My Pinay Horror Story, Part 2
After the long flight to Manila (21 hours, including a stopover in Doha), I took a taxi to Angeles City. This was partly because I hate staying in the Manila Airport Hotel, and partly to work off some of the frustrations that had built up during two years of Covid. An account of that visit can be found here – and it did me a lot of good, I can tell you! This is the summary of that visit which I wrote at the end of Part 5:
This trip has done wonders for me physically and psychologically after the stagnation of the Covid years in a European country. I was beginning to accept the pigeonhole that western society put me in – a grandad fit only for slippers and fireside (or should that be ‘heat-pump’ side?). But I found that the bars were full of guys with 50 shades of grey. I only saw one young westerner, though most of the Koreans are young men. So I felt that, despite my years, I fitted in, and better still, that the bargirls accepted me. Better than accepted. Most of them have a sob story, especially the MILFs, and what they want, above anything else, is a man who will “take care”. This is especially true among the waitresses, so I don’t feel “out of it” like I do in the west.
After the visit to AC, I returned to Manila to continue my journey to Cebu. This is the diary account:
2nd SEPTEMBER, 2023
I got to Manila T2 in time but nearly missed the plane because I got absorbed in writing my diary and didn’t hear a gate change. Angel (no, she’s not an “angel” any more, so I shall call her after the madwoman in Jane Eyre, “Bertha”) and the kids were there to greet me. She looked in a very run-down state – overweight, ill-dressed, pale (to the extent that a Filipina can be pale), drawn and tense. I tried to chat pleasantly to her but she didn’t have much to say.
The state of the house was the next shock: FILTHY!!! Toilets disgusting – two years of caked up brown limescale! Bleach had no effect. Had to scrape. No toilet paper in any of the toilets. Only one dirty towel in evidence. Downstairs shower broken and leaking and sink blocked. En suite sink blocked and main light not working – many other bulbs gone and not replaced. Kitchen filthy and falling apart (particularly upsetting, because it had been refitted only three years ago at great expense). Fridge filthy – and where was the kitchen table? Part of the ceiling had fallen down in the garden room because of a leaking gutter. In the lounge, the cream couch, which was re-covered in 2018. was ruined because people had been sleeping on it (despite me telling her not to use it for sleeping). In the master bedroom, the headboard had fallen. I had screwed it to the wall two years ago, so what had she being doing to bring it down? (I found out later). A lot of my tools were missing. No buckets – had to use a wastepaper basket! Car filthy and full of junk, scratched in many places. The dash display shows that it has not been serviced, but I checked the oil and there is about ¼ inch on the dipstick. More worrying is the message: “Car key battery low” (because there is no mechanical key backup – who designs these things!!?). Garden is a rubbish tip, full of junk. Pool is green, full of frogs and tadpoles.
I used to think of that house as “My Paradiso” (after a poem by Ezra Pound), and it was a kind of paradise: a Spanish colonial-style villa set in a landscaped garden, with a host of brilliantly coloured blooms (none of which I know the names of – but I’m going to learn!), topiary and dwarf palms. It has a good-sized pool, and from the bedroom balcony, extensive views of distant mountains. It was only five-years old when we moved in, and for many years Bertha thought of it as her ‘palace’, and with the help of a maid and a yard boy, kept it in tip-top condition. So how had it come to this?
Still, it felt good to be back, and I half hoped that we might be able to work out something for the sake of the kids. I never want to be her lover again after what she has done, but I thought we might be able to come to some arrangement. Later that day I made a start cleaning up the house – though I didn’t get much help from Bertha! Jobs Done:
- Cleaned kitchen.
- Cleaned fridge.
- Washed car (twice – it was filthy!).
- Put toilet paper and a clean towel in each bathroom.
- Tried to clean toilets. Had to SCRAPE the ensuite toilet. Gave up on the others.
- Fixed bed headboard and curtain rail.
- Fixed Jason’s bed.
- Cleared worst rubbish from garden.
Finally, I turned to a pleasurable task: airing, tuning and playing my collection of guitars. I had been worried about the effects of mould, rats and termites, but they were all OK. They are an odd collection, but contain some gems: a Thibouvy-Lamy Early Romantic Guitar (Paris, 1888), and a 1920’s Markneukirchen parlour guitar with a carved sound rose. There is also a theorbo-lute-guitar of about 1910 and a modern Washburn electro-acoustic classical.
The evening meal promised to be good – chicken and chips and a litre bottle of Red Horse for me (Bertha is banned from drinking!). However, the food was over-cooked by Jimboy (her brother) and was almost inedible. I found it annoying that she left the cooking to him, not even helping. Basically, she does nothing at all around the house, just gets her family members to do it – usually without payment. That night, she slept on the floor outside the kids’ room.
I woke up to a brown out – so no fans and the air-con doesn’t work anyway, which was hard for me, as I had not yet got acclimatized to the 30 degree plus heat – even worse, I couldn’t make a cup of tea (yes, Reader, English people drink hot tea to cool down! Does it work? No – but it makes you feel better!).
I found her sitting on the couch in the hall, so I sat beside her. We talked pleasantly enough for a while, discussing the kids’ school, and plans for fixing up the house. Later she went outside to do the garden. She loves gardening, and this is the only kind of work she will do. Unfortunately, she has no idea what the standards are. She has the Filipino habit of using the garden as a rubbish tip. Overall, and not looked at too closely, the garden looks good. It was professionally landscaped by the previous owner, and the broad lines are still there, but if you look in the corners there are random pieces of junk, such as an old drainpipe, discarded bottles and cans, bits of the old kitchen worktop, broken toys, etc.
I was getting desperate for a cup of tea, so I searched the kitchen cupboards for a suitable saucepan – nothing. I asked her to find me one and she snapped back at me, “It’s your house! You should know what there is!” This is her paranoia coming out – she takes everything as a personal criticism. I went in the kitchen to look again and she followed me in. As I looked through the various cupboards, I couldn’t help muttering about the dirt and untidiness (something I had resolved not to do, as I knew it would cause trouble). She fired up and said, “I’m not your maid!” I replied, “I know that. We’ll clean the place together.” But she took offence and stormed out into the garden.
I still couldn’t find a pan, so I went to find her and asked her again to help me – admittedly in a peremptory tone. This time she got really angry, picked up one of the large greenish pebbles around the border of a shrubbery and stormed towards me. She raised it as if to strike and yelled, “I’ll smash your teeth in!” The look in her face was pure madness – both anger and derangement. I knew that if I provoked her any more, she would try to do it. But I faced her down and she backed off. Then I ran after her and she ran away – probably thinking I was going to hit her. Of course, I would never do this, as it is dishonourable for a man to hit a woman (and I like to think that I am a man of honour) – but I reserve the right to defend myself, so there is a very real chance that we could have ended up in a physical fight Anyway, it was only a feint on my part. I walked away, and told her that I was going to divorce her. I’m not going to do that either, because it would cost a fortune and achieve nothing as I don’t want to marry again. Why would I? I’ve tried it twice and it was a disaster.
At this point, Jimboy intervened, and began to talk to her in a low voice. This went on for some time. Jason told me that he was trying to persuade her to go back to Mactan. Amazingly, she suddenly capitulated. She walked into the house in defeated manner, gave me the house keys and car keys and started to pack.
It was a tense time. I was expecting her to change her mind and break out into a rage at any moment. But Jimboy managed to get her into the car. All I had to do now was to drive her to Mactan. When we got there, she told Jason to stay with me and Jasmine to come with her. “Do you want to go?” I asked Jasmine. “Yes,” she replied, though later, I found out that she had only agreed to go to keep the peace.
Bertha got out of the car with Jasmine and went through the gate. I was shut of her! I had the house keys, the car keys and Jason. Better still, Jimboy was coming with us to help out in the house. We had won! Though, as Jason commented, we had only won a battle, not the war, and we had lost Jasmine (though I resolved we would “rescue” her later).
Of course, there was no food in the house, so we went shopping. It wasn’t easy. Even though there is a large supermarket in a large shopping mall nearby, the range of products is limited, especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Nevertheless, I managed to get enough for two days. I also got some lice shampoo.
I got a text message from Jasmine: “Daddy, please come and get me.” So Jason and I set off to Mactan and made a plan as we went: he would go and get Jasmine, while I waited in the car, ready to zoom off. In the event, it was not necessary because she was with Diana (a young cousin, 6 years old) at a school event. So we picked her up straight from school without any trouble.
That evening I cooked. This is my regular job now, as Jimboy has no idea how to cook even the simplest things. I had fantasised about my retirement – living in My Paradiso, being looked after by my wife, a maid and a yard boy, and never having to lift a finger to do anything except paint, write and play music – instead, I found myself having to do everything, on top of which I have to cope with a mentally ill wife.
To be continued…
My poems about Angel are collected in a book entitled Poems to his Pinay which is available as a free download from Amazon until 2nd April 2023 – and do take a look at my other books about Thailand and the Philippines. Look here or here.
The author of this article can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org