Paul is a legend

With his neat Clark Gabble mustache, you could say Paul is a well-behaved British, who could be teaching at Cambridge. May be… May be not: Paul is an American Indiana Jones who could inspire far more than a trilogy.

Paul was born in Arizona in the fifties. His parents were teenagers, his father looking like James Dean, his mother like Marilyn Monroe. Though, his fate wasn’t to become a Salinger’s character, catching in the rye. When he was ten or so, his father decided to move the family to Guatemala, where he thought they would have a more organic life, so to speak. By the time they reach this exotic location with their 1936 Chevrolet, a civil war pops up! They drive back to the US. A couple of stopovers later, the family ends up in Sacramento, California…

Sacramento

 

A regular childhood unfolds. He takes care of is little sister. Everyone grows up.
End of the sixties. Instead of experiencing the hippie summer of love, Paul enlists in the Coast Guards and will spend the next two years in exile, on the East Coast.
In 1968, he leaves this hole with two buddies with a Volkswagen Combi. Direction: Daytona Beach, Florida, to attend the famous motorcycle show. The Combi will end up in the sea. Other Combi, other buddies, direction Backersfield, California, because one of the hitchhikers he grabbed on the way needs to pick cotton there.

Paul combi VW

 

The crazy seventies can start! For ten years or so, Paul is gonna be a racer. A dirt bike racer! He runs with is father, who is also a professional racer.

Paul racer

 

Early eighties. Paul works an import-export business. He gets assigned to the Philippines, a country he barely knows where to find on a world map. Anyway. He gets the job done. Miss Cebu lives around. According to many (and still alive) witnesses, Miss Cebu is the most beautiful woman you’d ever meet. To seduce her, Paul will pass by her balcony every single morning of the year, with his fancy Harley Davidson… Twenty-nine years later, they are still married. They ran a successful business, raised twins, and lived happily ever after.

But a fairy tale ending does not implies the prince is gonna run a dull life from now on. Nope nope nope.

Over the years, always looking for good business opportunities, Paul has been transporting chairs produced in unreachable villages with pitching bangkas, has been sourcing gems in Afghanistan, has been searching for petrified wood in deep China, has been painting human skulls turned into art pieces, and other crazy ideas that made his family wealthy.

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For fun though, he’d rather ride in the Mexico desert or in the Australia outback. He’d fish in the Fijis, where he gets so many fishing prizes that he is now featured in records books.

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Today, Paul picked up the twins at school. He brought Alice the purple folder he found in the entrance hall, thinking that she could need it for her music class. And later today, he’ll have a thorough talk with Paulie about fishing.

He taught me how to ride a jet ski, did show me how to find fossils, and offered me a skull as a memory of my journey in Cebu. Paul is definitely my hero.

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D143. Jan 21. Vintage Time Out in Cebu City

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STK ta Bay ! is a fish restaurant held in a former family house of Cebuanos.
The tables are displayed in the former rooms of the house, together with the improbable collections the owners gathered over the ages.

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We had dinner in the military room (above), including GIs and civilians items.
Next to it, the religious room, gathering different icons and statues (below).

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The family was also collecting typewriters, music instruments, gramophones, photo cameras…

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And the family doesn’t hesitate to showcase their lives, sharing their family pictures. Here below, the grand-pa wedding.

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Cherry on the cake, food was amazingly tasty. He had calamaris, ceviche, an entire tuna jaw (!) and… an avocado cheesecake I’ll never forget.

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My picture might not be very appealing but this cake was awesome. I guess you mix your usual cream cheese (mascarpone for some people, Philadelphia for others), with mashed avocado, you used crushed Graham crackers for the bottom, and hop ! Miam Miam…

My neighbors are wakwak

“The Bernardos are wakwak”, told me a friend of mine about his neighbors. “My driver has already seen them flying at night, in their garden”. Waouh, what is that supposed to mean ???

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The Wakwak is a vampiric, bird-like creature in Philippine mythology. It is often described by old folks to have long sharp talons and a pair of wings similar to those of a bat. It is believed that this monster is called “Wakwak” due to this sound it makes when it flaps its wings while flying. It uses its talons or claws to slash its victims and to get their heart. Many say that its wings are also sharp as a knife.

In the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas or Central Philippines region (where Cebu is located), a belief in the inherent evil of witches prevails. As a matter of fact, even though the population is catholic, the ancient animist beliefs haven’t disappeared. Therefore, Filipinos’ daily life is made of superstitions, taboos, attitudes, beliefs, very similar to what you can meet in ”primitive” populations…

D133. Jan 11. Butterfly snapshots

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Prof. Jumalon amassed a vast collection of butterflies through his travels worldwide and by trading local Philippine species with foreign ones.

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Jumalon’s fascination with Lepidopterans did not just end in having them preserved and framed. He wanted the butterflies close by especially the rare ones. So to invite these insects he planted his residence with butterfly food plants. He also caught live specimens and released them in his garden.

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His butterfly collection is known to be the oldest and perhaps the biggest in the Philippines.

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Other insects are also featured in the collection…

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Beetles of all shapes and colors, bees and wasps

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… All that being shot by a mysterious photographer…

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D131 . Jan 9 . ocho ocho the snake, and I…

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My friends’ sea house of Moalboal (Cebu West Coast), sits in front of the Pescadora island, a famous spot for divers who come here from all over the world.
So, together with Paul and our ship’s boy, we cruised twice in the direction of this unreal little island…

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50 mm depth, perfect visibility…

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Then, Paul brought me to another spot, less famous but 100 times more spectacular. It is called Sarasota (as far as I remember). Up to ten meters from the shore, the water’ depth do not exceed one meter, and you need to be very cautious not to get a cut from the coral.

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The coral is incredibly vivid, colorful, diverse, and sheltering hundreds of different fish species. I had never seen such sub-marine landscape.

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And then, all the sudden, ten meters from the shore, the abyss – A 50 feet cliff.
Breathtakingly high, fascinating, absorbing.

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As I was contemplating the “top” of the hill, I noticed a big fish who was hiding behind coral. Is seems rather small on the video below but it was at least 80 cm long.

Focused on the fish, I didn’t see, at first glance, the sea fish who was gesticulating underneath…In case you couldn’t notice it on my compressed video file, here comes a picture.

ocho snake

This sea-snake scientific name is Hydrophiinae, but here in the Philippines, this coral reef snake is called ocho-ocho. Eight- Eight in Spanish. Why ? Because it can either make you die in 8 seconds or 8 minutes.
I knew nothing about it but I had a hunch and ran away as quickly and discretely as I could !!! Next time, I’ll wear an overall. I don’t want my muscles to get paralyzed and die from suffocation, as Wikipedia tells…

D129 . Jan 7 . Chasing dolphins, a tricky job

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I arrived last week on the Cebu island. After the fishing lesson i reported on in my previous post, I left with my friend Paul to his sea house of Moalboal, on the West coast.
Our plan: chasing fishes, and chasing dolphins.

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I could have nicely stayed in that cosy terrace, but I wanted to learn how to drive a jet ski. And so did I !
First I spent one hour observing an experimented driver from the back seat. And the first ten minutes i was petrified, holding his life jacket like a piranha could have hold my big toe. Then I started to relax, and it got even better when I hold the handlebar…

So, the following day, together with Paul, we went for a ride, our goal being to find a dolphins’ spot. I drove for one hour, the sea was smooth, everything seemed basically under control. And then we switched, so that Paul could have some fun as well.

And then, all the sudden, the conditions dramatically changed. Waves became bigger, and bigger, and bigger, some of them probably exceeding two meters – According to Paul because at some point I just closed my eyes ! In addition, some seagrass got caught into our engine and we couldn’t drive over 10 MPH (versus 25 miles per hour the first hour of ride). When I finally started to make out the coast, I started to think: “if the jet ski doesn’t make it to there, will I be able to swim up to the shore ???”. But good that we didn’t have to do so, ’cause we hadn’t noticed we had lost our fins during our battle with the ocean…

We came back crampy, my legs and Paul’s hands like rocks.
Of course, not a single dolphin was seen.

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A bit stubborn, we decided to give it another try. But, the following day, instead of using the jet ski, we took the boat. Uffffff.

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And we DID see dolphins ! Only for a few seconds, but we saw them, jumping ahead of us, a very nice moment. The sea was quiet, the sun was high, the mood was excellent !