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On a flight from Singapore to Manila yesterday, I felt a flash of fear. What if I’ve chosen the wrong path? I’ve always lived with the certainty that my life is exactly as it was meant to be. But what if I’ve been wrong? What if I’m wasting my life in the Philippines? The classic expatriate toast has always been “to absent ones”, as though friends and family have left us rather… Read More

“You’re a racist”, an anonymous blogger recently wrote to me. “You should go back home”, the blogger said. Am I a racist, I wondered? And if I went back home, where would that be? I haven’t lived in Canada for twenty-four years. When I created this blog two months ago, I had no expectation of it becoming anything more than a link for that rare person who might possibly read my story,… Read More

TO: INDIA HARRIS, RESPONDENT. YOU ARE HEREBY REQUIRED TO APPEAR BEFORE ME ON THE 13TH DAY OF AUGUST, 2013 AT 3:00 IN THE AFTERNOON FOR THE HEARING OF THIS COMPLAINT. SIGNED BY THE OFFICE OF THE BARANGAY CAPTAIN – REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PROVINCE OF ——–, MUNICIPALITY OF ———. The complainant is my former housemaid. “Oh my God”, I shout after reading the summons that was delivered to our house while I… Read More

To be honest, I’ve put off writing this post. I have found laundry to do, books to read, closets to reorganize — anything to delay revisiting the day I returned home after Typhoon Glenda. But you, dear readers, have very politely read the first two installments of this story, and you deserve to know how it ended. When I walked into my house on the morning of July 17th, I was looking… Read More

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 1:56 a.m. I wake up to a hot and stuffy room and the realization that I should have paid much more attention to this storm. The power’s off, so no more air-conditioning. My room is like a tomb, with no ventilation. According to the forecast, the worst is yet to come… 2:05 a.m. Wow, big wind! Am not sure what’s going on outside, but things are really banging… Read More

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 6:15 a.m. I need to get home before the typhoon hits. I’m in a taxi, speeding in a southbound lane on the South Luzon Expressway, en route from Manila Airport to the ferry terminal in Batangas City. I’ve told my driver that we need to get there faster than the usual 90 minute ride so I can catch a ferry to the island of Mindoro, my home of… Read More

The yellow African lovebird in my photo is now buried under a tree in our garden, killed last week by a thief who crept onto our patio at night, intent on pulling my birds from their cages while they slept. Exotic birds fetch a high price in the Philippines. But really, what kind of person creeps through the shadows and steals birds from his neighbors?? I know who the thief was, ridiculous… Read More

“WE ARE YOUR FRIENDLY POLICEMEN”, read the English sign at my local police station in the Philippines. Blood was dripping from my face onto my yellow sweater. Damn, I thought. These stains will never come out. “Ma’am, what happened to you?” asked a surprised-looking, but friendly policeman, though I was quite sure this man had shouted a warning at me through a megaphone once, something about jay-walking. “I want to blotter my neighbor…. Read More

I visited my grandfather’s grave today. Born 1888 died 1977. Memory of him playing his fiddle in an old Quebec farmhouse in summer, dancing a clownish jig, my cousins and I clapping and laughing, bellies stuffed with our grandmother’s strawberry shortcake. Happiness. A black dog named Teddy asleep on the porch — my first animal love. So many people and pets gone now, alive only in memories and photographs. My family’s roots… Read More

I was twenty years-old and excited at the prospect of studying French for an entire summer in the south of France. Until I met my teacher. “Mademoiselle La Blonde”, said she, “you speak French like a vulgarian”. “Repeat after me”, she ordered. “Mardi. No, not like that! Mardi! Encore – Mardi!” Over and over my Quebec accent infuriated her. Finally, I could stand it no longer: “Tuesday”, I shouted. My classmates laughed…. Read More

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