First, there were eight motorcycles involved and not two. Furthermore, five to six police officers from the Philippine National Police were involved and not just a couple.
It All Started with One Beer
Secondly, the incident involved alcohol. However, that probably doesn’t come as a shock. In fact, the episode involved an American and an Eastern European friend.
Now the American part is likely not too surprising for many readers. However, there are very few Eastern Europeans in Guimaras, to my knowledge, and my acquaintance likes to quaff a beer…or two.
Now this reckless event occurred during the annual Manggahan Festival held in San Miguel, Jordan, Guimaras. Guimaras is the island province my Filipina wife and I reside on. I retired here almost ten years ago with my loving spouse.
Mangoes, Beers, and Boisterous Bands
Manggahan is the yearly celebration of the mango. Guimaras is famous for their mangoes. However, mangoes, beer, and boisterous bands playing in the wee hours of the morning sometimes fuel unacceptable social behavior.
However, everyone probably has their own definition of what is “socially unacceptable.” Hence, while millions of people follow traditional Judeo-Christian ethics, I sometimes miss the mark.
Furthermore, I’m not excusing unwarranted acts of stupidity; I’m merely echoing Kris Kristofferson’s hit, “Why Me, Lord?”
I had way too much to drink that evening at Manggahan. My Eastern European friend wouldn’t let me pay for one single of Pale Pilsen. Free beer without my wife’s supervision is a dangerous combination. My asawa had gone off to the carnival area with our nieces and nephews leaving me to fend for myself.
Beer No More
As I type out the words to this article with my fat fingers, I haven’t had any sort of alcoholic beverages for almost three months now. Frankly, I really don’t care for beer that much or any adult beverage. I’m just as happy sipping a Mountain Dew or Coke out of a plastic bag with a paper straw.
Yes, “paper straw.” Some chuckle-head politician in nearby Iloilo City banned the use of plastic straws. Do you think the proposed Manila Bay clean up will be aided by a plastic straw ban?
Probably not. However, a ban on squatters living along the bay, all 200,000 families in all, are likely contributing more to the bay’s pollution than plastic straws ever could.
A Whiff of Upcoming Trouble
Finally, let’s get back to the motorcycles.
I sensed there was going to be trouble. We had parked our Aurora blue Ford Ranger XLT in some parking spaces located near government offices in San Miguel, Jordan. San Miguel, Jordan is our province’s capital.
It was after 6 pm and when we parked our vehicle there were no motorcycles in sight. However, we found it necessary to return to our truck to retrieve something later, and I saw about three or four motorcycles surrounding our Ranger, all illegally parked, none of them in the yellow lines clearing marking the parking spaces.
Laws are Ignored
However, as anyone that has lived in the Philippine for any amount of time already knows, any kind of lane divider, road signs, and any white or painted lane markers on the road are merely suggestions.
Frankly, 99.99% of the tricycle, jeepney and motorcycle operators ignore them. Along with the owners of private vehicles, too. Law enforcement for the rules of the road? Pretty well nonexistent on our island province.
I’ve done informal surveys on the number of motorcyclists and their passengers who actually wear helmets, as required by law throughout all the Philippines.
I’ve only seen a 10% compliance with the helmet law in Guimaras, and my surveys cover thousands of motorcyclists and was taken near the government capital.
Because I wanted to get back to my friend (who wants to leave a man alone drinking by himself?) I figured the motorcycles would be gone by the time we left Manggahan.
I was wrong.
Back to the Bottle
Making my way through the massive Manggahan crowds, I again joined my drinking buddy. I have no idea as to how many cups of San Miguel Pale Pilsen I consumed. Bottles of beer weren’t made available that year for the first time that I can remember.
Some eateries were allowing a foreigner to quaff his adult beverage from a bottle. This wasn’t one of them. Because my Eastern European friend was buying, I wasn’t complaining about the paper cups.
My wife returned from time to time, but I could tell by the look in her eye that I had already consumed too many Pilsens to suit her. My usual limit was only two bottles of beer whenever we went out. I far exceeded that number that evening.
Seems like the party for us ended early, around midnight. My nieces and nephews had returned from the carnival with my wife, and we decided to return home.
Boxed in by the Bikes
However, as soon as I spied eight motorcycles surrounding our Ford Ranger, I went ballistic. We were boxed in from the front, back, and both sides.
We couldn’t go straight due to the parking blocks in front of our vehicle along with the motorcycles. Backing up was our only option to get out but that would require moving the two or three bikes right behind us.
We would also have to move the motorcycles on both sides of our truck as they were almost touching our vehicle.
I was pissed and started shouting for someone to come and move their bikes. However, with a band blasting their music from a wall of speakers, chances of the bikers hearing me weren’t very good.
That said, I was heard. Months later at an expat meeting on our island province, one of the resident foreigners remarked that he heard a “foreigner” shouting at Manggahan regarding motorcycles blocking his truck.
That was me, I remarked.
Here come the Police!
I started moving some of the motorcycles along with some help from my wife and a niece that was with us. Still shouting at the top of my lungs, I finally drew the attention of the police who were standing less than four meters away. I had just accidentally dropped a bike.
This doesn’t look good.