In Dumaguete, we’d been taken to a barbeque chicken joint for lunch. My mouth full of chicken, Ton Ton asks
‘And what does it taste like?’
And under pressure with the camera on me I don’t know what to say, so I say
‘Like it’s been barbecued’
And Ton Ton asks how about the rice?
And I say
‘The rice is …rice’
Earlier, we’d been taken snorkelling a stone’s throw from our resort. Afterwards, an off-the-cuff interview:
‘What did you see?’
We didn’t see much but we figure that’s not what they want to hear
‘Yeah, it was really good. We saw lots!’
Everyone’s looking at me
‘Uh, clownfish… you know, Nemo? You know, Nemo?’
With a degree in marine biology.
My spin-off television show, well, I’d better kiss that goodbye.
It all started back in Manila, on the roof of our hostel. It was our first night in the Philippines and we were getting on it and throwing free barbecue into our mouths. At the food table, this guy approached Jeff and they got to talking.
The guy was a producer for a television show called Kapuso Mo, a weekly news magazine show that goes out every Saturday night in the Philippines. It’s presented by Jessica Soho, a four-time Peabody award winner. He was casting for a fifteen minute segment on backpacking and he wanted to know, were we interested?
Segue to the next day… (because I’m not going to talk about the night before here)
We stepped out of the lift into the hostel lobby filthy and exhausted, after being shown the whole of Manila by this guy with thinning hair and no teeth on account of his diabetes, and this producer, Mark, he was waiting for us. He’d been waiting five hours.
We must have agreed to a meeting. None of us could remember if we had or not, but one thing’s for sure, we all felt guilty as Hell.
Mark said forget about it.
We quickly showered then all went out to our regular restaurant across the road for dinner.
Talking to Mark over plates of chicken inato and chicken sisig, he told us he was originally looking for a couple. There weren’t any about. We were the next best thing, which gives you an idea of how busy it was on the roof that evening.
We headed back to the hostel roof where we talked some more. Mark wanted the theme of our segment to be ‘adventure’. The four of us together, we thoughtfully nodded our heads in agreement
‘Yes… that sounds about right’
We had a flight to Dumaguete already, early in the morning, and it was decided the crew would follow us there to begin filming.
First, however, they would come to the hostel at 4am to film us leaving for the airport.
I couldn’t sleep.
I lay in the darkness looking at nothing in particular, just having my hearing permanently damaged by the air conditioner. When my phone went off, I ignored it.
Then Boxhead’s phone started ringing and he did pick up
And it was mum in a frenzy frothing at the mouth, panicking, terrified that we were going to be kidnapped.
Boxhead couldn’t sleep.
Somebody knocked on the door.
We had a director, a cameraman and a soundman. They arrived in Dumaguete a day after us.
I felt for the soundman.
At various points throughout the day he’d hold the boom mike above our heads and Ton Ton would ask simple questions.
The camera pointing at me, I don’t know what happened. Under pressure with the camera on me, I just couldn’t think. Each time I opened my mouth this steady stream of bollocks came pouring out.
I’m not the eloquent David Attenborough-type I thought I was.
The utter drivel coming out of my mouth on camera caused me considerable stress off it. Following each moronic interview, I’d beg Ton Ton on my knees, plead with him not to include it, to shoot it again which he always refused to do, and the NEED to say something intelligent became more and more desperate. Moreover, I was completely incapable of acting as if the camera wasn’t there. My eyes were simply drawn to the lens like a magnet.
We went snorkelling, kayaking and pony riding in Dumaguete, then caught the ferry to Siquijor, where in our initial, pre-celebrity plans we planned to meet a medicine woman and explore the island on bikes. The crew agreed this was a good idea and had set up a meeting with a medicine woman for the following morning. A guide had been arranged to take us around the island in the meantime.
We met him in a restaurant right off the dock. His name was Alex and he was German and he owned the guesthouse we were staying in. From the same place we also hired bikes, all of us except Jeff, because he still didn’t have a driving licence after losing it in a strip club in Sydney.
We started following Alex and the crew in his van and it was nice, really nice. It didn’t matter anymore that I hadn’t slept for two days. We started climbing a mountain and the road was all rubble, and we must have been at least halfway up when we turned around because the van kept getting stuck in it all.
Coming back down I managed to fall off my scooter going less than 1 mph.
Oh well, at least I had something to show the medicine woman.
The next day, the high from the relief I felt after shooting our big final interview must have been like a junk-high it was so good. The interview went well, much better than the others (even dog shit turns white and stops stinking …eventually).
My leg still hurt though, despite half a tube of Savlon and the medicine woman’s best efforts.
A black cloud hung over Dumaguete as we approached it on the ferry, and as soon as we made the dock it started raining huge drops. By the time we reached the terminal we were soaked.
We said goodbye to the crew under its canopy. They had to get back to finish the final edit ready for tomorrow, which was Saturday, and the soundman needed to start his psychiatric counselling. It was a bittersweet goodbye. We were glad to have finished filming but they had been brilliant, completely patient with four talentless hams. We said goodbye, and they got into a taxi and drove away from us.
Riding our bikes back to the restaurant on Siquijor, all I could smell was sun cream. That sun cream smell mixed with sun, mixed with the salt in my clothes from all the sweat. The whole way back to the restaurant, kids shouted and waved at us. I couldn’t stop smiling. On the ferry over, that beach smell had stayed on my skin, in my nose, but now the rain had washed it away.
The four of us standing there in the ferry terminal, we all looked at each other. For three and a half days the camera had watched us fake haggle, fake point at something, fake talk, lug our bags in sequence, but it wasn’t around anymore. It was only about 2pm. It was still raining. We decided to get a burger.
I strongly recommend against watching in HD…
What happened next?
As a result of all the friend requests we received on Facebook following our television debut, to free up our news feeds we thought we’d set up a fanpage, We Love Pinas!, instead. We figured we’d get 1000 likes easy.
We got 200.