Philippine Island Times Adventures of an American expat in the Philippines

May 21, 2007

Death and Death Wishes

Filed under: General — lapulapu @ 6:59 am

Most of what I know about Santa Catalina comes from news articles about skirmishes between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, rowdy offshoot of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Recalling those stories made our brief participation in a funeral procession there yesterday particularly thought provoking.

Funeral procession, Santa Catalina

Upon approaching the bus to board a couple of hours earlier I had been stopped by the driver. He asked a series of pointed questions before allowing me to proceed. “You want to go to Bayawan?”, he began with a skeptical squint. “Why do you want to go there?” “Who recommended?” “What was his name?” A few months ago a Governor’s assistant told me she thought that half of the Americans on her island were CIA. It probably doesn’t help that on this trip I’m carrying my laptop in a brushed aluminum Zero Halliburton case. He did let me on, though, and the trip passed uneventfully. By the time we arrived we had become friendly and he helped me get a ride to the hotel.

Bayawan is in the sugar cane growing region of western Negros. It is said to have the longest oceanfront boulevard in the country, long enough that even with every family in town eating barbeque there on Sunday evening it is peaceful and uncrowded.

Bayawan Beach

The street itself is, apart from Roxas Boulevard in Manila, the only four-lane, median-divided thoroughfare I remember seeing in the Philippines, which is pretty interesting since Bayawan is sparsely populated and most of the large vehicles are bicycles with sidecars. The town is charming and clean and seems fairly prosperous at the moment. Sugar prices must be ok. I didn’t find the people there quite as friendly as in other Philippine communities I’ve visited, though, replicating my experience on a previous excursion into sugar country. In several hours of walking I never saw another foreigner, and judging from the low level of English proficiency in the shops, that was no fluke. My guess is people might warm a bit if I spent more time there, but that isn’t going to happen on this trip. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends since my arrival and really needed some sleep last night. One of these guys camped outside my room made sleep impossible, and I don’t know of another aircon hotel in town.

Fighting Cock

I’m beginning to understand the appeal of watching fighting cocks rip one another to shreds. Tonight I’m back in Dumaguete, which has a nice boulevard of its own.

Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete

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