Baler: Pacific Paradise Escapade in Luzon

Originally posted 2017-03-27 09:09:27.

I had no idea what I’d find in Baler. I just knew I wanted to see the sea. After months in Plaridel, which, while nice, is neither favoured with mountains nor sea. I needed it. People like me, who grew up by the sea, pine away if we are too far from it. I’ll do another post about it later in the week, but for now I just want to say it is an unspoiled paradise. Beautiful.

Baler is on the Pacific coast of Luzon. The Pacific is magical and I was awestruck by the fact that I was literally standing on the edge of the Earth — or at least, the edge of the Sunda plate, which is advancing inexorably towards the distant and unseen America, subducting (lovely word) the Philippines Sea plate as it goes.

Anyway, this a wee taster. We’ll be going back to Baler and I’ll write more about it. Meantime thanks to our new friends Rich and Fely Cleaver, who run the Saltwater Lodge on Sabang Beach. Economical, comfortable, clean and good company, just like staying at home!

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Pageants: the key to understanding ladyboys

Originally posted 2017-03-14 05:22:08.

On Sunday March 12th we went to watch the ‘Mr Lady’ beauty pageant at Robinson’s Place, Malalos, here in the Philippines. These pageants are a regular and important feature of life here.

During the event, an award was presented for Most Supportive Boyfriend. The winner took both his beloved and the crowd by surprise when he proposed to her on bended knee. The crowd went absolutely wild!

These events are very much family affairs and each of the contestants was supported by a strong turnout of highly partisan cousins, siblings and parents. It’s just good fun and everybody has a great time.

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Happy New Year 2017 from the Philippines

Originally posted 2017-01-09 07:18:45.

Well, a belated Happy New Year to everyone and my apologies for the long hiatus.

I came here to the Philippines in early December after three months of flat-out work, to the point of exhaustion. I achieved a lot but I think regular readers would have noticed that my focus was not on the blog here but on other things, notably my new books — of which, more later.

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Philippines 2016: Markets and Mountains

Originally posted 2016-07-21 12:30:35.

The Philippines has become very important to me over the last four years. It’s now the focus of much of my life and I want to spend more time there. The winters in France are just too cold for me now.

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When you visit a country for longer periods, months at a time, as I do, you can’t do quite what the holiday  tourist does. It’s partly to do with budgets but also with burnout. You have to learn to chill and take it easy.

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Arayat Escapade

Originally posted 2016-03-07 10:32:53.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Mount Arayat National Park in Pampanga, here in the Philippines.

I’d been invited by some friends to spend the day, with a walk in the mountain park in the morning followed by socialising later. This meant first taking a bus to San Fernando and then another, local bus. We wanted to be there for sunrise, which is why I found myself sitting in a taxi at 3.30 am, hurtling through Quezon City at speeds in excess of 100 kph. It was a good adrenaline rush to start the day.

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Baklas and Beer in the Afternoon: A Tale of Manila

three-baklas

Originally posted 2022-04-14 15:32:15.

I have just been to the Bureau of Immigration Visa Extension Office in Makati. I have to do this once every two months, for the economy of the Philippines.

My papers are in and my money has been paid, but for unknown reasons, they’re not handing the passports with the new visas out yet. I have plans for the afternoon so will have to come back on Tuesday. I sigh and decide to get a beer and some food. I had no plans, then, to meet baklas.

Baklas, to let you know, are the local ersion of the ubiquitous ladyboy, the transwomen found all over southeast Asia, under different names. They are highly feminised males who live as women and seek straight men for partners. They are often as beautiful as natal women — or more so.

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I head for Market! Market! in Taguig. It’s my favourite mall in Manila by far, partly because half of it is actually outside. Unlike some malls, there are plenty of beer-bars and small restos too, serving a myriad array of meals in price bands to suit any bakla’s pocket, as they say. So I indulge in a taxi — 105 pesos — and, once I’m there, head for the bars at the back, near the van depot. I know from experience that these are good and cheap and so, attract locals — including baklas.

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Angel: Women in the Philippines

Angel in the Philippines

Originally posted 2022-04-08 11:15:29.

I remember Angel well. I was walking along a backstreet in Cubao on my way to the Baliwag Transport depot. As I approach it I hear the familiar call: ‘Hey Joe!’

Usually I just wave my hand and smile but this time it’s a girl standing in a doorway across the street. She’s pretty, fake blonde, so I cross over. The reaction of teenage Filipinas to an approaching foreigner — even one they have just saluted — is too delicious to miss and, as predicted, the girl collapses into hysterical giggles.

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Philippines Diary: Jeepneys

jeepney

Originally posted 2015-01-28 14:52:34.

Most people have at least heard about jeepneys, the ubiquitous, colourful and incredibly noisy backbone of the Philippines public transport system. For those who have not, you’ll catch up.

The first jeepneys were in fact modified Willys Jeeps that the Americans left behind. The enterprising pinoys lengthened the chassis and fitted seats. Now they are custom built with stainless steel, all-enclosed bodywork and diesel engines.

Most jeepneys are 20-seaters; 18 in the back and 2 in the front, guv. This makes them unquestionably the friendliest form on transport on the planet, because actually there’s only enough room for 16 in the back and we are talking kitten-hipped pinoys here.

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The Goddess in The Philippines

goddess-philippines

Originally posted 2014-03-10 13:59:50.

The Goddess is a big deal in the Philippines and goddesses are out in strength there this week. The occasion is the closing rounds of the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament, held at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. Teams with names like De La Salle Lady Spikers and Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles, the Tigresses, the Lady Warriors and the Lady Bulldogs battle it out in front of huge, enthusiastic and thoroughly partisan crowds. And these girls aren’t kidding; this is serious stuff.

 The audience is mainly young – but everywhere in the Phils is mainly young. That’s only to be expected in a country where the population has increased by a factor of ten in fifty years. And there are as many men here as women. Filipinos are as passionate about volleyball as Scots are about football.

 This is hard sport, and women are seen as true warriors.

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Bakla: explaining the transwoman of the Philippines

aswang lakanpati

Originally posted 2022-03-28 19:50:38.

All humans, with the exceptions of a tiny minority with disorders of sexual development (DSDs) or Intersex, are either male or female. So there are two sexes.

We are not tilapia, frogs or molluscs, and these sexes are fixed for life. Sex can never be changed. The nonsense that biological sex has no basis in reality and can be changed from male to female is just that, nonsense. It derives from Post-Modernism; a rotten, toxic ideology. But that means we must explain the phenomenon of transsexualism, and to do that we’ll focus on the form found in Luzon in the Philippines, the bakla.

The explanation hinges on the critical difference between sex and gender. These are not the same.

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