Notice of Return






We ask that you be patient with him, for he will naturally be a little Asiatic at first. He will need your help to get over his feelings of nervousness and insecurity. The modern buildings, sidewalks and conveniences you are used to, will seem foreign, and suspicious to him. As you must watch out for werewolves, when the moon is full, so must you watch out for your sailor when he is around bright lights and ‘pretty round eyes’. But do not despair, this shell of a man can be reshaped into the loved one you once knew, with just a little work on your part.

Upon his arrival home, you may not receive that long awaited handshake or embrace. Instead, he will bow slightly and mutter such phrases as “Kumusta Kayo”, “Mabuti”, “Salamat” or, “Boy am I short”. Don’t let this bother you, he will get over it in time, and with a little help, may even learn to speak English again. After this hasty greeting you will notice that he heads straight to the refrigerator, mumbling, “I need a San Miguel”, and cursing loudly if you have no “Yelo” (ice) for his cerveza (beer). He will also complain indignantly about being forced to drink “Stateside Beer”, because of the formaldehyde in it. Have no fear, in the end he will drink it anyway. Because to a ‘thirsty native’ of the Philippine Jungle, beer is beer.

One of the first things you may notice about this stranger in your home is his wretched physical condition. His unshaven face, bare feet and incredible tan from constant exposure to the hot tropical sun (by now, you are probably sure that the sun did more than tan his skin, and you are probably right). He invariably will be dressed in ragged pants, sunglasses and a dirty ‘T’ shirt. If you are unfortunate enough to sit downwind from him, you will probably discover another ‘distinctive’ feature. Do not ask him to shave or clean up in any way, as this will only cause tension. There is no need to offer him a chair, he will probably sit on the floor anyway. If he does begin to use a chair, you must place some broom sticks or other material over the seat and back to simulate bamboo.

Approach him with caution on the subject of beds. If you cannot give him a double bunk in a stuffy room with a fan that doesn’t work, or a springless mattress with a full length mirror and an overhead fan with mosquito netting, then do not dare to offer. He would rather, and probably will, sleep on the floor. Any mention of the terms “Short Time” or “Over Night” on his part should be completely ignored.

As mealtime rolls around, you may be in for a surprise. This ‘thing’ you have taken into your home will not eat steak, roast or chops. He prefers to have ‘Pancit’, ‘Lumpia, or ‘Monkey Meat’. He will not drink tea, coffee or milk, but will insist on San Miguel, Viejo, or White Castle. He will shun the use of conventional eating utensils, and demand chopsticks, or use his fingers. Should you make the mistake of not having rice, and at least one kind of fish, (either raw or dried) he will panic, and run for more beer.

If you venture out in the evening, he will take his raincoat and umbrella, even if the sky is clear. He is not accustomed to leisurely walking down the street, and will undoubtedly be hard to keep up with as he sprints from one shelter to another. Another habit that may seem to be a little strange at first is his refusal to use sidewalks.This is new to him, and is because of his distrust of western inventions. He will instead, walk in and out of traffic, declaring all the time, that he is perfectly safe. As you stand and watch his complicated maneuvers, in and out, through and around, you will not be surprised at all, to learn that he has probably earned the “Iron Cross for Jeepney Bravery Medal”, along with the much desired “Olongapo Occupation Medal”. If you are fortunate enough to coax him into a taxi, and out of the traffic, (he will insist on calling it a jeepney) be prepared for an argument, when it comes to paying the fare. Horridly, your sailor will hand the taxi driver ten centavos (3 cents) as he steps out of the door. Naturally, the driver will call his attention to his mistake, now the storm begins, he will shout, scream, rant, rave and holler, “Hindi Especial Joe”, “I’m no fleet sailor”, all the time kicking the taxi door and the taxi driver. To end all this, you must pay the driver American money, usher him out of earshot, and plead with him to keep his Tagalog comments to himself. Let this be a warning to you, anywhere you go, where the paying of money is concerned, he will argue frantically until someone hauls him away or an OPD, PC, or AFP happens to wander by.

The tropics of Southeast Asia are a hard place for an American to live in, and adjust to. Your ‘rot’ infested sailor will be proof enough of that. He will be suffering from such diseases as, dry rot, damp rot, and wet rot. Also, ‘Hostess Fungus’, ‘Fungus Femaleous’, and ‘severe “colds”? If the temperature drops below 75 degrees or the humidity drops below 80 percent, his stomach will bulge, his eyes will be sunken and dilated and he will have bug-bites from head to toe. He will not be able to sit still for more than 10 seconds at a time, because of his constant itching at various rots, not to mention his unseen travelling companions.

We hope that this letter will be instrumental in helping you care for this uncivilized animal, and that he can be reclaimed as the loved one you once knew. We also hope that you will have mercy on him. One last hint: NEVER SAY, “Now, Be Nice”.

Author Unknown... Circa; 1967