December 2014

eastwind memoirs29 Dec 2014 09:22 am

HITCHHIKING WITH A GUITAR eastwind memoirs 11

eastwind memoirs 11
by Bernie V. Lopez,
what makes water gold is the sun
water by itself is clear and colorless
the water is your soul
the sun in the light of the Lord in you
i know for certain from my travels
that there are guardian angels
in the nooks and crevices of our daily lives
mine has rescued me from danger many times
they hover like seagulls above us
At the age of 26, I left New York to embark on an adventure of a lifetime that I dubbed eastwind, hitchhiking 25,000 kilometers for 3 long years, drifting through 18 countries in Europe and North Africa. This was in the mid-70s.


I hitchhiked with a 5-kilo backpack and a 6-kilo Spanish guitar that I bought in Zarauz in Spain. Everywhere I went, I dragged this heavy guitar for a reason explained in this memoir. The true stories below are excerpts from a book I subsequently wrote, Wings and Wanderlust – the Art of Discovering Your Inner Self. (send the book as gift to friends anywhere in the Philippines, Php450 all postal charges included, received via JRS in 2 to 3 days, no credit card needed. Email request to


sometimes it is good
to keep your windows open
during a storm
a nice leaf may drift in
and make your day
idleness is the preparation to meditation
when new insights, discernment and serendipity
steal across the vestibule of your haggard soul



         Somewhere north of Hamburg, I picked up a ride from a stately Mercedes Benz. They were an elegant Danish couple and spoke perfect English as most Scandinavians did.
         “So you are on an adventure, young man,” the woman said.
         “Yes ma’am. Bound for Copenhagen.”
         The man hardly spoke.
         “You must play the guitar well. I mean, this is the first time I see someone hitching with a heavy bulky guitar. Don’t you get tired of dragging that around.”
         “I do ma’am, but I can’t do without it. It’s my magic wand.”
         She laughed, “A magic wand, eh?”
         “Are you from Copenhagen, ma’am?”
         “Yes we are, and you’re lucky to get your ride straight to your destination.”
         The man spoke in Danish and the woman replied tersely. It seemed she was in charge. Later, she mentioned that they owned a big food company, one of the biggest in Denmark.
         “Where are you staying in Copenhagen.”
         “I have friends in Christiania, ma’am.”
         “Christiania? That is a terrible place. Very dangerous. A lot of drug addicts.”
         “No choice, ma’am. But I will be alright. I know how to take care of myself.”
         “No, no. You don’t understand. You must stay in the youth hostel. Stay away from Christiania. That will bring you trouble.”
         “I’ll be alright ma’am.”
         “Maybe you are just trying to save money. Copenhagen is an expensive place, you know.”
         “As a matter of fact, ma’am, I am. I have been travelling more than a year now.”
         “You must stay in the youth hostel. I insist. I will give you 200 croners, okay?
         “Okay,” I said, knowing I would take the money and stay anyway with Jansen and Marijke in Christiania, a couple I met somewhere in Portugal, I think it was. Lying was the lesser evil. The other choice was to disappoint her with defiance.
         She spoke in Danish to her husband who pulled out his wallet. He gave me 200 croners without saying a word. That was about $40 then, if I remember right.
         We reached Flensburg and crossed the border to Denmark, headed for the car ferry boat that crossed the narrow passage that separ­ated the North Sea and the Baltic to Copenhagen. The car slid into the car ferry. We went up for a sumptuous dinner in a nice restaurant at the upper deck of the boat.
         After dinner, wanting to please the kind and sweet lady, I said, “I would like to play some Filipino songs for you on the guitar. Is that alright?”
         “Sure,” said the woman and the man nodded silently and smiled for the first time.
         So, I played a Filipino song and two numbers of the Beatles for lack of anything else. They listened intent­ly and clapped after my solo concert. I was proud they liked it. At least, that was my impression. The lady took out another 100 croners and gave it to me. In a few hours and for a few songs, I earned about $60, more than I did in Andorra on hard labor for two weeks. And it was at a time my money was running low.


         I ended up staying for two weeks with Jansen and Marijke anyway in Christiania. The next day, in the evening, I went through the bars, talking to managers if they would need a ‘folk singer’. I brought my guitar with me. Some didn’t even bother to audition me. On the fifth try, the manager asked me to play. I was a bit nervous. I played Simon and Garfun­kel’s ‘El Condor Pass’. It so happened it was the mana­ger’s favorite. I was hired instantly for $25 a night, three times a week, on a trial basis. I was excited. I practised the whole evening the day before my first performance. I knew I would earn more on the streets based on my Munich experience, but this was another type of adventure, singing in a bar. I had to try it out.
         On my maiden performance, I was jittery. I prepared a small twenty minute repertoire of Simon and Garfunkel and Beatle songs and chucked in a few Filipino songs.
         And so I played the first professional concert of my life. The crowd was noisy. They were not even listening. I was drowned out by the din of everyone trying to talk to each other all at the same time over their frothing beers. I sud­denly realized I had an illusion of being a great star, whom they would applaud till their hands turned red. I kept on playing. I did not feel ridiculous. At least, if I made a mistake, they wouldn’t even notice. So I kept on play­ing to the ‘wall’.
         I had three 20-minute sets per night. On the second set, I played the same repertoire. This time, I started feeling ridiculous. After three nights, I gave up. I couldn’t do it any­more, not even for good money. That was the end of that. When I told this to Jansen and Marijke, they laughed, but said at least I earned some money, which was true. I earned exactly $75 which was not bad. But it was not just the money. A backpacker rubbing elbows with the gentle super-rich, and singing in a bar for the first time were a good adventure.




         At the hostel, an American from South Carolina just came in. He had a clarinet. One evening, I took out my guitar and we started jamming. He was good. I would give a set of chord progressions and he would build a tune around them impromptu. We had an instant two-man band. His name was Jason. We played until early morning and the Arabs listened in amusement.
         One day, I suggested to him that we play on the streets for some money and split it 50-50. I could use the cash. He agreed. We practised for a while. Our intro number was ‘Oh When the Saints Come Marching In’, a Harry Belafonte tune which had easy simple chords. You could just keep repeating the tune endlessly.
         So off we went out to the street. We boosted each other’s morale as we hesitated, not knowing how the Greek crowd would react to a couple of dodos. I suggested to him that we go and play inside the subway station. It was too open out in the streets and we might attract a crowd we would not be able to control.
         At the subway station, we waited for a train to unload its passengers before playing our first tune care-of Belafon­te. Immediately, a few coins fell on my guitar case which I left open in front of us. That broke the ice. We kept playing for about twenty minutes and the coins kept coming.
         A couple of dirty gypsy children, about five of them, came up to us and were listening intently. After awhile, one started dancing. The others followed. By the time I knew it, we were having a real show. We were attracting a crowd. More coins were coming. It was great. We never imagined to draw such a big crowd because of the kids. My hands were getting tired and I signalled Jason for a break.
         A man came up to us, “Hey, guys, you better get out of here. This is not aloud. I am a policeman. Go.”
         “You’re not a policeman,” I said.
         In a huff, he left. We laughed and played some more. The kids started tumbling upside down. The crowd was applauding. We hoped to give half of the money to these wonderful kids. The coins clinked with a magical sound. We were getting ‘rich’. In five minutes, the guy was back, this time with two uni­formed po­licemen. So he was for real. It was not a bluff. I grabbed the coins and gave some to the leader of the kids. They arrested all of us, including the kids, and brought us to the police station.
         “F–k Nixon, heh?” one policeman said to Jason while looking through his passport.
         “F–k Nixon, sure,” Jason answered, shrugging his shoul­der. “I also hate Nixon, you know.”
         He looked over my passport, “You a seaman?”
         “No sir.”
         “Yes sir,” I said politely.
         “I better not see you again playing in the streets, what more the subway. Is that clear?”
         “Yes sir,” Jason and I said in unison.
         “Now go, before I change my mind and jail you.”
         We left quickly but as we were going, I saw them beating up the kids. The girl leader to whom I gave the coins was crying. I turned around to go back but Jason collared me.
         “You really want to go to jail, don’t you? Have you ever been f–ked in the ass? The Greeks like it that way, you know,” Jason whispered to me.
         “Poor kids. It’s actually our fault,” I said.
         “No its not our fault. The Greeks hate the gypsies. They are dirty people to them.”




         I had Derek’s address in Munich. We embraced as good old friends. It was a strange reunion. Now, he was married to a Japanese woman. The tables were turned. I was on a backpack and he was working his ass off to support a new family. Before, I was in a bank and he had his Westwind of sorts. Now, I was on Eastwind and he was the ‘slave’.
         His Japanese wife, Teiko, was kind to me for Derek’s sake but under­neath her hospi­tality, I could discern that she hated the counter-culture world and that she was pulling Derek away from it. For her, it was her enemy in a jungle of survival.
         “I feel like playing the guitar in the streets but I don’t have the courage,” I said to Derek and Teiko.
         “Why not?” Derek was excited. “You can do it. C’mon. The money would be good here.”
         “I was arrested in Athens together with an American for playing in the subway,” I countered.
         “The Germans are not like that. They are the most open people in Europe.”
         “Yeah, I know. This is a hitchhiker’s haven,” I said.
         “You know why, Bernie?” Teiko spoke.
         “Because they suffered a lot during the war.”
         “Buddha said pain is the greatest teacher,” I said.
         “Of course,” Derek answered.
         Teiko suddenly stood up, snapping her finger. She took out a woollen blanket from the closet, got a pair of scissors and began making a slit at the center.
         “What are you doing? Don’t ruin a perfectly good blan­ket,” I said.
         Derek said, “Don’t worry about it. She can sew it back later. It’s for you.”
         When she was finished, she came over to me and put the blanket over me. It was a poncho, a perfect fit. I looked like a Mexican version of Clint Eastwood in “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”. We all laughed.
         “It’s cold out there in the streets at this time,” Teiko commented.
         “I have a ski-jacket.”
         Derek said, “It’s not the same. The poncho attracts attention and money. It’s really a costume.”
         “You need gloves for the cold.” Derek added.
         Teiko stood up and took out a box from the closet. There were a dozen gloves. She began scrounging for an old soft knitted pair and found one.
         “You wouldn’t mind a pair of old gloves, would you?” Teiko asked.
         “But how can I play the guitar with gloves?” I countered.
         She got a pair of scissors and cut off the fingers of the left glove except the thumb. I put it on. I took out my guitar and started playing. It was perfect for the winter air. I could wear gloves on my left hand which handled the frets of the guitar minus the finger portions. I sang for them an old Filipino tune and they clapped.
         When everything was ready, I said, “No. Forget it. I can’t do it. I look ridiculous.”
         “No, you don’t. You look like a troubadour from the east. No way. You have to pay for the blanket and gloves you ruined if you don’t use them. If you use them, they’re for free,” he laughed jokingly. “No, Bernie, no guts no glory. Do it, do it, do it”.
         Teiko added, “Did you not come here for adventure? Here is your chance. You won’t regret it.”
         Reluctantly, I left. I was too conscious, just like my first hitch in Brussels. I stood there on my spot at the platz Derek told me to go to for a long while, scared to open up my guitar case. People walked around me. It was a busy day. Then I remembered Vicky playing for me and I remembered the gypsies the Greek police were mauling and I said to myself I would do it.
         I placed the empty guitar case open in front of me and started singing a song. Like in Morocco and Portugal, I played the Filipino Christ­mas song first. Then I tried a Simon and Garfunkel song entitled ‘El Condor Pass’. That got them. I saw a few five mark coins fall into my case with a sweet clink. I did some Beatle songs and achieved the confidence of John Lennon.
         Five marks was about $2 then. Ten of those and I had a treas­ure, $20, which could last me two weeks on the road. But it was not the economics that drove me to go on. It was the fact that I was appreciated for my song. My ego was buoyed. They did not stop to listen. They stopped momentarily, dropped in a coin or two, and left. I did not draw a crowd. So what?
         In a span of an hour, I was tired. I looked through my coins and mentally counted about 22 marks or $44. Not bad for an amateur. Teiko, Derek and I had a big celebration. We finished two bottles of white wine over a sumptuous Japanese dinner Teiko cooked. I basked in glory under the winter sun.
         It was my second baptism of fire as a troubadour after Athens. From then on, singing on the streets was a cinch. I did another stint the next day for two hours and got 31 marks or $62. A hundred dollars in two days. I earned more than my stint at Andorra as a con­struction worker for a week. If I did this everyday for two weeks, I would have enough money to be on the road another six months or forever.


How to order the book Wings and Wanderlust – the Art of Discovering Your Inner Self. (send the book as gift to friends anywhere in the Philippines, Php450 all postal charges included, received via JRS in 2 to 3 days, no credit card needed. Email request to
Read other past eastwind memoirs


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eastwind journals21 Dec 2014 05:59 pm


eastwind journals 146
By Bernie Lopez


Click photo to blow up and read




The biblical passage below shows God’s love for Man. No one is his right sense will give his own son to be slain by others. But God did. A father will die to protect his son. God gave His own Son. That’s how deep and intense God’s love is for us. In total humility and sacrifice, God, all powerful, creator of all that is, gave His very own Son to be crucified on the cross to save us from our sin. This Theology of Salvation is the core of our Christian faith, the essence of Christmas. We adore you oh Child of Bethlehem for Your gift of salvation. 

for God so loved the world
that He gave His only Son
so that all who believe in Him
may not perish and may have life eternal
for God did not send His Son
into the world
to condemn the world
but to save it through Him


John 3:16-18




700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah predicted the birth of Jesus, comparing it to the time in the Old Testament when the Assyrians fooled the Israelites into an alliance which would later end up in their subjugation and slavery. It was the era of darkness. But God, through Isaiah, promised the coming of the Light which would conquer the darkness, hope in a time of despair. This is the essence of Christmas. We adore you oh Child of Bethlehem for Your gift of salvation.


the people who walked in darkness
have seen a great Light
glow in the valley of death
anguish has taken wing
darkness is overcome
gloom and distress have vanished
You bring great rejoicing Lord
You have smashed the yoke that burdens us
the pole on our shoulders
the whip of the slave master


Isaiah 8:23-9:5


Diary on a Pilgrimage
On the fourth day of my pilgrimage to Fatima from Lisbon, a drizzle drove me to seek shelter in a farmer’s sheep’s shed. That drizzle was a blessing. It opened my eyes to a cosmic view of the Birth of Jesus, how the Lord of the cosmos, of the countless stars within billions of galaxies, could be born in a manger meant not for humans but for baby sheep. In that shed, that strange silent night, I discovered the essence of Christmas. We adore you oh Child of Bethlehem for Your gift of salvation.


it was not a dream that drove me
to take wings but a nightmare
now I prayed to Him to guide me
through the cruel world out there
as I did not know the ‘way’
on the fourth day, there was a slight drizzle
so I asked a farmer
if I could sleep in his sheep’s shed
the shed had a certain sheep odor
that was a bit offensive
all of a sudden, the birth of Jesus
came to me in a flash
the drizzle was perhaps sent by the Lord
to give Light that I was asking for
I suddenly realized how it defies the imagination
that the Creator of the universe
was humble enough to permit Himself
to be born in a crib meant for new-born sheep
in a sheep shed which smelled
the hay of such a crib is itchy on the skin
the swaddling cloth helps
but still the God who made all of us
did not stay in a three star inn
but a no-star sheep shed
His power must be awesome and limitless
to be able to do this
the omnipotent God
in total humility born in a manger
at whose side powerful kings
and winged angels knelt in adoration
He set an example
on that first Christmas 2,000 years ago
to be able to save all of us
that is my short and simple Christmas story




eastwind journals18 Dec 2014 06:39 am

SUNSET GIRL a christmas story

SUNSET GIRL a christmas story
The Tycoon and the Teenager
eastwind journals 145


By Bernie V. Lopez


An outfit in Sidney, Australia, wants to expand this copyrighted screenplay and make it into a movie. A Pilipino version is being considered by a Philippine outfit.  Perhaps some of you have read this from a previous post. It is our fourth and final Christmas story. It is an excerpt from an upcoming book entitled Ten Wisdoms of the Lord Prayer.


imagine a mouse leading a lion
an elephant submitting to an ant
a sage learning from a child
a general using the battle plan of a private
a nerd inspiring a visionary
a goon sanctifying a bishop
a tycoon listening to a teenager
irony of ironies
Terence is a self-made tycoon. From rags to riches. He is called by newspapers as “The Octopus,” head of a multi-billion conglomerate which has his tentacles on almost everything from utilities to telecommunications, computers to cars, shampoo to ice cream. You name it, he owns it. He is in his late sixties, gray-haired, quick-tempered, bossy, and vicious. He is called covertly in the office as ‘Hitler”. Everyone is scared of him.


His office is as big as half a basketball court, with a glass wall-window having a panoramic view of the sunset on the west side of Midtown Manhattan. His desk is as large as a pool table, glass and chrome, with only one folder and six cellphones on top, nothing else. He starts his day at 7 a.m. As the sun turns red-orange across the Hudson River, he drops everything and begins to relax. There is a knock at the door. Just like in the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, it is the day before Christmas.


TERENCE – Yes. Come in Lisa. I know its you.
LISA – (Nervously). Sir, this is Therese, the new hire you requested.
TERENCE – Hi Therese. Welcome. Sit down. That will be all, Lisa. Thank you. (Lisa leaves. Therese sits without a word).
TERENCE – I have a bad name of being vicious. Deep inside, I am really vicious. It’s my nature. Don’t be afraid.
THERESE – I am not afraid. That’s a beautiful sunset.
TERENCE – You seem to be at home right away. I like that. Nobody is at home in this office when I am around. I am normally addressed as sir.
THERESE – Would you like a little exception?
TERENCE – (A bit shocked). Whoow. That’s good for a starter. And for what reason?
THERESE – It may be a good change of air for you. I mean, don’t you get tired of people at your feet? It’s about time you meet an equal.
TERENCE – Whoow. An equal. Wow. I could fire you right this minute for insolence. 
THERESE – (Calmly and with a smile). Go ahead. I can take it. You want me to go?
TERENCE – Whoow. This is getting better and better. You are interesting. How old are you?
THERESE – Nineteen. Believe me, it’s good to talk to an equal for a change.
TERENCE – And what is your position in this office?
THERESE – I was told I am the assistant to the third assistant Secretary. It’s my first day. I was told you hired me because you wanted a “sunset girl” to help you relax when the day is done. That’s an easy job. I like it. I have a talent in relaxing people. And I hate office work. That’s the reason I took this job.
TERENCE – And you call us equals?
THERESE – Yes. The only difference between us is you’re rich and I am not. That’s to your advantage. But your are old and I am young. That’s to my advantage. Pretty even, wouldn’t you say? We will both die one day. I might even die before you.
TERENCE – And what is your secret in relaxing people.
THERESE – (Shrugging her shoulders). Oh, I don’t know. My smile, the way I talk. I’m just me.
TERENCE – (Leafing through her biodata). Hmmm. Summa cum laude, Boston U. Top of the class. Marine biology. You’re actually way off the mark, do you know that?
THERESE – Not really. I minored in Banking and Finance. You could use me. Aside from sunset duty, I am a genius in finance. Wanna try me?
TERENCE – I have a dozen senior analysts who can do finance while sleeping.
THERESE – Then let’s stick to the sunset.
TERENCE – I hired you because, first you’re at the top of your class, second, your personality test shows you’re an intellectual rebel, and third, you have no experience. Good mix. I want a young bright kid I can talk to at the end of the day.
THERESE – About what precisely?
TERENCE – Oh I don’t know, anything – corporate, business or even philosophy. I also need someone who is out-of-the-box, a non-corporate person, a tabula rasa. You know what tabula rasa means?
THERESE -Terence, may I call you Terence?
TERENCE – You already did.
THERESE – Terence, don’t insult me please. We just met. You said I was a summa, right? Why ask a stupid question. Tabula rasa. You want someone who is pure of heart, not tinted, not biased, no scars, a blank piece of paper, right?
TERENCE – Bulls eye.
THERESE – You want an intellectual rebel. You’re tired of half of your VPs being intellectually subservient. You are basically surrounded by yes people, bright ones and not-so-bright ones.
TERENCE – There are a few brains here and there, but you’re right, most are a bunch of yes-men. Your first task is to tell me your first impression of me.
THERESE – I don’t think you are really an ass-hole. You’re just pretending to be. You’re not really vicious. But for me, you’re pretense is a miserable failure. Maybe you’re just insecure deep inside, which no one seems to have discerned.
TERENCE – Have you discerned it?
THERESE – I’m not sure. I feel your soft spot though. You try hard to hide it for fear it would be discovered. And that would make you feel naked. You did not mind my insolence. That’s the first soft spot. You are in despair to talk to someone who is an equal. That’s the second soft spot. You’re lonely as an emperor. But then again maybe you are afraid of equals. It’s a complex mix. You are threatened by me when I said we are equals, and yet you welcome it.
TERENCE – Wait, you’re putting me on the defensive.
THERESE – Then don’t be. I think you sort of wanted a “sunset girl” with no scars for a good reason. You see, you know I’m not like your other secretaries and assistant secretaries because I don’t care. You have no hold on me. That’s a nice feeling for me, and for you also, isn’t it? You want me to defy you, I mean, for a change.
TERENCE – Do you feel my despair?
THERESE – Obvious from the minute I entered the room. So let me be your “sunset girl” for a week. If you don’t like it, fire me. If I don’t like it I resign.


Therese stands up, goes to the wall, pushes a button, and a mini-bar appears. She puts brandy on two goblets and gets two glasses of iced water, puts them on a tray, and places them on Terence’s table. She turns to him.


THERESE – May I join you.
TERENCE – Stupid question. You brought two glasses.
THERESE – Ooops. Sorry. Brandy. Iced water on the side.
TERENCE – Lisa told you?
THERESE – She is a good girl. Meticulous to your needs. Cheers. For the Christmas season.


Glasses clink. They both approach the window and look at lesser skyscrapers silhouetted against the now-deep-red horizon. Terence hands a pair of binoculars to Therese. He gulps his brandy in one shot. Therese sips hers. They watch a seagull against the sunset.


THERESE – You don’t gulp brandy. You sip it. I think I struck a bad chord in you.



TERENCE – Yup, you did. Without showing you finance and market data, do you think I should buy Daily Globe? Let’s see what your tabula rasa summa cum laude brain will say.
THERESE – What for? You have everything. It’s just to satisfy your greed. Oops, I don’t mean to be rude. I mean your ego. Oops, I mean your …. your …. (Pause). What the heck. Let’s not call a spade a clover. Let’s not be polite. Let’s lay our cards on the table. It’s your ego and greed, Terence. I am sorry to say. I mean, what do you want a newspaper for, to project your image? Power? Fame? Your image is over-projected already. I mean you were on the cover of Time Magazine three months ago, and Fortune Magazine four months before that. You’ve been on the covers, what, six times in the last what, four years?
TERENCE – Seven times. (Laughs uncontrollably). Now I feel good.
THERESE – You feel good being stripped bare by a teenager from nowhere? Bare naked truth? I feel good myself.
TERENCE – Yeah, feels good. I was right getting a sunset girl. So what do I do?
THERESE – Do you have to do anything? I mean can’t you stop? Stop acquiring. Stop merging. Stop this obsession for your empire. You’re busy but you’re bored. It has excited you all your life, but not anymore. You are addicted to it, like morphine to a cancer patient. You need to detoxify. You need to go cold turkey.
TERENCE – If I drop everything, I will get bored.
THERESE – Not really, if you have some imagination.
TERENCE – You know we have been talking for 30 minutes and for the first time, you’re changing me, my life.
THERESE – Sunset girls do that.
TERENCE – This has been bothering me for a long time.
THERESE – I know. I read so many articles about you as soon as I got accepted here. I can see through you. You are naked to me, Terence. You better believe it. All this velvet under your feet is nothing to you.
TERENCE – I have seen three shrinks in the last two months.


Terence breaks down without shame, the Octopus, the Hitler sheds tears for the first time in a long long while. Therese gets the bottle of brandy and fills the two goblets to the brim.


THERESE – Yup, that’s the first step. Tears. Very medicinal.
TERENCE – This is not the way to drink brandy, Therese.
THERESE – Sorry. I’m getting carried away. Okay okay. (She goes to the bar and pours tequila into two small glasses. They gulp it instantly). Shrinks can’t help you, Terence. You are opaque to these guys because they do not understand what makes you tick. They go through the motions of knowing you, but they don’t. They just want your money.
TERENCE – And you know what makes me tick.
THERESE – Yeah, I do. I felt it in my bones the moment I came in. That is why you don’t scare me. Now, maybe I scare you.
TERENCE – So what do I do, Therese. C’mon “sunset girl.”
THERESE – You won’t like what I will tell you.
TERENCE – For heaven’s sake.
THERESE – Okay. Can I put it straight.
TERENCE – Wait. More tequila.
THERESE – Now you’re talking.


She takes the bottle of tequila and fills the glasses. They are emptied instantly. She pours again. But just as Terence is about to have a second gulp, Therese pulls the glass away.


THERESE – Wait wait wait. Here me out first.
TERENCE – Okay. What?
THERESE – Get rid of your empire. Give it away. That’s the only way you get out of your rut.
TERENCE –My empire a rut? You’re kidding.
THERESE – Yes, your empire a rut and you’re drowning in it. (There is silence. Terence yanks the glass from Therese and both down the tequila). I mean your sixty eight, right? You’re in the pre-departure area,right. Tell me, have you ever thought you would die soon?
TERENCE – That’s what I have been telling these shrinks. And they would argue against it and I would hate them for being hypocrites. They just wanted to be paid. This has been haunting me for the last four years, the thought of death.
THERESE – What good is your empire when you can’t take it with you. Sell half of it. Give it way to whomever. Do you believe in God?
TERENCE – I do. I do.
THERESE – You should, if you’re in the pre-departure area. You know there is this Jesuit saint, Francis Xavier, who said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but suffers the loss of his immortal soul?”
TERENCE – I was thinking of that actually, burning my empire, but I would not dare. I’m no Nero. And what would I do after?
THERESE – Two key words, Terence  – ‘profit’ and ‘immortal’. St. Francis puts it in corporate jargon, profit. And he compares your puny finite empire to the infinity of your immortal soul. Compared to empires of history, yours is a grain of sand in the Sahara.
TERENCE – Coming from my “sunset girl,” I have just made a decision. Thank you, Therese. Maybe I can put up a foundation to rescue the homeless, give them back their mortgaged houses, how about that? (Therese pours more tequila. They down it in two seconds.)
THERESE – Anything, as long as it’s not for you. It has to be for others. That’s the secret. Are you up to saying a prayer with me? (Without a word, the tycoon falls to his knees in all humility, facing the sunset.) No, no. Don’t kneel. Slouch in your chair and swing it to the sunset. Relax. (Terence does so obediently.) Okay, now, I will pray for both of us. Just sit there and listen. (Long silence.) Lord, teach us, Terence and me, how to give to others. Especially Terence, Lord, since he has so much to give. (Long silence.)
TERENCE – Go on, go on.
THERESE – Done. Finished. You don’t have to elaborate. He knows. I have to go. It’s late, and I feel whoozy.
TERENCE – Can I take you home? It’s almost Christmas. Aren’t you going to be with family?
THERESE – No, no. I live three blocks away. I live alone.
TERENCE – But you feel whoozy.
THERESE – (Pouring more tequila). I want to walk home after this nice talk with you. I enjoyed it terribly. For the road? (They empty the glasses.)
TERENCE – I will see you tomorrow at sunset?
THERESE – It’s Christmas eve tomorrow. Who are you, Ebenezer Scrooge?


They both laugh until they are in tears.


THERESE – I don’t know. You don’t need me anymore. I gave you your sunset, right?
TERENCE – But you have to help me plan to give my empire away.
THERESE – He will help you. He’s good at that. Just don’t forget to ask Him. I am not good at that. Bye. (She heads for the door.)
TERENCE – Wait, wait. Just in case you don’t come back, here take this.


Terence has a hard time writing the cheque. He had to tear the cheques the first two tries. Finally, he hands a crumpled cheque to Therese. Therese pockets the cheque without looking.


TERENCE – Read the cheque, damn it.
THERESE – (Stops at the door and reads it). You’re kidding. I can’t take this.
TERENCE – You’re doing me a favor. Take the damn cheque. Merry Christmas.
THERESE – (Sobs and leaves). Merry Christmas. I won’t be back.
TERENCE – Hell, drop in sometime?
THERESE – Maybe. Hey, Scrooge. I’m your ghost of Christmas future, ain’t I?
TERENCE – Yeah, you have inspired me. I will see Tiny Tim tomorrow.
THERESE – Great. I’m glad.


The sub-zero wind outside was strong. Therese opens her coat to let the cold in and deaden her drunk state. With the money, Therese bought a modest beach house in Long Island and a second-hand Benz. She bought a second house for her sister to take care of their sick mother in Cape Cod, where she grew up. Terence was envious and bought a nearby beach house in Long Island. Terence drops by Therese’s beach house.


THERESE – Are you following me?
TERENCE – Nope. I’m following Him.
THERESE – Oh. How nice. So we’re both headed His way.


Of course, their houses were facing west. They would watch the sunset together often, especially every Christmas eve, the tycoon and the teenager. Slowly, the corporate empire shrunk, and a new empire loomed at the horizon, bigger and more awesome than the first. Therese died at the age of 22, and Terence had to stay behind as there was a lot to give away. He died at the age of 89. His employees were amazed how Terence was no longer a Hitler. He became gentle and soft-spoken, never lost his temper.


The opposite of pride is humility. Humility, like forgiveness, heals. Pride, like hate, consumes. Therese was a humbling experience for Terence. All his pride, arrogance, and viciousness melted at the hands of the teenage genius. Therese was the cool breeze in Terence’s desert empire, the ghost of Christmas future, the sunset girl, who came like a lightning bolt and then vanished in the blink of an eye. It was a repeat of the Christmas Story of Scrooge, except that Terence was a thousand times richer. Every path of tycoons or teenagers, leads to the Lord.


should my heart not be humble
should my eyes fail to see
should my feet sometimes stumble
on the way, stay with me
like a lamb that in springtime
wandered far from the fold
comes the darkness and the frost
 i get lost, i grow cold
i grow cold, i grow weary
and i know i have sinned
and i go seeking shelter
and i cry in the wind
though i grope and i blunder
and i’m weak and i’m wrong
though the road buckles under
where I walk, walk alone
‘til i find to my wonder
every path leads to Thee
all i can do is pray
stay with me, stay with me
Theme from the movie The Cardinal


For healing, visit


eastwind journals14 Dec 2014 05:03 am

amazing filipino sailors in europe – true stories of adventure

True Stories of Adventure


eastwind journals 144


By Bernie V. Lopez


fear is the enemy
you must seek danger
for danger will save you
from danger and from fear itself


between reality and imagination
between relevance and absurdity
between ecstasy and agony
between pleasure and pain
between stratospheric highs and subterranean lows
is a lonely, dangerous, exciting road called adventure



At the age of 26, I left New York to embark on an adventure of a lifetime that I dubbed eastwind, hitchhiking 25,000 kilometers for 3 long years, drifting through 18 countries in Europe and North Africa. This was in the mid-70s.


Everywhere I went, I met the amazing daring Filipino sailors in major Atlantic ports – Piraeus, Bremen, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, you name it. Where the big ports were, the colorful Filipino sailors converged, seeking the razor’s edge. They were at once gentle and violent, lovable and feared. The true stories below are excerpts from a book I subsequently wrote, Wings and Wanderlust – the Art of Discovering Your Inner Self. (send the book as a Christmas gift to friends anywhere in the Philipines, Php450 all postal charges included, received via JRS in 2 to 3 days, no credit card needed. Email request to


eastwind memoirs 01
This is the true story of two Filipino sailors. The first is a second-officer from a Panamanian ship who invited thousands of Filipinos he did not know to his birthday party in Athens, squandering 5 years of savings in a single night. The second is a US Navy sailor who earned as much money from smuggling contraband as from his salary.


eastwind memoirs 09
This is the story of how a bunch of Filipino sailors smuggled an entertainment girl aboard their ship for thousands of miles, for several months, through dozens of Atlantic ports, without the ship’s captain knowing about it. It is also the story of a sailor who faked his engineering license for 20 years and got away with it. Finally, it tells why Capetown bar girls prefer Filipinos from Japanese or Korean sailors, triggering violent brawls.



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