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

Monday, 19 November 2007

Weekend is over

The weekend is over and it was not too bad, I didn't feel so good on Saturday so I didn't go training, I mostly just stayed at home and rested.

Sunday was my trip to Corregidor which is in the post below.

On Saturday I did have to go out for some foodstuff. I popped into M&S, over here it's mostly just clothing but they did have a small area for imported goodies, mostly chocolates and biccies. I couldn't resist buying their milk chocolate digestives, they were a reasonable price at £1.30, I also bought a tin of their minced beef at £4.50 which was a bit on the expensive side but I did enjoy eating it, to finish it off I found some Heinz beans in the local supermarket... so a nice meal was had that night !!

It's now Monday and I have caught a bug that has been going around, a flu'ish type so I have stayed in bed most of the day, I just had to get up to go and get some medicine, that's one of the negatives of living alone... but I am used to it now.

People over here can't believe that I am on my own, they don't seem to understand the concept that some people choose to be single for large portions of their lives. They keep saying to me what will I do when I get old... who will look after me, I think that their culture... being so family related.... dictates that you should always have someone to look after in your old age. Of course this is a good thing, that's why there is little need for nursing homes here because your wife or your family will look after you until you die. People even look after aunts and uncles because it is so ingrained into their culture.... to look after your family at all times.
I think I like that attitude and I could really do with being a part of it so maybe in the future if I live here I would follow suit.

My Corregidor video is now live... so please view it if you have time, Paul (skeggie) there is a small part on it especially for you !!

I hope you all had a great weekend.... but now.... get back to work !!!! I am going back to sleep !

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Corregidor island

I went on a day trip to Corregidor island today. I was supposed to get up at 5.30 am but woke at 3.15 am and couldn't get back to sleep. I got to the ferry terminal at 6.30 as the desk opens at 7am, I had booked a reservation the previous day but that doesn't mean much here in the Phils.
Their systems and proceedures are still in the 19th century but that's another story, anyway to cut a long story short I got my boarding pass at 7.50am.

It was an interesting trip but too touristy for me... you know, board bus at 9.30... stop here for a photo shoot, right everyone back on the bus... 5 mins later... right stop for another photo shoot.

It was very educational though, I learned a lot more about WW2. Corregidor... although it is 26 miles from Manila, it is still in Manila bay... the bay is a very very big horseshoe.
To get to Manila you have to pass Corregidor so you can see why it was such an important island during the war.
The U.S lost the island to the Japanese on may 6th 1942, the americans surrendered and 13,000 were taken as POW's. They won it back again in 1945.
What is usually the most interesting is the little things that happened that you may get to know about. I won't bore you with the details except to write the following....
I want to write this as it will remind me in later years when I look at this blog, one of the guides that was very old, probably in his 80's.... but still all there......told the story of when the Phils was occupied by the Japanese, the hero Japanese fighter pilot did a personal appearance in a theatre in Manila, he went along to listen to him, after the translator had told the pilots story he offered to answer questions in a type of open forum, this guide ( he was a guide then too) asked him what did it feel like as you flew over the horizon to attack, to cut a long story short, he knew that the Americans had known about the attack on Pearl harbour 10 hours before so guessed that they would be ready for them. There had been a fog in the bay which had delayed the Japanese attack so took away the art of surprise, when he (Jap pilot) flew over the airfields he could see lots of planes but he told his men that they would be wooden planes and the real planes would be somewhere else awaiting to attack them. He fired on on one of the "wooden" planes to find out that they were all real planes with engines.. he couldn't believe his luck and he and his men blew up every plane in 20 minutes which left the americans in a pretty bad way. He then found out that although one arm of the US military knew about Pearl harbour they didn't inform the other arm til it was too late. At that time the army and navy didn't see eye to eye and kept the info to themselves. If true this is an amazing thing to happen and the war in Asia could have been different. Sorry about the length of this, I promise not to do it again !!

I have added a video but it won't be "live" for a few hours yet. You don't have to watch it you know !!! ;-)

Saturday, 17 November 2007

5.30am Sunday

The net was down here most of Saturday here in Makati. It's 5.30 am and I am visiting Corregidor, it's an island off Manila. I'm running late so will post later today.

Friday, 16 November 2007


Well it's Friday again, another weekend begins. We have had a few problems with the net in Manila, globe keep going down, most of yesterday and this morning I couldn't get online, that's the 2nd time this week. grrrh !!

Since returning from Tagaytay I have just mostly rested and am looking for my next trip out of Manila.

I had my haircut.... cost £1.50.... nice eh !! I found this really big mens hairdressers in Greenbelt, it has over 10 cutters and you can have a Head, neck and back massage at the same time. I will be there every month from now on.

I don't see much British TV when I'm over here but I did see 2 shows the other night, what I really noticed was how many times young people say " yah no wot ah meen", if they just said what they meant then obviously we will know what they mean !! Another word is "like" used so often out of context... we went to the cinema like.... like what !! I said like....this or that?????? Do you know what I mean.......yes I am an old foggy !!

I asked friends what is the emergency number to call if I need the police or ambulance, they didn't know if there was one or not, they then suggested that Makati where I live may have one but it may be different in each area.... so if that's true if I dial 911 or whatever it may be here in Makati, it will not work if I am in another area. So I asked what do they do and they said that they would call family or a friend !!! Nice one !!

I haven't been bitten by a mozzie in 3 weeks yet I see them flying around inside my condo !!! I don't understand that. Is my smell now that of a Filipino and that's why they leave me alone... another question is why is it that they only bite you below the knee. Can any bright teacher at St.Andys answer those questions..... a big blue tick for you if you can !!

3 more bombs exploded in the Phils, one here in Manila killing 3, the other 2 were further south killing 11.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Tagaytay video

Somehow the taping of the scenary, that is the water and islands wasn't on my tape when I came to transfer it to the computer. I must have messed up somewhere.... sorry !
But you can see the us eating !! the wheel stuck in the drain and me driving home !!

I look so old and haggard in this video.... nothing like this handsome hunk here ----------------------------------------------->
That pic is only 3 years old......... help !!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


I picked up the van (people carrier) at 7am Tuesday. This was my first time driving in the Phils, at that time in the morning it wasn't too busy, I just took about 30 mins to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road again. We were soon out of Manila which helped, the roads going south are a bit strange but ok to deal with in the daylight.
We arrived in Tagaytay around 9am, visited a hotel where the gardens have a great view over the water and islands, we had lots of pics taken.... I mean lots of pics.... these Filipinos are worse than the Japanese with their cameras, every few yards someone would shout... right photo shoot... again and again !!!!! I know that each of the 4 took 200 photos each.... I took 2 !! but I did take some video which I will put online asap.

Anyway we then visited a very posh country club which was huge... I mean HUGE... it has clubhouses, lots of people own homes there too, it simply has everything, a bus service too that's how big it is... probably best to describe it like a town. Difficult to get into, armed guards stop everyone, the only reason that we were allowed in was because coach William used to live there and managed to obtain a pass for the day for us.
It really was a beautiful place with outside swimming pools, Jacuzzis and whirlpool bath areas, restaurants etc etc etc.
We walked around taking lots of pics. At lunchtime we had to go outside of the resort as only residents and members are allowed to eat there. We found a very good restaurant in the town and had a very nice meal, the bill for 5 of us including drinks was £15.

We returned to the club after lunch, I was a bit tired so I stayed in the van to get 40 winks, the others walked to another part to visit an animal section that they have there. we all had a tour round the sports club which had 2 beautiful badminton courts, an indoor basketball court, table tennis rooms, squash court and more swimming pools. we were then were allowed to play badminton at 4pm til 7pm.... as usual my shirt was drenched. The showering areas were beautifully maintained with everything that you can imagine there for your use.

We left the area afterwards to make our way home, I drove home but it was much more difficult in the dark, some of these roads have 2 lanes going in each direction but the centre 2 lanes are what you use, if someone wants to overtake you then they actually have to undertake you to get past. The main reason is that there are no pavements as such so the inside lane on both sides of the roads are used by pedestrians. For that very reason I never did undertake any vehicle as I was too worried about hitting someone walking along the road. I really had to focus as going through the small towns and villages is worrying, so many people all walking along the road and dogs just sitting in the middle of the road !! So many children too just walking home from wherever.

I stopped to drop off Ging at her home, we went in for a drink of coke, coach William asked me for the keys as he wanted to turn the vehicle around as we were in a very narrow road, I went in for my coke and I heard BANG, William had turned the front wheel into a deep drain gully, it would not drive out of it, luckily Filipinos are helpful so all the neighbours came out to help, I put it into reverse, they lifted the front of the van for a second and I hit the worked, only a little damage to the bumper.

So all in all it was an interesting but tiring day, another thing that I found out is that when you order your favourite food in the restaurant, don't think for a minute that you are going to eat it all... no chance.... Filipinos share food big time.... next time I'm ordering 2 sweet and sour chickens !!!!! :-)

I got home at 11pm and fell off to sleep on the couch as usual.... nothing changes no matter where I am in the world.

Hope you all have a nice day and aren't working too hard..... work.. yes I think I remember what that means !!!!!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Monday night

Well it's now Monday night, I received a parcel of mail from my sis Anne, I was a bit worried in case I had lots of letters that I would have to reply to but it was mostly just junk mail. I was also charged the 40p again... for what, I don't know but that's the Phils.

I'm embarrassed, outside the Las Pinas badminton centre is a large banner of me coaching players with my name etc...... they are planning to have a national tournament there called..... wait for it..... the Gerry McGuire cup ..... !!!!! I wished they wouldn't... honestly I mean that.
It's funny isn't it, in the Uk you get very little recognition for what you do. The only people that get the recognition are those that actively seek it and in my opinion rarely deserve it, yet here I don't actually deserve it but I get it manifold.... strange world.

I forgot to mention in the last tourney that we won 2 golds etc, there were over 1000 entrants, we never get that many for any tourney in the UK.... it just shows you how important badminton is here. Badminton is so popular that they haven't had enough time to even build enough courts to satisfy the demand, so what they do is buy warehouses and make them into courts... everywhere you look there are courts and they are filled every evening.

I probably won't have time to post tomorrow as I am going to Tagaytay for the whole day with 4 friends.

See you all again on Wednesday

Have a great day on Tuesday as I definetly will.... video to follow

My first Mano po's

As I have mentioned before Filipinos have a respectful way of addressing each other, which I think is really good for helping children grow into adults with a healthy respect for older family/friends.

As far as I understand... any Filipino that knows better can correct me... is that Kuya ( koo-yah) is respect to an older male possibly a brother but definetly someone older than you, Ate (ay-teh) is like auntie although may not be related to you, tito (male) and tita (female) are family friends. Then there is Mano po.. I thought this was a sign of respect to a very old member of your family like a grandfather..... so you can imagine how surprised (am I that old !!) but honoured that 2 of the children did it to me. Mano Po is when a child takes the back of your hand, bows slightly and puts it to his forehead as a sign of respect. I asked one of the parents about this and he said no you don't have to be a grandfather type, it's just a sign of deep respect and that his children do the same to him and he is just 40.
The only people in the Phils that call me Gerry, are people that know me personally and are a similar age as me. So I am always called either, Sir, Sir Gerry, coach Gerry, Kuya Gerry, tito Gerry (actually that one hasn't happened yet) and now the best of all in my opinion.... Mano Po.. what a beautiful gesture.
So May, when I return to the UK, I want some Mano Po from you !!!!! After all I am nearly 20 years older and deserve it. ;-)

I think a lot of other countries would benefit from this form of respect. Can you imagine anyone under 25 in the street in the UK, showing any type of respect for anyone, never mind someone that they don't know.

Anne asked me today in an email if I thought that I would like to live here permanently, the answer at the moment would be yes but of course I will have a better opinion by April. This country isn't ruled by the 16-30 age groups that make our towns and cities an unsafe place to live. Yes the Phils can be a dangerous place in some ways but the basic structure is sound with lots of respect and helpfulness from most people.
The thought of returning to London at this moment in time fills me with dread !!! Big time !!

Sunday was a very quiet day for me as I didn't feel well, I just spent the day sleeping and resting. It's now Monday and am feeling better.

Hope your Monday is a good start to your week.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

It's 11am Sunday

The Internet was down yesterday in Manila and surrounding areas so I couldn't post.... put your passport back Mary as I'm ok :-) !!!

Yesterday (Saturday) I went to see 2 adults that I've been coaching play in a tourney, they won their first 2 matches but were knocked out in their 3rd match. They were playing in a 14 court hall here in Makati about 30 mins walk from my home, I got a taxi, the driver couldn't even find the address, we drove around in circles for 45 mins, even though I phoned my friends and they gave him directions, we stopped and asked police, traffic wardens they did the same but he still couldn't find it !! I eventually just stopped and told him to forget it, a 50 pesos fare cost me 150 and I wasn't even there yet. Got another cab and he took me directly there. Do cabbies go through a test here like in London... I don't think so..... just rent a car and start operating as a taxi.

I then had to get another cab to Las Pinas ( I wish I could avoid cabs) at 2pm, most drivers can't find the address that I go to but I can forgive them as Las Pinas is outside of Manila, usually my friend has to give them directions on the phone... actually not usually but always !!

I would like to hire a car but they are so expensive, there is no parking here in Makati just like London and I would have to through the Philippines driving test after I have stayed here for 3 months, lastly I wouldn't know how to get around as the street signs aren't user friendly and there is no satnav here in Manila. I even thought of buying a bike but a lot of the negatives above still apply plus of course many bikers are injured/killed here in road accidents. If I was involved in an accident then it would be my fault and I would have to pay... why.... because I am a Caucasian... or I could maybe get away from paying for the accident if I bribed the investigating police officer.... whatever way..... the Caucasian pays..... you're white so you are rich and can afford it.

Anyway I coached in Las Pinas til 8.30 played a couple of games, changed shirts 3 times because of the heat, showered then had to get another cab home !! I used 4 cabs that day costing me 600 pesos, it was only that low as 2 friends drove me most of the way there and back.
Then I got home and no Internet... thanks !! watched telly and fell asleep after answering over 20 texts... they love texting here !!!! BIG time.

Friday, 9 November 2007

finals today

Its 7pm Friday. The finals are over for our groups. we won 2 gold, 3 silver and 5 bronze medals. In one of the age groups we had both the finalists so only one pair could win the gold. During the presentation for that event all 6 players on the rostrum to receive their medals (gold,silver + bronze) were from our group.
It was an enjoyable day and we ended up having a blowout... that's what they call it !!!... it's having a treat when you win something.. so we ended up in KFC... 23 of us !! it was fun.

5 of us are hoping to visit Tagaytay ( tag-ay-tie), it's one of those mountainous areas when you drive around the bends looking over the edge !! I'm driving so that should be fun.... though as everyone knows..... I get vertigo on a thick carpet. I do try though never to let it stop me from doing anything, that's why I have done a parachute jump amongst other things like walking across a rope bridge in Thailand.

Tonight is just for sitting at home with a beer watching HBO..... and of course texting probably over 50 texts..... that's how it is here !!

Of course would you believe it the sun shone again today but we also had some rain too !!

Hope you are all having a restful day and night

Thursday, 8 November 2007


One of the best things about here that I see, I have mentioned it before, is the driving. Yes they drive all over the place, lines don't exist, lights are just treated as a suggestion. Turning into any main road is simply.... just go, the bigger your vehicle the better or if you are a taxi that's good too as most people keep out of your way. Now there is a lot of honking your horn but not in an aggressive manner, I have never been in a vehicle when any driver has even been put out by being cut up or squeezed to a stop. They really all take it in their stride as if it is of no consequence, no swearing, no 1 finger salute, no "I'll get him back" attitude. Everyone is so relaxed that it is quite incredible but refreshing.

So why the difference ? I have no real answers except that maybe the British/US lifestyle has something to do with it. Now I don't drive here... yet, but I do find myself getting frustrated (just like UK drivers) when I'm walking in Makati or the malls, people just amble along as though they don't have a care in the world when I'm trying to get somewhere, I find myself saying inwardly get a move on or get out of my way, when they don't I can feel my frustration rising. This is the feelings that I think UK drivers have.... get out of my way as I'm in a hurry and YOU are stopping me from getting there. I think we have a lot to learn from this attitude because it's better for everyone, drivers/walkers just amble along with no stress, those behind are the same, the attitude seems to be that we'll get there when we get there !!

I hope that I can take some of that attitude home with me.

Hope your day is stress free


Just done a few chores today, I had a package from London delivered, it took over 3 weeks to arrive. I had to go to the main post office inMakati to pick it up and as always there was a charge, only 40p but there always seems to be a charge for everything here.

It was very very hot today, so much so that I had to keep indoors most of the day, this is when aircon comes into its own. If I spend more than 10 mins in that sun like today, I can actually feel my skin burn immediately. So when you have to go out, you walk for 10 mins then dive into somewhere that has aircon, cool down then do another 10 mins til you get to your destination, of course you can always get a cab which all have aircon,

I spent Wednesday evening coaching 2 adult players that have a tourney this Saturday, good players that can definetly improve very quickly. We had a couple of beers afterwards which made a nice change.

Got to go as I am late for a lunch appointment. ( its now 12 midday hurs)

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

lazy day

I felt tired after yesterday so I had a very lazy and sleepy day, the joys of not having to work !!

I have edited and uploaded 2 videos, one is of the Glorietta bomb, if you watch it you will see a large white sheet attached to the pedestrian bridge that I use to walk from mall to mall, the bomb exploded underneath it. The last scene is of remembrance flowers and ribbons with all the names of those that died that day.

I have also put on my birthday party in Greenbelt, I cut it down to 5 mins, the speeches alone took 45 mins, they were just saying a lot of nice things about... I should have left it all in !!!!

I uploaded them at 5pm UK time so they may not be available to view yet, there is no set time with google, you just have to take your chance when you click on the link.

Hope you enjoy the videos if you get to see them. Unfortunately you do need to have a broadband connection to see them.

Patsy I received your card today..... thank you. I also received a package from london which was sent over 3 weeks ago, so Anne it's still possible that yours could still reach me even yet.

Have a nice day

Monday, 5 November 2007

bribery and corruption

This morning I had to go to the Bureau of Immigration to get my visa extended for another 2 months. I walked into the reception area and mentioned the magic words... visa extension please... I was immediately asked to stand at the side... a red flag straight away as everyone else is passing through. As I'm standing there waiting I see another guy ( wearing the same uniform) coming towards the desk, I can see eyes and fingers pointing him in my direction... hello sir he says then goes on to explain that the cost of the visa is 3500 pesos but I will have to wait all day for it and I may even have to return tomorrow....... so whats the alternative I ask, knowing exactly what is coming next.............. well sir for an extra 1200 pesos you can get your passport validated in under an hour... .....oh I am surprised.......not. I say that's too expensive so he offers me a discount of 200p. My thoughts at this time are that I don't really want to be involved in bribery but at the same time I don't want to spend my whole day sitting in this office. So anyway I agree to 4500 pesos, after 20 mins he returns... there is an extra charge of 300 pesos (which in fact was true) so it ended up costing me 4800pesos ( about £50). I paid him the genuine fee of 3800p in cash right there in front of everyone, no-one blinked an eye. When he returned with my passport he handed it over in the toilets where I gave him his bribe of 1000p(£11), my new date is now Jan 8th and because of this he wished me a happy new year.. yea right.. so the 1000 will be shared with any other bribes amongst him and his colleagues.

To add insult to injury, included in the genuine 3800 fee was a 500 pesos charge for.....wait for it..... an express fee !!!
To even further add to injury I left my expensive sunglasses in the cab on the way home.... you gotta laugh or I would cry !!!! :-)

Amazingly after playing badminton tonight a friend gave me a lift home... actually just an hour ago at 11pm, the police stopped us apparently for turning right on a red light, he had 3 other cars stopped for the same charge... it was just a shakedown ( thats my gangster talk !) anyway my friend offers him the normal bribe, but alas as it is in Makati the fine is not the usual 500p but is 1000p so the police office said that he wanted 500p to not issue the ticket which my friend didn't have. Although I saw the money changing hands and the officer returning it I didn't understand what they were saying as they were talking in Tagalog. If I did I would have paid him the 500 as now my friend has a ticket which he will have to pay later of 1000p, this is half his weekly salary !!
This is all because police officers can make a good living just stopping drivers and taking money, if you don't give them what they want then you simply end up paying more in the long run.

Corruption breeds corruption.. it simply becomes acceptable in society and then good people start to do it as well.

Hope your day isn't filled with the uglier side of life.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

semis over

We done quite well today, we had 5 from the 10 go through to the finals next weekend, it could have even been better as 2 of the pairs were drawn against each other therefore only 1 pair could go through. Also the strongest girl was taking heavy medication and lost in 3 when she was expected to win a gold but that's life.

I of our youngest girls got put out by a girl nearly double her size, this girl is as tall as her parents as supposed to be only 8 !! It is always possible that sometimes children can grow out of sync with their peers but this does look dodgy, it has happened many times here that parents lie about their children's age to play them in an age group below their real age to obtain some glory. Records in the provinces aren't as stringently kept like we are used to. A request to see the copy of her birth certificate has been lodged although these are commonly faked as well.... yes I'm afraid the Phils is a very corrupt society.

Even in senior tourneys that are graded, there are what is called "leveling" meaning that someone watches you play and then grades you accordingly. Some players will intentionally play badly hoping to get put into a lower grade or they will get friends involved to get them catorigised as a lower grade. You can clearly see it when you watch or play in some of these tourneys, some matches are so one sided because of the huge gulf in standard.. some people will do anything for a trophy.... how they get away with it is beyond me as is stands out like a sore thumb.

Tomorrow is my visa day, I have to devote my day to simply obtain my next 59 day visa. I'm hoping to find a travel agent that will do it for me... for a price of course, failing that I will have to visit the Bureau of Immigration myself, this could involve me being there for a whole day waiting for it, maybe even having to return the next day also. Lets hope it works out for me.

Yes the sun shone again today... surprise surprise.. though it wasn't too hot.

Hope you have a nice day wherever you are... I'm probably talking to you alone Mary as you are probably the only visitor thatI have today :-)

Saturday, 3 November 2007

weekend is here

I made a mistake yesterday, today there were more quarter finals played, we now have 10 through to the semis which is played tomorrow (Sunday). The finals are next weekend and are played in one of the mega malls... yes a shopping mall..... they put courts up in the centre of the mall, they do this a lot to keep shoppers amused I guess.

I had a 2 hour walk home from this new venue that we are playing in, I found an area that was very interesting, I walked down a side street and found a busy shopping area where there was even more small "shops" in a basement.. probably over 100, the metal joists were about my head height, I had to duck every 5 yds. These places are were to buy some things as they are so much cheaper than elsewhere.

I went to the cinema this evening just to get out and do something different, I have been before and both times the movie has been spoiled by women talking, I read about this before I came but even still I find it very annoying and inconsiderate but it seems to be acceptable here. I even told them to shut up twice but they looked at me as though I was weird. Some people say that the conversations that you can listen in to can be more interesting than the film.... that maybe so but I still hate it with a vengeance.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Friday 7pm..... UK 11am

Well we had a good day today as we have 8 players through to the semis in different age groups, hopefully 4 will go through to the finals and then... well we hope for 1 or 2 gold medals.

I wanted to post another letter today, in this country there are no postboxes I have to make a 20min walk to the main post office to post anything, so count yourself lucky in the UK, US and Canada. It's things like that we take for granted, I haven't even received 2 packages that were sent to me, 1 over 3 weeks ago. If the postal sevice think that there is anything of value inside then it probably won't reach me. Corruption is big here in many ways, alledgely as far up as the president, most deposed presidents have been found to have large amounts of cash stashed away.
If police stop you to give you a ticket then the fine will be something like 500 pesos (£5) but if you give him 200/300 pesos then you can go on your way. Police don't get a decent salary so this is one way to supplement it and they do, anyone that is power of any kind seems to use it mainly as a way of making money. I am sure that there are some good too though.

On Monday I have to go to the Bureau of immigration to get my visa extended for another 59 days, costs about £40 and a long wait in their offices, I am not looking forward to that as it could be a whole day wasted.

Hope you all have a great weekend wherever you are in this beautiful world.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Thursday 11pm

Today was a very quiet day, Makati streets were empty more than I have ever seen before. I had a very lazy day trying to recover from this tourney, Thursday was a day off, semi finals are tomorrow and Finals on Saturday. Keeyan is through to the semis, he's only turned 9 in September but you should see him play......... incredible.
There is 2/3 players that I would love to take home with me, Keeyan and Carla both 9 years old but awesome players and I have a soft spot for both of them. These asian players are away ahead of their counterparts in the UK, they are put under match pressure as soon as they play, in the Uk we protect that age group from any pressure and the parents even complain that they are still under too much pressure. This may be one of the reasons that the Asians are so far ahead of us in this sport. Over here the players have to deal with all the spectators standing courtside and your opponants supporters cheer and scream at every mistake you make, at home we protect then from that, no-one is allowed courtside other than coaches and we only applaud when our players play a good shot but not when the opponent makes an error. These tourneys are played over a full week and players have to take days off from school for each round that go through on, that would never happen in the UK, education always come first, I can't even get some players to compete on a Saturday as they attend school even then, oddly enough it is the Asian british players that refuse to play as their parents push them in their education.

I will put some video on this weekend, it just takes so long to edit it. But hopefully will be worth the wait.

Would you adam and eve it, the UK is just as bad as the Phils, I tried to do a simple transfer of cash from the Alliance & Leicester to another bank account that I have, I put in my 9 digit account no, then my 12 digit ID number and finally my 5 digit pin number.... is that enough... no.... during the transfer it asks for 2 digits from my password..... which one is that ???.... so it doesn't work and locks me out of my accounts but says that I have to ring them to renew my password.
I ring them in the UK and get put on hold while listening to some crap music which is costing me lots to listen to...... I get through to an advisor........ asks me lots of questions regarding 3 accounts that I have with them... I know the exact figures as I had access to them at the time (problem was only during transfer)... is that enough.... no she said I haven't given her enough security answers even though I have answered all her questions correctly... apparently the automatic answer machine should have asked me questions before I spoke to her.... ok I say just ask me the questions yourself and I will answer them......... sorry she says I can't do that... what are the questions I ask..... sorry she says I can't tell you........................what can I do then to solve this problem............ she says ring the auto phone .... but I have been told online that I must speak to an advisor to change my password.............. sorry she can't help and suggests that I ring back....... I'm getting a little bit peeved by this time.
I rings back.... go through the auto security questions..... no problems so far and speak to a security advisor... I answer all her questions and she is satisfied and tells me she is going to transfer me to another advisor that can give me a new password.............. Nooooooooooooooooo please wait as I can't go into another queue my phone is running out of credit........... I'm transferred.... the voice says you are in a queue and will be answered in approx 5 mins............. 3 mins later my phone is cut off as the credit has run out !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I search the site for an email address to complain to........... sorry you can only contact the Alliance and Leicester by telephone..................arrggggggghhhhhhh !!! Where's that rope !!