Sabang Part 5: The Final Chapter

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Where I stayed
New International Hotel

Flag of Philippines  , Visayas,
Friday, May 28, 2010

Looking back on my experience in Sabang I can say that I have no regrets about spending so much time there, although on the other hand, Sabang is not altogether "my kind of place". The main thing is that it's a little sleazier than I had expected and for a while this is funny, but after a few weeks the place started to grate on me a little and by the time I left I was happy enough to do so.  It had nothing to do with the dive shop where I was studying, the fantastic Diver’s Café and all of the staff there: Danny, Hermann, John, Richard, Phil, Angelo, Ray (at the café) and others who did everything possible to make my stay enjoying and rewarding.  To you guys, thanks truly.  There were some other relationships, if you could call them that, that developed in Sabang that were not entirely to my liking and while running the risk of sounding mysterious, I do not have the time or patience to go too far into all of those.  Some stories (not all mind you) that follow will have alternate names used, lest the details of online rumor mills circle their way back to the actual participants – it’s not my intention to embarrass anyone or spread people’s dirty laundry out on the net for everyone to see.  I can only hope that if any of the people mentioned in these stories do make their way back to their owners so to speak, that they can appreciate that, after all, they are funny stories and the vast majority of people reading my posts have never known you personally and never will.

I will go forward by giving you some more, umm, “interesting” details on what life in Sabang I like. 

Sabang is a place of sharp contrasts, as are many places in the developing world.  It wasn’t long before my arrival in Sabang that I was faced with this stark reality of local life:  There are only 3 main interests or motivations for being in Sabang and they are, in their most common order of preference…1) Diving 2) Drinking and 3) Shagging.  Almost everybody in Sabang has an interest in all 3 activities, but it’s quite a personal thing as to how one organizes his interests in terms of which is number one, two and three.  The Diving priority is obvious enough.  Sabang is home to over 40 distinct dive sites, maybe half of which could be described as amazing for one reason or another.  Boozing, while being an activity in any location the world over, holds a special place in many locals’ challenged heart valves, or should I say what’s left of their livers.  And sex is an interesting dynamic of Sabang life and takes on many different levels of meaning depending on who you are and where you are coming from.  Most of the people that I know (largely from back home) would be appalled at how openly and by their standard disgustingly, sex was had and discussed in certain circles of Sabang.  I promised that I wouldn’t get stuck on diving stories in this entry so let’s have a closer look at the other aspects of local life in this strange little microcosm called Sabang.

Hard core boozing is a way of life in rowdy little Sabang.  A booze binge is quite unpredictable in this place.  People there often intend to adhere to a weekend warrior type-schedule.   They try to be good boys and girls until Friday night hits and they then proceed to erase the karma of whatever good deeds they have participated in over the week.  However, Monday night mayhem can sneak in somewhat innocently, with a few beers gulped down after a long day of diving.  Maybe you have dinner at the restaurant where you and your dive buddies congregate, and proceed to move on to the harder stuff around 8 PM.  At 9 PM someone “rings the bell”.  Update:  All bars in Sabang (and many other places) have a large bell suspended in a  convenient place and when someone rings the bell, they are offering to buy a round of booze for everyone in the establishment, usually including the staff and manager as well, but  at the very least everyone at their table.  Sure, I’ve rung the bell a few times.  Everyone has.  So the bell gets rung and before you know it, it’s rung again and again…..and again.  When someone has a drink bought for them, often by a stranger, it necessitates that you will buy a round too.  Heaven forbid if you look like a cheapskate or even worse, someone who doesn’t care to continue splashing down Jaeger-bombs.  So with 8 people at the table it’s 8 rounds with roughly a 5 minute break in between each, 10 minutes if mercy has found you.  Add it up and it’s only 10 PM, you’ve had 3 beers, a highball or two and 8 shots of assorted boozy mish-mash including all of the usual suspects.  And Lord help you, you can’t think of any reason not to head off for “just one more round” down the street to the Broadway Bar, which seems innocent enough when you’re still reasonably in control of your senses.  The Broadway Bar hosts two types of entertainment: The KGB (karaoke girl band as mentioned in previous blogs) and pool tables in the front and the Broadway Disco in the back which is an out and out Girlie Bar with a separate entrance. 

The Girlie Bars are nothing but strip clubs with the added feature of being able to pay at any time a mere 2000 pesos ($45 CAD, and in some places as little as 1500 pesos or $35 CAD) for a “Bar Fine” to get the girl released from the bar to go home with you so she can perform some more….personal services.  What I’ve been told is that the “Bar Fine” was originally conceived as compensation to the bar and Mamassan to cover the costs of not having the girl at the bar for the rest of the evening.  But in actuality the “Bar Fine” is a thinly veiled term for procuring the services of a hooker of course, yet it seems to remove some degree of guilt in the customer’s mind when referring to it in this way.  You might overhear some geezer admitting…”Yeah, I Bar Fined last night….But I don’t do it all of the time ya know”.   Other “customers” I’ve spoken with are not so shy about their pastimes and openly brag about the frequency of their Bar Fines.  These types of stories would make most people’s head spin, the details of which don’t in any way deserve to be luridly re-laid here. 

The girls who work in the bars are euphemistically referred to as G.R.O.’s (Guest Relations Officers).  You can’t put “Need to Hire A Few Prostitutes” on a sign out front as it doesn’t come off all that well but “Hiring Attractive and Friendly G.R.O.s “ doesn’t seem so offensive.   And besides, prostitution, despite its blatant proliferation and presence here, is still technically illegal so the G.R.O. moniker helps take the edge off.  

Despite the fact that the Girlie Bars are much “more” than strip clubs (North American style), visiting a Girlie Bar does not hold the same social weight in the Philippines that it might hold back home.  I know that all of this is not news to everybody.  Everyone goes to the Girlie Bars and girlfriends do not look upon their boyfriends with disgust when they visit, in fact, more often than not they go there with them. 

So it’s another typical night in the Girlie Bar, watching 19 year old girls strut their stuff around the platform, while we quaff our beers, chatting amongst ourselves and casually observing the entertainment.  Most girls on stage clearly don’t have their heart in it and how could they?  Dancing mostly consists of swinging hips half-heartedly, non-sexy posturing and poking around back and forth a few feet in a manner that suggests she’s practicing her vacuuming maneuvers. 

 Also in attendance is the obligatory string of 45 to 80 year old guys from all over the planet.  A 60 year old beer-bellied Australian man with a girl who is young enough to be his grand-daughter, a 50 year old American guy making out with a gorgeous 22 year old Filipino girl and a British fellow who is 80 years old if he’s a day, feebly propping himself up on the bar while his 25 year old “girlfriend” holds his arm gently, so as not to snap it off. 

Mamassan is never far away and she’s watching you in your observation of the girls on stage or elsewhere.  If you express even the most remote interest in a girl, Mamassan is on your case immediately in an attempt to capitalize on your unconscious reactions, like say, raising your eyebrow.  Often she will approach you with two or more girls in tow, asking you which one you will be taking home that night.  In the larger Girlie Bars it’s not uncommon to have 4 or 5 Mamassans managing the girls.  Mamassan encourages everything that your common sense and social conditioning tell you is reprehensible.  Two girls in your lap?  Mamassan is happy to oblige.  Tit flashing at close range?  No problem with Mamassan.  Shots of tequila with the salt licked off the nipple of a 20 year old girl?  Mamassan will arrange this with markswoman speed and precision.  Mamassans are uniformly middle aged, 3 apples high at 1 meter wide and have a mandatory blemish of some kind, like a giant mole with two-inch long hairs jutting out.  Most Mamassans were dancing girls back in their day, but once the age issue has become undeniable, they’ve stepped up to the management level.  Mamassan encourages “Lady’s Drinks” which are bevies bought at a price anywhere from 2 to 5 times the normal bar price, for a girl who accompanies you while you’re at the bar.  The girls (usually) get a reasonable percentage of the cost of the drink as commission and the more a punter drinks the more they drink and the more reasonable a watered down rum and soda at 200 pesos (normal price 70 pesos) starts to seem.  Allot of the girls don’t even like to drink alcohol so a lady’s drink is nothing but overpriced mango juice.  But a few girls are enthusiastic drunks and will rival any 200 pound South African fellow, slamming them down with reckless abandon.  These ones tend to go from slightly skewed to downright bonkers within an hour or so, and their techniques at seducing you to take interest in their additional services follow suit.  A few girls seem to enjoy the work quite a bit, although I sincerely doubt that for any of them it would be there first choice if they actually had other ones.  You will see some practicing at the side of the stage before they go on, getting their moves just right, adjusting every little thing, just vibrating with energy.  Whether it matters or not, 90% of the girls who work in most of these places are drop dead gorgeous.  “The Girlie Bar Girl” herself is quite an interesting character study and her predicament requires a little more close examination (as does her counter-part, the WWW or White Walking Wallet), which I will provide as the closing to this blog-post.

Inevitably these places are quite boring and don’t demand that you stay for more than 2 or 3 rounds.  That said, not all girlie bars are created equal and I find that while I am content enough to enjoy a few rounds in an average girlie bar, some of them just make me downright squirmy.  The Hammerhead Disco upstairs from the Broadway Bar seems decent enough, done up in the style of a 70s lounge and the Venus Bar offers the illusion of being clean and spacious with a bright white disco type stage surrounded in pot lights and large mirrors on opposite walls.  But the Sabang Village Disco just shouts out grime to me, and I can’t stand it for more than one round and only when I’ve been dragged in there by a mob of friendly drunks.  Maybe it’s the obvious contingent of girls under the age of 18, or maybe it’s that allot of the girls are so tired from their crappy work that they curl up on benches at the back of the bar to catch some shuteye.  It lends an immediate sadness to the whole atmosphere of the place.  Whatever the case, I will make any excuse to leave as soon as I can. 

On an average night-out-with-the-gang in Sabang, we will hit 2 of the Girlie Bars before heading to Venue, Sabang’s only real night club and dancing establishment.  Venue is a typical night club by the Philippine’s standards, a huge, somewhat characterless dancing area with a catwalk platform along the far wall, sparsely decorated and tragically under-ventilated.  We all contribute to the excessiveness of being in such a place, the multiple rounds of unnecessary boozing, the dramatic gawking at men and women alike who are behaving badly, and the unabashed thrashing of limbs on the dance-floor that people mistake for dancing.  I sweat just at the thought of going to such a place, but actually being there and participating in these activities makes me sweat in earnest and by the time I finally peel myself away from here at 3 AM, I am completely soaked. 

If the Venue has not finished me off for good, it’s often off to the Big Apple Resort and Bar, one of Sabang’s few 24 hour drinking spots.  Even at 3, 4 or 5 AM the scene at the Big Apple is often thronged with people and we pull up for a few rounds of poorly played pool and over-priced drinks.  The music as always is cheesy and largely nods to the 80s: we listen to Huey Lewis sing about The Power of Love and Rick Springfield insist that he wishes he had Jessie’s Girl.   They guys make attempts, in some cases narrow, to avoid the advances of the Hunting Girl.  The Hunting Girl, like her GBG counterpart is, at her most basic level a prostitute, but she takes on the added feature of “hunting” foreign men.  Q: “Who is she anyway?” A: “Oh, she’s Hunting Girl”.  The hunting girl is self-employed so to speak and doesn’t like the idea of working in a bar or having a Mamassan hovering over her.  Otherwise, the goal of the hunting girl is roughly the same as the GBG:  Make the foreign man/WWW believe that she actually likes him and get as much cash as she can as quickly as she can from the WWW.  You may think I’m being disparaging by describing these girls in this way but in fact, this is simply the truth.  The Big Apple is full of Hunting Girls and hanging out there is always an outrageous experience to some degree.  Sometimes the Big Apple refuses to put you to bed and stumbling away at 7 AM is the only way that a night like this can end.

I guess the problem that I had with the social life in Sabang is that pretty much every night out could be described as I’ve noted here and this gets quite tiring for me, even after a few weeks.  The same bars, the same geezers, the same situations again and again, night after night. 

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE GIRLIE BAR GIRL (GBG) AND THE WHITE WALKING WALLET (WWW)

The age old idiom, with its necessary adjustments applies to the Girlie from the Girlie Bar:  You can take the girl out of the bar but you can’t take the bar out of the girl.  From all the stories I’ve heard around town and elsewhere, there is a somewhat predictable trajectory for the Girlie Bar girl.  Things usually start off with the girl agreeing to work at the bar under the assumption that it will be a short term arrangement, just until she gets enough money together to send back home to her parents (and often her baby who is with the parents) and get her feet on the ground.  In actuality allot of girls do end up doing this sort of work on a temporary basis and manage to move on to something much less demeaning as quick as they can.  On the few occasions that I spoke with one of these girls, within 15 minutes of conversation, a surprising amount of them will admit openly that they don’t like dancing at the bar and they don’t like feeling obliged to sleep with geriatric, overweight foreigners several night per week.  Yes, I know, the fact that they do not care for “the deed” is not a big revelation, but what did surprise me was that they would admit it so openly to some random guy who happens to be in the bar and in theory is a “potential customer”.  As you can imagine, many girls do get stuck doing this work and simply stay on indefinitely.  From what I’ve seen, I would estimate that at around the 6 month mark a transformation takes place inside the girl who works at the girlie bar.  The easiest way to relay it is to say that this is the point at which you can no longer take the bar out of the girlie bar girl.

Something I read in a fictional book about girlie bar girls and east/west relationships when I was last in Thailand in 2006 stays with me.  It’s posed in the form of a joke but it’s not really:

Q:   How do you know if a girl from the girlie bar is lying?

A:   Her lips are moving.

This may seem like a harsh joke and in some ways it is.  But like the majority of jokes, there is truth in it.  It’s well known that the Girlie Bar Girl dating the foreigner sees her boyfriend largely for one function, that being (as my friend Jimmy put it) that he is a WWW (White Walking Wallet) or Roving ATM and she’s looking to make a withdrawal ASAP.  Some say that the Girlie Bar Girl likes her foreign boyfriend for his “paysonality”.  Once the GBG starts dating the foreigner (WWW), the foreigner will realize that she has a string of stories, most of which don’t quite add up or in some cases don’t make any basic sense.  But the moral of the given story is always the same: The GBG needs a cash injection, preferably a big one, and she needs it quick man!!  Amazing and unlikely circumstances arise out of nowhere that dictate the GBG desperately needs Xthousand pesos or more, post haste.  If even one-quarter of the stories about mothers back home in the province falling suddenly and mysteriously ill were true, it would leave you to believe that the Philippines has a serious epidemic of sick moms.  Perhaps a strange bug that seems to affect only mothers whose daughters dance in the discos in another town.  And a sick mom always needs big cash urgently for one reason or another don’t you know.  One GBG’s brother was unjustly arrested and she needs a few thousand to get him out of jail and another GBG needs to make a special trip to Manila to help her uncle whose shop was broken into and damaged and that requires a few extra thousand, and so on and so on.  So the point to all of this is that the GBG will need a steady supply of cash over the course of the relationship and the sooner the WWW truly accepts this and acts accordingly, the less misery and disappointment he will experience.  That said, even the most agreeable and rich foreign man has his limits with regard to how much cash he can fork over and depending on the dynamic of the relationship, sooner or later, the GBG will see fit to test that limit.  You might call it a long term goal of removing zeros from the foreign man’s account balance that often culminates in a messy, tumultuous and dramatic finish. 

In Sabang and the Philippines in general, you would be hard pressed to find even just one foreigner who would openly tell you that it’s a good idea to try to date a Girlie Bar Girl.  This of course does not stop countless foreigners from trying to make the Girlie Bar Girl his girlfriend or wife.  Like a stubborn child who senses that the bright orange coil on the stove top will burn him but touches it anyway, the lonely, older foreign man is determined to learn the hard way that he and the Girlie Bar Girl will only have a relationship that ends in destruction; emotional, physical and almost always financial.  I’m not talking about Men are From Mars and Women are from Venus type horse-shit.  I’m talking about Men Are Made of Kindling Paper and Women Are Made of A Flamethrower type stuff.  The Girlie Bar Girl has her self respect and sanity at stake and the foreigner, along with those things, has his worldly possessions and bank account on the line.  So it’s reasonable to say that the foreigner has a little more to lose in these relationships.  The sad truth is that the vast majority of these girls don’t have anything to lose, not anything in the material world anyway.  A large percentage of these girls come from the island province of Mindanao which is well known to be the poorest area in all of the Philippines.  At its worst, a story I’ve heard ends in the Dutch guy leaving town under threat of assassination, having lost tens of thousands of dollars and bumming money off of his last few remaining friends just to be able to buy his ticket back to Amsterdam.  “Too bad for him” some might say.  Maybe he’s just a jerk that deserves what he got having tried to date a poor Filipino girl less than half his age.  Maybe that is the case and more often than not I would agree with you.  But I should say that some, not all, guys I have met who have attempted to date the Girlie Bar Girl have legitimately good intentions.  Some of them want to make the Girlie Bar Girl his girlfriend so that she no longer has to dance 7 nights per week and sleep with bloated men who reek of sunscreen and cheap booze.  To take her under his wing and to give her a better life is what some foreign men believe to be a courageous and realistic goal.  Courageous, I think is a fair thing to say.  Realistic, not at all.

One chap I had met, let’s call him Nigel, had a serious test on his limits as the result of a disastrous relationship with a GBG.  Nigel had been dating the GBG for some time and one day a friend of hers asked if he could borrow his laptop for a few days.  Seems harmless enough.  So Nigel lent the friend of the GBG his Apple laptop and thought nothing of it.  Four days later the laptop was returned, although in the shape it was in it wouldn’t be proper to call it a laptop anymore.  It was busted beyond belief and smashed to smithereens.  When he politely asked what had happened and suggested that the GBG’s friend might pay for the repairs, he was told “He no pay for fix.  That what happen sometimes”.  So patiently, Nigel took the fucked up laptop to a repair technician and waited several days for it to get out of the shop.  It probably cost several hundred dollars to fix the thing but it turned out this was the least of his worries.  Once he was able to get back on-line and check his account balanced, he couldn’t help but notice that his bank account was significantly lighter, to the tune of 900,000 Filipino pesos, the equivalent of 10,000 pounds sterling.  It seemed obvious now that the friend of the GBG was proficient in accessing what Nigel thought were secure passwords to his bank accounts.  The account to which the funds had been transferred was of course drained of all the funds and the account itself closed completely.  Naturally Nigel confronted his girlfriend about all of this, but she claimed to know nothing about it and needless to say their relationship ended shortly thereafter.  Most foreigners living in Sabang in particular but the Philippines in general will tell you that the best you can hope for is to not get ripped-off in the first place but if (and more likely when) it does happen, you pretty much just have to suck it up and move on with your life.  If Nigel had went to the police, and in the unlikely event that they actually tried to do something about it or even more unlikely that they had arrested he a suspect, he would only be inviting a world of trouble to his doorstep.  Let’s say that the GBG’s cousin ended up in jail for the scam described in this story.  What happens next is that the rest of whomever is left in the cousin’s family; his three brothers, his own cousins, his two uncles and perhaps even his father, plus any friends or hangers-on who have any remote interest in the outcome of this situation, will show up at Nigel’s door, armed to the teeth.  They will “advise” Nigel that now he needs to settle up with them on the cost of getting the perpetrator out of jail, plus costs on related expenses for their troubles, plus a little extra just to be sure.  Similarly, an older Canadian fellow originally from Nova Scotia who had lived in Sabang for 15 years or more, told me that he was very glad that he did not actually catch the thief red-handed who had broken into his house on the hill, because he likely would have reacted violently to the invader and inevitably would have been forced to pay for his bail and his medical bills.  The moral of these stories is that if you do get caught in a scam or crime of some kind, you’d best deal with it personally and move on unless you are looking to take on a tireless line of relatives willing to fight you for the cause of extracting every last drop of cash that you might own.

Another story involves a man who was dating a GBG for a while and had to travel back to England for a few months to tie up some loose ends and visit his mum.  A few weeks after arriving back in London he gets an email from his GBG, telling him that she is pregnant, the child is his, she’s decided to keep it and she’s going to need allot of money to take care of this child over the years.  Based on his experience with the girl and the details of their involvement, he decides that it’s not very likely that the child is his, if there even is a child at all.  There are several reasons that he can see through this story but the main one is this:  The GBG had previously told him that she had been pregnant before and instead of undergoing a proper medical abortion, she had drank some sort of magical pregnancy-stopping potion, (provided by some local witchdoctor or other dubious character) and that although it had worked as intended, it also had the side effect of rendering her infertile.  So if the story about the magic potion is true, then of course it’s impossible for her to even be pregnant.  He replies to her, humoring her for the time being, saying that he’s not sure if the baby is his but he will insist on a paternity test and if it turns out the baby is his then he would be happy to support her and the child.  During all of this, he finds a way to break into her email account for further investigation.  His investigation reveals that she has sent the exact same message…”The baby is yours and I need allot of money”…to no less than 5 different men from all over the world.  Weeks go by and as the man continues to correspond with his GBG, he drops more and more hints and clues that he is onto her story and that there is no way it could be true.  Suddenly after weeks of demanding cash from the man, the GBG does a 180 and explains that she decided to “drink the potion” again and the baby is gone and there is nothing to worry about any more.  This, naturally, is the end of their relationship.

Stories about GBGs trying to get cash from WWW are not in short supply here and there is no way I could offer even a fraction of them to you without boring you to death.  Some other odd tales of deception and in general, strange thought processes of the GBG are harder to define in terms of their motivation.

Jake is a dive instructor from England who has lived in Sabang for more than 10 months.  Jake’s a typical English guy in most ways, sharp- witted, sturdy and ready for a good time at any time at all.  He’s currently with a girl who used to be a Girlie Bar Girl but was somehow able to get out the biz.  Let’s call her Valerie.  Valerie is a super-skinny, cute young Filipino girl with a truly wicked smile and an unexplainable source of cash.  Whenever we meet for a night of drunken debauchery, Valerie often manages to pick up the entire tab before someone else even gets a chance to offer to pitch in.  Valerie is not employed in any way and has not been for some time, but seems to have more disposable income, certainly than myself, but also more than most retired Euro-weenies circling about the place.  It’s none of my business to be sure, but it does seem out of place.

Valerie hasn’t been a Girlie Bar Girl for more than two years but some odd tendencies and ways of thinking still show.  Valerie heard through the grapevine that one of her ex-boyfriends was coming back to town for a couple of weeks.  It crossed her mind that she might o back and pick up a short term contract at one of the Girlie Bars for the sole purpose that it would provide a major piss-off for her visiting ex-boyfriend, to see her up on that stage strutting her stuff.  Never mind that it might upset her current boyfriend Jake, but that she has a sense of revenge that would easily let her go back to the Girlie Bar seems unusual by my standard. 

Jake had been dating a GBG previous to his relationship with Valerie.  They dated for several months, after which time she decided that it would be a good idea for Jake to meet her family.  Jake of course took this to mean that things were going well between them and that this was the next step in the relationship.  They arranged a trip to her home province weeks in advance, and when the day came they set out early for a long trip involving a combination of ground and sea transport.  Upon arrival they were greeted warmly by her mom and dad, brothers and sisters alike.  They were welcomed into the GBG’s proper home and they all spent the weekend together.  Most of the spare time was spent taking Jake down a stroll of memory lane, the family pictures, recalling the funny stories from her childhood, the brandishing of trophies the kids had won for participation in volley ball tournaments.  One night mom had prepared dog for dinner and although Jake winced at the idea of consuming poor Rover, he decided it was best to eat the dog and in doing so showing his proper appreciation for being welcomed into their home.  By the end of the weekend Jake felt as though he had made real inroads with the relatives and that this helped solidify the terms of his relationship with the GBG.  They headed home after having enjoyed a nice weekend together.

Several weeks went by and everything seemed fine.  One night, after Jake and his GBG got involved in a particularly heated argument, the GBG confessed to Jake that the family he had met was not in fact her family at all.  It was an imposter family that actually belonged to one of her friends who lived down the road from where her real family lived.  The GBG had set up the charade in an attempt to appease Jake in some capacity and she had apparently done a good job of it as Jake had no idea about it until she had confessed to him.  “And I ate dog for these people!” he thought to himself.  I’m sure you can appreciate that Jake was confused and upset, but perhaps the thing that upset him the most was that the GBG confessed that her biggest regret was telling Jake about the deception as opposed to actually arranging the bizarre stunt in the first place.  That she did it in the first place did not seem to be such a big deal to her, but she immediately regretted telling him about it which of course upset Jake even more.  I’m not sure if this was the event signaled the end of the relationship but suffices to say that it did not go on for much longer after that. 

Most of the problems that Jake and Valerie have currently are more related to Jake’s ex (the one with the fake relatives) than anything.  Jake’s ex still lives in Sabang and as such, provides a steady stream of trouble for them.  Jake’s ex seems to take pride in publicly calling out Valerie as a slut and has been for the mere sake of it, and surely because she knows this will cause real grief for poor old Jake.  Sabang is a town where anyone you cross paths with, you will cross paths with again and again.  Of a population of no more than 7000 people, it’s estimated that there are more than 500 Girlie Bar Girls working at any one time.  This means that a little more than 7% of the population of Sabang are Girlie Bar Girls, or prostitutes.  In any case, shortly before I left Sabang, Jake’s ex cornered Valerie with a group of her lackeys and threatened to rip Valerie’s head off.  Valerie was with one of her good friends, let’s call her Elaine, who can easily be described as a fiery woman, and Elaine lunged at Jake’s ex and her friends with the force and anger that only an enraged Filipino woman can know.  Jake was on the scene and managed to keep Elaine from destroying his ex, not because he did not want to see her destroyed but because he did not want to see Elaine in the lock up.  The groups parted ways without major incident but Jake’s ex continues to make personal threats on Valerie’s safety and sends a constant stream of morbid texts to Jake’s mobile.  Messages such as “You make problem for me not me now you slut is get beat up” and so on. 

Another thing to be reckoned with is the Jekyll and Hyde type of demeanor with which the GBG (or Hunting Girl) carries herself.  What I mean by this is that when the GBG or Hunting Girls is happy and in a good mood, or not mad at anyone then she can be quite sweet and pleasant company.  But this sweetness can do a hairpin turn and in no time at all she can turn violently mad in a matter of seconds.  Sometimes all it takes is the mention of a situation that had come up, the mere recalling of the details throwing her into a senseless frenzy. 

I was hanging out on the porch having beers one night with Matt, an English guy, Freddie, a Swede, and Freddie’s Hunting Girl Girlfriend, Angie.  Freddie is a real Swedish meatball, roly-poly and always laughing.  Angie is a tiny, cute Filipino girl with gorgeous dark skin.  We chatted about this and that, diving, the Filipino food and all the usual stuff.  Freddie and Angie seem happy enough together as they cuddle on the couch.  At some point, someone mentions a scenario that arose in the Broadway Bar the other day and the discussion starts to heat up, specifically with Angie.  Apparently, another English guy that we all know, let’s call him Justin, said something a little offish to Angie on this drunken night and Angie started to see red.  I know Justin well enough and he really doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would go out of his way to insult anyone, let alone a local girl.  He’s a pretty respectful guy but of course it’s quite possible that he said something in his drunken stupor that didn’t sit quite right with Angie.  It was something off-hand about sleeping with foreign men from what I could tell.  As Angie recalled the incident, you could see her teeth clenching, her fists tightening up.  She went further and further into the story and although it was sometimes hard to tell exactly what she was saying, with Bs and Ps bumping out in her speech where other consonants should be, it was clear that whatever he had said could not be forgiven.  Her anger continued to ramp up and ramp up, and before we knew it she was talking about paying someone to kill Justin.  Silence fell on the rest of us but Angie just got louder and louder, describing who she might hire for the job and how they would do it.  Freddie tried to calm her down but to no avail.  I felt uncomfortable to say the least, and tried to change the subject with a “Wow, it’s been really hot lately!” awkwardly dropped into the conversation.  This didn’t work for Angie, and she went on to describe how the knife would turn in Justin’s stomach when the deed was done.  Freddie continued to try to calm her down and eventually the topic changed but it took a good twenty minutes or more before Angie was done.  We continued to chat for a while longer and Freddie and Angie eventually trotted off for home.  Matt and I were left alone to reflect on the unusual conversation.  We agreed that it was quite unlikely that Angie would ever actually act on her killer instincts but what did seem clear was that if she really did want to get it done, she most certainly could have.

This is my longest blog to date and the stories could just go on and on from here.  But there are too many to recall and in some ways, maybe that’s all for the best. 
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Comments

Misch on

Fascinating stuff Gerry, i'm enjoyin' it.

Rock on.

kano on

Great write up Gerry. For the sake of accuracy - and for your information - it turns out that "Nigel"'s story about his computer was entirely made up so that he could use it as an excuse to run several thousand dollars of unpaid bills in various establishments around Sabang. He ended up getting beaten up quiet badly by one of his creditors and his brother flew from England to cover his bills and take him home. It turns out that - according to his brother - "Nigel" is a compulsive scammer who has been running the same scheme in various countries over a period of years. Apparently he is currently undergoing therapy in South Africa. Indeed Sabang does seem to attract quiet an interesting crowd...

kris on

Seems to me after reading your write up and also reading a worrying comments (on another site) regarding the condition of their diving gear there at Big Apple Diving its not a safe place to be. Recently a guy was celebrating the completion of his diving course at Big Apple and celebrating with the normal drinks and things. Drinks there are served in clear glass containers, so's to limit the spiking of drinks. One of the members of staff of the diving tearm lets call him 'P' decided that it was time to drink out of bottles (not clear glass bottles) and spiked an unsuspecting diver's drink. The spike definently had Viagra in it, but many other chemicals and possibly 'speed'.
Outcome was a situation of urgency and the diver was rushed to surgery in Manila. He was then flown to his home country and straight into hospital there. He is now waiting to see if there is permanent damage to his 'family jewels'. DONT DRINK AND PLAY WITH THESE SHIT HEADS.

Kano on

"Drinks there are served in clear glass containers, so's to limit the spiking of drinks."

Kris, if that sentence wasn't followed by such serious accusations, I would find it so ludicrous that it'd be hilarious! I'm not sure where you've heard the story you posted but it sounds like a complete fabrication by someone with a agenda. I live in Sabang and work around various dive shops every day of the week and, believe me, if such a thing had happened the story would have definitely gone around for all to hear - Sabang is very much like a village where stories, true or not, spread like wildfire. Not let me make it clear that I do not work for Big Apple and have no interest in defending them. If anything, I don't think it's a well run dive shop. However, before posting such serious and, quiet frankly, ludicrous accusations on the web one would be expected to check his sources and facts.

"Drinks there are served in clear glass containers, so's to limit the spiking of drinks." Lol... I just had to read that again... Priceless!

Matt on

Nice fairy tale, kris. (or is that actually the name of your little filipina girlfriend you used to beat up?)

you have very few of the facts right about the case you are describing. The known drug user you are talking about that sought medical treatment THREE DaYS after he left big apple. If you have any facts to back up your case then please contact the police. Until then let's go with the much more likely scenario... He swallowed too much Viagra while on a drinking and drug binge with his local prositute and is too embarrassed to admit it. You really believed this poisoning fairy tale? Wow, you must be one of the few people dumber than him!

zh1 on

Hi, i havee been living in the Philippines for over 2 years now, i have visited Sabang for work and it is true the only thing to do is dive in the ocean, dive into glass or 5 or dive into bed with a lovely pinay lady, now for those of you with high morals and low self esteem stay away you will not and will never undertand the way of life, to the wet ocean divers say always check your own gear and enjoy the view, as for the booze well alcohol never killed anyone opps mayb it did so everthing in moderation please.

It would appear to me that this so called dive school employee is either a "backala" or an intravert either way much what he rights is really to simplistic and does not really understand the undr lying situation for every 10 bad stories there are at least 50 good stories, it like sayign if you butter your toast and it falls to the ground 100% it will land butter face down on the ground.

Carpe Diem and if you can bring a little joy and hope and happiness to some of the local people here then you might really understand the way of life.

til then grow up and go dive off southend and watch eastenders!

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