Friday, December 23, 2011

A Gift from a Stranger

Sunset at Chateau Du Mer
This is a true story. This incident happened while I was checking out from our hotel in Makati City (Somerset Olympia) last April in the Philippines. Prior to checking out, I was surprised to learn that my credit card had been frozen due to more than four months of inactivity. I had no choice but to pay cash. The clerk informed me that my bill was P15,000 pesos for the four days stay plus P7.50 pesos for my local telephone usage. She then asked me if I had P2.50 pesos in change so she could give me back P10 pesos after I gave her 15 of P1000 pesos denomination (the pesos to dollar exchange was about P44 to $1 at that time).

I did not have any change so I looked around to see if my wife was near. She was not in the office, but outside enjoying her cigarettes. I glanced by my side and saw a Caucasian middle-aged man also checking out. All of a sudden, he gave the clerk P2.50 pesos. He did not say a single word but gave me a smile.

I was a little bit embarrassed, but managed to say thank you. I asked then if he was an American. He said, yes. I told him I am also a Filipino-American, but I reside six months in Marinduque and also six months in Northern California every year, enjoying the snowbird lifestyle of a retiree.

We then exchanged business cards. This American was about 40 years old and a sales manager of radiology equipment for an American company in Salt Lake City, Utah. He informed me that his wife and family had been on vacation in the Philippines for a week while he was on a business trip. However, his family decided to stay a couple more days, but he was flying home by himself to the US that afternoon for business reasons.

When he saw my business card, he asked where the heck and what is unique and different about Marinduque. I gave him my memorised and standard answer that I give to all non-Filipinos. But since he was friendly, I was glad to give him more information about the beauty of the islands as well as the world famous annual Moriones Festival on Easter time in Marinduque.

By fate or luck or coincidence we had the same air flight schedule from Manila to Tokyo and also the Tokyo to San Francisco connecting flight. We decided to share van expenses from the hotel to the airport, since he was alone and there was plenty of room for one more passenger in my contracted van.

During our trip back to the US, I told him that any time he and his family wants to visit Marinduque, they will receive a complimentary one night stay (worth P3000) at the beach house (Chateau Du Mer). He was excited and said that the next time he will be in the Philippines, he will allocate a couple of days to visit Marinduque.

The P2.50 pesos he gave me is worth only about 0.06 cents (US), but his kindness is more valuable than any currency in this world. I found a friend who was a complete stranger at the checkout counter of Somerset Olympia Hotel in Makati City, Philippines that day.

Hopefully, I will have another client at Chateau Du Mer soon. Indeed, another beautiful American and a human being that I will always remember and now my friend for life!

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