Roosters and Resorts in the Philippines


Roosters and Resorts in Cebu, Philippines

It’s 4am and I can’t sleep. I’ve flown halfway around the world, from Mexico to Texas to Cebu in the Philippines. Traveling on my brother’s dime, we’re staying at a 4.5 star resort (possibly upgraded to a 4.6 after the science is done) and I’m sitting buck-assed naked on my terrace listening to the roosters raise hell.

The trip here was a 27-hour blur. I stayed with my family for four nights, knowing I might not be back for a year or so and then flew out from Corpus Christi to Dallas. From there it was a short jaunt to San Francisco where I was facing a 13-hour leg to Manila.

I’d been told my luggage was checked all the way to my destination, Cebu. In San Fran, I was stopped by security and told I needed a real boarding pass (not that shitty fake one that American Airlines had given me, apparently) and pointed to aisle 11 to sort it out.

There I learned that my main flight to Manila would arrive 10 minutes after my continuing flight.

“There’s been a change in route”. The woman working the desk set me up with a backup flight in case I couldn’t make the connection (you’ll never read this and I wish I could remember your name, darlin’ but thank you — you were awesome).

But there was another change: “You’ll need to claim your baggage before going to immigration, then run like hell to make your connection”. And yes, she actually said “run like hell”. My kind of people…

So, after a very long flight, I stagger bleary-eyed to the baggage area and bounce and jitter and fret about my luggage. After seeing the same bag wind its way around a third time, it’s pretty obvious that mine isn’t here. I then “run like hell” to my terminal, but I’ve missed the flight.

“It left 5 minutes ago. We called your name.”

“Yeah, I was kind of waiting on my bag…”

The backup plan kicks in, they reroute my luggage (which no one seems to actually know where it is at the moment) and I take an hour nap in the Manila airport.

And somehow, miraculously, I arrive in the Cebu airport and my backpack comes rolling along on the conveyor belt. A tout asks where I’m going, makes a call and says “A shuttle will be here in 10 minutes”.

“Can I tip in US dollars?” I ask. He smiles and I slip him a couple for the help.

I haven’t seen the likes of this hotel in… well… ever. I’m a deer in the headlights.

The service is great, with smiling people leaping to aid us at every turn. I can’t stand still for more than thirty seconds without someone asking if I need help.

“Thank you for the concern but I was just trying to find a quiet place to fart”.

We decide to check out the fancy outdoor restaurant by the water. It’s a very swank joint with glowing lounge chairs (no, really, they glow), a DJ pumping out tunes and a lot of people are cavorting in the hot tub in front of the stage. The service is pretty spotty here, considering the cost (after 45 minutes, I walk into the kitchen to ask where our food is) but it’s all fun, shiny and breezy.

After enjoying a crazily expensive dinner, drinking margaritas, sitting by the water and watching a silly but fun dance troop lip-synch to Michael Jackson covers, we call it a night.

cebu-bus-smallMy brother has planned a tour for tomorrow but I may just sit in my room and sniff the fluffy towels — this is new to me. I have a tub and a shower, cable TV, AC, and a thick robe. I really like the robe.

I’m also drinking the over-priced bottle of wine from the guest bar as I write this (sorry, bro but it was that or the complimentary cologne). I step out onto the small balcony and am greeted by a cacophony of roosters crowing.

My room faces out of the resort on to the many other resorts, but apparently there are still real families living here, nestled into the corners and forgotten places. And they have chickens.

Someone is thundering a wannabe Harley up and down the main drag and the roosters –a dozen or more– are cutting loose. It’s an orchestra for the insane. The sky was black as I started this but now the rising sun is smearing a crimson stain across steel grey clouds.

The roosters are going mad.

I’ve spoken of the Moment before, where everything just comes together, and here it does so quite literally. The roosters all have the same crow: “Ka ka ka kehhh” (sorry, but some sounds don’t translate well).

It’s a game of numbers –random chance and all that– but for one instant, at least ten of them cut loose at the exact same time and I’m treated to a huge “Ka ka ka KEHHH!”.

I stand up, laughing, and the wicker chair sticks to me, leaving a crosshatch tattoo on my bare ass.

I’ll have to speak to the management about that.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank September 23, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Nice post Wes, always like your stories. Have always wanted to go to Philippines, look forward to hearing where you’re going and what you think of it.
Good job,
Frank (bbqboy)
PS. Yes, sometimes we just want a quiet place to fart…


Riwar Tumid September 24, 2013 at 12:40 am

Great funny post again. You can always fart under cover of the rooster’s noise!


Brendan Cox September 24, 2013 at 2:12 am

Back in the land of legal cock-fighting! Since you’re on Cebu, if you get the chance, take a bus over to Moalboal and grab a mask and snorkel. You don’t even need a boat to get to the best reef on the island as it is right off the beach in the middle of the strip. Even if you’re not into snorkeling, the non-AC bus across the island was a travel highlight for me. A beautiful combination of scenery, chicharones and and a strangely muscular lady sitting on my shoulder. There are also a couple of half-decent hostels there as well (they mostly cater to the diving crowd).

This makes me want a big plate of garlic rice! Enjoy!


wes September 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm

“a strangely muscular lady sitting on my shoulder” … I sense a story there…


Pinay Flying High September 24, 2013 at 2:31 am

Enjoy Cebu! I hope it doesn’t rain much while you’re there.


Heather September 24, 2013 at 2:37 am

I love your stories, your writing is amazing. Enjoy living the high life but beware the robes, they’re something you might get used to!


Kevin Revolinski September 24, 2013 at 2:49 am

Our roads are gradually coming together, sir. I’ll be bypassing the roosters, however. By the way, the definitive call of a chicken:


wes September 24, 2013 at 6:41 am
Eric | Venture2Adventure September 24, 2013 at 2:50 am

That was nice of your brother to put you up like that. I’d travel 27 hours and halfway around the world to drink over priced wine and have a wicker chair stick to my ass in the tropics. There are much worse things in life.


kelly September 24, 2013 at 2:56 am

Too bad fluffy robes take up so much room in the backpack. Or did you bring a rolling suitcase to the swanky hotel – to fit in a bit better? :)


wes September 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I loves me a robe but, yes, they’re too bulky. Makes it more special when I run into one, though ;)


Jeff | Planet Bell September 24, 2013 at 5:11 am

I almost always stay in budget places, but last year we splurged for 3 nights at a fancy place in Dubai. (We’d just spent 64 days in India – we deserved it.)

I, too, am like a deer in the headlights. I have a hard time enjoying all the service and the price associated with it. I do love the clean, comfortable room though. That I can get used to.


Chris September 24, 2013 at 5:35 am

Mate, only you could make a mundane tale of a travel day and turn it into an engaging story. Oh and welcome to another part of the world last, starting to think you’d never leave south america.


wes September 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Thanks, brother.


wes September 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm

And when the hell are we gonna get that beer?


Arianwen September 24, 2013 at 10:19 am

Really felt like I was there with you reading that! I hate it when you’re told you’ll have to run like hell to make a connection! Amazing that you were reunited with your bag!


Lunaguava September 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm

“Yeah here come the rooster/You know he ain’t gonna die”. Sorry, your rooster story sent me back to the early 90’s and flannel shirts… Good to know you’ve made it out of Mexico in one piece and didn’t find Texas enticing enough to make you stay put. Hope you enjoy the wine and the robe (add a bit of laurel and you’ll rule the Roman Empire), and keep the stories coming. Good luck, Wes!


Oleron September 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Glad to hear you’re living the good life, Wes! Your life is always ‘good,’ but you deserved a treat. What a nice brother you have! As for the roosters: that sorta thing becomes part of the aural ‘scenery.’

All of your fans — well, virtually all of us, I imagine — know you’ll be alert to child trafficking in the Philippines, now that you’ve been enlightened about the many people out there/here who are trying to put an end to any human trafficking. Please don’t throw anyone off a balcony. ;-) We don’t want you to be arrested. Just WRITE about those justifiable urges.


wes September 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm

It’s a weird thing to admit that “I would have if I could have”. It seemed like a damned good idea at the time.


Oleron September 25, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Hell, just fart on them, at them, toward them — any ole way the wind blows. Make sure you’ve had plenty of that garlic rice and a few brews. Never heard of anyone being arrested for passing gas.


Steve @ Backpacker Report September 25, 2013 at 12:38 am

that’s really nice of your brother to treat you to a plush hotel. i’m keen to hear what cebu and the phillipines is like outside the resort though!


wes September 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Yeah, I’m more excited about that part as well. The resort/tour scene has been about what I expected…


Steve @ Backpacker Report September 26, 2013 at 4:22 am

yea i can imagine it would be… high end resorts are certainly very nice to stay in, but it’s as if they were all made from the same set of cookie cutters


Jonathan Look, Jr. September 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Sounds like an adventure. Glad you are back in the neighborhood. Looking forward to buying you a few at Archers soon!


wes September 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm



That Big Old Handsome Brute September 27, 2013 at 6:16 am

Mom just told me that I could sign up for e-mails from Johnny Vagabond, without having to go to my favorites column.

El Bruto,


wes September 27, 2013 at 9:43 am

Welcome to the current century, Pop ;)


Tom Nations September 28, 2013 at 9:32 pm

They’re having to drag me, kicking and screaming, into the twenty first century! I’m still from The Old School.


TR September 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Really, I think we’ve only got him to the 90’s . . . .

Alex | Partial Parallax September 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

I generally enjoy airports until everything goes wrong and than the stress sets in! Glad it was all sorted and fine in the end though. The Philippines looks like a great place to visit will be interested to find out how you enjoy your time out there.


Wrabbit September 30, 2013 at 9:12 am

Last time my suitcase got ‘rerouted’ it ended up partying for a few nights without me in Vegas, while I waited at home like a meek housewife back in Canada. At least the case had fun…

Can’t wait to hear about the Philippines! I have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing any of the Asian continent, so I will have to live vicariously through you, for now hopefully. What’s on your ‘to-do list’ I wonder? :)


wes October 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Floods and rain are complicating things…


Lorenzo October 1, 2013 at 6:32 am

Roosters can be annoying.. now imagine a ‘tortilla truck’ that honks all morning as it makes it rounds. Yup, that’s Belize at 5am+


wes October 1, 2013 at 7:49 am

Oh, I don’t have to imagine that ;) I had the exact same experience in El Salvador. Thanks for commenting — I’d forgotten that detail.


Taylor @ USCityTraveler October 5, 2013 at 3:16 am

Really informative post, I’ve always wanted to go to the Philippines and really liked this post. Keep up the good work!


Anne Helmers October 6, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Roosters are the traveler’s Animal Icon…


Keir Alexa October 16, 2013 at 8:04 am

You are the best!


Natalie October 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Are you still in the Philippines?
A Manila friend has planned an awesome trip that includes flying to Bohol and Cebu. We are booked to land in Manila on Nov. 8th.
But due to the earthquake, I’m wondering her plan is now too optimistic ( I’m remembering 3 or 4 days on each of these islands, as well as Boracay and some time north of Manila). Sounds like there are many bridges out in Bohol and there was damage to the tower at the airport there. What’s your take on the infrastructure, i.e., roads and runways?
Thanks, Natalie


Vikas Nehra October 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm

nice article post i love your story and like it.


Emelie March 17, 2014 at 5:36 am

hahaa Jonny, i love they way you try to translate the rooster’s voice
okkkk ogaaa ookkkk ewwkkk

i was once in the balcony of La mirada a condo next to Shangrila hotel and about 5 pm the roosters are going wild hahaa ..

by the way i think you are staying in hilton hotel ? or now called movenpick cause i think you are facing be hotel