Sunday, 30 December 2007

New year's eve........................

Yesterday was a record text day for me as I received over 150 texts... too many !

It's just after 6am, the only reason that I am up at this time is because I got a text at 4.50am !!! saying good morning.........yea right... it didn't feel like it and I told them so. You may be thinking well why doesn't he just turn his phone off when he goes to sleep.... of course I could but my phone has a talking clock and it's great for during the night, I can find out the time without opening my eyes !!!!

I had a lazy day as it was Sunday, I did my usual thing, into Glorietta with my Sunday paper (Manila enquirer) straight into McCafe..... a nice big fancy coffee and a long read... constantly interrupted by texts.
After that I went to my barbers... really big place with over 15 cutters, they do everything there, haircutting...all types, manicure, pedicure, foot spa and massage.
I had a trim and a back massage, the same guy does both, the cost is £3.25, thats why I can afford to go there often, I can have that done 4 times and it still costs less than 1 haircut in the UK.

Today is New Year's Eve, there is a big street party here in Makati, with lots of fun and food stalls. There is a huge firework display, an american here describes as a remake of WW2. The only hassle is that one of the bad groups have threatened to bomb it.... they just want to spoil our fun or they would just do it without a warning, anyway the mayor has got 700 police and emergency people on duty in the area just in case. Can you imagine what it's going to be like... is that a firecracker no it's a bomb....oops !! Well I will be taking a video of it as I will be down there this evening.

This will all be happening at 4pm UK time so Happy New Year to all in the UK at that time.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Weekend again

Another weekend, they seem to come round so quickly when you're not working !!

I've just looked out the window......... the sun is shining again !! Too hot, have to have the aircon on and the fans too. I bet in the uk the central heating is starting to be used again.

I keep threatening to do a post on texting, as the past couple of days have been quiet regarding my own activities I will do the post now.

Texting in the Phils.

Texting seems to be a way of life the world over, here in the phils they have taken it to another level !!
I can have a text conversation over many hours with different people at the same time, I receive between 50-150 texts every day and I am not a local !!

They usually start with a text "hi" or "what are doing now" or " have you eaten", the last one is a normal greeting for a Filipino !! I found that I have to be more aware of what I write, there are many instances that although a sentence is correct grammatically I have to change it so that I know the receiver will actually understand it. There are many sayings and expressions that I can't use as they are taken literally.

They have text friends here too, its just someone that you have met by text and they become your text friend, even I have them. I do avoid them in the main, these are people that maybe get your number from one of their friends or they will just send a text to any number to get a response. These days if I get a text from someone that isn't in my contact list I ask them who they are and how do they know me. If they can't or won't tell me then I don't reply as it can be a bit of a hassle sometimes.
I have had so many contact me and ask to meet me, some I know have got my number from someone that knows me because they text in English.
There is at least 6 people that text me that I have never met, but you do get to know them via asking text questions. Interesting but a nuisance at times too.

You can buy unlimited texts for the day for 15/20 pesos, so they do and then they make sure that they use them as much as possible. Walking along anywhere you will see everyone on their phones texting, teenagers to grandmothers, fingers pumping away, they even have the Filipino thumb technique, whereby they can text faster than me just using 1 thumb !!
I'm sure it is similar the world over but here in the phils it is only 1 pesos to send a text so everyone does.... all the time.

Hope you are enjoying the holidays............

Thursday, 27 December 2007

nearly over.........

Well Xmas is nearly over for another year. Boxing day was just me travelling from Angeles to Manila from 3pm til 5pm. I watched some cricket at the resort thats why I stayed until the 3pm bus. I watched Australia play India and I saw 6 aussie wickets fall which is always good to see !!

Thursday the 27th I went with a group of 12 to an Italian restaurant here in Makati in Greenbelt, the price doubles simply because it is in Greenbelt. It was a nice meal and I was given 3 pressies which was nice.

I left there at 11pm and on the way home I met again the young girl that I mentioned before if you remember. Last time I took her and 2 boys that I thought were her brothers into a small place to get something to eat. She remembered me and asked me to buy some flowers from her, then she asked me for another meal, I felt happier giving her some food, she got a little bit more friendly and opened up to me as I watched her eat. She lives in one of the "slum" areas not to far from here, she buys the flowers for 15 pesos and sells them for 50 pesos, the profit of 35 pesos goes to her mum to buy food. She said that she normally comes to my road Fridays and Saturdays (this was Thursday) I would guess that's because most people have been out for a drink and are more liable to give you money. The 2 boys that are normally with her are neighbours not brothers.

She told me that she is 16 although she looks about 12, she is streetwise so never mind how much you help she will always ask for more, she asked me for the jeepney fare home and also if I would sponsor her through school. I helped her have a nice meal and drink.... even though she is quite poor, dirty and unkempt, she still insisted in eating her chicken and rice with a spoon and fork, even I would just use my fingers... strange !! Try eating a chicken with a spoon and fork it isn't east believe me.
She walked with me past my condo to her corner, as it was now near midnight and after all it was Xmas so I gave her 100 pesos. Still not sure if I'm doing the right thing as it just encourages her to beg from foreigners and I'm not making much difference to the whole problem of poverty here. But I always remember that old tale about the starfish..... for those that haven't heard it, it goes like this;

a guy walking along a beach sees 1000's of starfish stranded on the beach, there is an old lady picking them up and throwing them in the sea, he walks upto her and says " I admire what you are trying to do but there is so many that you won't make any difference" the old lady picks up starfish to throw into the water and says " but it makes a difference to him"........................

Hope you all had a great Xmas and can now relax, if you see somneone in need try and give them a kind word at least.... merry xmas..........

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

8am Boxing day

Well Xmas day was a bit of a bummer really but you get used to that when you a single person on these special days.
I was up around 8.30 a bit late for me, the staff had already set up the dining area and I could see where I had been placed, I guessed though that I wouldn't end up there as people don't like single people on there table if they have a group.
I had a lovely breakfast, typed out my post for xmas eve and went back to my room to relax. At 11.15am I went down to the restaurant area early rather walking in late. As I guessed I had been moved to another table, probably was moved more than once but ended up on the table by the door. It didn't really matter as I was only there for the food but I wish groups would consider singles a little bit more, not keep putting them aside out of their way.
Anyway I was on a table for 8, the people on this table were a group of 6 (they were obviously too late to move me anywhere else) and a single Filipino guy who was placed opposite me. I sat there and pondered... through my experience in life I guessed the Filipino guy would walk in see that he is sat opposite an old foreigner and quickley backpeddle to his room or somewhere else. Why I am so good, as that is exactly what happened, the one single Filipino guy walked in, took a quick look, prentended to go to the loo ( he has a room and probably just left it) then walked straight back out never to be seen again.
The group of 6 turned out to be a group of 7 so the single Filipino's name plate got moved to the bar (they didn't know that he wasn't coming), could have been me if I had not already been sitting there.
Everyone that entered knew each other, obviously they were all locals married to Filipinas.
The 7 at my table consisted of 4 guys and 3 Filipinas + 1 child, the 4 guys sat at the opposite end to me, the 2 young Filipinas sat opposite each other next to their husbands and the mother of 1 of them sat opposite me. She was obviously from a province and probably didn't speak much English, she was probably embarrased to be sitting opposite a foreigner. The child sat on the his mother's lap next to me so I got lots of sticky utensils on my arm, leg and head sometimes but no problem as it led to some conservation... she saying "sorry" me replying "no problem" well it's better than no talking at all !!!!

To top it all I wasn't very hungry so ate very little, I stayed for about an hour watching and listening then just went to my room, I got out my laptop and sat on my balcony surfing and snoozing.
There were over 100 people there for dinner, all the guys were over 50 and all of their partners were under 30... where am I going wrong ?? Saying that though I have had 2 serious proposals of marriage and turned them down and young woman constantly ask me for my phone number and email address, as I type this 2 of the young waitresses have just come to ask for my address... is it my good looks.... maybe not but I will give an insight as to what it is all about in another post... some of you will learn about the culture here and it will be so different from your perceptions.
I will be able to destroy a few myths (IMO) that I know some of you believe through no fault of your own.. the media has so much control of peoples perceptions, it is scary sometimes.

I hope you all.. especially my sisters have a lazy Boxing day with their feet up and their head on a big cushion.

Hope you all have a great day

Monday, 24 December 2007

10pm Xmas eve

Well it's Xmas eve and the resort is really quiet, there was only about 12 eating tonight, I do hopw that there are more people tomorrow for xmas dinner.

I went into town this afternoon to get away from the resort, it was quite good as some foreigners had arranged to give out xmas parcels to the local needy children and some families..... see pics below

They all received a bread roll, some meat in a container, a can of coke and a little wrapped up pressie....... but you should have seen the exictment in those kids eyes.... it blew me away............wish I could do something more here. At least I do know that the same thing is happening on Mindanao where I did have some effect, they managed to reach their target of US$500 after I donated 80% of it, yes I shouldn't mention it but I am on my own in this small part of the world and I am qute proud that i have made a small difference to some kids. I'm hoping to see some of the pics from there.

By the time most of you read this it will already be xmas day.

I wish you and your family a wonderful, peaceful and joyful Christmas day.. may your God be with you.....

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Sunday 8pm Angeles city

Well the bus trip here today wasn't as good as before, I thought that I knew all the things to do to ensure that I always get a good position on a bus/plane. This time I failed !!
I made sure that I was first person on the bus so that I could get the 2nd row seat on the nearside of the bus,the first row is used by a woman that looks after the trip and being on the nearside I have a good view as we drive through towns, being in the 2nd row ensures that you can hear the TV if you want to watch the movie that they show.
It was annoying on the last bus when sitting near the back, you couldn't help but see the film but you couldn't hear it, sitting closer at least gives you that choice.

The last time the bus was only half full so everyone had a double seat to themselves, you do need it as these buses are built for filipinos so are quite narrow for us westerners. Anyway this big american gets on, somewhere between 25/30 stones and plonks himself down on the seat in the front row right in front of me, totally blotting out everything that I could see !! I thought thats ok he will have to move for the member of staff.... she asks him to move, he explains that he has to sit there as it is the only seat for his legs.... unfortunetly that was true and they let him sit there.

Ok I thought he is sitting in the isle seat with the back of his chair right upto my nose, I will just move over to the window seat then it will be ok which I did. Then the bus starts to get busy, all the double seats have at least one person sitting in them, a guy then sits in the seat next to me that I have just vacated..... I thought NOOOOO please sit somewhere else.... I looked behind and all those that had a double seat to themselves were all sitting in the isle seat and had put their bags and stuff on their window seat to make sure that no-one sat next to them...... bum !!!!! can't do that but they did........ I could never do that as it is a bit too selfish even for me.

Anyway it's done and after all it's only a couple of hours........ no problem.... just get on with it. The guy sitting next to me is an old hippy type, long hair in a ponytail and is German but friendly enough, just wished he had washed before he got on the bus....that strong pungent odour that some men have that woman are supposed to find sexy.... well you can keep it cos it does nothing for me pal !!

I don't know about you but I have this problem with territory when I am in a seat, it could be a bus, plane, theatre seat or anywhere that I am sitting in public, I like to have my space and I don't like people encroaching into it. It's always.... guys, they think that they have this right to stretch their legs wide apart into the space of the people sat either side of them. I can't tell you how much I hate this.... so his leg is now touching mine..... ughhh....I have asked people before to move over a bit though it makes me feel a bit petty. I don't know what it says about me but I can't stand the guy leg touch thing... yes of course if it was a 25 year old female I wouldn't complain but thats understandable.
So anyway I had to endure this journey with my left knee trying to push him back into his own space and hating touching at the same time !!!!!
With my arms firmly by my side and my legs tightly cramped I now know how a sardine feels !
My goodness the things that we have to go through just sitting on a bus !

Anyway I am here and I do have my nice room again, I am here in the restaurant typing this before I go upstairs for an early'ish night.

Tomorrow is Xmas eve although as it is so hot here it doesn't really feel like xmas.

I hope your weekend is going well

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Filipino friends

Another trait of Filipinos that I like is that they are not inhibited about showing affection to their friends........ male or female.
As you can see from the photos below, men are not afraid to put their arm on the shoulder of their male friends in public. Try that in London and you would definetly be classified as gay.
It can be male/male, female/female, male/female. It can also be between mother/son or any mixture that you like. In the UK if a mum puts their hand on their son in public the usual reaction would be for the son to push his mum away, he doesn't want to be embarrassed in front of anyone. So why the difference ?

I will be Angeles from Saturday until boxing day.. the 26th of December for my non UK friends
So if you have time over the xmas period please pop in and leave a comment, I will be online most of the time...... no it's not sad.... I will be very happy indeed.

Merry Xmas to all... and as Dave Allen used to say..... may your God be with you !

yet another TGIF

well another weekend comes around, I suppose that this is the big one as Xmas day is fast approaching.
Today there is no coaching so I will just get prepared for my visit to Angeles tomorrow (Sunday) Packing etc.

It will be nice to get away from Manila again, the resort there really suits me as I can be alone but at the same time I can have contact with people if I choose. The last time there I spent a lot of time in the restaurant by the pool with my laptop, I realise that isn't everyone's cup of tea but it suits me. I am in a lovely outside enviroment, the sun is shining and with great food whenever I want to eat, I'm online which I enjoy and I can people watch at the same time. Whenever I tire of that I can go for a walk or just go to my nice room overlooking the pool and sleep or watch TV. I can even sit outside on my balcony online or just snooze.

My room is the one on the left

This is the view from my balcony

This is inside my room, it also has an en-suite bathroom but unfortunetley the 2 attractive girls don't come with it !!

this pic was taken next to the table that I normally sit at.

In the evening if I feel bold I can wander into town but am mostly happy at the resort.
I am also booked in for the Aussie Xmas dinner which is just about the exact same as at home, I will take some video and put it online for you all to see.

I hope you all have a great Xmas weekend

Friday, 21 December 2007

Street children..............

Thursday was a quiet day for me........... well I can't be galivanting around Manila every day..... can I !!!!!

Patsy made a comment on my last post to the effect that she would like to take some of the poor kids home and feed them........ yes I feel like that too but of course you are very limited on how you can help, that's not to say that you shouldn't try.

I was sitting in a 7-11 store drinking a soft drink and just looking out the window, I was in there cooling down while I was on one of my long walks, there was 2 young girls standing there looking at me through the glass begging.......... I'm sure that they have practiced the forlorn look to make tourists give them a few pesos......... you can't blame them, if it works then you eat a little better...............anyway the look got to me also, I was sitting beside a Filipina ( the "a" at the end indicates a female) she noticed that they were targetting me and told me not to mind them, but I couldn't, so through her I invited them in and told them to buy some food and they could have a drink also, the first kid picked up a very expensive bar of imported chocolate............. Nooooo....... get the basic stuff, anyway they did and they sat outside eating happily. I just carried on with my drink...... within a couple of mins.....there were another 5/6 kids at my window....... I'm sure that the first 2 must have phoned them on their mobiles.... just kidding.
The Filipina told me to ignore them or I will have all the street children in the neighbourhood standing there. So I told them just to share with their friends.

It isn't easy as you would like to help them all, I do help as best as I can even though I am limited.
I would love to be able to find some way of finding them shelter so that they have a roof over their heads at night, the truth though is that there are shelters provided for street children but they don't want to stay there, yes they get fed and have a bed but there are also rules. These children have lived on the streets doing whatever they want, they have lots of fun with their friends and they have managed fine so far although they have to beg. They don't want to live in some house having to be in bed by a certain time and adults telling them what to do. They are too used to their own freedom and choose to live this way.

I hope that you and your family have a great final day at work or school. Don't get stressed about that last minute Xmas shopping....... I don't envy you !!!!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

just another night............ Wednesday 10pm

Well no-one posted om my last post titled "the poor of the the Phils", was that a coincidence or was it a bad post !!!!!

Thanks for Xmas cards received from Helen, Patsy, Anne,Mary and today from Jan and Maurice.....thank you all. Anyone received mine yet ?

Tuesday was a quiet day as I just returned from Angeles city. If you remember I asked about staying there over Xmas as the dinner looked good but my room was booked. When I went to reception to pay my final bill, the young lady had been good to me allowing me to store my laptop in their safe whenever I went out, I gave her 150 pesos (£1.50) as a tip, she asked if I was returning, I explained that I tried but no luck, she then told me that I could have my room again for Xmas if I wanted it, so I agreed and booked it again for 3 days over Xmas. I haven't paid anything so I can always cancel if I change my mind. The point here is... always tip the right person!!

Hope you are all enjoying the build up to Xmas... I'm sure that some of you will be getting stressed out preparing for family get togethers and buying pressies etc. Thats one of the advantages of being single and alone.... I don't have to buy anyone a pressie...... of course the flip side is that you don't receive many either.. but I can cope with that.

Enjoy your week

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

the poor of the Phils.......

In the UK you here people say that there are so many people under the poverty line, as if they are really struggling, I know that it is all relative, but the people that I have seen in the UK that put themselves into that category usually makes those comments with a cigarette in their mouth and sometimes a bottle of beer at their side.

I really don't think that they have any understanding of real poverty, below is an article that I have pinched from another website just to give some indication of the level of poverty here in the Phils, believe it or not there is at least another level below them. People that live in some areas where there is no power, clean water and any sort of way for them to earn money to eat.

The couple that I met yesterday live near one of those areas, they try and help by sometimes cooking more than they need and sharing it with them. The wife whom is a midwife told me that many times she has delivered a child and she was paid in.... fish !! They simply don't have money.

I actually passed this cementary to day.

(Taken From the website) 10,000 Filipino families live in this massive graveyard in Manila. I recently spent five days walking among its residents taking photos and hearing stories of struggle and survival. Some families ended up here almost accidentally. Some inherited the mausoleums that they now live in from their great-grandparents. Others came from the provinces and couldn't make enough money to live in the big city. In all cases, they're basically families with nowhere else to go. The people who live here manage to extract livelihoods from the dead.Teenagers carry coffins for 50 Filipino pesos—about 50 American cents.Children collect scrap metal, plastic, and other garbage to sell. Their fathers are employed to repair and maintain tombs while their mothers maintain the house, which could be the family mausoleum or the mausoleum of their employers. Rent-free shanties are wedged between or on top of crypts. Unlike many of my countrymen, I don't see these folks as the destitute bottom-rung of society. I see them as living embodiments of the raw spirit of the Filipino people, a nation so tough it can and has survived under any sort of hardship.

Unidentified bones found around the Manila North Cemetery. Somefamilies default on the leases on their tombs and the administrationhas no choice but to remove the bones.

EmmarieBernardino is a 57-year-old dressmaker. Due to financial hardship, herfamily chose to sell their house and live inside their mausoleum.

Imelda Domingo owns a small food store inside the cemetery. She is also a part-time mausoleum caretaker.

Thisis Jenelyn Guiwanon,19, with her 1-year-old daughter. She works for hermother-in-law (top right) taking care of the cemetery's mini grocerystore.
Carolina S. Ameglio is a 67-year-old caretaker. She lives in the mausoleum where her husband is buried.

A typical small mausoleum home inside the Manila North Cemetery. Here a mother stays at home watching TV with her children.

A vacant mausoleum can be a place for relaxation or entertainment.Residents in this area can come to this one and drop five pesos to sing karaoke.

A Filipino custom says that children must carry coffins. It is thoughtthat this will keep the children safe from any ghost or vengeful spirit.

Ricky Bernardino is a 39-year-old manicurist/beautician who lives and works in the cemetery.
RolanFlores, 18, lives with his wife and daughter. His job is to clean andrepair the tombs, and, for extra cash, he combs the area for plasticsand metals to sell for five pesos a pound.

Maria Wico is a 56-year-old caretaker. She moved to the cemetery when she was 17.
Florielyn Flores, an 18-year-old mother and wife of Rolan (above), poses with her 2-year-old son in front of their home.

Sheryl Ann M. Muros volunteers as a schoolteacher. The classes are held inside the veterans' mausoleum.
Catherine de Ocampo is a 17-year-old housewife. She moved to the cemetery last year.

Playing cards or bingo on top of tombs is a favorite pastime.

This spirit that the Filipinos have is a trait that I really admire, they just deal with whatever situation that they find themselves in. They find ways around adversity and come up smiling where most of us would just give up. I see it every day in so many situations, they have to deal with it as it always comes back to have to find a way to survive each day... forget about next week or next year just make sure that we eat today....... there is no welfare to save you. You work or you don't eat.....simple isn't it !!!!

I then think of some "poor" people that I've seen on TV in the UK, with their fags and beer in their hand saying yes mate we're poor, can't get a job and we can't feed the 6 kids that we have had while we are on the dole..... yes my pet hate is showing through.... just ignore me...... but when you see real poverty in other countries it sort of makes you feel annoyed with the scroungers in society.

Tuesday 9am Angeles city

My last day in Angeles city, it has been enjoyable and very relaxing.

Yesterday afternoon I walked along the street with all the girly bars, it actually wasn't that bad and there were lots of other things happening there to make it interesting. I even had a foot scrub... ok not something that you really want to read about.. but it is nice to have a young lady pampering your feet.... but this time I got a ladyboy... you know.... a guy acting as a girl... it was ok as he was good at his work. It's the 2nd time that I have had this done, 1 hours' work on your feet for the cost of £2.50.... not bad eh !!

I met a guy in the town from London, I spent an hour with him and his Filipino wife just having a beer outside and shooting the breeze. We met up in the evening for another hour of chat. He lives 5 hours north of Angeles city in a quite remote area, his house is 6' from the sea, he goes to sleep with the waves gently hitting the side of his home.... sounds beautiful. He invited me to visit him sometime, but it's probably a bit too quiet for me and too far from Manila for me to travel there. As he has lived here so long he was able to give me lots of info and ideas of other areas to visit, it was a good meet.

I have to get packed shortly for my 12 noon ride to Manila, I should arrive back in Manila around 2.30, then I have to get a cab to Makati which is about 30/45 mins depending on traffic.

I am just sitting by the pool in the shade typing this and drinking coffee, I have never been a coffee person but their tea is not the best so I am getting used to the coffee instead.
Sitting here makes it all seem so wonderful, you know.... sitting in the sun... on my laptop.... drinking coffee.......... compared to what I would normally be doing at this time of the morning if I was at home in the UK. Life can be so good at times !!

They have a poster here advertising their Xmas dinner... it really sounds good... so much so.... that I inquired if the room that I have now was available for Xmas day so that I could come back for the Xmas lunch.... unfortunately it is already booked... shame.

England play Sri Lanka today at cricket, I will be home just in time for the start... oh it's a hard life............

Enjoy your Tuesday

Monday, 17 December 2007

Monday 8am ... Angeles City

Well yesterday morning after a wonderful breakfast I went for a long walk, my ankle is holding up and I walked at a very leisurely pace anyway, I walked along the main road for an hour and then back again, not really much too see at all except a new'ish Mall.
I didn't see any girly bars at all but I am sure that they are here somewhere, at least they are not in your face which helps.

I just stayed in again last night, watched some tv and sat in the restaurant on my laptop with a couple of beers. There was a karaoke machine on and ocassionly someone would sing to it... cat's choir comes to mind. There was about 25 people in the restaurent but it is quite big so looked quite empty, the scene reminded me of some of the "clubs" that you see onTV in places like Liverpool where there about 5 people there and a singer that can't sing and no-one is listening to them anyway, the people that are there look so sad, probably been together for 25 years and don't have a word to say to each other. Do you get the picture ??........ but at least here it is hot and there was 6 pretty waitresses walking around in their Xmas uniforms to keep the boredom away. Before anyone gets the wrong idea this is a totally "proper or Kosher" place.

I visited the travel agent here to find something worthwhile to do today, ( Monday) but the only things available was a day's flight around to another island with lunch there and then fly back. I was interested in this and the cost was £85 per person, I said yes but because I am a group of 1, I would then have to pay for all 3 seats on the aircraft, this would have meant over £250 for the day, too much for something that I have experienced before so I declined.

I was thinking about going home a day early but have decided just to continue relaxing here and eat well for one more day. Though I have rarely left the hotel complex it has been really nice to get away from Manila for a few days, the food here is really great, dishes that I am used to eating like, sausages, eggs and beans for breakfast although i don't have that at home these days, it is nice to have when on holiday. Lunch and dinner menus are the same, I can have chicken or beef pies with mash and they do a wicked cottage pie. It is really nice to eat food that is really appealing to look at, whilst waiting to be served the expectation is high and has always been tasty so far.

It's just after 8am, I have finished my breakfast, 2 sausages, 2 eggs, beans and 2 toast.................. really tasty. I will, after writing this try and go for another walk in another direction, I will ensure that I am back in time for lunch with a hungry appetite.

Hope you all have a great start to your last... probably.... working week of the year, enjoy your weather as you could be suffering like me with this sunshine every day.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Angeles City...................... ???

Well it's 12.30 am Sunday morning, I write this as I sit at a table in the restaurant of my hotel, behind me is the swimming pool and my room is directly above there overlooking it.

Well I never thought that I would ever visit Angeles as it's reputation is very poor and not the sort of place that I like to visit.......... well why am I here I hear you ask....... well.........

I was going stir crazy spending so much time in the condo so on Friday I got myself up and visited the travel agents around the corner, what you have got to realise that travel agents here are a bit like they probably were in the UK in the 50's or 60's.

What do you expect when you enter a Travel agents......... probably like me to see brochures so you can choose were you want to go and pick an hotel in that area that suits your budget.......... well not in the no brochures whatsoever..... you have 2 choices.. first one is that you know where you want to go and they will try to find you somewhere to stay there........but you won't be able to see where you are staying etc... it's just pot luck....... secondly they do write some offers on a board outside, you choose then they try to see what sort of package that they may or may not be able to do !! They were using telex machines for goodness sake...... I thought they went out with the ark... anyway I digress................

I contacted a few of the parents that I know.... my brief to them was that I wanted to get out of Manila for a few days, nowhere too far away but somewhere interesting.... the popular choice was.......Angeles city !!!!!! Now all I know of Angeles city is that it is full of girly bars and all that entails.... so I was quite surprised and told them so, they said that there is a lot more to the city than that.............. so here I am.

I wanted to fly........... no flights available.......... my only other choice was a bus that leaves from a well known Australian hotel here in Manila which goes to its sister hotel in Angeles, I looked up the hotel online, it looked ok so I booked both, the bus and my room.
I got to the hotel at 10.30am for the bus which leaves at 11.30am, gets on the bus with all the other passengers...... they are mostly fat, balding, in their 50's or 60's westerners with tattoos etc all on their own.............Oh Nooooooo...........just what I thought all these old geezers going to Angeles for alcohol and girls............. then I realised....... hey I'm in my 50's, fat, and a westerner..... I fall into this category....... there maybe someone else on the bus thinking the same as me but including me on his list !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I felt dirty at that point.

Anyway the trip was fine, the room is ok. I arrived at 2pm and had a late lunch after settling in my room, I spent the afternoon resting then had a nice evening meal, the food is good as it is an Australian hotel, it is full of of Aussies, Brits and Americans, during the afternoon it was packed but come 7pm they all disappear to the bars. I stayed in watching TV and online, I came down for a late drink and to do some emails that I had to reply to.
It's now 1am and some have returned from the bars to continue drinking here, it's amazing when we men get alcohol inside us, some think it makes them into sort of young Adonis, they are trying to chat up the young bartenders and waitresses, shame that their language is so poor, the swearing is coming from the Brits as usual. Why do the British swear so much as if it doesn't count and as if it's part of everyday speaking.

The best thing of this hotel is that I can get online with their wi-fi anywhere, so it means I can be online in my room, in the restaurant by the pool or wherever else I choose.

I haven't left the hotel today but a change is good as a rest so they say. Tomorrow during daytime I will investigate the city and see what touristy things that I can do, I believe that they have some sort of micro lite flying so I may try that.. even though I get vertigo on a thick carpet.

I hope your weekend is going well... my next post may be interesting or not..........

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Wednesday 7pm

I haven't done much over the past couple of days.... well nothing that I can talk about anyway !! Only joking !!!
I slipped and twisted my ankle so I can't do much really until I can put my weight on it again. So it's stay in bed til late, watch TV and send out for takeaways.................... no change there then !!!

It was a really hot day today, I had to have the aircon up full blast all day and the fans on too. Quite boring not being able to go out when you want to, it would be exactly the same situation if I was at home though. Living alone you get used dealing with times like this... you just don't have anyone to make you a cuppa or at least say there....there.....there!!!!!! You just have to get up and do anything that needs to be done, I think in a way it makes you quite tough, there's no time for self pity as you just have to get on with it, same when I had those hospital tests, they wanted to put me thanks I said....just get on with it so I can get home !!

Big Peter the Norwegian never did get back to me !!!! scammer... possibly !! That's life.

Hope you have a nice Wednesday.. 1 day closer to the weekend and Xmas........

Monday, 10 December 2007

weekend over

On Saturday I coached at Las Pinas, it is running down due to Xmas coming, there are a couple of party days before the end of the year. They are also doing Xmas caroling, they take it very serious and have been practicing together many times, they only visit the houses of members of the club, no cold calling.

I was out doing a bit of shopping when I came across a VCD copy of the film "Bridge over the River Kwia" starring Alec Guiness, I have seen it many times on TV at home usually around the Xmas time, I bought it as I remember watching it with Paul and my mum. After dad died mum used to to take Paul and I to the Vogue cinema in Possilpark every Tuesday night. Although possibly my memory could be playing tricks, I seem to remember that this was the film that when we reached the cinema, mum had lost the money so we had to head home, on the way home I found the 10 shilling note (the old 10 bob note for those of you over 40 years old), so we headed back to the cinema to watch the movie. Whenever I see that film the above recollection always comes to my mind.

On Sunday I spent the afternoon writing Xmas cards, I'm not even sure if they will arrive in time, we shall see.

Sunday night was a TV night and receiving many many texts.... yawn !!

It's cloudy here but still very hot, with this constant heat it does help the cockroaches to survive, amazingly even here on the 18Th floor we have them. Though I have only found 2 in my condo in the 3 months that I have lived here, I realised that they come in under my front door so I now put a towel down there before I go to bed. They are easy to spot as the hallway floors in the building are all bright marble and the condo floors are all polished wood. I must admit that they are one of the few creatures on earth that I do try to kill when I spot them !!!!

I hope you all had a great weekend and are refreshed for another week at the grindstone.... as I am !!

Saturday, 8 December 2007


Over here if you are a non Filipino they call you a "foreigner". Lots of non Filipinos feel insulted by that, I'm ok with it as it is just a term. They could use better terminology but as far as I'm concerned it's no big deal. The only time that I don't like hearing it is when I am about to buy something from anywhere.... it usually goes like this; Hi I would like to find out some information about buying..... or having this or that done... yes sir hold on I will phone that office....... I listen...... gaga .... blah blah....hfyuaaa... blah blah..... foreigner......ok.... yes sir they will be straight down. At that point I know that the price has just doubled at least !!!!!!

Everyone that is non Filipino falls into the category of "foreigner", one of the downsides is that some races are disliked here more than others.... especially Koreans as they do look down on Filipinos as beneath them and do treat them badly, but you as a "foreigner" fall into the same category as them..... by the simple use of that term "foreigner".

At home we don't use terms like that, especially in London as sometimes there are more non Brits there than natives. We also are very aware of the race differences and the laws that cover what term you can use or not, we are so politically correct at times that it's quite pathetic in some cases. One of the things that I like about here is that they are not really politically correct and they don't worry about it either. Let's be honest, in this country I am a foreigner... that's simply a fact. It maybe... in some instances nice to be called something else.... no I don't know what...... but the term foreigner is a sort of alienation I suppose. That's the argument with objecting non Filipinos anyway. Hey I have been called a lot worse in my life and I'm sure that I will again, I would prefer people not calling to me "hey Joe" and calling me a Kano, that is because they think that every white person is an American but I can live with that, especially as it is usually said with a broad smile !!!

Thursday and Friday were quiet days, just done the usual things that I would have done if I was at home in London. Sometimes I feel that as I am in a foreign country that I should be doing this and that every day, but I am not a tourist as such.......... I live here !!! It makes a difference.

I count Xmas time as the half way point of my experience here, after Xmas it will then be the second half and nearer to me going home.......... which at this point....... I dread.... big time !!!!
But who knows maybe by April I will be looking forward to going back to work in the rain, getting up at 6.30am every morning, seeing bad behavior on the streets every day, watching the young drunks in Uxbridge on a weekend, listening to them screaming and shouting as they walk down my street at 2am............... yes just maybe I will be looking forward to that..............mmmmm........... can I bribe that government official to let me stay here indefinitely !!!! Please I beg you..... don't make me go home....... please, please......pretty please !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Any donations to the "keep Gerry in the Phils" fund please send to the address above !!

I hope you all have a fun packed weekend.... enjoy

Thursday, 6 December 2007


Over here there is racism......... but it's an inverted racism against themselves. Obviously everything I say is a generalisation but I think..... no I know .......that any Filipinos reading this will mostly agree with me.

Everywhere you go in the city, all the big billboards advertising this or that, the models used are always (99%) white. They watch a lot of foreign (US) TV which show the usual white handsome men and beautiful woman, rich with their nice cars, homes etc. They have been brought up on this and of course as the general population here are poor, they look up to, admire and would love to be like the all American family.
All the white tourists here are of course... in their eyes... rich, well in comparison with the average Filipino family..... we are.
The Americans helped to liberate them here during the war, they are still grateful for that and look up to America as this great country with no faults.

Everything seems to point to being white = good..... = rich.... = happiness.

Everywhere I go I experience it, I...... being this magical white colour makes me superior !!!!!

No not to me but to a lot of Filipinos, I get priority in lots of situations, walking into any mall or store, Filipinos are searched and if they have bags they get searched too, I am mostly just waved right through, if I have a bag they may sometimes have a courtesy glance but no more.
Cabs will always stop for me over a Filipino but that's only because they think they will get a bigger tip.. but that still falls into this syndrome.... because I am white therefore I am rich.

My goodness they even have skin whiteners here that you can buy in stores, you can have your skin whitened in clinics just like having a facial or any other beauty treatment. People use umbrellas as parasol's to avoid their skin getting darker. The darker your skin is here the lower down the class system you are. Because having dark skin indicates that you are working outside in the sun, could be on a farm or whatever but you are a lowly worker. Being light skin is looked up to as either you don't work or at least you don't work outside in the sun.

I must admit that the people in the slum areas and from certain parts of the Philippines do have darker skin, it is noticeable therefore it is easy to put them in a certain bracket... is that racism or just being aware. From my point of view I would say that I'm just aware of the difference, to be racist in my opinion is to treat someone differently because of that difference.

I talk to any and everyone, I've had good chats with road sweepers as well as anyone else... am I putting a tag on road sweepers.... probably inasmuch as they do have a recognized lowly job... so what does that make me !!
Anyway I do talk to everyone and am friendly with all, I never treat anyone badly ( though sometimes I have to count to 10) or look down on them when I have any dealings with them. I pride myself on being friendly with whoever I come in contact with, I know a lot appreciate it as an unexpected friendliness from a " foreigner". I try to be humble in every situation and I find it easy to be so with such a wonderful, friendly and helpful society of people.

When I have been the coach during these badminton tourneys, my players have the advantage over their opposition simply because they have a white coach.. white coach = superior coach= superior player.... of course it's not true but that is the perception.

This is also one of the reasons that national Philippines badminton players don't so well against white foreign opposition, they are in a lot of cases just as good or even better, but they have this psychological inferiority complex which affects their game.

I've spoken with some young University graduates about this, they agree with me and are trying to change it, as they say... Filipinos must start to recognize that they are equal to any other race or colour. The main thing for me was that they recognized it and gave me many instances when they themselves have experienced the syndrome.

Anyway this is a bit too heavy a subject for my little blog, especially as I am writing this at 9am on a Thursday morning.

I have lots of chores to do today so I better get started.

Have a look again at the pic in my post titled "yyeeessssss ssiiiiiirrrrr" as Gary in Canada brightened it up for me, you can see my face clearer now..... gary's young so he doesn't realise yet that as you get older you actually want photos of your face to be darker as then people can't see how old you really look !!! ;-) Joking Gary.... thanks mate.

The sun ISN'T shining her in Manila yet, it's actually cloudy but I guess the sun will burn off the clouds and eventually show itself.

Thought for the day from Father McGuire... ;-)

Be nice to your road sweeper, school janny or any other considered low status person today... give him or her a smile and a kind word.... it will be appreciated

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

What ..... no mozzies !!

I don't understand but I haven't been bitten by a mozzie in months, I wonder why ??? I still see them flying around my condo so what are they feeding on ?? Do they still bite me but my body is used to them now so there is no swelling or itching ??? I don't know.... interesting !!!

I seen the hospital specialist yesterday again for my results, they were very good, the biopsy showed that nothing is malignant, he kept using the word beginning with "c", I even find it difficult to type it !!!

I was treated in the best hospital in the Philippines but as it is still a 3rd world country, it wasn't in very good condition. By that I mean the walls and ceilings could have done with a repaint, the floors could do with being replaced and the furniture looked as though it came from the war. I suppose though that the most important thing of all is the treatment, that was very good and obviously I am happy with the results.

Other than my appointment I didn't do very much yesterday ( Tuesday), I was supposed to go out for dinner with 2 friends last night but cried off as I preferred to stay at home. yes I am an old stick in the mud !!!!! Sometimes.... actually a lot of times... I just prefer my own company, it's strange as it isn't a family trait.

Well it's 8 am here in Manila and the sun is shining again, I have my aircon on as the temp is rising fast. I do think though that it is getting cooler as during the day when I am walking around I don't have that sudden need to find somewhere that has aircon to cool down, maybe I am getting used to it...... doubtful !!!

The only reason that I am up at this time is because I got a text at 6 am from a friend which woke me up, normally I turn my mobile off before I sleep to avoid that but last night I forgot obviously.

Texts......... Filipinos love them.... big time !!

Definition of a Filipino...................
some one that asks if you have eaten yet as an opening gambit.
someone that is constantly eating but never gets fat !!
Someone with a thumb that is attached to a mobile phone.... texting.
Someone that is always shopping in the mall but has no money.
Someone that when you shout at them for being incompetent says... yeeessssss siiirrrr and totally ignores what you just said.
Someone that when you say to them, you are totally wrong.... just smiles...... then says yeessss siirrrr !!! Still ignoring what you just said.

I could go on, the above is just tongue in cheek but is true.

Anyway time to go, I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday... as I will.

Yeeeeesssssssssssss Siiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Sunday was a bit of a washout, Messed about during the day and watched Sri lanka V England in cricket. I managed to get to see the match online but have to pay $50 for the 3 test series but its worth it..... I think.

I have been trying to get a Xmas card made with my photo on the front, found somewhere that does it and went to see them. We went through all the details, picture size, wording etc. I of course then asked the cost, I asked for the bottom line, what is each card going to cost me with everything included... no extras I emphasised, she works out the cost and tells me 35pesos each..
OK that sounds good.... I'll have 30 please. 30 x 35 = 1050 pesos. She says 2200......... what !!!! excuse me !!!! your maths is poor 30x35= 1050. yes sir but there is an extra 1150 pesos for processing........... I asked for the bottom line price ......... yeeeeeessssssss Siiiiirrrrr but plus the processing fee......... with steam coming out of my ears I work out that it's now 73p per card still not too bad as it is what I want. So I count to 10 and say OK lets do it... she now asks do I want envelopes with them... well they are Xmas cards to be sent overseas as I explained earlier... well that will be another 10p per envelope.. I ASKED FOR THE BOTTOM LINE TO INCLUDE EVERYTHING TO SEND THESE CARDS OVERSEAS...... yeeeesssssss siiiiiirrrrrrr that's right so it is 2200 + 300 for the envelopes which = 2500 pesos.
By now I am really trying hard to keep my cool, I take a deep breath in while I think about it, I have gone this far, this is what I want to do, I don't want to start again with another company, going through all this rigmarole again, OK its now nearly 76p per card... but OK just agree it and get out of here. OK Siiiirrrr 2500pesos. do you want them in 2 days or 4 days.... well 2 days sounds good to me but 4 days is OK too as I begin to relax........ OK siiiiirrrr that will be another 20% to the total................. HELP ME................................ I AM GOING TO KILL THIS PERSON !!!!!!!!!!!......................
I walk away............ a beaten man.............!

But I didn't give up there, I did manage, after a lot of searching, to find another company that would do it, even better than the first one and cheaper too.......... things are looking up, all I need is the photo downloaded to a CD and they can work from there. I excitingly rush home put the pic on the CD and rush back... he puts it in his computer.... 3 or 4 times as it doesn't seem to be working........... oh no please don't tell me.... sorry sir but your CD isn't working for some reason.... OK I will check it out elsewhere, maybe it's his CD player.... I go to other stores that have computers and ask them to insert this CD to see if it works...... 2 computers later......... no it won't !!!!
I go home, insert it into my laptop........ bingo !! no problem, my photo is there on my screen in all it's glory !!!!
I can only think that as my laptop is European that the download to the disc is slightly different, therefore has trouble working on Asian CD players. If you know better then please tell me.

So I will be sending ordinary Xmas cards this year again, maybe my personal Xmas card was not meant to be... it wasn't that bad I don't think !!

This is the offending photo, I did ask if I could send it to them by email but they are not online in the shops. I'm in the white shirt with red sleeves ! ;-)

Sunday, 2 December 2007

alas the weekend is over

but does it affect me .... NO !!!!!

It was quite an interesting end to last week with the attempted coup and then the curfew. life is never boring in the Phils.

Saturday I went coaching in Las pinas, it was enjoyable to see everyone again. People there are so friendly to me and always treat me so well. It's a respect and friendliness that I have never experienced before..... to this level anyway.
I have been doing some specialist coaching for adults on some of the so called "difficult" shots to learn, most players have learned something which is all I can hope for. The players have asked me to do a sort of instruction manual to explain techniques and shots There is a place in manila that sells magazines on that sort of thing but these players feel that my technique and the way that I dissect and explain is way better than any of those sold. I've noticed that the other coaches there now use my techniques on some of the shots, I was even at another sports hall and one of the coaches was there coaching and he was doing what I had discussed with him the previous week !!!! One of the players is a graphics guy that does drawings and has offered to do the illustrations if I do the words. So maybe I could become a magazine columnist.... who knows as long as I just have to do the words.... thats ok by me. They also feel that this could be the legacy that I leave in the Phils when I return home. Nice eh !!!
This is the banner that they have outside of the badminton hall in Las Pinas, I am in every picture... superstar at 53...well it's never too late !!!

The same as everywhere else the Phils is preparing for Xmas, the lights and decorations are all up and it all looks very nice but there are many people here who are not going to receive much for Xmas, many children will only get the most basic of things, but I guess they will feel just as excited as the kids in 1st world countries that often get spoiled.

I hope you had an enjoyable weekend and the week ahead isn't too demanding

please remember the children of the world that don't have or get very much, so when and if you are passing any collectors in the street this Xmas, if you feel comfortable with it put a coin in the box to remind us all of the differences that exist....

one of the nicest sayings that I heard this year was from someone in school; "a man never stands so tall as when he stoops to hold the hand of a child"

Friday, 30 November 2007


Because of the political incident yesterday a midnight curfew was imposed, anyone on the streets after midnight could be arrested, it didn't affect me as I am rarely out at that time anyway.

I've decided not to do anything for Xmas this year... surprise, surprise....thats what I usually do every year... nothing. I know I am going to get some offers but I always find them difficult, should I buy presents cos they might get me something or what do I do when the presents are being given out. I have been to a xmas dinner with friends before, they give each other pressies but we have agreed not to so I sit there like a lemon as they all open theirs, I try to look interested without looking envious of which I am not...... I'm pretty good at it. I really just find it more comfortable and easier to be on my own, I don't need sympathy as I don't feel sorry or lonely or anything like that.

This year I am going to help out a childrens home here in the phils, it hasn't been set up long and they have just started fundraising... a bit late I know... their target is $500 to buy food for the kids, however much they are short of their target, that is going to be my gift to them, I have requested the info today. I know that so far they have had 1 small donation. No I'm not being really kind and generous it's just a way of making myself feel good over the Xmas period.... so there !!!!

I do miss the Xmas at school it's a lot of fun watching the kids enjoy themselves at this time of year, I'll miss the bribes that I used to get from the kids to vote for their xmas table as the best in the class, each class has 5/6 groups and they bring in their own food and have to decorate their table. The head and I plus one other walk around each class and decide which is the best turned out table. Hey it wasn't as easy as you think.. considerations were; healthy food, nice decorations and creativity.. and who offered the best bribe !! I'm only kidding of course... Paul Clargo will be taking my place, I think he is really open to the bribes thing !!!! Sorry Paul. Don't forget to deliver my xmas dinner personally, for those that don't know Pauls' wife Sally offers to make me a xmas dinner each year and Paul actually delivers it by hand... so Paul if you fancy a few days in the sunshine let me know and I will ask Sally !!

Amazing the sun is shining here in Manila

Hope you have a great weekend

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Never a dull moment

this is my 2nd post today so don't forget to read the other post below too.

There I was walking over the bridge to Glorietta, there was lots of sirens from vehicles driving to the bridge area, so being nosey I stopped to see what was going on. The police were there with the swat squads from many areas of the phils, plus the National police, there was also army vehicles arriving and helicopters above, I gleaned from people there that there is a political parade with 2 politicians that want the President out, I had read about them over the past few days. Anyway watched for 5 mins then went on my way, I went to SM mall to buy some trousers, when finished I thought rather than walk back through the shops that I would walk in the street past the parade, I did but within a couple of hundred yards people were running towards me so I knew that something was happening, someone said that there was gunfire... being nosey as I am I walked through them in the direction that they were running from, I was near Makati ave when I heard the first burst of gunfire ( I'm getting used to the sound) I then turned left rather than right as the national police and army were getting their weapons out to return the fire, as I turned left there was lots of gunshots so more people were now running in the same direction as I was walking. A big white guy was running and he slowed down as he reached me, he asked me what is happening and what should he do, he was visibly very scared ( I just get excited by it all, wrong I know) anyway I told him to follow me and not to worry, we took cover at the side of a building. To cut a long story short, his name is Peter and he is from Norway, he was terrified, he was staying at the Peninsula hotel where the shooting was happening. All his money, credit cards etc were in his room and he didn't know what to do.

Anyway I calmed him down, he wanted to go to another part of manila to his credit card office to get a new card to use, I gave him 1000 pesos for the cab fare and so he could phone his wife. He may be a scammer and I've lost 1000p but somehow I don't think so. He was so shaken and vowed never to visit the Phils again, he said that this kind act of mine to help him was the nicest thing he has experienced in his life ( maybe he should get out more !!) and he hugged me twice.... hold on there fella !!.... not to worry he did say he was married. anyway he has taken my address and phone number and has sworn to return it to me, I said it simply doesn't matter but he can ring me later if he needs any more help. He asked if all Scots are like me and if they are what a better world this would be........ shucks !!!!! I walked him to a cab area and told him what to do.... its raining and there is gunfire, cab drivers are going to take advantage of this so I told him to agree to a certain amount just to get himself out of the area.

I'm obviously at home now watching the news on TV but it is in Tagalog so am trying to get the gist of it all, from what I can gather the 2 politicians that I mentioned previously were starting their rally from inside the Peninsular hotel when tear gas exploded in the room and there was gunfire, presumably supporters of the President trying to assassinate these 2 politicians. The gunfire continued outside the building which was probably what I heard. I would guess that it was probably a section of the army or national police that were the assassins.

I'm watching live TV now and its showing an army armoured vehicle driving right into the hotel with about 50 soldiers and lots of gunfire.

I got to go back to that area to pick up some trousers that were being altered so i may get more info and some photos.

Report back later. It's 5pm here ( 9am UK)

It's now 9.30pm and I now know what happened. The 2 politicians were in the hotel and it was 30 of their supporters.... all renegade soldiers...... that were there trying to get backing from the army to overthrow the president.... it didn't work out and they barricaded themselves in a room, the army went in to get them and that was the gunfire that was heard.
I went back to the area at 5pm to get some video of it all but I think it was over by then so I only got shots of the soldiers there, 1500 of them !!!!

The whole of Makati was evacuated, all the malls were empty as was all shops, bars and restaurants. And I still haven't heard from Peter the Norwegian !!!... surely he wasn't a scammer... if he was, he got me hook, line and sinker !!!!

Thursday am

The movie that I went to see last night was totally spoiled by an arty farty director. It's a good action packed film with an interesting storyline about the middle east. He spoiled it by trying a new method of filming, close up fast cutting action with either frames taken out to make it very rapid or some other stupid idea of his. Anyway I visited the cinema and sat half way down away from Filipinos as much as I could be... they always talk during films.... anyway it was a big screen and with this new method of filming my eyes had to rapidly scan the screen to take in the info but it was so fast that I was missing some of the action... yes I thought maybe it was just me or maybe I was too close to such a big screen, in the end I moved to the back seat and still couldn't take it all in !!
If anyone goes to see this movie, I advise you to sit as far from the screen as possible, please let me know your thoughts if you do watch it. Yes it may be my eyes but I doubt it as I go to the cinema often and that is the first time that I've experienced that, if it happens at the next movie then I will know that it's just me getting old.... which of course I am..... and don't I feel it !!!!!!

The movie actually only cost me £1.10 in the end, to answer Anne's questions from my comments section, the cinema is less than 5 minutes walk and are as good if not better than anything in the UK. I don't know about the watching twice thing as I wouldn't want to do that anyway. The only problem is the talking and texting during the film.... that really annoys me big time.

I've been trying to find out as much info from the net about planning a trip to Mindanao before Xmas but it isn't easy, I was going to take the boat route but trying to get it to fit in with my dates, hotels etc is hard. Then of course you have the fact that the ferries here have an appalling safety record and also some get robbed by pirates..... yes can you believe it in this day and age.... of course it's not Blackbeard and they don't have patches over 1 eye but are robbers just the same and of course some passengers have been kidnapped. They do have armed guards on the boats now which helps. I may just fly there but organising it all is difficult especially at this time of year. I will keep you posted.

Have a peaceful Thursday... nearly another TGF

Tuesday, 27 November 2007


Yesterday (Tuesday) there was an earthquake, brief but scary as the buildings move so much, I remember the first time that I felt one when I was on the 20 something floor of the Waterfront hotel in Cebu, it really scared me as the floor was moving in my room, I looked out the window and you can visibly see the horizon move, I rushed into the hallway to ask the staff what to do but they were scared also.... so no help there. I quickly got down to ground level as most people but after a few mins it was all forgotten, the good thing is that most people didn't seem to care so it sort of takes away the panic aspect of it all.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - A moderate earthquake shook the Philippines' main island of Luzon on Tuesday. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Buildings across Manila shook for several seconds. Panicked residents ran out into the streets, including some staffers at the Malacanang presidential palace and workers in the capital's Makati financial district.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 6.0 - upgraded from a preliminary estimate of 5.8 - with an epicenter 195 kilometers (120 miles) north-northwest of Manila and at a depth of 62.5 kilometers (38.8 miles).

The Philippine archipelago lies along the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.

For my family and friends that think the Phils is a very dangerous place, please realise that most of my posts are about things that may be interesting or current news, there is more good things happening here than bad. There isn't someone waiting around every corner to rob and murder me, if you lived here you would have a better perspective and understanding.

I watch some British news here and see lots of things from the internet regarding Britain, if I didn't know better I would be terrified of living there ( whichI am in some ways), I see youngsters in the streets with hoods on most corners (TV perspective).. never see that in the Phils. I see people fighting at football matches (unheard of here), bars full of young guys and girls behaving in a lewd and drunken manner ( NEVER see that here ), gangs of young guys fighting in the streets after clubs turn out (NEVER see that here). I could go on and on, the main point is that here people generally are extremely well behaved, 100 times moreso than in the UK. I'm even sure that if someone was going to rob me at gunpoint, they would probably say " excuse me sir but I am about to rob you so would you mind giving me any money that you may have.. thank you for your cooperation"... yes....tongue in cheek but people here are just so friendly and respectful.

Of course there are also bad guys here but they are few and far between, I'm talking about violence, there is lots of scams, bribery and corruption but I can deal with that... it isn't life threatening. Yes there are lots of political murders but they are far from my doorstep unless I get caught in the crossfire.
Living in any major city can be dangerous, here unfortunetly as in the US it is common to own a gun which obviously adds to murder/crime rates, they are trying to bring in a restrictive gun law which would help.
I can honestly say that I would feel safer walking home in most parts of Manila at any time rather than use the tube late at night in London.

After saying all that I am going to the cinema tonight to see a violent film called "the Kingdom", I have been waiting for it to premiere here.... the cost is £1.50 and that is an extra charge as it is the first run..... not bad eh !!

I hope after that you will all have a safe and enjoyable Wednesday

British embassy warning

Below is a warning from the government about travelling in the Phils especially in Mindanao where I want to visit.

The British Embassy has warned of high threat of terrorism throughout
the Philippines as it advised its subjects against all travel to
Mindanao, citing ongoing terrorist activity.

In its travel bulletin posted on its Web site, the embassy said
"ter-rorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and
the intent to carry out these attacks at any time and
anywhere in the country," citing the Nov. 22 bomb explosion in a
shopping mall in Kidapawan City and the attack on the Batasang
Pambansa building last Nov. 13 that left Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar dead
and others wounded.

"Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places frequented by
expatriates and foreign travellers," it added.
Buildings and locations frequented by expatriates and foreign
travellers could also be potential targets for terrorists, the embassy

"There are frequent terrorist attacks against civilian targets
throughout Mindanao," the advisory said, adding that the threat of
kidnapping of foreigners is also very high.

"We continue to believe that terrorists and criminal elements plan to
kidnap foreign tourists from islands and coastal areas in the southern
Philippines (such as) Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. The most
recent kidnap of a foreign national occurred in June 2007. Kidnappings
from other parts of the Philippines cannot be discounted, with boats
travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites possible
targets," the embassy said.

British subjects were also warned of the risk of terrorist attacks on
all forms of public transports such as by road, rail, sea and air.

"Terrorist groups have threatened to attack passenger ferries and
other vessels, particularly those operating from Mindanao," it pointed

I know that anyone reading this will probably find this stupid of me but I will still be visiting Mindanao, the government continually put warnings out like this for many reasons.

1. That they are true.
2. To cover themselves in that they have advised UK citizens not to visit in case of any incidents.
3. Travel insurers have a get out clause.

This area of the world has had problems as mentioned above for many years, if everyone over the past 30 years did as they suggested, yes there would be less kidnappings and killings but millions of people would not have visited these areas and been perfectly safe also.

Again it's like the london bombings in the 70's, did everyone stop visiting london because of the bombs, well I'm sure that a percentage did but millions didn't. People still went to work by tube, bus and car and got on with their lives. So please don't think that in Mindanao that there is a terrorist waiting around every corner to kidnap or kill you. Yes the percentage chance of something happening to you is higher than say visiting Thailand but it is still a low risk in % terms.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Monday 8am

Well the weekend was a complete wash out, I haven't been too good so have just been resting at home mostly, I only went out to get some shopping. The malls are now decorated for Xmas, looks nice but strange to see in the sunshine. This will be the 3rd Xmas that I have spent in the sunshine away from the UK. One was in Melbourne in '99, the other was in Leyte a couple of years ago.
I have been looking for xmas cards but they just have our usual type of card, snow, santa etc etc, I was looking for cards with a Philippines flavour.

Badminton England have asked me to do a report for their magazine on my return, should be interesting.

The next couple of days will be quiet as I have some tests to be completed, luckily I am only 10 minutes walk away from the best hospital in the Philippines. There is no free health service here so I have to pay. They will cost me about £150, which is cheap as the cost in the UK would be £1000. Nothing serious I may add.

I feel better already this morning as I finally heard from my friend in the U.S, she hadn't been receiving emails that I had sent so obviously hadn't been replying.

Hope your weekend went well, wherever you are viewing from,

Friday, 23 November 2007

yet another weekend

Thursday was a washout. This morning at 10am (Friday) I decided to get the train.... sort of fast subway.... to the furthest station which was North road... I didn't have a clue where it was but went there anyway. It wasn't easy as they aren't very good when it comes to making life easy for users.... there was no maps of routes or schedules etc at the station so I had no Idea about anything.

Anyway I ended up at this station and had a look around the local area and decided that I would walk back to Makati, basically trying to follow the train line which was on a track above the road.
I walked and walked and walked.... I walked past the national police station, I looked through a 12" hole in the wall as I could smell marijuana.... believe it or not there were about 12 policemen in full uniform standing there smoking... I can't say that I saw any reefers in their hands but they were smoking and I could definitely smell marijuana, as I was looking one of the cops looked straight at me and stared, I was thinking of taking a photo but when he put his hand on his gun I swiftly moved on !!
Before anyone asks how do I know the smell of marijuana... no I haven't tried it but I shared a flat in the 80's with guys that did, I can never forget that pungent smell.

I kept walking and stopped occasionally to have a look around at different things, I also stopped sometimes to pop into somewhere that had aircon so that I could cool down for 10 mins, after 4 hours I gave in and completed the last part of the journey by train !!

One good thing about the train stations here is that on the platforms there is a blocked off area with an armed guard, only females, the elderly and the disabled are allowed into this area. I think this is good practice as it makes those people feel safe, to be honest I always feel safe when I see an armed guard so I didn't need that area.

Sad to say but a 52 year old scotsman was killed this week in Manila, he was walking home when he was attacked and stabbed to death... there but for the grace......................

It wasn't too hot today, the sun shone as usual but the temp was only around 80*, probably still better that the UK where I believe it is getting colder.

I hope you all have a great weekend

Thursday, 22 November 2007

another nothing day

Wednesday was another day of doing not very much, still got a fever though improving, I was getting a bit stir crazy so went to the mall just to get out of my condo. I ended up going to the cinema to see a movie to pass the time. But the thing with the cinemas here.... other than the talking and ringing cellphones... is that they are very cold.... the aircon is too high and even I usually make sure I wear long trousers there to keep warm, of course I hadn't intended to go there so ended up very cold for 2 hours and felt it when I got back home.

After all my complaining to Globe they sent an engineer round without informing me that they were going to do that !! Luckily I was at home but it was a total waste of time.

The pesos is getting worse (for us that is) with the exchange rates, the last time I was here I was getting 102 pesos to the pound, now it's under 90 that's a huge difference when changing currency.
That could be as much as £5000 more when buying a condo..... which I have been thinking about.... but it will have to wait til the pound recovers..... if it does.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


It's now 8am Wednesday and the Internet has just returned.... for how long I don't know so I will post this while I can.
It has been down 3 or 4 days this week, sometimes during those days you can get online for an hour or two if you are lucky.
I go a bit fed up with it last night, I phoned Globe and gave the guy that answered a hard time, he said the same thing as always.... it must be from a script.... "sorry sir I will find out why and make sure that you are online in the next 24 hours", if you are not and you phone back again, you will simply get the same reply, by the law of averages one of the times that they say it will be correct !!
After telling him how inefficient his company and this country was... bty he hung I think, although he would say that the line dropped.... I don't blame him because I just got so fed up and he was at the receiving end...................... I realised that although I felt better for my rant it really was just a waste of my phone call, I may as well have just shouted at the mirror. I should know better by now, if I ever live here I will have learn even moreso than now to let it be... I will get online whenever I can get online.... just maybe not when I want to.

One thing that they are not short of here is bodies.... all these service staff are employed on 6 month contracts, that's so that the employees don't have to pay them any benefits, so it is hardly surprising that for a lot of them.. not all... it is just get a matter of getting through the day as best as you can. Call centres I believe are reasonably well paid, I guess though that the abuse that they must get warrants that.

So anyway Tuesday was spent mostly at home as I still have a fever, not being online didn't help either.
I am planning my next trip which is to Mindanao, everyone says not to go there as it is dangerous, I think it is wrong to call a whole island dangerous just because some parts of it has had some kidnappings etc. Yes it is a Muslim stronghold and they want Mindanao to be separate from the Philippines, and yes the terrorists do have a hold in parts of the island and yes they have done some bombings and kidnapped and killed some westerners. But it is not an every day occurrence, if you keep your head down and be careful you will definitely be OK, there are some parts of it that I won't be visiting as I do realise the need to be careful.
It's like saying during the 70's don't visit Ireland as it is dangerous..... it was only really a very small part of Ireland and even then if you visited Belfast at the height of the troubles you would probably have been OK... especially with a Scottish accent. ;-)

I'm not sure when I can go as the busy Xmas season has begun and hotels will be getting fully booked so I may have to leave it til the new year. I would like to have to have gone this weekend but I have a routine hospital test on Tuesday so will have to leave it til later.

For those of you that watched my Corregidor video, the part showing my feet wasn't an error, it was to show how narrow the walkway was, I couldn't get past someone that had stopped for a chat so I had to go back the other way.

My number here is 0919 490 2955, if anyone wants to text me the number will be 0063 919490 2955... I will reply !! I know the charge here is 15p to send abroad and it's about 40p from the UK.

It's cloudy here in Manila but is still warm, I wonder how the weather in the UK is today, I spoke to Maurice the other night and it wasn't too good then.

Hope you all have a wonderful day.... enjoy it as best as you can