Only 30 minutes from my first Christmas turkey in over three years, when a motorcycle came roaring up to the front gates of the home of our new Canadian expat friend Fergus and his Filipina asawa, Rose. As the stranger on the motorcycle took off his helmet, his face was unrecognizable, but we soon found out his name was Larry. He was a cop, ex-cop that is, from Dade County, Miami, Florida back in the States. I only hoped that this visit from the American expat, who lived nearby and heard about the Christmas Eve celebration, would not divert Fergus from checking on the progress of the bird's arrival to the dinner table. Larry immediately launched into a passionate monologue into what he had been doing in his spare time. A recent post, "Top Ten Tips on Moving to the Philippines," had some great advice from readers which included tips to fight the "boredom" factor. Now that you've retired to the Philippines what are you going to do with all of your spare time. Spend it drinking in some bar in Angeles City or what?
I started writing a blog over two years ago after moving to the PH back in July 2009. Those two blogs metamorphosed into this current website, PhilippinesPlus. It keeps me busy and gives me the opportunity to meet new friends like Fergus and Larry.
My new Canadian expat friend, Fergus, has been busy writing a book on the historic churches of Iloilo. His asawa Rose has been traveling with him all over Panay Island photographing these beautiful old structures. You absolutely will not find the details and pictures anywhere else on this topic than what you can find in Fergus' book.
I'm excited to keep my readers posted on the progress of this endeavor. Fergus will be launching his new website dealing with this project, and I'll be announcing that website and a new free presentation of his book soon.
Now Larry has quite a rewarding and unique way to keep himself occupied. He's been helping prepare children and young adults with facial cleft deformities for their life-changing operations. The organization that he heads has helped over 400 children thus far. You can get more details about this worthwhile cause at the website for Operation Yuhum. He's also involved in getting books donated to the Philippines. Over 10,000 books, magazines and journals have been sent thus far. More info can be found here.
I kept my eye on Fergus who was continually excusing himself to check on the progress of the Christmas turkey. The arrival of Larry did not dissuade him from his mission. My mouth was watering in anticipation of the feast. A steady stream of San Miguel Pale Pilsen helped to pass the time along with a homemade cream cheese dip and crackers along with fried spring rolls that our gracious hostess Rose provided.
I pronounced to Fergus that this was one of the best Christmases I had ever experienced. If my immediate family was not present, which really now amounts only to my Father who lives in Vegas and brother Rick in Springfield, Illinois, spending Christmas Eve with such good friends as these, is the next best thing. I was having a great time listening to Larry's stories as an ex-cop chasing drug runners (and being shot in the process) in Dade County. Sounded something straight out of "Miami Vice."
Larry was invited to stay for the Christmas Eve turkey dinner, and he accepted. Who could turn down such an offer? The fabulous bird soon arrived. I was elated! A large gathering of friends and relatives soon gathered at a table loaded with the turkey, ham, sheperd's pie (absolutely delicious), and a myriad of other delectable dishes. What a feast!
My asawa, official staff photographer for this website, took pictures, including the following one of Rose and her little niece. In the first photo, Fergus, Larry, and myself on the far left, that's homemade spiked eggnog I'm drinking. And it was good.
Fireworks came at midnight along with some music and dancing. Everyone seemed to be having an enjoyable time. I know I was. With my belly full of food and drink, Fergus delivered us to our home around 1 am after successfully navigating the almost empty streets to our home outside of Iloilo City except for a couple dozen dogs and parked jeepneys along the way.
I'm going to close with a photo I took earlier in the day of my asawa
as we made a mad dash to SM City early Christmas Eve to pick up some items we wanted to bring to the party. Now we were home after celebrating with our new friends. Another Christmas Eve has passed, but what a good one it was. Sure beats sitting at home watching endless Master Chef reruns on Star World any day!