VISIONS OF PAST IN FUTURE
Find a home.
Here is the best part of a dream I have. A view from the front porch of my home, looking down at the my guest cabin on the beach. My little home on the beach, facing the China Sea. Ah, what sweet memories I have of the future. Allow me to share some of them with you.
My house is beautifully designed. Oh, I was looking for a small home wherever I could afford one. I told people of my search and a wealthy American foreigner told me of a property they were selling. She was moving back to the States after her husband’s death and selling the property at a huge discount to move it fast. I was the lucky one in line. The house appraised well and the bank financed me quickly. I moved in.
It was Christmastime and the home was sparsely furnished, no cushions on the furniture, no pictures on the wall, but instead of it depressing me for lack of, it inspired me to new heights, as I envisioned it as a new start, a new awakening, a new life here in the Philippines.
Now, do you see what I see? It’s a simple yet elegant home on the beach by the sea. To me it is paradise and I bought it at such a bargain. Let me rephrase that. We bought it at a bargain. It’s the only way to do it. The Philippine law states that an American cannot purchase land in the Philippines. A spouse can and as a married couple, they can own a house together on this property.
Find a wife.
It’s easier said than done. I made friends with a cute, young Filipino woman online. We chatted a few weeks and she said she would accept me as her husband. She wanted me to build her a house. She said she lived in a little shack by the sea and wanted me to buy a lot to buy and build on after we were married. I took to the internet and secured a search for property there. To my surprise, there was a fairly priced lot new her home for sale. There was an email, so I inquired. The response was not what I expected. The returned email read like this, “Yes the lot is for sale, two million pesos, no financing, full title and ready to build on. Let me ask, why are you buying property? Is it a girl there? If it is, give me her name and I’ll research her for you. My wife knows a lot of people in town.” So, I did reply with her name. What happened next? He called me and said, “I hope you didn’t send her any money. She not only has a live-in, but she just filed for a marriage license at the municipal hall.” I was blown away! My little princess would do that?! I replied by email, “Yes I did. I sent her $200 US Dollars.” to which he replied, “Then you just paid for her wedding.” I was embarrassed. He laughed and said, “The same thing happened to me but I lost $30,000 US to my first Filipino wife, then I met my new wife. She is wonderful and honest. You should marry her sister.”
I was interested.
Her name was Carilou Mabagas. She was beautiful. We were introduced. We chatted. She accepted me as her husband and said she would wait for me. We had originally planned to meet in May but the funds weren’t available just yet, so I kept working and saving until I was able to visit for three weeks in September.
Find a life.
Unfamiliar with local customs, I was lost in this learning experience. There are good people everywhere, right along with the bad people. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference. Not knowing what is what, you can expect to be taken advantage of at times. One such time was when I went to buy coffee at a little shop. There they have the “Great Taste” coffee that is so good. At once they noticed I was a foreigner and they treat me different than the locals. I asked for the coffee and he tells me they only sell it by the case and the case is $20 US. I thought, at that price, I should stock up. I ordered two cases and paid him $40 US Dollars. He had a grin on his face and said, “I will have my delivery stock boy get the coffee for you and you can pick it up in the back behind the store. I agreed went around back. There were two boxes of coffee sitting on a plastic barrel in the back of the store. Two small boxed with eight packs of coffee in each one. I suppose these are the two cases I bought for $40, $20 each. I banged on the door, no answer. I went back around front and the store was closed, no one there. I went next door and they all acted like they didn’t know the shop owner. I was so angry. Next time I will get the merchandise before I pay for it. Next time I will be careful. Next time coffee won’t cost $2.50 a cup.
Also, I was unaccustomed to their lifestyle. It is very different from the USA. They cook outside, they bath outside, and they sometimes eat things I wouldn’t eat. They sometimes do things I wouldn’t do. For example, I passed a construction site and observed men in shorts and flip-flip sandals, working as construction workers three or four stories in the air on rickety bamboo scaffolding. This is very dangerous and illegal in the USA. One slip would be the end. The wiring on the poles and houses is horrendous. It looks like a rats nest. Well water is undrinkable. Bottled water that is filtered is the only water to use. The electricity browns out a lot and is very expensive. There are not many street lights. Many people live in poverty. There is crime and druggies. They think all Americans are rich. By many standards, they are. Their laws are very different than ours. A person can be charged and taken to court for gossiping. Haha! I wish they had that one in the States!
The Filipino people know how to relax. They are generally happy, occasionally mad, and always ready to do something exciting. The weather is so hot, shade shelter under a Mango tree is welcome. The airconditioning (aircon) is very expensive and unreliable. Most people just use fans. Even refrigerators and freezers are not in every home. Most islanders eat fish, rice and vegetables only, with the occasional barbequed pig. Great Taste Coffee is a national favorite. Jollibee is their fast food chain restaurant.
She was adventurous. She had joined a website looking for romance. She liked the outings that her work and church would go on. She enjoyed visiting new places and she liked quiet walks on the beach. I enjoyed all this too.
We had quiet times together where we could talk and get to know each other. She looks at me like I am a wise teacher. I look at her like she is a precious little flower. She is so beautiful with the flowers in her hair, the torches light up her long hair, her big eyes sparkle in the moonlight. Her feet slide across the sandy beach as she sways and moves to the beat of the soft music. A squawking bird flies by and lands in silence as he watches the dance. A shooting star signals the beginning of the fireworks, the beginning of romance and the beginning of love. That night spent on the beach, half way around the world, in the arms of a new lover changed everything. We both had a renewed sense of purpose for living. There were adventures for us to experience.
Married in the Philippines
The wedding, a simple one. A civil wedding at the local Hall of Justice. It cost me 8,000 Philippine Pesos (171.12.) I had to provide some paperwork and spring for the meal. ($100) for about twenty-five guests. Married in the Philippines for under $1,000 and that includes two days of shopping, sightseeing, transportation, two nights and meals in a luxury resort. Soon, the honeymoon was over and it was reality, married in the Philippines.
At first it was like living in a dreamworld, full of visions of ocean paradise, feelings of sexy love, renewed inspirations, years of depression turned to moments of joy and soon reality would set in. Who was this stranger in my bed, or better yet, why am I in this stranger’s bed. At first it was like, “You’re my gwapo(handsome) man! I want you for all eternity as my lover.” Soon it was, “Do you have extra money? I need extra money.” I can’t imagine feeling like I had to ask for extra when all the “extra” was already being spent. There was this thing of “More.”
Actually, we had more. We had more than most people, more than most of the neighbors. Look, I make $50,000 US Dollars, not a lot by American standards. It’s enough to live in the suburbs. Here, you get twice as much for your money. It’s like $100,000 US Dollars here. (2,337,600.00 Philippine Pesos)
“More” came to live with us. “More.” was a part of every conversation. It seemed as though they must have been groomed by society to ask foreigners for more, more, more. I think they all think that foreigners are all rich and that they can get some of the foreigners affection for more, more, more. I thought of changing my name to “More.” I gave more and more and more until one day, I had enough. I lashed out in the most peculiar way. You see, I had been a straight husband, doing the required work of keeping the marriage exciting, keeping in good standing in the community, socially, financially, spiritually and responsibly. I was always prompt in providing for her and her family. I was a good husband. I tried really hard to please her and to get her to really fall in love with me. She would look me in the eyes and say, “I love you darling.”, and at the same time she would be taking my wallet out of my pants, getting a hand full of bills. One morning it just hit me the wrong way. I got up, had my morning “Great Taste Coffee”, took a bath and got dressed. She came into the room, sat at my feet on the floor and draped herself across my knees. She looked up at me and said, “Can I ask?” in her broken English, and I nodded “Yes.”
“I talked to the other girls at the City Hall and we decided what you need to do. You need to build me and my family new houses and buy everyone new cars. You need to take some of that American money and help your wife’s family and friends. We all need more and you have more. You have extra money to support my family, now do it.”, She said as she rolled those big brown eyes and grinned, looking up at me.
I stood up, almost dropping her to the floor and as she caught herself with her arms, and said in the strangest voice that even surprised me, “Honey, you can have anything you want!”
She scurried off to the other room to retrieve her cellphone to tell all her family and friends and I exited on the motorbike.
I spent the next week in a flop house for junkies, burntouts and mentally ill vagrants. I drank and smoked my way into oblivion. I bought booze, drugs, smoke, powder, rocks and a little food and water. I barely escaped with my life when the money ran out. I high-tailed it back home.
With that rebellion out of my system, I walked in the house expecting the worse but she warmed right up to me and said,
“Hon, you just take care of me. Don’t worry for the family and friends. They take care of themselves. I am your beautiful wife and you are my gwapo husband!”
She made a complete turn around. Now, I know when to take a private vacation when she gets demanding. I just have to watch my past from coming back to haunt me. The drugs, sex and rock n’ roll of my past could ruin everything.
Just as I learned that there is a reason we hurt ourselves, there also is a reason to do the opposite, which is to do good to ourselves and others. We can go either way and that is the scary part.
“SXE” is the name of the nightclub I frequent now. I go there to relax and let my troubles go. The girls who dance at “SXE” are just there for the money. When you talk to them, it’s all about the money. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s the most efficient way to make fast money. These girls are pros. I am a pro too. This makes a dangerous combination. If it gets back to my wife’s family, it could be big trouble for me. I may even get deported.
My wife! Her constant whining, nagging, bitching. She even got the neighbors to yell at me in the middle of the night. Maybe that’s their way of doing crisis intervention, I don’t know. I do know this, I was up and on the motorbike in seconds flat and off to the boys club. It was fun but expensive. This time, it did get back to the wife and her family. I was accused and rightly so of sleeping with a prostitute. This news was not accepted very well. They want to deport me and fine me money. Here, this might be possible. It’s all about the money.
I was able to purchase an annulment and a one-way plane ticket home for less than $5,000 US Dollars. I lost everything. It was worth it to get home but the disease I picked up there was not worth it. The medicine to cure it cost more than that. My health insurance is begrudgingly paying for it. I can’t help it if I have a drugging and drinking, woman problem. Yes, I can help it, but I won’t. For some reason, I want to hurt myself. I want to cause harm to my success. I want to derail myself. Why? You tell me. Why do we want to hurt ourselves? Is it hereditary? I don’t know. I know this, it has almost ruined me.
Karan met me at the gate. She hugged me and said she missed me. In the way back to her house she asked me,
“Overseas business this time?”
I couldn’t believe she asked me this, knowing full well that she knew what happened. I’ve done it a dozen times or more. I smirked a sneaky smile and said, “Yeah, it was just a shot in the dark that didn’t work out. You know how it goes.”
She drove onto the freeway, smiling and looking at me through the side of her sunglasses, “Yes, I know how you feel. I've been there too, but you know you can stay at my place until you get back on your feet.”
“You amaze me after all the times I’ve screwed up, you take me back every time.”, I belt out.
“Maybe it’s because of my motherly instincts. I know somebody has to take care of my little baby boy. I know I’m the only one who can do it right. I’m the one. Maybe someday you’ll see that. Let’s stop and get some whiskey and tequila and celebrate Daddy’s homecoming.”, She insisted.
I am hung over at home. There has to be a better way.
The travel agent said Fiji is “happening.”
Book me a round trip, hon, for the first of June.
Daddy’s coming home again.