Papa Duck. No doubt you’ve seen that nom de plume on various expat websites regarding the Philippines. “Papa” was a regular commentator on this website. I doubt that he missed leaving a remark on any post I’ve done (when I had my comments section open.) My asawa and I had the pleasure of meeting “Papa” and his girlfriend as they visited Iloilo City this past week. It was the American’s first visit to the Philippines.
Papa Duck, aka, “Randy W.”, is a good guy. Smart. He’s got a plan. Only in his early fifties, he will be able to retire to the Philippines in less than two years. He’s been corresponding with his Filipina girlfriend, Ann, for five months. He’s not a player. He didn’t come to “paradise” and get sucker-punched by every pretty pinay that smiled at him. Like I said. He’s smart.
Papa D has one of the most important traits you need to survive in this archipelago: common sense. If you don’t have it, stay put. You’re not going to make it in the Philippines.
Randy has done his homework. He regularly reads this website and other sources of information such as Bob Martin’s “Live in the Philippines.” Papa knows his stuff. Information he has gleaned from American expats that currently live in the PH helped him immensely on his inaugural visit.
But Papa D and I both agreed that nothing can prepare you for the chaos you face when you step out of NAIA for the first time and face the mass of humanity, noise, heat and humidity that is Manila. You have just stepped into another dimension.
Randy brought over a ton of stuff for us from the States. Three year supplies of ibuprofen, folic acid, low dose aspirin and a bunch of chocolate goodies. We can’t buy those medicines in bulk, at least not in Iloilo, and Papa’s kindness is greatly appreciated.
He also took us out to lunch at SM City and dinner at The Shirven Hotel in Guimaras. There was a Storm Signal 1 when we left Parola Dock in Iloilo. Weather wasn’t that bad and not very windy but the boat crew were still charging P20 each instead of the usual P14 because of “bad weather.” All passengers were being levied the same amount, not just the kanos.
We were off to see Brother Tom, aka “Tom Cat.” I told Randy there was no need to text my American expat friend ahead of time. My wife and I had set him up with our relative, LenLen, seated next to the bespectacled grinning Tom in the first photo. He is forever in our debt.
(Tom in his pre-LenLen days when he sported a beard. Guess who requested that he shave it off?)
Randy wouldn’t let us pay for anything. He wanted to show his appreciation for the help this website, PhilippinesPlus, has given him. It’s readers like Randy that makes this all worthwhile.
Arrived at Jordan Wharf in Guimaras and took the jeepney to San Miguel to visit Tom at “The Farm.” Papa Duck and I stuffed ourselves into the back of a tricycle and we took off. My niece Michelle had come with us per Randy’s request. Her twin sister April was working that day and could not come along. We sent a text message to fellow American expat friend, Scott B, to see if he wanted to meet us in Guimaras.
A light rain was coming down as we arrived at the front gate of “The Farm” where Tom and LenLen were getting ready to enter.They had just been in town to get a load for their cell phone. I apologized for not warning him ahead of time that we were coming and introduced him to Papa Duck and Ann. Tom had not gotten any rest the previous night but was as gracious a host as ever and offered Papa and yours truly a cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen. He got some mango juice for the ladies.
We received word from Scott B that he would be leaving Iloilo at 1:30. It was now 1:45. Told him we would be at Lisa’s (Talaban) but thanks to Randy’s generosity we headed over to The Shirven Hotel which had frosted mugs to drink our Pale Pilsen with and has a Fish and Chips platter which is my favorite menu item there.
My asawa sent a message to Scott B to inform him of our change of locales but she had already received a message from our American expat friend that he was only ten minutes away. He must have left Iloilo earlier. We were still at “The Farm” and needed to walk over to the nearest trike stand to catch a ride to The Shirven.
(I had my old grey beard in the photo above. No one requested I shave it. Made me look even older than the 60-year-old geezer I am.) We asked Maricel if she had seen our friend. She replied “no.” We then got a message from Scott that he was walking around.
We order a round of San Miguel Pale Pilsen but we are disappointed to learn there is only one frosted mug left. The other mugs have been broken. We adapt and drink straight from the bottle. Scott shows up but he’s only drinking water for the day. Tom is stretched out on a table in the hotel lobby resting. Maricel then informs us that she had seen Scott earlier.
After a couple of beers and some chitchat, Papa Duck suggests we order dinner. I order my usual fish and chips and while we waiting for our dinner, we’re advised that the last pump boat from Guimaras to Iloilo might be leaving at 5:00 pm because of the weather. It’s raining but not that windy, but since it’s already 4:00, I’m getting a little concerned.
Our food soon arrives and after we finish and Randy pays the bill…again… we decide we better take off. We had planned to visit the nearby Trappist Monastery but walk over to the jeepney stand where all we find are tricycles. No jeepneys in sight. It’s already 5:20. We’re told that the last boat is now going to leave at 6:00. That doesn’t leave us much time. If we don’t get on that boat, we’ll have to find a place to stay in Guimaras for the evening.
The rain is coming down. It’s getting dark. Still no jeepneys. Randy suggests we take two trikes. He’s paying the fare (P150 for each tricycle.) I take him up on the offer. I don’t know if we’ll make it to the Jordan Wharf in time or not. It’s about a 20-25 minute ride. But we have to try.
(to be continued)