It’s been an interesting few days… coming into and out of the elections here in the Philippines. On Saturday morning (may 7th) I reminded my wife of the upcoming alcohol ban beginning election eve and lasting through election day (8th & 9th of May), and suggested to her that she pick up some beer at the bodega on her trip to town because we would not be able to buy it at the beach. It wasn’t until she arrived back home that I discovered that not only could you not buy alcohol on election eve, you could not serve, transport, carry, take alcohol anywhere in the Philippines, and that included the beach. We had already planned a Mother’s Day outing day at the beach with friends and now it looked like it was going to be an alcohol free day. Although there are some alcohol purchase and consumption exemptions for foreigners in COMELEC certified tourist areas and resorts, this particular beach was not one of them. I’d contacted my friend and after we both reviewed the penalties for violating the alcohol ban (1-6 years in jail, and automatic deportation for foreigners if convicted), we decided it would not be worth the risk. We could just eat, swim, and relax and come home later and enjoy a cold one if need be.
The night before, Teri and our three nieces and a nephew all pitched in and helped prepare enough food for the following day and, under my direct supervision, they even made my famous potato salad (it’s not really famous, but now that they know my recipe, they think it is). While macaroni salad with pineapple as an ingredient is a fairly common dish here, potato salad isn’t so much. So the plan was to bring plenty of food, soda, and water. After all the food was prepared, everything was cleaned up and we all sat down for a friendly 6-hand game of dominoes before eating dinner.
Sunday morning, we packed everything into the car, and when the car was full, I carried three of us Filipino style on the motorcycle, and we all headed down the road to a local beach. Once there, we quickly settled in and began eating. When you begin eating lunch at 9am, and again at noon, it is called a “weight-gain plan!” Around noon, I noticed that their was a table two cottages over that was displaying a half empty bottle of Emperador Brandy. Shortly thereafter, someone walked by with a liter bottle of Red Horse. At this point my friend and I couldn’t help but think about the beer we did not bring. We were being such obedient foreigners. Then came a young boy past our cottage with a full case of empty liter bottles, only to return with a full case of cold ones! To say we were just a little bedazzled is a sobering understatement. I asked Teri to walk over to the little sari-sari store down the beach to see what was happening. They were selling, and people were buying, and everyone was having a splendid time. Except for us. And it is at this point that my narrative ends, as I can neither confirm nor deny anything hereafter. But we did enjoy ourselves at the beach this day, like we always do! It’s a good thing we brought along the frisbee!
It just goes to prove that the enjoyment of daily life here (Samar) in the Philippines commands the highest of all priorities. And there are no laws or some annoying little national alcohol ban is going to get in the way of that!
Until now… there is a new sheriff in charge!