Almanac Travel: What George did on his holidays

The strange journey of a Collingwood supporter though the land of typhoons, traffic jams and God’s self-chosen vessels.


The Good

Because of the horrendous traffic, the authorities opened a ferry service between Mandaluyong and the heart of Manila City, Quiapo. My nephew and I managed to score seats on this modern wonder which made a frustrating 2-hour lurch between traffic jams a leisurely cruise down the river – less than an hour. On the way back the TV cameras were out to record this transport upgrade – so I quickly got out my Collingwood cap and waved it at the TV cameras as the ferry came in to dock. So, the Magpie flew high over the Pasig river, and on TV Patrol that evening.


Driving into Kalentong markets in my brother in law’s electric tricycle, I saw a bloke with a Carlton footy club cap on. I pointed at him and snarled: “Carlton! Showponies!” The poor guy did not know what happened, obviously he had been given the cap by a relative in Australia, and he had little knowledge of one of the biggest grudges in Australian sport…


The Philippine action soap “Starla” was the story of a wishing star called Starla, who was captured in a bottle by a small boy. Starla and the boy did battle against the bad guy, a henchman of evil developers. In the last episode Starla obtained her full powers as a wishing star, so she invited everyone in the village to wish for something special. Quickly I shouted at the TV: “Collingwood premiership please, Starla!“ So here’s hoping!


The basketball team that my wife supports, Barangay Ginebra won the Governor’s Cup for the third year running four games to one. The star player for their opponents Meralco, Raymond Almazan, was injured midway through the series. While I nervously watched the clock like any normal Collingwood supporter, everyone else had a sense of calm – these guys expected to win, even though the margin was narrow or Ginebra was behind. I had an inkling what it was like to barrack for Hawthorn or Real Madrid…


The Bad

The traffic was horrendous, it takes 2 to 3 hours to cross the city or go to the Airport. It is estimated that billions of dollars are lost to the economy every year by people being unable to get to where they were going. Several times I found myself sitting in traffic wondering if there was a rat run to get out of the traffic jams. The authorities are currently negotiating with motorcycle riders to ease the congestion, but this could lead to more traffic accidents and motorcycle riders have less protection in a prang…


All set to go for a swim at San Juan La Union, the best surf beach around, only to discover that the South East Asian games was on, and they commandeered my beach for a surf carnival. Fortunately, there was a beach about a mile down the road where people were swimming.


All set to go down to the Island near Sorsogon and plant trees on the family boundary. Then typhoon number one came by and wrecked all the dwellings on the island, pus no phone or electricity. Certainly put the kibosh on tree planting. Thought it best to stay in the city and not be another problem for the locals. The typhoon was followed by another typhoon.


After the typhoon came the volcano. On Sunday January 12 Taal Volcano exploded, scattering volcanic ash over a wide area. The airport was closed, which was a bummer for me as I was supposed to be flying to Japan for a week in two days. In the mean time thousands of people were homeless, living in evacuation shelters. People knocked about by the typhoons found their homes covered with volcanic ash. When we went to the airport there was ash and dust on the roadway. The plane to Japan actually took off, but there was a large queue of planes trying to take off at the same time. Interesting, with volcanoes, the scientists are listened to and the “common sense” brigade falls in line.


After the typhoons, the swine flu, the corona virus, the fireworks injuries and the volcano, came the labagnog wine crisis. It seems some enterprising lads were adulterating coconut wine with anti-freeze and metho. Eight people died and hundreds were in hospital. It was interesting to travel through Laguna and see large bottles of wine for sale by the roadside, and no takers.


The Ugly

Captain Smirky – A tyrant’s gotta do what a tyrant’s gotta do, and there are signs that the moribund Philippine economy is stirring under the stewardship of president Rodrigo Duterte. However, Duterte has a spokesman, Salvador Panelo who sneers at anyone who questions the regime. He called actress Bette Midler an incompetent talking head for lumping Duterte with other tyrants such as Pol Pot – and Trump. Ok, fair enough, but one would have thought that the opening of the South East Asian Games would be a moment for talking about peace, love and brotherhood. No such luck, Captain Smirky started rabbiting on about fake news and criticizing his political opponents. Like W.S.Gilbert’s Poo Pah, Panelo was born sneering…


Jose Sisson – the prince of arrogance is still at it in his column in the Philippine Star, taking the Rodney Marsh long handle to Planned Parenthood, divorce, contraception, gay rights, single mums and anything that would free parents of the burden of children they can’t afford. However, when the topic turns to his beloved Rotarians, he turns into a Labrador puppy, like most fops and courtiers…


Manny Pacquiao – just like Israel Folau, the peoples champion boxer cherry picked the Bible to have a go at gay people and fornicators. Unlike Folau, whose words caused objections and disquiet, the peoples champion became even more of a champion to his many followers. It doesn’t matter what you say it’s where you say it…


Tv Evangelicals – Philippine TV is a purgatorial chore, except for the amazing action soaps such as Ang Probinsyano and Starla. It seems every second channel has a self-appointed spokesman of God, every one of them twisted into a gargoyle by their arrogance, greed and hypocrisy. Let’s see what these paragons of virtue have to say:


“No one can judge me, only God can judge me” – he then proceeds to judge anyone who dares criticise him, assuring us that these critics will never enter the kingdom of heaven. One even quoted the Bible to say that Catholics cannot go to heaven, bit of a bummer for most Philipinos…





Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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  1. Labagnog wine. The mind boggles.

  2. Labagnog wine , i highly recommend it. I gave it a dash when i was on Luzon back in the late 80’s. Anything is better than San Miguel.

    Who is the Jose Sisson you talk of ? Is it Joma, Jose Maria Sison, the previously long exiled head of the CPP? I’d be surprised to see him getting a column in the corporate media.

    Did you get out to Corregidor ? My eternal regret is that i visited Luzon twice but never got out to Corregidor. Will i ever?


  3. george smith says

    Sorry folks, it is actually Lambagnog wine, and it is actually coconut vodka, flavored with either raisins or bubblegum – a very potent spirit.

    Corregidor from memory has a very expensive tour to go there. you might be as well going to Bataan, where most of the fighting was done, not that the Philippine “hero” Ferdinand Marcos would know, the only fighting he experienced was in his memoirs.

    The Spanish when they departed left behind the worst of the Catholic Church, including the beginnings of the Opus Dei cult. Such a man is Attorney Jose Sisson, not the bolshie but rather a Right Wing Catholic piece of scum who wages war against divorce, single mums, contraception, gay rights and of course the right wing catholic bogyman, abortion. According to Sissy, Planned Parenthood and all these other things may lead to the A word. In spite of having 6 kids,Sissy does not believe in sex before marriage, or to a large extent, after marriage – only if you are trying to conceive, true story .He loves his Rotarians for whom he does most of his legal work – a vile piece of hypocrisy and cant.

  4. Ta George.

    Yep, spent time in Bataan, including Mariveles, the port on the tip, closest to Corregidor.

    Joma, Jose Marie Sison, has long been exiled from the Phillippines .He was in the Netherlands for a long time. I don’t know if he’ll ever return to Philippines.


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