Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Shake, Rattle And Roll

This post is not for the faint of heart.

Are you still there?

I saw a ghost. A ghost of a little boy. In my office.

This happened in Majuro. It was about five in the afternoon. We were playing tennis that evening. So I decided to change and go to the little boy’s room.

The nearest one was in the conference room. I went inside and saw a young boy, maybe 7-10 years of age, running around. I assumed he was a kid of one of the local staff. I gave him a smile and let him have his fun. He grinned.

When I got into my shorts, I saw him again. This time he was sitting on a chair with his head down while tapping his lap with his hands. I said hi and he didn’t even bother to look up.

I didn’t pay too much attention to this until the following morning.

I somewhat mentioned in passing to our receptionist that there was a boy in a red shirt at the conference room last night. She looked puzzled. I asked whose kid he was. She said no one’s. Children of the local staff were all girls. I scratched my head.

I work for a company with very tight security, almost to the extent of paranoia. No one gets in without a badge.

The receptionist said the boy’s name is Elmo. Bluntly, she said he’s a ghost. Claimed he has been there since they moved in and that he likes to play around with the “new” people, Raft3r included.

By the way, the ghost was named Elmo because of his red shirt.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

28 Days Later

Raft3r flies home tonight.

After three weeks of solitary confinement, I am just about ready to face civilization again. So consider yourselves warned.

Majuro is a great place. But nothing beats Mali Bay. Home is still the best destination.

Guam is the stopover. They got sick duty free shops. I might finally get to buy myself a birthday present. It’s about time.

Beam me up, Scotty!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Who Let In The Rain

The rainy season is upon us - in The Marshall Islands, I mean. Whatta way to spend my last week here, huh?

Just when I was planning on taking some diving lessons, God decided to do some spring cleaning.

I haven’t seen the sun in days. It’s pretty wet here.

That means no tennis, too.

Raft3r has been stuck in the hotel room with a bag full of chips and half a gallon of vanilla ice cream. I am getting heavier by the second.

Idleness can be very comforting.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Match Point

Majuro is a city of tennis fanatics.

Everywhere you look, you see a tennis court. This was the first thing I noticed on my way to the hotel the night I arrived.

Even my office here has a tennis court. My hotel has one, too. Rafter is one happy boy!

I met the US Ambassador to The Marshall Islands and he, too, is a big tennis aficionado. He’s a pretty cool guy. Really nice. The following day, he lent me one of his rackets.

The Ambassador also invited me to play with him. You never say no to a diplomatic official.

Right after work, I headed straight to the tennis court to practice my serve. Raft3r was rusty. I haven’t played in ages and I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of the Ambassador.

The Deputy Chief of Mission arrived first with his spouse. While waiting for the Ambassador, we decided to play doubles. I was paired with a local.

After the match, still no sight of the Ambassador. He was a no show.

I smelled fear.

Post script: Raft3r got a chance to play with the Ambassador the following evening. He whooped my sorry ass. Big time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sand In My Shoes

Raft3r has been in the island for more than two weeks now.

So far, so good…

The pace here is so slow. I may not know a lot about myself. Though, one thing is certain. Raft3r is an urban yuppie. I like things fast. Man, I even walk fast!

One week in Palawan was good. Three weeks in a remote island is something else.

My mobile doesn’t work here. There is no roaming. Texting has not even been introduced in this part of the globe. WiFi seems like a distant future. Internet is hardly accessible. There is but one computer terminal in the hotel. A long line usually follows with it.

Raft3r somehow feels disconnected from the outside world. Not that it’s a bad thing. In a way, it’s liberating. I now have the power to just in keep touch with people I actually like.

On the downside, there is not much to do here after work. I have been to some local bars and clubs. Not much action there. There is no mall. Fast food chains are non-existent. I miss my Wendy’s.

Raft3r is on the brink of homesickness. I dunno know. I’m used to being alone and traveling all the time. But being here is different.

It’s like living on my very own Nim’s Island. Now, if only Jodie Foster is here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Teenage Love Affair

A family member and his girlfriend just broke up.

Raft3r was sent an email detailing how the event unfolded.

Getting your heart broken can be tough. But I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw the estranged couple’s individual Friendster accounts.

Boy’s current relationship status says “It’s complicated.” Girl’s “Single.”

Boy’s shout out goes a little something like this, “Every happy couple has at least one breakup between them.” Girl’s “Breaking someone’s heart is damn right painful but it will hurt even more when you still hold on to a relationship that is full of pretensions.” Ah, young love and all its trivialities.

It’s obvious who dumped who and who can’t seem to let go.

Dude, snap out off it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Citizen Of The Planet

I guess it’s true what they say that Filipinos can be found anywhere in the world.

Even in a remote place like Majuro, Pinoys are aplenty. Raft3r ran into a bunch of them in the streets. I ended up having Dreyer’s ice cream with my kababayans (countrymen).

First time I did my grocery in Payless, I noticed an entire aisle was devoted solely to Filipino products. The sign read “Pinoy Section.” Raft3r was beaming with pride.

There was Chippy, Sky Flakes, Zesto, Boy Bawang, 555 Sardines, Likas Papaya, and the like. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a dream or something. If the store carried Belo Essentials, I would just lose it.

Even on local cable, they have the “Knowledge Channel.” Slowly, I channel surfed and prayed I don’t see starlet Locsin in “Lobo.”

God was kind. There was no TFC (The Filipino Channel).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Raft3r officially became a woman today.

I did the laundry, pressed clothes, did some grocery shopping, counted my calorie intake, participated in an aerobic class, organized my closet, budgeted my expenses, called folks at home, took out the garbage, washed the dishes, did my bed, listed down things to do for tomorrow, watched a TV marathon of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, and shaved my legs.

The last one was an exaggeration.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Raft3r’s a momma’s boy and is not afraid to admit it. In fact, I am proud to be one!

What’s wrong with being a momma’s boy, anyway? It’s certainly not a crime to love your mother, right.

Maybe one reason why I have so many failed relationships is that most girls I have been with pale in comparison to my mom.

I think it is safe to assume that my mother would be the only woman I will ever love unconditionally.

Don’t get me wrong, though. My mom and I argue. We fight a lot.

She likes to open my mails and read them. That irritates the hell out of me.

She nags me to clean up my place more often. I happen to like my mess.

She tells me to shave and tuck my shirt in. No one cramps my style.

She says, “I love you.” I reply with a smirk and an agitated look.

My mom is the coolest. Despite my imperfections, she still loves me and accepts me for all that I am.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom! I love you.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Say It Right

Iokwe! (Welcome!)

Learning a new language is always a challenge.

Folks in The Marshall Islands speak English. But the elders don’t. The local dialect is Marshallese.

Here are a few essential words and phrases that would help you better get along with the populace:

pia (beer)
wia (buy)
etal (go away)
jete onean (how much)
edik onean (cheap)
elap onean (expensive)
etam (What’s your name?)
eta in Raft3r (I am Raft3r)
kwe likatu (you’re hot)
na lakatu (I’m hot).

E iien in kakkije. (It’s time for a break.) Happy weekend, guys! Jeramman. (Enjoy.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

One Missed Call

Raft3r, finally, bought a call card.

I spent the whole weekend looking for one but was unsuccessful. Locals didn’t seem to understand the words that are coming out of my mouth. Sorry, Chris Tucker. You knew that line was coming.

I never thought a $10 call card can bring a person so much joy. To hear familiar voices from Manila was way beyond cool.

I talked to my nieces, which is always fun. The girl I have been seeing as of late was close to tears when I called. Clingy. Break up alert.

Speaking of phone calls, here’s a strange little story straight from The Marshall Islands.

I received a call from my hotel room. It was front desk. She asked if I knew someone named Jessica. I said no and hung up.

Phone rang. This time, Jessica was on the other line. She sounded friendly and I was bored. The chick said she knew me and was delighted I was back in the island again.

Fun as it was, I decided to end the game. I told her she must have mistaken me for someone else. Dead silence followed.

Then she asked if we could meet. Apparently, she was at my hotel lobby. I quietly sneaked in for a look. I didn’t see anyone I particularly liked.

So I went back to my room, bolted the door, and turned down the phone ringer.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Terminal

In just a span of half a day, Raft3r has been to 7 international airports.

Yes, you read it right – 7 terminals in 12 hours. That must be a record of some sort. Would the Guinness people be interested?

From Manila, I headed to Guam where I had a 4 hour stopover. They have a pretty cool airport with free WiFi and an endless row of duty free stores. After Guam, came 4 other stops. Airports in Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Kwajalein were all part of the long journey to Majuro.

To make things even more interesting, US security regulations require a 30 minute cabin search be conducted for every stop we made. That meant all passengers had to deplane and head to the airport waiting area.

Due to the damn searches, Raft3r had no decent sleep for the duration of the flight. Just when I was about to get some shut eye, it’s time to get off the plane again. It’s insane.

I finally landed in Majuro late Friday evening. My check in luggage wasn’t lost in transit and my driver arrived early to pick me up. He speaks perfect English.

Based on first impression, Majuro might just be a fun place to live in for the next 21 days.

As the locals say, “Iokwe!”

Friday, May 2, 2008

Washed Away

Raft3r arrived on the island without a scratch.

It's highly unlikely I will remain that way when I depart on the 24th.

Although, my butt hurts from all the planes rides I took to get here.

Majuro is the capital of The Marshall Islands. It's small and somewhat reminds me of Palawan. But the latter might actually be bigger.

Armed with my sunscreen and snorkeling gear, I will be heading to the beach in a minute.

Work starts on Monday and I have the entire weekend to explore the island.

Raft3r is ready for another adventure. Hope Majuro and the rest of its crew are in it for the ride.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Leaving On A Jet Plane

May is Raft3r’s birth month.

Although I don’t really celebrate my birthday, this is the first time I will be spending it all by myself. It’s pretty lonely, huh? I can sure use a warm hug right now.

While my family, friends, and loved one are all safely nestled in Manila, I will be in the capital of The Marshall Islands practicing my survival skills.

By the time you read this post, I am probably strapped down to a seat in Continental Micronesia Flight # CO 934. I love plane rides. Flight attendants are HOT!

I packed so hurriedly. I’m pretty sure I missed out on some essentials. However, I do recall stocking up on boxers in my red Benetton trolley.

Traveling to unheard of destinations can be quite a thrill. I’m not sure what awaits me in this trip. But one thing I do know is that great things come from unexpected happenings.

Post script: I plan on taping my audition tape for Survivor Philippines in Majuro. If that doesn’t catch the show’s producers, I don’t know what else will.