HOW IT ALL BEGAN!
HI, I'M FE PERRY, THE OWNER OF VIRGIN BEACH RESORT
I met my pen pal from California, Ron Perry, in January of 1990, and we have been happily married ever since. We are blessed with two wonderful children, Dodong RonRon and Inday Mandy. We purchased Virgin Beach Resort in 1992 and began construction in 1994 and had our first guest in 1995. My husband will tell you about his first visit to Bogo and how we met and married. I hope you enjoy his story.
MY BOGO EXPERIENCE, by Ron Perry
I remember the first time I visited Bogo in January of 1990. I met my pen pal, Miss Fe Jumao-as Alarde of Libertad, Bogo, in Manila at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. I arrived on Northwest Orient Airlines flight at 9:00 p.m. and was very anxious to meet the person with whom I had corresponded for more than 6 months. We had exchanged more than 300 letters and we had fallen in love through our letters to each other.
I sent Fe a red T-shirt with my "Farm Tours" logo on the front and was wearing one myself so that it would be easy to see each other at the at the airport. I have to admit that I didn't sleep much on that 17 hour flight from L.A. via Tokyo and was always re-reading her latest letters and looking at her beautiful photo. I had been through a painful divorce a year earlier and her letters to me were like a "drink of cool water on a hot summer day". Sharing my feelings with her was the beginning of a much needed healing process for me. Her loving and encouraging words helped me to get back on my feet and go on with my life. Every letter from her was read and re-read a hundred times. Reading her letters gave me a serene, peaceful feeling that my soul longed for.
Well, back to the airport...arriving passengers at that time could meet their party at the arrival lobby outside just after customs. However, I needed to wait to clear customs after I claimed my luggage. There is a whole other story here... Fe asked me to bring some apples and grapes as gifts for her and her family. Being a farmer, I had access to lots of apples, but I wanted to take local grapes, and it was January! I finally located a box from a friend and got them out of cold storage. I packed one suitcase full of apples, individually wrapped in paper towels to help prevent bruising (it was a hard sided American Tourister suitcase) and I packed the other suitcase with the box of grapes and clothes around it to help cushion it. My carry-on cntained my shaving kit and a few clothes.
As luck would have it, my suitcases were the last off. But in the meantime, I couldn't wait to go outside and see Fe. Customs gave me permission to go out and look and come back inside. Wow, was the first look an eye-opener! I had never seen so many brown-skinned people in my life...and every single lady it seemed had on a red t-shirt!
I finally did get my luggage and put them on a cart and pushed them out the big double doors. I started on one side...the Filipinos had to be behind a rope barrier...and down the other looking for Fe. As I crossed to the other side, I spotted her and what took place the next few moments was like the commercial on tv, where a man and woman seemed to run to each others arms in slow motion. We finally met and shared a warm embrace.
At that moment, I felt God had given me a second chance, a new beginning at life. We didn't kiss, we only held hands and Fe introduced me to her brother and two sisters-in-law. Getting a taxi was a blur to me...we couldn't get one at the arrival area, too many taxis asking $100 or more. We went upstairs to the departure area and found a junk car that would take us to my hotel near the U.S. Embassy...for $30!
My first impression of Manila has not changed. I'm a country boy, not a city person and didn't like what I saw and experienced my first few days there. We went to Cebu one day earlier than planned and took her sister-in-law with us.
Landing in Cebu, I knew right away I would like the island and the people. People here were more friendly than in Manila and I wasn't fearful of being overcharged by the taxi (again a junk car) taking us to Bogo, 100 km or 60 miles north of Cebu, for about $30. Even with the stronger dollar now in Cebu, the price is still the same...about $30.
Driving along the sea on our trip north was very enjoyable. By now we had shared our first kiss and discussed a wedding in Bogo. The most important thing now was to meet her parents.
The trip took us through the beautiful countryside, by beaches and colonial churches, turn of the century wooden houses and through the rainy season lush tropical vegetation of the mountains.
I'll have to admit that even though the road had been recently asphalted (some parts were cemented), it was a pretty bad road compared to U.S. standards. The road since, by the way, has gotten worse, then better. By the End of 1998, all the road from Cebu City to Bogo was newly cemented and bridges were widened and strengthened.
It hadn't rained for a few days and the trip was dusty and hot. It was nice going by the sea and capturing the gentle breeze and it was a few degrees cooler in the mountains. The car didn't have air conditioning, but I enjoyed the ride anyway.
As we rounded a curve, Fe mentioned that we were already in Bogo. I marveled at the sugar cane, first time I had seen it up close. Fields and rolling fields of sugar cane extending all the way down to a huge plain. Coconut trees neatly lined the fields and I saw workers cutting the cane by hand and loading it by bundles into old American trucks that had been "customized" by the locals. I waved at children along the side of the road and they returned my waves with smiles, cheering and enthusiastic jumping up and down. Children still do that in Bogo today.
Fe pointed out the Virgin Mary Shrine on top of the hill as we passed by and she crossed herself. She pointed out the municipality also as we passed and mentioned that the mayor was a friend of the family (Mayor Dy). I was impressed with the things I saw as we went to the town center. Certainly "third world" in some ways, as I expected, but more charming and more modern than I had imagined. She pointed out the college she had graduated from, Cebu Roosevelt Memorial College, a modern five story structure that wouldn't be out of place in any small town in America.
There were several reasons why I felt so at ease with Fe and why I knew we were meant for each other. I had come from a large family (my mother had 7 children) and Fe was from an even larger family (10 children). I was a farmer and her father had a large farm. We shared many interests and had much in common...except of course, we were from very different cultures. Also, Tulare, my hometown where I grew up, and Bogo were about the same size, 45,000 population at that time.
Fe continued to give me a tour of Bogo. She showed me the church, a very beautiful building, and the public market (where Gaisano is today). I have to admit that the smell coming from the old public market made me sick...literally. It was the first time I smelled dried fish! I've somewhat gotten used to that smell, however, but still see the same expression on the American men's faces that I had when they smell dried fish for the first time.
Fe mentioned that her Mother had a small stand at the market, but she wasn't there that day. We stopped at a stall near the main market and bought some rice, fish and fruit for our meal that night. People were smiling everywhere we went and they would greet Fe and ask her in Visayan about me. I felt like I was in a parade and waved and smiled at everyone I saw. It was great! I still get that same feeling everytime I return to Bogo...makes me feel just right at home.
Our final stop was in her barrio on the top of a hill just south of Bogo. She had the taxi stop by the Libertad Elementary School and told me we would walk for a while. I'll never forget the walk through a cornfield, through the bushes, past small nipa huts, down by the stream and finally to a 1930's wooden house. Parents, brothers, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces...I couldn't even count them all! I had inherited a huge Filipino family!
Dinner time and the food was delicious. It was my first experience of someone preparing food over a wooden fire. Even in my camping experience, we used gas or kerosene stoves. I was overwhelmed with the Filipino hospitality and was literally treated like a king. Fe and I ate first and everyone watched. It was okay though, because I always smiled and waved and the children giggled and ran away.
I was falling in love with Bogo, the people, my new family, and even more in love with Fe.
After dinner, Fe's brother got out his guitar. It was dark already and they had already lit the kerosene lanterns (Libertad was not electrified then). I joined in on the singing and they alternated playing the guitar and turning on the radio (battery powered) and we'd dance to the music. The fun seemed to never end and I was surprised when people started to leave and we talked about where we'd sleep and I looked at my watch and it was only 10:00 p.m.
The next morning was a real adventure for me. Fe explained that we would have to take a bath outside at the well. Oh yea? I had a mental picture of getting naked etc., but no, that was not the way it happened. We went outside with our shorts and T-shirts on and she showed me how to draw the water from the well. Pouring the cool water from a bucket over my head sure was invigorating and I still enjoy taking a "filipino shower". Shaving was outside also, and I found a place to put a mirror, I was really getting used to the whole idea when I noticed lots of children watching (nephews and nieces, I assumed). Seemed they had never seen anyone so white...I never had a tan and of course it was winter in California!
After breakfast, I asked Fe's parents for permission to marry their daughter and they did give their permission and also their blessing. Fe had already taught me "mano po" and for the first time, "blessed" my new parents. Everyone was shocked when they heard Fe's father speak English. They had never heard him speak English in their lives. It seemed as though he was in the Philippine Resistance and his farm provided supplies for the Philippine Scouts and the American Army. it had been almost 45 years since he spoke any English!
Later that morning, we went to the Municipality to take out the marriage license. The judge did not hold office that day so we made plans for the wedding the next day. The rest of the day we visited relatives and made plans for the wedding and reception. Our second dinner in Libertad was just as great as the first. We had delicious sea food, rice and fruits...I really loved it!
The next day was the wedding and we took a tricycle (motorcycle with side car) to the town proper and went to Fe's Aunt's house where we would have a reception after the wedding. they had a car with air conditioning and we all piled in (I think they made 2 or 3 trips)! We had several aunts and uncles as sponsors and also Mayor Dy. We waited in court while the judge tried a criminal case. All the while everything was in Visayan, and I had the feeling that the wedding would be in dialect also and that Fe would have to tell me when to say "I do".
The Judge was a woman and did ask in Visayan about our wedding but began the ceremony in English, to my relief. She didn't smile however, when she asked if I took Fe as my wife and I answered "I certainly do!"...but that's okay, because Fe did. The ceremony was brief and handshakes and we were off to her Aunt's house for the reception.
This was my first experience to enjoy the most delicious dish in the Philippines...lechon baboy (whole roast pig). We had lots of other foods and of course, a huge cake. The $200 I had budgeted for the reception sure went a long way. Lots of people came by and congratulated us and enjoyed the food and even took some home. It was already late afternoon and Fe said we needed to get back before dark (still a provincial tradition), so we caught a tricycle and made it back to the farm.
Just in time to have another reception! I quickly learned that any and every occasion was a chance to celebrate, and celebrate we did! This was my first experience with the traditional Cebuano drink, rum and coke. It was great!
We took pictures and sang and danced almost all night.
Too soon, it was time to leave since I had to be back in Tulare for an agriculture tour. It seemed to take forever, but finally the 6 months petitioning process was complete and Fe came to the U.S. and the rest, as they say, is history. And now we're even more in love than ever before.
I've been back to Bogo (now a city) more than 60 times and always get that "going home" feeling you get when you go back to your home town. I'm not a Bogohanan by birth, but I'm a Bogohanan by choice!
Enjoy some scenes of Bogo
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Virgin Beach Resort Sitio Suba, Barangay Malbago, Daanbantayan 6013 Cebu, Philippines.
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Your Hosts, Ron & Fe Perry
1542 E. Glenwood Ave.
Tulare Ca 93274 U.S.A.
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