“You Don’t Look Like a Drug Dealer…”

I’ve never been one of those paranoid people who believe that the media controls everything and everyone.  We are all human beings and control our own thoughts and destinies. I may have to change my mind.

As an aside, like most American husbands I know who actually controls everything and everyone – my wife. Just kidding, honey 🙂

I’ve been visiting the Philippines for about 5 years now and have been there 8 or 9 times (I’ve lost track). I’ve married a Filipina and as probably many of you know we’re intending to retire in the Philippines next year.

With few exceptions, nobody I know ever said squat. “Where are you going on vacation, Dave.” “The Philippines.” Nothing – crickets. Or maybe, “The Philippines again? You must like it there.”

When I would return I’d get the standard, “How was your vacation?” questions and the standard, “Glad you had a good time.” And that was it.

Let’s face it, most Americans know more about the changing shape and size of Kim Kardashian’s loboot than they do about the Philippines.  They know it’s a tropical island (ok, 7107 islands to be anally precise but who’s counting). They think it’s sort of in Asia. And if they are old enough they vaguely know something about MacArthur returning there, though since he’s long dead it’s possible that ain’t gonna happen.

That’s about it.

But all it takes is for Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte, to kill a few (ok, a few thousand) drug dealers, and talk a little smack about President Obama and now everyone I know is an expert on the Philippines.

“That guy’s a loose canon.” I’ve heard that comment often enough that I have to assume CNN is promoting it as the new slogan for Philippines’ tourism, replacing “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Frankly with Duterte in office I think it is more fun in the Philippines, but then I love Scorcese movies and the Taken series . My son and I once counted the number of people Liam Neeson killed in Taken and let’s just say he could be very useful in the Philippines. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a call.

Janet also has gotten a negative remark or two and handles them with her normal graceful aplomb – by reaming the remarker with a new one 🙂

And of course I have also gotten plenty of, “Are you still thinking of moving there?” followed by a roll of the eyes and a mumbled, ‘That guy’s crazy.’

This rose to the height of bizarre nonsense just the other day. As part of the downsizing of all my junk, which I recently documented here, I sold off my Nikon cameras, lenses, flashes, bags and associated crap. I decided to go the typical old geezer or traveling geezer route with a point and shoot camera. Of course having owned plenty of nice cameras in my life I wanted a good one that I could still get decent pics from and use for vlogging. And BTW, you should all get ready to be inundated with fascinating videos to come on my YouTube Channel here!

I chose the camera I wanted, found that Best Buy had an open boxed one at a discount and Janet and I headed over. As I’m playing with the camera, I’m telling the salesman what I will be up to as a soon to be retiree. Of course he’s glancing at the old guy’s cute wife, but at this point in my life that just comes with the territory.

“Where in Asia are you retiring?” he asks.

“The Philippines,” I say and pointed to Janet adding, “that’s where my wife’s from.”

“Well at least you and your wife don’t look like drug dealers. I guess you’ll be safe.”

“I take it you watch CNN,” I replied giggling. “OK, I’ll take the camera. You can watch me dodge bullets on YouTube.”

I guess the point is that people who didn’t know the Philippines from a hole in the wall now are experts. I find myself defending the country, Duterte and our future plans. Now as a defensive guy I don’t mind doing that but when you are debating it only works if the other person knows something about the subject. Someone who’s only seen a 30 second sound bite knows nothing about the Philippines.

“I hear that loose canon’s gonna kick all the American military out of the South part of the Philippines,” a co-worker informed me. She actually said it like it was a bad thing.

“I guess at your age they won’t confuse you with American military,” she added positively.

“Yeah, I might be able to pass.”

Although if I start smoking a pipe in the Philippines I suspect I could pass for MacArthur.

P.S. If you’re wondering why I posted the particular pic of Pres. Duterte above, which has nothing to do with the drug wars or his row with Pres. Obama, it’s because I think it represents the real Duterte – which is a very good thing!




12 thoughts on ““You Don’t Look Like a Drug Dealer…””

  1. My fiancée is Filipina, I am from central part of the USA. I spent June this year with my lovely future wife in the Philippines. I loved it there but can not consider moving now. We have a visa for her in the works.

    Does anyone here know what President Duterte did, the level of safety he gave the people of Davao when he was Davao’s mayor???

    Does anyone here know that within weeks of taking the Presidental Office that he implemented 911 service throughout the Philippines ???

    Does anyone here understand that America military in the Philippines actually draws more terrorist there (because of the possible kidnapping and high ransom money Americans will pay to free an American)???

    I am just a high school educated, southern Illinois farm boy ( not so much a boy anymore) who loves his Filipina fiancé and loves and respects her mother and father and seven brothers and sisters.
    I have somehow managed to start, own and operate a successful business for 25 years.( I should thank the nuns that taught me to add and subtract).

    My fiancé stood in line for four and a half hours to vote for Duterte and she would do it again. I believe Duterte is working hard for the Philippine people and getting good things done.

    Uncle Lee

    1. When Duterte came to power in Davao, the City was a hell hole. But his hard handed tactics only made it from one of the worst cities to a still crime riddled city. From 2010 – 2016 there were 842 rapes, and over 1,100 murders (Davao Police numbers). Of course the main thoroughfares in the city are nice, but Davao stretches way beyond this sanitized part

        1. Meaningless comparison. Only murders per capita and rapes per capita would be meaningful points to compare. I have no notion of the population of Davao City, but comparing its per capita stats vs. the U.S. crime leaders of Chicago, Detroit, WashDC & NYNY, (maybe Hotlanta?) would be the only way to get a real picture of the relative (de)merits…

          The thing to remember is that Duterte is drawing a lot of attention because of his talking smack about the U.S. [which may just be a political ploy to set him apart from his competition; IDK enough about Flip politics to fill a gnat’s brain, but I could see that possibility right away] and the summary execution of suspected drug dealers in the street w/o trial [a big no-no here & other industrialized countries.]

          But think about it for a minute: if the Phillipines is more like a 3rd world country where the judges are easily bought, then his only recourse to solve the problem is to go Marshall Dillon on the dealers. Let’s not forget, the ‘pines are being menaced from the south by muslim fanatics and in the north by Chicom imperialism. & also lest we forget, the Chicom bastidges are well known for having no morals whatsoever, and taking the long view of achieving their ends [ie, sowing a decades long plan of undermining a country by spreading drugs as a means of breaking down the social fabric with a view towards future incorporation into their hegemony is *exactly* the sort of ploy you would expect from them.]

          I don’t know if I’d move there under Duterte’s regime [his methods are a little too-overt strong-arming himself into a new Marcos’ president-for-life position for my taste: only time will tell if he’ll step down gracefully..] but I’m certainly willing to visit & check things out for myself. Still digging myself out from the deep financial hole I wound up in after the GFM eight years ago and tying myself to a financial millstone [buying a house w/ my ex that required dual incomes to afford, only she didn’t want to work & fulfill her commitment…lost about 10 years of my life to that error in judgement.] Maybe next year? Some time soon, I hope: I ain’t gettin’ any younger! 😉

          1. Please note, that the murder capitals of the U.S. [Chicago, NYNY, WashDC] are the same cities w/ stringent gun control. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away! :-\

          2. Comparing crime stats between a 3rd world country and a 1st world country is at best an apples to oranges comparison. Crime and safety issues are ultimately emotional and subjective; do you feel safe or not. I lived in NYC in the 70s and can tell you that New Yorkers felt that they were living in the greatest place on the planet; the crime rate did not seem to impact that belief.

            Folks I know who live in Davao “believe” it is safer than years before and generally believe that is because of the Duterte policies. Again, it’s tough to qualify. If you’ve been a victim of crime you don’t feel safe; if you haven’t been a victim, you do feel safe. Our house got robbed last year and I can tell you that we felt scared, despite the relatively good crime rate in our US city.

            All this being said, I would tell anyone who likes sun and beaches and nice people to come visit the Philippines. Come next year and I’ll show you around Dumaguete. Any country is more than the sum total of it’s politics.

            Thanks for your comment and thoughtful input!

  2. ‘A few thousand drug dealer’. Ahem! There is no doubt that some of them were in fact drug dealers, But what about those killed in ‘collateral’ damage, the kids, the neighbors etc. 4 year old’s, 5 year old’s. The way things are here at the moment, there are lists been drawn up. DU30’s matrix and other lists. Local lists, where all you have to do to get on it is have somebody tell the police you are a drug dealer. I know one such case here, where an anti drugs but anti Duterte person found themselves on this list. She was lucky that the police here knew it was a totally fake accusation. How about the cases of the drug users who have been shot with nothing only a planted bag of Shabu on them. Almost all the shootings yielded no cash at all. In those cases there are either not drug dealers, or they were shot and the money vanished.

  3. Dave, all your posts are enjoyable, with great writing and superb humor. But this one was something more. Heartfelt and profound. Thank you for having the courage to speak what is in your heart,
    PS God bless you and Janet. I know you will both help make a difference when you are finally able to make the leap to Mindanao.

    1. Thanks Jester but to be clear, we are not making the leap to Mindanao, but to Dumaguete on Negros Oriental.

      I’ve been to Mindanao a couple times and like Davao and CDO, but don’t think Janet would go for living there 🙂

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