Wednesday, June 22, 2016

In Between Pleadings

The pace here is so different... very much different from the chaotic world I left in Manila yesterday. Just after filing my Petition for Review with the Appeals Court in the afternoon, I hurriedly proceed to the airport to catch my almost midnight flight to paradise.

Having accustomed to the rat race of the legal profession and court room battles known as "pressure cooker", I wanted unfamiliar faces, fresh experiences, and a new self.

In El Nido, Palawan, after wandering through its idyllic streets and looking out over the beach from the balcony of a famous Cafe, I wandered westward towards the end of the beach, hoping to savor the scene I had imagined - foreigners in nothing but bikinis, beach side diners buzzing with conversation of languages I can barely understand.

Having a round face and a pair of slinky eyes, I am almost always mistaken for either a Japanese or a Korean. This happened again today when I walked in on one of the diners at the far-end of the beach.

Within a minute or two, a waiter came by and I ordered my usual San Mig Lights. Soon after the beer arrived, so did a smiling, well-padded woman, overly made-up by my prudish conservative standards. She pulled up a chair close to me, asked sweetly if I was Japanese, and seemed especially pleased to find out that I was part Japanese. I lied.

After a few minutes of awkward conversation that included my limited Nihongo, she began to pout and asked why I hadn't offered to buy her a drink.

"Oh Sorry, of course. What do you want?" Instantly, her manner changed. Suddenly all business, she signaled the waiter, quickly relayed what I took to be her order, and asked me for Five Hundred Bucks to cover it.  After I gave her the cash, she excused herself, to go to the wash room, I assumed.

While I waited, my attention was drifted to the young Caucasian couple at the opposite table. She seemed to be unhappy about something I would never understand. Lights a muted shade of the pinkish red of neon sign inside bathed the small wine bar, and the few scattered customers sat absorbed in their drinks with companions. Minutes passed. No sign of my new friend.

I patiently enjoyed the entertainment, the effect of the beer, and the freedom of being on my own in El Nido - in the beach front diner, no less, in the middle of weekday afternoon.

As more time passed, pleasant thoughts slowly gave way to the uneasy realization that the friendly lady was not going to come back, that I had been deftly separated from my Five Hundred Bucks, and that the waiter was the accomplice in this all too-easy fleecing of a Japanese wanna-be hick.

Well, I could be a lawyer and plead my case there but this is El Nido and when I left Manila, my mindset as a lawyer was left there also. I hoped the dark hid my embarrassment and shame. Not wanting to reveal the innocent dupe I was, I calmly finished my beer and walked out slowly, feigning obliviousness. On my way back to my shabby little hotel room, I chastised myself for having been taken in, and was determined never to be gulled so easily again.

View from the Balcony of the Beach Front Cafe

Tomorrow and in the next coming days, I will be island hopping, and beach bumming, and sunset watching, and food tripping, and drink more beers. I know it won't be a problem enjoying my week-long stay in El Nido because when I go back to Manila, it is time to prepare for my Pre-Trial Briefs.


  1. Hahaha, I enjoyed reading the (mis)adventure. I was hoping the lady would (unexpectedly) show up.

    It is always good to have a mini breaker from the monotony of everything.

  2. It was fun reading this one. Of course I can imagine that it felt different for you especially then. :) I'd just been to El Nido and I didn't know that scams like this happen there. I guess we must be cautious everywhere we go, even if it's in the "world's best island."