Palawan is an island in the west of the Mimaropa Admistrative region of the Philippines. The Phils is divided colloquially into three regions, Luzon in the north, Visayas in the centre and Mindanao in the south. Palawan is on the far west of Visayas.
It forms the northern boundary of the Sulu Sea and is only some 70 kilometres from Malaysia at its southern extremity. It is served by two airports, the larger being at Puerto Princesa, the main town on the island.
I had come to the Philippines because I had met, on-line, a transpinay called Crissy José and I wanted to meet her in real. At the time I was still recovering from the end of my marriage and a brief and failed affair with a women close to my age. (Which was an unmitigated disaster.) I’d been chatting to a couple of women but here was a click with Crissy that I didn’t get with the others. So I booked my ticket.
Spring and summer of 2012 I had passed sailing my yacht Misty around the coast of Scotland. She was sold in September and I wanted something I hadn’t had in a long time — a good chillout holiday and plenty of sex. Well, the Philippines trip got me one of those.
That first visit to the Phils was only three weeks — back then you only got 21 days on the automatic tourist visa. I had made my base at the Oasis Paco Park hotel in Ermita, Manila, and Palawan was the second exploration trip. The first was to Boracay, which I write about here.
(As an aside, I again highly recommend the Oasis Paco Park. It’s reasonably priced, clean and the staff are super-friendly. It also has a really good, if a tad pricey, Italian restaurant.)
We had booked our tickets for the Palawan tour through TravelTeam, and found ourselves on a Zest Airlines flight out of NAIA at 0700.
I’m at the local motorcycle repair shop where Sherwyn, a most competent mechanic and pleasant cove, is replacing a brake master cylinder on the Blaze. He first thought to replace only the seals, but he can’t find the right size. A new cylinder is 400 pesos, just under six quid, an unwell encephalopod. I just tell him to get on with it. Sherwyn works in the open space outside a motorcycle parts shop, where he seems to buy most of his stuff, although, as today, sometimes he has to go further afield. While I wait I sit on a wooden bench in the shade and observe the street life. Baklas soon begin to appear; it’s like they’re in the woodwork.
Beach beer and paddling with ladyboys in the Philippines. I wonder what the collective noun would be here? A delight of ladyboys? Pictures made in 2016.
Jelly and I went to the beach to relax and drink beer with some ladyboy friends. Two, Azumi and Icey, paddled around in the water and I photographed them. Icey reminded me of Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’. She had amazing – dyed of course – auburn hair that fell in cascades around her face and adopted a perfect contrapposto, holding a towel over her head to keep off the sun.
Fertile women cycle until they are around fifty years old, at which point a phenomenon called menopause occurs, when a woman ceases to produce eggs for fertilisation. Millions of ova develop within the female unborn baby, far more than the 450 or so that are ever used, so why has this cut-off point evolved?
‘Transgender’ is a catch-all term that is used, today, to include all forms of ‘Gender Non-Conformity’ or (better) ‘Sex Non-Conformity’. These are expressions in which individuals, for a variety of reasons, reject the social norms of dress and behaviour. Most ‘transgenders’ in the West today are in fact expressing fashionable youthful rebellion, just as hippies, punks, New Romantics and Emos did, in their turn.
However, there are some for whom this is a much deeper issue. Individuals of one sex who wish to appear to be and even live as a member of the opposite sex, do exist, although the numbers are hard to pin down.
To understand this, we need to quickly recap on sex, sexuality and gender.
As so many of you must know by now, for the past year I have been romantically attached to Sam Villasencio, also known as Samantha Nicole Mendez. It’s not always been the easiest of relationships but we found, through our adversities, the real strength of our love. I know that proposing was the right thing to do but I put it off for a few months even after my mind was made up. There were many reasons for this, not all good, but not all bad either. But in the end I realised that it was something I wanted to do and that my motives were sound.
Although I am not really superstitious I wanted the most propitious circumstances. After all, this is Asia and Sam is Two-Spirited, with much power in the unseen world. So I wanted to give her a ring and do it properly.
So on St Valentines’s Day, we had a party for some friends and then I got on my knees and asked her. She said ‘yes’. Fortunately.
We don’t know quite when or how the actual marriage ceremony will take place. Sam’s a Catholic, I’m Church of Scotland — and perhaps more to the point, she’s a transwoman. I will keep you all posted but meantime keep an eye on my YouTube Channel