Manila, Philippines

Manila, Philippines

She works for Filipino Geographic Information Systems and she is involved in Disaster Management and Response. In 2013 when Typhoon Haiyan was about to hit an island town named Tacolban, her team told the community to evacuate. Unfortunately, the evacuation center was also affected, and over 6,000 people died. She said there were more people that lost their lives than the 6,000 listed, but some entire families were wiped out and there was no one to account for the missing.

Manila, Philippines

Irene – “I tried to play the guitar and I ended up crying. It is too hard…” Holy, that is cute!

Manila, Philippines

She told me she was in Amsterdam. I asked her if she smoked pot. She whispered, “Shhhh! Someone might shoot us!” I had forgotten that the current president of Philippines told the police to just shoot the drug dealers and drug addicts in the country. This has resulted in never once being offered pot or coke by a shady character missing teeth during the entire time I have been in the Philippines. It is a real treat to not be...

Manila, Philippines

It was super hot in the venue. My shirt was soaked as I was leaking into it. The crowd opened up so it was possible to get closer to the stage. She was just in front of me, dancing. Suddenly she turned around to me, kind of put her arms around me and said, “I need water…” I needed it too and thought it was just a statement and all of a sudden she started going down. She had fainted....

Manila, Philippines

We went to B-Side Collective where three bands were playing. The bands were huge bands in the Philippines in the early 2000’s. There is a culture of music here in the Philippines called OPM which stands for ‘Original Pinoy Music’ (Pinoy is slang for Filipino) with music sung in Tagalog language. The bands play on the radio and they are household names. She told me the bands are wealthy by Filipino standards. OMP is dying today as people want to...

Manila, Philippines

Way to go Philippines. You have surpassed Mexico as the country with the coolest people on the planet. The crown has been taken… I love your country, your price, your people, your culture, your manners, your sweetness, your nature, your beaches, your weather, your open hearts, and everything else about you! I have never heard anyone raise their voice. I have never met anyone who has been impolite.  Sometimes I worry that I am too much of a dick to...

Port Barton, Palawan, Philippines

I am not sure if there is anything in the world that exists which is cuter than Filipino children between the ages of 1 and 5. I have never seen cuter children anywhere, that is for certain. They melt me and they make me laugh. I have never had a burning desire to have children, but the little ones here are changing that and weakening my resistance to having offspring… Filipino kids are so so cute and I can not...

Port Barton, Palawan, Philippines

I went out for a couple of beer and ended up meeting a 23 year old named Andrew. Andrew is the product of a mixed Dutch/Indonesian father and a Filipino/Mexican mother. He grew up in Australia. He said that there are seven kids in his family and different traits show up in each child. Andrew is a twin and looks Asian, but his oldest brothers are twins as well but they are blonds who look Dutch. His sister looks Latino…...

Port Barton, Palawan, Philippines

The girl working behind the bar told me that her name is Eden. I asked her, “Do you have a forbidden garden?” She said, “It’s actually a paradise.”

Port Barton, Palawan, Philippines

At the beach bar, there were three dogs hanging out, growling toughly at other dogs passing by. This went on for about an hour. Suddenly a cat entered the scene! The dogs freaked out and surrounded that cat. The cat screamed and let out a menacing hiss. All three of those dogs backed right off and hung their heads in silence while the cat stood there with raised fur. The dogs were terrified. Then as soon as the cat went...

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Anne told me she has never been off of her island. I asked her if she wants to see Manila. She said, “Yes, but because Manila is more snatcher…I not use the cell phone for selfie because, ‘…Ah…snatch…’” How very very cute!

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

She told me that she works seven days a week and she gets up at 04:00 or 05:00 to start her mornings, every morning. She will work at the hotel until October when she will go to university to study to become a teacher. She said that is what her parents think will be a good job for her, so that is what she will study. I asked her about tuition, and she said it is going to cost her...

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Christie told me that people here in El Nido make between 250-300 pesos each day of work. That is $5-$6. In Manila the salary is better at 500 pesos a day ($10) but the cost of living there is so much higher. She said she makes around 7,000 pesos ($140/month) but after she is taxed she takes home 5,000 pesos ($100). She, like everyone else here, works either six or seven days a week. And still, they are the happiest...

Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

Me – “RJ, one of those girls at the table is really staring at me. Awe, I hope she’s not a hooker. Do you think she is?” Filipino RJ – “Oh, ask this guy…” and points to his cross-eyed friend. Me – “This is your hooker expert?” RJ – “He knows all about it…”

Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines.

I was lucky to meet a really chatty 42 year old Filipino woman named Dessa who kept me entertained on the way home in the jeep share-taxi. She works in a resort told me, “One guest, he come with a cat. Is 15 kilograms! I think cat is a lion! No. Says, ‘Is cat!’ I don’t know cat like this. Only think be lion. In Philippines cat is small like the people. I never expect that so big cat!” Filipinos...

Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines

Filipino girl in bar – “My mother has more than 13 cats, some goats, chickens and a pet crocodile. My mother is wondering, ‘Where is my cats and chicken?’ Of course we know…it is in the tummy of pet crocodile. The crocodile eat fast!”

Siquijor Island, Philippines

I told Annie the witch doctor that I am a struggling journalist and asked her if she can help me to gain success. She studied my right hand, pointed at a line and said, “There are others blocking you.” I asked if she could help. She said she could smoke out the bad spirits that are holding me back. I asked her what that would cost. She said it was a donation and it was up to me. I agreed...

Siquijor Island, Philippines

Somewhere close to Lorena on the north of the island, we found ladies who were cooking on the side of the road. We ate at their shack and right up on the hill behind was a great little makeshift bar that overlooked the ocean. We went there for a beer and I put a Beaver sticker on the fridge. Markus and I went home after, drove like madmen (Markus said he felt like he was in a game the way...

Siquijor Island, Philippines

Filipino Girl at Guesthouse – “I am going singing karaoke. Are you guys coming?” Me – “Are you a good karaoke singer?” Filipino Girl at Guesthouse – “No, but I can read words.”

Siquijor Island, Philippines

My life of names has been very difficult and I am tired of the battle for my mine. I spent the first 30 years of my life battling to tell people my name is Stephen only to have them immediately mispronounce it Steven one second later. People can not help but blow that every single time. And, there is a never ending supply of a-holes who can not wait to take a moment to try to teach me how to...

Siquijor Island, Philippines

When we docked on the island and walked off, there were touts hustling for business of renting motorcycle. I made sure to hold off and the prices went down as I got away from the pier, from 350 pesos/day to 200 pesos/day. So, I ended up with a motorcycle for 200. That is $4 a day! I headed off along the highway that winds around the coast and stopped for fuel at a roadside stand, where I bought a 1L...

Dumaguete, Negros Island, Philippines

Happy brought us with her and a couple of friends to a really cool area of the city where a band was playing in a bar. Everyone wanted to drink the local rum (which costs $2 for a small bottle in a bar!) so I got into it too. I knew that was not going to work out well and it did not. I got drunk fast. Hard liquor and me do not work… The good thing about it was...

Oslob, Cebu, Philippines

When I wear my crazy Tetris shaped sunglasses and cowboy hat with my long hair hanging out the back I get called a lot of celebrity names. Today it was Antonio Banderas from his role in Desperado. A couple of days ago I got Bon Jovi. Before that I got Nickolas Cage. I never get it celebrity names unless I am wearing the hat and shades together. The Filipinos love it…

Oslob, Cebu, Philippines

We went to look around a market in Oslob, Philippines, where some high school students were saying ‘Yee-Haw’ to us in regards to my cowboy hat. Markus ended up playing a game with them where they would show him a vegetable such as a pepper, ask him what it was and he would guess, “Banana?” much to their laughter and enjoyment. They showed him a potato and he guessed it was “Apple?” The kids nearly fell down with laughter at...

Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines

We rented snorkel masks and headed towards the shitty Chili’s bar pier where we were told the ‘Sardine Stream’ is located. Neither of us had any idea what that was going to be for sure. It turned out to be amazing. There are billions of sardines swimming to make walls of themselves in the water there. There are more sardines that you can even describe numerically. If I was to guess I would say there are billions. They move together...

Filipino Life

It is amazing how it works with my story about North Korea in the Philippines. If I tell Filipino people that I have been to North Korea, they hardly bat an eye. They do not react much differently than they would if I told them that I have been to Thailand. But when I tell someone from Germany, or the US, or anywhere in the west that I was just in North Korea, they nearly have a heart attack. People...

Visayas, Philippines

In the taxi, the driver played Dan Seal’s ‘If I Had Only One Friend Left (I’d Want it to be You).’ 1980’s country music in a taxi van through the Philippines is pretty bizarre… How that song managed to get to these islands is beyond me…

Manila, Philippines

I asked her about the scar on her side. She told me that it is from when a Tsunami hit the Philippines in 2013. She said that she and her siblings had to swim from midnight until 9:00am the following morning. They swam the entire time but many people died. If there was a chair that floated by, they would hang onto it. She told me about the dead babies floating past that, “My memory will never forget.” She said...

Phone Fun

I had to call to Google today as I was having trouble with my account.  When I spoke to an Indian man on the phone I was really polite to him and I could tell that he liked me because I was calm and not someone typically screaming at him.  I was on the phone with him for about 15 minutes and then he asked if he could put me on hold for a couple of minutes.  I said, “Sure.” ...

Maiden!

The theatrical highlight of the Iron Maiden show took place when ‘Eddie’ the monster came out…That is someone’s job…to fly around the world with Iron Maiden, put on really awesome monster costume with 1.5 meter stilts built inside of it, and run around the stage. Perhaps I aimed too low when I decided on a journalism career.  The ‘Eddie guy’ has a way better gig, probably never had student debt stressing him, and is essentially a rockstar without having to...

Maiden!

On the bus on the way to Download Festival, we passed by East Midlands International Airport.  Parked on the runway, sitting pretty, was the Iron Maiden jet.  There was a skull painted on the tail and ‘The Book of Souls’ tour name printed across the side of the vessel.  The bus of concert goes riding with us was heavily loaded with Iron Maiden geeks who were freaking out together and squealing with delight in excitement of seeing that Ed Force...

Sabbath!

I liken 2016 Black Sabbath to the tires on a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda muscle-car that you want to drive again.  You drove that car as hard as you could through all of the 1970’s.  There is one pretty new tire on the car – 36 year old current drummer Tommy Clufetos.  There are two older tires that are wearing out in Geezer and Tony, but there is still tread on them and they still easily get you where you need...

Seeing Rammstein Live

Rammstein is wild. The music just kind of grabs you by the testicles, drags you along and makes you scream out crazy things in German and you do not even know what those things mean!

People are Great!

As soon as I got inside of the gate, a really fat man leaning against a wall was wearing a shirt that said ‘Salad Dodger’.

Crossing Paths with Slash

I was surprised to learn that I am taller than Slash. That also seemed strange.  He has been a massive rockstar for as long as the concept of a guitar riff has resonated in mind, so it seems like he should probably be 10′ tall.  Incredibly, he is not.  Perception is a peculiar thing…

Axl Rose in AC/DC

When the band plays ‘Thunderstruck’, the song builds from Angus’ guitar intro, as the back up singers sing ‘Thunder’ until the lead singer screams ‘THUNDER’ and you hear that distinctly high and raspy Axl Rose voice.  It is unmistakable.  You know that sound.  Suddenly you find yourself caught in this weird musical hybrid, with the voice that you are used to singing ‘Right Next Door to Hell’ and ‘Mr. Brownstone’ singing ‘Shoot to Thrill’ and ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’  You imagine...

The MC at the Shin Kicking Festival

“Choose he or she that bounces the most and bruises the least.” “We have some failing light, we need to get kicking.” “It’s a natural amphitheatre for the sound of bruises.”

Education

Convincing a 20 year old to get out of bed at 10:35 is no easy feat… It turns out that playing Slayer really loud at 10:45 will make the transition happen!  Now you know…

My friend Ian

Me – “Did you go home from her house after you two finished?” Friend (Irish accent) – “No, I stayed over.  There was talk of eggs in the morning.”

Ian

(Said with an Irish accent) We used to call the catholic school, ‘The Virgin Megastore.’

An English Friend

Me – ‘”How did you end up becoming a vegetarian?” Friend – “I took some drugs, went to Black Sabbath, and that was it… Count me out!”

Life on the London Underground

Across from me on the bench-style seat of the underground train were two English girls sitting side by side and a male friend of theirs was seated to the right of them.  The girl on the left was complaining that she was hot.  The guy seated on my right hand side was drunk.  He had a newspaper and he started to fan the girl across the aisle with it.  Everyone around was kind of watching the scene. She said to...

Samantha from London

me – “I am off to a bon voyage gathering for a drink, but only one or maybe two.” her – “Can you really stick to one/two? You look too cheeky to be sensible.”

Akbar from India

Akbar, my telecommunications friend, lived in Afghanistan from October 2003 to June of 2008.  When he arrived in Afghanistan two years after 9/11 2001, he said that that Kabul, the capital city, was a lot of fun.  He told me that at that time, the city was cool and it was a party where he would be out until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning.  Kabul stayed fun until 2007 and that was when things got really bad.  Akbar said...

Travelling Ethiopia

I talked to the guy at the front desk of my hotel in Addis Ababa and asked him how to get around the city.  He told me outrageous taxi prices.  I asked him if there is a local convi-taxi.  He said there was.  I told him, “I have been in Africa for six months…”  He loosened up when he understood that I was not just another pretty boy flying into Africa who is scared of the dark and nodded with,...

Ethiopia’s Capital Airport

The Addis Ababa airport is a rundown white building that feels like a warehouse or storage facility.  There are no amenities and there are barely places to find something to eat or drink.  It started raining outside and that meant that it started raining inside of the airport as well even though there is a roof.  I took a one of the plastic trays for scanning baggage and put it under one of the 50 or more drip areas to...

Life in South Africa

Rainbow Nation is a term in South Africa.  It is how South Africa perceives itself as a country with people of all colors.