Marie and I recently celebrated our sixth anniversary in September. Since we have been busy with many endeavors we neglected to take a vacation for three years. We decided to go to Thailand because it has many cultural things to see. It is a really cool place. There is a saying that getting there is half the fun. It is kind of true. When I am working on my farm sometimes I hear a plane descending and I think about when and where I can talk my wife into an adventure. When I was in Manila waiting for our flight I sought out the smoking lounge. There I met one scary looking but very nice guy. He was about six – six and three hundred pounds. I know this sounds like I am describing John but this guy was covered in tattoos and had long black hair. When we were talking he said he was from Louisiana so of course I blurted out “So you are a coon ass ehh?” He died laughing and said that in the nine years he has been living in the Philippines he has never had anyone call him that. I told him that I am happy with my life now and so if it ends because I insulted a big gnarly biker with a Bandito tattoo on his shoulder then so be it. It turns out that this guy lives a life that would make Hemingway shudder. He is a precious gems merchant and routinely makes a circuit to places that guys without a death wish would never venture to. He was en-route to Thailand with his family when I met him but that serves as kind of a hub to where he is going. He goes to remote places in India, Iran, Russia, and other armpit locales. He showed me a briefcase full of gems. To me they are just shiny stones but I realize that there is big money involved. I was teasing him that maybe since he can’t afford a shirt with sleeves then the customs inspector would never guess he is carrying a valuable cargo. He laughed and said that in Iran the locals never picked him out as a foreigner because of his long dark hair and olive complexion. This guy was very accommodating and gave me a number to reach him in Thailand if I had any trouble. For some reason I took comfort in knowing that this guy had my back.
On one trip to Manila I met a guy who did not announce his occupation but I quickly guessed it. Normal people do not question your plans for the afterlife. I explained that I am a history political science major and as such I feel like I know the origins and the outcome of your religion. In other words sell your salvation somewhere else! I was on the plane from Tokyo to Atlanta with a group of missionaries behind me. I was able to drown out the incessant self praising with my headphones but I finally had to stand up and complain. The women behind me had huge asses and insisted on turning around and talking to the row behind them. The result was the giant asses were like pressed hams on the back of my seat. I started developing nausea from the motion or so I thought. I later determined it was a visualization issue. I stood up and turned around and said “excuse me, can you stop doing that? It is pretty inconsiderate.” They had to feign politeness in front of their group and apologized.
On one flight from General Santos to Manila I met a guy from here that was very interesting. He worked in a meat plant in Denmark and was worried for his job when a Filipino businessman purchased the plant. He said that he approached the man and asked if could still have a job. The new owner made him a consultant for numerous meat plants in many places. Now he said that he is a freelance consultant and travels to many different countries. He also has a sideline selling quality knives to meat plants.
In my former life I was a machinist confined to a factory for ten to twelve hours a day six days a week. In my time away from there I worked on a cattle ranch seven days a week. At that time I thought that would pretty much be my life. After many years I started my own business and got to travel some. It is really amazing how your perspective changes when you begin to understand how others think. Moving to the Philippines was a very bold choice in my life and I have never had any regrets. Since I am business minded I do have to profess that it is a very competitive place and has very small profit margins as a result. Maybe my next article will be about the reality of doing business here.
For those that don’t know me already; I am Tom Ramberg. I have lived near General Santos City for more than three years now and really love it here. I have no plan to return to my native place. If anyone is interested I have a Facebook page listed under Thomas Ramberg.