A face that hides ten thousand secrets,
Eyes that reach as many miles
Into the corners of my soul,
Lips to kiss ten thousand times,
And paint upon ten thousand smiles
From whence those secrets will be told.
Ten thousand silkworms spun the hair,
Who's colour, darkest night gave style.
The stars, within her hand she holds
To cast, with love, to whom she cares.
I think one fell to me awhile,
So I return, ten thousand fold.
Up at a reasonable hour - 9 ish - head straight to the drug store after breakfast in the hotel for Anti-histamine tablets and Amoxycillin for my feet - these in combination with my anti-malaria tablets make me feel all woozy as we head for the SM mall to eat and buy Mayen a new cellphone - her old one is giving up - I could never successfully phone her from the UK.
We have a good brunch at Max's - choose the cellphone and head to a small coffee booth on the ground floor where we sit - I smoke, drink coffee as we sort out the SIM card and enter a few important numbers. The SMS soon start to flow.
Back at the hotel we have more coffee in the reception area.
All around us preparations for a Filipino wedding - a posh one at that - men wielding great chunky video cameras film the bride as she glides down the stairs - followed by her mother - then her father. A long white mercedes parked outside, with a large bouquet attached to the radiator grill, gave the game away as we approached the hotel. I can see Mayen's thoughts whirring - and to be honest - my imagination is working overtime as well.
We keep strong - it's time to go to the airport.
I check in and meet Mayen for a final fifteen minutes in a restaurant. It's all quite bearable as long as we are together - we can do anything.
The time comes - I see Mayen off in a taxi cab, watching her being whisked off to continue with her life, that I knew so little about. It was a strangely unemotional farewell - very business like and swift.
I feel dreadfully alone as I wander through the milling crowds through security and in to the waiting lounge.
I receive an SMS from Mayen while sat in the lounge - but cannot reply for some reason. I hunt down a payphone and using my last pieces of Filipino coinage manage to speak to her. That was the last time I heard her voice - just before boarding the plane to Hong Kong.
I ask my neighbour on the plane to translate some of the other SMS messages that have arrived on my phone for Mayen who had been using it all the time - nothing critical - but there still was the important one from her - in English - saying that she loved me - and that she would wait.
[I wrote the following passage at Hong Kong airport.]
My world is strangely silent now - and suddenly spinning on its own orbit - no longer two bodies in a dance of attraction - pulled together around the sun of a mutual love.
Like a dream just gone - I feel the sharp focus of my memories beginning to blur - the intricate detail becoming fuzzy, receding fast, speeding away into the past.
But I know that same speed is pulling me towards a future - the adventure continues - I still find myself in two worlds - the world of faith, surrender to love's destiny - and less often now - the frightening world of doubt, of fear - and I feel I know which of those two worlds is the true one. Yet the disguise, the illusion is at times so convincingly deceptive.
What have I just been through? The amazing, kaleidoscopic - fairground world of Manila - hustling, bustling - all the time alive - sometimes disgustingly so - having to breath those eye stinging exhaust fumes. I see the less positive side of their inheritance from the years under the control of America - the glittering "fools gold" of capitalism. The stark contrast between the towering Bali-high-rise promises of the Makati skyline - and the rusty, dirty, grubby poverty - that frames so many sparkling eyes. The scratching for a living - making everything conceivable an opportunity to earn a few pesos. That enormous gulf I find, turns my stomach - I feel it as profoundly as in my dream. Yet there is always the strength, the warmth, the humanity - bahala na Manila - bahala na.
I don't care that Mayen managed to drain me of all my money - I gave her all that was left over - anyway - "mine" is an illusion - an attitude that denies abundance. I was a willing participant - fighting poverty is as instinctive as eating - support and respect of the family is the first concern - I wouldn't even say it was selfish - but life does revolve around family.
I don't care at all - relationships are all based on need - there is always a trade off. I am certain beneath it all we have a strong, genuine love - I've no idea how it would be were I poor and pennyless - but as it is - it works - and it works beautifully.
I hate the feeling of being the Big White King - the Golden Goose - being fleeced for all they can get - I loathe the undue respect that the exchange rate affords me. I will never be one of them - even when I marry - I will always be the outsider - they will always put blood before paper - but I do want to be a part of that world - a part of Mayen's life - I want to share her paradise - for that is how it is, in her province - unspoilt as it has been for years.
"Progress" may be slow in coming - but it will come eventually - at the moment there is no internet there, hardly even a telephone line - water supply is crude, power intermittent and unreliable - but the important aspects of life they have in abundance - such a wealth of spirit, of joy - a natural happiness.
I want to start a business there with my beloved - start a family.
Should you near the sea today,
And chance to feel the softest spray
Fall light upon your lips,
The salty taste may well display
The like as on my fingertips,
For they have freshly caught a tear
From dropping to the floor,
That formed as I came fraught with fear
At thoughts of you, but you no more.
Then it's just airports, planes - it's raining at Heathrow - high security - there's just been an attack on Glasgow airport that morning. I have to wait here all day.
My phone is completely drained - but after a long hunt - I discover a secret power outlet just inside the entrance. I innocently sit alongside my phone - concealed behind my suitcase, as it charges up - I have loads of time - I change over the SIM card.
I receive a call from a work colleague enquiring after a contact number - I can't really help, I tell him, I'm at Heathrow airport waiting to go to Jersey.
I didn't realise, but he had also left a message on the answer machine at my home which was intercepted by my wife. I don't know what she's been thinking - my last contact was a text message - sent as a last resort really, just before I flew to Manila - telling her that I would not be home until 7th July (a fortnight later than she had expected) and that my phone would be off - I needed time to think. She could make of that what she would - hopefully just presume that I was staying on in Jersey for the entire three weeks.
She decides to reply to the answer phone message telling him I'm away - "It's OK" she learns "I've managed to speak to Tim at Heathrow - he's just on his way to the Channel Islands."
Of course - I don't know any of this - until I return home, a week later.
Click the flags to read about all the alarm bells.
Index of Chapters
- 2 - Encounter
- 3 - Preparations
- 4 - Arrival
- 5 - In her hands
- 6 - Taal Lake
- 7 - Shopping
- 8 - Day with Sir F
- 9 - To Leyte
- 10 - To the Barrio
- 11 - Picnic
- 12 - Sister arrives
- 13 - Bakla basketball
- 14 - To Manila
- 15 - Last moments
- 16 - Waiting
- 17 - Hindsight
- 18 - Squeezing
- 19 - Decision time
- 20 - A friend indeed
- 21 - Non-arrival
- 22 - Try the Embassy
- 23 - Bill arrives
- 24 - Four Feathers
- 25 - Closure
- 26 - From Surigao
- 27 - Webcam
- 28 - Revelation day
- 29 - Stroke
- 30 - To Sogod
- 31 - Revelation 2
- ▼ August (30)
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