Sep 30, 2019

I woke early to the sound of nature coming to life. Hundreds of roosters competed for ascendancy all over the mountainside and across the valleys. A variety of birds sang their gloriously melodic morning songs. Crickets provided their contribution to the magical sounds. The dark red sun suddenly changed color to bright yellow. Another day on the island had begun. The beauty of the moment was not lost on me. I felt grateful.

By the time you read this article, the elections will have been over. 

I’ll be glad about that. I’ll no longer have to endure the loud blasting of politicians’ promises that will never be fulfilled. 

But there is an occasionally- amusing aspect to the elections. It’s the posters. Some of the male candidates are so unappealing they are frightening. They look heavily drugged, drunk, or both. Photos on their posters could have been taken while they were serving prison sentences. 

One candidate in Cebu actually had been released from prison for theft from the people, but still will be re-elected. How is that possible? 

And there is one lady candidate who looks so uncomfortable being photographed she seemed to be screaming, “Quick, take the darned photo!” 

I notice several prominent Philippine families have candidates running. One has a candidate falsely claiming to be a graduate from an Ivy League American university. Her dishonesty will no doubt serve her well when she is inevitably elected.

Also confirming election time is here, we suddenly have work being done on two stretches above Bong-bong on what could hardly be called roads. While we have some concrete surfaces here, much of the drive up the mountain after Bong-bong Elementary School is simply rocks that probably date back to early colonial times. 

What I don’t understand is that apart form vote-seeking, what precisely is the purpose of the work? After a week, they have cleared many rocks and stones but have, so far, only poured sand. When it rains, it’s dangerous to drive with huge amounts of wet much making it impossible to keep one’s balance. 

All work has now stopped. Hopefully, in four years time, when the next major election comes, the project will finally be completed. 

I’ve only one election promise I’d appreciate the politicians fulfilling: Will you guarantee that within one month after the election, you will please remove all those hideous election posters from all over the island and, no doubt, throughout the Philippines? 

Its summertime, and it’s really hot in downtown Dumaguete. The contrast is evident when I leave the mountain, and find my way down first to Valencia Proper, then to the Valencia Road where the heat is palpable. My Irish skin is not well suited to intense heat, but it’s a small price to pay when considering the benefits of living on this island.

Relationships in our modern world are becoming increasingly fragmented. 

What I find remarkable in the Philippines is the unique sense of community, of family, that is central to life here. 

Vhie’s mother was recently ill. The support she received from her family was, for me, remarkable. Sons, daughters, even cousins took their turns sitting by her mother’s hospital bedside while doing everything possible to make her comfortable.

I recently witnessed a disturbing episode on Rizal Boulevard. I’d just enjoyed another excellent lunch at Sans Rival, and decided to walk along the boulevard before returning home. I sat briefly on one of the many benches, and was about to leave when I noticed a foreigner walk over and start speaking with two teenage girls. The curious Irish part of me insisted I stay and overhear what he wanted from them. He was a tall, well- dressed, and well-maintained American in his mid to late 60s. He spoke about Jesus and God, and instructed them how they should live their lives. 

My initial reaction was one of anger. Here was yet another form of imperialist colonialism from an arrogant foreigner forcing his beliefs, his opinions onto young Pinays who had not asked him to converse. 

I wanted to interrupt his flow, and tell him to back off on his rude interruption of the young ladies who had been simply trying to enjoy a quiet Friday afternoon on the boulevard. 

But I resisted. I knew what would soon happen and sure enough, just as I was leaving, out came the pamphlets and the invitation for the young girls to attend a meeting that evening. 

When I woke the next morning, I wondered if it was wrong, perhaps cowardly, not to have intervened. 

Why, among all the people sitting along the boulevards, did that foreigner only approach two, lovely, young girls? Why not me, an obviously-deviant sinner clearly in need of salvation? 

Hopefully, those girls simply went home, amused by the idiot foreigner. Hopefully, they are not now being groomed to be sex servants for that man under the pretense of religion. 

On a happier note, I was impacted yesterday by the sight of an old couple near the Silliman Medical Hospital. They walked silently, hand in hand. I wondered if they had just come out of the hospital and received news about medical tests. If not, they had surely survived the test of life, and withstood all of the challenges they faced together. I wondered if they had raised many or any children. What challenges had they faced over those years? Whatever they experienced, they had obviously come through their trials and tribulations as one unit, strong and undivided. 

One may not want to live long when the other dies. I lost sight of them, as they slowly but purposefully walked away down the street. 

Then my heart rejoiced for a beautiful couple who I may never again see, and whose names I may never know.