a story of awakening

A friend named G is a typical Frenchman, married to a typical Filipina & have atypical experiences in the Philippines. After spending 10 years in France, G & his Filipina wife moved to the Philippines where wife comes from, where spicy gata* based food, fishing & mining are the specialty. Where G is the seul puti*.

So G endeavored to make a living from fishing, building a house facing the sea with a nifty garden. His humble home became a full house of 17 residents made up of wife's family of several generations. Tending to his fishponds, G needed people to guard it at nights for he quickly learned that in this small town, business can be sabotaged easily. Afterall, there is help within the family. But despite G's seemingly good management & family help, fish & shrimps were being stolen, largely compromising profit. One incident with one of his guards was when the townies came to his post, equiped with gin & a bagful of stories, got dead drunk for he is not a drinker, wakes up to soon find out that he was robbed under his nose. Whatever other instances for losing his harvest, G thought fishing might not be a good idea.

But then G was not turned-off easily & this time ventured into mining, complete with the right equipement. He employed men to mine everyday with him until the day he had to go back to France, mining business continued without him. After a year, he received news that his men finally tapped a wall where gold can be found. With this good news, he comes home to his men declaring that they will now only work as partners & as partners they want a part of the treasure rather than their usual daily wage. G didn't argue, allowed them to use his equipement despite the odd turn of events but insisted the deal will only be closed under his command on how to continue with the mining. The men didn't listen to his instructions & they ended up filling the tunnel with water, one almost lost his life & his pump now under water. The gold had the wait & so did G for he now has a mental map of the mountain tunnels & even if a lot of his good equipement were stolen, stolen with a well-guarded area, dogs were poisoned & a guard was threatened, he just puts mining aside for now.

Ignoring how G finally went back to a more typical life in France, one of his mental pictures of this apparently quite little town is the one main road where the locals are all in line by the sidewalk, watching the daily road activities of passers-by. A town where he caught a 5 year glimpse of a pocketful of characters. His obliged generosity for people who come to him for help in the form of utang* ends up being a gift. His pakikisama* around the table with a gin & pulutan* for relationships are built with it, or broken when he witnessed drunken brawls of machetes. The sungit puti* when he yells at the household to close the gates to defend his nifty garden from people crossing it to reach the beach. You could say that G might have really been in the heart of an apparently typical village in the Philippines.

Now after around 6 years, give or take a day, G revisits the Philippines with a big welcome. On arrival in Manila with his wife, he decides to have his euros changed & changed in a bank. Oddly, the bank does not accept changes in euro & points G across the bank where a money changer is located. They marched to the money changer & marched back to the bank with their pesos to be deposited. The teller then mentions after counting that there must be a mistake for it misses a large amount. With this, they called two policemen to go with G to the money changer to claim the missing sum, with the policemen, all three of them, individually counted the money rigorously. They marched back to the bank only to again find out that they still have the same amount, a sum still missing. And for the third time, the money changer now closed & the lady was gone. G could have sworn he saw the bills & counted them correctly. He swore the lady had burning red eyes like a serious case of sore eyes. G & his wife lost 80Kphp, according to them, under this art of hypnotizing.

Chalking that up to experience, G finds his house facing the sea with a nifty garden, enclosed by other houses, literally houses were built around his house, some houses were built from his own walls & fence, he lost his view of the beach & his entrance to where he can only access by passing through these houses around his humble home, where electric cables are like grape vines & the clothes line like paintings in a museum.

"Are you still going back to the Philippines?" I asked G to which he replied, "Anything is possible. The Philippines will take centuries to make a good change." Yes, G is a typical person with atypical experiences in the Philippines. You think you know but you don't know when it happens to you. Anything is possible, there are hundred sides of what can happen. If this is not a question of culture, then G has a damn case of bad luck.

*gata - coconut milk sauce; seul puti - only white person; utang - credit; pulutan - appetizers; sungit puti- grumpy white person


From Manila to Paris, then to Marseille & to the Côte d'Azur, now in Singapore, clinging to a map of three worlds, where everything becomes all relative.


  1. This guy really deserves a medal from GMA. I really feel sorry for everything he's been through, but at the same time I'm impressed that he still keeps coming back. In a way he's almost pinoy na - kahit anong mangyari, sige lang ng sige. :-)


  2. Wow, wow,at wow! pa! Napakamalas naman ni G. Poor guy,sana something will kind of 'redeem' the image and the reputation ng Pinoy in the eyes of G. After I've read this entry, parang ako ang napagod at nadismaya sa experience niya...

  3. are you sure he's french? a typical one? - he's not as reklamador and as exigent as i know typical french are. but well, i live on the other side of france, i guess.

    and what about the wife and her family? isn't it in their objective to protect this seul puti in their town? naman, there's limit to everything...

  4. olaaah, what an experience. How about his wife, she didnt warn her of those?
    I have an internet shop in manila, 22 pcs with only my daughter looked after it.

    The brgy wanted to asked from me special favors, I said no. They insisted, I said, bill me via my lawyer atty pulido,Natakot.
    they stopped harassing me.Four years now, they dont touch us anymore. Also, Lolo do not mixed with drunkards in our area. Not even sit and discuss with them, lol! busy siya sa harap ng pc, kaka lime wire.
    Or siguro dahil di naman kami tagal sa pinas gaya ni G.

    Our french husbands needs protection from the wife . The wife should guide the foriegn husband not to be exploited din, di ba?

    Grabh naman yun, sakit sa puso!

  5. You're so right, Kala! I think sa dami na ng nangyari, he becomes a little numb na but he does feel bad about everything.

    Hi Gina! Oo, nakakadismaya talaga when you don't know if it's because he's too nice or because we just can't do anything about how we are back home - like a stronger force na! And no, he didn't change his opinion of pinoys.

    Naku, yes Ana, he's a typical French who has travelled & lived in other places so he's not as reklamador but he is totally paranoid & we can't blame him no? And for the wife, that's a half question :) That's why I say, you don't know until it happens to you, as Francesca just said.

    Francesca, I actually didn't believe G when he told me of those mafias going around businesses. I think the wife knows & he knows but yun nga, may halong malas rin siya talaga sa Pilipinas.

  6. I am sad of what had happened with G but just to be fair, I think he should have kept his guard din in the beginning. It's not because his wife is a Filipina he should trust everyone. And he should have stopped being too nice to people around them instead be frank. Like when they have used his equipment without even protecting his own business or without arguing, you know what I mean! For Pinoys side, it's because G has been very nice they took advantage of him, eh kung inunahan na sana ni G na maging strict, I think that these wouldn't happen. Unahan lang kasi minsan ! Sabi nga kung walang nagpapaloko walang maloloko. You cannot blame Pinoys too, it's not very easy to earn money especially in a backward place where he lived! Hawak na sila sa patalim! We are Pinay so we understand how Pinoys behave. In addition it's also the wife's responsibility to protect her husband because he is a foreigner. I do it when we visit Pinas, most of the time I do the talking, negociating and decision making co'z we know better our country and how it goes with people!

  7. Hello Makis. Kawawa naman to the max si G. Francesca is right, dapat i-protect ng wife yung husband. Jim doesn't stay long in the Philippines like G but I also do not let him mingle too much with the neighbours kasi nga baka samantalahin nila. Pag too much familiarity, it's sad to say they take advantage. I hope makabawi si G, dami din nyang natulungan in the process kaso talaga yatang di pa sya sinuswerte? - Len

  8. So true, Hazel, everything you said but isn't it sad that it has now become an accepted culture? Na it has become normal na may nangloloko or taking advantage the goodness of other people in between pinoy & foreigner, or even pinoy & pinoy? I guess it is part of the success of a nation :)

    Yes, Len, ako din naawa sa kanya but like what Hazel said, ganon talaga but we cannot just also say na it's an accepted thing na. We need to change this to be a better nation din.