Bims had very clear cut instructions.
‘If somebody greets you with kabayan paso, you reply with a paso, nothing
else…no too much blah blah blah…or may be …maybe they find out’
‘Ok Bims’, I said , obeying my new guide and secretly getting excited at the
Maybe in future I could be an undercover agent !
Bond! James BOND!
Neither Shaken, nor stirred…I’ll have extra olives though ! And could you
pass on the ‘License to Kill’ please !
Loneliness is a hunger.
Loneliness is a hunger that refuses to be fed.
The irony is evident.
Even as I crave human contact,
I am demanding and withdrawn
leading to a spiral of isolation…
And unbelongingness keeps me stuck in it.
Unbelongingness and loneliness are good bedfellows, for one shadows the
other…No…Loneliness and Unbelongingness are more of soul mates, for each
feeds and augments the other.
But unbelongingness has a paradoxical dichotomy within itself.
It is because someone like me does not belong anywhere that I can just as
easily fit in everywhere.
Although I’ve been mistaken for a foreigner in my own country, in my hometown people mistake me for an out-of-towner, I’ve also been mistaken for being a local dude just about everywhere else including Indonesia,Malyasia,Thailand,South Africa,Canada,Argentina,Australia.
By the virtue of unbelongingness, thus a person can belong anywhere!
Bims told me that the locals would not fleece me because I looked like I was
100% genuine pinoy!
Now, I just had to act pinoy enough!
I told him,’ C’mon, I can be a Filipino very easily!’
‘For starters …I like karaoke !’
‘Hey, I too can belt out classics, like Desperado, Annie’s Song, Leaving on
a Jet Plane, Can’t cry hard enough etcetera etcetera…’
‘Hell! I can easily fool the locals’
‘I’ll just whip out my version of Hotel California for them!’
Bond! James Bond!
International man of mystery and intrigue, an intrepid adventurer and a
consummate seducer of women, now! With a License to Thrill!
Hey, once in Korea, the locals called us Americans.
Maybe it was because we were a bit too loud.
(And a wee bit drunk, or it might be the other way around, I’m not sure now)
But here in batangas there was a problem.
While Bims and I could pass off as Filipinos, the chief engineer’s bright
red turban was sticking out like a sore thumb and there was no way in hell
we could convince the locals otherwise.
But the chief engineer had come prepared. He said we needn’t worry.
He told us the colorful history of Sikhs in Philippines, and how some of
the more enterprising Sikhs made a living in this country as loan
sharks..Ahem… “Money Lenders”
These “Money Lenders” were known to the locals as 5-6 because of the strange
chronological rituals they maintained while lending money. But they were
honest loan sharks…ahem Money Lenders.
The locals also called Sikhs ‘Satellites'(because of the strange dish
antennas they sported on their heads, oops … I mean turbans!)
Early in the morning, we went to the market and got a good look at the
general hustle and bustle and the brisk business of street vendors.
But what interested me was something entirely different.
‘Bims! These girls are beautiful! , I don’t know why you like Indian Girls
so much…these here are gorgeous !’ I exclaimed.
‘Maybe…longtime on ship …so you find every girl beautiful’, Bims
Could be true you know.
You know how thirsty a man gets in the desert don’t you?
A shippy friend of mine had once given me some sage advice.
He said,’ Don’t …I repeat; don’t meet girls for at least two weeks once
you have come home.
The mind …will be weak and you will fall in love with the first girl you
meet…and you will end up marrying her…and believe me, you don’t want to
do that…there are so many fish in the sea , and you don’t want to end up
with a chum bucket !’
A true sailor at heart, he’s always got a fishy metaphor or euphemism at
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia and dispensing it is a way of fishing the past
from the disposal, wiping it off ,painting over the ugly parts and recycling
it for more than it’s worth.
-‘Everybody’s Free (to wear Sunscreen)
My friend, the one with the sage advice, had after nine long months at sea
come home, fallen in love and married the girl he had never met before in
his life -all within three months.
People told him he was crazy and acting too fast.
It was true love, he said.
But now he agrees with those people and is considering the temporary
Bims, Chief Engineer and I then went to worship the Gods of Mall-land.
We had some retail therapy in mind.
Consumerism is supposed to keep the economy buoyant, so what the heck? , we
thought and went to the nearest SM mall to spend some money and keep the
global economy buoyant for a while.
Every time I go to a mall, I always have a specific goal.
This time it was to buy underwear.
I believe that everyone must wear great underwear, sexy underwear or at
least something that would not gross out people when you are in your undies.
Unfortunately, due to a laundering accident, most of my jockey briefs had
come to resemble adult diapers in form, consistency and shape.
Keeping in spirit with my Underwear policy, my quest in this mall was for
sexy underwear. (For men)
Everywhere I went, I spoke exclusively in English, and though the
salespeople would initially respond in English, they would eventually slip
Their provincial rat-tat-tat-rapid fire Tagalog.
Now, I’ve always asked Bims to teach me tagalog.And it has always roused his
‘WHY? Why You want to learn ? ‘Bims would ask…
My reply would always be ‘There’s this chick…you see… that I want to
impress …She’s the coolest chick ever, and the best part is that she…’
‘No! …Your English is good enough’ Bims would say before lapsing into a
So, as a result, I didn’t understand much of what the salespeople said when
they switched over to rat-tat-tat rapid fire Tagalog.
It was all gibberish. Like chinese.Like japanese.Like korean.Like…you get
‘No! No! Only English! No Tagalog!’
Crap! I must have come across as a snooty Filipino who insisted that they
only spoke in English with me!
Finally, I had landed at one spot in the mall where they sold men’s
‘Sirrr…May I help you Sirrr…’ She purred from behind.
The atmosphere was electrically charged, and the hair stood on the back of
I had goose bumps!
It was love at first Hear…
I turned around, and it was love at first sight!
A compact powerhouse of a filipina, short, no more than 5 feet tall, needle
straight hair parted evenly and falling gracefully onto the shoulders,
complimenting that heart shaped face with those large almond eyes and soft
kissable lips and that oh-so-cute button like nose.
‘Say that again, babe! Say that again!’ I said.
I’m a very aural person.(No I haven’t tried phone sex.Not yet.The holes are
too small. a Ha.).I have a strong auditory representational system.
I’m a connoisseur of beautiful pitch perfect voices…And I had found the
How could I not fall in love ?
How could I ?
I have always found the Filipino English the sexiest south east Asian
english.It has so many flavours,so many sonorous plosives,and such rich
It sounds so exotic…so much like Spanish !
But initially understanding it was a bit difficult.
But it had that ‘Banderas Effect’ on me.
First let me explain the Banderas Effect.
When Antonio Banderas first burst into Hollywood, women suddenly discovered
the Banderas effect.
The effect always elicited the following response from scores of love struck
‘I don’t know what he just said, but he sounds so damn sexy !’
And so I said’ Say that again ,babe ! Say that again !’ with puppy dog eyes.
A bit confused, she repeated,’Sirrrr…?’
‘May I help you Sirrrrr….?’ she purred deeply , spurred by my amorous
‘Bims ! ‘, I whispered hoarsely, ‘Can you talk to this girl, ask her if she
wants to go out with me ?’
‘No ! , Maybe …maybe…Her parents come with sticks, maybe they kill you’
Bims said apprehensively/laconically.
I’ve found that whenever Bims uses the word ‘Maybe’, he is very sure.
So it made it difficult more difficult that I had to buy underwear from her.
Incidentally , the tag line of the brand helped me buy my sexy underwear!
The tagline said’ Sexier than Nude’, and the poster boy was a handsome male
model with puffed pecs,bulging bi’s and rippled abs.
Hey , I wanna look like that !(But not so gay)
So I bought ‘x’ underwear, for it was the only men’s underwear that promised
to be ‘Sexier than Nude’.
I have always thought that men have never looked sexy when totally nude.
The flaccid penis (or the limp dick) is perhaps the most pathetic thing
anyone has seen apart from a soggy noodle or(insert your own version of the
most pathetic thing)
You may not share my view, but I’ve stood for hours in front of the mirror,
naked and flexing,jiggling,jumping and doing all other things that would put
me away in the loony bin forever.
And I’ve never found myself remotely sexy…I look…well …kinda funny
But excited by the prospect of looking sexier than nude, I bought 3 pairs in
Superman Blue,Banana Black and Ash Grey from my love, Gretchen…yes, that
was her name.
But taking heed of Bims’ warnings of dire consequences involving sticks and
certain death , I bade a heavy hearted farewell to my love, to Gretchen.
But she didn’t seem to notice that I was leaving.
She had to deal with another guy with big puppy dog eyes.
In retrospect , now I can tell you that you should never look for sexiness
in men’s underwear.
Although I ended up buying the right size , my sexy underwear ended up being
too tight. So tight that it felt like my balls were in a bear hug …All the
Now I know how a Chippendale’s dancer feels like.
The constant pressure …it feels like someone is steadily squeezing. And
that’s not a pleasant feeling…there is no wiggle room, no room for
expansion, it does not accommodate for sudden mood changes, or night time
In the end , I had to revert back to my old and faithful jockeys.
After all they were the next best thing to being naked !
In the end, as we returned, I noticed that none of the locals had detected
me as an imposter.
So I wanted to see how far I could go with my subterfuge.
At the entrance at the jetty , at the security checkpoint , I greeted the
‘Kabayan Paso !’
‘Paso’ he replied absently, as he went through my passport.
Then he realized .
He rechecked the passport thoroughly.
He let slip a wide toothy grin as he let me in.
He was shaking his head, talking in rat-tat-tat rapid fire Tagalog with his
partners. God only knows what he said.
James Bond Here I come !