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A Smutty Sendoff: A Prostitute’s Life and Wage in the Philiippines

9 Jan

A sign outside a bar called “Eruptions” in the prostitution capital of the Philippines advertises that exotic dancers can earn as much as 200 pesos a day. About $5. To me, this city, Angeles, is a dirty, disgusting place. None of the gambling of Vegas and 500 times the in-your-face sex. (more…)

Happy Birthday to Me!

7 Jan

I’ve decided I’m going to welcome the big 3-0 with fanfare. I plan to throw the second biggest friend-reunion of my life (hopefully the first will be my Wyoming wedding). Should we do Vegas because it’s fun and people could get there cheaply?  An enormous cabin in the woods near Portland where many of my friends are based because that’s more “me”?  For sure, amigos mios, mark your calendars.

I decided I wanted a re-do of my 29th about six days before it arrived. It dawned on me, during the many hours spent resting the ripped ligaments in my ankle that this year’s festivities would never mushroom to grand proportions. (more…)

Observed: Attempted Vehicular Manslaughter and Hand Washing with Bleach

6 Jan

 The final chapter!  More quirks and quips that don’t quite make a story…

  • To the untrained eye, it would appear that “tricycle” drivers are constantly trying to run me over. Really, this is their bizarre way of trying to get some business. They steer slowly closer and closer as they putt toward me, until I physically have to step aside so as not to get hit (at which time they usually roll to a stop). All of this is in hope that I will suddenly go, “Oh! Hey! A tricycle! You know, I didn’t realize this before, but I really want a ride. Excuse me, sir. Could you give me a ride, please? Oh, and actually I prefer to be overcharged, if you wouldn’t mind.” (more…)

How Slow Can You Go?: Just When You Thought Things Couldn’t Get Worse

5 Jan

Examples of Filipino inefficiency are endless. I almost just laugh out loud when I’m riding a jeepney and it stops four or five times in a stretch of 100 yards. Sometimes, we will literally have gone 20 feet, before another person who couldn’t be bothered to walk that far shouts “Para!” (Stop!).

 And here’s what it was like to buy headphones at a shopping mall: (more…)

Busted, Bruised… Broken?: What 140 Pounds in Motion Can Do to an Ankle

4 Jan

Riding twelve miles on the roof of an over-stuffed jeep: $.60

Jumping down off roof of jeep and snapping ankle ligaments: FREE!

Being carried around by extremely tall and strong boyfriend: also FREE!

X-ray in the most dilapidated hospital I’ve ever been to: $2.75

Flirting with hot x-ray tech: another FREEBIE!

Recovering in the Honeymoon Suite for five days: $45

Finally knowing where to direct your rage about the incredibly rude, late-night crashing and banging: PRICELESS. (more…)

Fake Eyelashes, Short-Stacks: Filipino Facts

3 Jan

I’m long overdue! Quirks and quips that don’t quite make a story:

  • Stamps are “cheap as” here! 120 pesos to send 8 international postcards? That’s about $3. Take THAT, New Zealand! Now I just need to find the time to compose some more.

  • I don’t have 6.6 pounds (3 kilos) worth of clothing. That’s the magic number: the minimum accepted at laundry joints. (more…)

Endangered Endemics: Ethical Conundrums

2 Jan

Here’s more reader participation for you:
A species is threatened with extinction at the hands of hunters. You don’t really have enough money to hide this species at your house and give it a good life. Is it better to keep it there anyway, or just let it completely die out?

When we got rained out of the Twin Lakes, plan B was a visit to Centrop – The Center for Tropical Conservation Studies. Sounds fancy, but it’s not. (more…)

Boom, Boom, Ain’t It Great?: gunpowder casualties

1 Jan

So pretty, yet so... explosive.

If you had to estimate how many people were injured by fireworks or stray bullets on New Year’s Eve in the Philippines, what would you guess? I’ll give you a few background facts to help you narrow your answer.

  1. Right before NYE, the government allegedly ran a “scare” campaign to reduce the likelihood of death and injury. (more…)

A Baguio Christmas: how to sacrifice a pig

27 Dec

I grew up tracking animals through the snowy woods with my mom and dad and across the prairies with my grandparents. I’ve seen deer, turkeys, antelope, coyotes, rabbits and myriad other creatures fall from an accurately-aimed bullet or arrow. My worldview, from a young age, accepted this as simply a part of life. So, I arrived at our Christmas pig sacrifice with a well-stocked psychological arsenal. (more…)

Underwater World: how the perfect day became the perfect night

22 Dec

The islands around Coron harbor a little secret not obvious on the surface. Pun intended. The Busuanga island group is home to Academy-award-winning underwater scenery. (Obviously I made up the award, but it’s truly deserving!)  I spent my precious few days there constantly breathless.

my base in coron!

Thanks to a karmic, pay-it-forward, good-will-to-all platform known as Couchsurfing.org, I was hosted by a local man – M.J. (more…)

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