people were all over the area.

How time consuming do you believe her job to be?

Answer: During busy times, she will be pretty busy. However, that time is only when the kids are out of school. During the day, the café is quite dead, so she will have tons of time on her hands.

Did others in your party have any good/bad observations?

Answer: We do not include anyone else in our conversations with people we interview for our clients. Other than the other couple coming inside the café to use the bathroom, we were the only ones who spoke with Jukie.

What would be your recommended method to travel there?

Answer: Flying into Butuan or Davao then driving south or north to get to San Francisco, then go East to Barobo, and finally south to Hinituan. Be prepared for very nasty road conditions, as this is typical of the Philippines.

Did you use any of the computers at the cafe if so did they appear to have poor internet connections?

Answer: I believe it was a dialup connection they were using. This would be fairly slow, but quite predictable for provincial towns.

Did you notice a web cam? There web cam was supposed stolen about a month ago. Only the web cam was taken.

Answer: There was one on top of the computer, at the time we were there.

If you were hiring an employee, based on what you learned about Jukie, would you hire her to work for you?

Answer: I don’t have enough information that I have gathered during the time we spoke with her. I didn’t ask her many questions regarding her abilities. However, as far as operating a basic program on a computer, she seemed to do okay.

What is your best guess on how Jukie would handle your report if I told her?

Answer: I think she would be upset over the fact that we were there to interview her. However, each girl reacts differently after being told they were interviewed. Typically, they are mad with us, but that isn’t a big issue normally. What can become an issue is the fact the girl was told by her fiancé that he had her interviewed. As it sits right now, she has no clue whatsoever that she was interviewed by us. The only way she will find out is if you tell her. We never reveal to the girls why we were there.

Have you made any general observations during your time in the Philippines about islands that have better prospects than others? Are there islands to avoid?

Answer: Some foreigners told me to avoid Mindanao, however, Yeti and I have been all over Mindanao without ever having a single incident to crop up. As far as peaceful places to live, I would suggest Bohol, Negros Oriental or Siquijor Island, which is located off the coast from Dumaguete City, which is the capitol of Negros Oriental.

Is there anything I can do for you, such as a letter of recommendation for your web site. I will ask Rik (ETP) to include your firm in his blog.

Answer: Nothing at all, now. However, if you would be willing to serve as a reference in the future, that would greatly be appreciated.


I hope the previous information has helped you more. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me with them.

Take care,


As the reader can plainly see, what Filipina’s say and what they mean are two different things.
I purposefully added a lot of the correspondence between Peter and me in hopes the reader would notice the way in which Peter chose to believe his Filipina chat-mate, how he convinced himself that he understood and knew what his Filipina was really doing and the truth to what she was saying, and the level of her truthfulness. He was playing a ‘game’ with her, by his own statement, and was trying to manipulate her in order to both learn more about her, and also to see how well he could control her.
I think Peter believed he had things fairly well in hand, and had a good understanding of his Filipina’s motives. He believed he had good insight into her true nature.
I believe most readers would think otherwise.
It may have been good practice for Peter, however, to “dance” with a Filipina in order to have more clarity in his future exchanges.
I hope that Peter, and you the reader, learn the most important lesson from this encounter: Honesty and respect for each other is most important. With those two aspects in force, deception, manipulation and domination isn’t necessary to have a good relationship with a Filipina or any other woman.

I recommend that my readers go to a number of inter-connected websites. They will find a wealth of information that can assist them in understanding things Philippine.
There are forums to get direct access to locals who are willing to share knowledge and experience to you wannabe’s.
For a personal interview of a Filipina, PMC can help you. The charges are affordable and reasonable. For more information, contact:






PMC has put up a forum page – listed in “Other Area Information” for readers of Expatriates in the Philippines.

Readers can also get information at: WWW.livinginthephilippines.com.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

A day at sea ends. Posted by Picasa Click to enlarge

A butter colored butterfly. Posted by Picasa Click to enlarge

Death returns to visit. Posted by Picasa Click to enlarge

The Grim Reaper Once Again Stalks Celine

... but misses.

Sometimes I think I should change my blog’s name to:
“The Life And Times Of Celine”
Tales of good fortune and beating the devil.

A few days ago Celine went to the hospital to visit a friend who was about to give birth to triplets. Afterwards she went into a sort-of indoor flea market that’s attached to the Pelengke to look around.
Celine moved from booth to booth. Walking around, Celine passed two security guards who were talking and laughing with each other, ignoring their duties.
Celine noticed that one of the guards kept lifting the gun and holster and pushing it back down again, he would then slap his palm on the gun butt in a way that would make the gun and holster rotate, raising the barrel so that it was on a horizontal plane with the floor. In other words it looked like it was being pointed straight out, but upside down and ‘aimed’ behind the guard.
It made Celine very nervous to see the guard repeatedly doing it, as if it were a nervous tic. But, she continued walking to a booth about 2-meters from the guards, stopped and was looking at something a seller was offering to her.
Suddenly a loud shot rang out. It was obvious that it was from the firing of a gun.
Celine whirled around to see what was going on. She saw the two guards standing stiffly, scared and wide-eyed.
One of the guards began looking around, while the other stood still, stunned and shocked.
A small boy of about eight or nine years of age, who was standing right next to Celine, reached out and grabbed at Celine’s blouse. When Celine looked down at him, she saw the boy look around for a moment then slump to the floor. Blood poured from a wound in his side just above his hip.
The boy’s mother screamed and rushed to her son. The one guard whose gun hadn’t fired used his cell-phone to call for an ambulance.
The police arrived, hand-cuffed both guards and took them away to the police station for questioning.
Celine rushed from the store, hopped into a tricycle and came home. She was terribly frightened. She told me the bullet that hit the boy missed her by no more than 8-inches!
I held her and kissed her and let her lay in my arms for a long while until she was finally able to calm down.
I don’t know what’s going on; why so many near-death experiences are happening to Celine. I’m sure glad they’re all misses, though.
Maybe it’s just the way things are here in the Philippines. Maybe it’s just coincidence. If it’s coincidence, there sure have been a lot of them lately.

A flower's magic colors Posted by Picasa Click to enlarge

Young boys and the far horizon Posted by Picasa Click to enlarge

Park that pig! Posted by Picasa Click to enlarge

Bananas in the RP Posted by Picasa Click to enlarge

Sunset In Bohol Posted by Picasa Click to enlarge

Blue Flowers Posted by Picasa

Let's Play Bus Roulette

Getting Around In The Philippines: City to town, and back again.
Celine has two accidents on two occasions on one bus!

So you want travel and adventure. There’s plenty of adventure in the Philippines. It’s beautiful, and for the new visitor there’s an unending panorama of things to see and enjoy. Most Filipino’s are wonderful and friendly. Pinoy know how to relax and enjoy life. What problems might come tomorrow are usually not worth worrying about today. And there’s a strong chance that the problems won’t be worried over tomorrow, either. In a very true sense, the philosophy of most peoples of the Philippines is to live in the Here and Now. For too many, that’s all they have.
As a Buddhist, I can relate very well to the idea of living in the Now. It can be less stressful and even mentally and physically healthy not to fret over the future – or anything else – and keep the blood pressure low and steady, the mind relaxed and calm. But even a Buddhist understands that the rice won’t sprout in the pond tomorrow or provide one’s food in the days to come if one doesn’t first plant, then tend to and care for the rice plants today; protecting and nurturing them, ensuring a good crop and life sustaining food for the many months ahead.
We in the West would call that good crop management or, for health, good preventative maintenance.
While the Philippines is a wonderful place and the easy way in which the average Filipino glides through life has some enviable advantages over the high-voltage fast-paced, stressed-out Western lifestyle, that same ‘glide through life’ behavior, taken too far, can spell real tragedy and heartache for the unaware traveler.

An Introduction to long distance transportation

* VANS: The vans are by far the safest and most comfortable way to travel from place to place. They are all relatively new and in pretty good shape. They are air-conditioned, which adds mightily to one’s personal comfort. On the other hand, it can also be a source of discomfort in that many of the other passengers can and do have rather rough smelling perspiration. You can find yourself trapped and nauseous as the smells from your fellow passengers are endlessly cycled by the air-conditioning. Also, bad breath is common in the Philippines where good hygiene is difficult if not impossible for most due to poverty.
Personally, I avoid riding the vans for those reasons, preferring to ride the jeepneys for the fresh air.
Vans are almost always overloaded with more passengers than there are seats to accommodate them, and everyone is forced together at elbows, shoulders and knees, leaving no room to move. You can get from point A to point B the quickest, but that can be dangerous as the drivers are always competing with other drivers and themselves to beat their time. They’ll pass on blind curves with no regard to safety. Vans are the most expensive to ride.
I once rode a van to Aborlan, a small town south of Puerto Princesa. The van had so many passengers that the conductor/helper had to share the driver’s seat with the driver. That meant that the helper had to push in the clutch and help steer while the driver controlled the brakes and shifted the gears.
When we topped one hill, up ahead we saw a military check-point had been thrown-up together with some Land Transportation officers. The van stopped and in full view of the persons at the check-point some 100 meters ahead, the helper got out, ran around the van and sat on the floor wedged like a sardine between the seat and the side sliding door. Then we were off again. When the van reached the check-point, the driver got out for a few moments, paid a bribe, and we proceeded on. Over the next hill and out of sight of the check-point, the van stopped once more – and the helper ran back around the van, crammed himself into the driver’s seat and, again sharing driving duties, we completed the trip to Aborlan.
No one in the van showed any sign that there was anything unusual in having two people drive at once.

** Jeepneys: Jeepneys are open with glass-less windows and have an opening at the rear to enter and exit. Unless you sit on the front seat by the driver, you must ride sideways on one of the two padded bench seats that run the length of the back with the window openings at the passenger’s back The rider can get wet in a rainstorm.
The jeepney makes plenty of stops along the way to pick-up and drop-off passengers and cargo. The roof is overloaded with passenger’s belongings and extra cargo. Extra riders and animal stock – mostly chickens and pigs – will ride up there, also.
Flat tires are a common occurrence, due to the fact that most tires are kept in use long after the inner-threads or steel-belts show through. Jeepneys are all handmade – maybe in a shop, maybe in someone’s front yard. There are no laws applying to the standards under which they must be built. Failing brakes are not uncommon. More often than not there will be no brake or tail-lights. They’re mostly noisy, cumbersome and slow going uphill. Going down-hill they are driven much too fast for safety. Most often they carry weight far beyond the jeepney’s load limit. However, that doesn’t deter the drivers from driving at break-neck speed when possible. These drivers will also pass around blind curves, and take the turns so fast that the highway traveler would not be surprised to see them leaning dangerously or on two wheels as they careen through the mountain turns. Much too often the jeepney’s wind-up demolished in a ravine and the passengers dead or mangled.

*** Buses: Buses in the large metropolitan areas like Manila and Cebu are manufactured by legitimate businesses which use quality control methods. And though, for lack of first-hand knowledge, I can’t speak of the buses of the rest of the country, I can tell you that the buses of Palawan are almost all hand-made. The chassis is purchased new from Manila and shipped to Palawan, or removed from a previously smashed and junked bus, heated and straightened as best as can be achieved. The buses are then built around the chassis by anyone with even the most rudimentary skills. I have yet to see any two buses that look alike. Nor have I seen a builders name on any bus. Buses, like the other modes of transportation are normally hand-built. As with the jeepney’s, there are no laws applying to how the brake and electric lines are installed or maintained, or whether they must use new rather than used parts.
Safety maintenance checks are non-existent. Bad parts are only replaced after they have failed and the bus has had an accident. And someone’s life is usually forfeited because of the complete lack of concern and maintenance for safety. Profit is the only motivator for bus companies.
As with the jeepneys, bald tires are all too common.
The bus seats may or may not have cushioned seats or backs. It may be just a piece of wood. The seat and back are built at a 90-degree angle to one another, leaving the back stiff and sore.
One bus that Celine rode in on a trip home from Queson had three flat tires before it completed half of the 120 kilometer trip. Celine reported that all the spare tires were bald. When she learned that the driver and the helper were going to take one of the blown-out bald tires and have it patched somewhere, then put it back on the bus - as the fourth tire change of the trip - she flagged down a passing van and rode that the remainder of the way home.
In my opinion, the buses are the most dangerous of the three choices of transportation. Bus drivers are not given any special training to learn how to drive a bus. If they can steer it and shift the gears, they’re qualified to be hired. Bus drivers seem to think that because they are bigger than most other vehicles, they can drive as they please. The buses often drive on the wrong side of the road, especially in the turns. Every single time I ride up into the mountains on my motorcycle, I see buses passing on blind curves, and at the same time at such dangerous speeds that they lean over so far as to fall over on their sides. It happens.
The brakes often fail. Buses side-swipe other vehicles while on the wrong side of the road. Loose, heavy cargo flies off of the roof and hits other vehicles. Buses often wind-up in ravines, rivers or ditches. Many people die every year, or are mangled and disabled with missing limbs. The bus companies carry no or little insurance to cover its customers. The families of the dead, and the injured must seek redress and compensation through the civil court system at their own expense. Few have money for attorney fees and court costs.
I know that I may frighten you with the above information. Well, you should be frightened; at least frightened enough to make good choices and to be both aware and wary of the vehicle you are about to embark on. Fore-warned is fore-armed. Keep you eyes open and look at the tires, and how much cargo is on the roof, etc., before you decide to get on and ride.
You ride any of the three long-distance vehicles at your own risk. And, indeed, it is a risk.
If you are a tourist and you can afford it, one of your smartest moves would be to choose to hire a private commercial van and driver – a service offered by many local travel agencies. It’s by far the safest choice. You can also hire a travel guide to go with you if you wish. I estimate the average cost at about $100 per day for all of the above. You can – and should – control the rate of speed and safe handling by the driver. Plus, you can stop wherever you see a photo opportunity.
If you are a permanent resident, the best thing you can do is to buy either a motor(cycle), van, car or truck and get yourself around. Remember, however, that you will need to grow at least six more eyes in your head (two for each side) to stay aware of the wild and crazy Filipino drivers who will kill the unwary and uninitiated in a New York minute.
NOTE: I got my temporary driver’s license papers in March, 2004. At this time, October, 2005, I am still waiting to get my actual driver’s license identity card. Upon being asked three months ago, the person to whom I must see about getting my I.D. card indicated that one-and-one-half-years was not a terribly long time to have to wait. Patience… patience.

In writing the following two stories, I was forced to write the second story first, then, later I added the first story. The second story only happened days ago, and the details were fresh in my mind. Celine was off shopping and I had it mostly finished by the time she returned. I had to have Celine refresh my memory as I wrote story number one. New details that I was unaware of surfaced, and I realized that the two stories were becoming at times convoluted and redundant.
To straighten out and rearrange the details would make for a more clear story, but would require considerable time to revise. So, instead, I will rely on the reader to sort through the mess and rearrange details and explanations to fit better in his curious mind.
The same bus: It wasn’t until last night when I was almost completely finished writing both stories that Celine told me, in both instances, the bus she was riding was the same bus. Even more amazing was that, in both instances, she was also seated in the exact same seat!
It was the bus from hell! Now, however, it is the bus in hell since, being completely destroyed in the last wreck, it will never roll again. Thank goodness.
So, good reader, do your best to make sense of those seemingly backwards explanations and details. Rik

Play Bus Roulette… at last.

Consider the risk you take when you ride on the typical modes of land transportation throughout the Philippines, as I tell you a story about two recent experiences my darlin,’ Celine, had while traveling in Palawan by bus.

Down The Mountain From Buena Vista

On this particular trip, Celine had gone to Makirawa to see her father who had been quite ill. Celine was very concerned that he might die, because he was losing a lot of weight, and he already is a bone-thin and slight man who only weighs about 40-kilos. Among other things, he was having problems with his heart and his breathing.
Making the return trip, Celine met the bus at Buena Vista, as usual. The bus had traveled only about six kilometers when it came to a place where the highway drops in a long, steep decline. The road, at the bottom, curves in a tight blind curve to the right.
Soon after Celine boarded the bus and seated herself, she noticed that the bus was wandering on the road, crossing over the painted center dividing lines again and again. She watched the driver intently to try to understand why the bus was veering around. Was it because the bus had a mechanical problem? Or was it that the driver was sick or just a horrible driver.
Celine watched carefully so she could make a decision whether to get off of the bus or not, perhaps saving her life.
It wasn’t long before Celine realized what the source of the wandering bus was. It was the two young teen-age girls in tiny mini-skirts and blouses with a deep v-cut that exposed more than a decent Filipina should expose and seated on the bench seat directly behind the driver.
The driver had adjusted his inside mirror for maximum exposure, and he was giving most of his attention to filling his eyes with the tender flesh of the two girl’s thighs.
All men can understand the intense concentration that can consume the attention of a young man when confronted by the toned and shapely legs of a teeny-bopper, and the chance to catch a glimpse of that little mound with a hint of a split at the bottom of a girl’s panties.
We just hope that the one whose attention is so concentrated won’t be the guy whose driving the bus we’re a passenger on while rolling down a mountain road!
According to Celine, the driver eyes were fixated and he gave scant attention to where he was going.
Celine gave thought to either going to the front of the bus and yelling at the driver to keep his eyes forward, or getting off of the bus.
But it was too late to do either.
The driver, distracted as he was, took advantage of the long straight part of the road to feed his lust with the sight of those four fine legs, and didn’t notice that he was on the wrong side of the road, nor did he realize that he was then beginning to enter the blind curve.
Traveling through the blind curve in the opposite direction was a large dump truck filled with gravel. The dump driver, seeing the bus headed towards it had no time to do anything but react by blowing the truck’s horn in a long warning blast.
The bus driver brought his eyes back forward only to see that avoiding the truck was by this time impossible. The truck driver tried to steer to the side of the road and out of the way, but the bus’s trajectory was fixed for collision. There was an ugly grinding between the sides of the truck and the bus as the two vehicles met; the bus hitting the truck just behind the drivers door. The bus scraped along the truck for its full length. During the process of side-swiping the truck, the bus’s back wheel was ripped-off. The left rear of the bus sagged, raising the right front wheel off of the ground, preventing the driver from being able to steer the bus.
Once they separated and passed each other, the truck, now traveling uphill, came to a stop on the side of the road. The bus, having cleared the end of the truck, continued going straight. However, since the bus was at that time going through the curve in the road, the bus drove straight to and over a 50-meter deep cliff which dropped at a very sharp 75-80 degree angle. The bus, while still airborne, rolled over to the left 90-degree’s so that the bottom of the bus was now on the top. The driver had caused the bus to roll as he tried to make a correction to keep the bus on the road.
The bus, now upside down, dropped about 8-meters before it crashed into a large tree that was growing from a rock outcropping. The tree snapped in two and the bus continued another few meters until it hit and was prevented from going further by a stand of four other large trees - the only remaining trees on the outcropping of the rock.
Had the bus gone over the cliff a few meters sooner or a few meters later, it would have plummeted to bottom of the canyon, and ended its fall in the river, with a high probability of killing all those aboard. It was only the passenger’s good fortune – if it could be called such – that they hit the only outcropping of rock on the cliff.
By amazing luck, no one was killed. But, there were many injuries of broken bones and severe lacerations. There were pigs tied on the roof of the bus, being transported to Puerto Princesa to be sold in the market, which were crushed and killed when the bus landed on top of them.
Note: Celine had been seated by the window in the exact same seat as in the second story you’ll read after this one.
When the bus turned over Celine had been holding both the horizontal hand-bar and the vertical hand-bar that is used by those disembarking from the side-door immediately in front of her seat. She also wedged both of her feet under a fold-down seat that hung down over the door-steps and which was used to seat one more passenger. That prevented her from being thrown around inside the bus as it rolled and when it crashed into the trees.
The only injuries to Celine were a few bruises to her legs. She later complained that her hips hurt, but nothing serious came of it.
All of the passengers had to climb out of the bus any way they could and climb back up the cliff. The truck driver was there standing alone watching as the passengers made their way back up to the road. He had used his cell-phone to call the police and for an ambulance.
There were two foreigners on board; a Swiss husband and his wife. The wife was seriously injured with two broken legs. One leg was broken at mid-thigh; the other broken at the shin-bone. The broken bones of both were protruding from her legs.
A private van came along and stopped to offer assistance to carry injured persons to the hospital in Puerto Princesa. They offered to carry the foreign couple. The husband at first refused the ride saying he preferred to wait for the ambulance to arrive and take them to town.
Celine told the Swiss man, “Here in the Philippines, it’s not like the United States. Every time there is an accident and it’s very far from town, they use a helicopter to save them. Here, we have no helicopter; if you wait for the ambulance, you’re wife is going to die. Often-times they don’t have gasoline in the ambulance and it may or may not get all the way here, and it may or may not get back. If you want to live, better you ride in the van rather than wait for the ambulance.”
The Swiss insisted he’d rather wait for the ambulance because it would have trained medical personnel, medical equipment and medicines and oxygen.
Celine could only laugh at the man, as serious as the situation was. She told that man, “The ambulance only carries the driver, a mid-wife and dextrose, and nothing else. No medicine, no pain pills, no oxygen - no nothing. And when you ride in the ambulance, the bed-cart isn’t fixed to the floor, and there are no locks on the wheels. So the bed keeps rolling around, and the mid-wife has to hold onto the bed to keep it from crashing around inside the ambulance.”
The husband was astonished by the description of the ambulance services Celine described to him. “Really?” was all he could say.
“Yeah,” Celine replied. “I live here and know how things are. Believe me… that’s the truth.”
The Swiss man asked Celine if she would ride with them, as she spoke good English and could translate for them. Celine said she would.
They laid the Swiss wife on her back on the middle bench-seat of the van. The husband sat on the floor with her, and Celine sat on the rear seat.
The husband was in a panic. His wife was unconscious. He tried in vain to get her to wake-up, while admonishing the owner of the van to drive faster. The driver spoke no English, so Celine had to tell him what the Swiss man was saying. The driver drove as fast as he safely could, and after one-and-one-half hours they arrived at the Adventist hospital.
The Swiss man didn’t want to let Celine leave, still wanting to use her translation skills to communicate with the nurses. But the nurses spoke English more-or-less enough to understand him.
Celine left the couple in the care of the nurses and the emergency doctor and came home.
When Celine got home she was very upset and shaking, and I held her close to me as I took in her tale. She has had so many close calls with accidents and near accidents involving tricycles, motorcycles, vans, buses, and has come close to being killed so many times…
I was grateful to have her home again and in my arms.

As for the fate of the Swiss couple; we never heard what the final outcome was.

Celine Clings To A Banana Tree

As my regular readers know, I have a fishing banca that works on the coastal waters in northern Palawan, and recently I had two fish cages built in Ulugan Bay. Since I have a bad back and can’t get around to keep an eye on things myself, I rely on Celine to handle my affairs for me. And, as her father, sisters, brothers, and brother’s-in-law are all working for me, with hardly a one able to speak English, it’s better if Celine does the traveling and runs the business. That means that Celine must travel the mountain route north and south on the National Highway by commercial bus, Jeepney or a van.
Last week Celine made one of her trips to Makirawa at Ulugan Bay to see how the building of my second fish-cage was going and the move of my first fish-cage from one place to another. The government made the area where it was off-limits for fishing.
Business and visiting taken care of, Celine began her trip home.
To get home from Makirawa requires one to either take a banca, travel down the bay, then up river to a point where a 3.5-kilometer long trail must be traversed before reaching a place where you can catch a ride to the highway by tricycle or small jeepney. The only other choice is to walk through 8-kilometers of jungle. For obvious reasons Celine doesn’t like to walk through the jungle. It’s not safe for any girl, but a slim, beautiful girl is at high risk for being raped.
The long-distance bus passing from Tay Tay and Roxas in the north on its daily run can transport one the remainder of the way to the terminal on the outskirts of Puerto Princesa.
Buses and commercial jeepney’s are no longer allowed to enter the city as of a year ago. One must then hire a tricycle or ride on the mini-van’s to get home. The mini-van’s are what I call toy trucks. They’re very small, but can carry about ten passengers in the same style as a jeepney – that is, sideways one a long bench seat. They are extremely cheap, costing about ten U.S. cents to ride.

Celine boarded the bus in Buena Vista and made her way over the cartons of food, clothing, sacks of rice, cans of propane, etc., that completely fill the isle of all buses, front to back, until she found a seat by the window just behind the side-exit door. Another woman joined her there, sitting on the bench seat by the isle.
Philippine buses aren’t air-conditioned. Well, they are, but only by virtue of having all of the windows open. The window where Celine sat was open when she sat down. On this particular bus the windows had been made larger than most. As it turned out, that was most fortunate for Celine.
The bus lurched forward and Celine sat back to relax and look out of the window, hoping to be spared any talk with her neighbor or others. Chika-Chika is a national pastime and on any kind of transport, most people take the opportunity to talk and visit with each other, and gossip about mutual friends and acquaintances. This bus ride was no different. However, Celine is a very quiet and private person who detests Chika-Chika, and so she always tries to keep to herself.
Celine watched the world go by through the window, but shifted her attention to the bus after they were going down the steeper part of the mountain road. The bus, she noticed, had picked-up quite a lot of speed and Celine was concerned; knowing how many times the stupid drivers end-up crashing the buses or going off of cliffs. She was particularly concerned this time because of the new, inexperienced driver. Part of the Chika-Chika circulating through the bus was about how the regular driver had refused to drive the bus that day, claming the bus was unsafe. Why it was unsafe apparently no one knew.
The owners of the bus could not be bothered with having the bus checked for unsafe conditions; there’s no profit in that. The bus has to makes its run.

The driver was someone who had been hanging around the terminal hoping to find driving work. At last his chance had come, and he was told to make the run to the northern-most part of the island. Now, on the return back down out of the mountains, he was speeding too fast for the conditions of the road. This was area with many steep and high cliffs. There were a few places that the road ran next to long sloping areas that ran all the way down to the river. It was no place to be recklessly speeding.
Celine was all to aware of the dangers, having already been in one accident that took her over a cliff.
No one except Celine was paying any attention to the bus, the driver or the road. They were too immersed in gossiping or listening to gossip.
The bus continued to pick-up speed. Celine watched the driver. The first thing she noticed was how often he kept looking back at the passengers in the rear-view mirror, and his frightened eyes. Celine leaned forward and to the left so she could look down the isle and see the driver better. She saw that the driver was pumping the brake pedal furiously, and the pedal was going all the way to the floorboard. She looked in the mirror; the eyes of the driver were even bigger now and more frightened. It was obvious to Celine, now, that something was very wrong.
Celine called to the driver, “Driver, do you have brakes or wala (nothing)?” The driver didn’t answer, but only stared in the mirror, wild eyed, at Celine. He seemed frozen to the wheel.
Celine watched him continue to pump the brakes, but the bus, rather than slowing down, was still gaining speed.
Celine shouted to the other passengers, “The bus has no brakes!”
They just looked at her.
“The bus has no brakes!” she again shouted, louder this time.
The passengers paid no attention and kept on with Chika-Chika.
Celine turned to the woman next to her. ”You’d better jump from the bus. There’s no brakes.”
The woman acted as if she didn’t understand. Celine repeated the words to the woman, and the woman told Celine that she wasn’t about to jump from that bus.
Celine stood up on the seat, turned around and shouted repeatedly to the people in the back of the bus, “The bus has no brakes!” Crouching down, Celine grabbed her back pack and threw it through the open window. Then, putting one foot on the window sill she put most of her body out of the window and, using her foot, launched herself from the bus. An instant before she kicked-off, her view was to the rear of the bus. She noticed a teen-age girl hurling herself from a rear window. She saw the helper lean over the roof and look down at both girls. He immediately jumped. Celine then pushed herself with her foot and flew through the air. She was now moving through space, the road rushing passed beneath her.
Celine looked forward to see where was headed. She immediately saw a banana tree rushing up to her on the side of the road. Reaching out, she grabbed a hanging banana leaf with both hands. Since she was moving forward both she and the banana leaf continued to the trunk of the tree. When her body slammed hard against the trunk, Celine wrapped both of her legs around the truck and locked onto it.
She watched as the bus continued about ten meters before it left the road, dropped over the edge, and 50-meters down a 45-degree slope, picking up speed, bouncing wildly, the cargo on the roof flying-off in all directions until it entered the river and came to a halt after and crashing against a large 10-meter high boulder. Steam rose from the front of the bus which was now crushed inward.
Some local people, along with the riders of a passing van rushed down the slope to assist the people who remained in the bus. Others ran to aid of the helper and the girl who had jumped from the bus and were now lying on the road, bleeding from their injuries.
The passengers were removed from the bus and helped or carried back up to the road.
Fifteen to twenty minutes had passed by this time since the accident.
Celine, still gripping the banana leaf and in a complete state of shock, heard a voice say, “Hey, woman, what are you doing in that banana tree, are you from that bus, too?” Looking down to see a woman looking up at her, Celine thought, “Oh, that woman is talking to me. That means I’m still alive, and not dead.”
The woman continued, “Come down, now. It’s already fine, and we already called an ambulance to help the people. How did you get up there in that banana tree? You’re like a monkey hanging there in that banana tree.”
Celine lowered herself down the tree trunk. The woman repeated her question, and Celine replied, ”I don’t know. I think I jumped.”
Celine didn’t realize at that moment that she had actually jumped from the bus window or had grabbed the leaf of the banana tree. She was so frightened that she had been hanging with that banana leaf in her frozen fingers for more than twenty minutes.
Walking to the edge of the road, Celine looked down at the destroyed bus, and around at all of the passengers laying and sitting along the side of the road.
Three were dead and many were bleeding from serious injuries. One boy had had his arm severed. A foreign woman, who was on vacation with her husband or boyfriend, had a metal pipe protruding from her upper chest. There were many facial injuries, broken teeth and jaws.
The driver had been killed instantly. The woman, who had been sitting beside Celine, was killed when the side-door’s hand-rail pipe was ripped-off and sent completely through from one side of her head to the other - sticking out some eight inches. The third was a young teen-age girl.
The girl, who had leaped from the rear window after seeing Celine jump, broke her knee and exposed bones from protruding from one elbow. Both ankles were broken.
The helper, who’d leaped from the roof, had one broken ankle – the other sprained, and was bleeding from his head. He stood at that time, however, and in a daze said that the real driver didn’t want to drive the bus because something was wrong with it; that he wanted the bus checked before it left. The owner told him that they had lots of passengers and he had to drive. But, the driver refused. The helper then said he should have listened to the driver and not gone along on the trip, then sat down on the road.
We later learned he had suffered a concussion and had slipped into a coma. Whether he lived is unknown to me.

Three days after the accident, Celine’s sister, Baby, came to the house. She knew that Celine had been on that bus. She’d heard about the accident on the radio and traveled from Makirawa to see if Celine was among the dead..
Baby told Celine about the radio’s news report, describing it in detail. The last piece of the story was about a “Miracle Girl” who had somehow landed in a banana tree and was completely unhurt. No one knew the identity of the “Miracle Girl in the Banana Tree.”
Celine laughed and told Baby, “That miracle girl was me. I was the one hanging in the banana tree.”
The truly frightening thing about the two bus accidents Celine was involved in is that it was the same bus involved in both accidents. Still, in neither accident, was Celine hurt in any way. Amazing…

Sunday, October 02, 2005
I did some editing of this article this morning but couldn’t finish because Celine wanted me to drive her up to Santa Cruz to check on some of her younger siblings. Two boys, age 14 and 10, and one sister, age 9, are living by themselves and going to school while the parents are living in Makirawa, some 36-kilometers away. That isn’t considered unusual in the Philippines. Life is very different here.
While I was driving through the mountains I was thinking about this article. I decided to do a survey of the commercial transport vehicles I passed on the trip.
Of all I saw while going through a blind curve, all were well over the center lines; and all were speeding. Even while driving on a straight stretch, all but one vehicle was over the lines on the wrong side of the road.
I saw one bus come around a curve up ahead of me that looked so strange. It looked as if the bus was on ice and the back was trying to “slide’ around to the front. I soon saw that the chassis frame was so bent that the rear wheels were a full 18 to 20-inches off center!

Things such as these two stories are all too common. Much too common. Death is always lurking nearby in the Philippines. One can never be too careful when traveling in the city and on the highways.
It’s the responsibility of the foreign traveler to keep his eyes and ears open at all times and to protect himself from all of the many types of accidents that, in their own country, would only occasionally happen through a freak accident, but is a daily way of life here.

Although I have written a truly frightening report that should concern every tourist and expatriate, I also don’t want to scare you off from coming here to visit or to live.
Things are as they are, and there’s no getting around that. But not everyone dies in some horrible accident. I, for one, have never been in an accident, although there have been plenty of near misses.
By all means, come to the Philippines and enjoy yourself. It is a wonderful place. You only have to be aware, wary and careful. Don’t be so busy being the ogling tourist that you don’t pay attention to what’s around you, or the vehicle you’re about to get into.
If you have a bad feeling about riding in a tricycle, bus or jeepney, don’t get in it. Follow your intuition. There’s always another that will be along shortly.
Use your good common sense, and you’ll be fine.