The title of this blog happened to be a song that I made up on the way back to my hotel in Cebu, Sunday January 18th 2015. After my first Pinay girlfriend, Melody told me many years ago about an annual celebration in the provinces capital, Cebu City; the oldest city in the Philippines; I decided to go. She didn’t know much about it, but as a Bisaya girl she just knew it was big and a pretty healthy place to party. It pretty much equates to Carnival for Latino’s. Real Latino’s anyway.
Even though my cooler head began to prevail sometime this week, I’m going to take you on a journey with me as I recall my short trip to The Philippines; maybe you’ll feel a bit of my pain.
I started with a Philippines Airlines flight to Manila. I must say, I began my trip quite optimistic. Even though my two Filipino co-workers and the Pinay at the Etihad Airways check-in desk tried their best to convince me that going on this trip alone was probably ill-advised; I of course went alone anyway. They warned of being cautious of petty crimes and robbery. In my head, I pictured 5’6″ Filipino men thinking they were going to work me over for my pocket change. Since this was something I was undoubtedly not worried about I shrugged off most of it, but did retain that theft was apparently an issue. Of course it was. It is in any inner-city, right? I’ve been round the world and I-I-I’ve never been robbed. Never been beaten up. Never been kidnapped. I figured I’d be ok a few days in the Philippines.
I of course was seated in an isle seat towards the very rear of the fuselage, you know where it tapers off into barely enough space to have a galley and a latrine? There was a Filipino man behind me, barking at a Cabin Crew member [I feel so sorry for them, I really do] about needing to use the in-flight wifi to notify someone in Manila that he’d be late. I wanted to say something to him so bad… but I didn’t. I’ve been holding my tongue a lot lately… I don’t like this new trend. The pope happened to be visiting Manila this same weekend, and unfortunately since the locals there treat him like he’s a god, or something over 200 flights were cancelled and all others were delayed an hour or more.
I wasn’t phased. I WAS GOING TO THE PHILIPPINES!!! WHO CARES?
I had a 10 hour layover in Manila, so I took this perfect opportunity to take an overpriced airport taxi into Manila [Makati] to the Hard Rock cafe in hopes to buy shit loads of t-shirts for me and my family like I do every time I come across an HRC.
Back at the airport I indulged in 2, 1-hour long full body massages which cost me 900 pisos, which was by my currency app precisely $20.70 lol.
I pull out of there, after complaining that no one in the world knew what the hell “Makati” was and that they should’ve just left the shirts reading “Manila”. 12,099 PHP spent on shirts there. Do the math yourself, I’m not here for all that.
Back to the taxi we go. Who of course charged me double to take me back to the airport even though he was going back there anyway. I’m already loving this country.
My flight to Cebu boards… 2 hours late and I’m still not all that rattled. I’m just ready to get this GoPro camera on my head, some Lechon in my belly and get my party on! I seldom do it, so I wanted to get to it.
I took my leave of the second-most uncomfortable aircraft seat I’ve sat on once we touched down in Cebu. Finally here.
It was late. I only brought a carry on, my awesome black Adidas bag; so I rushed off the flight, skipped customs because I did it in Manila and grabbed a dirty yellow taxi to take me to the Crown Regency Residence. I left them a lengthy review on Expedia.com.… I’m not going to get into that. Other than, if you ever go there and eat their free breakfast buffet, expect your scrambled eggs to be a bit on the crunchy side.
It was after midnight after I got all checked in and caught up checking my phone for messages and catching up with anyone who needed to be caught up with. I was fed up with the plainness of my room, with it’s comforter-less beds and 19 inch box-tv set. So, I went out to the main street of V. Rama in Guadelupe and made a left up the road. I just wanted to take in the sights and sounds of the city. I knew my time there would be short.
The next morning I was woken up to very loud noises outside of my window. Screaming, yelling and festive music [Play this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORMaGnlmwG8 ] . I jumped up in the clothes I’d managed to change into after showering the night before and ran outside to see young men and women practicing a dance routine. All holding the Santo Nino. Something I’m not completely well-versed on some I’m not going to go into it, but this is what she looks like.
I’m still reading up on it’s significance. Also, that of Sinulog lol. I know I know… I traveled a very long way to take part in something I don’t completely understand. Kinda like Thanksgiving back home…. anyway.
I gathered it was something religious and sacred seeing as how they always held their makeshift santo ninos above waste-level and in front of their bodies. Never down to the side or in any other frivolous fashion. [
FYI Here are two more songs which I heard probably over a thousand times this weekend in Cebu. It’s tradition at this point and actually can not get them out of my head. They’re awful. Enjoy! “Pit Senyor”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BlGK5XQlR0 “I Love Cebu” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkSmT1mq22c ]
Afterwards I went out to the main road looking for a taxi. But I kept seeing these rickety, unsafe, fun-looking vehicles filled with un-restrained passengers in the back. They all had numbers, names, and designs on them. I wanted to get on one. So, I asked the security guard what was what. The Sinulog parades wouldn’t start until Sunday, so I asked how to get to the City Center. ’06A’ was the answer. And these particular vehicles were called “Jeepney’s”
I got off when the driver said he was at the end of the line. I suppose that’s what he said, and I began to walk. I seemed to be in some remote market/neighborhood. It was a scene like I’d never seen before. Houses that I’d normally call “huts” were cluttered next to one another. There were people walking around, shopping, sitting and socializing, little boys running around bootie-butt-ass naked playing chase. I mean… bucknaked, I would show pictures but… I didn’t take any. I think the only thing weirder than little naked Filipino boys playing in the streets would be the big black American guy taking pictures of them. But it was a mind blow. I mean, they really didn’t give a fuck lol.
Along the narrow, halfway-paved walkway/street were stands, benches and dare-I-say store fronts with people selling everything from fruits and vegatables, to rice, chicken on a stick, sinulog masks, internet time in makeshift cafes which double as people’s livingrooms and karaoke. I stopped at the karaoke, which was basically someones basement. They invited me down and for 5 pisos the old man tells me I can sing 2 songs. I didn’t have the exchange rate down quite right but I knew if I paid 900 Pisos for a mssage and it came to $20.70, 5 pisos wasn’t really anything at all to be honest. I have a video of the old man and his drunk friend who kept offering me his glass of “coconut” if anyone wants to see it. He sang me this terrible American 80’s Rock song, I loved it. A woman who lived there with him name “Yen” came out and spoke to me with very good English. By the end of the conversation she hugged me invited me back to their home the same night for dinner.
I found my way back up to Guadelupe and walked up and down V. Rama. A bicycle passed by with a middle-aged Cebuano riding he yelled out “Nigger!” to me in a very familiar but… surprisingly non-malicious fashion. If that makes any sense. I laughed and shrugged it off. Calling me that or any other name for that matter doesn’t phase me. Especially when yelled by someone who was doing it probably because he saw someone do it on T.V. Along this major road there are several more established buildings hotels and shops. I stopped at several of the outdoor restaurants and cafe’s with rotisserie-style ovens roasting chicken and lechon [pork]. Ive been told by many, the lechon of Cebu is the best in the country. So I had to try some. By the time I ordered though I ended up getting an entire chicken and something called “red rice”. After haggling with the girls who worked there and the manager who wouldn’t come out of the office, for a place to sit and eat, they invited me to the back and sat me at the table where 3 more girls came out from the back to serve me. Very friendly ladies.
That night I went out and did things I’ve never done before. I did a lot of things I have done before as well. Such as walk the streets talking to myself. Flirt with bitches. Show my ass, and eat way past my bedtime. Couldnt help it! They call NYC the city that never sleeps, but this place….. the streets are always busy. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 o’clock in the morning it makes no difference. The streets were always alive. Karaoke was always being sung by someone [which I absolutely love] and there was always, always, always something cooking.
The next day was the festival. Due to some avid internet socializing I met a girl named Shogar who accepted my invite to hangout during Sinulog. I wanted someone to go with to explain to me what was going on and also to translate shit when I needed it. Because, much to my surprise not everyone was either willing or able to speak English like I thought they’d be.
She took a taxi to my hotel then we immediately started walking down V. Rama. I told her my “Nigger” story, and several other things. She addressed my concerns about all the things that I’d seen in the area with very little concern of her own. She was used to it all, and I wasn’t.
We went down to Fuentes Circle and bam… there’s the end of my story really lol…
For the first time in my life I was the victim of a petty crime. I was pick-pocketed for my 1 month old Samsung S4 from Sprint. Bitch cost me $600 [including the Otterbox] The crowd was so thick one couldn’t move. I had my cell phone in my cargo pocket like I always did. by the time we’d made it to where we could walk freely again, I touched all my pockets looking for my phone I turned around and I immediately knew I’d been gotten and I’d never see it again. There were hundreds of thousands of people on that very street. And I was one of very few dumb ass Americans there. And 1 out of 1 who gave a fuck about my stolen phone. I was and still am pissed at the thief and myself for that one. I had a lot of shit on that phone. But also, it was CDMA… whoever stole it can’t ever use it unless they move to someplace that has Sprint. It doesn’t take SIM cards. So the guy got a cool gadget to use as long as he had wifi around. Great snatch, dick!
I didn’t feel much like celebrating after that.The girl came back with me to the hotel, basically trying to convince me she had nothing to do with the theft… which means she probably did, because I NEVER accused her. So I sulked… and watched shitty Pilipino movies all day evening on T.V.
Monday I got up and ate some more crunchy scrambled eggs. Packed my shit, and checked out. My flight wasn’t until two but I knew it’d take a while to get to the airport so I began my journey for a taxi around 11:30 a.m. Minus one cell phone, using my backup phone which was in my luggage, my old S3 and my terrible disposition; i was approached by a group of four little boys. One was barefoot. They all yelled “Taxi?!?!?!” to me over and over. I thought to myself… shit, maybe I am finally gonna get beaten up and robbed. At least these little guys are gonna do it straight up! But they just wanted to get paid by grabbing me a taxi. Hey… at least they wanted to EARN it, instead of just sticking their hands out like the other people I allowed to sucker me into giving thousands of pisos to over the weekend.
Yes… I’m a sucker for homeless, barefoot and hungry children.
They finally found me one and I distributed about 55 pisos between the four of them. The tussle began. One kid started fake-crying and the others blew me kisses and waved. If my emotions were to be drawn over the weekend they’d appear to be a mountain range. The short time was filled with highs and lows for me. I learned a lot about the culture, and learned a lot about myself I suppose. I’ve been so many places, but really I haven’t been anywhere, and I don’t know shit. On the ride to the airport I counted how many countries I’ve been to. A total of 15. 15. There or more countries than that in Africa! And I haven’t even been to one of those! Before I began to feel sorry for myself again…
The fact that these were common sights all weekend sort of set in. Not only did I already have most of my connections scrubbed from my last phone, and reconnected on my S3 again, but I had the ability to buy a Samsung S5 when I got back to my “apartment” [for all you D.I. guys reading] in Abu Dhabi! I’m pretty blessed. And even though I’m one typhon, layoff or bad decision away from possibly being on the street myself… I’m not.
So, no. I kinda liked the Philippines. The fact that the popes visit made me miss my connection in Manila back to Etihad, and landed me in an old-ass luxuray hotel for the night for free…
Or the fact that I got food poisoning somewhere along the way…
I had a great time, and I’d go back again. It wasn’t that bad.
Go Philippines! Go Cebu! Go Sinulog! Just go prepared… and try not to go Philippine Airlines. They still suck. They’re trying… but they suck.
Ingat ka everyone. Always.