It’s fiesta time at our sleepy barangay on the island province of Guimaras. When I first heard my asawa mention that it was time for their annual celebration, I scratched my head (not my butt this time) and wondered out loud: “Why was an Asian country celebrating what I thought was a Mexican tradition?”
Of course, any student of world history, knows that the Philippines was a colony of Spain for over 300 years. And since history was one of my favorite subjects in school, it should have come as no surprise to me that fiestas would also be celebrated in the archipelago: most Filipinos I know do like to dance, drink and eat. And you can find all of those elements in a fiesta and more.
So after my initial bewilderment, I celebrated my first fiesta in Guimaras at “The Compound,” my spouse’s home in a “subdivision” known for its muddy, cow-poop laden roads. Regular readers that have been with me since the days of “The Rooster Crows at 4am!” will not be shocked to learn that the road is even muddier and there is still no shortage of cow manure on the path.
After six years of living in the Philippines I’ve celebrated a few fiestas and festivals and have learned that it is wise not to try and keep up with any relatives in their consumption of Red Horse Beer during these celebrations.
However, if you want to suffer the effects of one of the worst hangovers in your entire life, go ahead. Don’t say that you haven’t been warned.
Regular readers of Philippines Plus will also know that I will occasionally extol the “virtues” of beer drinking and have been known to quaff an adult beverage or two with fellow expats.
Truth is, I’ve only had two beers in the last four weeks. No, I’m not a recovering alcoholic as some people might have been led to believe, I haven’t been hanging out with the usual group of suspects and have been busy with projects at our new home in the Philippines.
This post will also feature the return of comments to Philippines Plus. I will attempt to answer any comments on a daily basis. Six years of living in the Philippines have given me some insight into living here which, quite truthfully, cannot be garnered on a two-week vacation.
I do know something about living in paradise, so if you’re receptive to advice from an old fart geezer expat, then this blog might be the place you could pick up a kernel of wisdom.
However, there are guidelines for leaving comments.
- NO FOUL LANGUAGE
- NO BASHING OF ANY OTHER COMMENTATOR
While I have used some offensive language in the past, that will no longer be the case. I will delete any comments that I deem too offensive or abusive. This is my website. I have advertisers. The advertisers demand certain standards. Call it censorship if you like but this website puts pesos in my pockets.
This year’s fiesta time is low-keyed for our family. We don’t live in the same barangay anymore and we’re not even going to go into town to visit relatives and eat and drink which is the traditional way to celebrate.
We did take our little niece and nephew to the carnival last night but our niece “JalAmiel” said the Ferris Wheel was going too fast and since that was the only ride, the kids spent the bulk of their time gambling.
Alright, now you might think that minors wouldn’t be allowed to gamble in the Philippines. Au contraire, my little buttercup, the kids played a game of chance where they bet and won (or lost) as many pesos as they could.
There’s no age limit on this carnival gambling game. As long as the kids didn’t bet our new house, I didn’t care. They were having fun.
After finding some french fries for 15 pesos, my wife and I were watching our niece and nephew when a man approached me: “Do you know English?” he asked.
“O o,” I replied in the local language, “yes.”
Standing before me was an African American man from Seattle. He had spotted me in the crowd, “you’re like a giant,” he informed me, though I am only six feet tall. But compared to the typical Filipino, one of the smallest people on the planet, on average, I do stand out.
Michael was waiting to ride the Ferris Wheel. At 20 pesos a ride, 43¢, it’s a bargain that one can’t find in the States.
I chatted with Michael for a few minutes while he waited for the carnival ride to resume. I always ask any foreigner I meet as to why they are in the Philippines. I explain my nosiness by informing them I have a website where I write about living in the Philippines.
Michael was on a mission with some friends participating in “Doctors without Borders.” He had visited the local hospital in Guimaras that day and was not sure how long he would be in Guimaras. He left me the following card, however:
After handing me the card, Michael excused himself. The Ferris Wheel ride was starting again! After the ride was over, the American returned and I remarked, that by the number of job skills listed on his business card, that he was quite the Renaissance Man.
We chatted for a few minutes, shook hands, and remarked that we might meet each other again. I hope so. He was quite a pleasant man to chat with and I would enjoy speaking with him again, fiesta or not.
Oh, and for those readers out there keeping count, I only had one bottle of beer the whole evening. A warm bottle of San Miguel Pale Pilsen. And after that, I had to pee.