Why is it that some countries are perpetual losers in the global economy? How are they able to stay mired in the economic sludge decade after de-cade? In my never-ending efforts to foster better understanding between cultures through sarcasm and ridicule, I thought I’d document the secrets of their lack of success.
1. A tropical location. The afternoon jungle heat and humidity. Cholera, malaria. I certainly wouldn’t feel like putting my nose to the grindstone. Would you?
2. A constitution easier to change than last week’s underwear. Yesterday’s tough, charismatic, pro-democracy president morphs into today’s tough, charismatic, totalitarian dictator.
3. Give Peace A Chance. With no external enemies to threaten and unite the population, hostilities quickly turn inwards, leading to tribal warfare and civil uprisings.
4. Have children like palm trees have coconuts. This puts a strain on the country’s resources; impoverishes young women; and insures an ever-expanding underclass.
5. We don’t need no education. You don’t have to be dumb to be a third world country, but it helps!
6. Blame someone (anyone) else. Colonialism, racism, the Dalai Lama…it doesn’t matter as long as it provides the country with ample reason to avoid serious self-examination.
But how, you may wonder, can we combine some or all of these in a dur-able form? The solution is simple and elegant: Be colonized by Spain, with its sterling traditions of shaky governments (#2), an inept military, an inablility to engage foreign opponents (#3), plus Roman Catholicism with its condom condemnations (#4). And when things inevitably fall apart, it is easy to point fingers back at the Spaniards (#6).
To rephrase an old saying: If you want something done right, you must do it yourself. But if it absolutely has to be done badly, if success is not an option, necessitas una persona de la Espanola.
Boracay Island, The Philippines
The island of Boracay is one of the more popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. The beach is postcard pretty, with a gentle slope and non-threatening waves. Relaxing in the warm water is akin to being in a giant bathtub.
It’s almost enough to make you forget the scantily clad women on the shore. They can drive you to distraction regardless of what you are doing, their dusky sexuality twisting your thinking. For example, last evening I tried reading my astronomy magazine to prepare for some stargazing, but when I opened to the page that talked about how Mars was once hotter and wetter than it is now, all thoughts of finding the Southern Cross went right out the window.
Clearly I had to get out and meet the natives of the female persuasion before I began forgetting meals.
This did not require much effort. The beachfront on Boracay is basically one big red light district. The ladies congregate out in front of the bars, focusing their attention on middle aged men, especially those who look like they have gone a long time without companionship and thus might be susceptible to the charms of a younger woman.
I have never been so popular.
I had just finished my first drink of the evening and was fighting off the audio-induced nausea of a disco bar when a lady wearing plaster of Paris makeup sidled up to me. Grabbing one of my arms, she exclaimed that she loved old men.
My first reaction was to look around to see whom she was referring to. Certainly not moi? And what a crappy pickup line. I should have replied, “Oh, you are in luck then, because I love women who resemble walking statues!”
Leaving my initial encounter behind, I began strolling down the sandy path towards other watering holes, running the gauntlet of admirers at each. It seemed they were all working off the same tiresome script. What these charming hostesses fail to understand is that for us middle-aged men, eating is the activity we have real enthusiasm for. So instead of, say, Golden Showers, they should be trying to pervert us with Golden Arches.
Most confusing for me were the ones operating in pairs, offering a “special massage”. But who was going to be massaging who and when? I sat down on the beach with one of these duos and tried to map out the possibilities in the sand, but it ended up looking like an NFL punt return. All I could tell was I’d be in the center of the action, but there would be bodies coming at me from all sides.
In one instance I found only one of the women attractive. Wanting to get rid of the other (named Loi) via a tactful and seemingly fair process, I resorted to trickery:
“OK girls, this is a coin I’m going to flip. If it is “heads”, then Layla (all their names start with “L” for some reason) will go home with me and Loi stays here. If “tails”, Loi goes home with me and Layla stays. (I flip the coin.) It looks like… tai… oh darn it. I dropped it in the sand. We’ll have to try again!”
But Loi’s luck was a juggernaut that evening. Some twenty minutes and many lost coins later, I was still trying to eliminate her:
“Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a ni…, er, African-American by his toe…..”
As midnight approached:
“No Loi, you don’t understand. Scissors cuts rock!”
Finally exhaustion set in and I had to call it a night, but not before giving Loi some money to purchase tickets in the Philippine Lottery. I figured with her luck, she had at least a 50-50 chance of getting set for life, and without having to sleep with me. Above all things, one must know how to keep a woman happy!