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.