I made some grave errors when it came to clothing. First off, I am a big guy. Big and tall. You will find most clothing here fitted to accommodate a smaller stature person, and the big and tall sections are few and far between.
I’ve heard of the Aswang before because, as we were driving through the Dumangas area, here on Panay island, my wife became visibly frightened as we went through a dark and gloomy neighborhood. It seems as though these Aswangs live in Dumangas and try to fit in with the population by shapeshifting into young, beautiful women with long hair. They like the dark, too.
As of this month, I have been living for most of 9 years in the Philippines. There were some necessary trips back to the States early on, but nowadays, I am a permanent resident. Since the pandemic started, there is no chance of leaving if I wanted, so it’s a good thing I like where I am.
But this trip back to the States was very different from my previous trips. From the moment I left the terminal in Iloilo City, Philippines, I had doubts about my plans. When I was stuck at security in LAX, and everyone was so incredibly rude, I questioned what I was doing back in a place I didn’t want to be.
Do you know how there are certain things that turn your stomach? Liver is like that for me. All of my young life, my parents tried to get me to eat liver. It wasn’t so much the taste as it was the texture, and a whole bottle of Ketchup couldn’t get me to choke it down. Well, I’ve discovered some things here in my beloved Philippines that I just won’t put in my mouth either.
At last weigh-in, I broke the 265-pound mark (120 Kg). It’s hard to get an accurate weight because every scale I find is a broken cheap import. I was at the doctor a few months ago, and she had one of these small plastic dial-type scales. It wasn’t even digital. I could hear it scream when I stepped on it. When I put my full weight on, I looked at the dial and saw it was spinning quickly. When it finally stopped, it read 53 Lbs. And considering I have trouble seeing my own penis over my stomach, I don’t think that was the right weight.
My wife was in the back seat with the baby, looking at Google maps for a destination that could be reached in a few hours. I almost spit my coffee when she yelled, “Oh, Bucari! The only problem is everyone says the road to the top of the mountain is not safe.”
But, as I’ve lived in this country, got used to a new culture, and made a hell of a lot of mistakes, I’ve learned a few things about myself and my illness. I’ve learned how to put myself on the path to recovery but realized these islands are not a magic bullet. The Philippines has changed me for the better, but I realized any work I’ve done on my recovery would have to be done no matter where I was in the world.
After Gimbal, the mountains are a short way away, and soon you are driving with the ocean on one side and the hills on the other. The road is winding and at times there are places where there is road construction and it’s only one lane. Road work seems to be a constant on this road but it’s much better now than when we started going several years ago.