There was also a Harvard student and a Let’s Go editor, who was wary of international terrorism and upscale tourism. He complained that every night a hooker tried to pick him up then make him pay, though he couldn't help being impressed by the extensive menu and low prices.
Most nights, we met at the expat center of Moby Dick’s restaurant, filled with Germans and Americans involved in “Import/Export” (a road euphemism for chronic unemployment). There, a long-haired guy resembling an AWOL Vietnam soldier, now living in the Bantayan barrios, told me about the upcoming Stations of the Cross festival, wherein a Filipino volunteer endures the torture of a crucifixion enactment. Seriously! Which, I guess, adds new meaning to the concept of devout.
One local hotbod with a pink orchid stuck behind her ear, called to me while I was suffering a hangover on the beach. “Are you interested in buying a home here? I can get you a good house right on the beach for only twenty thousand dollars!” I wondered idly if she came with it. Tempting, but nah!
Then the oh-so-available Filipina introduced me to a “sea gypsy” with a rag tied around his head and a wooden cross clunking against his chest as he scraped the old paint off his outrigger. “He is a Bubble Man!” she enthused, meaning witchdoctor.
To wrap up the hospitality of my Visayan adventure without causing anyone hiya (shame), I considered taking a “Special Ride” outrigger for less than 2,000 pesos to nearby Malapascua Island, another friendly isle with perfect babes.
On my last night, I dined at Santa Fe’s foodie heaven: “The Majestic by the Sea.” Here, you choose between weird and sometimes eyeless fish, by pointing at a laminated photo menu or a rubber facsimile in a display case.
John M. Edwards is a writer and photojournalist. He has traveled five continents with experiences ranging from surviving a ferry sinking off Siam to getting caught in a military coup in Fiji. His writing has appeared in CNN Traveller, Entertainment Weekly, Salon.com, Condé Nast Traveler, Islands, Matador, World Hum, BootsnAll, and other publications. He received five NATJA (North American Travel Journalists Association) Awards, two TANEC (Transitions Abroad Narrative Essay Contest) Awards, and three Solas (sponsored by Travelers’ Tales). He edits the Rotten Vacations anthology.