Friday, October 30, 2009



The one day a year I am certain my dog hates me.

Case in point...

Halloween 2006

Mr. Bigg the parrot
Possibly the best costume ever...

Halloween 2007
Mr. Bigg in a pumpkin.
It was just far too tempting...

Halloween 2008
Mr. Bigg the bee.
Because it's hilarious...

Halloween 2009
Mr. Bigg BBQ

When people found out I was bringing my dog to the Philippines I got a lot of, "You're going to take your dog? I hope they don't eat him... hahaha." (Ha. Ha. Ha. You're an idiot...)

So when I found this awesome bone... I couldn't resist.

He's a Barbecued Bigg!

Street vendors would want the big bucks for this delicacy...

And then...

I couldn't help myself...

This kept me entertained for quite some time... he was pissed.

Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What to Expect at Coco Beach

Last week Lee, Hassan and I headed to Coco Beach, one of my favorite places to go in the Philippines. After we climbed the 226 steps to our room I realized, 1.) how out of shape I am, and 2.) maybe next time I'll stay a little closer to the bottom.

As we sat on the balcony sweating and out of breath Lee read through the Coco Beach informational booklet.

"Coco Beach has upgraded and improved a lot of its amenities but being an island, many things you might expect to be there are not that easily available at all times.

Sometimes our generator or our water pumps suddenly stops and the spare-parts are delayed because the machine shop is closed for the town fiesta... or our kitchen is running out of some fruits and vegetables because our supplier just forgot us with all the preparation for her grandchild's baptism or the fisherman just did not want to fish the night before."

The woman just forgot about her job... and the fisherman just didn't want to do his? And that flies?
I can't really say I'm that surprised. Our repairman didn't come to my house one day because he was hung over from the night before.
Where I come from, if you have to work the next day, you don't go out and get bombed the night before... and if you do...
you suck it up and go to work the next day... and if you can't...
you lie and say you have the flu.
Never admit to a hang over.

"At Coco Beach we have two 220 volt big generators... but sometimes they get grouchy and uncooperative - if we over use them!!!

Regrettably, we cannot permit the use of hair dryers, flat irons or any electrical device which consumes much power."

Yes, "grouchy" generators can be a problem"!!!" But the no hair dryer or flat iron thing doesn't bother me... I think it's great. I hate those girls that "get ready" to go the beach. Infuriating...

"Each room has a small safe deposit box installed. Too bad if you lose the keys, you have to pay five hundred pesos."

Yep... too bad...

"We are please to inform you that we accept the following credit cards:
Diner's Club
American Express
(BUT, we absolutely prefer cash - or even personal checks from regular guests.)

I absolutely love that part.

"Please extinguish cigars and cigarettes properly and very carefully...Be careful not to smoke when sleepy!...We sometimes have a fire drill. If a real fire occurs, go immediately to the beach (only strong men are allowed to help.)"

Ha. Don't even get me started on this...

"Topless? ...we can be flexible about that, but not at the pool side or the beach right in front..."

They can be flexible huh? "Yeah, you. You're alright, you can take your top off... but you? No, not you, that's gross... we're not that flexible."

"Some guests have the attitude of throwing the towels on the floor after use in the night! This is a bad habit - please do not do it here - maybe we have no more clean ones for you next day..."

I love it when resorts inform guests of their bad habits...

"Everyday, one of our cooks in full uniform will be there to make your fresh omelettes from the chicken who had to wake up early to lay those eggs."

So, the chicken will get up early to lay eggs, but the fisherman may not feel like fishing the night before... interesting...

"Information contained in this booklet may change or just be wrong...SORRY!"

That's great....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Luck Be A Lady

Dear Manila Motorcycle Men,

You are lucky.
You are lucky you got away with that purse.
You are lucky American Airlines wouldn't let my friend purchase her plane tickets online.
You are lucky she had to go up to Manila to do so.
You are lucky that in order to purchase those tickets she had to carry passports, credit cards, plane tickets, residency cards, drivers license and cash... which she wouldn't normally do.
You are lucky you were in the right place at the right time.
You are lucky she didn't catch you as you ran off.
You are lucky we have yet to get a hand gun license.
You are lucky you are not the next man who tries to steal our purses, because he will rightfully end up with a bullet in his ass. We talked about... we will aim for his ass in order to hit his sciatic nerve. It won't kill him, but he will think about the time he tried to take the wrong American's purse every time he takes a step.
You are lucky that truck didn't pull out in front of you as you took off on your motorcycle.
You are lucky you didn't flip over the windshield like they do in the movies, so everyone in the streets could beat the hell out of you.
You are lucky you got away.

I realize we are lucky.
We are lucky none of us got hurt.
We are lucky that everything in that purse is replaceable.

My only hope is that our luck doesn't run out, and yours does...
Because if that's the case...
You got hit by a bus today.

Lucky you,


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shifting Gears

Searching for cars in the Philippines is a nightmare...

There is no Craig's List...

Autotrader? Forget it.

We drove around looking for "displays" on the side of the road... yuck.

Lee: Here, look at these... I printed some of the car listings off the computer.

Me: Ok. Hmmm.... 1987? You do realize we were in diapers when this car was manufactured?
You're kidding.... right?

As you can see we have a wide range of models to choose from...

And I don't think it matters what country you're in, used car salesmen... they are all the same. The difference here is that half of the cars they are selling aren't even in their names... registering a car over here is such a pain... people just don't do it. It's great...

After weeks of searching, we did finally find a car, but not without experiencing a drive by shooting and being subjected to a 6-year-olds birthday party.

(And yes, mom and dad, I'm fine. We drove up on the bullet filled car after it happened... no big deal. Apparently, this was a hit on some guy who needs to be more careful about his business transactions... But I just want to state for the record that this can happen anywhere... so there is no need for a phone call about the dangers of living in the Philippines, because frankly, I feared more for my life at the birthday party... surrounded by screaming six-year-olds... and eating pink spaghetti. I'm just asking for a little perspective...)

So we got our car... it's a 1999 Honda... something or other... not real sure, it's green, I know that. And it's a manual...

My experiences driving a manual include the following...

- 16-years-old... mom teaching me to drive a stick in the hospital parking lot. Screaming... car dying... gear grinding... in the end the automatic was driven in from another dealership. Fail.

- 18-years-old... shifting gears from the passenger seat in Lee's ancient two ton truck... while he operated the clutch... talked on the phone... and ate a cheeseburger.

Lee: Ok, shift into 3rd.

Me: Ok, Ahhhh!!!! ... did I do it?

Lee: No.

Eventually, I got better. But, I'm still... Fail.

So this should be interesting...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jeepneys are AWESOME: I think I said awesome way to many times in this post.

Ever since we went on our road trip Lee has been on a mission to find a car of his own.

Me: So... we are gonna get a car?

Lee: Yeah. What should we get?

Me: Umm... obviously we should get a jeepney! How awesome would that be?

(Totally awesome right?!?!)

Lee: A jeepney? You want a jeepney?

Me: Duh! And I'll tell you why...
#1. It's awesome! There is no other place in the world where we would be able to drive a jeepney. It's completely Filipino. And 10 years from now we can be all, "Remember when we were in the Philippines and drove a jeepney... hahahaha... that was awesome!" See!?!

#2. I could decorate it! I will make it look completely awesome!!! I can write Muse on the back! And hello... I have a company that creates vinyl lettering. It's like it's a sign or something.

And #3. Well, I don't have a number 3. But it doesn't matter because think of how cool it will be to drive a jeepney! Obviously, we have to get one.

Lee: Eh.

Me: Eh? Name one reason why we shouldn't get a jeepney?

Lee: Well, for starters there's no air conditioner...

Me: Oh.

Lee: And there are no windows... it's either open air, or the snap sides, so we wouldn't be able to leave things inside...

Me: We don't leave things inside anyway.

Lee: our golf clubs. After we play and you want to stop for lunch. Or like when we left things in the car on our road trip.

Me: Oh.

Lee: Plus everyone will be able to see us... and it's not like we don't get stared at enough... it will be worse... we will be the goofy white people driving a jeepney.

Me: Ok. Those are all excellent points... Well, then we should just buy a jeepney so I can decorate it!!

Lee: *blank stare*

We didn't get a jeepney.

Monday, October 12, 2009

All The Single Ladies

The American bachelorette party tradition has officially been brought to the Philippines.

Sad, but true.

One of the local girls working with Lee is getting married in a couple weeks, and then our good friend Janice will start round 4 this weekend in Vegas; so a bachelorette party was in store.

I went to the mall in search of bachelorette sashes... all I found were pink veils in the toy store.

Me: Do you have any white veils? You know, for like a bride?

Toy Store Girl: Umm... no Ma'am.

Me: Hmm... ok, well do you know where I can get one in the mall? I'm going to a bachelorette party...

Toy Store Girl: *blank stare*

Me: Do you have those here?

Toy Store Girl: *blank stare*

Me: You know, bachelorette party???

Toy Store Girl: *total confusion*

Me: Bride... about to married... party... crazy girls... whoo-hoo! (embarrassingly enough... I even threw in what I can only assume was a "crazy girl...whoo-hoo!" arm wave... whatever that is... this led to more confusion, and probably horror.)

Toy Store Girl: ummm... No ma'am.

Me: Hmm... ok, well then I'll go with pink.


My embarrassment at the toy store was totally worth it when the bride-to-be put on her veil, and she was so overwhelmed tears started streaming down her face. She said, in her country only rich people have parties like this, and she felt so special that everyone would get together and do something like this for her.

Well, little did she know... the fun had just started.

What bachelorette party would be complete without a male stripper you ask?

Well plenty.

But not this one.

I will however use the term "stripper" loosely... because there was no stripping involved. And thank God, since he jumped out from behind the door sporting his whitey-tighties. I'm pretty confident no one wanted to see what was behind there.

So really, he was less of a stripper and more of a exotic dancer... although there was nothing exotic about it either.

It was mostly hilarious... and slightly painful to watch.

So most of us didn't...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A New Perspective

About every two weeks I get a kilo of shrimp from the market. I've come a long way since May when my hands smelled like fish and I found out shrimp had heads...

I have yet to find a purpose for shrimp heads, so after I rip them off I give them to Chat. She makes soup with them, and lately she has been frying them up as well. Between me and Janice she has more googley eyeballs then she knows what to do with, so she has been passing them around.

Chat: Ma'am Keely?

Me: Yes, Chat.

Chat: You know the shrimp heads you gave to me last week?

Me: Yeah

Chat: I gave them to the gardener, and now... hehehe... every time he sees me... hehehe... he say, 'oh thank you Chat for the shrimp heads, thank you thank you.' He so happy.

Me: Well, good! I'm glad he liked them.

Chat: Oh yes Ma'am!! He say to me, 'oh chat, my family so happy to have shrimp heads. It's very expensive... my family not so much get to eat. When I brought shrimp heads they so happy. They eat and eat and eat. And my kids eat and eat! They love it so much. It made me feel so proud that I could give something like that to my family."

There wasn't much left for me to say after that. Mostly because I knew if I spoke I might burst into tears...

It is still amazing to me, that something like shrimp heads... which I would typically throw away, could mean so much to someone else. Lesson the Philippines has taught me #346.