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17 - Hindsight

Journey 16

Poverty is cruel.

I suggest that impoverishment is more cruel.
To be living in the outfall of corruption, the moral pollution that spills out and all around - impoverishment is the effect on the human soul.
To be like a child in the shadow of a parent who has turned away, turned their back.

Only an impoverished soul could employ love as a means to satisfy the complete opposite - and I don't mean simply hatred - but lovelessness, avarice, contempt.
Only a soul that was starved of the experience, the possibility of genuine love would attempt such a devious disguise with full conscience.

Each country walks its own unique path through history - the path trodden by the Philippines has been cruelly twisted.*

They wish to come to the table - they are reaching out a hand to the rest of the world.
But what of the table manners that this cruel path, including the present day, has taught the Philippines?
We welcome the beautiful Philippines and their wonderful people to the table, but we must take their hand - and with the assistance of our governments - stamp out one or two deviations in manners - that at the moment seem to suggest, to a few, that they can hide under the table - and share the meal.

* Please read this to understand just how cruel.

Okay - now please remove the rose tinted spectacles, crush them under your feet and put on the brown pair.
Almost as hard for me to believe as it is to bear - this has come to an abrupt end.
I admit to being carried along on a cloud of self-delusion, which my ego found very agreeable, to which I ascribed the word love.
As we shall see - things cannot be so.

I will leave the previous chapters in this journey completely untouched - so they may be read for what they are - the musings of a big fish - caught upon a dirty hook - believing that he was about to be lifted into paradise pond, when in reality - all the time - he was secretly being prepared for someone else's feast.
So here are all the bits I left out - plus a few that I left in - but their selection will show you that there are always two sides to every coin.

I was virtually immediately snapped up to take part in these adventures - remember - my first night - my picture not even on display, only the tag "new" and she was there, waiting.

Her picture, by the way, had been edited - Mayen openly told me this - once in one of her rare longish emails - & again in the back of a taxi cab, making a point of showing me her ID card. It was then she told me that it had been taken for her ID badge - but she had used it on the dating site.
I think it much more likely that it was the other way round.

The age range selected for her interest was suitably vast.

I admit to playing perfectly into her skillful hands - yes - putty indeed - the unhappy marriage - the burgeoning hope for new horizons - the poetry - ha!
I think my contribution to our overall communication must stand at least as high as 80%.
No matter how long were my messages to her on the dating site, or my emails to her - apart from two occasions when I emphatically supplied a heading to my message - "Here is your questionnaire" - and bulleted and numbered the questions - only very, very rarely was any comment made by her upon the content of these messages - she explained . . .

Hello my dearest tim,
I know that your intention to me is true and pure..I can sense it.. im
so glad sometimes flattered about you. I know also that everytime i
wrote shortly here or even in DIA seems you disappointing coz you
wanna know everything and every little details about me and yet you
can't discover it through those short message.. Im so sorry about that
honey..Sometimes im just so tired, coz of my work.. I feel pressured
and sometimes i wanna quit.. Im so tired of this life..The load im
carying now seems so heavy..But writng you very shortly doesnt mean
im pakipot [playing hard to get] or even mysterious.. Its just me..
And i hope you understand me in everyway. . .

Despite numerous requests for her to be more illuminating about herself - all that followed were harmless, day to day remarks - generally positive - to keep the wheel spinning - as it were, (although, as you will see, Mayen starts to write at much greater length - when the emotionally twisting emails - and the emails trying to persuade me that she was somewhere that she wasn't - start arriving.)
Not the kind of communication one would expect from someone with a serious interest in a relationship - but certainly the sort of behaviour that suits deception - a vacuum of knowledge - soon filled by the imagination - and usually that picture is painted mostly in the glowing colours of hope and wishful thinking.
I offered the hand - she was able to fashion the glove - a perfect fit - every time.
A contemporary metamorphosis of the fabled Oriental pliability.
I really greased the slipway when it came to the subject of the visit - picking up her subtlest hints - and obligingly carrying them to fulfilment by myself.

Quite often, during pauses in our chat sessions, Mayen would ask me "Are you chatting to other?" as if she knew that it was possible, as if she knew the ropes and half expected me to be "playing the field" - I wasn't - I was hopelessly devoted to only her.

The rest of the journey is already written - just one or two details to add - one or two moments when I felt a very menacing spectre cast it's cold shadow over me - no - not quite the fluffy pantomime image of the golden goose - something tangibly more sinister.
But - being ever the cock-eyed optimist - perhaps a good choice of phrase in the circumstances, not simply for its musical theatre location, I managed to blind my vision at the time.

The first occasion my blood ran cold - a portent of how wrong things could have gone - came after a cellphone call that Mayen received in our hotel room.
I remember seeing a transformation - suddenly, there was a switch to a cold, hard, completely impersonal attitude to me - as if she was hiding her self behind a barrier - extremely business like.
The call was from her sister, apparently, passing on the instructions that Mayen was being expected to pay for the family festivities soon to happen in the Barrio Fiesta - purchase all the food in other words.

Now we are talking about only a small amount of money - perhaps less than a days wages here in the UK.
But morals do not have an exchange rate - they are universal - and this blatant taking advantage of my perceived riches was the first warning of how low the graph can sink.
This was the first direct request for money - and I could see her physically and mentally detaching herself - steeling herself for an awkward reception from me - which of course didn't happen.
I suppose I had anticipated the odd squeeze for some money - the decision was handed to me - now it appeared that if I didn't oblige I was being mean - instead of confronting the situation there and then, who knows what might have been the result of that - I found it easier to just go with the flow - not make a fuss.
Besides, it was a confusing and unusual situation for me to find myself in.
It was perfectly apparent, however, that this was all part of the plan, part of the reason for my being there.
I really think that everything else was just a sweetener

I saw a distinctly aggresive side to Mayen one day when climbing into a tricycle beside her, I accidentally banged into the top of her shoulder.
There was an immediacy of rage in her eyes and voice that would have not seemed out of place in a bad humoured terrier.

I have alluded already to the manner in which she decided, completely for herself, to buy the new shoes - again - and I must stress this point - it is not the amount of money that is the issue here - it touches on trust and moral behaviour and shows a very unfamiliar angle to them.

Also mentioned was the first night's meal with the family - again that fearful shadow - I was in very different company. I glossed over this in the journey - but in fact I ate no more than I was originally offered that night - waiting to see if my prematurely empty plate would catch anyone's attention, or an invitation to more.
But I sat there, deeply disturbed when neither of those things happened, not a single word was spoken to me - and all those around me just carried on - obliviously - like a family of crabs in a feeding frenzy.
I have tried to rationalise what was happening - but I know what I felt at the time - there are areas of perception that are not fooled at all.

While on the picnic at the seashore - again - in a perfectly graphic depiction of what was happening - I felt the deep fear pass over me once more. On all of these ocassions, it was as if I were being warned - as if a cloud was deliberately put in front of the blinding light of my love - to show me what was really going on. But they were fleeting clouds, which my eagerness and my desire soon brushed aside.

Sat alongside a small fishing boat on the ground - Mayen sat on board - as a friend of mine pointed out - quite possibly letting her triumph show rather too eagerly than was tactful. She set about showing me the various fisherman's implements that were stowed on the boat - a catch net - a cleft stick for picking up the urchins - and a giant gaff hook which she posed with - me the big fish and her the successful fisherman. She drew the rest of the family's attention to this and muttered some Tagalog - to which they all erupted in laughter which I detected as mocking - and extremely unsettling.

I noticed towards the end of our time together that it was only the top price dishes that Mayen ever chose for herself in restaurants.

Yes - we did have great fun - and it was very much a holiday - and we were both very generous with the budget, although with hindsight it is possible to see why.

Mayen had originally told me that the hotel room would be P800 per night - I had forgotten this detail - but on checking in, the price I was quoted per night was P1,800.
The long return journey by taxi from Tacloban to Pintuyan - I was not privy to the negotiations - it was all in dialect.
I'm sure that from the moment I stepped off the plane Mayen was probably earning herself percentages of all the deals she struck with these people - who themselves were only too happy to make more than the going rate - all at my expense.

OK - a little respite - does this sound like sour grapes? Read on - you may grasp exactly how tart that fruit can taste.
How much of her behaviour had been simply a charade?
How much had it been disguising a far less amorous motive - just giving dear Hansel sufficient sweets to lure him in?

From this moment - from this point onwards - it is important to realise that the events I am reporting as "real" are simply me repeating what was told to me, or written to me - by telephone, text message, IM or email. I have no way whatsoever of verifying that any of it is true or false.

It will reveal to you the convincing power of words, of documents, of false testimony - but too much faith was invested in that power - at the expense of ignoring other dimensions of communication - through which truth can be discerned.
When there is a determination to deceive, the illusion is very easy to achieve in communicated material alone - depending on its perception - which the scammers believe has been preconditioned - emotionally - by love - to accept that everything can only be how it appears.

Remember also how it feels - to be insanely in love.

You may well find yourself being lulled into believing the words - but stay alert - read between the lines - ask yourself constantly - is this an appropriate response?

I am reminded of the lines by Kahlil Gibran.

"The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you.
Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather to what he does not say."

Bear in mind that in the Philippines, as no doubt in other areas of the world subject to poverty, some people will sell their integrity, compromise their honesty - "truth" can be purchased - by threat, by favour or by pesos.
I am no longer prepared to accept what information I am given as true. Viewing the history of our relationship with this same suspicion throws absolutely everything into the shadow of doubt - how does one decide where to draw the line between fantasy and reality - once complete trust has gone - it is probably gone for good - the boy who cried wolf was never believed again.

Let me please emphasize something crucial here - this is not an issue about money - far from it - it is all about trust, honesty, respect and integrity - essential ingredients, surely, for me to concern myself with - planning, as I was, to spend the rest of my life with this girl.

What is perfectly clear to me is that love and the sort of activity I am starting to suspect, do not go hand in hand.

Click the flags to read about all the alarm bells.


Tim Cumperhttp://www.bebo.com/Ellumbra

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