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0 - Introduction


D
ear reader - welcome.

You have probably arrived here from one of a number of posts and blogs scattered about the Internet - some which belong to me - under the names Ellumbra, Philcorrupt, Nemesis, Capuccini.
Others - various Blogs, Forums and Bulletin Boards, copious amounts of ill-informed or biased comments - denouncing this story as a hoax, have been posted by a group of people - mainly from or still in the Philippines.
At first sight, these writings would appear to be random and unsolicited. But dig beneath the surface, quite easy to do by exploring social networking - and you will discover that this is not the case. Most of this counter material has been orchestrated and is written by groups and people who are known to each other, quite often being real-life friends or associates - trying to conceal their duplicity behind the anonymity afforded by the Internet.


It is patently apparent that this group of people have been mobilised - specifically instructed to distort & distill, denounce & disrupt my writings - in an effort to sweep my presence from the pages of the search engines - and generally to cast doubt over the sincerity of my words by the sheer volume of their retaliation.
All of this, to try and clear the name of the real estate company at the heart of the story.

(For a brief outline of the initial events - see here.)




Some of them - photographed on holiday together.
These people all emerged simultaneously - and started their hostile, bigoted and devious psychological attack around February 2008, as soon as it became clear that the influence of the girl, alone, was no longer having any effect - as I had finally cut all means of communication with her - leaving activity on the open seas of the Internet as their sole means of contact with me.
Their recent SEO campaign is having the desired effect - I am gradually being pushed from page one of google.


However, it would appear that they are possibly not the only people with a vested interest in how the Philippines is portrayed on the Internet.
The sex tourism industry - which has a variety of presences online - dating sites, pornography sites, "sex tours" to the Philippines, prostitution itself, massage parlours, club and bar owners - all have a share of interest - the largest slice of the pie doubtless being controlled by organised crime. The telephone & Internet companies will also be interested in the increased profits that this activity creates - and at the end of the line, any form of commerce that depends on western money being attracted to their shores.


A typical first response by the many Filipinos who will read this story is to dismiss it as racism.
Please think again.
Challenge yourself seriously on that point.
I harbour no hatred whatsoever - I detest only the actions and events that took place - not the people.
It is publicised here as a warning and as a challenge.
The story is a report of events between April 2007 and the present, which occurred in the Philippines.
It could have happened anywhere in the world - but this specific incident happened in the Philippines - which is the only reason for that country being mentioned.
The majority of people involved in the story are Filipinos.
That is the only reason for their frequent mention.
Neither of those aspects can turn this into an act of racism.
It is a true report, that is all.
The challenges it raises must be addressed by the vast majority of good citizens in and from that country - and those challenges are many and varied.
The report exposes behaviour which is to the detrement of that country's perception.
Namely the original deceitful events and the subsequent spread of propaganda in false denial - both of which can only flourish in an environment of inaction and apathy.
I urge all good citizens of that country to speak out openly in condemnation.
I have a deep love still for the country and the people, whereas this behaviour only reflects a sordid, short term, corrupt self-interest - with no genuine concern for establishing a meaningful and lasting reputation for their country.


It is superficial - purely a deceptive mask - it is ultimately insincere and will achieve more harm than good.


I have discovered that impartiality is rare. It is so easy to arrive with pre-formed or semi-formed opinions - most people reading this story will quite probably default to agreeing or disagreeing with my conclusions - without sparing the time to explore thoroughly all the intricacies and subtleties involved.
Conversely, I have been enveloped by these events every step of the way ever since April 2007. What appears in my journal as simply another date, is actually 24 long hours to sit through, urgently waiting for an appropriate response - the same long 24 hours that was available in the Philippines to make that response. That is why when nothing is done - in the urgency of the situation - it causes the alarm bells to start ringing.



Click the flags to read about all those alarm bells.

I have had to evaluate this seriously, from both sides - being torn between honouring my original intentions for the relationship and yet needing to know conclusively where my trust should be placed.

It is my sincere hope that you, as a reader, will respect the absent rights of all the people involved by resisting partiality and premature conclusions until you have a really clear picture of all the events surrounding this story.
For example - the counter material online includes a video interview with the girl here - Mayen's Story.
Please be sure to read my response to this video here - response to Love, Lies & Videotape.
In order to understand the duplicitous nature of the attempts to manipulate my attitude, please make sure you read Cover-up and also Psychology of a Scam.


The reason I have had to resort to this means at all, is because of the apathy and total silence from the real estate company.
Many times I have written to them asking for a civilized settlement - a resolution - with truth and honesty.
They have refused to answer - tacitly implying, perhaps, that they have done enough, or retreating into the vacuum of silence - resolutely evading any further involvement.
As a last resort, already having the threat of this action looming - I released my writings to the public, because my search for the truth was not over - and I needed some sort of leverage to continue communications - being the only possible way I was going to find anything out.

However, the story was only released after much more had occurred, which all helped to vindicate my suspicions.

The counter-material online will insist on the innocence of all parties in the Philippines, but the truth of the matter is, that the writers profess to not being linked in any way to the real estate company or the girl - and are basing their attack, allegedly, purely on what they have deduced from my story.
How can this be?
How can they be so assured - so energetic in their concerted condemnation of my writings as no more than a hoax?
It would be hard to find my motive, were that true - whereas their motive is a universally recognised one - money.
Have they lost all power of discrimination in favour of a perfunctory national prejudice?
Or is there something more sinister going on?


If you examine their claims - you will find them totally hollow - devoid of facts - and exclusively employing the psychological tactics of confidence tricksters - simply trying to evoke in me guilt, shame & doubt.
Recently I have been responding, quite harshly - now it has deteriorated into posting ridiculous photographs - all in the hope that I will give up and disappear. But I stand firm in my resolve and my conclusions.
They are attempting to cover up one deception with an even greater one.


I can think of possible reasons for their total ignorance of justice, their complete blindness to the obvious and their unanimous disloyalty to any sense of truth and honesty.

1) They are connected to the organised crime network which depends on the Philippines having a good reputation online - to lure and attract western money.
2) Their natural tendency towards kinship, bayanihan spirit, looking after their own (noble traits in themselves - but it can produce a very biased and bigoted group to come up against.)
3) Some of them might be jumping on the bandwagon out of fear - fear of opposing the consensus of opinion - fear of the network of organised crime - remember some of these people live in the country - and don't want to cause trouble for themselves.
4) It coincides with the needs of a professional blogger - to pull traffic to their sites - a bit of controversy might increase their ratings - their revenue.
5) A strong sense of contempt for the west (fat white monkeys - I have heard us described.) They are doing it purely for entertainment value.
6) "Hiya" - their strong sense and loathing of shame - loss of face. Hiya means that the shame of being exposed is far greater than the shame of the actual crime itself - leading to constant denial - even in the face of really strong evidence, rather than facing the shame that this activity brings to their country and making a stand against it.



From foreign lands - what can they possibly know?

How can anyone in Philadelphia USA, for instance, know what did or did not happen in Paranaque during August 2007? Let alone people in Dubai, Canada, Germany, Australia or Norwich (UK.)

Yes - a certain female Doctor (gaining fame rapidly from various TV & radio coverage of her own story) was one of the first to put up a website (a dedicated posting on A Pinay In England) with the single aim of stirring up a response - with propaganda against myself & my story, only because she had been encouraged to do this - I very much doubt if it was her own idea.
Here's a screengrab of a comment very kindly left by one of the supporters of the scam, which will endorse the validity of this claim.





How likely can it possibly be that she (Dr. Joy) has the slightest grasp of what happened, living here in the UK?
She is merely annoyed that this portrait of some of her fellow countrymen and women is getting exposure.


I have written to her - with the anticipated response - silence.
I have recently left highly civilised comments on some of her numerous websites - of course they are deleted.
Highly selective censorship - which indicates a fear of the painful truth.


Every Saturday afternoon she broadcasts a radio show from Norwich.
The truth is that she is in league with the other blogging celebrities - Noemi Dado, Chuvaness, Reyna Elena. Many of them even guesting on her show - here's a post from Reyna Elena about being a guest on the Doctor's radio show, shortly after the time that the Doctor had decided it best to remove the offending web pages.



from reynaelena.com - articles about Chuvaness (real name Malen Ada) & Reyna on the Dr. Joy's programme.

Even the Philippine Ambassador in London was a guest on her show at about this time. Coincidentally - I had written to this gentleman about my concerns asking if they could be of assistance.
I doubt very much if this subject was discussed between them - who knows.
The truth is, even living in Norwich, she cannot conceal her contempt, her partiality - or decide that searching for the truth is more important - the typical attitude that I have encountered almost everywhere - because, without appearing bigotted, the facts are that the great majority of reaction has been exclusively from Filipinos - not really helping their own cause.
The knee-jerk reaction is one of defensiveness - caused when anyone touches the open wound in that nation's psyche - an unfortunate legacy of its history. Lack of self-esteem. A complex of inferiority. To be defended at all costs.
It is not at all about a concern for the truth.
The whitewash is painted on - but the brushstrokes are too broad - and mostly irrelevant when dealing with this specific event.


They will also insist, of course, that I have "no evidence" to prove my story - but it goes without saying that this scattered group have absolutely zero in the way of material evidence to support their own version of events - it is pure venom.

It is crucial to remember that in events like this - evidence of a scam does not appear in the shape of a footprint - or a fingerprint - the scammers are very careful not to give the game away - although they will only put the minimum amount of effort into creating their manufactured reality.
Why so little effort? Because any form of faked proof of their innocence carries a risk - it can be examined, verification can be sought - names, signatures are incriminating of involvement. Whereas absence creates a vacuum which can only be filled with doubt and uncertainty - distinctly to their advantage.
Conversely - there should be plenty of legitimate documentation about, if as they insist this was all about a genuine event - receipts, invoices etc. - and considering the effort that they have made to try and make this story appear a hoax - they must be incredibly stupid indeed, if innocent as they insist, not to have simply revealed this evidence to me at the earliest possible opportunity.
You see, it just does not add up at all.


This is how it has all been steered, by the people in the Philippines - I have been on the receiving end of it all - this is precicely how it has appeared to me.
Nothing was volunteered which in the normal course of events should have been forthcoming, and the emphasis in all communications was exclusively on collecting the money. I had to pointedly insist before anything was produced - doctors details, the email from the embassy, the letter from "the legal counsel," the showing of "the scar" - all occurred only because of my initiative - or as counter measures to my actions.
So, unfortunately, one cannot take these isolated details as any form of proof - it never happens like that - isolated details are cunningly crafted in the hope that they appear legitimate & genuine - just like the fake scar - but all details and eventualities interact with each other - the picture that is created, in its totality, ultimately vindicates my suspicion. How many rolls of the dice, all showing the same numbers - before it all starts to be improbable?

Yes - it is mainly all in hindsight - apart from that instinctive sense that was alerted early on. 

But the voice of instinct is just a whisper - what followed on was an ever increasing crescendo of vindication.
That is why I have continued - to hear that voice loud and clear - only that voice had the power to evaporate my doubts completely - and dispell the guilt that I was being induced into feeling. That inducement was such an easy task for them - for I have never loved anyone as deeply before.
That is the reason why what they are doing is so evil, so ruthless, so deserving of being exposed - for they have mercilessly picked at that wounded heart - in their sadistic hope that it never be allowed to heal.


The game they are playing is a psychological and emotional one.
Therefore the evidence of a scam will usually only appear through an understanding of what should have happened, had the events been true, as they insist - by evaluating behaviour as appropriate or not - and there are plenty of those occasions to choose from. (Although in this case, hard evidence also appeared in the form of the recording of a fake scar.)
Remember that they are playing a game of bluff - trying to deceive - by painting an alternative reality - in the hope that I believe in it - and pay up - or now, capitulate and disappear.


There is plenty of evidence that points at devious goings on, right from the start - inconsistencies - inappropriate responses and timing - procrastination, excuses, proven lies - and finally, of course, the revelation of a fake scar - and later still, faked photographs.

Just consider how easy it is, with blind love working in their favour, to create a reality by telephone, to fake a document or a photograph - that is the sole means by which they hoped to succeed - not at first however, when absolutely nothing beyond their words was produced - only later on, in an effort to defend or pretend their innocence. The Philippines is particularly renowned for all the mimetic skills required - copying, forgery - and people have openly admitted as much in comments I have received.
But the scam merchants themselves are obviously not too aware that the truth can be discerned in many other, non-material ways.



(Please read Behaviour Analysis.)

They have proved, without doubt, that there is an organisation involved, a community, a network - all disguised behind innocuous facades.
But I am also acutely aware that these people only represent a fraction of those that have read the story, a small fraction who have a vested interest in being heard - whatever the motivation might be - a distorted sense of national pride, wishful thinking, defensiveness, contempt - or more sinisterly - a connection in some way to the Big Business interest - wilfully thwarting the course of truth.


I leave it to you, the reader, to come to your own conclusions.
The next chapter will give you a brief run down of events - followed by the chapters thereafter, which are a detailed journal of this adventure - from sweet beginnings - to the bitter end.


But it is a long journey, it is easy to get lost in the details, it is easy to be persuaded by the illusion of reality that is being painted - if one forgets that right from the outset - absolutely nothing was proved with any degree of conclusivity to have actually happened. One must understand that everything else which occurs is either in defence of, or opposition to that single proposition.
The only reason for the high profile is the energy and resources available to the Real Estate Company in conjunction with a whole network of Filipino bloggers and other related Internet businesses - intent on persuading public opinion, not mine. If it were exclusively my opinion that was the target here, then the Real Estate Company would be more concerned in revealing to me alone, the "conclusive evidence" - that they would undoubtedly possess - were their version of events the true one.


Finally - I will insist that you understand that although this story presents a bleak picture - it describes the environment in which this sort of activity can thrive - it is exclusively referring to a minority of people.
It is not racist - it is not generalising.
I am aware that there is fear which prevents innocent, good people from coming forward and protesting - leaving the stage empty for the villains of the piece to appear as if they are the voice of the Philippines.
I know this is not the case.


Please read on . . .

Thank you.



A PAIR OF WEBSITES - ABOUT THE ACTIVITY of - JOHN PHILLIPS BENGERO & NOEMI DADO tim cumper jepoy blog icon tim cumper barrio blog icon




Click the flags to read about all the alarm bells.
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1 - Preface

Welcome to Hospital Scams - Philippines.

Please return to the . . .


Title Page

(For important information & links to damning video evidence)


Thank you - please leave your preconceptions outside . . .

. . . & on with the story . . .


This is not blind revenge - simply an effort to warn others and to make it difficult for this particular group, practicing emotional extortion, to continue their despicable trade.
Presented here, where that trade can propagate like a virus in a culture dish - the Internet.
When there is no fear of the law, or no law to fear - exposure is a solitary and powerful alternative.

We all lie - white lies - we all distort the truth from time to time, however the people incriminated in the following are of a different calibre.

This is professional racketeering by people suffering from the impoverished conditions that unfortunately befall the vast majority living in the Philippines, constantly alert for any way to make more money for themselves.
Morals don't seem to concern them.
Aware of the potential in the raw power of emotions - like an untapped natural resource - they resort to a type of suburban savagery, using modern technology to wreak their havoc - destroying lives in the process - as they consciously manipulate situations to be able to take advantage of people's sincere and deeply felt emotions - yes - people's love - for their own material gain.

I have found that they quite readily employ the concepts we regard as Holy, to try to endorse, add a sense of legitimacy to their evil endeavours - the name of God and His angels - swearing on The Almighty that the words they speak and write are the truth.



Revealing sociopathic behaviour, these pathological liars are utterly ruthless in their pursuit - with not a single care for the resulting devastation to their victims' lives - only the cold, single-minded intent of aquiring money.

Believe me when I tell you that evil is not too strong a word to describe them - masquerading behind the exquisite preciousness, the sacredness of love and the trust it naturally engenders - with their deceit, their cunning and their greed.

It is a lasting shame that the social and political conditions of the country contribute so much to cause this thriving underworld - and make it a breeding ground for racketeering - Tierra Mafia - although behaviour is always a matter of personal choice.

So many people have tried to explain all this away, tried to excuse it, by quoting cultural differences - but deceit, dishonesty, emotional manipulation are never acceptable - anywhere. It is true, the habit of scouring for financial hand-outs is hardwired into the psyche of many of these people. A certain contemptuous attitude (in many cases justified by the activities of "sex-tourism" but born on a tide of generalisation and lack of understanding) is commonly evident. This all contributes to make scamming seem acceptable to some of these people.

All the more reason for it to be eradicated - at its political roots.

Of course, I have a responsibility to bear in all of this - if it were not for people like me, this sort of behaviour, these activities could not possibly exist - my only defense is that I was totally genuine and honest in my pursuit of a loving relationship and marriage.

Love without trust is like a ship without water.
But the trust that developed in this case, as far as the girl was concerned, was for one sole purpose. As in all love affairs, a sense of trust is cultivated - here it was nutured and nourished, groomed by a fantasy lover, changing colour like a chameleon to obtain the maximum depth of feeling - merely so that it could ultimately be abused.


All requests for help from her have had four common denominators:

1) They were situations tailored to maximise the degree of emotionally conditioned response from me.
2) They all contained a large proportion of fiction.
3) They required that I send her some money.
4) The requests were never direct - but a clever (& in retrospect - blatantly obvious) squeezing process.

Here is a shortened version of the events that happened.
The full story, from A - Z with accompanying photographs, is available following on.
But just to ensure that you keep your eye on the ball - and don't lose sight of the wood (the obvious) for all the trees (the details) . . . here is a check list, simplified, uncluttered - and you will see that the profile exactly matches my story.

The year is 2007.

* April 14th. I join the DateInAsia site. Profile just completed, photograph still awaiting approval - "Curly Hair" contacts me. This is the start of the adventure. I discover her name is Mayen - she works for a real estate firm as a Property Consultant. She is very beautiful - and we appear to be hitting it off straight away. We return day after day to keep the flame burning.

* April 21st. Mayen writes ". . . but you know what, i do suggest tim that you will first visit in the phillipines and experience our culture . . . it would be an unforgetable experience you ever have . . . "

* April 27th. We arrange for me to visit in June - there is a Barrio Fiesta in her province and I will be able to meet her family.

This is our home for the first week and on our return from the province.


* June 18th. I fly to the Philippines - we meet - I have a wonderful, but expensive time. Mayen initiates our physical liason - and we live like lovers - continuing our plans for marriage, my emigration. I meet Sir Francis (her boss) - her work colleagues - and eventually, her family.

* June 29th. I fly back to the UK - I have a weeks work in Jersey before I arrive back home.

* July 8th. Chatting to Mayen - she requests I send her some money to help with her internet expenses - but the request transforms into money for a health check - suspected Dengue Fever. My suspicions are aroused - but my love is already too deep.

* July 13th. Mayen informs me that she is showing symptoms of being pregnant. I am scared, but delighted - but wondering if this is true - the situation is starting to show symptoms of being a classic "Honey Pot Trap."

* July 15th. I meet Sir Francis at the Barrio Fiesta in Hounslow UK. I suggest to Mayen that I give him an engagement ring to bring back for her. Mayen agrees, but insists that I do not tell him what the gift is.

* July 25th. Book another flight to the Philippines for 14th - 28th August.

* July 27th. Mayen supposed to return for another health check to confirm pregnancy - but she doesn't bother - she has already told me it was a false alarm.

* August 2nd. Receive another request and send more money - this time for new lodgings.

* August 8th. We have a long chat session - Mayen is visiting her sister in Quezon City.

* August 10th. Early in the morning I send an email to Mayen saying that I noticed her profile at DIA has just been hidden. 6.30 am - I receive a call from Mayen, moments after I log on to the Yahoo Messenger. She is in hospital - The Medical Center Paranaque - it transpires during the morning that she has to have an operation for an Ectopic Pregnancy. Would I send some money? I panic - completely ambivalent now - true or false. This is the perfect ruse for emotional extortion. I call Sir Francis who is there with Mayen - he has paid some deposits towards her hospitalisation. I speak to Mayen on her cellphone after the operation " . . . huhuhuh . . . no more babies . . . timmyboy . . . send the money . . ." I speak to my friend Jim on the phone - we are both convinced it is a scam - but are surprised at how many people are incriminated - it must be an organised crime setup.
I delete all Mayen's emails, block her email address, delete my profile at DIA, remove her from my Yahoo Messenger. The best thing to do is cut off all contact.

* August 11th. No sleep - what if it is true? This is absolute hell, I'm torn completely in half by love and doubt. I hear one word of a voice message on my phone - I can't handle hearing her voice. It's text, IM and email only from now on.

* August 12th. I establish contact again. Marivien, Mayen's work colleague and go between - has a chat session with me. Would I send 50,000 pesos via Western Union? I insist on dealing only directly with the hospital - besides I am due to arrive on the Wednesday (15th) - I need to know urgently what the hospital bill will be to assess if I can still afford the trip. I insist that they pass this on to the hospital.

* August 13th. A critical day - the last chance I have to draw the cash from the bank, get traveller's cheques if I decide to still fly.
Still no word from the hospital - at the last minute, I receive an email from the real estate office containing some figures.
The amount is verified by the hospital accounts dept. on the telephone.
I do decide to fly. Visit the bank, get traveller's cheques, visit the church for a blessing - I am scared stiff. Call in to see my friend Jim. I end up giving him my passport and traveller's cheques so that I cannot go - we both consider that it would be dangerous.

* August 14th. They think I'm somewhere in the air between UK and Manila - so I have a peaceful day.

* August 15th. Bang on the time my flight is landing the SMS and phone calls start. I do not reply. I'll keep them guessing for a while.

So to cut a very long, complicated story short - I decided to stay in the UK and face the virtually impossible task of finding out the truth - in some concrete way.

I tried to enlist help from all sorts of people, websites, government agencies, Embassies - with few exceptions the response was non existent - apart from my staunch friend Jim.
Here is a portion of the detailed email that I distributed - amongst those that didn't fail in delivery (all the government sites failed - they considered it as spam) - were the head of Tierra Maria Estates (highlighted) - but he has never, ever replied - and that stark silence only reinforced the impression that a conspiracy of silence was in place.


Together Jim and I set about forensically examining every little strand of information that we received - building up psychological patterns of the people we were dealing with 6,000 miles away. The burden of proof was theirs. Through their total incompetence - one way or the other - the result appeared an obvious scam - either incompetence in portraying the genuine truth to me - or incompetence in pulling off the scam without raising my suspicions. But still all we had was circumstantial. What we needed was unequivocal evidence.

I wrote a detailed journal of my visit to the Philippines to meet Mayen - it was an unforgetable experience.
What started out as a story of romance and hope takes a twisted turn - I decided to keep a record of everything as it unfolded - please read on if you care to share my feelings - day to day - as the whole episode unravelled - Journey Into My Heart.

I am aware that I am using this story to expose the particular people involved - but all that will eventually dissolve away into the Internet darkness.
However - the implications - for the Philippines, the people there - their relationship with the western world - and the questions raised for people like me - reach way beyond the boundaries of this journey - as recalled by just one person.
The main intention for revealing the intricate detail is to bring it to life - up close - for the reader to be awoken from their convenient slumber when confronted with these issues - and to learn a little of how it feels to be at the receiving end of a scam such as this - the confusion, bewilderment - the awful ambiguity, the torturous plagues of doubt and guilt - the devastation that it can bring - financially (well over £3,600.00 wasted - all under false pretences) physically and emotionally into a life - and to the other lives of those close by.
How disadvantage and stupidity is seized as a vulnerability - how love is used as a crowbar - to prize apart another life - to the advantage of those, seeking to gain - indiscriminately - through deceit and abuse of trust.
To be fair, in my eagerness to find a new beginning, in the blindness of my desire - I caused a great deal of pain myself - through my own deceit and abuse of trust - I am not pretending to be innocent - but simply recalling the events, as they happened.
God bless you all.



Click the flags to read about all the alarm bells.

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2 - Encounter

Journey Into My Heart 1
Welcome.
The events that you will read in this blog are true and accurate.
However, you will see that I have drawn my own conclusions from the events that have happened.


The section from here (Journey Into My Heart 1) up until August 10th (Journey 16) is left - untouched - from when it was just a private blog - I was happy and proud of my miraculous romance.

It was originally started in July 2007 as a private photo-record of my diary, written during my journey to the Philippines - & it was hosted at first on MySpace. Tierra Maria Estates were made aware of my blog in August 2007, I had sent them the URL in an email - I was still keeping it updated on the unfolding story - as the events happened - but it was not always public. However after I wrote the evidence about the fake-scar in October and made the blog public - one hour later - the account was hacked and everything disappeared. MySpace, after security checking, were very helpful in eventually rescuing the files for me. I now keep them separately backed up.

MY JOURNAL
Some of you may view this as simply unashamed self-publicity, maybe as the trumpetings of a middle-aged man - finding some excitement during a mid-life crisis.
Please let me assure you that these poems, my diary of events, originally were thoroughly private affairs of my heart - they are only posted here to be read as such - and to give me something to do that keeps me close to the wonderful memories I have, while I wait for my situation to resolve itself.
It all started with a growing discontent - at the rut I was in.
My wife and I had been steadily drifting apart for too many years.
Happy in my work, but tired, really tired of being financially drained every month - life was seemingly going nowhere.
The mortgage hung around my neck like a slab of concrete - the house became a burden, not a home.

Out of the blue - cyberspace is blue you know - I received an invitation from a young Filipina to become friends on Friendster. She was very pretty, as indeed a great many of them are - we started an exchange of communication. Somehow, the forwardness of her admitted affections made them seem rather perfunctory - but it is all too easy to be swayed by the satisfaction this brings, the soothing massage to the ego. Before too long, I suspected that I was about to be scammed for money - she started to mention that her family could no longer afford her tuition fees as a trainee nurse - he, he - again, it all seemed far too business like - and stuck out like a red flag for what was supposed to be a developing relationship. Not particularly subtle at all. I've read and I'm sure you've heard tales of the sort of behaviour that goes on - so I cut off communication.
But a seed had been planted in my head.
To be honest - hopefully you will have detected by now, it is not my intention to hide anything from you - I have always been attracted to an Eastern look, the dusky skin, the raven hair - I read a great deal on websites associated with the Philippines that they have great respect for the elder members of society (see where this is going?) - were not too particular about the physical appearance of their partner, appreciating more the attributes of loyalty and honesty - "God-fearing" - as they would say.
I will openly admit to my feelings and accept what my taste is - I see no cause for shame either - I am not intending to use force or deception. Provided that I find reciprocation and mutual understanding, I will stand by my particular attractions - free from any burden of guilt that some would wish to accompany them.
I am in search of the miraculous.
I was God-fearing, but now that fear has all but evaporated - replaced by an attitude of wonderment and love - sometimes overwhelmingly so, especially recently.

So I joined a website specifically designed for dating Asian women.
The process is standard - fill in a profile, submit a photo - search through the profiles and lodge messages of interest etc.
My first night, having only just completed my profile - photograph still subject to approval - I got a message back from a young girl in Manila - "Curly Hair."
"hi how are you doing? are you new here? do you have pic? wow musicia here you are! wana be my friend?"
She worked as a "Property Consultant" based in the Tierra Maria Estates sales office in Paranaque City. This was on April 14th 2007 - I remember it so clearly - the start of my adventure, my new life.

[Mayen was aware - right from the start, because I had mentioned my previous encounter, that I was extremely cautious - she admitted that there were a lot of fake people on these dating sites - but assured me that she was all genuine. My research had suggested that the girls on dating sites who lived in the large urban areas, such as Manila, were potentially more risky - in terms of finding a scammer - I was reassured, initially, by the fact that Mayen's profile indicated Southern Leyte as her home - it wasn't until later that I understood she was actually now in Manila.]
Profile picture from DIA
We both seemed to be excited at our new found friendship - indeed we returned day in, day out, to keep the torch burning - as it were - despite the difficulties of actually meeting in real time - due to the seven hour time difference.

[I was enthralled and fascinated also by the mystical charm of the Philippines and the culture there - exploring a new world that seemed to represent a perfect paradise for romance.]
I wrote of my feelings - often in poetry - for I was falling deeply, most surely, most ridiculously in love with this young girl - only 23 years old - what exactly does one feel across the internet - just one simple photograph - but within those eyes, I detected so much - a face that seemed to promise so much to me - way out into my future - I felt such a deep stirring in my heart - much deeper than a simple infatuation.

LOVE STONE
Tides never cease to come and go,
Or draw back with a sigh,
Nor stays the peace,
My spirits flow,
From sinking low,
To rising high.
My heart,
As if a pebble thrown,
Caught fast upon that sloping shore,
First rolling up,
Then tumbling down,
Polished,
Till a stone no more -
By waves that move too deep inside,
To ever understand,
But prove me brave
To never hide -
Just one
Of countless grains of sand.

I was very alert to the possible madness of what I was allowing to happen to myself - oh yes, I was wary, very wary . . .

Now we both must shed the veil,
And tear to shreds illusion's sail
That doubt or fear may no more find
Propulsion here of any kind.

. . . but instead of it fading - every day brought increased vigour to our relationship - we definitely saw each other as an answer to a long held secret prayer - and soon it came to the point of having to meet each other - to have continued, in this purely text-based world, with the depth of feeling that we both admitted to having, would have been impossible. We'd reached the end of all that words could do - so we had to prove it, finally, positively, by meeting person to person.

MIRACLE
As a shell, upon the ear
Close pressed, will bring the sea,
Within my heart, so faint, yet clear,
Is whispering to me
A voice, in kind, to silence near,
A zephyr, stirring constantly,
As soft as only I may hear,
Yet recognise with certainty.
Lucid, though no word be told,
Insistent, as a drum,
The burden of its message holds
A distant, sacred sum,
Another region of my soul
Is calling me to home,
For it be one, yet not the whole
Of all it may become.

How soon could this happen? I enquired when her holiday time was, not wanting her to be pre-occupied with her work while I was there.
Very soon, dates were suggested - confirmed - meeting with her first in Manila - then meeting with her family, seeing her environment - the province where she was born and brought up. I visited my mother - it was the first time she had heard about my domestic situation - she was very happy about my plans - not understanding much about the internet was puzzled as to how I could be in love with a girl I'd never met - but she gave me her blessing.
The next morning I got a call from my sister in Portugal "What's going on? Mum's had a dreadful dream - her guardian angel told her that you are in danger." I facetiously remarked that my phantom lover on the internet was maybe more real than my mother's guardian angel.
This all had to proceed very secretively - I was certain that my marriage had come to an end - I wanted to move on, release the capital that was tied up in the house - but I wasn't prepared to burn my bridges completely at this stage, so secrecy was imperative.

I sold some shares to raise the air fare, arranged for a dear friend to purchase the tickets online - all untraceable to my bank account - very devious goings on - and all the time, I was feeling so much love in my heart - praising God regularly for this miracle - yes, things even improved at home - well they do if you're feeling love in your heart, don't they.
The trip to the Philippines happened to fall on 10 days that were free - sandwiched between 2 visits to Jersey for work. I would simply extend my visit to Jersey to cover the gap - and to cover my traces.
Or so I thought.

12 hours on this - to Hong Kong - then a 3 hour wait - 2 more hours to Manila.



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3 - Preparations

Journey 2

Flames? - oh, very yesterday,
Fire & brimstone? - so passé,
Old Nick has now a better way,
To torture souls (who go astray)
He sends them back to Terra Firma,
As far afield as France and Burma,
And once his players are on set,
He puts them on the internet.
"Sounds just fine" I hear you cry,
But wait - and here's the reason why,
Once they're sat there, up above,
He'll make damn sure they fall in love.


A definite landmark in this period came when she sent me her cellphone number, in an effort to quell my doubts and fears about who she really was - it is impossible across the internet to know for certain - and once faith and trust are put aside, even for a moment - it can all start to turn upside down.
I immediately phoned her up - I will never forget the sound of her golden voice - hearing it for the very first time - hearing the excitement that she was feeling - her wonderful bubbling laughter. The memory of that moment proved a positive lifeline as I started to become engulfed by an ocean of suspicion - unfortunately - the cost of phone calls and the often poor quality restricted, almost entirely, their use.

[Mayen sent me two new photographs of herself after I had pleaded with her to let me know more about her. She teased me on the phone, saying "What you want, sexy pictures?" The two pictures that did arrive were thankfully modest - but made me realise, with a shock, that I had been focussing my love around one solitary photograph - and that I did not really know Mayen at all.]

The intervening time was rather painful - on several fronts. I started to feel a dreadful ambiguity - on the one hand I really wanted this to be genuine, I prayed that it would turn out as it appeared to promise to my heart. But on the other hand, what if I arrived at Manila to find the whole thing a big scam - finding someone unrecognisable there meeting me? Compounding the horror of this dichotomy - no matter how much I tried, I could not communicate this fear any more strongly than the subtlest of hints - virtually undetectable hints - without it becoming very insulting. Trying to get to the truth across the internet is well nigh impossible - words are cheap and honesty is indistinguishable from deceit.

What brought this issue to a head was the fact that I was recommended a hotel that was newly built and had no internet presence. Best advice is always to leave word with a friend of where exactly one is staying when abroad, especially in circumstances like this - I could find no trace. I even went as far as contacting the British Embassy in Manila - they wrote back saying "We are unable to confirm the existence of this hotel."
"Great" I thought - "I'm walking right into a scam" - so I confronted the poor girl with my fears, spilling out all my doubts and suspicions - it was a great relief. After initially getting angry & upset at my wavering trust - she eventually saw the funny side - me fearing for my life - kidnapping - extortion - entrapment. Well it does happen you know.

[So it does exist after all - and very comfortable it was too. This was our home for the first week and our final night together.]
During a discussion about decorating the house - my wife discovers that I am planning on selling up - she immediately, intuitively jumps to the conclusion that I have met somebody else - wow! I cannot deny it, confess everything - except the proposed trip - shh! that's still a secret - well it was. Even that secret seems about to be exposed - due to a phone call that I received at Heathrow, the day I returned - waiting for my connecting flight back to Jersey.

I am so convinced that destiny is about to reveal someone very special - I float around for the remainder of the time before the trip.
I have managed some secret shopping on my previous visit to Jersey, so all that I'll need for the trip is over there - anti-malaria tablets, cool clothes, a new suitcase etc.
Hectic exchanges over the internet approaching d-day. My wife digs her claws in at my plans to sell the house - refuses to divorce, refuses to sell the house. All is doomed as far as I'm concerned - with no money to buy a property in the Philippines or start a business - both have been discussed - I might as well not bother going.

Things go dreadfully quiet and tension in me mounts for a couple of days - waiting to hear the verdict from afar and I am more than relieved to hear back that she is still interested in meeting me - despite my seeming poverty now.
The next day, things calm down a bit at home - we discuss the virtues of splitting up - and I think we both see the wisdom in doing so. But it is frightening to see how hope can paper over the cracks, cover up so many important, crucial details - or maybe it's a case of where there's a will, a way will come. The law of attraction at work.

Yes, I've been doing quite a bit of uplifting, inspirational reading recently - The Secret, Conversations With God, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari - all telling me the same thing, the same message. The world is abundant, have faith, create your own future by attracting it towards you - keep the thoughts clearly on target, be thankful - it so much makes sense - I am changing, day by day.

[My goodness - yes - some of my detractors are correct. Regarding my marriage, looking back, I can see now, I was being a selfish pig.
I am not going to attempt to excuse that behaviour.
I can only say I was certainly very unhappy & had been for a long time. I made a mistake with the marriage and considered further time spent in it, for either of us, was wasting the best we could bring to a relationship.
I am only now - over a year later - recovering from the effects of this adventure - reclaiming my life from being absorbed in the detail - and find myself right back where I was - with perhaps a little more insight - when it started.
I won't go into details here of why we are both unhappy - we have both been admitting it for years - here was perhaps the catalyst for change - that would set us both free again - allow us to both reset our lives. Divorce is not pleasant - and adultery as the grounds would not be on the cards (mutuality being a clue) - but separation - after 14 years - was not going to be without trauma - but there comes a time - such a time as this - when decisions have to be made.]

WILDERNESS
My heart has long since
Been restless,
Tethered and caged,
Enslaved in an artifice,
This human zoo.
Where concrete and glass
Confuse the sky,
And each day's passing
Sees my ancestors,
My roots,
My sense of belonging,
Become a distant memory,
Locked behind closed doors.
I want to tread, barefoot,
In my wilderness,
Cast off the grey shroud
Of a murky, out of focus world,
Step away from today,
Hang it up
Some place,
Like an old set of clothes.
I hear a voice calling me,
From my past, yet, within me still.
My inner nature, demands release,
To know that my heart shares
Its beating with the tide,
To know that my breath
Was born on the wind,
To know that within me,
There burns the sacred fire of life.
This dream arrives
From loving you.
You are my wilderness,
My proud, prowling lioness,
You, my inheritance,
My past, my blood,
My breath.
Let us bathe in each other's warm seas,
Let us roar to the same horizon,
Let us discover,
The wild,
The sun,
The moon,
This spinning orb,
The earth,
Our mother.
Our father
Of the spirit.
Becoming one
To create new life,
And let us not heed
The clamorous place,
Nor listen to the brazen voice
That lures us to its way.
I know a secret yesterday,
And want to live it once more,
With only you by my side.
My love,
This you bring to me.
Let our days spin,
Like the spokes of a wheel,
A perfect circle
Around its hub,
Two hearts,
Become one,
At our centre
Merging,
Fusing,
United in spirit,
Welded together
In a deep,
But silent
Communion,
An unspoken answer,
To a secret prayer.

So - the time arrives - first I have two days in Jersey, I fly back to Heathrow Sunday evening - I'm being hidden away at a friend's house while I wait for my flight late on Monday. Getting off the bus from the airport in my local town where my friend is to meet me - who should go sailing by in her car? Yes - my wife. Fortunately I had made myself invisible as I stepped off the bus.
Many messages to write before I go - last minute things. Flight day - final communication is via an internet terminal at Heathrow - then on to the plane, although I do manage a brief SMS message exchange with - I forgot, I haven't told you her name yet - Mayen - while waiting at Hong Kong.



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4 - Arrival

Journey 3

I decided to keep a daily journal (my diary) of the adventure, as it was happening - as a detailed souvenir of this glorious first meeting.
So here is that journal, started on loose scraps of paper I found in my bag - accompanied by the photographs - and some of the poems written before we had met - but I assure you that these dreams are all coming true - and I do believe in miracles.

I knew in an instant,
When I first saw your face,
What more can time achieve?
I do not need that space -
It merely makes a place for fear,
For un-answerable questions.
I cannot get much closer here,
My heart knows its direction.
If all the pages
Of every book
Described you to perfection,
It still would only take one look
To win my soul's affection.

DAY ONE

The first flight was a struggle - keeping it together emotionally & physically - stuck in my seat for 12 hours - I felt at times like a force fed battery hen might feel - no excercise - I did little stretchy movements regularly and meditated, which dipped into sleep occasionally but kept me reasonably calm and centred - despite the whirlpool of thoughts circling around inside my head.
Mayen and I had a brief exchange of text messages while I was waiting at Hong Kong - until she realised that I was still "roaming" on my cellphone - they stopped abruptly.

The second flight introduced me to Philippine food for the first time and my neighbour on the plane - a Filipina returning home from Sweden.
Finally stepping off the plane in Manila - the heat, the humidity - just incredible - like walking in to a hot shower room. Gradually getting used to this - changing gear dramatically - collecting baggage and all the other airport formalities were painless. Through all this, despite surrendering to destiny, having tired of chasing my thoughts any more - there was one sole preoccupation throughout my entire being - meeting Mayen.

Eventually I find the airport arrivals greeting area - a cacophony of car horns and police whistles, crowds of people, straining at the barriers, bustling and shuffling to catch sight of their loved ones - the culture shock was immediate. Again that recurring phrase appeared in my mind "What am I doing?"
After a couple of cellphone calls and about an hour waiting, there is a flurry of girls approaching me - Mayen - chaperoned by two of her friends - just over two months since it all began - my first real glimpse - aware for the first time of her young, small frame and the vibrancy of her personality, smiling, gleaming from every pore - and that hair - that luxurious wavy hair.

Our mutual delight was still evident, although mixed with other feelings - relief, overbearing excitement and the surreal - meeting someone you feel so close to although you have never met physically. It was holding hands, lots of wonderful smiles and kisses, gripping me tight and leading me like a blind man to our driver "dadda" - Marivien and Miss Ann sharing the passenger seat in the front - my heart was pumping with love and desire for Mayen - I was engulfed with such strong, natural love for this girl - there was no ice to break between us - it was all instantly melted to water - I felt what I have felt all along for Mayen - now she was right next to me, my arm around her shoulder in the back of a cab - as we all danced through the late night traffic - looking for a money changer - something I had overlooked at the airport in my eagerness - despite the offer from a couple of security guards to change my money. [Yeah - into thin air probably.]

We arrived at the hotel and I checked in - unsure of what was going to happen for the rest of the night, although it was very late by this time - my flight had landed at 10:30 pm. I photographed the exterior of the hotel while Mayen, with her friends, viewed the rooms for me, kindly choosing one that was away from the traffic noise. We arranged to meet in the reception next morning - deciding that it would be a good idea to get some rest - we hugged, said a farewell and Mayen left the hotel with her friends and went back to her room - suddenly - I was on my own.
At the end of day one I slept like a log.



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5 - In her hands

Journey 4

DAY TWO

I wake, shower and go down stairs for breakfast. Mayen appears shortly afterwards - this is strange - we didn't talk much last night in all the excitement.
I am completely in her hands at the moment - not knowing a thing about this new land - but we are happy people - about to have our first whole day together.

We spend most of today tasting a variety of transportation - taxi cabs, metered/unmetered, with or without air-con, jeepneys, motorised tricycles - in an effort to find somewhere to change my traveller's cheques. Ended up going to Makati - trusty, fiesty Mayen by my side, holding the money for the cabs - negotiating good deals - getting more and more exasperated at her fellow countrymen - treating "foreigner" here like the Golden Goose - the penultimate taxi driver typifying the bad deal - unmetered, no air-con, challenging us for a healthy tip even before we start - he took a "short cut" through shanty town, the squatters in the fishermens village - crowded, narrow, rust coloured streets - we made sure the doors were locked - the cab showing more and more signs of something terminally wrong with it - eventually giving up completely in a gas station - the driver pouring buckets of water over the engine to cool it down - hood up - we were told to find another cab. I don't think we gave him his healthy tip.

[Here again, my detractors have really tried to make a meal out of me using "Golden Goose" - an innocent enough phrase - surely preferable to the phrase I hear later in this adventure "Fat White Monkey."
Unfortunately, it is an inescapable reality - it is not a posture one has to assume - it is presumed by many who see "foreigner" - that here is an opportunity to "up" the going rate. It is an undeniable truth - proving anyone who cares to argue this point has either never been to the Philippines - or that they are a liar - trying to conceal the truth behind their words.]

During the day I broke a tooth on some hard pork we had for lunch [I had heard that the Filipinos loved their food - what an understatement!] We shopped for a SIM card for my cellphone to lessen the expense of texting. Sat outside in the new and enormous Mall of Asia, on the Baywalk - drinking coffee.

We go to Mayen's room in the early evening - she takes a shower - a simple room, rented for her by the firm she works for, and shared with her work colleagues occasionally - a bed, a water cooler, electric fan, rice cooker, basic kitchen utensils, clothes neatly folded in a large suitcase type bag, a bed for guests folded alongside the dining table and chairs. This is a small, hot room. I go outside for a cigarette while Mayen showers - waiting on the stairs as I prepare my roll up - the door of the room at the bottom of the stairs opens - out steps a girl dressed in just a slip carrying some freshly washed item of clothing to hang on the drying rails - seeing me lurking there on the stairwell, she apologises and - embarrassed, disappears straight back inside her room. I go out beyond the gate for a smoke. A grubby and almost skinny white cat of Siamese variety lounges on top of the perimeter wall - the security guard lounges on a plastic chair just inside the entrance to this little compound.
We then go to Mayen's "homebase" as she calls it - the sales office and greet her friends and colleagues.

Our first full day together - hand in hand - as close as two bodies can be - growing, expanding in our love and trust for each other. We all went for a meal together at East 19 [I think it was called] overlooking Victoriana housing project, with lightning flashing all around on the horizon - but a fresh breeze blowing.

My cellphone doesn't like the heat. I love Mayen so completely, so deeply - I am changing.

Unto the four winds did I shout your name,
And kept alight that sacred flame
Before the altars of Sun and Moon,
Underneath a vault of stars,
I offered prayer, that Oh, so soon,
Our eyes could share and know the same.
So simple, yet, now plain to see,
I know no more, no less of thee
Than I imagine, stars of me,
Who dwell a hundred lifetimes hence,
Who's light and sight I only sense
From long ago, when present tense.
Accuse me of idolatry,
Of worshipping a beam,
My faith, alone for company,
To temper, so would seem,
The steel of my temerity,
The colour of my dream,
All is unknowing, no consolation,
Save for the glowing
Of a new constellation.
1stNight3
After this first full day together, I get a bad case of the blues - having to say goodnight - I give Mayen the perfume that I bought her. After she had left me, I sent her a text saying that I wished I was her teddy bear - I spotted it earlier on her bed in her room.
Flick through the channels on the TV. I am growing to detest the world as it is portrayed in the media - so unreal. I doze off in bed for a few hours - but I am disturbed by a dream - cannot sleep any more - so I dress and go outside the hotel for a cigarette.
I rolled one for the security guard - he'd never tried a roll up with liquorice paper - he enjoyed it. I was surprised at the activity on the highway - colourful jeepneys, plying their trade.

Crammed with, amongst others, many immaculately uniformed schoolchildren, dilligently, serenely and with great humility - boarding to get to school on time. Now this was 4.30 in the morning! Schools open at 6.30 - yes there are different "shifts" so to speak - but go on until 4.00pm. That's a ten hour day.
I sometimes feel ashamed at the respect, near to reverence that I am shown by these sweet people, so beautiful [but I am reminded later - in fact Sir Francis uses these very words - that there are many "snakes" as well.] Me, lurking, trapped behind the disguise of money - courtesy of the exchange rate and appalling standard of living here. The illusion of wealth is all fake - I don't do anything consciously - it is assumed for me by those who see "foreigner."

I awoke this morning from a vivid dream. A black man, doing some menial labour had developed a deformed foot from the constant repetition of his task with the appliance provided for him - he pleaded with his boss for a moments rest. The boss, unseen, just a voice - but distinctly an unsavoury type of person replied "That's one less bone for you then!"
In my dream I was moved to such depths of pity for the man's suffering, I reached into my soul and found healing powers, felt God running through my fingertips as I massaged the man's foot back into shape - to the amazement of us both.

[At this point in writing, everything welled up inside of me, all the relief, the love, the emotions of this dream - I could not continue writing and broke down into a great sobbing in my hotel room.]



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6 - Taal Lake

Journey 5

DAY THREE

When I meet you
Face to face,
For a moment or two,
I'll shut my eyes,
Breath deeply
Into my heart,
The knowing,
The comfort,
The love
That lives there,
Flick through memories,
And paint my eyes
With the colours
I have seen you wear,
Dip into the
Refreshing waters
Of a pool
Already overflowing.
Our company
Already shared,
To love you
I've already dared.
I've come to meet
You from without,
Yet reach you still
Within.
And soul will greet
Another soul,
As close
As they have always been.

Not sleeping too well after my strange dream - I was woken by the phone - Mayen was obviously already in reception - we had arranged to meet for breakfast.
My goodness, I was so pleased to see Mayen again - we greeted like old friends, close lovers. After breakfast we retired to room 304 - I had a shower - and we just hung around in the room - I had the occasional doze.

The latter end of the morning - via tricycle - jeepney - we found an air-con van that would drive us to Tagaytay and Taal lake - the site of a volcano.
The driver, Elmer, after all the other passengers had left the van, was ours for the rest of the day - all the Tagalog chat that had taken place between him and Mayen was her negotiating a fee.
As we approached the high ground - essentially the rim of the giant crater - it started to rain, very heavily - and any good views down to the lake disappeared in mist, so we stopped at a small roadside cafeteria for food and rest.
First we were persuaded, by a street seller who had followed us inside, to buy and taste Espasol - a sort of powder covered jelly, made from coconuts and rolled in paper wraps - hmm - a little tasty, but disappointing really - next, a large pot of Bula - a big joint of pork in soup. After a strangely sweet cup of coffee, the rain seems to be stopping - back into the van - climbing up again, we find - a Starbucks - yeah!

A very good view of the lake, the top deck of the place is open - good - a smoke and coffee with chocolate cake - with the woman I love and am going to marry - perfect.

Many text messages going on - back and forth - I get to speak to Mayen's boss on the phone - Sir Francis. He's very kindly offered us his services for a day out - he'll take us to see the Tierra Maria Farm Estate housing project and maybe a beach if we'd like - we agree that will be Saturday.

How kind, I thank him very much - Mayen and I do much talking. She really appreciates having such a "kind, humble man" for a boss.

Picking up Elmer and the van we drive back to Manila - en route stopping for some Buko pie [again from coconuts - again very disappointing] some fresh mangos and pineapples. We put them in the fridge at homebase and go out for an evening meal after showering at the hotel - together.

The chinese restaurant was just in the process of closing up for the night, but they served us - we did not finish the food and it was wrapped up in plastic bags for us to take away - Mayen - ever thoughtful - wanted to take it for her work colleagues (her closest friends really) to eat the next day.

Now - this morning, walking to catch the tricycle, Mayen looked at me and said, quite simply "Timmy, I will sleep with you tonight - I missed you last night," quite matter of fact.
Needless to say, the effect those words had on my heart, mind and body were immediate and very pronounced - I had to adjust my shoulder bag to continue walking without embarrassment.
I had not anticipated, nor had I any expectations of physical love - slumbering dreams yes, that I had dared not awaken - but I had never dwelt on the thoughts. We had never discussed this, nor, I hope, will we - it flows from the soul - it accompanies my love for her - a deep and intrinsic part of the whole of my feelings for her - and completes the perfection of finding my soulmate.

I shan't go into details here - we showered before bed - very gently, supremely tenderly, my whole being overflowing with joy - we let our passions slowly rise and rise - deeper and deeper we reached into our hearts - I had come home - I cannot express how wonderful it was to be living my dream - to perfectly act out the scenes etched upon my heart. It was a long, hot night - continually returning to drink from each other's tenderness.

My heart wide open.
Never before in my entire life have I experienced such utter bliss, such a fullness of being human.
Eventually after a light sleep, we rose for breakfast.

Like a church, a quiet place,
To you, my heart fondly returns,
To where I feel that flow of Grace,
The peace my soul so dearly yearns,
A comfort, an oasis found
Upon life's choking, dusty road,
Where waters cool and clear abound,
And disappears my heavy load.

For Adults



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7 - Shopping

Journey 6

DAY FOUR

Lips close around a lover's seal,
Much more than just a kiss,
And doors in hearts
Swing open wide,
Secure and safe in this,
Souls escape and flying high,
Free as birds inside the breath,
They rise to meet,
In a long moment of play
With their own reflection,
Absorbing the warmth of another sun,
Sharing, knowing another love.
Two spirits, dancing as one,
Lost in the clouds of ecstasy.
To some, maybe, it's just a kiss.
But you and me, I pray,
Such bliss.

We went shopping - Mayen wanted to buy presents for her family - we were going to fly south to her province later in the week.
OK, before we go into the "golden goose" theory - I know all about that - and now I have seen, first hand, the desperate poverty here as well - it is cruel - really hard for people. Mayen, on our first day, calmly walked into a shoe shop and bought herself some new slippers [posh flip-flops] with my money - I'd given her control of it - hadn't worked out quite what it was worth - she enjoyed the feeling of having money for a change - I enjoyed the feeling of generosity - what is mine is hers. Making a peso here and there is as instinctive as breathing. Amidst all the religious slogans pasted everywhere, their faith is a sugar coating for the very bitter pill they consume daily, just scratching a living.
But - with exceptions of course - they are wonderful, sweet and joyful - bahala na - they would say - I love the country and the people - Mayen I would die for. I didn't enjoy feeling like the golden goose, nor did I wallow about in my new found role as benefactor, courtesy of the exchange rate - I am all too well aware of my own struggle back in the UK - all relationships are a trade off in some respect - I don't mind this one tiny bit - I am hopelessly, divinely in love and Mayen is a wonderful, kind, bright, humorous girl, full of joy despite her struggles - and I don't doubt the genuine love she has for me - it's just in her terms, through her eyes - as much as she is the answer to my prayer, I am the answer to hers.

Shopping here is an unbelievable experience. Due to the struggle for employment and the horrendously low minimum wage [£3.00 per day!] stores are hopelessly overstaffed - by devoted, conscientious and stunningly beautiful and courteous employees - desperate to cling on to their jobs. Nothing is too much trouble - everything is folded, packed in a meticulous way - and all with such a genuine smile - it's amazing.
We bought baby socks for a new family addition - baby shoes - there's a baptism happening, but poor Mayen will miss it - accompanying me back to Manila - she has to resume her work. Chocolate - very expensive - lots of chocolate, T shirts for a brother's birthday. I already had some gifts for mum and dad - some perfume and cologne.
I was touched earlier to see Mayen, in her room, sort through all of her clothes - hard earned - to find what she no longer needed - to pass on to her sisters or nieces.
Bought a new battery for my cellphone - you can probably get anything in Manila - every nook and cranny outside the big SM malls is crammed with every conceivable type of shop, work shop, repair shop - everyone scratching a living in their own little niche market - and working hard as well.

We had lunch in the open air on a deck of the mall - Gerry's - it was the franchise owner's birthday - some of the staff were partying outside as well - I made the mistake of ordering a "western" dish - a club sandwich - it was awful compared to the succulent, fresh food that Mayen ordered - of course there was enough to go round - a delicious Buko Pandan - lime jelly, condensed milk and scrapings of fresh Buko (young coconut flesh) Masarap! a word I think I got to use more than any other - delicious!.

Did I hand you the key to my heart?
Or, maybe you saw it lying there -
Mostly buried in the mud?
One lucky reflection,
Shiny serendipity,
Glinting in the sun light,
Catching your eye.
Or have you always owned that key?
Just how old is destiny?
To me, an eternal mystery.
And just what is it I feel
As my heart begins to open?
A burning desire -
To love you,
A desire I allow
To consume me
With it's heat,
A flame to be protected
But never fully enclosed,
Never denied liberty,
The oxygen
That keeps it bright.
Hope -
To dream with
Through the night,
Hope -
That rises
With every new dawn.
Faith -
That lock and key
Together should be.
Faith -
That one is you,
The other - me.
But wisdom reminds me -
There are no guarantees
That do not extinguish,
There is no security
That does not dim,
No mechanism
That might not seize,
A grape may shrivel
On the vine.
For love is alive -
It breaths -
It moves -
And glitters with
Ever changing brilliance -
It fascinates -
It lures -
It listens -
As free as the wind -
It does not like restrictions -
To be clothed in
Anything smaller
Than its universal size.
Gentle yet strong,
Master yet servant,
Free yet full of need,
Destination and journey.

No pictures from this day - in the afternoon we travelled north to Quezon City to visit Mayen's sister there (she has sisters in a lot of other places as well.) We used the MRT [Manila Metro Rail Transit System.] Very hot, humid - noisy - we strayed into an area of the platform reserved for children, women, disabled, or aged - the guard blew his whistle at us and we toed the yellow line waiting for the train - which was air-conditioned. It was a relief to get on board. Travelling almost the entire length of the route we got out at Quezon City and hailed a cab to take us to the house.

The sister, Adelaide, embarrassed and giggly - with two children - Precious and Vincent, ushered me in to the house to sit down. I was privately bewildered and amazed to see an array of all sorts of general household goods hanging around, as if on display - cards full of small shampoo sachets, plastic tubs full of lolipops, cans of this, packets of that. Were they into smalltime crime I wondered, lightheartedly? Shoplifting?
Then I became aware of a plastic chicken wire grill covering the window facing the street.
The explanation for all these goods - this was some sort of shop. A concept I had not come across before is that every street has its sari-sari store - it means "almost anything" - where the children come for the treat of some sweets and the neighbourhood can get all the things that you run out of at inconvenient moments.

I chatted to the neighbour from across the road, who was just emerging from the enclosure in which his prize fighting-cock was held. They're into that in a big way - but mercifully I didn't see any of the fights - just heard and saw the cockerels - especially hearing them in the mornings - it was like a call to prayer - crowing near and far - summoning people into the day. We sat ouside the store front under the awning - in the warmth of the early evening. Dusk happens very early here - it can be dark by 7.30 pm even in July. The neighbour told me that he had a Baldwin piano in his house - nowadays it wasn't played and it was rather the worse for wear because of the rats.
He knew Mayen well as she had lived here with her sister for a while when she first arrived in Manila seeking work - he confided in me that she came from a good family - she was a good girl. Travelling the 2 hour route we had just taken became too much and so Mayen left here and moved into her present room.

As we ate our delicious evening meal that the sister had prepared - a chicken stew and rice - masarap - the husband, Audie, returned home from work. He was an "FX" driver - [a chunky four wheel drive vehicle for hire as a taxi cab.]
We chatted briefly and then, after his day of exsertion at the wheel, very kindly offered to drive us both back to the MRT station.

Exiting the railway system at Magallanes (Manila) we immediately became embroiled in the evening rush hour - this was about 9.00 pm - the traffic was horrendous - fumes filling the air, stinging the eyes and throat, car horns creating a wall of sound - chaos - but the daily chaos here - a long line of busses blocking the traffic as they waited to fill up with passengers - jeepneys, tricycles all stopping and starting as they passed us - hoping to pick up the foreigner - we eventually got into an air-con cab and sat out the traffic in relative comfort.

That evening, already fed, we retire early to the hotel room - both feeling rather tired from the days travelling about. We wrap ourselves around each other in the heat - with the room air-con left on all night - a sound that reminded me of the ocean.



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