eastwind journals

eastwind journals21 Nov 2018 06:56 am

HITCHHIKING WITH A GUITAR – an adventure of a lifetime * eastwind

An Adventure of a Life Time
eastwind memoirs
by Bernie V. Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
Share via link
Dedicated to the millions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) worldwide. Dear OFW, If you have earned some money, drop everything and take wings while you are young, or not so young.
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 – it was a ‘magic wand’ on the road. I discarded the rule in backpacking to travel light.

Three drifters – French, Mauritian, Filipino. Pisa, Italy circa late 70s. Note the eastwind sweater.

Eastwind at age 26. Amsterdam circa late 70s.

The true stories below are excerpts from a book I subsequently wrote, Wings and Wanderlust – the Art of Discovering Your Inner Self. It took me two weeks to write the book from memory, sleeping one to two hours a day, in fear of forgetting my story.

Somewhere north of Hamburg, I picked up a ride from a stately Mercedes Benz. They were an elegant Danish couple and spoke perfect English. I discovered later they owned one of the largest food corporations in Denmark. Conversations reconstructed.“
         So you are on an adventure, young man,” the woman said.
         “Yes ma’am. Bound for Copenhagen.”
         “First time I see someone hitching with a heavy guitar.”
         “It’s my magic wand, ma’am.”
         She laughed, “A magic wand, eh? You’re in luck, we are going to Copenhagen. 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.”
         “Maybe you are just trying to save money. Copenhagen is an expensive place.”
         “Yes, I am, ma’am. I have been travelling more than a year now.”
         “More than a year, wow. You’re an albatross migrating from pole to pole. You must stay in the youth hostel. I insist. I will give you 200 croners, okay?
         “Okay, ma’am,” I said.
I knew I would take the money and stay anyway with Jansen and Marijke in Christiania, a couple I met in Portugal. I lied because I did not want to offend her. Her husband gave me 200 croners (about $40 then).
We reached Flensburg and crossed the border to Denmark, and took a car ferry boat to Copenhagen. We went up for a sumptuous dinner in a nice restaurant at the upper deck. After dinner, wanting to please the kind and sweet lady, I offered to sing to them.
So, I played a Filipino song and two numbers of the Beatles for lack of anything else. They clapped. 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.
As I toured the city the next day, I stumbled into a park. There was a big crowd. There was this all-male quartet playing fast instrumental folk music.
The violin solo was fantastic. There were two nylon guitars and a conga for percussion. The quartet placed two empty guitar cases open in front of them. They played for 30 solid minutes of mesmerizing music to the thrill of the crowd. Children started sitting on the pavement. Every number was followed by a resounding applause. When the concert was over, a rain of coins fell on the two guitar cases, the clinking sound reverberating inside my soul. In a moment, both cases where two-inch deep in coins. After the show, I went over to talk to the group.


         “Irish, am I right?” I asked.
         The leader answered in thick Irish accent, “Yup. That’s right. Danish folk music is similar to Irish, fast violin rhythm. They like it.”
         “How much do you earn in a 30-minute stint?”
         “About $200?”
        “In 30 minutes? Wow. That is $50 each. If you play the whole afternoon, you earn about…”
         “….. two to three hundred dollars each.”, he interrupted me.
Next day, I played solo in the same plaza for 30 minutes. I did not get a big crowd but earned $20. The day after, I went through the bars. I brought my guitar to audition. Mostly, I was ignored. Finally, in one bar, I played Simon and Garfun­kel’s ‘El Condor Pass’, the mana­ger’s favorite. I was hired instantly for $25 a night, three times a week. I knew I would earn more on the streets, but this was another type of adventure, singing in a bar.
On my first night, I prepared a twenty-minute repertoire of Simon and Garfunkel and Beatle songs and chucked in a few Filipino songs. The crowd was not even listening. I kept on playing. I did not feel ridiculous. I did 3 20-minute sets per night. I played the same repertoire for all sets. After a while, I started feeling ridiculous. After three nights, I gave up. I couldn’t do it any­more, not even for good money. I earned exactly $75 which was not bad.
I met backpacking Derek in Manila 15 years ago. I was in a bank then, he was doing a Westwind. Now, in Munich, I was on doing an Eastwind and he was the ‘slave’. His Japanese wife, Teiko, was kind to me.
          “I feel like playing the guitar in the streets but I don’t have the courage,” I said.
         “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 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.”
         “You’re saying pain makes you a good person?”
         “Precisely and comfort does the opposite.”
Teiko got an old woollen blanket, cut a slit at the center, and put the blanket over me. It was a perfect poncho. I looked like a Mexican version of Clint Eastwood. We laughed. Teiko took out a pair of old woollen gloves. She cut off the finger ends except the thumb. I could play the frets from my exposed fingers, and my hand was gloved against the October air.
I stood for a long while at the platz, scared of looking ridiculous on a poncho. Then eastwind flapped its wings, unafraid. I placed the empty guitar case open in front of me. I started singing. Like in Morocco and Portugal, I played the Filipino Christ­mas song first. Then I tried a Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘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.
It was not the easy income that drove me, but the adventure. They stopped momentarily, looked at me, smiled, dropped in a coin or two, and left. I did not draw a crowd. So what? In an hour, I got 22 marks or $44. Not bad for an amateur. I did another stint the next day for two hours and got 31 marks or $62. A hundred dollars in two days.
Share via link
by Bernie V. Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
Blogger/Columnist-Journalist-Broadcaster, 35 years / Healing Ministry, 27 years
Inquirer * Business World * Manila Times * Manila Chronicle * Radio Veritas
Healing Ministry of Srs. Raquel/Gloria, RVM * for healing inquiries send email
AND ABROAD AT US$30. Order by email at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com).
eastwind journals02 Nov 2018 08:53 pm

How Filipino Drivers Drive You Crazy * Is Pinoy Driving Culture Beyond Reform? * eastwind

Is Pinoy Driving Culture Beyond Reform?
Anarchy on the Streets – Bluffing on Who Goes First
The 12 Traits of Pinoy Drivers
eastwind journals
By Bernie Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
Share via link – http://www.sisterraquel.com/2018/11/how-filipino
An American expat from Boston working for a bank here says, “Nothing beats the Boston taxi in terms of notoriety. That is, until I came to Manila and rode a taxi.” 
A Pinoy driver says, “When I went to Singapore, I realized the beauty of road discipline in reducing stress and traffic.”
A German tourist, watching from the 12th floor of Makati Shangrila, says, “I have never seen a place where there are 12 traffic aides in one intersection (Makati Ave. corner Ayala Ave.) contradicting each other and causing traffic. Back home, it’s a single traffic light and the traffic flows smoothly during rush hour.” 
12 Traits of the Pinoy Driver?
Jeepney or Porsche drivers, rich or poor, have the same bad habits.
Veers left in order to turn right.
Bluffs who goes first, like a poker bet.
3 lanes become 6 lanes during rush hour.
When the traffic light turns yellow, speed up, not slow down.
Speed greed induces grid locks, which can last for hours.
On top of road rage is road anarchy.
The horn is a weapon to intimidate or irritate.
The courtesy culture is only in Subic.
We cannot have a day-time truck ban because they are owned by powerful oligarchs.
Many traffic schemes are band-aid solutions being changed every month. Trial and error.
Motorbikes are taking over. They think they are exempt from traffic lights.
When will we ever learn? Perhaps never. It is an impossible feat to change the Pinoy driving culture. Stiff fines, CCTVs, kilometers of intertwining concrete fences, thousands of traffic aides all do not work. If Subic can do it, why not Metro-Manila? Surprisingly, a Filipino driver who migrates to New York suddenly changes from a roaring lion to a meek lamb. We need a sociologist or a charismatic leader more than a traffic cop or CCTVs to change things.
The key perhaps is a shift in Filipino driving culture, an almost impossible feat. We need persuasion and value education, psychologists, sociologists more than cops and authoritarianism, making the Pinoy driver realize its worth it. Easy to say.
Share via link – http://www.sisterraquel.com/2018/11/how-filipino
by Bernie V. Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
Blogger/Columnist-Journalist-Broadcaster, 35 years / Healing Ministry, 27 years
Inquirer * Business World * Manila Times * Manila Chronicle * Radio Veritas
Healing Ministry of Srs. Raquel/Gloria, RVM * for healing inquiries send email.
Eastwind Inspirational Verses
A Marian Trilogy



eastwind journals03 Oct 2018 05:34 am

THE HOLOCAUST MAIDEN * A True Post World War II Story * eastwind

A True Post-World War II Story
A Filipino Draws a Holocaust Victim out of her Darkness
eastwind journals
By Bernie Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
Share via link = http://www.sisterraquel.com/2018/10/the-holocaust
RUTH (not her real name), at a tender age, and her parents, together with thousands of other Jews, were rounded up into the Warsaw Ghetto, living like pigs in a giant sty with very little food. The SS planned them to be ransomed to the world Jewry to raise $2 million dollars to finance the invasion of Russia. A Christian family smuggled Ruth out of the Ghetto by simply putting her in a coffin, which was thrown into a cart full of corpses headed for the cemetery. There, she was smuggled out in the dead of night. 
Ruth was an attractive blonde who eventually became a Broadway actress in New York. But the memory of Warsaw would linger and haunt her, until one day, it took its toll. She withdrew totally from the world, not speaking, staring at the wall. Silent tears would suddenly flow. No one could draw her out of her darkness.
She was brought to the Bet Tzedek (Hall of Justice in Hebrew) Legal Services in Fairfax, Los Angeles, USA, which offered free legal services for low-income residents. Bet Tzedek was a prestigious international Robin Hood of a law firm known as far as Tel Aviv and Washington DC. The firm wanted the German government to pay Ruth war reparations as a holocaust survivor. For days, the lawyers tried hard to pry her open, but she was like an ice-berg, cold, unmoved, opaque, unreachable. When the lawyers gave up, they passed her on to Lisa, the only Filipino woman in the group, hoping she could thaw the ice-berg. 
Lisa knew instinctively how to break-in Ruth. She sat beside her and held her hand without saying a word. She caressed her hair and touched her face. Ruth stared at her, and for the first time, gave a faint smile. Lisa knew the magic of touch. Touch was better than a thousand words. Later on, after Lisa left, Ruth spoke her very first four words in three-odd years, asking “What is her name?”
Lisa came back prepared. She had a dreidel (a Jewish toy), and like little children, Lisa, in her late twenties, and Ruth, in her late thirties, played together. Lisa said she lived in Germany before. Ruth said, “Spreken sie Deutch?” (Do you speak German?) Lisa answered, “Nein” (no). Gradually, the ice-berg melted under the intense heat of a dialogue of children. Ruth said she was originally from Poland. Slowly, from a trickle of words, there was a flood of unspoken darkness deep inside her soul flowing out. Sharing one’s unspoken pains is a form of healing. 
Ruth recalled her harrowing experience. The lawyers got the information they needed to file a case against the German government. Finally, she won her case. She was awarded about US$3,000 a month for the rest of her life, a small fortune which insured her future. Today, she lives in the Los Angeles area.
The Jewish community lauded the lawyers of Bet Tzedek. The story of how Lisa melted an iceberg, which no one else could do, was front page news in a local Jewish paper. Asked how she did it, Lisa said, “It’s simple. It’s no secret. The art of listening and touching can open windows and bring in the light. A smile can change despair into hope instantly.” 
Here are some pointers from Lisa. Eye contact is critical. The eyes are the windows of the soul.  When you listen, listen hard. Do not distract the speaker with your urge to speak. Just keep quiet. Have a sixth sense when to butt in. Show empathy and genuine interest. Finally, touch is sometimes the greatest ice-breaker, but not always. Some do not want to be touched. Resort to the touchless smile that touches. For Ruth, it worked like magic. There is something spiritual in the physical.
Share via link = http://www.sisterraquel.com/2018/10/the-holocaust
by Bernie V. Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
Blogger/Columnist-Journalist-Broadcaster, 35 years / Healing Ministry, 17 years
Inquirer * Business World * Manila Times * Manila Chronicle * Radio Veritas
Healing Ministry of Srs. Raquel/Gloria, RVM * for healing inquiries send email
Eastwind Inspirational Verses
The above verse is an excerpt from the book
Wings and Wanderlust – The Art of Discovering Your Inner Self
Read an excerpt –
Brawl in a Portuguese Bar * Vila Franca de Santo Antonio, Portugal
(Order the book by email eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com)
eastwind journals18 Sep 2018 04:28 am

Pintig Pinoy (Filipino Pulse) * The Psychic Mechanic & Boatman * eastwind

PINTIG PINOY (Filipino Pulse)
The Psychic Mechanic and Boatman, True Stories
eastwind journals
By Bernie V. Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
Share with friends – http://www.sisterraquel.com/2018/09/pintig-pinoy
My expat brother Resti (not his real name), who was a self-taught mechanic, was visiting me from the States. He had perfected the art of tune-up using books. We visited my friend Monching (not his real name) at his talyer (motor repair shop) in Mandaluyong. He was in the middle of tuning up a Lamborgini, a rare expensive Italian sports car. Conversation is reconstructed.
RESTI – Nice car.
MONCHING – Spark plugs alone cost 64,000 pesos. 4,000 pesos each times 16 spark plugs.
RESTI – Wow. That much.
MONCHING – There are only two to three Lamborginis in the entire Philippines. This is one of them. I bought it dirt cheap from the owner because he owed me a lot of money for repairing his fleet of cars. But I regret buying it. 
RESTI – Why?
MONCHING – Super-expenisve spare parts, not available. Takes months to get it by order. Gas consumption is crazy. Rev the car for 5 seconds and you consume half a liter of gas. It will cost me ten liters just adjusting the timing-idling. 
ME – That’s an exaggeration, of course.
RESTI – (Bragging) In the States, we have a machine which can measure exactly the optimum mix of oxygen and gas. You should get one. 
MONCHING – (Annoyed by the unsolicited advice.) I don’t need it.
RESTI – Well, how do you adjust timing-idling then?
MONCHING – Come closer under the hood. Do you hear the engine?
RESTI – Absolutely.
MONCHING – We know the proper oxygen-gas mix simply by listening. Listen.
Monching revs up and lets go, then listens. He adjusts the timing-idling. He revs up again and readjusts after listening. After a few tries, the engine is purring nicely.
RESTI – Wow. Amazing. Give me five, bro.
MONCHING – Here in the Philippines, we don’t have expensive gadgets. We learn to use our psychic. We communicate to the engine rather than watch a VU meter from a machine. We listen. It is strange that we have invented many hi-tech gadgets, but fail to realize that sometimes no machine can beat the human psychic.
I have endless stories about the Pinoy psyche, what I call Pintig Pinoy, at the grassroots level. Read the next story below.
I met Rusty (not his real name), an American tourist, in a beer pub along Burgos St. in Makati. Conversation is reconstructed. 
RUSTY – You know I have a very high regard for Filipinos after I met a boatman.
ME – Really? Tell me about it.
RUSTY – I’m a scuba diver. In Mindoro, I hired a boatman to bring me to a diving site, which he knew about like the back of his hand. 
ME – You can’t dive alone. That’s a rule. Always dive with a companion.
RUSTY – Precisely. My diving companion was the boatman.
ME – But he has no scuba gear. He can’t dive with you.
RUSTY – Yes he can. I asked him if he can dive. He said since he was a kid. I asked him where his scuba gear was. He pointed to his wooden goggles, and displayed a single plywood fin. I said to myself, this I gotta see. We went to a dive site and he told me to get in the water and he would follow. So I did, and waited curiously for him to follow. I was amazed how he could move faster in his single crude plywood fin than I with my pair of high-class rubber fins. 
ME – Let me explain. Fishermen use it everywhere. It’s shaped like a giant pingpong racket. On the ‘handle’, there are strips of rubber so you can put it on like a giant slipper.
RUSTY – Amazing ingenious but simple gadget, lo-tech Filipino versus hi-tech American. It’s a simple motion. He pulls on the fin with his leg and it easily follows. Then he pushes on it, as if ‘stepping’ on the water, transporting him forward at tremendous speed. He can do three steps per second. He can easily beat me in a race. 
ME – How about oxygen? He has no scuba tank.
RUSTY – This was a complete surprise for me. I waited for him to run out of air. I expected him to go up for air, but instead he went down to the anchor, which was an LPG tank full of oxygen. That was his oxygen tank. He gulped some air and continued his dive. Wow. Ingenious. 
ME – But he can’t go very far.
RUSTY – Whatever. Still it’s a stroke of native genius. I was wondering about his googles. If it is made of wood, water would easily leak in. He explained to me that it is carved with precision to fit his face, so no leak. It is improvised with rubber strips and rubber bands. They waterproof the transparent glass or plastic with resin. Tell me why I should not idolize the Filipino, who are poor materially but are rich spiritually. 
Deep into the night, I told him about other ingenious fisherman’s gadget from my experience in my grassroots immersion as a journalist, until we could drink beer no more. It is amazing how we Filipinos can sometimes take for granted our genius, our ability to improvise, to make something out of nothing.
Share with friends –
via link – http://www.sisterraquel.com/2018/09/pintig-pinoy
via Facebook Page – Eastwind Journals
by Bernie V. Lopez, eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
Blogger/Columnist-Journalist-Broadcaster, 35 years / Healing Ministry, 27 years
Inquirer * Business World * Manila Times * Manila Chronicle * Radio Veritas
Healing Ministry of Srs. Raquel/Gloria, RVM * for healing inquiries send email
Eastwind inspirational verses
you are better off than many
if you are poor materially
but rich spiritually



« Previous PageNext Page »