First time I spied Larry, a crew member of the pump boat, Tawash, not long after arriving in the Philippines in July 2009, I actually thought he was an American. Found out he's 100% Filipino. Tall guy, graying, good-looking man with a perpetual tan from being out on the Strait of Guimaras all day and always sporting a big smile. I've spoken to him several times and we've joked around and lately we have been greeting each other as "amigo." Just learned his name a few days ago after we had a long conversation on the way home to Guimaras and found out some surprising information about my new Filipino friend.
Been busy the last few days making visits to various doctors and hospitals in Iloilo for checkups for my wife and I (more on that later) and saw Larry at the Jordan Wharf in Guimaras standing by his craft the other morning as his pump boat was almost ready to depart. I remarked to him that I'm sorry we didn't get to board his boat as we were given tickets to ride The Messiah. Told him that maybe on the way home from Ortiz Dock in Iloilo City, we would be lucky and get a ticket to the Tawash since the Tawash had the best pump boat crew in Guimaras. He laughed and shook my hand, and I went on my way to join my asawa on The Messiah.
After a fruitless day of waiting for a gynecologist/obstetrician at St. Paul's Hospital in Iloilo, my wife and I arrived at the Ortiz Dock late that same afternoon to return to "The Compound" in Guimaras. So happens that the next boat departing was the Tawash. My new amigo Larry was talking to some of his fellow crew members along the narrow walkway leading to the boats waiting for the pump boat to fill up, and I stopped to inform him that my asawa and I would be boarding his vessel.
He was happy to hear I would be on his boat. I shook his hand and went ahead to navigate the narrow steps of the Ortiz Dock to board the Tawash. Believe me, unless you can swim, you do not want to be too full of San Miguel or Red Horse beer when you negotiate the misshapen concrete stairs for each individual docking section; you'll quickly find yourself in the water if one of the pump boat crew members helping passengers on board cannot grab you.
Since I had stopped to chat and buy some bottled water for the trip home, there was no room for me to sit by my asawa so I had to take a seat in the last row of seats. My amigo came back and sat next to me on the boat rail and proceeded to chat. His English was quite good, and he understood my "English Slang." I introduced myself as "Dave," and he told me he was "Larry." "Larry, " I repeated. "That's quite a common American name." I then discovered Larry had six children, all girls, and he lived right in Jordan in Guimaras near the dock. His oldest daughter was in her third year of high school and was a talented piano player and singer, and was going to get a scholarship to go to a university in Iloilo. It was obvious he was quite proud of her.
I tactfully asked him how he could support six children, and he informed me that his wife and he were co-owners of the Tawash. I was quite impressed. I later found out from my wife that Larry owned three boats, but did not boast about that to me. I would have. He then told me something else that I was quite surprised by. Didn't expect this information at all. But I have to wind this up and get ready to go to Iloilo with my wife to get some test results fr0m Doctor's Hospital for a mammogram my asawa just had. I'll conclude this tomorrow and reveal Larry's surprise.i