Friday, July 5, 2013

Travels With Keith

I'm a hard time sleeping tonight. No, not from a guilty conscience but what I call "crazy leg syndrome" when I have a MS attack, and get a lot of twitches and spasms that interfere with sleep in a big way.   When this happens, my mind starts thinking, and I got to thinking about an excursion I took when I was in the Philippines, back in the late 1990's.

A couple friends and I hired a car and driver to take us to Baguio and later the Banaue Rice Terraces in northern Luzon.  Great places to visit, especially when the heat is on in the rest of the Philippines, being in the mountains meant a bit cooler temperatures.

Coming back to Manila, it was getting to be lunch time, and none of us wanted to stop at a McDonald's or worse yet a Jollibee so our driver searched out a local restaurant he knew of in Tarloc City, best known for the end of the Bataan Death March, but is actually not a bad town.  By not a bad town, you have to realize that the Philippines is a relatively poor country and the infrastructure may not be up to the standards of a modern US city, but I bet it is better than any place in Egypt these days. 

Well, the driver happened to be from that part of Luzon, and knew a good place to get a good lunch.  I would have never found it on my own, or would have stopped there even if I had.   It was a simple outdoor terrace with plastic patio tables and chairs, and had a menu only in Tagalog on a blackboard, probably a good sign of fresh food.

The owner saw us there, and came over to the table, apologized for not having an English menu, and went on to explain what she had that was fresh.  I had one of the best meals that afternoon I ever had on that trip.  The fish was fantastic, fresh, the veggies were good, and the San Miguel Beer tasted better than ever. 

When I asked the lady for the check, she said that she will never charge Americans for a meal in her restaurant, because they liberated her and her family from the Japanese during World War II.  According to the story she told me, the Japanese made her parents slaves, beating them frequently, and forcing her older sister into prostitution for the Japanese soldiers.  To her the Americans were and still are liberators to her.

I insisted on paying, but the nice old lady would not accept anything.  Well, before we left, I stuffed 1000 Pesos under the plate (about $20 dollars at the time) under the plate and quietly left after thanking the people for their hospitality.

One thing I've discovered over the years is that some of the kindest and most generous people are those who really do not have all that much themselves.

This is just one reason I'd rather visit places like the Philippines far more than countries where they don't like us, have bad attitudes and snooty unionist attitudes. Yes, Western Europe I'm talking to you.

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