This is an entry in my **Philippines 2010 travel diary*. This travel diary is written as one, so it may be long winded at times and include references to things that are not general knowledge. Thanks for reading!*
I left Bogo Sunday morning to go to the wharf where I would catch my ferry. I arrived there around 10 AM so that I could catch the 11 AM ferry. But when they said 11 AM they really meant 1 PM, so I sat in the shade, drinking a couple sodas and talking with some of the guys that worked at the wharf.
When I start talking to the locals this is usually how a conversation goes:
Me: Good day! How are you?
Them: Good. Oh you know you to speak Visaya. Where are you coming from?
Me: Cebu, but I’m from the US.
Them: Oh you have a Filipina wife then in Cebu.
Me: No, I don’t have a wife, I just arrived in Cebu last week.
Them: You have a girlfriend in Cebu?
Me: No, I have a girlfriend back in the US.
Them: She’s Filipina?
Me: No, she’s American.
Them: But you have a girlfriend here who’s Filipina right?
Me; No, I only have one girlfriend!
Them: Well how do you know how to speak Visaya?
Me: I was a Mormon missionary in Bacolod back in 2004-2006.
Them: Oh, that’s it. (to others) He’s a missionary.
Me: I’m not a missionary now, I was a missionary for 2 years back in 2004.
Them: Oh you’re not a Mormon anymore?
Me: Yes, I still am, I’m just not a missionary anymore.
Every time I speak to them they always ask about my Filipina wife and my Filipina girlfriends. It’s just rare I guess for a Westerner to be there visiting if he’s not there for a girl or with his wife. And it’s funny that they still assume that even if I have a girlfriend back in the US I’d be here for another one. I guess a lot of the guys who come here are looking to add to their stash. That’s basically how every conversation I have here in the Philippines has started out.
On Bogo wharf, after I paid about 700 php to get my bike across to Leyte, I loaded it up on the ferry.
The ferry ride was a bit long but it was cool and peaceful. I even fell asleep for a while. I met a couple guys who were fun to talk to (note, the conversation started exactly as I described above).
We caught a glimpse of a bunch of dolphins cavorting about near our ship. I wish I could have gotten a better shot of them but as it is I got a little bit of video from the ferry. Watch it in 720p if you can.
After we landed we grabbed a bite to eat, Pork Adobo and Goat Caldereta, it wasn’t bad. While we were eating an old lady came up and asked for some money. I am hesitant to give money, but I don’t mind giving food so I asked if she was hungry and she nodded, so I asked her what she wanted to eat. She said she just wanted fish, and the place we ate at didn’t have any fish so I gave her 20 pesos. John said she was Muslim and that’s why she only wanted fish. I didn’t connect the head scarf to the fact that she was Muslim. She looked pretty happy and shuffled away, I suppose to buy some fish.
After we ate we hopped on my bike and rode up to Tabango, Leyte where John’s family lived. It only took about 45 minutes. It was a typical Filipino town house. We sat inside and John said I could sleep there. I accepted, since it was getting dark anyway.
His family cooked dinner of buwad, a small fish that is dried in the sun and sold per kilo, then fried before being eaten (incredibly smelly), a delicious eggplant dish, and several other dishes with, of course, rice. They offered me some rum, and I told them no thanks, after which John’s sister piped up with “you know, I always start to shake when I can’t get rum by 5 o’clock”. She was a nun for a while…
After dinner we went up onto the balcony with John’s nieces and his brother. His brother was drunk after a short time and I noticed his right hand was missing a few fingers. I asked him what happened, and he told me a very interesting story. He was a chief security guard in Bulacan at a cement plant; he was about 30. He had a lady who would wash and cook for him who was about 55 aaaaaand, they started living together. He said that she took care of him like a mother and he was like her child, which makes their un-filial relationship even more strange. Fast forward a few years, and they’re managing his parent’s coconut farm near Ormoc, Leyte. Out of the blue they’re both attacked by one of the help on the farm, her head is cut off and he barely survives, spending a month in the hospital. He was drunk enough by now that I couldn’t really tell if I was understanding him correctly. Later that night I asked John about it and he confirmed what I thought I had heard, and added that his brother’s wife was a very bad lady, and that she had put things in his brother’s food so that he would fall under her spell. I asked him if the man who attacked his brother and sister in law was ever caught, and he answered that no, he hadn’t been caught.
At this point I was a little weirded out by everything I had witnessed and decided it was time to go to bed. John prepared my bed, which I was uncomfortable to see was the same as his. It was a mat on the floor just under a massive shrine to Mother Mary. It was wide enough that we weren’t right next to each other, but still… I was getting concerned. I lay down and so did he, when he said “I can give you a massage.” AAHH! I said, “No thanks.” He countered with, “I can just give you one after you go to sleep,” which officially, certifiably, unequivocally freaked me out. I simply responded with, “no, don’t”. I stayed awake for a long time, wide eyed staring at the ceiling, jumping at every move he made.
Around 12am I thought it was safe to sleep, but now I couldn’t because there was a truck driving around blaring political messages from one of the candidates (elections are coming up) and sleeping on the hard floor was not easy. I put on some Enya (sleeping music for me) and tried, but every once in a while John would move and put his arm on me – thinking back on it my skin crawls – I didn’t know what was going on! He’s not gay, because in the Philippines homosexuals are full on cross-dressers; he was just expressing his famous Filipino friendliness, but it just really disturbed me.
In the morning I left after eating some eggs and showering. I was very relieved to be out of there. I don’t know if my uneasiness was from the culture shock or something else, but I felt great after I got on the road. Before I left though, I took a picture to remind myself of this very unique experience Despite my discomfort, the Mativo family was very hospitable to me.
On the road I saw some more of beautiful Leyte. I really like Leyte, what I’ve seen so far of it. I did get a little lost, finding my way to Ormoc instead of Tacloban. I figured out how to get back on the right path and arrived in Tacloban around 2pm on Monday.
As you might have noticed, some of the clouds in the above pictures look a little ominous. It started raining very hard a couple hours outside of Tacloban and so I pulled over to a small shack full of Filipinos hiding from the rain. The picture below was taken after the rain had stopped and most had left, but there were over 16 of us huddled underneath, safe and dry beneath the nipa roof. I started a conversation with them while under the roof, and guess how it started?
After the rain break I quickly got back on the road and arrived in Tacloban safe and sound. I read in my guidebook that Welcome Home Pensione was a good place to stay so that’s where I am right now. Tuesday night I ate at an all-you-can eat place which was pretty good and went back to my room and slept. Wednesday morning I slept in and then chatted with Julie on IM and even had a webcam chat with her. It was really nice to see her face I even got to see Charlie! The little rapscallion.
I’ll be here in Tacloban for a few days, my laundry will be done tomorrow but I might get some pants made here for next Sunday so we’ll see when I actually leave. I’ll head up north for a few days into Samar before heading south to Mindanao to continue my libot of the Philippines.