The last two days in Manila, the last days of an amazing stay on the Philippines, a journey closer and closer to myself, exploring balance and peace of mind.
After a miserable try to get my head tattooed here in Manila, for god sake I was sober enough not to go for the turd I would have now to endure, I decided to kill some beers, slaughter a pig and hunt some punters down. Best company I can imagine, my spiritual brother Levi. We met at the Kalinga tribe. We met and set. Sometimes something happens for good. I would have been rather on my single room, meditating the pain, sticked with my head on the pillow. Instead, raging the disappointment of a failed inked landmark, I ended up with best people, drinking, enjoying the alternative of Makati and its red light district, hanging out with artists, all kinds of boarders, dudes and other eminently precious scum. At places I would have never discovered by my own, realizing again the wide variety of choices you have here in Manila. With pride and self-awareness, hearty and naughty. Subversive and angry. – The glossy nightmares of the Manila. Thank you Levi for introducing me to your crew and for introducing yourself as a bro. Thank you home, thank you Kalinga. Some – not even – bars reminded me of Berlin, boozy but without vegan burgers. A gang needs blood between its anger, right? Other places of Munich, posh, classy but with a metropolitan taste, the salient contrast. And Red Horse, the worst dark beer I ever had to suffer, in particular the following day. This is what I was searching for! Some rigid asian subculture. Fuck my head, fuck the inky souvenir, this is a start, this is worth the disapointment – shame on me I was, what the fuck, move on! One more many-reasons to return. The shared gratefulness leaves me as humble as fullfilled. I guess I am getting on my old days a bit spiritual, even though no worries, sacrificing on the sarcastic part of a vomitive karma. I was back at the guesthouse on 4 a.m. Alone, sneaking in, no reports, no records, no bragging about… guess I start to peel off my backpack. My notebook holds again some pages of passionate fury about the behaviour of the so called backpacker community. But you know what, I am not part of this world. I don´t waste my energy anymore on them. I sneak and hide, I tear my heart and rage if necessary, but I don´t waste my focus because of their existence, which is more a rustling noise, small human beings. “You wanna join us?” “I never wanted, my loved munchkin in the grass.” Oh, I feel the sour waves of anger rolling against my abundance of arrogance – switch.
On the next day I woke up in a the dark arse of the Red Horse. The last day before I catch the plane tomorrow morning. And my plan was to visit Cesar and the homeless in the cemetery, bring some cash with me and see how they are doing. My body was hardly movable. Neither focusing worked, no horizon in the dark arse in sight. And I knew, the visit will be intense and I will have to put myself together, not to break out in tears or feeling uncomfortable, paranoid by inattention, hang over damage. I crawled outside, nervously twinkling behind sunglasses. Had a bagel, a muffin, a coffee, felt more worst after. The light was loading up, yellow laminated darkened sky. I needed to go. I will feel very bad if I wouldn´t have kept my promise and more not knowing how they are, because of a drunken selfish fun night. No remorse. Cesar was in front of the entrance, greeting me with a smile, guiding me inside, explaining to a guy I haven´t seen before, sitting on the ground, under a pink pillow, homemade security post, that I was here before and I am only here to talk to him, Cesar, he translated. “My sister was suspicious about you too, but I told her, Florian only tries to help us and he will come back, you will see.” We passed his former grave for the night. It was demolished. The church, by order of the descendants, closed the memorial. So Cesar had to move to his daughters place. They share now a family grave, split up with a baffle made of cardboard boxes, the roof patched up by all kinds of plastic, about not a lower arm high from the stony mattress. “When it is raining like yesterday at night, we can not sleep, it´s leaking and very loud.” On one side the tomb is broken at the top, the coffin half rotten, revealing a still for god sake half covered by a red shroud decaying head. As we approached the family grave Cesar was shouting in tagalo, “[…] Florian […] Florian!” Some kids followed, one of the younger girls holding my hand, smiling. She was so scared when I first was here, about 28 days ago. The daughter welcomed me like the most of the residents of this surrealistic hell, unconfident, but denying. Ceasr explained, that the other part of the cemetery is abandoned now. The more younger homeless, more involved in illegal art of survival, opened all the coffins, took everything, what has a value, gold teeth, jewelries and other grave goods. I had to think of my bro Travis. The tomb raider would only find a pebble, covered by stacked blood, a wandering mojo. “The father was complaining why me or the others didn´t stop them. How can I? They are young and violent. They don´t want to work. They could easily find a job there”, pointing on the threatening construction site just directly behind the north wall of the cemetery, “but they are lazy. I am over-aged. Hopefully I can renew my driver license so I can work as a taxi driver. I have a friend, he is the owner of a taxi company, he promised to offer me a job if I have the licence.” I saw tears in his eyes. Again, like the visit before, the smiles disappeared, their heads falling down, I am again surrounded by hanged man, the living deads. I prepared already an envelope with some cash. When I gave Cesar the money, he didn´t even check how much it is, putting it ashamed in his pocket. This time he pleased me not to tell the others. “I need the money, Florian, I need a job. I need the money to renew my licence.” He has not to explain anything to me. Who am I to judge how he should spend the money. I feel very touched by him, in person, his fortune, his past, his wife, who already was condemned to death, the doctor, who took advantage and embedded him and his children to the vicious circle of poverty. Improving his life means improving the lives of the other 7 families, living here. I would never forget. “I hope next time, when you come back, I can offer you a chair, I can rent an apartment.” Tears rising, “Close your heart, close, not now, not here.” Rain was starting. “Please don´t tell the guard, ok?” “No worries, Cesar, I have some more money, I can give him, so he will not ask.” I told cesar the money I gave him is fundraised. I feel better if he thanks not me in person, which only works in my mind, but it works. We walked around. “You see my cats. We have snakes next to our sleeping place, I feed the cats to keep them alive, when the snakes approach, they will warn us.” I delivered the rest of my money to Bird, the guard, who is installed by the church. Suddenly his grumpy look turns into a smile. “Please share to the others.” Less smile. The kids posed for some pictures, calling me “Mr. Tattoo!”, after “Hello Florian.” They remembered me. I promise to return. I promise it from the bottom of my heart. I wish Cesar… it sounds so not enough… heart, bottom, wish… “I thank god for sending you again, that he used you as an instrument, to suport me in the right moment.” Writing this makes me crying… if man are that lost, only their belief keeps them alive… his god took everything from him… I still see the deeply rooted desperation of his lostness, emptiness. “I will be back, Cesar, I promise and we will have coffee at your apartment.” We both, maybe I persuade myself of, have tears in our eyes. Maybe because we know, that just to believe in a shift of fortune, needs more than an image of a godness. But there is now a tiny chance… sometimes it seems something is pulling the strings. Coincidence of the coincidence.
Thank you Philippines, thanks to all of you, my brothers and… no sisters yet… anyway, thank you, I return, guess this is my tip of the hat and I pull it, you metaled my day, in a most surpising inspiring and illuminating way.
I was starting to miss my excercise. Rooms are not spacious enough to unroll my therefore stupid space-sapping yoga mattress. For a run in the morning it´s not cooltastic enough to get my pace on the street. So I decided to do a hike. There must be a possibility, I mean, the easy living, in low season, during high the locals feel like starngers, town center of El Nido, the fishing port, the romantically – I use this term in the last couple of weeks a bit too often for my taste, but can´t yet find another metapher for the paradises I am able to stay; maybe kitchy, yes – so, the kitchy located bay, where all the tourism, guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, resorts and tour pick ups have taken its place, for a reason, is surrounded by towering limestone rocks, pounding the jungle´s thicket, like a cracked terra snarl, vertically to the top, vines long enough to swing from tower to tower, theoretically, but the finishing line for today. I mean walk up there, not to find my Jane. There must be a smooth, but exhausting way, I supposed, in my imagination serpentines guiding upwards, offering amazing outlooks on the Southchinese Ocean, with the tiny to huge, buoys-like to comet-like, offshore islands and coral reefs, which are not only because of the fishing, still, after declared as a marine protected area, suffering thousands of footprints, tourists jumping and stepping with their waterproofed high tech shoes, armed with GoPros, from arriving tour boats to reach hidden beaches and snorkel in a dying sea world. Not to mention the anchors, crushing in and through. I did the tour, tour C, A to C, and I felt horrible, even though I was with filipinos, but what does it matter when faced with the impacts of a stretching economoy, protected or not. The Pacman was also allowed to buy on of this islands. So who cares anyway. I only felt envious of some divers I spotted. Fucking shoulder. And the soloing! I mean, I don´t consider myself as a climber, but soloing, cliffside, what a nice splash! But I didn´t want to mess it up, still Cambodia and Sri Lanka to discover, before they will remove the plate and I return, for sure, I wanna see the wrecks, whale sharks and dying or not, but seaworld and there must be, without behaving like a roller. So back to the rocks, I asked one of the staff of the guesthouse, three young guys, singing all day long and looking sort of a boy group, so I gave them names like Donnie or Joey. Donnie offered me to company me. But I pleased him not, jsut to show me the starting point, “No way, you have to work, I don´t want to disturb you. No worries.” Actually I wanted to be just with the challenge. And do it my own way. “Did you do rock climbing before?” “Rock climbing? No, but I saw some guys today in the morning at the top, so there must be a way, without climbing. No?” “I can show you, no problem.” Everything is always very far away, only in driving distance, “Walking? Are you serious?!!!” So is the level of danger, I think, thought, well I am never sure, but mostly it runs well. At this time I had my doubts, when I answered him, “Thank you, that would be great, I want to excercise a bit, after sitting on buses, tricycles and boats.” Yesterday I walked 5 km at noon to a beach, on the beach further till the end, till dogs started to chase me away, seriously. I loved the sweating. I loved to feel my body, my heart beating against my chest like a wild animal. Let´s go to the starting point! Passed some small alleys in the local part of the town, poor and welcoming, of course – poor rich world. We reached a small hut-like house, made of bamboo, some boards and plastic sacks as curtains. Ronnie was appearing, 44 years old, a white shirt with his name and a emblem, which tags him as a garbage collector. His son died last year in a motorbike accident, he will tell me later. He gets 175 pesos per day to collect and transport the heavy and lung-poisoning garbage sacks. Trekking guide is his second job, otherwise you couldn´t mantain his three other kids and his wife. Donnie and Ronnie talked in cebuano, I suppose, or maybe tagalog, pointing to some squattered rocks next to us, which I supposed must be the entrance, and up to the hill. “You sure you need no guide?” Donnie asked me. “I am sorry, I can not join.” “No worries. So, do I need a guide?” I knew already, yes I do, investigating the so called starting point. “Maybe better.” “Ok, are you free, Ronnie?” “Yes.” I liked him straight away, showing sparkling genuineness and gentleness.. “300?” “Ok.” Whatever. I don´t like to bargain about an expected worth experience. And he didn´t look like he enriches himself and even if, what da fuck! – “You are ready to go?” “Yes.” “No water?” “No.” “How long is the trek?” “Maybe 40 min. Slowly.” I had my running shoes on, swim shorts and my multifunctional longsleeve. My bag with camera and one liter of water, didn´t want to dehydrate as usual, so I felt pretty prepared. Ronnie, dressed in half-busted crocs, jeans and his white shirt, that´s it. Fucking arrogant locals, they jump in their flip flops and company your adventure. Fortunately he was not barefoot. Thank you, Ronnie. And the trek emerged as a serious rock climb. I was sweating, my knees shaking, not too bad, but I had to change quickly my expected need of awareness. The limestone rocks are sharp like knives, one false step and you can and will hurt yourself badly. I only touched a rocky blade and was bleeding immediately. Ronnie was apologizing. I felt embarrassed to be such a dumbass to hurt myself. He was warning me at each opportunity to bump my head, explaining me every step and grip. In respect of the rock and my health. Lovely guy, I told you. At the top he complained, of course in a charming way, that I was racing him up to the rocks. I just felt so overwhelmed by this surprisingly excercise and that my shoulder did a good job, and a bit scared, so move move on! Don´t think too much about, jsut do what you did before, climb! We enjoyed an amazing view, after a 30 min climb, height 1.400 meters, which I doubt, but anyway. The way down was as always more annoying and so more dangerous as well, especially because it started to rain and the knifes and its small peaks to step on turned into banana peels. we both reached the sea level save and in one piece.
After a short break at his doorstep with his kids staring at me their eyes carrouseling in curiosity, he demanded to follow me, with a torch in his hand. I had actually enough suprises for the day, but why not. Less than 100 meters away we stopped at a small cleft, horizontal cleft, barricaded with some planks and trash. “We go inside.” Haha. He was serious. “Ok.” I was already half in, with his one head smaller than me body. Skinny both. So I pressed myself through into a first cavern, not big enough to knee, but still a bit of enlighten by daylight. “I take your bag.” The ground was muddy, soil or compost. A jar of a pig I had suddenly in my hands. “Where we go now?” “Inside.” There was a one more tiny entrance, into the darkside of the rock. I squeezed through, for a moment I thought I am stucked and panic was quietly raising his scream. I took a deep breath and pushed my body through. Pitch black, but the second cavern was huge enough to stand and Ronnie switched his torch on. A sort of a huge spider running on the ground. Above us, beautiful stone formations, not really stalagmites, but the stone smooth and in coloured in blue and yellow at some spots. We moved to another room. I was still soaked with sweat, now filthy on top down inside. Then he solved why we are here. Baling Sasayaw. A bird, nesting in caves. Very rare to discover. The nest is precious, the spit used as medicine, good for boom-boom of course the boy group teached me after. “It strengthen your immune system.” He found a second class one on the ground, picked it up like a treasure, tiny, big enough for two eggs maybe, the spit onyl at one side, so this is how the birds fix the nest at the smooth walls of the caves. This is soooo, even now after, I can´t believe what I saw. One step away we found a first class one. Ronnie smiled. This is very valuable, worth 750 pesos, measuring maybe less than a palm. As we reached daylight again, really filthy and sweaty, a bunch of teens were looking at me, giggling. And also amazed by Ronnie´s yield.
That this bums always have to touch my heart in such an intense way. I departed contented and wishing him all the best. I could see in his eyes, he couldn´t wait to present the two nests to his wife and kids.
What was kind of an excercise!
It´s not an overload. I can´t enjoy the joyrides. I am with my mind in at the South Catholic Cemetary in Makati, with the Kalinga tribe in Buscalan – deeply tapped-in down down down to the bottom of my emotional and rational compassion and with the street kids in Cebu. Don´t get their moony eyes out of my perception, out of my memory, out of my understanding. And I don´t want to. I always thought I see. Now I saw and it´s badly painful, piercing my mind, I got blind by their unseeing eyes, stranded and hopeless. Searching for an eternal salvation. Deserving closer attention, at daylight and in my dreams, dreams, which lost their virility to change, to reate visions, instead vision in black, if there is no love, meaning no comprehension, no empathy anymore. I fear I can not support the capital, the mean to help, to provide them at least a moment of relief and feeling adopted by humanity. I feel misunderstood. I don´t have any qualification. I am not a social worker, even not a volunteer, not a missionary, how some of them named me. I am a snobbish bum, who searched for the real world and regained himself in the echo of blackness, which I supposed I left, experienced the beat of an achieved smile. I don´t understand why I was there and not beachside or in a shopping mall or at pimp´s place fucking for pleasure full of relish. I am not asking why, why me, I know why. I started this as a narcissist and I invented a myself, based on passion and burning flesh. “Saint Florian, spare my house, set others on fire.”, says the Floriani-principle. I don´t now how to use matches anymore. I lost the enemy on sight. Poverty is much more complicate than walking down the streets and raising your voice against the rich. You need to be rich to help. My constant worry is how to survive to help others surviving. Sustainable? Self-supporting? Feed with it a greedy child´s hand, life-aged, in my white keyboard-nursed hand. I am not scared. I will spare no effort to return and – do something, because this is more than nothing. I feel misunderstood. As an answer or a well-meant advice, some, maybe sorrowful about me, but this more embarrasses me, that I can not help everyone. – I don´t want to help everyone, but I can not forget the one, the humans I saw.
– The australian government is fueling public racism pretending to provide a warmly welcome for cambodian refugees, paying a corrupt system several million, sort of dropping a coin in a fortune’s crimson abyss.
As I arrived today on Palawan, Puerto Princesa, I bought a ticket for a mini-bus up to El Nido, a paradise of islands. The bus packed with travelers. A gay german with his filipino playmate. An american with his filipina, wife, girl-friend, prostitute whatever. A dutch couple. A dutch woman – she disqualified herself from the start, talking to her national mates, in dutch of course, but still I was unfortunately able to pick up, “Indonesia is more asia than here” – Yes, indeed, germany is more europe as spain, you stupid tit of a cow. Later on she talked and talked and talked… social worker, international, goverment programs, New York, Hong Kong, exciting, forced me to apply my headphones and turn on Kvist, high volume. A couple from east europe and a filipino couple, I will not mention anymore, because they just where as quite as a bamboo during typhoon. I was in a rage the whole ride. The german shot, non-exaggerated, every ten meters pictures with his automatic zoom camera, out of the car, presenting the result proudly his playmate, who only was able to simulate interest because they had nothing to talk about, except the tablet the german seem to presented him with. Once upon a time when there were only film cameras, good old times. So they all had their chit-chats. I was watching a dog, at the petrol station. A hellhound of a dog, dismissed from hell, no red glooming eyes, no gnawing teeth, no possession at all, a walking dead, a zombie with a deep shade. His back was ashgrey, skinless, a membrane covering his bones, at the ankles as thin as transparent. He could barely walk, his back in tow. The rest rotten brownish, not less skinny, pitful. My first thought was, why he not just dies, why he not gets hit by a car like so many dogs here. Why no other dogs attack and take his life? He trembling finds a position to crap. After he eats his stool and drags himself roadside. The dutch lady complains to the driver, around 80 km too late, about the 100 pesos she obviously paid too much, having not bargained. “All the others […]”, of course not proofed, “[…] paid 600!” and being proud of her humorless insisting and providing her anger some steam, narrating straight back on the bus in dutch about her heroic act, in this typical west-european hollow moaning ignorance, one reason I would heavily appreciate not have to return.
I am staring outside the window. the landscape, the mountainous green we pass is amazing. The villages we enter and exit, leaving a turmoil of dust behind… I arrived at night. I see plenty of small agencies offering tours to islands, caves. Dives and rides in a mighty paradise. And I just want to be alone. I don´t want to talk. I just want to return to return as fast as possible, to do what I feel I have to. Ease my pain. Satisfy another selfish feeling, turning to good, maybe.
Bohol. Paluan. Beautiful island to have a break. Even though, as expected, for my taste a bit too touristic. So I surrender as I arrived at the port, being ultrahigh on the fresh salty breeze, the sea and her romantic expanse and juicy petting. Drifted by tourist tours, beach fronts, fruit sellers and, again, pimps – “Only 200 pesos, cheap, students, they need money”. White scumbags exploiting filipino students. Easy living. Chocolate Hills. A weary micro tarsier farm, watching tourists shooting the tiny cute sissies. Butterfly farm, watching a wood spider cocooning a butterfly. Visiting destroyed churches, which is sort of fun, although it was not possible to enter. Ruins of insanity still resisting the wrath of god. Seems that someone was angry, I recognized only churches or chapels affected by the earthquake, less than a year ago, which has a lasting effect on tourism. Construction carcasses spreaded around the island. Anyway. Who cares, right. Beautiful and cheap filipinas and the white sand beaches are not even less wonderful, a haven for a senior postcard-paradise.
Locals are as lovely as expected, as everywhere here or elsewhere, inviting me for coconut juice, rhum or to marry their daughter.
The island itself doesn´t catch me as you might recognise. A black hole of inspiration. More charging, less turnout. Not like at places before. To touristic maybe, no crossroad to escape. No hills to trek, no tribes, no cultural or spiritual depth. Dead faint. But I don´t want to blame Bohol, maybe I just need to have a break, after this intense first two weeks on the Philippines. Finding a place which I would love to call home is quite an emotional impact, isn´t it. Still struggling with cold as well, so I had to omit the dive with the whale sharks as well. Snorkeling? Heard it´s astonishing. Laziness is my choice, spiced with joyrides around the island. I more and more realize, my elements are fire and earth, flames and dust. I could just stay the whole day at the beach, staring. But there is an agitator inside of me – you pain in the arse, who can´t accept that my mind reached an overload.
I need a break. The anchor is a bit rusty.
Welcome to my holiday.
Long distance walk today again. It is sunday and I am in a mostly christian country, so time for me to pursue my passion, shooting closed directness, the in between. It calms me down. It eases my pain, my anger, my pulsing rage. Pure meditation. Colors. Forms. Disfunction. The symphony of deconstructive beauty. Hanged around at a basketball court, chatting about sports, perceiving I am old school. “But Michael Jordan!” Puh, that was close to a fatal miss, ending in a middlife crisis. Unfortunately I was wearing flip-flops and still struggling with cold, otherwise I would have enjoyed to get on fire, more probable gasping for breath after the first tackle. Being invited at a poor district, straight opposite to the municipal administration – cebu really doesn´t care about the growing and heavy poverty at all, in a weird way – by some cool guys, having barbeque streetside, where else. Rum, chicken feet, called adi-das here, because of the three claws, haha I fuckin´ love the Phillipines, and their chicks, taking care of the flavour. And again, lovely chat, but no booze and anyway no adi-das. I saved the location on my map, next time, bros.
Today is the International Day of Peace. In Cebu they celebrate for a week some multicultural, multireligious get-together. I ran into a tribe named Alimaong. The more looked like a motorcycle club, not only because of their prints on the back of their frocks, Supreme Council of Datus, the flaming sword below and the name of the tribe. As a pocket print the rank of the person and his name, I only recognized men with frocks. Pretty militant. Datus means rich, meaning strong, meaing general. So I was surrounded by the echelon, invited – seriously, again, you metal metal metal my days – again, yes, to walk with them, at the soon starting parade, with other tribes, muslim communities, the 53rd engineer infantery, a police music ensemble and more. But the Alimoang would have been anyway my choice, without thinking. Ilil, if I can remember his name correctly, introduced me to some of his mates, other tribe members. I was interested about their jewelry. Necklaces with native handcraft. Amulets, made of glass or coconut, with the all-seeing eye. On the back a pentagramm with some other symbols I couldn´t identify. You are not allowed to touch, because than the warrior spirit inside might transfer to you. “He protects us.” And lots more other stories teasing my curiosity heavily. Ilil lives in a cave, he said, not finished yet, but I am always welcome and he would love to show me around their territory. Than there was this guy with his 14 year old Boah, sticking her head completely in his mouth, to attract me in particular, I felt straight connected, but more in particular with the whole situation. How did I run into this again again? – What a lovely asian edition of a non-chauvinistic motorcycle-club-without-motorcycles around me. Long furious hairs, sunglasses, kind of a gaze and women in tiger leggings. “I have to go now my friend, but I would love to accept your invitation, my friend. I will contact you via mail.” “Sure my friend, nice to meet you and if you not come back, we will see each other in our dreams anyway.” If you would have heard about his dreams – I don´t know if he meant it as a threat or… I will, with renewed strength next year, follow their road anyway. It´s such an intense mix of culture, tradition and an ancient spiritual world, seems discoverable everywhere on the Philippines, even though most connected I feel to the Kalinga tribes, to mention the name still gives me the creep and fills my heart with passion and inspiration.
I left the Plaza Independencia, the final destination of the parade, where the groups gathered, prayed, in the variety of attending religions, demonstrating tolerance and respect, for improvement and peace in the future, especially for the south of the Philippines, which was and nowadays still is a precarious situation between christians and muslims.
I left the Plaza. Passing a church, with its belltower under construction, the inner yard crowded with people. Some worshipping. Sunday, told you. And as you might have expected, as you started to read this entry, I am not finished with this sunday. I watched a priest, blessing kids, in the arms, enfeebled by endless hunger and diseases, of their mothers or siblings, through a closed gate, sticking his hand through the bars, imposing, with a simple-minded smile, open-hearted or generous maybe he would describe it. Not ten meters from the church street kids lying in dirt, with sometimes less than rags on their bodies. Sleeping, on each other. Babies. I feel pain, so much pain and hate inside me. I feel so helpless. I am sorry to bother you with these images of poverty, but this is what I see, I can´t avoid, I am human, I feel responsible, even if my way to take responsibility is maybe striking and for sure a paradox version of not-enough. If you want to look at something else, by a high-gloss magazine. They mostly don´t have parents anymore. Or they have but they can npt take care of them anyway. They take care of each other, any kind of ages. They ask me for money. I don´t like to give money, not one of them, but… and barely I had the bills out of my pocket, he squeezed the batch of – three how much ever – proof of men´s doom, said something like thank you, smiled and ran away. More kids. No more money. Inside more tears, more hate. I don´t judge the church – oh yes, yes I do! Not only, but yes, I do! Religion itself. If you are the fleshly messengers of your creators, you are the most uncreative scumbags I have ever seen, you haven´t learned a mind movement from your teacher. Go back to heaven.
Cebu Cebu Cebu what can I tell about you… you are black, dusty, clamorous, far apart from glamorous, as far as I have discovered, with its endless hammering traffic, jeepneys, trucks, motorized or pedal tricycles, with sun umbrellas, with food stall constructions, anything you can imagine pedals, rides, exhausts, smoke-blowing monstrosities. Busy sidewalks. Shops everywhere. Real asian downtown. Trash and trash. Prostitutes, junkies, pimps, beggars, street persons, humans, living somewhere, around here, digging for gold, a bowl of rice. A compact Manila, this is how it reveals to me. Nearly less white people and if so, the average age is about maybe 60. Guess prostitutes are more cheap here, where poverty is conspicuous, lost between lostness. White scumbags, in their old jacketed flesh, backfire all along the line. It makes me sick. One guy is sitting in a wheel chair, greeting me, with a beer in his lap. It´s noon. Another has a seat next to me, at a small buffet restaurant, which you can find countless in Cebu. With his “nurse”, lining up his medicine on the table and explaining how you cook traditional filipino food. I am truly sorry for your sickness. I am sorry you can not afford treatment in your home country, but why you just walk away and die.
True, true romances really exist, this is not one of these.
I left, standing in front of the restaurant, deciding where to go next, which random direction. A truck passes by, loaded with people, workers, commuters, sharing the cheapest way, hitch-hiking back home, packed with a bunch of drag queens. I suddenly hear techno. The ladies beckon me over. I see confetti, sun sparkling confetti. I … a guy is bumping into me. What lasts are sweet drag court ladies, waving kisses, I reply, giggling. I recognize in comparison lots of homosexuals. How does this match with the church? Most of them are obviously broken, this is how.
I ran into a crew of street kids around any of the next corners, had a chat and of course, I had to take a picture. Sort of made them proud. Happens basically a lot here, posing for money randomly. They crew is presenting their tattoos, mostly their names, sort of a dog tag, even the names are barely readable. One of the teens seems to me the bible basher, harping on about my 666 tattoo in my face. “Why you have 666 on your body?” In his face severe lack of understanding. “If you die, you can not go to heaven you go to hell.” moral pointing finger towards heaven, like a possessed priest. “But my soul has no body.” The other kids break out in laughter. “No, my friend, no worries, I am fine with down here. I ask them where they sleep. “We sleep on the street. Here.” In front of a ruined former shop. “Are there no organizations or something similar, who can help you?” “No.” “What is with the church? You are religious, right?” Yes, we sometimes visit the mass on sunday. To pray.” “Do they provide food or sometimes shelter?” “No. We beg for food at shops like here.” explained one of them, the oldest one I suppose, pointing at a shop nearby, showing me his acting skills as a beggar. – Fucking religion. HATE!!!
Near a busy, I mean, here busy means your senses are freaking out in looniness, crossroad, a boy lying prone, sleeping on the sidewalk, his face, his piercing cry carved in the asphalt. Silence. A cap at his left with some coins. A teenager, pulling vigorous a wagon packed with boxes roadside, stumbles, drops his delivery. The traffic reacts honking. But that´s it. Nobody helped him picking up the boxes, before something more serious happens. If he would have hit by a car, I am sure he would be surrounded by a big wild stare.
The coastfront at one of the mainroads entering Cebu City was someday in the past arranged as a nice walk under the stars, breathing the vastness of the sea, escaping the daily dust for a kiss under palmtrees, slightly enlightened by some laterns. Today it´s a shame of a romance. Even though it´s a place where homeless and street kids wash their clothes, napping or try their luck with the fishing line.
A hobo, out of his mind evidently, picks up a spit of wood from the drainage channel streetside, which has been whenever a delicious roasted whatever, with a rest of something still spiked and without any investigation of it, he sticks it into his mouth. I saw so many hobos, everywhere, shadowless, the men loosing their shorts, hardly can call them one, a piece of rag, binded by dirt and excretions, running up and down downtown, supervising their madness. No shoes, no shirts. The women sometimes only in a bra. Some of them have tremendous potbellies, some are as skinny as the stick, with a tiny piece of meat on it. These sceneries in the middle of downtown. Police I haven´t seen a lot, except a strange operation, four completely black dressed special forces fighting machines on their motocross bikes suddenly appeared, surrounding one guy, plainclothes, in the same type of bike, two left after exchanging some signs, wordless, the other two conducted the, I suppose, superior, in high speed. Some citizens were watching. Couldn´t explain the event either, but for sure, messing with these guys is not the best idea.
I am excited what will happen tomorrow, curing my fucking flue on my comofotable new room, in a hotel half up with white wrinkles. In a way, stupid to compare even though, Cebu reminds me a bit to Surabaya. Means, I love it, the city is painfully honest.
Sometimes my way to show up at a place and decide than where to go – fuck off travel guides, is a dead end, meaning doesn´t work at all, ending up at places like this.
I left Makati City again, the north of the Philippines was hit by a typhoon heavily today, to the airport, unsure my flight will take off to Cebu, taking a taxi, watching behind fogged-up windows kids bathing half naked between jamed cars in flooded streets. Gosh!
The domestic terminal was crowded. Passenger waiting for delayed flights. But at the check-in counter they were confident. You could hear the pouring rain drumming on the ribbed roof, crescendo and diminuendo, in the teeth of the stormy conductor. Being engaged immediately in a conversation. It still suprises me. In Munich people switched to the other side of the street and here they are so tremendously in a sweet way curious about me, that after the first one dared to talk to me, the second and the following ones are not a sniff away. So after the first jumped on his feet, enthusiastic to hear his flight being scheduled, he was already waiting for nearly 7 hours, the second asked, “Where you go?” – “To Cebu.” – “Ah me too!” Peter, a pastor of a weird church, on his way to a nationwide meeting, counting 20 pastors. The church founded in Germany, Moosbach Baden, he informed me. But after the two WW the community or his leader settled down in Oregon. Lovely guy basically. He invited me to stay at the church in Cebu. I had to reject his offer, not because I didn´t want to take the risk to sleep in Lord´s house, enduring exorcism or at least nightmares, but I felt still sick, struggled with fever and sour throat last night, couldn´t wait to crawl in a bed again. And like he decribed the fold, there was not much comfort to expect. “What you do for your parishioners, I mean your followers or however you call them, provide food or do other social services?” – “No, I just teach them the Word of God. Sometimes they give me a little bit money or food.” I really regret my decision not to go with him, not only because he was honest and in a way even for a pastor, a vegeterian – “Most of them, they don´t like to join our church, because the want to eat me.”, pretty ok, but also because…
I arrived in Cebu with three hours delay, was actually contented the flight was not canceled. The pastor asked me again, but I really needed to sleep, I didn´t want to be sick for days – could cross myself for this decision. So I rummaged in my memory and a place poped up, Traveller´s Lodge. Why not, sounds cheap and I decided not to screw the money, not to often, so more backpacking, even if I disliked – being polite – to listen to all this horrific boring and featherbrained young and hyperhormonal conversations at “Our Melting Pot” in Manila. “You wanna join us?” That was the question on my first travel, when I was young and not that weird looking. Fortunately I have a perfect cover nowadays. So I took a taxi again. The driver didn´t know the place, didn´t worry about. Cebu is the second largest city in (or on? – country or islands, anyway) the Philippines, so how he should know each hotel. Or shithole. So we were driving, me trying to guide him with my iPod and a map without location service. Unable to connect. Didn´t give me a start. And try to figure out which direction, arrived at a plae you have never been before, at night, with a friendly but useless driver. So after an hour drive, which is maybe basically 20 minutes, we did it! He dropped me off, I gave him a dollar tip, whatever for, to stand my patience maybe. “Traveller´s Inn”, splendid but faded sign at the top of the building, located in the center of a daily nightmarket. I felt to feverish to focus on anything around me, but could feel their curiosity, maybe at this place not many white people stay? – Didn´t wake me up at all. The guy behind the reception, the first barred one I had – no, didn´t wake me up, didn´t even ask how many nights – no, it didn´t! He didn´t want to see my passport or record anything. Looked at me, scared and surprised, “AC or fan?” – “AC.” – “400.” I handed him the money through the bars, felt like corrupting a warder to return to my cell, arriving late from day release. The hallway itself is spacy, wooden blackish-brown floor, wooden brownish yellow painted walls, wooden mustard doors, wooden jail, what an easy jailbreak this will be! I opened the door. Yes, he gave me the key for my cell, brainless lazy functionary of the law. Strawyellow walls, a mirror, not broken, a long haning rail, maybe strong enough to excercise some chin-ups, a light-brown plastic chair, a table, upholstered with a blue plastic tablecloth, blue fitted sheet, orange pastel-colored blanket with breaking white lines, an orange pillow with a print “Travelers Home Pension House”, the toilet with above shower, blue tiled, a in-squares-wood-imitating PVC floor coating and an AC, which also works as a heater or not at all, can´t check it, no buttons to turn. And the whole picture, for once drown in time and dirt, lots of both. Me, no more water in my bag, one apple, tired, too tired to move, too scared to leave the room and let my stuff behind, which is probably just paranoid, but – Ah! And a “No smoking inside the room” sign n the wall, affixed above the tiny bed. No window. Give me a bottle of rum and I feel like Lee the Agent in Naked Lunch. I immediately connected to the WIFI network, password “massachusetts”, and booked a room next to, I like the area, I like to walk tomorrow morning, not to hassle a taxi driver´s pocket skills again. So I decide to write… it´s 2 a.m., 20th of september and this is a strange day, was, is, still.
Addition: Good morning! After 4 hours sleep, fever gone, I could easily stay here for a couple of days. Slept at worst places. Not too bad actually. Cockroaches have an acceptable size. I would´t stay on the room during the day anyway. If I would´t be in possession of all that technical equipment, always in tow, always to take care of, always watch out for, pay attention to, if me would´t be enough. Pissing me off. I discovered some peculiar charm here. – Let´s go for a walk and change the location, unfortunately for good.
Off to the province. On my way to the Outlaws, up north, to a indigenous landlocked province of the Kalinga tribes. I made my way to the busstation exactly on point, jumped out of the taxi, stucked in an endless emerging traffic jam on a friday evening in Manila, ran the last half a mile, lightly packed, to the bus terminal, putting some keen efforts, rising from the awakening explorer, in this trip, which from the start felt like a path of enlightment. Not that spiritual purifying I-need-to-believe missions, cross-coat, whatever. – A root-coat, to my roots, to the forefront of the top of the variety brushes, dipping in a peaceful silence into the darkest deep of the color palette, baring my self-portrait. I felt, struggling with the necessity to sleep, squeezed between the window, a snoring filipino and the AC above – never get used of these night trips, but anyway, I felt a gratefulness, to be on my way to a changing experience, a palm-read foreseeing, just without palms and the reader. Arrived in Tabuk, the capital of Luzon for sunrise. Dropped off, exhausted of my efforts to sleep. Freezing. Not even a dog was barking or towing its lazy coat across the street. Couple of minutes later a bus arrived with a plate at the front screen, Bugnay. I heard this name before. I was searching for my notebook, my personalized travel guide, best one. – My bus! Two hours later, packing the bus with people and goods like chickens or wasted bums returning to their home in the countryside. Of course one of the guys seated next to me, started questioning, leaning over me to the opened window of the creaky bus frequently to spit out Momma. Haven´t seen it in Manila, because it is forbidden to spit on the streets, not like in Myanmar, but here, even if it is against the law as well, but less controlled – fee is 500 pesos, I saw some men chewing. Filipinos mostly don´t wrap it in front, they take a bite of the nut and plug the leave and the hydrated lime in the corner of their mouth and start to paint the streets red. “Where you go?” “To Buscalan.” “Where?” He is asking the other locals around us, listening curious. They discuss some ideas and point north, south, wherever west here is. I suppose they speak in Tagalog, a sort of weird but welcoming language, mixed up with english expressions. But I could be wrong, on the Philippines there are some 150 languages, but with english you are best prepared, some 90 years old speaking more proper than me. Following their discussion I add, “Kalinga, you know Kalinga tribes?” Solved, nodding heads, some of them turn around, seemed to loosing their interest. “Kalinga, hm, not good, far away and people are…”, gesturing, they are mad. “I like mad people, like you.” No comment, no laugh. Bad joke. So I had all my senses to enjoy the ride, curving uphill in serpentines, passing small communities, living next to the road, selling food, herbs and tools for agriculture. Passing steep and difficult passages, affected by landslides, especially during Typhoon season. I am not sure how high this road crawls up, 1.500, 2.000, nobody on the bus could tell me, but I have never seen such a beauty of nature before. Hills as wide and long you can see. Built into the hillside hundreds, thousands of terraces to grow vegetables and rice, colouring the bright green of the valleys, streamed by cracking rivers. The feeling of a changing experience freaks my whole awareness. The bus trip took nearly 5 hours, consistently fighting for a smooth seat on this bouncing skyway tickling the clouds. Time for lunch, ate a roasted bird with rice and a bowl of soup, best asian dish since weeks, for less than a dollar. – In some areas I stopped to ask for a vegetarian dish. I eat and enjoy the simplicity and freshness of the regional cuisine. 30 minutes later I was told to hop off, at Bugnay, in company with a lady, who was presented as my guide, to bring me up tho Buscalan. Telling them that I don´t need a guide was too late though and she was too friendly to discuss about her or more my appearance. “We wait here for transport to the gate of Buscalan.” And we had a Gatorade and talked. This was the first time that the name “Johnny” popped up. “Do you know Johnny?” “You mean the guy from Switzerland? Yes, I met him in Manila.” A bit of a mistake, turning myself into a mobile information desk. We shall return later to it.
After a ride with a jeepney, less than an one hour a trekk up and downhill, passing a crew of kids, mostly boys, with long, no, huge machetes, cutting bamboo like cutting paper, now, staring at me, but not in a very interested way, sort of used of visiting strangers, recognizing some tattoos on the their wrists, a dot and a squared bracket, I arrived. At the gate of the village an elder welcomed me,, with a smile and a rifle in his hand. One of the first houses is adored by a sign, Tattoo Art Whang, adored by a skull of a buffalo head. I heard straight away the tapping – tak-tak-tak-tak. Some white and filipino tourists surrounded her, sitting on a tiny wooden bench, working on a woman´s neck. The first thought crossed my mind was, “She is soooo cute and in an overwhelming way charismatic.” I felt in love with her, from the first eye contact, which was as short as a tap. And I was not even a second of my arrival involved in a conversation, a pleasant one, with some guys, with whom I will spend my next days here. Even though my behaviour was ignorant. But before I had the possibilty to introduce myself to Whang-Od in a descent way, a 95 years old lady, probably one of the oldest tattoo artists in the world and one of the last practicing the old school way, the Kalinga way, decorating men and women, in the former days warriors and headhunters and their families with coded signs – today more or less only tourist I suppose, my bag was already in their sleeping room. I was invited to stay at her house, just me. Less because of me, more to earn a bit money, for sure. But I felt so honored, even still aware of this. Stay at my loved ones house, I mean, what else can you expect, after ten minutes of your arrival. I was so stunned by stepping into this world, on muddy rough ground, shaken by chickens, dogs, pigs and the rhythm of Whang-Od´s art, that I can barely remember how stupid I must have looked like, straight investigated by tourists and tribe members, in particular because of my tattooed head, always trying to pick Whang-Od up, watching her, her work and her energetic appearance. I reached another edge of my world, of my understanding, of my perception and concept, realizing, edges don´t mean to protect, prevent or isolate, but they release a view on a more inner horizon, dissecting your believes, the seed of your inspiration. And this all just happened in less than 24 hours. And I knew I will extend my stay here.
Whang-Od was tapping. I decided to have a night of sleep first after crumbling my arse off on buses for about 15 hours. Being just arrived and haven´t seen more than a corner yet, I felt not to join the audience, bunch of posh kids from Manila, local artists, tribe members, following still her work perceptual, and other visiting bums, on their search for roots and self-awareness, expats escaping the metropolitan state of mind, breathing some coal and green, which grows and covers here exactly everything. So I took a walk to explore a bit the village and to find my guide, questioning villagers, without a name a pretty stupid and embarrassing plan. “Describe her.” – “Oh, so, dark hair, looks like filipino –” The women around me start to laugh. I will discover later and more and more they share a beautiful sense of humor, sarcastic, playing games to show others up, but never in a selfish and boasting way, as entertainment and to learn from each other more matches-games, which are very popular and I would always love to burn this heads up before telling me the challenge, driving me furious – note for the next visit, bring a book along. 700 plus inhabitants counts this village, during dry season flooded with visitors, for one or two days mostly to get a tattoo from Whang-Od, enjoy the freedom of consumption and walk away, feeling like a warrior – actually tribeless, never arrived here, I experienced by watching them and investigating the wall of pictures in the sleeping room. “What is your name?” “Florian.” “Hello Florian. You know Johnny?” The fact, that I know Johnny already worked a circuit.
I would love to freeze the village for a walk-through to shoot each and ever corner and wrinkle. It arises to me like a perfect body you want to touch with all your senses and strength to rest in weakness and balance. Everything seems to be there for a reason. A symbosis of form and function. No plastic. No redundancy. No wasted consumption. Only the pigs are rampaging sometimes but constantly through. Photographing for me here feels wrong, violating and humiliating, disrespecting their hospitality. I don´t even know their names, their life stories, their past, how could I dare to shoot them straight in their faces. I don´t speak their language. I would rather give them my camera to explore the neutral perspective on their daily life. Even I have to admit it is a tough challenge. I starve to portrait every member, from the youngest to the eldest, two months to 102 years old. The older generations had in average about 4 kids, today because of economic reasons, meaning poverty, around two. They get married with around twenty, at the church, donated by koreans, like the main cement pathways guiding through the labyrinth of the infrastructure of the village, randomly interrupted by huge grounding gravestones, where the dead are burried, in an embryo position. The houses are sometimes not a shoulder wide from each other, enough for passing or to open your legs and let the rampaging pigs do their work. It´s not harmony or romantic. But it´s perfect. Each pottery, every crafted chair, fireplace, pigsty, skull, jewellery, handcraft, doorstep, wooden plank, window, unclosing another world of beauty, all the alleys, every shadow of existence. This is an existing utopia! I love this village from the very first. I found a tribe, who teaches me lessons, still. I feel honoured and blessed to be their guest. They live nowadays in peace. The period of the headhunting during tribal wars is history. A microcosm, which wants to live in peace. Isolated. But with enough to be in touch with the outside world. Some families have since not more than a couple of years a TV. Electricity, if I remember correctly, since around 8 years. I would love to install a tremendous red M, contoured in yellow, at the hill straight opposite. This is the strongest contrast I can think about, even if it is a stupid idea. They would wisely never risk the walls of their tribe by painting its walls with blood, even though they do it already with Momma, extensively.
So I was browsing around, chatting with a blacksmith – “Wow, you got a long machete!” “To kill you.” – found my guide, still alive, paid her off and running constantly into the same question, “Do you know Johnny?” I would never mention this here, because I consider also Johnny as a friend, even if I don´t know him for a long time, but it was such a strong impact for the tribe and him, so even if this questioning was bothering me a lot during my stay, dealing with the legacy of Johnny, a guy I met in Manila on his last day, who actually told me about this place, so without him, without his experience I would never have ended up here, in this green kaleidoscoping beauty of a community. I accepted it thu as my duty to fix the story, to narrate the end of Ed´s story, a happy end basically, for him and relief for the tribe. – So what the fuck happend? I won´t tell his story and not in general or coded, which I mostly do, to remind myself. The tribe, Johnny and me won´t forget the story, caused, created by what I would call a panic attack at a very wrong place. I won´t tell the story, because it just touched me, but guided me up here. It is not my task to judge, nobody should accuse anyone. Shit happens, sometimes a big hill of shit. And to reflect, the vitalization of the trigger and its source, which had an heavy influence on the tribe´s daily life and spiritual world till now, until my arrival, this is not the purpose of my story. But to present the tribe a possible explanation, which cut the strings of the trauma. And on the other hand it showed me how sensible and caring they are, worrying and keen. Gosh! They did it again, moving me to tears. Faces are crossing my mind. Smiling. Spitting Momma. Red teeths. Men on their way to work, armed with axes and machetes. Rice. Vegetables. And green, lots of other green. Tattooed elders. No teeths at all. Sitting on the balcony of their tiny wooden houses, combing their grey streaked long hair. Whang-Od carrying a two years old kid on her back, steps up and down. Kids everywhere, playing, yelling, preparing for school in the morning. More babys bounded on backs, for hours, sleeping, resting, watching. Me, sitting under the wooden floor of the neighbours house, being baptized by their youngest, peeing on my shoulders through the plank´s rips. Elders, men or women, pregnant or not, pounding rice, smashing with thick, long and heavy wooden sticks. Salting pork meat – never ate such a delicious meat, next to the fire place, where they prepare the food. It´s a come and go. I mostly placed myself at a corner next to, standing on the sidelines. Neighbours, relatives, members – however they call each other, sticking together like coal and iron, bringing food, staying for food, joining the family, chatting, watching TV. No fences, no walls, only the tribe, the community, the strategy for survival. Whang-Od her knees drawn-up, like a indigenious statue, laughing, pointing at me, motivating to look at what just happened in the movie “The Lone Ranger”. I laugh out loud, from the deep deep bottom of my heart, would love to hug her.
On the third day, it was a rainy day, forerunner of the first typhoon, its tail hitting the north of the Philippines. Alert level 3. No school. Men are resting in a sort of unexcitedly silence under a porch, playing chess, the women sitting couple of corners away, maintaining normal bodily hygiene and trying to marry their daughters off to passing by foreigners, giggling, all together, till, “Ah you know Johnny?” – replay. “No kissing before you are married. No child if you are not married.” I was told by the elders, the younger ones lifting their eyebrows, receiving nasty looks from the elders. Kids are playing a game, I forgot the name – like so many names and terms and phrases and – what a shame my memory is, with pressed to coins crown caps, which rules I was not able to identify. Whang-Od was tired. She tattooed in the last 2 days more than 10 visitors. She was shooted and filmed probably over a 100 times. In her eyes, I dare to claim, is a deep emptiness and exhaustion, gaze of a wanderer, a pitch black coal chamber of a warrior woman, on her path, leaving this life. Only when she laughs, which happens very rare, through endless penetration, encounters of the past, she enlightens again, inflames her surrounding, scattering starry-eyed spears, flames of a craven´s fortune. When I asked her if I can take a picture, it felt like I stinged through with the lense, no reflection, no echo. I felt sorry. “No no, ok, no problem, go ahead.” I didn´t know how to react, not shooting would possibly mean I don´t like to shoot her, shooting her disrespecting her privacy, which obviously is not a matter here, but in her chamber, for me, invading. So I stopped and explained. They understood more than I expected. When she will descend, only her niece will be left, to fullfill the legacy. Her own daughter died at the age of 25. And a village fearing les visitors, foreigners and filipinos, taking the long way from Manila mostly to Buscalan. With Whang-Od not only a branch of the tribe´s bloodline will set to black, also a commercial sector will break.
I didn´t sleep the second night at all, not because of the wooden floor and the not even nailthick straw mattress, which treated my back in a kind of uncomfortable way – note, next time, bring a hammock, or the short blanket, not because of the fact, that there was a proper bed with a common mattress, not on step from my sleeping place away, with a snoring aunt in it, not because of the squeaking and gurgling, fucking piggish pigs straight under me, not really because of my pumping lower leg, trying to handle the penetrated coaled burned flesh, but because of all this, in my head and in my heart. I feel like I arrived after more than 18 months on the road. I know where I will arrive when I leave Europe again next year. There is so much to tell more. I didn´t even know where to start. I left the village after 3 days, on the fifth. Crying at the inside. Couldn´t hide my sadness. Got teary-eyed. Left with the kids in the early morning, lovely walk, distracting… Bugnay. Bontoc. Baguio. Manila.
One of the most intense moments was, when Whang-Od saw herself for the first time on TV. Eight years ago a team of Discovery Channel went up to Buscalan and filmed for a couple of days – “The Tattoo Hunter”, bit pimped of course, but worth seeing though. Watching her, watching the TV show, which made her famous around the globe, was one of the most precious moments I ever experienced.
And, trying to pitch a woman of the tribe to me, “She has a body like a Coca Cola bottle.” – “As far as she doesn´t look like a can.” Roaring laughter.
Got teary-eyed, again.
Thank you, you nasty tribe, thank you for teaching me a lesson. I will be back, teach you a lesson – not with empty hands.
In deepest respect and love.
I could write about me and my feelings hours more, but it´s like with the photography… I found a place I´d love to call a home.
What a day again. The Philippines like to surprise, or me myself the Philippines. I am excited where this road ends. But step by step, right. Enjoy now, not a maybe. So I woke up early, limbered up with some excercise, had breakfast, pretty normal day thus, felt vital and prepared for a walk, prearranged by google maps, down south to Pasay, the Victory Liner bus terminal. Mission to accomplish, buy the ticket for tomorrow, to Tabuk, a 14 hours overnight ride and a first stopover on my way up north, to Buscalan, to trekk up to the cool breeze of the mountain´s height, visit the home of Whang Od, to be poked by a 94 year old woman. – But step by step. Today was kind of these days on the road. You think you did everything, planned accurately and out of a sudden, dead end. Yesterday the receptionist did me the favour to call the office of the bus company to ask where I can buy the ticket. The recommendation was, go there one day before, in the morning. Where? To Kamias, the terminal up north, from where also the bus will leave. About an hour ride by taxi. I estimated the costs. It´s a return ride, so this will be more than I spend on the bus trip itself probably. Or I might walk back? About two hours to Makati from Kamias, google´s speed rating. So around three, if I wanna get lost, what is always the goal and the path. So I decided to do some more research on the internet. Wanderer bless the internet. The explorer curses it! – I wrote the company on twitter, which was their advice to get in touch with them. They prompt replied, informed me I could also go to their terminal down south, instead of a two hours walk, one hour from “Our Melting Pot”, my guesthouse, which sounded acceptable and duable without spending money on a taxi ride and blaming the driver cheating me by providing me a city tour. Today it was the first sunny day since I am here. Clear blue reflected by shaded skies, mirroring in tremendous panes. So Pasay is the final goal for today. I was so excited! My camera, batteries fully charged, bounded to my wirst, my bald head creamed with sun protection and welcoming the beauty of Manila, the diversity and variety of choices. And of course, no rain! I felt also kind of proud not to followed the easy way, discovered another, a suitably solution. And finally not that punishing. Felt like an explorer, who picked up his first golden coin on his way to the treasure, assured being on the right – FUCK!!! I am writing these lines during I enjoy a delicious Falafel in a first-rated israeli micro-bistro, surrounded by four israelis, one of them is the owner, the other three are fucking serious snobbish motherfuckers, behaving as rude as assholes, gesturing the (local) staff they aren´t right in their heads, basically they are very busy with orders and the kitchen is not a neo-fordist space ship. they took the biscuit by telling their local business friend, “Enough! Enough!”, not to use so much of the red hot – which was far from hot – sauce. How ignorant and stupid can you be to tell an asian not to eat spicy, hahaha, fucking twats of expats. If you don´t like and respect the culture here, why you don´t go home!!! Hate!!! No, not because I am german and you are israeli or jewish, I met lots of lovely ones, you are just serious twats. They despised me as well, the beard, the tattooes or maybe because I was just there and not in their home country. – Breath… so back on the treasure map… Holy land!!! So I slapped on my shoulder, “You see, wake up and squirt some more efforts on your road and it´s metal!” So it shall be. No idea what the thermometer measured, but I was more sliding down south. Passing the business district again, following the – by google – suggested route. Ending up at the gates of one of this hyper-protected villa village areas. Security with their pump guns welcomed me, assuring me without mention it, no way through, not without permission. So I had to make a detour, through industry districts, under and over multiple laned urban freeways and finally being lost, asking my way through, passing pitiful maniacs, micro slums, districts, where I felt at first precariously, but after a couple of corners I realized, nobody will harm me here. Some of them are waving me over, inviting me for a beer or a dish, some of them targeting on me grumpy. My camera felt a bit unsafe, I could feel her handcuffing my fingers. I was sweating exactly like a pig, even I am not sure if pigs sweat. The sun and the exhaust fumes were raging my pores, sunmilk was cascading my face, whitening my beard. Finally I arrived at the bus terminal, after hours, felt like, it was actually one and a half. Went to the counter and asked, bit of a foreshadowing under my tongue, for a ticket from Manila to Tabuk. The female service staff looked at me, alienated. “Sorry?” – “To Tabuk.” […] “I know, but your main office (wrote me on twitter – I put that aside, why should someone walk two hours sun-drenched, because of a message on twitter, I felt suddenly alienated too) told me, I am able to buy a ticket here also, same company, right?” To keep the hassle short, I didn´t receive a ticket, they would have, if they would have been allowed to, for sure, but no way. Only the way back… I was pissed, sure I was! Crap, fucking israelis! Oh no, their turn is later. Fucking sun! So I walked back. No, I haven´t thought about jumping on a taxi. This would have been most ridiculous. And the walk was in the end truly amazing. I mean, I don´t have to proof myself wrong, without this so first-felt wrong decision, I never would have come down south, wandering on this roads, passing this corners, ran into fabulous people, mad and welcoming. Manila, you are grand! – To heck with the sweat, blood and tears, all was worth to go through. Later on I decided to go up north on the same day, having a break halfway through, next to Our Melting Pot. But, I jumped on a elevated railway instead of a taxi. Manila has one, yes, discovered, without asking anybody, bahahaha. 30 minutes ride, about 25 cents. Not that I care about money, but, yes, even this ride, the walk to the – correct – terminal, Kamias, packed with lovely smiles and staggered by my appereance. A perfect day, missed and accomplished the mission, all-around carefree package. I am excited how I make my way through tomorrow, an about 20 hours trip in front before I will arrive and knock at Whang Od´s door and get some ink! – By the fact that one of my last german customer quit the cotract today, who care if I get my head done, completely. Me? Not. But by the way, that means, plan b becomes more and more urgent. Maybe I should make some crowdfunding, “Send me wherever you want on this planet, to fullfill your dreams, I digitalize them for you!