Brother Tom is no longer with us. No, he's not gone onto a better place, my American expat friend is dropping the "brother" from his name. He wants to be known simply as "Tom" now. I think it is most inappropriate to not have a nickname in the Philippines, as most Filipinos here do, so I will refer to him as "Tom Cat" now.
My friend from Florida is still working as an oblate, lay person, at the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras, but is cutting back his duties there to concentrate on a graphic arts design website he is currently working on.
Since Tom will not (understandably) commit to being a full-fledged monk which would involve giving up beer and women, the multi-talented American is content with his current status quo as "brother" at the monastery, though he will no longer use the moniker outside the grounds.
The lanky American expat in the Philippines lives on a secluded property owned by the local Cistercian Order at the Trappist Monastery, and Tom affectionately calls it "The Farm." He spent many hours and a ton of money to renovate the peaceful paradise he know resides on.
So when my asawa and I visited Guimaras for the recent Manggahan Festival, Tom graciously let us stay for a couple of nights, and his visiting friend from Florida, the amicable "Fearless Frank, " gave up his guest bedroom on the first floor and retreated to the refurbished basement.
The first night of the festival Tom Cat and his girlfriend, LenLen (see next photo of the couple taken at The Shirven Hotel in Guiamaras), one of my asawa's many attractive relatives, along with Frank, joined us as we took a trike ride to the mango fest grounds to check out the festivities.
After a few beers and another taste of balut for me, twilight fled the festival grounds, and we soon heard the strains of a band on a nearby stage. Frank decided to return to "The Farm" but made up for that party as the "fearless" one and I joined forces the next evening for some fun.
A band from Iloilo City, The First Edition (pictured below), were playing some covers of popular tunes. The crowd was fairly apathetic and our quartet of party-goers were the only ones applauding or making any noise.
We were fairly close to the stage which was blocked by a fence that was put up to contain the crowd for the ABS-CBN Kampamilya Karavan and featured the cast of the "Walang Hanggan" show which was held earlier in the afternoon. I had never watched the show, but the following Filipinos shown racing to the stage in the next photo certainly must had.
But I guess the group assembled in front of the stage to hear the Iloilo City band wasn't warmed up yet. Our entourage had been drinking a few bottles of San Miguel Pale Pilsen by then along with a couple of mango shakes spiked with Tanduay Rhum. We were ready to party.
So when the lead male vocalist asked if anyone in the crowd was single and wanted to come onstage, I slipped behind the Tom Cat and pointed at him. The singer called him onstage, and he obliged. I was roaring with laughter!
But as seen in the lead picture at the beginning of this post, it didn't look like ol' Tom was too shy. I don't know what LenLen was thinking, but I was yelling at him from the stage and being my usual obnoxious self (but even more so when I've imbibed a few beers.)
Tom finally got off stage and thankfully LenLen didn't bash him up alongside of the head with a bolo. We listened to a few more songs and made our way back to the festival grounds and caught a trike ride back to "The Farm" to settle in for the evening.