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Postcards from the Philippines

I know this Forum is always interested in the whereabouts of old boys and it may be of passing interest to the users of this Forum that I am now happily ensconced in the Philippines. The reasons for my move are personal and ultimately irrelevant as are the details of my leaving of home in England and my arrival.in the Islands. Some of the answers may be found in Tennyson’s Ulysees:

Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!

Be that as it may I have wondered if the Forum might enjoy sharing my time here through a weekly/ more likely irregular blog.
The language here is Tagalog although English is widely, if badly, spoken and there are numerous local dialects, still Tagalog is the language most commonly used. I had wondered if |I were to write in that language whether this would then become a tagablog..
The city, upon whose fringes I now live, is by the sea and has a good long promenade where evening walks are a sweet blessing after the heat of the day.
The islands are part of the Circle of Fire and many old volcanic remains savage the skyline with their ragged peaks. On other islands some volcanoes still sulk and grumble and threaten but here all is calm and still--for now.
There are long avenues of coolness and shade leading down from the blue hills into the bustling noisy smelly heart of the city. Along these ways tethered goats and caraboa graze.
Caraboa are hugely horned male and female cattle, fierce looking but placid and docile, serenely bovine.
And then there are the dogs!! The weather here , the soporific heat, leaves them slumped beside the roads, splattered like road kill, inert, the absence of flies the only clue that they are still alive.
The city strives to be a part of the 21st Century. It has its department stores that sell its televisions and videokes( A national pastime!!) and fridges and all the trappings of civilisation but still there are power failures, ( they call them ‘brown-outs’ although they are just as dark as our ‘black-outs and I can detect no irony or PC in the choice). There are Pizza places and Macdonalds and KFC, there are Scooby‘s , Jollybees and the proliferation of local eateries that any city breeds.
The traffic is horrendous, an unordered melee, a tumultuous mesh of vehicles. One walks or joins this tumult. Cars are there but few, motorbikes are the personal choice of many and they dash and dart in rasps of macho aggressiveness, but the main form of local transport is the tricycle. A wrought iron cage with seats and roof and in its heart a motorbike struggles and sputters They are, or were brightly coloured. mostly red and with a large city identification number, the family name of ownership and across the front some quotation from the bible, some invocation, some supplication such as : God guard our journey. In God we trust, The Lord is my shepherd, A gift from God. Given that there is no evidence of driving tests, no crossroads governed by traffic lights, no road markings, which would be ignored anyway, no semblance of order or manners, such supplications and invocations are all that keeps the traffic accidents so low. They seem to work. I face all this holding the soft slender waist of my new friend as she drives through the mesh and melee and with my eyes tight shut.
We were wending our way through a jam in a trike when we passed slowly the body of a local spreadeagled in the sun a circle of onlookers watching as he gasped for life with a knife deep in his soft brown belly. And then we passed on into the crowd. Just like home was my first and only thought.
So this is, in part, the landscape in which I am now a figure and from the heart of which, with your approval , I will be reporting my bemused, often baffled, always fascinating tale.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Shades of Alistair Cooke! Carry on,Arthur,I am agog.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 55-60

Current location (optional) Harrogate

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Surely, Alec, that should be Talagog or Tagalagog?

But Arthur, why? And why the Philippines of all places? I know Bradford Street isn't what it used to be...! You should be careful though, emulating old Ulysses. Tennyson's version is all very well but a much earlier one, Dante's, has the old sailor's ship going down in the South Atlantic and him ending up in Hell (it was the Ring of Fire bit reminded me...). I suppose, through total ignorance breeding a passive sort of prejudice, the Philippines would not be on my list of first fifty places to settle down, especially at our age... Your courage staggers me. Nevertheless, I shall still expect to see you on parade at the next KBGS Reunion in 2011!

Like many, I shall look forward to your bulletins.

Best wishes in your new life (or 'vita nuova' as Dante had it)

Doug

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Current location (optional) Cottingham, East Yorkshire

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

You're missing the Six Nations, Arthur, - and where will I find another welcoming half-way house in Addingham?

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Lincoln

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

My barber out here in Tasmania has a Philippino wife and he is building a house there for his frequent visits. His description of the life out there matches yours , but not so eloquently expressed.I look forward to regular
updates from time to time . What a contrast , is it farewell to Keighley but in particular to YORKSHIRE.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 43-46

Current location (optional) Tasmania

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I have made appox 10 visits to Manila/Makati (and one down to Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao), over the last 15-16 years, the most recent being last month. These were of course business trips. Lovely people the Filipinos. Unfortunately the recent one may have been the last, depending on when I decide to retire

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

If I'm not mistaken, Philippines is one of the few places in Asia where you can draw your UK state pension at full rates. In other countries, such as Singapore, you lose the inflation-linking benefit (most unfair!).

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I did say this blog would be irregular and so it is. I am grateful for the generous responses and will continue with my thoughts and reactions to this place and its people.
I have mentioned the high hills around this city. Volcanic in origin but old and dead now as cinders from a fire. They rear above this seaside city and as each bright blue day fades into evening and then night they lose all contour and become a flat pastel Prussian blue profile only, a dark blue mass against the luminous evening sky and then blacker still against the black sky of night till beyond them a new luminosity grows that signals the arrival of the moon.
El Nino has robbed us of rain but has given us these clear blue days. Too hot to venture far and better it is to wait for the cool of evening or dispose of any chores while the day is young and still only warm from the night.
I am enthralled by incongruities and here they are numerous and unique.
The blind lady who waded through traffic to shake her tin in my face. Blind?? Yeah ! Right!
The jogger sweltering along the promenade in a tracksuit emblazoned with ‘ Live Hard’ stopping to catch his breath and lighting up a ciggie for a quick drag. ( I can remember doing the same during the inaugural cross country run when the whole school were compelled to take part. I had my drag under the golf course culvert along with the rest of the Craven ‘A’ club.).
The vendor who sits all day on the steps of Super Lees blowing bubbles from something that squeaks when he blows. I of course call him ‘Bubble and Squeak’. He is accompanied by a younger man who squeezes a rubber bulb in his hand and makes little horses buck. Two more mind destroying occupations I could not imagine. I mean what do they actually think about all day??
More mind destroying that is until I passed the local cathedral/ church where legless beggars collect. One has a one note pipe in his mouth which he blows rhythmically at the same time as he slides a tin can up and down a pole and occasionally jingles some bells attached to the pole. Monotonous self-imposed tasks such as these must induce some sort of trance-like state a sort of ecstasy perhaps else why do it at all. I have never seen anyone by a bubble and squeak nor a bucking rubber horse nor offer the crippled beggar a coin for his one man band routine.
Beggars of every age are many and my old socialist heart hurts when I have to ignore their pleas but I know if I respond to one I will be pestered by a hundred so the harshness of my dismissal of pleading hands and fingers plucking at my trousers as I pass them is hard for me to deliver. My friend is kindness itself and if we eat and she has food remaining she will put it into a plastic bag and drop it in the first lap she sees without a word.. She looks at me unsmiling and explains ’ I have been hungry too before now’.
I will not dwell on the other many qualities of my partner which are many but must applaud her Mesolithic skills with a rock. With this rock, igneous in origin certainly, small enough to hold but heavy enough to be effective when wielded with skill and dexterity she can open cans, mend shoes, fix the lights on her motorbike, hang curtains, drive nails without bending them, garden, ward off the unwanted attentions of dogs , persuade a sluggard cash machine to return her card and fell a passing pterodactyl with ease. It is a wonder to watch and admired and she asks me what is funny when I laugh at the virtuoso display of her battery of skills and applications.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

You have put me in mind of the beggars in Bombay (my Mumbaika wife calls it that, so I feel entitled to as well). One of the first Hindi words I learned was, "Neh!" shouted with all of the parade ground gusto I could muster when I was overwhelmed by beggars whilst visiting a shrine with my wife. The accent must have been good because they all scattered like frightened mice. Maybe it was because I towered over them by a good 9" and out weighed them by a good few stone. Nevertheless, the sight of the young girls carrying babies and pointing pitifully to their mouth, still tugged at my heart.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-61

Current location (optional) Blue Mountains, Australia via Haworth

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Well this will be my third blog entry from the baking hot Philippines well in the grip of El Nino. And really that is all there is to say. Not that life is in the least bit tedious and boring. On the contrary I have a delightful life at the moment. Hot days and warm nights, the caress of a fan and my studies which I maintain despite the heat.
I can recall one or two prefect detentions, being generally summoned there, for no reason I could discern, by the scowling vindictive Womersley, later the scowling vindictive Councillor Womersley. He would give me nonsense essays to write and I could recall one where he demanded two sides of foolscap on ‘Nothing’. I feel similarly proscribed by this blog.
Have I mentioned the insect life here?? No I haven’t, I know I haven’t.
One might be tempted to think that it is the cockroach which prevails here. Its scuttling menacing flutter is disgusting and I hate them quite as much as I hated slugs back in England. They are big and evident and dominate by their mere presence. They were created to disgust by a scowling vindictive Creator. I have a tin of Raid which disposes of any that enters my realm. When we moved into the house one would have thought the place was permanently infested with the horrors but on day one we waged a battle royal with the beasts, some as big as bren gun carriers, and they beat a retreat.Many died under the assault of my trusty tin of Raid, my partners rock, supplemented by a machete and stiff broom and accompanied by a continuaous stream of foul mouthed virulent invective from me, Yes! many died that day but some remained and I am convinced they are in the roof where they hold conferences to discuss their next moves and send suicide solo roaches on missions to check us out. None are allowed to return to report.
My partner describes any winged insect as a mosquito but I know a mosquito when I hear one and these are not of that ilk. Neither are they the common house fly, of which I have seen some but remarkably few. The Solomon Islands were home to the house fly and a real insulting lot those were. I found it insulting to see them leave a piece of warm dog crap to come and torment me. I mean am I to be preferred over the dog dirt as food for flies? Really!
The real pests are tiny flies and so small they are hardly to be noticed unless one drifts across my screen as I type. But , boy! can they bite. I now have a net curtain which hinders their entry quite effectively but still some get through. In my first days here they really made a meal of me and my legs were starred with red bites. I could wile away the hours, as Ancient Greeks might have done on long clear warm nights, seeing them as constellations and recognising shapes in the pattern of bites. My inner thigh home to the constellation Womersley, the back of my left calf, Constellation Monroe( Marilyn) I was sorry to see her go.
No not the cockroach, not the tiny fly, nor the individual beautifully coloured beetles that dart across the patio, nor is it the brilliant green grasshopper clinging to my curtain. The Ant is king here.( By the way do I look up the origins of its name under etymology or Entomology??
They are so ferociously busy and intent and organised and tiny. Quite the smallest ant I have seen. Tiny chips of swift black darting life. One cannot rid oneself of them one can only take precautions. Cover sweet foods, leave no spilled juices unwiped, keep all food in containers inside bigger containers. A gecko died here this Sunday and I swept it onto the garden later I noticed it was covered by ants slowly and patiently unweaving the remains. If one detects a food source soon all seem to know.
But really it is only the cockroach I find horrible and a few nights ago I was woken as one wandered over my leg. At my age one does not need to be woken in that manner but I have to admit I was proud at the speed with which I left my mattress and left the room. Impressive.!!
Hope this interest you all. More later.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1944-49

Current location (optional) Philippines

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Arthur, I notice on your recent blog that you make no mention of the Earthquake which struck Luzon on Monday 22nd(magnitude 5.9). Was it so insignificant that it wasn't worth mentioning or were you too busy chasing cockroaches and waging war with ants, to notice? -David

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945/50

Current location (optional) Keighley

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

David, one could be blase about these things and pooh pooh 5.9 as being hardly worth the mention but the truth is an hours flight separates me, here in the Visayas, from Luzon. I would have only known about the Luzon earthquake if I had watched the news, which I don't. Thanks for bringing it to my attention nevertheless.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1944-49

Current location (optional) Philippines

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Lovely blog from the islands Arthur. Captures the essence of life there. It looks like there are now three ex-KBGS who are regulars in the Philippines. Since working in Hong Kong in the eighties I have visited Manila and the islands some 30 times. Plenty of Brits living in the Philippines either from UK or through the Hong Kong and Singapore working experience. Of course you need a Philippine wife or partner to get deep into the local society there. On the British side there is the Manila Club in Makati and the Wanderers Sports Club in Paranaque. I read that the Manila Club is soon to return to its roots and be named the British Club. They have a nice website with a monthly newsletter. Favourite place in Manila is Greenbelt and sitting outside at the Havana Cafe. Popular with foreigners and locals alike. I personally feel safer in Manila on a late Saturrday night than I would in Bradford. Keep up the good work Arthur and tell us more about your life-changing circumstances in Visayas (southern Philippines). Maraming salamat po.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1961-69

Current location (optional) London

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I have mentioned in other previous blogs ( an ugly word at best and I wonder sometimes at its etymology) the profile of the horizon beyond this seaside city. The range is without question of volcanic origin. Its central peak towers, bulks and looms over the city and seems very conscious of its dramatic rugged profile. It almost poses for pictures, a photo-shoot addict that poses and displays with a gigantic poise.
I will ignore the geographical and meteorological truths of what is happening up there and invite you to share my flights of fancy as I watch it in all its moods.
I have discovered near to my home a small leafy arbour that gives me a relatively unobstructed view of the high hills beyond the city. Warm wet air moves in from the sea and piles up in magnificent cloud formations. It is these cloud formations that adds the drama and personality to the high hills.
There are times when there are no clouds and the evening blots out all detail and contour of the hills and leaves only the ragged saurian profile, like some great sleeping land-locked Kraken. These fade through dusty violets and blues to chalky greys and then grey to solid black.
The hills seem to welcome the clouds and I fancy them as some lonely stay-at-homes eager and anxious for the news and gossip the wandering voyager clouds bring, news from other distant places the hills view through the blue haze beyond the glittering sea.
Sometimes the clouds are streaming from them and they seem like some busy mother gathering in the drying washing on Washday Mondays at the threat of sudden showers.
Sometimes like some old man pulling the billowing eiderdown over him as he settles for sleep.
At other times like some shopaholic dame trying on one dress after another.
It is very restful to watch the passing parade of clouds and to indulge one‘s fancy and whimsy..
All the time, beneath the clouds and hills silent communion, the bustle and hum of the city continues unchecked but now a new element is there as the populace girds itself for the coming elections. Posters bloom on walls and gates and every passing Trike proclaims its loyalty and candidate from President to councillor, the posters shout their message. My partner eschews her vote as wasted and with a worldly sigh dismisses them all as cheats and liars. One might think she knew the British system well.
Elections and Holy Week too!!
Last night, Good Friday, a candle- lit procession twinkled through the city streets, blocking the disinterested traffic‘s flow. Again my worldly cynical partner, U-turned her bike and dismissed it as ‘show.’. She does not trust priests, ‘They are as human as I am’ she explains, ’Just a man and he can sin the same as me.’ Again one wonders at the way her simple evaluation embraces so much that is going on in the wider world about which I know her to be entirely ignorant..
I continue to be grateful to the forum for allowing me to indulge myself and hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing these thoughts that pass like clouds through the high hills of my mind
Thanks MF your comments are welcomed as are all who have left their remarks.
Arthur

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Arthur, just so we can place your exact whereabouts are you in Davao, Zamboanga or Cagayan D'oro? It's a long way from Lawkholme Lane or the Keighley Bus Station but it helps to locate you in the likely case of another earthquake or hurricane. Maraming Salamat po.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Hi MF. Dumaguete,Negros Oriental.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Dumaguete. A lovely place with ferry rides to other islands. Also with some highly respected universities.

Arthur, be aware that upcoming presidential elections in May could make anywhere in Philippines a little tricky for foreigners. Politics there can make the BNP look like a bunch of wimps. Try to keep a low profile old chap.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Well I didnt really expect Arthur to be in Zamboanga

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Picturesque Zamboanga seems less dangerous than Keighley to me. Is it not only a few months ago that a young Pakistani lad went on a rampage and stabbed 8 people in Keighley on a Friday night, according to the Telegraph and Argus. Wonder what the sentence would be in a Sharia court for that offence.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

All is quiet here but I accept your cautions without reserve and thank you for them.

The evening sea under an evening sky unfolds and gathers slate-blue-grey and under a gentle breeze flops pearly combers on a sleeping shore. The fading light displays one last glowing cloud formation before admitting the dark of the night and there where the sun descends into the hills Venus blazes bright and clear.
Tonight we have a barbecue!! A fire of smoky glowing buko husks is the only light as evening fades into night until an extension is found and trailed over the dark volcanic sands and a pale light ushers back the shadows of the leaf roofed beach hut.
Flying fish is prepared and a Filipina version of sushi involving the tearing the heads off minnows, ( well they look like those I caught as a boy down at S bend.) and mixing the tiny bodies with vinegar, chilli and sea grass. I am grateful of the gathered gloom as I try my first mouthful and manage to accept it without gagging. When in Rome and all that!
Some cool beer arrives and bowl of ice for the Rhum. Snowy mountains of rice and a bowl of writhing noodles at last and now we eat. No plates, no knives or forks or spoons. Why bother with niceties when you have fingers to pull away the seams of white meat, to gather and shape rice into balls or dangle a mesh of savoury noodles into your mouth. On the dark sand, pitted and pocked with the passage of feet ,each new obliterating the old, under the night sky now filled with stars, we eat. A perfect time!
Warm with a cool breeze soft from the sea that sighs in the dark, the aromas of smoke and cooking fish, laughter and the shouts of children and a star-filled sky, where the Milky Way glows like the luminous wake of giant canoe, to remind us we are children of the same Universe born to live a while and to be as happy as we can manage in a troubled world. I am content and happy to be so.
The food is good and I am replete and the beer is cool and the company accept me although they yammer in Cebuano and I might feel marginalized but my partner is attendant and offers explanations and translations periodically, involving me. Her smile shatters the dark as she laughs and I laugh with them but without cause carried into laughter by the moment and the time and the place.
It is a good evening and well spent and I sleep well after the journey home on the back of a motor cycle with the wind of our passage filling my shirt.
Sometimes the simple things transcend.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

"the wind of our passage filling my shirt"
I had a meal like that once.. .

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

>>star-filled sky

wish we had those in Singapore

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I have always loved markets.
Even as a boy I could happily lose myself in the John Street market where a lino salesman slapped and cracked rolls of lino with his yardstick and bellowed for custom while next stall a crockery salesman built patterns and pyramids from plates and cups as he shuttered and juggled his wares with bewildering dexterity. I loved the slick spiel of the mock auction as he offered a watch aftershave and a towel bundle :‘ Four quid in any high street shop you care to mention but I m not asking 4 quid nor 3 quid I’m not even asking for 2 quid -who’ll give me thirty shillings now! Lady there, Fred! Thank you love! You are a lucky lady and since you are my first customer skip the thirty shillings and give me twenty five shillings. Now who else wants treating?? You sir?’. There have always been silver tongued gifted Del Boys. It was magic to spend the Saturday afternoon wandering those stalls and the card boxes full of puppies for sale beside the road and later in life it was the spilling cornucopia of Leeds Market that entranced me. The heaving hoi-polloi , the bustle and hum, the intense activity of the place, the smoke and sizzle and smell of onions from the burger stalls and the splendid displays of the fruit and vegetable avenue of stalls. Rich, rich sights and sounds and memories.
Here there is a daily market and it is the same place, the same hum and bustle, the same odours and sights as any market in the world I think - but of course I have not seen them all. But there is the same mix of the frenzied and the lollers, the thieves and chancers, the hard working grafters, the weary stall holder and the laden buyer. The squeezers of mangoes, the knockers of melons and the sifters of rice, the mingle and press of folk. I knock and sift ,finger and pinch with the rest but know not what or why I do. I am like he that kicks tyres when he buys a car.
The fish hall is a reeking echoing vastness of soaking wet floors and a silver spilling avalanche of the harvest of the sea shining over glistening wet stone slabs, buckets of squid, the lashed claws of emasculated crabs, the chunky steaks of marlin, sword fish and tuna, and alwaysthe frenetic bid for attention and sale from the store holders. Make a purchase and it is de-scaled as you watch swilled with water and gutted and then chopped into chunks. I have not yet seen anyone ask for a fillet nor get one. The fish is chopped thus for soups and stews and the heads are treasured.
We pass into a place of fruit and vegetables, the same as Leeds but different. In Leeds it is all imported, the pineapples and mangoes, the bananas and oranges all imported flown in from other lands, here it is all grown here and there are the differences of vegetables that we do not see in England; the Alugbati or Malabar spinach, the different roots and greens, whose names I have not yet learned but whose tastes and textures I have sampled and enjoyed, the different fruits, the langsones and rambutan, and always the plump piles of mangoes, sweet and succulent and abundant and cheap, the dimpled crusted bread fruits, the small round purple plum-like fruits that are tart and delicious.
I stay well back so that my partner can get the best price and not have to pay ‘white man prices‘. So I stay well back and look and listen and watch and think.
Only occasionally am I summoned from my reverie by my partner to carry or pay and it is in those times when I stand apart that I realise that in that bellowing reeking place I am the only white face but I do not care.
I have always loved markets.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I shall be in Manila in four weeks time. Sitting outside the Havana Cafe in Greenbelt, Manila, and enjoying the electric atmosphere and a cheap beer. You know a naff bed and breakfast night in the south west of England costs twice as much as a five star hotel in Manila. Just a hint chaps.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

MF warned me earlier in this chain that I should be wary of the elections. I have taken his advice and not moved from my house this day. So far only three deaths and some score or so injured from an explosion in an eatery, a drive-by strafing of a candidate’s house, long queues in the hot sun as the first electronic vote registering takes place and brown outs and machine failures feed the delays and especially since older voters seem to be bewildered by the machinery.
So all-in-all very much like any other banana republic or even on our last shameful showing as bad as the UK.
For weeks now the walls and every spare space on a vehicle , especially the trikes, has been emblazoned with posters commanding one to vote for President, Vice President, Senator , Governor , Councillor etc down to dog catcher and road sweeper one imagines.
Strange that since Sunday there has been a liquor ban in force and eight tourists have been arrested in Manila together with the waitress who served them. Some Englishmen in there I understand. The ban lasts till Tuesday midnight but does not say you cannot drink at home.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Whenever I go to markets in Bombay/Mumbai with SWMBO, I always stay well back from the action so that my whiteness (although I am browner than she is) doesn't interfere. I have watched with amazement as she screams, shouts, throws goods on the ground then walk away only to be chased up the street by the trader to give her the item in question at the price she wanted. It is a marvellous game that has resulted in some wonderful bargains.

There are times when my whiteness pays off, during the festival of Ganpatti (a celebration of the Lord Ganesh, the elephant headed one), I have been given VIP seating at celebrations, much to SWMBO's disgust.

Not that she is a Hindu, she is a Roman Catholic, they have a similar festival after Ganpatti, called Bandra Feast which celebrates some statue of the Virgin Mary that was found "floating" in the sea. IT is incredible seeing the throng of pilgrims making their way up this little hill to the church. I stand head and shoulders over everyone, for once in my life I can see over crowds.

My first visit to the fish hall in Bandra (a Bombay suburb) was amazing, I looked down the hall and wondered what all of the different black fish were, only to identify them when the clouds of flies took off.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-61

Current location (optional) Blue Mountains, Australia via Haworth

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

They are strangely ambivalent about security here in the Philippines not just in Dumaguete but in every major conurbation I have been, including Manila.
Consider the security of their homes, for instance, this is layered and consists of dogs, fences and gates, and locked doors.
Dogs are the first line of defence. As one approaches a house one might think it unoccupied and quiet but at a given distance that varies only slightly around the 10 metre mark the dog defence locks in and one is greeted by a raucous chorus of yelps and barks and squeals from the (always more than one ) dogs sleeping / lurking inside. These dogs can be terrier-sized and capable of barking while their snarling snouts are thrust under the bottom of gates, slavering into the dust, or collie-sized, lean, underfed and full of aggressive spite and terror. They are all threat and I have so far not been bitten by one. This initial welcoming chorus of canine shouting rouses the pluto population of the neighbourhood who respond and join in and there is a general ‘Stranger! Stranger!’ alarm issued to all who would take note. I have named this first line of defence Canine Response Alert Programme, the acronym of which describes the effect this system has on one sometimes if the dogs are close and big and sudden.

It does work and I always know if someone is arriving minutes before they do.
This propensity for joining in that dogs enjoy is most evident when the city’s harbour sounds its siren and the whole canine population joins in with mournful moans and melancholy howls.
Close to my home there is an acre or so of unkempt wasteland where I enjoy walking now and again and as I pass through the shrubs and vegetation quietly, lizards dart, crickets rouse and protest as my feet scuff and whisper through the dry grasses. Apart from the crickets all is still and hushed in the heat of the afternoon, but as I approach the boundary of this tract of wilderness the merest crack of a twig underfoot and a dog responds, close but locked out, beyond the fencing of this place, and other dogs chime in near and far and soon everyone who will listen must know I or someone strange and unknown is there.
Beyond the dogs and at the same time containing the dogs are the fences and gates. These are always locked and barred. One will need the assistance of the occupier to obtain entrance and unless the barking dogs have not caught the attention of the occupier one must stand and hail the closed door. ‘ Ay! O! Ay! O!’ repeatedly. This will vex the dogs to more frantic and aggressive alert and together the hailing and cacophony of canine vocalisation catches the attention of those who live within this fortress.
They will come to the gate and there is a great unlocking of locks and sliding of bolts and eventually welcoming arms are found.
All well and good and I feel safe and secure inside my own particular fortress and having acquired the compulsory dog (still a puppy but he does bark/ yelp at strangers) felt even more secure except that recently we discovered that our neighbours, who rent from the same landlady as us, has the same keys that open our locked gates and doors that opens hers. Hence my comments that they are ‘ambivalent’ about security.
I am reminded of the time when I was visiting a school in the Solomon Islands. The classroom had large windows without glass down both sides of the classroom and the sill was only knee high. I watched as the teacher fastened the door with three large padlocks. As we turned to leave I said to him ‘Look’ and went over to one of the windows and stepped into the locked classroom. He looked puzzled so I patiently pointed out to him that if I could do that anyone could do it and the padlocks were pointless. He smiled and said ‘No! The padlocks tell them they must stay out. They will not come in.’ And they didn’t!!!!!!
The ambivalence can also be witnessed at any supermarket, large store or mall. Every entrance and exit is guarded by a defence team either two men or a man and a woman. Where there are two men there are felt-tip drawn signs in the doorway stood on a table in the doorway ‘Exit’ and ‘Entrance’ if there is a woman in the team the signs will say ‘Male’ and ;Female’ still felt tip on cardboard and one must follow the implied instruction to separate and use the appropriate entrance.. The security team always stand beneath the curtain of cool air blown down by the air-conditioning This defence team is uniformed with white shirt, black tie, black trousers and gilt badges of office, gold stars with ‘Security‘ emblazoned in red enamel, very impressive, as is the black leather belt and the automatic pistol on the right hip and the truncheon on the left. These are security remember not police. They all have a stick which they poke into your bag or umbrella or carrier. You are not allowed in some stores with your bag and this must be deposited in the appropriate baggage deposit area. All this tight security that presumably guards against the carrying of weapons and bombs is all very reassuring as is the need for your receipt for goods bought to be carried in a visible manner on leaving the store or mall, to be scrawled upon, with the ubiquitous felt tip pen, to show you have been checked and this guards against shop-lifting.
One can feel safe and protected and one does, except I am white and no one looks in my bag or subjects me to a body search or tells me I must deposit my bag in the appropriate place. Why? Because I am white and white equals honest. On the contrary I am greeted with a ‘ Good afternoon , Sir’
What rubbish!! And therein lies the ambivalence that makes me wonder if the automatic is loaded or the truncheon can be unsheathed but I have no intention of asking or inviting to be shown. I will take that on trust.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I have written at times about the wasteland of an old small holding that I walk about and of its small arbour where I can sit on an old bamboo self-made seat and watch the hills through all their nuances and moods. It stretches beside and in front of my house. Tall buko (coconut) palms and papaya, slender and soaring, laden with unobtainable fruit are all that survives there amongst the shrubbery and dry grasses. Dead vines and plastic string and fencing wire wrap old bamboo frames designed for growing upo, the tangle catches and trips unwary feet or tips my hat from my head as I duck under it.
A small holding gone, let fall, into disuse and decay and my heart mourns the lost tidiness and order but I am compelled to admire the wild secret ways nature has taken back her domain with creeping stealthy vines and the advance of tenacious weeds.
Of course the climate and rich volcanic soils here, in the Philippines, is perfect for rapid and healthy growth of many plants, so in and amongst all of this tangle and mesh there are the beautiful plants we see only in hot houses in England. Variegated leaves that are gold-green, gold, ruby-red, orange, amber and fresh green, all richly veined with colour and all on the same plant.
One year at KBGS I foolishly and unwisely entered for the elocution prize. Foolhardy because I was never blessed with a good speaking voice and yet I subjected myself to the ignominy of standing and reciting a learned passage. Do I digress? No. no! I have not gone off the point, I am coming to my point. The piece I was asked to recite was:

Lo! in the middle of the wood,
The folded leaf is woo'd from out the bud
With winds upon the branch, and there
Grows green and broad, and takes no care,
Sun-steep'd at noon, and in the moon
Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow
Falls, and floats adown the air…..


….and it was a blessing that I was asked to learn this passage from Tennyson’s Lotos Eaters, that and other pieces - all my schooldays spent learning chunks of verse or wodges of Shakespeare, a weary burden then but a treasured gift now - never alone when I have the company of verse recalled or songs learned.
While walking in this wild place a leaf fell and touched my shoulder and I recalled this particular piece. Unashamed, I stood there in the hot sun and spoke the lines some 65 years after they were wearily learned and crassly delivered - and I laughed at the wonder of their aptness and pertinence to my presence in this strange place.
Have I been lured by the’Lotos’ to spend my last days in this place?
I looked at the wilderness and the tangle of plastic string and withered vines and the glow of new life springing and I looked at the tangle of my life and the past years and certainly:

………'Tis hard to settle order once again.
There is confusion worse than death,
Trouble on trouble, pain on pain,
Long labour unto aged breath,
Sore task to hearts worn out by many wars
And eyes grown dim with gazing on the pilot-stars……

You may wonder if Tennyson is my favourite poet but he is not, he is one of many and
T S Eliot figures in there, too, for
‘ I have measured out my life with coffee spoons..’
in the tedium of another time in another place but I look now for peaceful passages of contentment.
Evening descends and the detail is smothered in shadows, the string evaporates into glooms and shades, the bamboo frames become part of the dark tangle and I am left with a flat black silhouette against the fading sky. The starry-handed leaves of the papaya, the fountain-like spreading fronds of buko and the leafy bulk of trees for which I do not yet have a name, fringe the outline of the black mass of vegetation. I am left with an exotic panorama that seals my day and the first cool breath of evening stirs and falters and stirs again and the trees sigh and whisper a welcome as I watch,

‘Night, making all things dimly beautiful.’

There is a scene in ‘Ice Cold in Alex’ when a dusty, dry John Mills orders a lager in the Officer’s Mess and he traces his finger down the crust of ice that has formed on the glass on the glass. A wonderful evocative piece of filming and I reach for my San Mig, cold from the fridge, remember that scene, taste as he tasted and I toast the hot evening’s farewell into the night with the delicious thrilling kiss of this chilled amber nectar and lean back and wait for the stars to flicker into life.
As I read what I have written so far it seems that it is a lot about remembering, about memories and that I have become:
…..an old man driven by the Trades
To a sleepy corner.

Tenants of the house,
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.

At any given moment in our lives we are the aggregate of all the moments we have lived before and up to that moment, all the experiences and thoughts and feelings and responses we have had and our response to each new moment will be shaped and informed by that aggregation of things remembered and things we think we have forgotten, things that have made us who and what we are, part of our psyche, our conscious and unconscious selves.
Still, I would rather it was thought of me, not that I have fallen into some somnolent ruminative mode but that I remain open and responsive; a collector of new memories.
I know that life is best lived in the moment and not in the memory of moments.
Those moments I live for myself, these memories and thoughts I hope you will allow me to share with you.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I have mentioned in other blogs that apart from the two of us our home is shared with geckos, roaches and ants but no spiders.
OK, geckos I can live with, indeed, I welcome the little fellers. Cockroaches I hate with all the venomous bile Ahab bore for Moby Dick.
Spiders ?? Well I don’t want to go there thank you very much. Fortunately while here I have seen only one spider and that was small enough for me to sneer at with disdain.
Ants I will discuss later.
I will not try to rationalise my utter distaste for roaches by pointing out they eat trash, copulate on my legs at night ( O yes they did! In the Solomons ) and give off a filthy sickly odour when stood upon
( but then again so might I). No, these are not reasons to hate, my hatred is darkly primal, unreasoning and sufficient..
Strangely, for me the problem with geckos are the roaches and my hatred thereof. My roach radar is set at its most sensitive and I pride myself in knowing when one is in the room with me wherever it is lurking. This roach detector is so hypersensitive that any swift movement catching my eye registers as roach, recognising that it has only four legs and moves with a swift sinuosity identifies it as gecko and my heart abandons its new home in my throat and resumes its normal place in my chest. However, the wee critters have this habit of hiding in pots and pans hanging along the walls of our kitchen and the swift darting ‘thing’ that shoots out when disturbed startles me and a stream of hot, adrenalin-fuelled, heartfelt Anglo-Saxon invective pursues the offender up the wall and across the ceiling.
One skitters up the wall beside me just now but I have known he was there for some time and I remain unstartled..
This ability to walk where they wish is quite miraculous and for me a thing of wonder. They turn the cuboids of my house into an Escheresque perplexity where there seems no gravity, no ups or downs, only perspectives and where the appearance of verticality and horizontality is confounded by their nimble traversing of all the planes without let or hindrance.
A gecko can support his own weight with just one toe on a sheet of glass. The only surface that betrays him is Teflon.
Studies of the spatula-tipped setae on gecko footpads demonstrate that the attractive forces that hold geckos to surfaces are van der Waals interactions between the finely divided setae and the surfaces themselves. These interactions occur at molecular level.
All this I learn when I Google my Gecko and further, that scientists have found :
Every square millimeter of a gecko's footpad contains about 14,000 hair-like setae. Each seta has a diameter of 5 micrometers. Human hair varies from 18 to 180 micrometers, so a human hair could hold between 3 and 36 setae. Each seta is in turn tipped with between 100 and 1,000 spatulae. Each spatula is 0.2 micrometer long (one five-millionth of a meter), or just below the wavelength of visible light. If all that means anything to anyone??
The gecko on my shoulder reads all this, lifts his foot and stares at it carefully and intently for a long time, reads it all again, shakes his head in disbelief and leaps for a nearby mirror to test this one -toe notion. He hangs, pirouettes, loses his grip and plummets gracelessly onto the table below, shakes himself and skitters up the wall after a hapless fly.
I was seriously jet-lagged when I flew to the Solomons and that first night I lay in bed, hot, sweating and restless, while the overhead ceiling fan tugged and grappled with my one cotton sheet and any sleep I found ended up with dreams of being carried off by a roc like Sinbad and the fluttering sheet mutated into the bird’s mighty wings.
I was desperate for a cigarette( happily a habit no longer) and made my way to the common lounge and out onto a veranda, lit my cigarette and contemplated a thin sliver of the Pacific Ocean shining through the trees, shining in the light of a huge tropical moon.
I had heard this toc-toc-toc earlier but had left it unheeded but now it was clear and louder. Toc-toc-toc! Toc-toc-toc!
Who was knocking pebbles together at this time of night and why?
Toc-toc-toc! I could not trace it. All I could find were the geckos scuttling over the walls and ceilings.
Upon enquiry in the morning I learned it was indeed the geckos. This was a demonstration of their other particular skill. They communicate. Simple, yes! But effective. Now sometimes as I turn at night I can hear the soft clicking as they chatter in the dark and it comforts and reassures as did the passage of the Thames - Clyde express once rattled through Keighley in the early hours, when I was a boy.
Well so much for geckos and it is a sign of my relaxed and contented state of mind that I can find the time to watch, observe and write about them.
Ants ?? Well I mentioned earlier they are tireless foragers, menacingly organised and prolific in numbers.
Google assures me that humans occupy about 100 million tonnes of the Earth’s biomass where ants are estimated to occupy between 900- 9000 million tonnes. So hey!! Who’s winning here?? Who is really in charge?
.I was behind our home tidying when I noticed a tiny thread of ants following the same route up and down the wall. Too small for me to see if they carried anything but certainly they were busy and purposeful. What fascinated me was that they were all following the same path across what was, for me, a featureless wall. To and fro! To and fro! Like a busy motorway.
How??
I traced my finger across the invisible trail and their ceaseless filing faltered and paused then resumed. I did this several times and always the falter and pause and resume. It was my guess ( later confirmed ) that they were following some scent trail. I dipped my finger into a liquid anti- roach insecticide and traced again. The falter, check and pause again but no resumption, there was a swift dispersal and all purpose and intent seemed lost.
I checked again later and they had resumed normal service.
They are stronger and more aggressive in different parts of the garden and if I wander there I am assailed with fiery sprays of formic acid ( HCOOH). Not lethal but enough to bid me back off and wander elsewhere.
But enough of this brief educational excursion into the natural history of the Islands, or a small part of my small bit of it.
They are very fond of festivals here in the Islands and most of the larger towns ( they call everywhere a city here ) and cities have their own special festivals as a means of expressing their pride of their community and tradition. Bacolod has its Maskara, Cebu its Sinulog, San Carlos has its Pintoflores, Dumaguete has several but the main two are Sandurot and Santa Cruzon Festivals.
I will not attempt to describe these colourful festivals but only mention that there are many complex dances in costume telling stories about their history and what I find astonishing is that if one watches and realises the levels of skill and perfection attained in these dances by ordinary people one must admire the many hours of practice involved in the final quality of performance, the time and patience involved in making the costumes but mostly the mind that conceived the choreography of the complex dances. I am sure there are mistakes made in the dancing but the action is so swift and the number of people involved so large that they go unnoticed.
It is not just the Festivals either, each Saturday one can watch in the Plaza or large supermarket performances by children and young teenagers singing dancing traditional dances or street dancing or Michael Jackson homage groups of young men. All involving hours of practice. That level of enthusiasm and dedication and self confidence has to be admired in comparison with our own youth culture back home in the UK which involves binge drinking, getting pregnant or the violent assault of each other.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

In my house is a gecko called Rock
All night he goes toc-toc! toc-toc! toc-toc!
He’s been a bit sick
And developed a tic
Now he sounds just like a clock, tic-toc!

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Some brief notes about happenings here.

Last night was a new moon like a finger nail paring; a thin sliver of shining whiteness. Its position such that it seemed a silver bowl in the sky and in magnificent almost magical conjunction with a glittering Venus that hung very close above it like a diamond falling into a chalice. Did anyone else notice this rare and beautiful thing I wondered. Beneath it the city shone and bustled busily, full of hurried purpose and direction as I sat with my glass and wondered at this gift of light.

We have a puppy. He is snow white and so called Snowie. A young male. He is now three months old and to be neutered. ‘ He will stay close to home and not go looking for girls’ I am assured . My partners brother did the necessary with a razor blade and a bottle of iodine and lot of pained yelping with a watching crowd as the little fellow was emasculated. I retired to my room and plugged my ears. The deed done they all went for breakfast. I wandered out onto the patio and there, left on the tiles, were two tiny pink balls. They had not even bothered to clear everything away. I swept them onto the garden.

My partner had a sore throat, a real strep throat and she had a little fever. She sent two girls into the garden and they were out a while and returned with a tub whose bottom was covered in earth worms. These were washed, deep fried until crisp and black, ground into a fine black powder and then a dose was washed down with water. I did not watch all of it except I did note that they smelt quite good while frying.
I do not question these peasant ways after all penicillin was discovered in mould on a petrie dish and aureomycin was found when someone looked at some soil from a university campus. There may be wisdom in this peasant lore but more likely it is desperation to be without pain that led to any thing being tried and when the body cured the ailment by itself the medicine passed into tradition as truth. I bought her some antibiotics today.

I spoke in an earlier postcard of the Boulevard, the long promenade that fronts Dumaguete onto the sea.
It is a popular stretch of the city much visited by the locals and ex-pats here.
At one end of the walk way is an old watchtower. This part of the Philippines was much raided by Muslim pirates in the older days and the watchtower gave warning of their approach.
There would be a general evacuation into the hills that loom behind the city until the pirates left.
At the other end is the ferry port always busy. There are many accidents with badly maintained ferries and many deaths from drowning but they still overload dreadfully.
All along the tree-lined boulevard are the clubs and restaurants where the ex-pats meet drink and eat. Dumaguete is the safest city in the Philippines. Its people are ‘The Gentle Ones’. The Boulevard is the safest part of Dumaguete.
Under the trees are the tables where balut are served. A balut is a fertilized chicken egg with a nearly-developed embroyo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell.
Popularly believed to be aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, balut are mostly sold by street vendors and is sold as streetfood in the islands but is becoming haute cuisine in some restaurants.
I have yet to discover how they can judge when an egg is ready to be cooked and eaten at this stage of the embroyo’s development.
I think it disgusting to see them drink the gravy from the egg and then season and eat the cooked meat of the contents. But I dislike the dried fish that they buy and fry and then eat as we eat digestive biscuits.
What with earth worms , back-garden surgery and half-formed chicks eaten in their tiny graves I walk around with eyes pinched shut and murmuring ‘ Hey its their part of the planet and you’re a guest.’ like some soul-saving mantra.

The boulevard has one bar Cocos Amigo where they have singers on a Friday and Saturday evening. The stage is outside and well-lit with good speakers. The diners are entertained with an eclectic repertoire of ABBA, Dione hits and other Western standards with some Tagalog local music some of which is very good.
The nice part is to suddenly notice that across the broad road of the Boulevard many motor cycles are stopped and hundreds have gathered to listen but not eat.
How pleasant it must be to sit in the cool of the evening with the breeze soft from the sea on your back and the trees moving gently and the lights and music from the Amigos.
Last Friday my partner who has a terrific voice ( and that is really a quite objective judgement) sang ‘ You light up my life’ and as she left the stage there was a rattle of applause from the far side of the road.
I am very proud of her.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Some cameos for you, carved with a poet’s eye, of characters observed and now faithfully described.

We are all of us figures in a landscape, sketched in brief, dark, brush strokes on the canvas of our time and place.
As humans we share many things in common, but as individuals we are all different, each of us the sum of all we have seen and experienced, each of us seeing the world in our own unique and special way. We should celebrate our sameness and delight in our differences for, after all, we all wend our own way towards that end to which we have always moved.

Consider then:

this old man with frail, thin, bandied legs and flat buttocks, and the leather band of his burden that bites into his forehead. He sells ice in a place where there seems to be only heat. He carries a small bulbed horn that he will squeeze to announce his coming. It has a plaintive quack.
Quack, quack, quack!!
He cometh.
He brings the relief of ice that only few will buy. He walks bent under the weight of an ice-box that bumps on his narrow back. He teeters under the pinning heat of noon when all is light and heat and no relief is offered by any shade. Bound to this life task, he seeks only to sustain his life. He is a symbol, a metaphor! Indomitable and courageous, he must wake each day bewildered at his Sisyphean lot and cursed with this donkey-task that he takes up without complaint, without knowledge of alternatives.
Watch him, observe and learn about yourself;

or this grotesque who talks with loving care to his burger.
He sits alone in Jollibee, eking out his iced coke, as he waits for his Yum with cheese and TLC.
Boxed, it arrives and he opens it and mutters his undying affection and admiration, strokes the polished brown skin of the bun and mouths a pouted kiss to his love. His body droops in oleaginous folds around him. He sniffs the object of his unfettered devotion, deposits gouts of mayonnaise and mustard, bejewelling his desired one, he licks it and then with great relish bites deep into it. Bits of lettuce, tomato and some of the added sauces spill from his jaw but is caught and added to that orgasmic munching. Maybe six bites and one last lump popped into his maw and the act is accomplished. Now the ritual care for his fingers as each is sucked and licked clean. He does not see me watching him. He has been oblivious to all but his beloved burger. He stands, picks up his box but passes the litter bin still holding the container, he keeps it, I opine, to be smelt and savoured in some quiet moments of fond remembrance.
I watch him cross the tiled mall and stand outside the KFC to read the displayed menu, muttering to himself;

or this lady, her face leathered and wrinkled by the sun. She sits cross-legged, her thin shanks tucked under her frayed flowered dress. She sits with the other street vendors on the pavement outside the market. She has found shade but the heat and humidity are unremitting and she sweats as she sits with her small red onions in tubes of plastic, her few tomatoes, the bananas already pocked and stained with brown isles of over-ripeness, the sun searing the life-juices from her. As I pass, her ancient, brown eyes beseech as she proffers up the onions but I have onions in plenty and have no need. I show her my hand in dismissal. There are depths of sadness and patient acceptance of her lot in those almond-shaped, brown eyes. Badged with age and cursed with poverty, she will sit there today, patient and beseeching, and sit again tomorrow and tomorrow…….

or this flight of beauties, passing in echelon, lissom-legged in snug shorts, they pass in a swirl of giggles and glittering impeccably-white smiles. Eyes, brown as polished tiger-eye, flash and beguile through the sweep of lush, black lashes. They are young, pert, nubile and a delight to watch as they parade across the cool mall. They bend to each other with smothered laughter and whispered nothings. So it is with all young girls around the world, demure and modest, provocative and challenging and always they go mob-handed, moving with certainty into an uncertain world.

or this youth, callow but daddy-cool, trilby aslant at an angle of practised perfection, watching the world through cheap shades, he leans along the railing bar, on the second floor, god-like, he watches the passing hoi-polloi below him, apart from…….;

the sudden maul of guffawing youths, pushing and nudging, hiding in the group, fry… all one with the shoal, stumbling, silly baseball hats, four sizes too small, perched high and stupid, but the latest, the fad, fabuloso, with-it, they exude gushes of testosterone, snigger and bawl, smirk and laugh at unfunny things, unknowing as they move into a future they will command;

or Henry, no job and a family to feed, for God’s sake. He weeds our garden for a hundred pesos and any rice and tins we conveniently find are no longer required here. Chocolates for the boys he has left at home are added. All he asks as he crouches and weeds is some water now and again. This dwarf of a man, a squat Adam delving in my alugbati and eggplants, he of the prolific loins, works tirelessly and earnestly under the hot sun.
Down on his haunches, he never stands but waddles duck-like across the garden
My garden is cleansed , pristine, ordered..
He refuses offered foods but asks only that it be added to his parcel as he hurries home to share and feed his family.
His wife, a toothy Eve, is breast feeding her last, a girl, so some milk powder for her.
‘Do not let another man clean your garden, sir’, he begs.
I reassure him and he leaves.
My partner watches him and turns back into the house with tears in her eyes.
‘I have been where he is now’ she says.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Ice in my bush lime clinks on gin.
No rain for weeks , just a cruelly searing sun in a pitiless blue sky and sweltering high humidity. I stopped sweating days ago, now it is just gravy. Any clouds that come here cluster on the high hills and precipitate there. The river is low but never runs dry, being fed by the hills.
There have been some changes though and today the sky is grey with rare patches of hazy blue and we have watched the lightning flicker in the distance with the rumbling coughs of thunder that roll on forever rebounding from the ragged crags.
The evening comes and the lightning dances and shimmers while the thunder claps become fierce and alarming.
Ice in my bush lime clinks on gin.
I have watched the grey veil of rain advance slowly all day.
There is a silence now that hangs heavy in the gathering dark then a far hissing sound of rain beating on foliage and rattling on roofs. Suddenly the trees heave and sough and a sudden wind dashes through the high branches. The rain is upon us . Heavy spots pock the dust then rattle and splat on the shading tarps and the storm is upon us with a swuther and a pelt.
Ice in my bush lime clinks on gin.
I sit on my patio and watch the night full of rain and noise and blinding flashes of light. The lights from our outside lights show the rain lashing the dry earth to mud in seconds, ponding in hollows and streaming from the roof along the gutterings of corrugated steel. I count flash to thunder and still two miles away. Not time to get inside yet. Then, predictably and inevitably, the brown-out. Our oasis of light in all this storm and shock is lost. We are plunged into the heart of the storm, lit now by only the vivid jags of the lightning and the clamour of the darkness. The lightning and thunder become simultaneous. I go inside.
Ice in my bush lime clinks on gin.
What was hoped for as a benison, a relief, has become a beast, roaring and ravaging.
The tumult of this monstrous assault continues for an hour and then the sounds lessen and the lightning recedes as the storm moves on. Still no lights in the house and only the sounds of steady rain on the leafage and roofs . Time for bed because what else?? Candles are snuffed and bed sought.
We fall asleep to the distant grumblings of thunder through the high hills further inland.
Later that night there is one blinding flash of light and a crash like a great rock striking the earth and rolling through the hills that shakes the house and wakes me for a moment and then peace.
As morning light seeps in my window there is only a soft prattle of slow rain on leaf and then the sun rises into a clear sky.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I sense some shades of 'Storm over Fewston' here, Arthur. Still, very powerful and worth reading more than once. You can tell it's written by a poet!!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945-50

Current location (optional) Keighley

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

The storm I described in my last blog was the onset of the monsoon season here in the Philippines, I am reliably informed. I do think that’ monsoon’ is a bit of an exaggeration more a wet season but certainly since that night we have had rain almost every day - nothing like the storm but, nevertheless, good, honest, cooling rain. It is a blessing, for the islands sorely need it.
I mention this because we were in the Cocos Amigos the other evening and we were sat at the bar with some new friends and outside was a covered stage on which two girls, fetchingly dressed in red mini skirts and white knee boots, were singing to the accompaniment of a keyboard. Between us and the stage were diners and then a long arched entry with the singers stage beyond the arch.
It seemed to me like one of the Victorian cardboard theatres that could be constructed with care by slotting tags on cardboard scenery together and then a layered, three dimensional stage was the result complete with prasedium arch and cardboard characters on the end of sticks would act out a melodrama.
The layers here were the diners, then the arch and beyond that the stage with other seats in front, but empty because rain threatened, then, beyond the singers, trikes drifted to and fro on the Boulevard and beyond that the flickers of distant lightning of a new approaching electric downpour threatened
I was analysing the presented image of the cardboard theatre in these terms as the singers sang and stepped and smiled when incongruously a humungous lorry hugely stacked with sugar cane lumbered past. This was followed later by another. A huge dark shape laden with stoops of cane. Heading for the harbour I imagined. It was as though some stage hand had wandered on stage in the middle of the ‘Vien Malika’ duet. Some one had pushed a stick with the wrong character onto my tiny stage. My fancy of a tiny theatre was shattered.

Given the geographic position of the Islands and the neighbours it enjoys, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, etc. It has surprised me how unadventurous they are with their cuisine. They use salt, pepper and often some ginger, lemon grass, chilli occasionally, and the ubiquitous soy sauce, but that seems the limit of their seasoning, no spices. I have not seen a decent curry yet. Indeed no curry at all.
I am a Yorkshire man if not born then certainly bred and I pine for a decent korma with naan bread.
There is much good food here. Chicken, pork and beef, ( lamb is available but imported and expensive) an abundance of fish and a broad range of fresh vegetables so they could enjoy a good healthy diet but they cook the hell out of the vegetables and insist on overcooking fish and chicken until each is dry and no goodness left. I don’t mind white rice but it is almost worshipped here and to be preferred above all other foods. They eat rice before starting on other foods on their plate. One eatery advertises ‘Unlimited Rice!!‘ and is always crowded. A man with a bucket scoots between tables dishing out measures of the stuff.
We went to a birthday party at a restaurant where there was buffet supper. Lo and behold! Glory of glories! Mashed potatoes, creamed and buttered. I did not know how much I missed my mashed potatoes. Ben Gunn, in Treasure Island , told us ‘many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese--toasted, mostly’
in the same way I dream of mashed potatoes with a thick onion gravy.
I would crawl through ten fields of broken glass for a plateful.

I have mentioned the festivals and performances of one kind or another that are enjoyed here at every possible occasion. Walking through the large mall near my home last Thursday I paused at a ‘Dumaguete’s got Talent’ audition when a wee chit of a girl stepped forward. She was eight, dressed in green jeans with a white blouse and a green ribbon in her hair. She sang some Tagalog favourite and delivered it crystal clear, on the note, not a sharp or flat to be heard anywhere, with great panache and confidence. Her diction was perfect, her voice clear and her delivery impassioned. Hands cutting the air , the foot stamped , the knees bent in delivery. Great maturity. I knew I had seen a Filipina Susan Boyle - a great and wonderful surprise. She filled me with tears of delight.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Arthur, I just want to say that I enjoy reading your 'Postcards' I have visited the Phillipines, maybe 10 times or more - often restricted to the business districts Makati/Ortigas, though I sallied forth down to Mindanao (Cagayan de Oro)on one trip. I am always delighted by the friendliness of the Filipinos, and the manner in which they conduct thier business. Mind you I have spent a few million (Sterling not Pesos)over the 18yrs or so Ive been coming. There will probably only be one more before I retire.
(PS Glad I'm not 'Snowie' !)

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Brian, thank you very much for your kind comments. I have great pleasure writing these blgs and I hope the forum gets as much pleasure when they read them. Arthur

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I certainly enjoy them Arthur and last Sunday I think I managed to persuade my brother Howard (at kbgs 1932-37) to view your blogs. I am sure he will enjoy them.

Keep up the good work.

David

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1937-1944

Current location (optional) Huntingdon

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Thank you David. I see your posts now and again and I am glad you are still of this world. I often think about my time at NSF, not always fondly, I might add, but time has moved on. Last I heard you were at Plessey.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Valencia!
No, not the Spanish city, I refer rather to the village near to our city, high up on the slopes of the sleeping volcano. Valencia is on the slopes of the volcanic hills behind the city. It is a significant indication of the continuing volcanic activity under the slopes that a geo-thermal power station has been built there. The villagers receive a big rebate on their electric bills for any inconvenience suffered, which is very generous since it appears to me that any inconvenience is quite minimal
Being so much higher there in Valencia, which is about half-way up the range, offered us a magnificent view over the dense bush to the white buildings of the city and the harbor peeping through the greenery, then the sea-curve and the distant islands of Apo and Siquijor.
The bush appeared dense but on our way up there were large areas under cultivation and many tiny settlements, clumps of houses, schools and churches but from our view point these were no longer visible and it seemed all lush vegetation.
This day the sky was blue and cloudless and everything was viewed through a filter of heat that shimmered in light bending waves. The distant views were all hazy blues, every hue and shade of blue merging into the single coherence of the dazzling sea.
On our way up I noticed an old sign indicating that the Filipino-Japanese Amity site was close by. We never saw the site but I was reminded that when the Americans returned to the Philippines in 1944 the Japanese strategy was to withdraw in small numbers into the hills and carry on a fight of harassment from there. The Japanese garrison here followed that strategy and fought on from the hills long after the Islands were declared liberated. They fought here close to Valencia and the Amity site, fought to the last man and continued fighting long after the peace treaty was signed on the USS Missouri. The Amity site was dedicated to that last stand.
We have all heard the myths and legends of Japanese soldiers still fighting on in the long finished war. The stories seem to have considerable veracity.
On Lubang Island, well north of here, one young officer was the last to be captured in 1974. As it was, he gave himself up only on the verbal orders of his old commanding officer who had to be brought here, out of retirement, to tell him the war was really over. The Americans virtually left all the digging out of these last pockets of resistance to the Philippine guerilla force which had been fighting the Japanese since the Americans left.
He surrendered in his full uniform, wearing his samurai sword. His ammunition was plentiful, his three rifles clean and oiled, all his grenades were clean and primed.
He had killed over 30 men who, over the 29 years of his hold out, had tried to capture him. The president of the Philippines, Marcos, pardoned him and returned the samurai sword proffered in surrender. Why not? He was a soldier not a murderer. Three others of his small platoon had resisted with him but had been killed, over the years, in shoot- outs with police and guerillas.
One can only admire the dedication and bravery of such men.
Salute, then, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, soldier.
While we were at the party we retired to an upper storey with a view of the surrounding bush that crowded near and I noticed, as I admired the view, a swarm of large insects, a fresh hatching perhaps, circled and span in air-borne cavorting across the bright air. I cannot name them but they seemed kin to our dragonfly. They danced, straddling the warm late afternoon, catching the low light with their brilliant wings. Disjointed swung delight, they danced and swirled, hovered and dived, rose in crowds and their wings shone.
The place where the party took place was the home of an ex-pat from Berkshire. It had been built to his design and since I am kept remarkably uninformed about such details I thought it a local bar at first and ordered a drink. It really did smack of a wayside inn. I should have guessed, of course, when I wandered into what I thought to be a function room and found myself in a room where I discovered the biggest bed I have ever seen. It was a mountain of white lace and pillows. I have to admit some questions did begin to form in my mind.
In what I thought was the main bar (it did have a bar with bar stools along the front, so I could be excused my error) were two huge armchairs with a Dutchman in one and a German in the other. Both had broken legs, on the mend but still broken. Motorcycle accidents, I was informed.

Sometimes it is best to admire the scenery rather than observe the locals.
There are many local eateries along the national highway that passes close to our home. I walked past one today that sold barbecued chunks of pork. It smelled delicious. However, as I was passing there was a dreadful squealing from a little pig that was being held, struggling and kicking, on the tiled floor by two men while a third cut its throat. Not the best of adverts, I thought, but hey! I knew the pork was fresh, at least.
Four men outside the local cockpit urinate against a sign on a gate that reads ’Do not urinate against this gate.’ However it would not be fair to assume that everyone in the Philippines can read English or that the four were blatantly ignoring the plea.
A trike passes with a drunken 12 year old spewing down the wind and despoiling the new highway.
An old man slumped in sleep on the pavement, sprawls in the shade. His tattered shorts reveal a sweaty tangle of genitalia.
Sometimes it is best to admire the scenery rather than observe the locals.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I hope, Arthur, you are keeping copies of these 'postcards' because your very personal perspectives might eventually combine into a book about a part of the world that is about as remote as you can get, for the British reading public.

Keep them coming!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Thank you Doug for the compliment. Yes, I do keep copies to a memory stick. I am so pleased that the forum in general seems to enjoy reading my blogs. I would hate to think I was hogging the site. As I have mentioned elsewhere I have great pleasure in writing them and the forum's acceptance and enjoyment is a bonus for me. Thanks again.Arthur.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my new partner here in the Philippines and to whom I occasionally refer in my blogs and at the same time devote some time and space to discussing a cultural phenomenon of the Philippines they call ‘tampo’, an art of which she is an expert practitioner.
‘Tampo’ does not translate easily but the closest I can do is to call it ‘sulking’. You will see from explanations later why ‘sulk’ is close but not quite the same thing. ’Sulk’ is a shotgun aimed at everyone; ‘tampo’ is a laser-guided sniper’s rifle singling out one target.
It takes little to trigger tampo, any perceived slight or embarrassment, one look of criticism, a misplaced ‘tut’, nothing major, just some shame has been unwittingly visited upon her and she will apply tampo. I say ‘her’ and ‘she’ because it is a female weapon that makes its point without rancor or hurt or violence.
No verbal confrontation, no show of temper, just a total withdrawal of affection away from the person responsible. She will go to her room and say ‘I want leaving alone.’ Of course she doesn’t but, that is part of the treatment. The offender needs to know he has transgressed and is about to be punished with a short, sharp burst of tampo. Part of the treatment is to continue absolutely normal relationships with others while the object of the tampo is still being given the silent treatment.
It is no good asking what you have done wrong because if she were to answer she would be breaking the rules of tampo which is the silence and lack of smiles and anyway you should know what you have done wrong..
No good trying to ignore it, for a door will be slammed or a foot put down heavily just to remind you the tampo is still in effect.
I have been subjected to tampo a couple of times, undeserved in my opinion, but there you go. It is not pleasant and it is very effective in getting over its message. A little show of attention and affection can generally coax her out of her hurt and restore her pride.
Snowie, our young dog, no longer a puppy, has a wonderful display of tampo if he is chained up or if he is bathed. I earn no brownie points by pointing out that he is better at it than she is. His eyes are so eloquent supported by the snorted sigh and the turned back.
Sione, for that is her name, has her own brand of logic, which is often irrefutable.
She rides an unregistered motorbike and avoids the Local Traffic Officers (LTO’s) when they hold check points looking for transgressors like her. She does not see the LTO’s, she senses them, and makes sudden darting diversions onto shady back lanes and ways.
She told me of one time in another city when she was approaching her bike and found an LTO examining it. He saw her coming and waved her over. She turned and ran She explains, “If I stand still or go to him he will arrest me, so I run. Why should I make it too easy for him? It would be foolish to let him catch me. It is hot he will not run after me. Think about it! Why do you laugh at me?’
She is serious. I stop laughing and look serious back. What would I have done? I don’t really know. Her argument is, as I say, irrefutable
She had a stomach ache one morning and complained to me about it. She went into the garden and started to weed. Being bent double eventually allowed her to vent that which troubled her with a reverberating praaarp!! that startled perching birds to rise up in a terrified cloud and set the dogs barking.
She never looked up from her weeding but said, out loud, ‘Thank you Lord!”
The incongruity of this pretty lady, quietly weeding in the garden, tearing one off like drunken sailor and then thanking her God for His gift, had me rolling around on the patio.
One day she decided that I needed some flip-flops, she calls them slippers, and she took me to a store where they were piled high. She picked up one and tugged at the toe-piece, which pulled free. She threw it back on the pile and said, ‘That’s no good.’ I remarked that, ‘Well, it isn’t now.’ She looked at me seriously, ‘God guides my hand. He does not want me to buy rubbish.’ Then she said ‘Run!’ and sped away into the crowd. I walked after her. When I found her she asked me why I had not run. I explained I had done nothing wrong and I had no reason to run. Tampo ensued at my blatant betrayal and abandonment of her.
You can see why I find her the most fascinating and delightful company.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

On Sunday we go up country beyond the high hills above the city into the heart of the Visayas to the volcano Canlaon, the highest peak in the island. I have been before and we return there to my partner’s birthplace and hometown where she has all her family and friends. We shall be away for a few days so I make this posting now.
I have written my blogs mostly in the terms of things seen and I would like now to dwell a little on the other senses, which after all complete the experience and to ignore them is to paint with a restricted palette. I want to tell how the other senses have been delighted, assailed or insulted during my brief time here.
I am seated at the moment making these notes outside a roadside café waiting for my partner to return from an errand and in front of me is a busy crossroads in the heart of the city. The roar of the passing traffic is loud, insistent, unrelenting and intrusive. I am alone but would be unable to hold a coherent conversation if I were with someone. Of course, every city these days will have this traffic noise – the raucous, dinning voice of a city going about its business. The difference for me here is that the vast majority of this traffic is powered by the two-stroke engine of the motor bike - the personal motorbike and the public transport of the trikes. This voice then is the rasp and snarl of the ill-maintained Honda or the harsh yammer of the ancient Yamaha.
Across the road from where I write is the Plaza the large central park where much of the social entertainments and festivals are held. Just now a school choir is practicing on the stage and they sing with enthusiastic piping.
Singing is an element in this rich culture and one cannot be blamed for imagining that the karaoke was invented for the entertainment of the Filipinos alone. Everyone has one or has access to one and no party or gathering is complete without one. The trouble is that not everyone is a good singer. Many girls think shouting to music is singing and young men sing with a feigned passion and are, in the main, disastrously flat. In some of the roadside Karaoke cafes there are more false notes than you would find in a forger’s attic. My partner has a beautiful voice and has won competitions I listen to her singing as she goes about her chores behind me as I sit at my computer.
The gentle harmonies of the singing from the park do not mix well with the coarse staccato of the traffic. I pause to watch an engine-revving, horn-sounding tangle of trikes battle for ascendancy at the crossroads.
The soft harmonies of children who love to sing, the cacophonous concerto for two-strokes, the sibilant whisperings of leaves talking to the evening breezes, the terrifying, sleep-shattering claps of thunder from the night storms, the million-tongued sea lapping the sea-wall or patiently tidying the beach, these are some of the sounds I have enjoyed or loathed during my brief time here.
(As an amusing aside, I have just been approached by a man with watches in one hand and packets of Viagra in the other looking to sell me one or the other.
Q. Which Dickens novel did he represent?
A. Hard Times.)
I have mentioned in other blogs the local eateries that offer barbecued pork and chicken. As evening melts into night the buko shells are lit and clouds of dense, resinous, pungent blue-grey smoke billow from the BBQ fires and in the enveloping pall of that reek legs can be seen below and dim shapes move in the heart of it. I wonder at their ability to survive in that choke and eye-watering fume. Still, the resulting food that emerges is well cooked, if slightly charred, and exceedingly tasty, the smoky flavour enhancing the tastes.
The fish market, like any other fish market will smell of fish, of course, and this is not really unpleasant if the fish is fresh. What I have learned to dislike is the smell of dried fish. The fish is sundried and many of the smaller fish, gutted but whole, are preserved in this way. It smells disgustingly strong and when they cook it the heavy fish odour pervades the whole house and appalls my effete Western olfactory organ. The fish is hard when dried and salted and then they cook it for a long time in hot oil which makes it harder. They munch on it with a ravenous gusto and laugh at my screwed-up face of disgust.
I might add to my catalogue of smells by mentioning the traffic smell of exhaust gases but that unhappily is now universal to most cities, the low level of maintenance here makes it rather worse and many bikes pass in a cloud of blue smoke.
I will not dwell on the occasional faulty drain since we have these, too, in the west and we have all at some time been familiar with the air thick with the ripe stench of untreated sewage.
In sweet relief from all this is the perfume of jasmine that pervades from my neighbour's garden wafting faintly on the night air.
Taste then. Well I have mentioned their limited use of herbs and spices and their tendency to overcook which reduces most vegetables close to a bland puree. This really is a lack of taste and barely qualifies.
It is some measure of my descent into general decadence that I now enjoy a glass of iced Coca-cola. I never dreamed such a day would arrive that I would admit to that;; the blessed relief of my thirst without intoxication is achieved quicker with iced coke than it is with tepid water and I am grateful for that.
Add to this, too, iced mocha, a divine drink drawn straight from the paps of Hera and iced green tea with calamante these are quenchers supreme
I have to admit that the San Miguel lager, known affectionately here as Sanmig, brewed here, is ideal for the climate and the ecstatic thrill of the first two or three chilled mouthfuls cannot be extolled too highly.
It is an interesting philosophical question to be wrestled with to wonder which is to be preferred, the kiss of a beautiful woman or the delightful quench of an ice cold lager.
The answer lies I think in the degree of sensitivity present, at any given moment, in the different receptors. At the same time, one might ask why not both??
So sound, smell, taste all now detailed. By my calculation that just leaves touch to be addressed and here I find that for me my catalogue relates, directly or indirectly, to the heat or the cool relief of it. I have been attacked by tiny flies that leave me pocked and rashed with their sting and I have been explored by wandering roaches in the dark reaches of the night and this has left my skin highly sensitized to any touch or tickle that might, just might, signal a new invasion of my body.
So if the electric fan ripples my thin bed sheet and teases across my skin I will be awake in a flash or if that same fan moves the hairs on my legs and arms I slap without further exploration as to cause. If a trickle of sweat chases down my neck or back I am instantly on bug watch or a dangling piece of loose thread trails across my thigh I hammer the offender with slaps. There are many false alarms but alas there are often also the dreaded invaders present. One can never relax.
In the morning I wallow in a cold shower. This might seem Spartan but the water here is not the chilled version we enjoy in England. It is less than cold and yet not warm or even tepid, it is enough to startle the body and snatch the breath and, ultimately, a real joy to swill away the heat and sweat of the night. I am also tended by the ministrations of slender, brown hands that, clad in defoliating gloves, scrub and lave the whole of my body as a layer of dead skin is sloughed away and the itch and torment of new bites is relieved. Scoured and lathered, I wait the souse and drench that is yet to come when I am sluiced and dowsed with a welter of wet from ladling cans of cold water accompanied by giggles of sadistic delight at my gasps and coughs as I accept all with a masochistic resignation till I emerge renewed, invigorated, cool and very much alive, my body tingling and clean.
It is a measure of my acclimatization that I can walk the streets in the pinning heat of noon unaware of how hot I have become until I enter a store when a curtain of cold air descends and I stand a few moments relishing the cooling air from air-conditioners which wraps me, folds me in its chilling arms and I stand with eyes closed, indulgent and relieved.
The heat smothers me, heavy with humidity, it wrings me and drains me and I welcome, all relief from its clammy shroud, be it an occasional passing breeze, a gently whirring fan, the chilled punch of an air conditioner, the sweet quench of an ice-filled drink, the breath-taking lash of the shower, the drench of water tipped over my sweating head or a spin on the motorcycle; a physical delight to sweep through the cool evening air, the swathe of cool air caressing sensuously, the ride blissful and relaxing, and the blessing of a downpour when I stand and welcome the cool rain with upturned face receiving a million wet kisses, while others rush for shelter.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

We left for Canlaon City before cock-shout when the first streaks of dawn were still more than an hour away.
We were to use the National Highway which follows the flat coastal plains and the running was easy in the early hours, the ribbon of the road unfurling swiftly over the miles. The quiet sea was a dark mirror on the one hand, the broad fields of sugar cane, dark and swathed in shadows, lay upon the other with the ragged ridges of the volcanic hills in profile dimly beyond them.
Much of the road has housing clinging to it and we sped through pools and splashes of light.
Even at that early hour, 4 am, people were moving and beginning to go about their business. The blue-grey smoke from breakfast fires spiraled through the still air. The dark shapes of the early risers moving and doing and being in the places and closures of their homes. Now the cocks’ ringing cries sounded over the waking barunguays and day was close.
It amazes me how early everyone begins to move here. I am not sure if it is a cultural thing where one wakes with the sun and works until night falls, or whether it is to avoid the heat and get something done before the sun burns in the sky.
We made our first stop for coffee in a small battered eatery in a small battered hamlet. The coffee was good, hot and strong and brewed, but more to be welcomed was the relief for my stiff dead buttocks and to stretch my legs.
Back on the road we passed from township to township, skirting the witless unhurried dogs and sounding our horn at heedless pedestrians. In reality the strips of development along the edge of the road meant that we were always close to someone, some house, some place and one village blended into another seamlessly with only the place names advising we were leaving one town to enter another.
Dawn arrived with dancing lightning glimmering in the eastern sky and ripples of distant thunder, all far, far away and of no consequence to our passage. The sun never really broke the cover of low clouds and we drove through a grey morning. This was a blessing in its own way since we enjoyed the cool riding and the passing scenery, although there was always the threat of rain lurking in the dark veils that hung above the sea.
We wove through one crowded street market barely able to make headway against the press of folk and a trike in front of us heavily laden with squealing pigs. I counted eight pigs but there could have been others underneath the top layer. They were not the massive boars and sows we know in England nor were they piglets but all about the size of a sheep dog. They protested loudly against the ignominy of the bouncing trike and the retaining net. I started to laugh and Sione asked me what was funny. I told her I was imagining getting the pigs into the trike in the first place and wished I had been there to watch it. I still laugh as I write this. How on earth did he get them in there? We passed the squealing trike later beyond the market and but when we stopped a half hour later for toilet in a sugar field the trike overtook us with one pig halfway through a bigger hole in the net with the driver holding one kicking leg.

I was reminded of a scene I had witnessed in a market in Tunisia when a man was trying to tie a live chicken to the handlebars of his motorcycle. If he tried to tie the head the claws scratched at him, if the feet he was savagely pecked. His wife meanwhile sat sedately side-saddle with a huge basket of vegetables on her knees and a child on her lap held in place by the basket.
The townships were well-kept and litter free and there was evidence of civic pride in the posters and signs and banners and bunting festooned from every vantage point.
I have noticed that there is a great disparity between the haves and the have-nots in these islands and this is blatantly and openly displayed. Large, clean mansions are interspersed with lopsided leaf-huts, small and smoke filled for breakfast, little more than hovels. There are, too, the striving middle classes with their small hollow block houses left unfinished and depressingly grey and drab with corrugated tin roofs already scabbed with rusts.
While huge air-conditioned cars with Mafia-styled, darkened windows jostle with the trikes and ancient motorbikes, the pedal rickshaws and the walkers.
So we progressed through this fascinating landscape and manscape travelling forever northwards looking for that right angled junction where the road to Canlaon left the main Highway. Before we found it we made one last breakfast stop at Vallehermosa, at a beach hut where we ate eggs and cold rice and drank cold coffee as rain pattered and dripped from the leaf roof and, grey and pocked with rain that picked haloes of light from the still surface, the sea lapped into the thick layers of seaweed that cluttered the beach there.
The sky cleared now and the sun shone warm and bright and the volcano Kanlaon, empurpled with the haze of distance, with drapes of white clouds brushing the summit, stood imperious and mighty and we turned west to ride into its arms along the most exciting road I have ever ridden.
I have driven through/up Hard Knott pass and Wrynose pass and they are, in their own right, terrifying and challenging but this road, not ever as steep as those others, wound madly and never a length straight enough to bowl an over on. It rose precipitously up a long deeply gouged valley side. Always there was the torn rock on our left and the dizzying drop on our right and even here amazingly houses clung to the edges. One can only wonder how the road was built at all and, more, how they manage to live in those houses, hung over those heights.
We stopped at a half way point and sat in a bamboo and leaf hut propped over the edge on bamboo stilts with gaps in the floor where one could see the vertiginous drop below us. I am a hater of heights and my legs become jelly often at the mere thought of some of the places I have visited but that coffee drank in that most hazardous of places left me quivering with tension. I need to do these things to be able to live with myself but I do not enjoy it but am glad I did it and I am also glad it is over and I have survived.
Suddenly the climbing ceased and we rode out onto the plateau beneath the volcano still many miles distant but bulking huge on the skyline. From the plateau rose lower hillsides terraced and tiered with paddy fields and inevitably the lonely figure bent in toil under the bright sky. I have driven long flat miles through Norfolk in the rain and wondered at the single man with a sodden sack protecting his back hoeing the ranks of cabbages. Here was his cousin, the untiring labourer in the field. Adam!
The paddy fields in the Philippines date from pre-historic times and the mere labour involved in the massive task of making them, the heft and shift of the task, must rival the Pyramids, or our dry stone walls for the mammoth concept and realization.
We swept through this last part of our journey and entered the sprawl that is Canlaon City. One wonders at the accolade of ‘city’ which seems to be something applied for from central government and given by approval. I always understood that, in England, the title of ‘city ‘implied that the place so named had a cathedral or a university. That does not apply here. Canlaon barely deserves the accolade. Surrounded by the volcanic remnants of the past and dominated by the Kanlaon massif, it derives its economy from the agricultural activities of the surrounding rural areas. There is little work in the city itself and most of the activity centres on the market and its services. All the young men seem to have a motorbike and they pay for the petrol and the credit on the purchase of the vehicle and their food, by ferrying folk around the area. Most are unlicensed and untaught and fuelled by testosterone and macho imagery they roar around the place and there are many accidents.
Once Sione had removed her masking helmet she was greeted by delighted shouts of recognition and she responded with the same delight at being recognized and welcomed home. There was a yammering exchange in Cebuano as she rattled off her explanations and stories to shouts of laughter and high fives all round. I was peripheral but subject to appraisal nevertheless. Glued smile and joining in the not understood laughter was a simple enough job.
We made it eventually to her father’s market stall where he sold coffee, black as sin and a severe jolt of caffeine therein. He sold also ropes for harnessing the wandering pig, goat, cow, dog, cock or hen. In and amongst this collection of ropery were flip-flops and sandals. The old man roasted his own beans over an open fire and the stall reeked of smoke and coffee and rope. I sat on an old wooden settle and drank the proffered potion and enjoyed the ensuing fizz.
It had been a long, interesting, and exhilarating at times, journey but I was glad to know we would be less mobile for the next few days.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Arthur, referring to your blog dated July 4th, and your definition of the Phillipino word 'Tampo'; I can't help but think that this 'woman thing' is pretty well universal, which ever country you might be in. Certainly, we have a name for this sort of thing in Yorkshire, here we would say "Sheez gorra Mog on". Have you forgooten so soon? Must be the heat!!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945-50

Current location (optional) Keighley(Still)

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

In the East Mids - Notts espec - it's a "munk".

He's gorra munk on.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Lincoln

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

David and Terry. I have suffered the monk/mog and the sulk and believe me the tampo is essentially different in intensity and application. One has to be the object/target of tampo to understand that which remains ineffable despite my best attempts.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

“The time has come,” the traveller said,
“To blog of all that might up-crop;
of volcanoes, parking and fried eggs,
of trikes, of spoons and the ubiquitous flip-flop,
and sweet it is to blog of slender legs
and public transport and the odd pawn shop.”

1) The National Highway, that I dealt with in some detail in my last blog, wends its way along the coast via causeways and low roads through the flat fields of sugar cane and the salt marshes that stretch between the sleeping hamlets, villages, lonely, solitary houses and the tidy towns.
Occasionally and suddenly, the road will skirt a huge limestone bluff or headland that threatens to fall loose and block the road. Such limestone outcrops and other folded, layered rocks show that here was once the seafloor and once, millenniums ago, there was an up-thrust and a warping of the Earth’s crust, an enormous upheaval, to create these islands. I have mentioned often the range of mountains and high hills behind this city. The highest is Mount Talinis, part of the range known as the Cuernos de Negros (Horns of Negros). At about 5900 feet above sea level, it is the second highest mountain in Negros Oriental after Mount Kanla-on. At nearly 8000 feet Kanla-on bulks massively over Canlaon City where I stayed for 3 days recently.
Mount Talinis is a potentially active volcano and has many volcanic lakes and volcanic sulfurous steam vents around its base. It stands at one end of the volcanic belt that runs up the spine of Negros. The belt terminates high above the city and the two furthest points stand higher than the rest of the terminal massif suggesting a pair of horns and explaining the name, Cuernos de Negros.

2) A Philippines syllogism for debate.
a. Most young Filipinas wear flip-flops
b. Most young Filipinas have gorgeous legs
Ergo: wearing flip-flops develops gorgeous legs.
Two observations from me
Dr. Scholl may have got it right so many years ago
or
It might be a question of genetic propensity.
Whatever, I abhor the sibilant susurration of flip flops. It is a slovenly sound.
When I was a young boy I was firmly instructed not to slur my feet.
“ Pick thi feet up an doan’t slur thi booits on’t flags. Sloven! Nobbut sloven!! Gerron nah afore I gi’ thi a clip rahnd thi lug oil’
Flip flops require one to slur with a vengeance.
The fact remains they do have slender and well-shaped legs and they do wear flip flops.

3) Pawnshops! Every other place along the main street and down every side street seems to be a pawnshop. Palawan! Lhuillier! And many more!
For me it implies that there is sufficient business of one sort or another to keep these premises open.
Sufficient business implies that there are many people in need of instant money and have something of value to exchange for cash.
If they had something of value in the first place they ought not to have bought it and be in such need of money that they now need to pawn it.
Probably the real reason could be that the principal activity of these places appears to be money transfer from overseas workers to relatives here in the islands. To work overseas as a builder, a nurse, a masseur, nanny or house keeper seems the sole ambition of young people here.

4) It was while I was sitting outside a wayside eatery in the heart of the city that I did a census of one hundred trikes that passed my table. This particular road was one-way so the counting was easy. The 100 trikes carried 127 passengers. A big majority of them carried one passenger only. They are each capable of carrying 4 passengers easily and 5 with a little discomfort. So had there been half as many trikes available the same passengers could have been carried with no real difficulties. I would propose a city regulation that each tricycle be registered either as A or B and so only allowed to carry customers on alternate days then the drivers would make more money since the same number of passengers would need carrying and trikes carrying single fares would be, if not eliminated, at least greatly reduced, the roads would be less congested reducing the hazard level, pollution and wasted fuel spent cruising with an empty trike, would be cut. I would further make each trike pass a regular vehicle safety test to show that it was being properly maintained. Of course all this is impossible to legislate since the drivers seem compelled to go out every day in search of fares and would fret and feel they were losing money if they were at home resting.
On our journey to Canlaon we passed through small townships where there were no engine-powered trikes and these had been replaced by pedal power. In San Carlos I stopped a pedal-powered tricycle and found this frail old man was the driver. Sione and I sat in the pretty flower-draped carriage and waited. He could not summon the weight pressure on the pedals to activate the carriage. His thin spindly legs strained mightily to no effect. He could not budge my 17 stone ( now down to 15 ) and Sione’s additional weight, try as he might. I was required to dismount and push to get the vehicle moving and, running alongside, jump into a small space. Sione turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, ‘ He is like my papa.’ I was required to pay him double fare. In Bacolod City the public transport is the jeepney. A very small bus with uncomfortable iron seats down each side under a low roof which requires lofty and bulky Europeans to bend double while the jeepney bounces and bucks mercilessly. The squat jeepney is brightly coloured as are the Dumaguete trikes and the family name is proudly displayed with the same invocations and prayers painted down the front or sides. ‘O, Lord, deliver us safely’, ‘God guard our way.’,
’ Thank you, Lord, for this great gift.’ To which can now be added ‘For Christ’s sake, get me out of here.’, that was often my own heart-felt prayer. In Bacolod also there are the occasional air-conditioned taxi and very expensive ride they are, too.

5) There are many designated parking places for “Motorcycles only” in the heart of the city. There is no notice saying ‘Parking 5 pesos’ or ‘ Parking fee 10 pesos’ but without exception someone has grabbed the franchise on each spot and will park and guard your bike, cover the seat with cardboard if the sun is hot, wipe your seat if it has rained and never ask for any fee but will expect a tip. I pointed out to Sione that you were not compelled to pay and she looked at me as though I had lost my wits. What did I think would happen to the bike if I did not pay?? One has to admire the guardians who will see you approaching, recognize you and identify your bike and have it waiting for you when you arrive. One has even offered to clean the bike for 20 pesos while we are away about our business. Such acumen is to be applauded.I figure that a good spot will turn over 1500 pesos a day and probably more, so it is a good living and the franchise is well worth protecting.

6) The main pairing of utensils seen at the Filipino dining table is that of spoon and fork, not knife and fork. Given that the main meals here are stews or broths and all eaten with rice there is little need for knives. The traditional way of eating with the hands known as kamayan is seen more often in rural areas and Sione is very rural in this respect. I watch fascinated as she eats a fried egg with her fingers. Breaking / tearing pieces off and folding it adroitly into a parcel of rice, pinched and pressed into shape, before popping it into her mouth. Not just fried eggs, any viand (as she calls anything not rice or vegetable), be it fish, chicken, pork, whatever. It is not in the least bad mannered, discourteous or indeed offensive, it is simply the way she eats.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Some time has passed since I last sent the site a postcard. However, I did say this might prove to be an irregular blog when I began so many months ago. Lest you thought me ill or bored with it all, be assured I am fit and well and, in fact, I have shed a considerable amount of weight. I am now a comfortable 15 stone, and falling, and not the portly 17 and ½ stone I was when I came here in January. That old weight left me ‘fat and scant of breath’ but I can now walk comfortably and quickly through the noon sun and heat. I still sweat, of course, but that is what has helped me to lose weight in the first place.
The reason for my non-postcard-silence is that life has been rather busy involving a further journey to Canlaon and the ensuing unfolding of cameo and vista. Being only a part of that busyness, I will not go into details of that second journey although it is and will remain spectacular and fascinatingly interesting. What intrigued me this time was the strange ways the ubiquitous 125 cc motor cycle is used.
For instance, we were passed at speed by one motor cycle upon the rear of which was tied a bale of some material. About a meter and a bit wide and just less than a meter high it was strapped with blue plastic rope to the rear of the passenger seat. OK, not much there really, considering what they do tie to the rear of a cycle except that perched on top of this was a youth with a back-pack, his hair streaming in the wind. It was terrifying to watch the bike lean over for corners and the tilt of the youth as it did so. I closed my eyes sometimes.
Another time we were passed, again at speed, by a bike upon which four adults had managed to lodge themselves. What actually embellished this cameo and made it mentionable here were the two pigs they had managed to carry in addition to themselves. How? They had treated them as panniers and devised a rope hammock in which they imprisoned the pigs and hung it all over the seat. One pig hung in silence as the other, the one hung over the exhaust pipe, squealed in frantic distress.
It was roast pork for dinner I imagine.
Some of you may recall a book, Jerome K Jerome’s ‘Three men in a boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)’. This would have been ‘Four men on a bike. (To Say Nothing of the Pigs)’.
When I say ‘we were passed at speed’ might be to give the impression that we were tootling along sedately but in fact we were busy doing our own overtaking which will explain how much faster and more amazingly dangerous these over- burdened and precariously loaded 125’s were.
One jeepney passed us as we had paused to rub our aching buttocks and to stretch our legs. It was ram packed full with people and on the roof was a pile of luggage and packs and bales roped and tethered to the roof rack. Stood, I repeat stood, on top of all this was an idiot. I assume his idiocy from this action alone. His baseball hat reversed, his basketball shirt billowing in the wind a manic grin fastened to his idiot face. This maniac waved as he passed. I did not wave back but only desired his removal from the gene pool as early as possible.
We were passed on several occasions by small convoys of perhaps three or four bikes each carrying four large circular plastic tubs as panniers loaded with fish. I could see the silvery load as it passed. They rasped away quickly leaving us virtually standing still. The need to deliver the fish while still fresh was no doubt the motivation for the sustained velocity of their passage.
It being a Sunday when we made our return journey there were several parties abroad and we would pass, going one way or the other, the odd flat back, loaded to the gunnels with laughing, squealing, waving, cheering loads of young people. In a busy city street we were slowed to a funereal pace by a huge funeral procession led by priest and altar boys then the pearly white ornate coffin and the huge entourage of mourners and respect-payers.
By the way, they appear not to dig and bury here but pile one white sepulcher on top of another and we passed several necropolis piled like apartment buildings.
I cannot finish this blog without referring to the two monkeys we found in a cage in a restaurant where we stopped to eat. By the way, and I do digress but only slightly, I ordered a simple chicken and vegetable soup, with bread please. They brought me a huge lidless tureen, brimming with soup, noodles and vegetables. The bread was a full loaf spread across a plate. Embarrassed and giggling insanely I tried to tackle the dish. It was delicious but overwhelming. We packed it into a plastic bag and scoffed it at our next stop. But let us go back to the monkeys. I went over to them and one, the larger one, reached through the caging and pointed. I followed the tiny finger and saw a biscuit. I picked it up and showed him it. He screeched his delight and made grasping movements with his tiny hand. I gave him the biscuit and it disappeared in two or three bites.
I went back to my table and mentioned this to Sione.
We had bought some ramboutans and she took three or four out and we went back to the cage.
The ramboutan is in season just now and they are delicious and highly prized and eagerly awaited in the Islands. It has a rosy, soft-prickly shell opened with the teeth and the sweet juicy opalescent fruit heart is taken out and eaten. We gave each monkey a fruit and Sione was amazed and delighted to see them open and eat the fruit in exactly the same manner that humans do. ‘He is like a little man’. She laughed. I told her it was hard to see how the fruit could be eaten in another way than that way. Just then the monkey spat the black seed out just as Sione does at home sat on the patio. More laughter. ’ Little man!!’ Yes, indeed.
I will close now with one last anecdote. We were passing through a small village when a plump hen decided to cross the road at right angles to us and Sione beep-beeped the horn, the hen increased speed, beep-beep, faster the hen ran. We closed into certain impact when it took flight and swooped across in front of us in a fluster of indignant feathers and a babble of clucked invectives.
I am personally convinced the hen is the older sister of the idiot stood on top of the burdened jeepney roof. Both seemed devoutly in pursuit of an early death

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I am sure there are many birds here in the Islands for I can hear some of them around the house but the bush is dense and the foliage provides gloomy depths where they might hide. I rarely see one of them. O, sometimes there is a flit and a dart but seldom does one stand still long enough to be recognized or described. There are the little urchin sparrows but they are few.
I have one feathered visitor, however, who comes to perch where we are nurturing a withered epiphyte and hope for an orchid or two there someday. My little bird is black and white, rather like a small magpie, but he gives such a virtuoso performance that I see him more as dressed in evening suit giving a concert. He is a cocky little Carreras of song and will sing for a full ten minutes, scarcely repeating himself before going round the back of the house to give a second performance.
As I lay sweating through the heat of the afternoon I can hear other songsters and in the way we give name to their song like Whip- poor –will or Cock-a-doodle-do my fancy toys with their repeated song so I have a Porky Pig and a Minnehaha and one I swear who says, “ Where did you put the chalk?’.
The air is always loud with cocks crowing. At first I thought it was old rural habits leaking into the urban environment of the city and people keeping chickens because that’s what they did before but I find now that it is because cock fighting is so popular here. You can see them tethered by the side of a market stall or in some back garden. I am told they fight to the death and sometimes even the victor dies later from wounds sustained. For me it is all rather gross and disturbing to hear the cheers and shouts of encouragement as we pass the Cockpit. It is probably my biased point of view but there seems a harsh viciousness in the shouts.
At the end of the compound where we live is a turkey, it, too, is tethered and if Snowie goes too near it gobbles loudly and alarms him considerably. The first time he heard the strange and for him, alien, sound of its gobble his ears nearly left his head. He has stopped running away now but sets himself if it gobbles.
As I write Sione is commenting that the birds are loud today. She does not know what I am writing about and I am startled by the coincidence but point out that they appear loud because we are in the middle of Saturday’s brown-out and so no television, radio, karaoke etc to drown the bird song but they are probably no louder than usual. I go outside to look and there hung on my neighbour’s side of the fence is a small cage packed with black and white finches with red beaks. As usual, she is right and the birds are loud today.
While on the subject of birds I must mention the jail birds. Dumaguete boasts its own city prison and it is in the heart of the city. A large white building with its windows covered with wire netting. The prisoners have free access to the grassy yard that surrounds the building. As we pass close their hands are thrust through the fencing and begging sounds are made. They need money to pay for some decent food I am told so I give the occasional 10 pesos to the hand. I have also learned that it is a criminal offence for a foreigner to give money to beggars. How true this is I do not know but since I have a policy of not encouraging beggary I feel more justified and less uncomfortable with my apparent miserliness.
We had a visit from a ‘cousin’ last week who had come to Dumaguete for an X-ray. They found a bullet lodged in his shoulder. It had been there since New Year’s Eve two years ago when someone shot their gun in the air in celebration. I have often wondered about where such bullets end up when I see ‘freedom fighters’ fire their AK-47’s into the air in celebration of some occasion.There are too many guns here! Sione tells me she borrowed one once to protect herself.
Last night we had a veritable deluge. Thunder and lightning, donner and blitzen, and a great downpour as the sky emptied itself upon us. This morning the water lies in great pools around us. No flooding but lots of mud and puddles and frogs. The wet has wakened them and the morning is loud with their calls. Strange sound it is, too. Not at all a croaking like a decent English frog and the only way I can describe it is as though some one were tapping a coin on a full tin of beans. More a clatter than a croak. In the Solomons I had a chorus of toads who crooned outside my window on wet nights. This Philippine frog is just bloody annoying. I have been out to find them but they fall quiet as I approach the sound.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Arthur,

Just a note to tell you how much I enjoy your 'postcards'. My life pales into insignificance when compared with your adventurous exploits!
You were at school at the same time as me although a year earlier - your little brother David and I were contemporaries. Help me out please. I've spent quite a while trying to pick you out on the 1946 panorama photo but I don't seem to be able to do so. I have been looking for an image similar to that of David - slim and fair haired. Could that be you immediately behind Geoff Broadhead?

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945 - 50

Current location (optional) Norfolk UK

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Hi Denis, Slim, fair-haired, little David here. Arthur can be found on the 2nd Page of the Panoramas, 1946(Part 6),which is the extreme right-hand side as you look. Arthur is seated on the ground, cross-legged, nine boys in from the right, with Raymond Tanner and Billy Shires squatting behind him. Hope that solves your little problem. David

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945-50

Current location (optional) Keighley

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Thanks for putting me staright David. I would never have picked author Arthur out. Perhaps if he'd been sporting a beard ..........?
I heard that Raymond Tanner transferrd to the other side a couple of years ago.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945-50

Current location (optional) Norfolk UK

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Yes- Sad about Raymond, wasn't it? I remember walking along Skipton Main St. some 4 years or so ago, with brother Arthur, when I spotted Raymond a short distance away. "Isn't that Bob Tanner down there?", I said. ( we always called him 'Bob', after a comic book character 'Bob Tanner and his Lucky Sixpence'). "Looks like him, let's go and see",said Arthur. Sure enough it was 'the lad 'imself'. We stood and talked with him for 10/15 minutes before going our separate ways. He admitted that he would not have recognised either of us, posssibly due to our 'high foreheads'; but he was pretty much how we both remembered him from our schooldays.
As you say Denis, he has sadly now 'transferred to the other side' along with Colin 'Ezra' Daniels, Neil Caley, Trevor Driver and other rugby playing lads from our era. David

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945-50

Current location (optional) Keighley

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Since it is some time since I submitted a blog and since this blog is about the party scene here, I have to make sure there is no misunderstanding and the forum must not think that I am so totally immersed in the party scene that I have neglected my blog.
I am not nor have I ever been a party animal. Watching sensible people under the influence of alcohol and the encouragement of unkind friends make fools of themselves I have never considered as being a worthwhile way to pass one’s time. Apart from which I hate the music.
However, while spending an evening in the Cocos Amigos, a bar on the sea-front boulevard I have referred to in earlier blogs, we met Bill Best and his Filipina wife Cathy. Bill is a retired US Navy Commodore, a construction engineer. He now lives here in a quite palatial house on the other side of Dumaguete from us. His wife, Cathy, invited us to their birthday party (they share the same birthday) and Independence Day party, too. It was from that that Sione and I were introduced to the Ex-pats party scene and we have been now to three such parties although Sione has been to two more all-girls parties, a Hawaiian evening and a bathing party.
The ex-pats here are Australian, American, German and British mainly, with the odd Irishman or Rumanian thrown in. They all have Filipina wives and in truth the party is really for them since none of the men dance but gradually sink all the beer there is to hand.
The parties are generally organized on, what they call, a pot-luck basis but what I remember as a faith supper. Anyway, everyone is expected to bring something partyish and edible and the drink is provided by whoever is providing the premises for the dance/party.
As we arrive there is a separation takes place where the girls retire and pretty themselves, the men say hello and crack a bottle.
Then there is the food and everyone eats.
There is an American who has a disco outfit and he is at all the parties so since the music is always the same and the lighting is the same drifting green and red lights making stars and galaxies on the tiled floor, every party is pretty much like the last one.
Since the men do little or no dancing a pair of dancing Instructors is hired. Referred to as DI’s, they are nothing like the red faced, screaming DI’s I knew and hated at RAF Bridgnorth. These are ladyboys.
They are, and have been for longer than our own society, tolerant of these effeminates. I am not sure of their sexual proclivities, but they are quite openly effeminate and, more often, outrageously camp. They are more than tolerated by Philippine society and more often than not they are frontmen to shows and presentations and they are loved and admired. Pretty much like our own BBC!!
These are excellent dancers and one of them gets on with his job which is to incite dancing and to partner the different ladies. The other is a show-off!! He wears Cuban heels and his hair is carried back into a matador’s knot at the back of his head. He struts and preens, pouts and wiggles, flutters his hands and fingers and beckons dancing partners with extravagant, grand gestures. He is more camp than Kirkcudbright!!
They are acceptable because a) they are good at their jobs and b) the present no threat to established relationships which is to say they are not going to steal any women’s hearts.
They graqdually work up from individual dancers and then as the might and alcohol works their magic the dance becomes communal and there is much squealing and giggling as the girls follow the DI’s each move and mirror them.
All the time cameras flash and flicker for tomorrows Facebook.
There was at one time a stupid habit that seemed to have been imported from holidays in Ibiza that when a photograph was taken it was expected that those being should evince their happiness at being on holiday by lurching towards the camera and giving the ‘thumbs up’ sign. This was so ingrained in some of my children that it was well nigh impossible to get a class photo without some idiot giving the thumbs up. This is true and is one of the reasons I hate Jamie Tordoff for the sin. He was like a Pavlovian dog whenever he saw a camera pointing his way. Big grin and thumbs up!! Stupid boy.
Here it is the V sign. Not the insulting one but first two fingers split into a V and held against the eyes horizontal not the more insulting vertical gesture we know and love. This also involves the group twisting their bodies into grotesque tableaus. Also only take out your camera and point it at say two people and suddenly there is a pyramid of V signing squealing girls all trying to be in the picture.
Alright the first couple of times but bloody irritating after that.
The parties go on and on and I get tired and feel my years burden my eyes and I have had enough to drink.
Time to go home and to hell with the resultant Tampo.

Last night there was a cacophonous thunderstorm. Magic to watch the lighning dance across the dark window, the rain clattering down and the thunder rolling boulders around the mountains.
When morning came there was a watery dawn with a pale sun and then the air filled with butterflies, patterned and colourful or pure sulphur winged. Fluttering splinters of light filling the morning air. They danced to the metallic chorous of frogs singing in their damp heavens.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Since it is some time since I submitted a blog and since this blog is about the party scene here, I have to make sure there is no misunderstanding and the forum must not think that I am so totally immersed in the party scene that I have neglected my blog.
I am not nor have I ever been a party animal. Watching sensible people under the influence of alcohol and the encouragement of unkind friends make fools of themselves I have never considered as being a worthwhile way to pass one’s time. Apart from which I hate the music.
However, while spending an evening in the Cocos Amigos, a bar on the sea-front boulevard I have referred to in earlier blogs, we met Bill Best and his Filipina wife Cathy. Bill is a retired US Navy Commodore, a construction engineer. He now lives here in a quite palatial house on the other side of Dumaguete from us. His wife, Cathy, invited us to their birthday party (they share the same birthday) and Independence Day party, too. It was from that that Sione and I were introduced to the Ex-pats party scene and we have been now to three such parties although Sione has been to two more all-girls parties, a Hawaiian evening and a bathing party.
The ex-pats here are Australian, American, German and British mainly, with the odd Irishman or Rumanian thrown in. They all have Filipina wives and in truth the party is really for them since none of the men dance but gradually sink all the beer there is to hand.
The parties are generally organized on, what they call, a pot-luck basis but what I remember as a faith supper. Anyway, everyone is expected to bring something partyish and edible and the drink is provided by whoever is providing the premises for the dance/party.
As we arrive there is a separation takes place where the girls retire and pretty themselves, the men say hello and crack a bottle.
Then there is the food and everyone eats.
There is an American who has a disco outfit and he is at all the parties so since the music is always the same and the lighting is the same drifting green and red lights making stars and galaxies on the tiled floor, every party is pretty much like the last one.
Since the men do little or no dancing a pair of dancing Instructors is hired. Referred to as DI’s, they are nothing like the red faced, screaming DI’s I knew and hated at RAF Bridgnorth. These are ladyboys.
They are, and have been for longer than our own society, tolerant of these effeminates. I am not sure of their sexual proclivities, but they are quite openly effeminate and, more often, outrageously camp. They are more than tolerated by Philippine society and more often than not they are frontmen to shows and presentations and they are loved and admired. Pretty much like our own BBC!!
These are excellent dancers and one of them gets on with his job which is to incite dancing and to partner the different ladies. The other is a show-off!! He wears Cuban heels and his hair is carried back into a matador’s knot at the back of his head. He struts and preens, pouts and wiggles, flutters his hands and fingers and beckons dancing partners with extravagant, grand gestures. He is more camp than Kirkcudbright!!
They are acceptable because a) they are good at their jobs and b) the present no threat to established relationships which is to say they are not going to steal any women’s hearts.
They gradually work up from individual dancers and then as the night and alcohol works their magic the dance becomes communal and there is much squealing and giggling as the girls follow the DI’s each move and mirror them.
All the time cameras flash and flicker for tomorrows Facebook.
There was at one time a stupid habit that seemed to have been imported from holidays in Ibiza that when a photograph was taken it was expected that those being should evince their happiness at being on holiday by lurching towards the camera and giving the ‘thumbs up’ sign. This was so ingrained in some of my children that it was well nigh impossible to get a class photo without some idiot giving the thumbs up. This is true and is one of the reasons I hate Jamie Tordoff for the sin. He was like a Pavlovian dog whenever he saw a camera pointing his way. Big grin and thumbs up!! Stupid boy.
Here it is the V sign. Not the insulting one but first two fingers split into a V and held against the eyes horizontal not the more insulting vertical gesture we know and love. This also involves the group twisting their bodies into grotesque tableaus. Also only take out your camera and point it at say two people and suddenly there is a pyramid of V signing squealing girls all trying to be in the picture.
Alright the first couple of times but bloody irritating after that.
The parties go on and on and I get tired and feel my years burden my eyes and I have had enough to drink.
Time to go home and to hell with the resultant Tampo.

Last night there was a cacophonous thunderstorm. Magic to watch the lighning dance across the dark window, the rain clattering down and the thunder rolling boulders around the mountains.
When morning came there was a watery dawn with a pale sun and then the air filled with butterflies, patterned and colourful or pure sulphur winged. Fluttering splinters of light filling the morning air. They danced to the metallic chorous of frogs singing in their damp heavens.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Denis . Many thanks for your kind remarks. I am glad you found me on the big picture. I have taken a risk but it has proved worth the while in so many ways.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

The only path is a steep dry shaded gully
where the clatter of loosened stones
precedes me down the gloomy way.
Then, suddenly, a meadow
bright with the scattered sunshine
of a field of yellow flowers.
Hah! Not flowers! Butterflies!
My feet throw up their startled thousands
to spill their glory on the air; a giddy cloud swirls.

The sun silently splinters around me.

Ahead they billow up in shining escort,
while where I have passed they settle back
to bloom and fool again.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Hi Arthur,
As an old hand in Philippines I am curious how often you cosmopolitan guys escape Dumaguete to go to Manila or over to Cebu City,
Or is everything so fine and dandy in Negros that the bright lights is not an issue. There have been a few murders of Brits in Mindanao and Pampanga recently do you old boys discuss that or put it down to bad locations compared to gentle Dumaguete?

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1961-1969

Current location (optional) Bradford

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Dumaguete is well blessed with its own bright lights. It is well to avoid Cebu and Manila for the reasons you quote. Dumaguete is the least crime ridden place in the Philippines-statistical fact! The Boulevard and Robinson's and environs the least crime ridden place in Dumaguete. It is reasonably quiet in the evenings and I have had no trouble yet. I have been to Manila for a couple of days and it is way too big for me. Thanks for asking though.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Yes I cant say I take to Manila , and Greater Manila (Ortegas, Makati , Quezon I have visited on business)
It seems much nicer on the one occasion I flew down to Cagayan de Oro (Mindanao), and drove up the coast to a chemical factory for whom I am the UK agent. I remember passing miles and miles of pineapple plantations, at the end of which was the Del Monte canning factory

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

And what did the Man from Del Monte say?

In Lincolnshire it used to be said ......"Ross the Boss"!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-1960

Current location (optional) Lincoln

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

This blog will be an eclectic collection of science religion, dog breeding, culinary practices and soap opera. Being of a rather interesting perhaps even salacious nature I will leave the soap opera bit for the last.
So the science first.
I often have a glass or beaker of iced tea beside me as I work on my computer and have over a period observed a strange phenomenon. If I leave the container a while then when I return to it there is a small pool/ ring of water gathered at the base. I thought at first it was a leak in the container but there was none and the level of iced tea had not dropped at all.
One afternoon I left my beaker standing and watched and slowly this pool of water gathered.
I opine that the chilled surface of the glass/beaker is in fact extracting water from the heavily moisture laden air. Rather like the frosting that can appear on a cold glass (referred to in a previous blog, when I recalled ‘Ice Cold in Alex’) Humidity is very high here particularly since we are in the rainy season. It needs little persuasion to precipitate these days. In the Solomons one could put out a wash in the morning of a bright sunny day and find it still moist when collecting it in the evening. The air being so saturated it could hold no more.
Forum members now living in similar tropical conditions or recently returned from such, might confirm my observations and agree with or refute my explanation.
Sione, my mountain girl, has a favourite dish she prepares. She will carefully select a collection of beef bones at the butcher’s counter in the super-market. The pressure cooker is charged with these bones along with garlic, lemon grass, onions and bay leaf. This is allowed to hiss patiently for about 90 minutes all the time spraying a savoury steam into the air. Removed from the heat, taro, alugbati and Chinese lettuce is added and cooked until the taro is tender. The whole meal is rural, hearty, delicious and nutritious.My old Grannie used to tell me to '..get it down me its good for thi and tha needs some meat on those ribs'
They pick the scant but sweet and tender meat from every nook and crevice and suck the marrow from the bones. I enjoy the ‘soup’/ gravy with the veg. and some noodles. By the way they do not have gravy here only ‘soup’.
Snowie shares the bones with the ants out on the patio. He is a small white miracle. What was once a cuddly, white, plump, wobbly- legged puppy is now a lean, muscular, long legged, bouncing whippet. The miracle? Well the conditions followed here with dogs are designed for the production of mongrels only. Dogs and bitches wander freely and copulate indiscriminately. (No, we are not to the soap opera bit yet. Goodness me, be patient please)
I have watched this slim, lithe whippet –like dog emerge and checked the breed points on the Kennel club. He is at least 90% whippet, if not more than 90%. He is playful, alert, barks well as my alarm dog, obeys me and is well disciplined despite the example set by the rest of the neighbourhood pack. He has one further delightful quality. He understands English. Goodness knows where he has learned it.
Tonight there is a huge full moon. It holds hands with a brilliant Venus for a short while then begins its long journey alone across the night sky, trailing a long skein of grey cloud behind it. A witches’ moon! One might almost expect to see a hunched, black, steeple-hatted silhouette, cackling hideously, as she bestrides her broomstick and rides the night about her wicked business with eldritch shrieks and curses.
O, yes, here be ghosts and witches, I am assured in gasped whispers accompanied by wide eyes.
“Yes there are witches. No. I have not seen one but I know someone who has seen one. Auntie Shirley saw a lady in white in her house, which used to be a small church. No. I have not seen her. I felt her though.’
I shared tales like this when I was a boy sat around small fires beside a bonfire in Bradford Street. The cynicism of years allows me to sleep without let or hindrance these days.
Auntie Shirley now dresses in white and attends the congregation of Pastor Apollo who is the Second Coming of Christ, the Appointed Son of God, and he assures us he will sit in judgment of us all along with God on Judgment Day. Auntie Shirley believes this all quite devoutly. His congregation has entered the Rapture and now awaits the Last Days patiently singing all the way.
Of course, Auntie Shirley saw a lady in white and she probably sees ladies in white all the time.
Pastor Apollo is mildly spoken, confident, well-rehearsed and smilingly presentable. He is also a glib charlatan. I would not have bought lion from him in John Street market.
O alright then, you have been patient, so the soap opera.
Well, I am not given to being nosey or indulging in gossip. You know me. The soul of discretion, not one to take two and two and make five but…..
When we moved into this house we had a neighbor, a young girl, who went missing each evening but hung about the house during the day.
We have two gardens between our homes, not like Bradford Street. We are completely detached and insulated and so much might take place without my witnessing anything. We learned from our landlady that she was a student at night and her rent was paid by an American from Los Angeles.
As I say I did not spy but occasionally I would witness romping and sporting in the garden as young men visited and there was music and laughter into the early hours. Not intrusive but there all the same. Life went on then until last week a white man walked past my fence and said ‘Hi! We have a drink later’, in a thick East European accent. I nodded my agreement, my interest caught in a moment.
This was Anton, a Rumanian from Los Angeles whose work was to massage the necks and backs of card players in a big casino there. No, no, I do not make this up.
Wait, there’s more.
He did come for a drink and asked if we could help to tidy the house.’ She is a pig.’ he explained. Fascinated we went and if one had deliberately scattered things about the house, clothes, empty bottles and paper one could not have made a better job of it. To think that anyone could enjoy sitting in this mess was unbelievable. Sione is meticulous and spotless and she, like me, was appalled.
We helped bring some order to the place and came back home. We heard raised voices and then some peace and quiet. Next morning Toni, short for Anton, knocked at my door. Had I heard anything suspicious last night? No. I told him. Well last night he heard a noise in the front room and he got up and there were two young men there. They laughed and shouted and ran out of the house and into the dark. How did they get in? I asked. He locked all the doors, he told me. Ah. So they had a key. I kept my silence. They had stolen the girl’s cell phone. He had ringed the number and the boys had been insulting and dirty mouthed and offered to return the phone for 1000pesos.
Toni called the police. The girl sat pale and quiet. I was sure she knew more than she was saying.
We left.
Later Toni came to see me again. He had a tale to tell.
He had suspected she was cheating on him but could prove nothing. So he had borrowed a friend’s identity on Yahoo! and got in touch with the girl via the internet, pretending to be the friend. He made arrangements for a hot sexual encounter with him and a friend and asked her to meet him at Dumaguete Airport at such and such a time. She had turned up expecting two rich Americans and there was Toni!! I swear this is true. I am not one to enjoy another’s discomfort but I really would like to have seen her face.
Anyway there were more bad tempered exchanges and Toni said he was closing the house. We had been kind and supportive and he gave us bits and pieces including a laptop and an outside alarm light, both of which are in perfect working condition.
The girl and her sister have returned to their mountain village, the girl to face a prison sentence for I don’t know what crime, but Toni had been paying to keep her out of jail. The sister got married to her boyfriend who probably stole the cell phone. Toni has gone back to Cebu and met another girl. “She is very nice girl. Educated and her brother is a lawyer’. The stupidity and the Saga continue. Toni is now returned to LA pummeling the necks of inveterate gamblers. The compound is nice and quiet now except for the little fat boy who doesn’t like Snowie and the French Filipina in the end house who is going to live in Valencia.
By the way Toni slept with her that night and told me, ’Well, I had paid for it.’

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

A good story Arthur.
Yes I have witnessed the formation of condensation on the outside of the glass when in warm humid countries, inclding the Philippines, probably even worse in Malaysia . I expect our Webmaster also gets it in Singapore

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Hells bells, guys, I get myself a cold beer out of the fridge and condensation forms on the glass. You don't need to be an intellectual giant to figure it out.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 55-60

Current location (optional) Harrogate

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Yes Alec the answer is trite and obvious . What confused me was no formation of frosting or dew on the surface of the glass just the pool gathering at the base which quite honestly looked like a leak.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

"Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play"
Emmanuel Kant !

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 55-60

Current location (optional) Harrogate

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

When I leave our compound I can turn left at the gate and head to the National Highway, less than 20 yards away, loud with the throaty cough of two-strokes and the indignant piping of a thousand horns. If I turn right I must pass the big house that boasts a manic Rottweiler that waits, lurks there, then hurls its whole body crashing against the gate that bellies under the charge, his mouth like an open piano, with a harsh vindictive bark. It has a buddy, a diminutive terrier that, spurred on by his big friend, thrusts his tiny snout through any aperture and threatens, with his querulous yelp, to disembowel you with a swipe. Snowie has a nice line when ignoring this pantomime which involves cocking his leg and weeing against the gate, inches from the snapping jaws. Mind you a month ago it was hasty retreat time with tail firmly tucked and ears down, closely followed by me , I might add.. He learns fast and he knows that the gate will hold. He even stops to witness the performance and give it marks out of ten with a squirt of urine.
A short walk along the broken-metalled road brings us to a large open field with unkempt grass and half-started, ragged shrubs straggling by an unruly avenue of trees with clothes drying on a wire and beyond the trees the remains of an old house, a square of tumbled hollow bricks, threaded with weeds. One senses an air of death, failure and despair, a giving-up.
A trodden path of flattened grass wends from the houses on my right across the field to the wall surrounding the High School on my left.
This evening the sky is like a glass of rose wine, thin translucent veils of rosy clouds hang motionless in the breathless heavy air and a sky that fades from pale blue through all the palette of a rainbow.
Suddenly, I note a swift flight of something black and streamlined, a flying thing but not a bird. A bat! Now one, and then many, dart up over the trees and across the sky. Snowie explores a clump of grass and blesses it with a jet of piss.
D H Lawrence in his poem ‘ Bats’ describes them:

‘Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop ...
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back. ‘

O my, but he got it so right.
He found them disgusting.
For me they are insectivorous and a winged blessing. I muse that were it not for the constant attendance of birds, geckoes and bats, along with other insectivores we would be knee-deep in creepy crawlies.
I watch them weaving and skimming, wefting the warps of light with sharp curved wings and thin shrieks.
I watch their steady devouring of winged insects and bless their swift wings for the relief of an irritation I will not suffer. Insects I abhor, bats I can live with.
My elder brother once kept a Tate and Lyle treacle tin with sawdust and maggots therein when he was interested in fishing. One day, down our cellar, I was looking for nails and found the tin. I prised the partly rusted lid free and found to my horror the dried bodies of a unrealized swarm of bluebottles with shining wings, folded, with iridescent abdomens and blind dead eyes.
My horror was not the sight of all those dead flies, in my book the world was a better place without them and the possibility of their progeny. My horror was felt when, for one brief moment, I imagined what it must have been like to have emerged from my pupa into a darkness of dense intensity, airless and filled with other moving things beside me, feeling and probing in their blindness as I, too, felt and probed in mine. Was this a promise of some Gehenna?
It was the first and only, albeit brief, time I felt a pang of sympathy for the six legged ones. There has been no such pang since.
I watch Snowie wander through this mini wilderness following the white flashes of his body through the mesh of grass, his tail a banner and a signal of his presence. I have hinted elsewhere at the discipline and obedience he gives me. He is a good dog. He draws close to me and I look at him and say quietly, ‘Time for us to head home I think.’ He looks at me with his bright black eyes, his mouth agape with heat, his tongue a long pink strop, and turns and heads for home without a another word from me. I am sure he uses telepathy !!
Later that night the distant southern sky dances and glows with flickers of silent lightning but no storm comes our way. I would have welcomed the blessed relief of rain after a day of brown-outs, bereft of cooling aids, sweating quietly in the shaded gloom of my bedroom waiting for the fans to rouse and stir.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

We have a television and we are supplied by cable and we get a pretty comprehensive range of programmes. For instance I watch BBC World News and I get to see Premier League football albeit a couple of days old. We have some imported American comedy programmes and the plethora of religious programmes one would expect from a devoutly Catholic nation.
There is one channel, channel 26, which is entirely devoted to Filipino films.
I notice that these films fall into domestic comedy, the horror/ supernatural and love films.
The domestic comedy is a blending of Benny Hill and Norman Wisdom type action and involves large women (imagine Peggy Mount on steroids) shouting at small feckless men. The hero, her husband, has two similarly feckless mates and they get into all kinds of silliness and trouble, all with best intentions and the need to outwit the monster wife. It all involves pulling funny faces and falling down a lot.
The horror consists of misty graveyards and apparitions, without pupils in their eyes, who can shoot death rays from their mouths and possess the heroine, who screams a lot. There are lots of dark scenes, no sunlight ever and endless pointless eerie music.
The romantic films involve misunderstandings, lots of scenes with women crying ( that I understand passes for high drama here) lots of death bed scenes ( cough, cough, wheeze, weak wave of hand, cough cough) in hospitals, with repentant son sat holding mamma’s hand and crying but there are always happy endings galore.
Please, please, please understand I do not watch these only in passing or when suddenly everyone starts talking English, which is just strange. Imagine! It goes something like this:
“ Tagalong ballawag( sob,sob ) of mangy ( sob) terro buntag. I only want to please you.(sob) Humgo rip rap(sob,sob,sob) nonda sago. “
It does make one sit up and wonder if one has heard right. I enquired about the crying and the mixed language. The crying is fundamental to any Filipino film be it horror, comedy or romance, it seems, and no film can succeed without it. One imagines it is also part of any audition.
“Thank you, dear, very moving rendition of Lady Macbeth’s speech from Act One. Now can we see you cry, please. Take your time, dear.’ The mixed language was convincingly explained to me in that to say the same thing in Tagalong would be impossible or take two minutes to say.
There is one horrible programme that Sione watches religiously called ‘Showtime’. The bulk of the show is dance groups all aping Michael Jackson crutch grabbin and fancy steps interspersed with back flips and some hip hop. The costumes are superb but that says everything and all there is to commend the groups. I will say that it also shows an awful lot of hard work and practice which is to be preferred to binge drinking.
In between there is a mixture of crowd hysteria, where presenters go amongst them all shouting ’Beauitful people’ all the time or ’ Party-party.” and the excruciating ’It…….t……t……s Showtime!!!!!!’ and everyone goes into paroxysms of adulation screaming and waving. The din is appalling. At either of these screams the audience salivate like Pavlovian dogs and bay and scream waving their arms and score cards,
( incidentally everyone gets 10, ) and jump up and down. All the time the prevailing din is augmented by a selection of sound effects which include a klaxon horn, a cackling old woman, a cracking bull whip, and a cowboy shouting yahoo!!!! The judges are a selection of celebs who before they are allowed to give their opinion of an act are greeted by the audience demanding ‘Sample, sample, sample sample!!!’ egged on by presenters which include, Manila’s version of Ant and Dec, Pedro and Pando, whose sole contribution is to wear the compulsory shades and shout, ‘ Party party’, a camp lady-boy who wears high heels and giggles all the time. The judges then have to stand up and do something crowd pleasing which is often a few dance steps or a back flip over the desk.
The judges always say about those being judged, ‘I really, really, really, really liked that. So much energy.’ Which means the dance group threw themselves around a great deal.
The presenters then scream, ‘Party, party’ and everyone cheers and screams and makes V signs at the camera and wave the ‘ Can you see me Mum? I’m on telly!’ wave.
They have introduced a new element, which I have to admit I turn round and watch, called’ Sample, sample, sample’ where each day three contestants compete in a talent show. Now I do not lie or exaggerate when I tell you one ‘talent’ stripped a suitcase full of coconuts with his teeth accompanied by a recording of the tango ‘Jealousy’, another did three Rubik cubes in two minutes, actually two cubes for one of them came apart in his hands ( Its true I tell you! True!) The winner was a mini-man, scrawny who wore a trilby and did back flips while singing “ I saw Daddy kissing Santa Claus’. When interviewed afterwards he kept back flipping in jubilation and the lady- boy presenter had to stand on his feet in his high heels to make him stand still.
The shows are interrupted regularly with unvetted advertising which incredibly promises ‘ 4 times straighter hair!’. How do you measure straightness? Its either exactly 180 degrees or bent. Or the toothpaste that leaves your mouth with 83% less germs or promises you 3 times less sensitivity. How do you quantitively measure sensitivity??
Any way as I say I don’t watch much television this just goes on behind me as I work tirelessly on my computer.
I have said how it rains almost everyday or night and we had a real humdinger of a storm the other night. Real knock-down-drag-out- donner- unt- blitzen with rolling thunderous crashes and rebounding echoes with vivid blue-white flashes of lightning - one time I heard the lightning crackle I swear and the hissing pelt of the accompanying torrents of rain hammering on the roof and streaming from the canopies across our windows. Next morning we woke to pale shamefaced sunlight as the dawn apologized for the rowdy night. I took Snowie for a walk in the big field, after breakfast and my flip-flops( yes, I wear them now) shipped water copiously and the grass degged my legs with wet. I sat on an old tree stump as he wandered off into his redolent world of wondrous smells to be explored. The air hummed with dragonflies that hovered and darted like splinters of a rainbow and the tiniest blue butterflies like pieces of torn tissue paper fluttering and spinning through the grass, sulphur-winged, bigger ones danced in the warm air and large white giants ghostly glided across the field.
Snowie was glad that we stayed longer than normal as he wallowed in his olfactory paradise and whenever he saw another dog my lithe whippet buddy sped across the field hurdling clumps of wet grass and getting into full gallop, brother of the wind with his ears laid back and his tail out behind him. Glorious to watch him run.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

My neighbouring wilderness, the deserted garden left to fall into the wild place I have described in earlier blogs; a place of vicious adhesive burrs, razor- sharp leaves and brightly coloured leafage has, in the heat and deluge of the wet season, burgeoned. Left unattended and lacking good husbandry it has become a dense impenetrable tangle, a green barrier refusing way and barring me from entry to my own ‘ fortress of solitude ‘, from which I have become accustomed to view the passing pageant of the clouds proceeding over the distant blue-grey mountains.
However, over the past week or so someone has wielded the cleansing machete and some levelling has taken place. Small but telling ingress has been made and the resultant cut greenery lies in small rotting heaps. Of course, this close to the equator does not really favour the allocation of seasons as we know them in the chilly northern zones. Here there is no spring, no summer, no autumn and no winter. Nevertheless, the smell of these rotting heaps, as they slowly moulder and return to earth is redolent of home and the autumnal smells of October. It is not an unpleasant smell. On the contrary it is evocative and rich and reminds me of the woods around Bolton Abbey and the heavy deciduation of our English autumns, the rush and bluster of wind-driven leaves, the gathering in hollows and against walls, the drenching and the slow decay, the return to earth.
Memento mori!
I have mentioned often the rain and the storms. Mentioned them, perhaps, to the point of tedium but they are an ever-present element in our lives here just now and to not mention them would be to present half a picture. As I write the sky is blue and far to the East some mountainous snowy towering cumuli are boiling up.
It rained earlier and one can imagine that some of the water boiling up there only fell to earth a few hours ago. It is like a school book illustration of the Rain Cycle. Rain falls on the slopes of the volcanic mountain and streams seawards down flood-carved gullies and man-cut canals spilling into and swelling the two rivers that empty into the sea here at Dumaguete; rivers of only a few miles course. From the sea the tropical sun sucks up the vapours and cooler air condenses the energetic molecules into snowy cumuli and the thermals heap them into towers that boil and gather to fall again soon. Yet some will remain on earth sucked up by roots to swell the pineapple and mango, the lansones and the ramboutans and some will be collected and filtered and passed through a reticulated network of pipes to be iced to quench a parched throat.
This massive cycle of precipitation, evaporation, condensation, precipitation going on between the earth under our feet and the clouds boiling and billowing above us leaves us sweating and sweltering in the thick soup of humidity that is part of the evaporation step in the cycle.
Far to the North and South of these islands are huge tundra of eternal snows where some water has been locked in glaciers and packed fields of snow and ice for tens of thousands of years. Indeed man can extract cores of this ice and extrapolate weather conditions that prevailed centuries ago. Here this energized water, turbulently cycling so swiftly, stands in contrast to the stasis of that sleeping icey wilderness.
(As a quick but related aside I once spent two futile hours arguing in the laundry room of an RAF billet that ice, water and steam were always chemically water and only changed physically between the three forms at the promptings of the rise and fall of temperatures, and that you cannot see steam, only water vapour. He would not listen so would not learn. I learned that there is none as deaf as those that will not hear.)
Above the Horns of Negros, now, those cumuli are being pulled by high winds into lenticular clouds that offer dark grey bellies below their snowy shining crests, before drifting further inland to bestow the benison of their burden on other parts.
These blogs develop a life of their own sometimes and where I start to write of one thing I finish up writing of other things. That is perhaps the nature of blogs.
I was going to contrast Snowie’s exploration of this world principally through his nose with a critical faculty that does not recognize the smoke of warm turds as being unpleasant, a thing insufferable and to be shunned; he rather lingers there and leaves reluctantly. Nothing to him is unpleasant. Some acrid smell might hurt his sensitivity but generally he accepts, evaluates, analyses and stores without comment as to pleasantness or unpleasantness.
I compare his delights with my own. Of all the senses, for humans, smell provokes the most nostalgic memories. For me the warm smell of a morning kitchen rich with the smell of yeast working and the breath of fresh baked, teacakes and cracknies cooling in trays in the shop out front are remembered as part of my early life, as too is the walk from school on Monday mornings when homing for dinner, I swept through a cobbled street where the billowing sails of an Armada greeted me as everyone’s weekly washing dried in pale sunshine and bellied and floated or cracked and whipped in the noon air. That night I slept in sheets that smelled of snowflakes, sunshine and the wind. The smell of onions in the shepherd’s pie; the redolence of gravy over hot Cornish pasties; the wonder of a vanilla plant’s leaves in Victoria Park museum that smelled just like American Ice Cream Soda; and too, the eucalyptus plant that smelled a bit like Vick that grew there next to the angry parrot that flared its crest and spread its wings and dared me to go further;the sweet smell of Swan’s blue fountain pen ink; the smell of chalk; the gentle perfume of Miss Lambert’s overall as I read to her and learned my letters and bless her for the gift, all are safely stored in my head forever. Whenever I chance upon any of these smells, in whatever circumstances, climes or countries, I am transported, instantly, through time and space to those earlier places and years, to relive a pleasant moment once again and fondly. I say this with the reassurance that as I leaned upon my stick and watched my little brother whippet, Snowie, flash and glimmer through the tall grasses, the odour of newly baked bread, wafting over the meadow from a nearby bakery, had me stood barefoot on the stone floor of our kitchen in Bradford Street as Grandma opened the mouth of the huge oven and removed a tray of teacakes.
I envy Snowie and his sensitive nose but still delight in my own and all the memories it keeps and all the new ones it learns.


When I was salad green,
just knee-high to a bookcase,
through long winter evenings I lay,
legs crooked, chin cupped,
folded in fancy
beside the great oven of our bakery,
thence, I’d circumnavigate
on the magic carpet of my Atlas and Gazette.

My fingers dared the Hindu Kush
where day-long shadows loomed
and echoes upon echoes flew.

Out of the long flat plains of Asia
winds plucked at my padded tunic;
carried the distant thunder
of the great Khan's hordes,
marauding westwards.

I have heard the wolf gales
howl over Novaya Zemlya's shores
where cities of ice slide through silent seas
and the lone seal barks.

Astrakhan, Petra, Panama, Tiero del Fuego
slid under my fingers
where I roamed with the winds and currents
Mastless, I’ve homed on Ithaca.

Tundra, steppe, pampas, prairie, desert,
equatorial forests dim – all were my domain
as winter beat its rain-run wings
against my windows.

Later, I accepted more modest contours,
imagination fettered, I was bound
by the proscriptions of reality;
my world coloured
an even and undemanding brown.

Life turned for me.
Since then, I've winged over reefs
washed by seas of ineffable blues;
watched dolphins shepherd tuna for the kill,
beneath an umbrella of frigates,
black, broken shapes,
swept and scythe-winged,
cluttering a murderous light;
seen flying fishes flitter and skim
as our luminous wake unfurled abaft;
watched petals fall on midnight forest pools;
slept in Bedouin tent
where midnight sands sang beneath the stars;
sweated through long dark nights
on bamboo floors where no sleep came.

All my oven-coddled dreams come true
but still as I sit and swelter here
fans stilled by failed supply,
I think of home. Home?
Peaty reek of sodden moors,
wind off the tops, a whetted blade,
rain horizontal, thick with sleet,
paths paddled to mud
under the curlew’s lonely cry,
along the rugged outcrops of the scarp.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

This blog will be a sort of pot-pourri, a mixture of bits and pieces, simply because it has rained considerably over the last weeks and we have not ventured too far abroad.
1) I mention the tricycles often in other blogs and often when I sit waiting while Sione does some shopping, (and that can involve some long sits) I watch the passing traffic and to keep my mental skills honed I study the numbers of the passing trikes. They are all four digit.
What can I do with them? Well I could play crib with them counting zeroes as 10. So 5064 would score fifteen two, fifteen four and a run of three , seven. But often I try to factorise as quickly as I can. I get so involved sometimes that it actually induces sweat over and above the normal copious outpourings induced by the high levels of humidity.
I have seen 0007, and 0074 ( the last four of my service number) , 0001 has passed me twice. But a beauty passed me yesterday that I particularly prized.
1881 which is palindromic plus whether I flip it on any of its horizontal or vertical axes or look at in a mirror it is immutable it remains 1881.
8008, 1001 are the only others that have the same qualities.
If I had seen it at 10.10.10 I could have claimed aplace in the Guiness Book of weird records.
BTW its prime factors are 3,3, 11 and19.
I can be very boring company sometimes when I exclaim at a passing trike ‘That’s an interesting number! Square root of two!’
2) I watched ‘Sample, Sample, Sample’ yesterday and my giggle imp was quite roused by an Elvis impersonator, with a dreadful cleft palate belting out ‘ you aint nothing but a hound dog’. He sparkled and shone in his Vegas white suit of lights, complete with sequins, he even had the wobbly leg, which refused to stay still even after he had won. The crowd loved him and I am not sure whether they were involved in a massive concerted piss take or serious but he was awful, flat and incoherent, and I do sympathise with his condition which was massive and distorted his speech drastically. The judges were bullied/ blackmailed into allocating straight 10’s, which provoked the mandatory leg wobble and back flip ( not as I recall an Elvis speciality).
3) Another episode in the Soap opera from which we saw a short extract earlier.
So Toni went to Cebu where he met a really nice girl with a nice family, her brother was a lawyer etc etc . Remember? Good , then I will continue.
It appears that while he was discovering this pearl of womanhood he taught her how to swim and used her cellphone to video the lesson. He returned to LA and she told him she had put the video on her Facebook. He went there to see it and discovered that her ‘status’ was ‘engaged’ and there was a picture of her waving her hand with the ring on. Meanwhile her fiancé , a man who runs a shop that sells rock in LA, ( No, I am not making this up. Really!) had seen the video and heard Toni shouting encouragement. Then it all came out as she was confronted by her fiancé. Toni, too, had a go at her. Now Toni had at all times acted in good faith even while he was bedding her. But she told her fiancé that he had forced her and stolen her virginity. Toni swears she was not a virgin. The fiancé has never met the girl but believes her and has threatened to kill Toni for stealing her virginity, which he prized highly. Given that they both live in LA and given the nature of LA, the threat has to be taken seriously. He has taken out an injunction against the man and that has proved expensive too. The girl’s family has disowned her, even her brother the lawyer.
That’s the story so far but watch these pages.
It’s all going to end in tears.
Just a footnote it seems that Sofia, the girl who caused Toni so much upset when he came here a few weeks ago has left school and set up as a graphic designer on the internet. ( I beg your pardon , I am not making this up!!) But unhappily she had only been doing the job a few days when she was burgled, as she was here, next door, and they stole her laptop and mobile phone, as before. The ‘ thief’ must have followed her. The theft has left her and all her companions without the tools to do their job.
I sit here with my companion and smile as I watch the rich tapestry of life being woven.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Just in case anyone is concerned that my silence indicates anything to do with super-typhoon Juan, let me reassure them that it came nowhere near here where I am in the Visayas but passed hundreds of miles north of here on its way to China. In fact we are protected to the South by Mindanao , to the east by Cebu and the Horns of Negros stand guardian to the North. The typhoons do not come from the West. We get rain in plenty but few winds or storms. The occasional thunderstorm does come and they are spectacular but seem to do little harm.
No, I am unharmed, in fact I am quite fit and well. I have lost two stone. ‘Lost’ is hardly the word, too negative and the weight is not missed. Let us say I have shed two stone and I am spry and moving freely now. I can out-walk any Filipino here. I have developed a devastating and lethally accurate back hand with the fly swatter. If I sit outside I am like some great Zulu chief whisking the flies with my yellow plastic swatter.
Yesterday I saw a cat pass along the wall with a tail bent at right angles to the norm

Its tail bent at almost ninety
it stepped along my wall
and strangely the poor thing
hardly seemed to care at all.

I called it back,
I sought to stroke it,
all I wanted to know
was who it was who broke it?

It chose to ignore me
and went its merry way,
its strangely crooked tail
wishing me good day.

A rose without petals,
a pie without peas,
are some of the saddest things
that any of us sees,

like a tree without leaves
or a ship with tattered sail,
but the saddest thing I’ve ever seen
was this cat with a broken tail.

It had nothing to sweep in anger,
nothing to fold in sleep.
O, a cat with a tail that is broken
would make a strong man weep.

Just now we are having the barangay elections. I am not yet totally au fait with the political organization of the Philippines but I know the barangay is the equivalent of our ward in England. Just now they are electing their councilors and one will be the Barangay Captain. Every barangay has its barangay hall where the captain can be found. He seems to be responsible for the cleanliness of the place and the behavior of the residents of his fiefdom.
We have moved into the season of festivals and here they call the local Festival, ‘Buglasan’, in Bacolod City it is ‘Maskarada’, in San Carlos ’Pintaflores’. It would be true to say that each festival is like the other but still different in that they represent the character and individual city pride. The festival will last for a week and there will be many sub-festivals celebrating different cultural activities. Last evening they had a rap festival which was, I am sorry to say, imitative of the West, but worse, being repetitive and predictable with much finger stabbing and shouting, but all in Cebuano not English, if you can say that our own rap artists speak English. I can never tell.
There is much dancing and many parades to which each barangay contributes. Pretty much like Keighley Gala but far more colourful and noisy.
I am going to the festival site later today and may blog my visit.
Sione has decided to try to cultivate a lawn so now lets the grass grow freely without having our little man uproot it on a regular basis. She needed some shears to cut her lawn and last night during a brown out while we sat in the cool night with candles she tried her shears out. I could hear her snipping away in the gloom and after a while she came and sat down in the flickering sphere of candle light with a distraught face. Concerned I asked if she was alright.
‘I have just chopped a frog in half.’ she replied.
Her story sounded much like this:
‘….. there were many five maybe or six but I did not see them in the dark it is the frogs fault why do they hide there I am not to blame they cannot run and cannot fly they only jump and I block their way they will gone now into the night I throw it over the fence silly place to hide there among my eggplants they can only jump it is not my fault….’
And so on. I could only splutter with laughter.
‘Its not funneeee!’ she wailed.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Last night was a night of lights and no lights.
Let me explain.
We went to the festival.
It probably meant a lot to the people but for me it was a confusion of noises and kaleidoscopic images of young people twirling in costume, vendors waving kerchiefs for sale, thrust pamphlets from trade stalls, onions in plastic bags, bits of barbecued chicken on sticks with a sticky dressing, fruits, smoke, laughing oriental faces, scowling, belligerent oriental faces, inscrutable oriental faces, beggars hands blooming in the gloom, offering stumps as excuses and children plucking at my trousers, more smoke and the constant beating of drums.
God, the drums!! Will they never be silent?
My shirt stuck to the sweat on my back and the sky was alive with distant silent lightning and the lancing sweep of searchlights. Later the fireworks and the drift of balloons and the fountains of crackling stars pluming over the festival ground and the chorus of ooohs! and aahs! that greeted the green stars, the blue stars and the radiant white stars that lit the up-turned, inscrutable, belligerent and laughing oriental faces now at once, grotesque and beautiful.
The distant reverberating grumble of thunder now accompanied the shudders of lightning that licked across the sky and picked out the silhouettes of roofs, trees and the swaying fronds of tall buko palms.
Then the wind bullied into the grounds with the rain on its back and the palms bowed and susurrated.
Time to go home - so we went!
No sooner were we home than we were hit by a brown-out. The storm was sudden and swift and then gone. The sky cleared and the real stars shone. We could still the distant searchlights as we sat out in the cool evening air redolent with fresh smell of the rain.
A time of no lights except for the shudders of once again silent lightning
Then, out of the Horns of Negros, a high yellow light moved out over the city. A plane? No! The yellow lights of its, I supposed navigation lights, were bunched and all yellow. Now it slowed and stopped, hanging there in the high sky. A helicopter, then? No sound though, just a high yellow light that seemed now to be slowly dimming. Then, another moved quickly away from the Horns towards the now stationary first light. It too slowed and stopped while the first drifted, fading and then gone. The second followed the same pattern of movement, slowing, stopping, fading, and then going, gone.
We wondered at this strangeness in the sky. I thought it must be helicopters and then out from the Horns; three lights in a triangular formation appeared and went through the same patterns of movement but stopping to fall into a line where they were joined by a fourth. They too faded and later another formation of three following the same patterns. Always they stopped roughly in the same place before they faded.
All the time the lightning flashed and lit the Horns and the trees.
I do not have an explanation but I have thoughts.
UFO? Yes. They were unidentified. They were flying. And they were objects. So, yes, UFO!
Were they alien in origin? I doubt it. I have hinted that the festival was Pinoy for Pinoy and aliens were unlikely to travel who knows how many light years to witness it.
Helicopters on an army exercise seem the likeliest explanation, but I am at a loss to understand the silence, the fading and the disappearance. They did not fly away they just faded and went out.
All in all, an interesting evening!
The brown-out ended and light returned to our night.
One last question, were these strange lights related to the brown-out and the lightning or was the whole performance simply happenstance?
I think so.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Now I freely admit that I am, and have been for some time, a grumpy old man. I abhor and mourn the loss of courtesy from my world.
For instance, a human trait that I noticed back in England and which I find greatly exaggerated here has caught my attention of late. I refer to the semi-robotic state of most human beings. This is evinced by many a person’s inability to stop or deviate from their chosen path and the onus is placed on others to get out of the way and avoid collision or to give way if the offender is stationary. This seems to apply doubly here to anywhere else I have experienced it. It is also accompanied by a restricted peripheral vision; either that or else they are so totally immersed in their own universe as to be unaware of others around them.
I am a big man and although I am a couple or more stone lighter than I was, I am still big and little ladies still bounce off me and others come to shelter in my shadow on sunny days. Back in England a walk down the high street had begun to seem like some new computer game where the goal of the game was to complete a full transit of the street without hurting anyone and avoiding contact by whatever means. To hinder your progress the computer would throw dithering old ladies in front of you who could not make up their mind on what part of the pavement to walk and moved/ staggered from side to side, either that or some belligerent young mother with a pushchair, adroitly used as a weapon, with its occupant, stupefied and soporific, dreamily sucking on its dummy, a half eaten Greggs’ sausage roll in its hand. Such ladies labored under the impression that possession of a pushchair gave them absolute right of way even to the extent that I could be trying to leave an already crowded newsagent and some mother would force her way in ahead of my struggling exiting, not even considering that if I left first her entrance would be so much easier. I have often debated whether or not to actually leapfrog over such persons.
Coming here to the Islands seems to have moved that computer game up to a higher level of difficulty.
Let me give you one or two examples of what it is like here. Unitop is a major store here that follows the principal of ‘stack it high and sell it cheap’ form of marketing, so the aisles are narrow and cluttered with merchandise and people.
In consequence I have to really negotiate my passage there else I will flatten someone or something so I approach this little lady carefully and she fills the passageway. She has something in her hand and she peers at it intently, turning it over and feeling it. I cough and she ignores me. I am stood inches away from her and she cannot, will not see me or acknowledge my presence. My irritation threshold is low today for we have a brown out and the fans no longer gushed cooling air down from the walls. My shirt sticks to my back. ‘Excuse me’, I say. Nothing. Try again. ‘Excuse me.’ She leaps like a startled hare, drops whatever it was she was examining and bolts down the passage. I only wanted to pass by her and rape was a million miles away from my intentions but she bolted in terror.
It made me feel awful and intrusive.
Or the narrow cluttered passage from one hell hole of the store to another. I approach it and a slow fat woman waddles along it. I stand aside to let her pass. She passes me without a smile or a thank you. I turn for the passage and find it now full with a family walking in single file. I mutter my saving mantra quietly under my breath. ‘It’s their part of the planet. It’s their part of the planet.’ From behind me a burly strapping youth bundles me to one side and crashes through the wending family group. They make way for him. No one is hurt.
Sione asks me why I have been so long and she has been looking everywhere for me. I really should make an effort to keep up, is implied.
This happens every day on every sally forth into the tumble and turmoil of a crowded oriental city.
Peter Ustinov once observed the difference between Australians and Japanese is their sense of personal space. The Japanese have boundaries to self that extend beyond their physical self and into which strangers are not welcome. The Australians are without such boundaries in consequence of which one can walk through a crowded Japanese airport and never bump into anyone, while if you were in Sydney and there was just you and an Aussie in the waiting lounge, he would bump shoulders with you and cry ‘ Sorry , mate!’
Here it is like Japan. I have had no collisions yet.
So I am a grumpy old man!! There’s much to be grumpy about.

I have referred at other times to Sione’s gift with a rock. She has superbly developed Mesolithic skills. She was driving the customary nail into the usual cement with her rock and it stood proud and unbent. She was putting the rock back when I noticed something and asked to look at it. It was tough and igneous and drilled neatly in the rock was a hole the size of a nail. She had hammered so often with such weight and accuracy that she had drilled this hole clean as you like. I have watched her hammering and to get the right amount of momentum for concrete/ cement she needs to begin her swing from behind her right ear, slightly round arm, like a girl, but powerfully delivered. The hole was an incredible piece of accurate hammering. The nails must have been hit many times in exactly the same place to get that neat a hole.
She was guest singer at a big Halloween party and I was so very proud of her as she stood up on stage and sang to well over three hundred people and she sings so beautifully and is always well received.
She was ferreting around the house the other day and I asked her what she was looking for. Her cell phone, she explained. Then it dawned on her and she went to the fridge opened the freezer and took out her phone. I was aghast.
-Why?
-They tell me to.
-Who told you, I asked.
-The phone said ‘Phone freeze’ so I put it in the freezer.
-What?
-The phone told me.
Was she joking? No, she was serious.
-You don’t put mobile phones in the freezer, I patiently insisted.
- I put it in a plastic bag, she told me.
-O then, that’s alright.
I gave up and came away, shaking my head
Later we dissolved in a gale of giggles. I cannot stay mad with her long.

So we got Snowie a little brown half-brother, same mother, different father (his mother is bit of a slut). He is so kind to it and only nips it if it gets too uppity or snuffles in his food too much.
It struck me that Snowie, my white whippet, is alliterative and Bobby, being pure mongrel is an oxymoron and I shall be able to take two figures of speech for a walk in a couple of months.
I say he is pure mongrel because he is a result of the abandonment of free love existing here in the Philippines’ dog population and where Snowie emerged a proud little thoroughbred, at least I like to think so, Bobby, has more varieties than Heinz. I was going to call him Heinz but what with the heavy German ex-pat contingent here that would have rendered it a trifle insensitive, and the fact that he has four little white socks on his orange pekoe coloured body that reminded me of bobby-soxers so he is Bobby.
He is due for emasculation in a month.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

A walk, a leaf and a blog.
The broken road glitters in the tropic sun, mirages shimmer and dance. My way forks off and then bends past new buildings to dip through the gloomy dappled dancing shades of trees, from here it trails through back ways towards Santa Monica of the white church and the dusty supermarket.
Beyond the reach of sun, a wilt of dying flowers – distant hum of passing traffic.
I step from cool shade into the hammering sun and stand upon the anvil of old roads. Away from the main road the silence is intense, the air thick with the soil’s vapours.
The white church looms through tall palms, while here ants debate bone or seed.
The sun pins me in the dust.
Dust coats all; leg, arm and bladed leaf; flicker of a passing swallow.
The shade of an old woman, black as a beetle, turns at the corner of her house and scuttles under the shade of low buko palms past star-leafed papaya and into a leaf verandah that grapples with a thriving bougainvillea.
I stoop to pick a stiff dead fallen leaf from the ground. The living-green burned ocherous, its once live compliance, stiffened and crisped. I blow the dust from it.
I find shade and pause a while.
A tethered goat, one horn broken ragged, dances on small feet, fixes me with devil eyes, bleats challenge and butts at my intrusion into the lull of his day. Cicadas stir, call ‘cave’ on my shadow from the dry grasses of the verge.
The ovate leaf is threaded with dead veins, an intricate venation encased, the delicately wrought network servicing the small factory that converts my breath to cellulose sugars and constructs towering, ancient shady trees, the vein branchings innumerable, modeling the mother tree’s apparent tangled structure of branches, boughs and twigs. I hold it against the bright sun and the patterns of ramification display in wondrous detail.
This is not the time to be out. Locals sprawl and sweat in sleep or potter under palms, closeted in shade or flutters of cool. I am a mad dog, loitering to savor the caprine stink of old goat, listening to the choir in the grass, under a noonday sun.
I stand a moment more looking at the surrounding trees and know they proliferate even to the very edge of the volcano and beyond. A nearby stream gushes and gurgles carrying the wet season’s waters seawards, less than a short mile to go, the sun sparkles and glances brilliant from the leap and lap of water. The stuff of life abounding. The goat, the beetle-black woman and I all contribute.
The trees hear us breathe, I hear them breathe, the quiet tides of life, but it is the breeze that stirs and sighs. They gather in my breath, suck water from the rich black earth and welcome each dawn to photosynthesise. The eternal exchange continues, waste for waste, life for life in silent symbiosis.
I put the leaf into my shoulder bag.
The goat’s bell chimes flat as he shakes his beard. A fly tells beads of my sweat.
Pale in a day- blue sky, the moon drifts towards the dark many miles away.
A curtain, raised in curiosity, falls back.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I think I called one blog a pot pourri which brings me smoothly to my first entry which is about mixing, in this case not scented flower petals but foods.
For me a plate of chips with a tomato sauce dip and a sundae are two distinct dishes to be eaten separately from each other. One is a sort of main meal and the other a dessert, or, simply, one is savoury and the other sweet and never the twain shall meet upon the palate, in the stomach, of course, but in the mouth, never.
I was in McDonald,s the other day ( O the shame to write that and it be true! In my defence I only drank the coffee.) when I noticed a group of young people sat at a nearby table with a haystack of French fries in front of them and two dishes of tomato sauce dip and each had a dessert, a chocolate sundae. They were eating both at the same time. My effete western stomach lurched and my gorge rose at the sight and at the thought of the conflict of tastes as each dish obliterated and confused the other.
Keats once sprinkled his tongue with cayenne pepper and drank a glass of port just to experience the effect. But hey! we did get Ode to a Nightingale out of him. We got nothing but teenage chatter from that table.
This failure to distinguish between courses is not limited to the teenagers, Sione does the same thing and when I questioned her eating pineapple chunks and cream while eating chicken adobo and rice she explained that she liked pineapple. Now I know I have eaten fried ham and pineapple, duck and orange, pork and apple and even roast lamb and banana but none of the fruits in those dishes had cream on them. As I keep reminding myself it is their part of the planet and their eating habits are really none of my concern. I just don’t look to closely now.
Religion is a dominant force here in the Philippines, he wrote, moving adroitly on to a change of subject.
There are as many churches as there are pawnshops here in Dumaguete. It used to be said that Keighley once had as many places of worship as it had pubs one only has to stand outside the Parish church and start counting there to see that this has got to be a fairly accurate assessment. However, that probably has to be altered now to read as many carpet warehouses as there are pubs.
Here the churches are clean and tidy and cared for. The large cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Hope is a magnificent snowy-white building with ever open doors letting in the breeze and sunlight and always someone knelt in prayer there when we pass. But there are many smaller churches, not all are Roman Catholic, although that is the dominant denomination here. The smaller ones can be seen deep in the shades of palms or close to the National Highway. All are clean and cared for and painted in fresh tasteful colours .
I passed one in Valencia the other day that was intriguingly named Church of the Lady of the Abandoned Parish, which smacked of both defiance and the petulant chiding of authority.
Dumaguete, as has been pointed out by others responding to my blogs, has many colleges and universities. Similarly, there are many schools and all have there different uniforms. We once had great debates about uniforms in the UK but one only has to see these young people in their white shirts and different coloured trousers or skirts to see how charming and clean and belonging the uniforms makes them.
Their outside walls are plastered with signs/banners proclaiming the latest laudable achievement of some pupil or member of staff, such as second place in Negros Oriental Chess competition, latest award for piano playing, first placed team in Kayak racing or some such. I pass like the wind on the back of a weaving motorbike and cannot read them all nor remember them either. Some do stick, however, as the instruction to students:
‘Be honest when others are not honest.
Be honest when other will not be honest.
Be honest when others cannot be honest.’
This message is hammered home at every presentation, dance, prize giving and party. It seems particularly strange here that every such public presentation that I have witnessed has been given by a woman. They are very good at it, too. They hammer home the message of honour, honesty, team spirit, save the planet and maintain high moral standards. I do not have a problem with that in any way. I find it laudable and admirable.
Sometimes it goes just that bit too far. I was passing a beach resort, clean, tidy, pleasant with shaded tables and splendid views of the sea and the distant blue silhouettes of islands and noticed a sign close to the entrance which read, and this is verbatim:
PRESERVE MORAL STADARDS.
KEEP TO THE PATHWAY.
I have since wondered whether the latter sentence was a ‘Keep off the Grass.’ instruction or “Stick to the straight and narrow way.”, which was straight out of Sunday School.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

A very short blog because this happened to me this morning when we rode into the city. Always there are many tikes around at that time, 9am, with people going to work .
They are all numbered and have a four digit display across the front for instance 1090, 5692, or 0029 etc. One passed me going the opposite way with the number 0010 which was the lowest I had seen and caught my eye for that reason. Nothing unusual I thought it was just as likely to pass you as any number between say 1 and 9999, but what are the odds of a given number passing you as you call it unseen. It has to be 9998 to 1, pretty big odds. All this was going through my mind as we sped along. What if I said the next trike to pass would be 0001. I looked up and, I swear that this is true, the trike with number 0001 actually passed me at the moment of the thought.
Things like that don’t happen often so I just wanted to share it with folks who might have the same sense of gobsmackedness as I.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Your blogs are too beautiful to be called blogs, Arthur. Keep them coming. Your haikus of the eleventh and your mention of cicadas remind me of the famous one by Basho quoted somewhere by Salinger: Nothing in the voice of the cicada intimates how soon it will die.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1954-59

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Thanks Gareth. Also well identified because the 11th blog you refer to actually used the Haibun form for that one, a form favoured by Basho. It was an intense experience and I needed to try and catch the essence of the time.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

In the same way that in Spain there seems to be Ia continuous procession of saints’ days so here in the Islands they have a continuous procession of festivals and carnivals. I mentioned in an earlier blog the festival for Negros Oriental, today is the local Dumaguete festival.
First though let me recollect a time when I had a Vespa motor scooter with a sidecar. It looked very much like a Corgi toy. I left Keighley to go over the Cringles to Addingham and then on to Bolton Abbey. I got into a traffic tangle in Silsden and wended my way through and suddenly there I was actually part of the Silsden Gala procession. Feeling rather stupid and embarrassed as the crowd laughed and cheered me past, I waved back. My wife covered her face and swore at me from under her blanket and my young son buried his head in my back muttering ‘ I hate galas.’
I mention this because a similar experience occurred as I struggled through a crowd on the festival ground. The air was vibrant with drums beating and music playing, lights dazzled and blinded and the crowd stubbornly refused me a clear way through. I had no idea where I was heading and Sione and I just weaved and pushed a way past the sweating mass of people. I stepped suddenly clear of it all and stood on my own in the middle of a beautifully costumed dance. I turned to get out of it and found an impassable wall of bodies locked against re-entry. Sione had disappeared and I was left to enjoy the laughter and applause of the sea of faces around me. The dancers ignored me and continued their well-rehearsed gyrations. I have to admit to the pleasure of being surrounded by bevies of pretty Filipinas.
I did manage to extract myself and found Sione and we continued through to the carnival ground.
This was pretty much like the Keighley Gala field in Victoria Park. There were a few rides and many stalls and eating places, of course. No brandy snap though, which I always loved. The rides were the caterpillar, a ferris wheel, and a sort of roller coaster but that was very very tame, which is irrelevant since I did not go on it.
What fascinated me was the number of stalls that involved gambling of one sort or another. There were several stalls that had a piece of netting stretched taut and the centre pulled down by a hollow ring. A football was dropped or thrown onto the netting and much as a science programme describes the space-time continuum being curved by gravity the football wandered round the netting until it passed through the ring and bounced onto a table that held 25 large numbered cups embedded in the table. The ball bounced and wandered around the table being thrown from one cup after another to the accompaniment of gasps and groans from the punters until it settled in one and then the appropriate odds were paid to anyone betting on that particular number. Rather like roulette, I suppose, but slightly less sophisticated.
We did not stay long and had great fun trying to find our motorbike.

I think I may have discovered a new art form. Something to rank beside Damien Hurst and his cadavers or that unmade bed or the pup tent, at least. It is kinetic, serendipitous (so requires little art training for me, which is good,) and it is beautiful.
Let me try to explain.
It rained all afternoon, long steely rods that lashed mud back up from the earth.
The rain continued through the night and into the early hours, the roof rang and hosed cascades of water into the yard; lightning shuddered through the dark with deep rumbling eructations of thunder that shook the windows; silhouettes of trees were printed over the curtains; shadow forests flared and flickered across the floor. Eventually sleep.
There was a stillness that came at dawn.
I turned and found a new day sparkling through the garden.

At one corner of our house an opalescent plastic tub, that once held bread flour, brimmed with caught rain and the new day’s full light was pent under its still pane, the domed skin of its meniscus, curved like a great lens, trembled in a breath of passing air that drew ripples over the taut skin and shook feathers and fronds out of its well of clarity to quiver on my ceiling fantastically.
The meniscus held unbroken and perfect.
I watched the patterns of light, light bent, refracted and reflected into the feathers and fronds, the light and vapourous dark of a breeze-birthed tangle of shapes and ephemeral phantasms that shone from the tub as first a transparent dragon drifted over the ceiling, became a glass fish waving its fins through a glass pool, a crystal bird rose, startled, into a crystal sky, a face, a frown, a diaphanous butterfly kissing a flower, a snarling tiger, all came and went punctuated by dancing, feathery patterns that offered no shape to toy with, only the joy of watching and imagining and creating.
Is it art?
Well I have always argued that there are two acts of creation in a piece of art of whatever genre; music, dance, poetry. The principal creative act is the artist’s vision and realization of the presented work of art, the second, and in some ways just as important as the first , is the creative act of observing, listening, watching. This second creative act of the observer is multiplied by the number of observers and so there are many creative acts in a presented work of art. Often the first and second acts will be essentially different e.g. my response to unmade bed, which is very much a negative WTF!!.
So. too, the tub of water presented as art. To many it will be just a tub of water, to others, like myself, it will be a source of wonder and joy.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Arthur,
That water in 't bucket wor art!

'The man who has honesty, integrity, the love of enquiry, the desire to see beyond, is ready to appreciate good art. He needs no one to give him an 'Art Education'; he is already qualified. He needs but to see pictures with his active mind, look into them for the things that belong to him and he will find soon enough in himself an art connoisseur and an art lover of the first order.' Robert Henri

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945 - 50

Current location (optional) Norfolk UK

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Denis, thanks for that. An interesting and pertinent quote.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Reading your postings on this site,Arthur, you wouldn't be a devotee of Thomas Hardy by any chance?

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 55-60

Current location (optional) Harrogate

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

He's a great novelist Alec and to be admired and I like Tess and Under the Greenwood Tree, both very much but I have never considered myself a devotee. Interesting question though.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

It's 50 odd years since I had "Far From The Madding Crowd" thrust upon me but I thought I detected a similar style. Must have made some sort of an impression I suppose.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 55-60

Current location (optional) Harrogate

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

With your penchant for verbosity you must be very keen on Hardy, Alec...

Doug

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

"If tha knaws nowt,say nowt, an appen nobdy'll nowtice"

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 55-60

Current location (optional) Harrogate

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I love language, Doug. I like words,wherein lies the fault.

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So Christmas is upon us ! Fireworks here and laughter and parties and children with bright eytes. Let it please be the same the world over. Merry Christmas my good friends and Old Boys. Keighlians Aye!!

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Happy Birthday, Arthur!!!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945-50

Current location (optional) Keighley

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I echo that too, Arthur.

Wish I could still call in on you in Addingham - a notable domicile for a mathematician.

Glad you are happy in the tropics , Terry

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Lincoln

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I'll drink to that too! But you've been silent for over a month now; have you run out of postcards? I, like many more, I'm sure, look forward to your next posting.

Doug

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Addingham. Does anyone remember, in the late sixties,when the vicar denounced its citizens and the village became known as "Sin City"?

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Thanks very much for your kind wishes. I shall continue my blogs soon. Nothing much but rain at the moment.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

First of all can I say I am grateful for all your kind wishes on my birthday. 78 good years with a few not so nice ones but on the whole its been fun and interesting most of the way. Thank you all very much.
I have not blogged ( Is that really a verb? Ye gods! at least I have resisted ‘tweeting’) since Christmas Day. Really there has not been much to say except that it has rained everyday since then and although it is hard to understand the 12% increase in the water rate it remains quite cheap, relatively speaking.
Many is the day I have sat and watched the puddles gather and fill, seen the muddy water pock and bubble, listened to the frogs’ metallic creak and croon from their hidden places and watched the drops gather and fall from the eaves.
Interesting water drops, not rain really, raindrops come in all sorts of sizes, ranging from thin drizzle, through driven horizontal slashing winter rain to fat summer drops. I can remember sitting in our café room with the curtain lifted watching the wind driven rain swoop down Bradford Street and my old grandma would explain it was ‘ raining in iggs and swuthers’ and it was. You could actually see the iggs and hear the swuthers
But back to water drops, you know, the kind that hang pendant from a tap gathering and swelling until ‘plop’ it loses grip and drops. We have all of us listened to the regular drip-drip-drip of the tap with a failing washer which we will change tomorrow, for sure. The regularity of that drip indicates that all the drops are the same size. The water clock or clepsydra relied on the regularity of the drip to tell time so if regular then the drop must be pretty regular in size. I should think. Of course if we really wanted to know the mass when it loses grip we could catch a few drops and weigh them, but is there another way. I wondered.

I figured that the governing elements defining the size of the drop are the density and purity of the water, temperature might figure also, and importantly surface tension and gravity all elements. The mass/weight of the drop will be determined by the purity ( is there anything in solution or suspension? ) and since gravity varies according to position on the earth that would be a variable too. But at any given place all those variables could be considered constant to that place and time.
Sounds complex to me so off to Wikipaedia and there it was

mg=pi.diameter of pipe x 71.97( surface tension)

Divide both sides by g to get mass on its own.

So mass(kg)=3.1417... x diameter of pipe x 71.97)/~9.8ms^2

Take a 2 cm diameter tap nozzle say.

mass(kg)= 3.1417 x .02 x 0.007197/~96.04 = ?

converting to correct units I make it about .04614 grams or .00004614kg is the largest droplet that could form. About .05 grams which converts neatly to .05ml.
That would work for a tap but I still think the drops from the eaves that initiated this chain of thought looked, I repeat looked, similar in size. Your thoughts are invited and welcom

There has to be a normal size else how would they prescribe drops for certain medicines??
So watching the endless rain falling has proved of some interest.
Just a few points that deserve mentioning as strange to me.
If I order a drink in a bottle it is brought to me with the mouth sealed with a piece of wrapped tissue paper. Hygenic I suppose but weird to me
I explained about a trike that passed me with 1881 as its number and how it was palindromic and symmetrical et al. Well yesterday I met its brother 1001. Are there others? 0110 , 8118 I suppose. But I have not seen them yet.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I am pleased you like numbers as much as you love words, Arthur. I was as gobsmacked as you by your story of thinking about 0001 and then seeing it immediately.(Probability of the order of one over a myriad squared ?)Here's an experiment for you :think really hard about the Hardy/Ramanujan number and see how long it takes before you see it on a trike.Let us know the result.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1954-59

Current location (optional) Denholme garethwhittaker99@hotmail.com

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

But how many times have you thought about a number and it didn't appear?

As Richard Feynman (I think) said "I saw the number 43716 on a car plate today...what are the chances of *that* happening!?" [The point being that the chances are just the same as seeing the number 11111 on a car]

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

1729!! I have already seen it. About the 3rd week I was here. Strange also it was the number on the package of the rough green paper towels we used to use in school.LOL

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

I looked at my clock today around 5.30 and guess what! Yep that 1729 came up again. The weird thing is it keeps happening every day.

Re: Postcards from the Philippines

Hi Chris . I do understand the nature of probability butit is always good when a 'friend' turns up. I understand very well that it is just as likely to turn up as any of the other ten thousand numbers but still. Its like winning at bingo.

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