One of the most interesting adventures, when my husband and I were romancing the stone in the Philippines, was a brief visit to a primitive hamlet on the South China Sea. Philippine Airlines was flying its new jets, so we left Manila in style, but I, at least, was surprised to find ourselves landing on a sandy beach with caribou running hither and yon to avoid a messy collision.

Appari was the wild West. Dirt street. One outdoor movie, one lumber yard with two men at either end of a long saw, and a bar on the main drag that served cold beer.

We, as usual, had the bridal suite in the grand hotel, two army cots with mosquito nets and window that looked out onto a nipa hut next door. The mistress of the up-scale residence and I hung our freshly hand-washed laundry together out our windows to dry.

Bill had been sent here by George, his crazy boss, to unload tons of teak logs from the SS Eddy, a cargo ship sinking with a great rip in her side off shore. Early one morning, as I say in a floppy chair on a narrow verandah looking out on the dirty street, the movie house and the lumberyard, a horse-drawn calessa squealed to a rickety halt and Bill, looking up, yelled, “Pack. We’re outta here.”

Bill paid. I packed. Seemed typhoon Jean, the most powerful storm of the season, was headed straight for us. We jumped in the calessa and galloped head long to the beachport to catch the last jet out. It was packed with residents with enough sense, or money, to get out of her way.

On board, doors closed, we fastened our belts and the pilot drove us to the point from which we were to take off, caribou running helter skelter from us and the wind. Lined up for take off, the voice of the pilot rang through the plane. “Sorry folks, these head winds are too strong. We’re going back.”

“Hope you can dig,” Bill growled, but before we could move a little yellow bye-bye biplane, from out of nowhere, bumped and humped and landed. Two men, in leather helmets and jackets, goggles and silk billowing scarves jumped out.

Bill swore. “.,’s George and Charley.” The doors opened for him and he ran through the wind and caribou to meet them. All we could see were frantic arms waving. When Bill got back he spoke to the pilot and all of us watched as the little plane bumped and humped through the wind and the caribou and took off.

“If they can do it, so can I,” the captain said. “Buckle up.”

“What was that all about?” I  asked.

“George said, ‘Unload those logs’.”


“And I replied, ‘Orders complied with, sir’.”

As we flew over the beach, teak logs the sizes of busses whizzed by outside the windows.

We broke the time record in the flight back to Manila.


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