Philippine Island Times Adventures of an American expat in the Philippines

December 1, 2008


Filed under: General — Donald @ 7:05 am


Alan was American, about 50, from Colorado where he owned a small construction business. The combination of slim, fit look and expensive Ray Bans said Boulder. He had been coming to the Philippines for years and sometimes taught diving.

“Where you staying?”

I hate that question, but he wasn’t a girl and seemed straight, so I told him.


“What room?”

Christ. Never even heard that one before.

“I don’t remember. Up there”, I said, waving vaguely.

“C”. The girl behind the bar was trying to be helpful.

“C?” His voice was instantly dry.

“Yeah, C.”


Alan became tense. He leaned across the chair between us but then glanced at the barmaid and said nothing. Finally he switched seats and whispered, “You will hear things. L is worse. Not as bad as L, but things happen there.”

“What do you mean?” Pending financial maneuvers compelled me to carry a lot of cash, cash that I could not trust to the “safety” deposit. I didn’t need bad news.

“Girls crying outside your door, scratching…children crying…voices. I woke up there one night and the voices were in my room.”

Great. C was the cheapest room in the cheapest pension in a huge, festering Philippine metropolis. Because I had to be in town for quite a while to sort out some business matters that had become convoluted and treacherous it was about all I could afford. Conveniently, it was also the last place anyone would look for a guy like me. I had stayed in a better wing of the pension before and like Alan I had heard girls crying outside my door at night, but I did not want them in my room.

“Seemed ok to me, except it was filthy. I cleaned for an hour.”

“The girls won’t go in. Only if there are three of them; one in the room, one in the hall, one in the CR.”

“This used to be my home base. Room L. But one time I had to travel for a couple of days and when I got back there was a whole city in there. I found 30 or 40 people in my room.”

“Motorcycles. They had motorcycles. I tried to get out but I couldn’t. Tried for two hours, but they kept pulling me back in.” The look of terror in Alan’s eyes was one I had seen before.

“They slaughtered a cow in there. And the worst thing about the motorcycles, they had an iron bar. It was welded across the back…ten men chained to it. Their hands were tied.”

The barmaid had drifted off a bit and her gaze was turned away. Alan and I talked for another twenty minutes or so before someone else took a seat nearby and distracted him.

That was this afternoon. It’s late now and Alan has just shown up at the bar again. I’m off to bed, in C.


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