Monday, December 27, 2004

Island Observations

Staying 8 days in this island has made Dutchman and I so exasperated. Life’s poignant reality really exist. Here are the three main depressing subjects that we noticed.

Lack of Business Initiative

It is quite noticeable that a number of the local owned resorts and bar-restaurants are lacking in lustre and ingenuity. They are left standing stationary with none or very little maintenance and some even looked deadbeat to me. It is such a pity when you look at the pristine nature cascading right in front of these establishments... crystal-like blue waters... and the chaste white sand... what a waste.

Moreover, these businesses can easily increase their profit by utilizing the extra mile effort at a very low cost.

How? Well create an ambience to attract customers! For many foreigners and local tourists, ambience is the come on signal.

“ …clean the beach regularly from debris, rake the sand, bring out the sun beds and place them by the beach, arrange and decorate the tables and chairs of the cottages facing the beach with appealing table linen tops and candle lights, etcetera… and lastly, employ some good music in the atmosphere… ”

It’s all about packaging and marketing but sadly none of these locally owned resorts and bar restaurants have a damn clue. There are only a couple of places that are customer magnets and most of them were owned and managed by foreigners, most often than not, Europeans.

There was this really cool bar restaurant managed by a gay Pinoy. He has a meticulous eye on details and was always calling his staff’s attention to focus on the customer. His partner was Swiss, a gay too. I think they are lovers.

Local Filipino By-standers

There was this Englishman who sitting beside us in a bar restaurant, he was complaining with a loud voice to his local friends that he could not play pool (billiards) whilst pointing his finger across the street towards the pool establishment. He continued to talk saying the local Filipino men are playing non-stop and are not giving chances to others.

Ah, I can sympathize with him because ever since we arrived in this island, I have seen these Filipino by-standers playing early in the morning until 2am. It seems that this is their life and nothing else more.

I do wonder where they get their money to pay for each game? Looking at these individuals, we don’t have to squeeze our brains to think if they have. It amazes me that they are so content with playing pool the whole day. Perhaps this is some sort of addiction?

And what about those other guys just sitting idly in the benches of the bars or standing glued by varied business establishments like statues by the streets?

Kanto boys (street boys or by-standers). They can surely do better than by hanging their lazy butts by looking for a job!

Modern Day Prostitution

Whenever I see a mismatched couple in the beach, I still think with naivety that they are real lovers on a weekend getaway, but the scrupulous Dutchman says so otherwise. With his observant trained eye and 6th sense, he can see through the ethereal of things.

Like our next-door neighbour in the resort… the foreign guy, a middle age German... the girl, early 20’s Filipina. She looked somewhat shy and decent so I thought, “She must be the wife or the GF.” But little did I know that she wasn’t?

I found out later that she was a local and as the Dutchman pointed out earlier, a prostitute. Good lord geezus, it’s pretty hard to distinguish them. They look and act like girlfriends!

But wait, I am not only talking about foreign men with young Filipina prostitutes. We also saw a number of foreign men with older Filipina prostitutes and get this, foreign men with young Filipino-male prostitutes too!

Well, as I write (in a cottage by the beach), my next cottage neighbor is occupied by a foreign white man, middle 40’s and looks like a banker to me. With him is a young Filipino lad, perhaps around 19 or 20 years of age. Now why is it that I have a gut feel that something is not right with this picture?

The other night too, in the bar right across where we were sitting, Dutchman and I witnessed a very drunk older prostitute trying to negotiate a deal with her elusive 55-ish prospect. Uh, much to her chagrin, he turned her down.

Reality of things suck, really.

We are leaving PANGLAO ISLAND in BOHOL today for Cebu.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Paradise Island

Ah, where Dutchman and I are right now on the face of the earth. In Panglao Island, Bohol...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Double Jeopardy

Ever since we arrived in hot sunny Philippines, the earth’s axis was probably not in a harmonious sync with the rest of the solar system.

Toilet Relations Part 1 and The Car Ride

On our 2nd day in Manila, I suffered stomach pains. Luckily the LBM - Loose Bowel Movement (sort of slight Diarrhea) wheeled only into semblance just after my brother’s wedding, which was on the 3rd day.

Foto from

Thinking about it, I was glad as I simply cannot handle re-visiting the toilet every dang 30 minutes during the wedding nor would I want to cry wolf while I am on stage adorning my brother and my now sister in law with the chord of love. Worse, I can’t call myself to imagine making a public spectacle, squirting the superfluous filthy matter on the wedding stage! (such horrible thoughts) That would be the end of my untarnished reputation! The thought actually makes me sick to my nerves, aaaaaahh...

One of the nightmares of any tourist, expat or balikbayan (returning Filipino resident): LBM-Diarrhea and its effects in public.

The whole week my tummy was in a circular dancing motion. Every few hours I feel a tight excruciating pain twisting my intestine muscles languidly. On the 4th day, I spent the whole day rushing to and fro to the toilet and a whole week of frequent re-visitations, making the toilet my newfound home in the Philippines.

In Cebu, right after dinner with my parents, ‘twas around the 11th hour, I begged my father to speed up the car because my tummy is again for the ‘nth time doing somersaults. I need the asylum of a toilet, really fast. I was already breathing so heavy and sour because I was trying to delay nature’s process of disengaging any unwanted substance down there. Twisting, grousing and holding on to the backseat while my mother and the Dutchman were laughing heartlessly over my predicament.

“I am NOT joking! If you don’t want the insides of this car become a toilet scare with all of you covered with my faeces --which by the way are crying to be let out right now, then get me to the toilet REALLY FAST!”, I threatened them.

I can just imagine how lurid it is, thinking of sweet revenge from their laughing mockery… the wet, slimy, thick, sticky and stinky substance covering up their naughty laughing faces.

I don’t think my father loved the idea above so with his full might, he pressed his foot on the gas pedal and gunned down the car on the less busy highway to home.

Upon arrival, I stormed into the toilet and delivered the most urgent and awaited message. Aaahh, it was such a RELIEF. I would have loved to detail this exceptionally satisfying incident, but instead I will refer you to this old entry, A closer Toilet look.

“You must have eaten something terribly bad?” says my mother.

“I don’t know, I have eaten so many that I don’t know anymore which of which made me sick.”, I said.

“Could be the water too...” chimed in the Dutchman.

Oh well, this is always the case for many returning Filipino residents. One must be careful not to just eat any food or drink any water. Check the source always.

OFF to the Paradise Island…

So off we went to our island resort getaway. For privacy reasons, I will only divulge the island later. The world is smaller than you and I think.

The island’s weather was perfect, warm and inviting. The sea, very calm and blue and the beach, white and pure. The island locals were all smiling showing their white teeth against their orange brown skin, a product of daily exposure to the sun and bathing in the sea.

Our resort was satisfactory than expected. For only P1,800 a day (€24/US$32) we have hot and cold shower, an A/C, a large balcony facing the beach which is 300 meters away and a daily cleanup and change of the sheets.

“Nothing can go wrong this time.” I told myself. “Now that my tummy has behaved (after 1 week of tribulation), Dutchman and I can enjoy this week’s holiday.”

But I was wrong, very wrong.

Toilet Relations Part 2 and The Hospital from Hell

The afternoon when we arrived in the island I felt an unusual tingling sensation when I urinated. I already feared the tangible. I have experienced the same thing in Phuket, Thailand 3 years ago when Dutchman and I, (we were at that time still in the long distance dating rush), rendezvoused for a 3-week holiday. We couldn’t understand a word of Thai, so we searched haphazardly for a clinic with its sign written in English. Thankfully, they have those medical crosses as symbols for the clinics.

“I am afraid I have UTI.” I told Dutchman as I emerged from the toilet.

“Huh, what?” Dutchman replied looking up. He is reading the PC Magazine.

“UTI-Urinary Tract Infection, remember Phuket Thailand?” I reminded him.

“Oh yeah right… we need to go to a doctor then.” He said closing the magazine and putting it down.

True enough on the 2nd day, I suffered again the toilet sprint syndrome, making the toilet for the 2nd week holiday my temporary island home. But not only was I obliged to pee every 30 minutes to an hour, I also have to endure the severe searing pain that goes with it, it’s last drop producing a mightier sting with traces of blood. When I saw the light blood droplets in the porcelain bowl and the blood smears on the tissue, I knew it… I really have the dreaded UTI.

I pondered and wondered if the gods of urine and excrement made a secret pact to conspire and wage war against me. What have I done?! It just sounded so strange... the events following me, which are right after the other, it’s timing and precision are similar to unlocking the codes of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa’s smile.

So that afternoon, the Dutchman and I boarded for the city to go to the nearest hospital. The city is by the way situated in another island. Ah well, another day lost, I reckon. But this trip is urgent because without medication I will suffer the chills that evening. I must be medicated ASAP.

The driver drove to a stop in the mid section of the driveway of the hospital. We alighted and gave instructions for him where to pick us up later.

The hospital loomed into me… it was dark and eerie, somewhat dilapidated with traces of rust and unfinished structure and the smell emanating in the premises doesn’t give you the customary hospital scent but instead of a strange whiff of deficiency and a nauseated agitation of grime. The narrow hallway was filled with people waiting for their turn. The whole place reeked with poverty. It was a pitiful sight.

I tugged the already uneasy Dutchman along. He didn’t like the idea of a hospital in almost ruins state.

When we we entered the OPD (Out Patient Department) full of sickly looking individuals, the Dutchman totally went berserk. A girl behind a curtain just within our reach, not even 2 meters away was moaning and coughing endlessly. There was an old man was in front of us with a black-blue cheekbone and a thick bandage around his head covering his eye making him look like a lost half pirate. Beside us were the other patients. The place was over crowded and Dutchman became more overwrought. He was worried of all the bacteria floating in the air!

The OPD was adjacent to the ER (Emergency Room) through an alcove where nurses and doctors can freely pass. I think Dutchman had his worst real life nightmare seeing what an ER is like in this hospital. I can’t blame him, I too was scandalized!

Having said that, I dare not discuss more about this hellhole of a hospital except that I don’t think they can ever pass the required building and sanitation certifications nor their ER was equipped with the needed instruments and equipments. And to think this was the so-called private exclusive hospital the locals told me to go because they were more respected and what, pricey(?).

After much prodding, the Dutchman exited and waited outside. He did not care that he was under the hot rays of the sun and the pollution from the tricycles and cars. He felt safer, haha, poor Dutchman.

I too am really glad that I don’t have to be treated in this place. I have no ounce of trust on any of their devices. I might suffer from tetanus!

I only had Urinalysis (which is an hour wait for the results); and a doctor’s Consultation for the prescription.

Also, I almost threw up when I used their toilet, it was so primitive and I am damn sure that there were many living microorganisms lurking in every corner. I wanted to get out of there fast. All I need: Urinalysis result + Prescription... then I can buy the medicines.

Day 3 in paradise island and I am feeling much better (thus writing this, I am actually by the beach under a cottage). The antibiotics worked. I expect a full recovery at the end of the week.

5 more days for this holiday and 3 more days to Christmas…. hopefully this getaway will turn into a nice remarkable one.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Hey everyone! I am finally in busy and polluted Manila! Oh God, it's terrible... the maniacal traffic and unadulterated pollution is driving us nuts, lol. But, but I am absolutely happy to be finally back HOME.

Before I further jump into my culture shock litany of entries, I have some really spicy news to share: Cafe HAVANA in Greenbelt Makati, the meeting point to watch, a MUST. The place is screaming and flying with hookers!!!!

In the mornings the place is usually quiet. Innocent and scrupulous under the tropical sun. The metamorphosis begins around 7PM, right after dinner when guests, mostly foreigners flock. The cafe-retaurant turns into bar in the evening.

Aliens in all ages, colours, sizes and what have you, frolic openly with these notorious creatures. If we scaled these women from 1 to 10 on beauty, body and personality, many are between 0 and 6. (edit: although recently you can see really good looking ones)

I guess I am in shock state... to see the meat trade unfold right before my very eyes in Cafe Havana. Quite interesting, educational and fun too, I admit, lol.

Tomorrow, we are off to Cebu, then to the paradise island for our Christmas retreat.

So stay tuned!

PS: FPJ (Fernando Poe Jr, the ex presidential candidate and ex action, the king moviestar) just died yesterday.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Off to Manila

So off we go tonight to the Philippines! I am not yet in the travel mode since, a. we have yet to pack, a daunting task that I love and hate b. I still have no pasalubongs (the “you owe them gifts”). Maybe I buy some Gouda cheese?

I also brought with me the Da Vinci Code book that I bought 2 weeks ago. Thanks to both ladies with initials C-K for the tip. I managed to control the urge not to even take a peek. I will start reading the book during the flight and will give a review about it here after.

What’s waiting for us in the Philippines, 26C-30C temperature! Eat your 'jasjes' (coats) out!
Dutchman is also bringing his back-up tool/s for work emergencies and for my vanity too. I am just wondering how many people have unsecured wireless connections so I can surf freely, although wireless would be an issue in the Philippines. But anyways, I plan to spend spend some time on the thing that I promised myself to write almost a year ago.

I will not be on AWOL (absence without leave) in this bloody blogging diversion. I will probably be updating this blog every 3-4 days and perhaps blog hop if time permits.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Tale of the 3 Dressoirs

In June of this year I bought a teak dressoir (buffet table) as a birthday present for myself, in effect it was also a gift for the flat. The design was in the lines of minimalism – modern, simple, functional, yet aesthetically with a streak of sophistication. I complemented it with a 2-meter mirror, it's 2.5 inch framework exquisitely done in silver. Massive!

The idea was to create an atmosphere of tranquility, space and co-habitation with nature in our living room. Walls are immaculate off-white, which I would hate to taint them with reckless paintings and knick-knacks. So, the 2-meter mirror is supposed to capture the breathing nature outside due to the fact that it faces the window wall, which by the way displays a spectacular view in the evening with all the lined up buildings across the highway. The city lights make me alive, it makes me - ME. I don´t think I can ever live in a normal house. I have always lived high up and intend to live the same. If I win the lotto (reminds me that I need to start buying the tickets!), I will buy a huge penthouse in the middle of Amsterdam Centrum. I am nothing less than an incarnate city girl, and so is the Dutchman, a city boy.

Here´s the tale of the 3 dressoirs, which I laboriously waited, for an unprecedented 7 months (Or could be more? Hope not!).

Hartog Wonen, the meubel bedrijf (furniture company) has a 2-3 months wait period for build to order furniture. Relent not, well I did, arguably because I lost already so many months in this lengthy dressoir search. I felt like I was on a perpetual hunt for something that probably never existed nor was I willing to subject myself to buy those uniformed dressoirs bedecked in the window stalls of every dang furniture shop. God, I hated that, I was so tempted, and still am, to write a complaint letter to whatever association that holds them together. They need to rehash their design teams, employ fresh blood and not copy each other!

So then, September, a shy of 3 months from the date we ordered it, came the letter that the item is ready to be delivered. Dutchman volunteered to receive it since there was little or no chance for me to get a free day. I have eaten up all my holidays for the upcoming trip.

The surprise: The dressoir won't fit in the lift!

It was too huge and heavy, 2.20-meters pure teak wood. The delivery men didn't even consider bringing the piece manually since we are on the 10th floor, which if translated to the standard building floor count outside Europe, is factually on the 11th floor. The only possible solution was to hire a crane and elevate the dressoir to the 7th floor ONLY, after which it has to be taken by hand to its final destination.

The Dutchman in panic quickly got on the phone with me. “I did not expect it to be this HUGE!” He screamed into the line.

“So, what´s the plan then?” I asked him.

“I will complain about expectations.” He quipped and hanged up.

My phone rang again after a few minutes. “Hartog is willing to replace the dressoir at zero cost for a smaller one, about 1.80-meters. Is that fine with you?” He asked.

Me, thinking… “Sheeeet, why do I have to make decisions like this so fast? I spent half the year searching for this dang thing, and now I am being tasked to decide in a split of a minute if I want the smaller size. Don´t men know that we women have this propensity to visualize things and that requires time?”

“OK...” I muttered in resignation. “Good, then the dressoir will be delivered in November as per Hartog´s advice.” he said.

Another 2.5 months wait. The looks of it, it´s going to be a saga in the making… and I just earned a mileage in Murphys Law strike 1.

November came and Dutchman was off again to receive the delivery men and the most awaited prized item. They were on time and the item fit *whew* perfectly in the lift. Dutchman was satisfied and was grinning with his mouth stretched end to end when I entered the foyer as I came home. The smell of teak filled the living room air, quite relaxing to the senses. And woman as I am, I began inspecting the object and was really pleased. My waiting efforts have ended, it was justifiable, nevertheless. “Now we can hang the mirror and empty my kitchen cupboards (wine glasses, liquors, and all that can bring you in high spirits) and put them in their new home, the dressoir.” I thought.

But the tiny silver handles were not screwed in, which was supposed to be part of the package, from what we learned later. So, Dutchman the techie who can never or pretends to be a handyman tried screwing the first of the 3 sets of handles in.

“Shit!” He screamed. “I think there is a crack!

There was indeed a crack between the screwed in handle and the edged side of the door. Bad news, the crack is a very weak point and with constant use it will for sure give away. There is no way to gamble with this since the item was also quite expensive. Should I be mortified? Murphys Law strike 2.

How must I respond to this? @&%$^±€§?! GGRRRRR! How else!? The Dutchman was in fact in a terrible state than me. He is fuming and smoke is coming out of his white ears.

But the good news, the dressoir is covered with warranty. *Sigh of relief*

The woman handling the returns in Hartog was in a choleric harassed mode when Dutchman called back again to give the bad message. I can imagine! This will be the 3rd attempt. As much as I would love to pity her endless plight with this order, moi the customer comes first!

So, the verdict…. the unyielding and unending saga continues.

We will get the replacement in January 2005, the 3rd dressoir, and hopefully there is NO Murphys Law strike 3 this time.

In the meantime, the dressoir with the crack is standing in our dining area unused like a dys/unfunctional piece of unwanted furniture.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Direct Non-Stop and Harassed

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is flying direct non-stop to and fro Manila!

Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (don't bother to pronounce it) otherwise known as -Royal Dutch Airlines- began this new route offer last November, flying 7x a week from Amsterdam’s Schiphol to Manila’s NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport).

The one and only daily and direct non-stop flight, Manila - Europe brags an approximate 13 hours travel time. A huge difference compared to the normal 1 stop over flight of approximately 19 to 22 hours travel time. That’s more than 6 hours saved.

KLM has also recently upgraded their airline fleet to Boeing 777-200ER.

The new KLM Boeing 777-200ER (extended range) flying direct non-stop from Amsterdam to Manila 7x a week.

KLM was one of the last few airlines to upgrade their fleet, probably because of the very simple reason - they are Dutch, thus they are naturally "zuinig" (thrifty - kuripot po!)

Well I am really to the fore for this Saturday’s flight but right now I feel like I am stretched between two worlds, of being in the holiday euphoric mode and being grounded for the next two days attending to the mundane everyday life and work.

I still have heaps of things arrange. The Dutchman is of course busy nagging at me. If he doesn’t stop, he’s going to hear from me some rehearsed Dutch curses -lol.

Oh, I also have to buy the dreaded pasalubongs (some sort of “you owe them gifts” hehe). Just thinking about that makes me lose my grip. I haven’t bought a single thing yet and I am not Sinterklaas!? Toch?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Real Tired

The title describes how I feel this weekend. I didn't even had the time to do my favorite chore - BLOGGING. Maybe I should just starting posting every 2 to 3 days?


From the great Sinterklaas event last Saturday at my schoonouders (in laws), aahh that was refreshing childhood de ja vu's...... to grocery shopping with Dutchman and letting him wait endlessly with the cart, in a corner, while I hop and tinker around from one store to the other hehe - don't they the men just hate that?...... to Sunday shopping (again) in Amsterdam with a friend, scoured the city for that wanted ensemble and got it...... starving, we ordered this Chinese menu "E" and they rationed us with food that can last us for a week!...... and the final stop, Utrecht, showed my friend the famous Oudegracht (Old Canal) and the Dom Toren (Dom Tower) and we proceeded home for dinner.

Soooo... I will have to gather back my brains before I can pull up an entry about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, and update the foto's. Perhaps tomorrow...

Friday, December 03, 2004

Hello Amsterdam

After a glass of Bacardi at work (yeah did I told you we have a pub at work), I went to Amsterdam to do my last minute shopping for the greatest Dutch event of the year --- Sinterklaas. I also need to start hunting for the frock to wear to my brothers wedding.

The Amsterdam Grand Central Station, where I alighted.

I actually felt a release of exhilarants when I stepped into the cobbled and bricked roads of Amsterdam Centrum. The feeling is quite familiar to me... kind of like the feeling I experience everytime I set foot back in Manila.

The throng of crowds, the energetic and cosmopolitan feel, the rustic architecture ambience, the multi-cultural backdrop, the assemblage of old and new... the city, uninhibited and preposterous to the outside world - that’s Amsterdam.

Once the Post Office of Amsterdam, this beautiful building is now a commercial center called Magna Plaza. I was here earlier shopping!

Shopping is really nice in Amsterdam because the main shops are clustered together. It is also a challenge, the many variety of stores can make the untrained shopper dizzy.

I will talk more about Sinterklaas tomorrow, but for the inquisitive ones, I will give a quick prologue... he is kind of like the Dutch version of Santa Claus and pay attention to this, he is supposed to come from Spain, and not from the north pole of Lapland, Finland.

Tot dan! ;-)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Be Safe. Be Responsible.

Use me! Use me! Please! Trust me, I won't fail you!!!

So if you get sex-lucky today, DO NOT forget to pick any of the following palatable choices: the Creme -brulee addiction on the left or the Chocolate -mousse delight on the right.

Which one is it you like? Or do you want the cherry and strawberry flavors?

The message of the day: Be safe. Be responsible.

World AIDS Awareness Day

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