Thursday, 16 February 2012


Well, as I told you, I'm a married man and long past the first, second and third flushes of youth. In fact I'm past the first couple of flushes of old age.

That said, what strikes me in the Philippines is how beautiful so many of the women and young girls are and how they don't seem to age as Western women do.

Now hold on, ladies of the West, I'm not being critical of you. I'm not disparaging you. But I think if you're fair about these matters, if you look at them objectively, you must admit, even if you don't wish to, that Filipinas look good and wear well.

Take the day I was persuaded to go to the dentist in Manila – well, my dentist in Eastbourne had recently quoted me £90 for a filling – and in minutes I was ready to trade my immortal soul for an evening wirh Miss Asia who apparently was doubling up as receptionist. By the time we'd finished the preliminaries she could have had every remaining ivory in my head and then to cap it all in came the nurse to lead me to the surgery and she could have been Miss World. I followed her to the throne of blood with a light step. (And for the record the filling in a beautifully appointed surgery cost me £10.)

But away from shoddy commerce and back to beauty.. In fact back to the supermarket this time where even in their uniforms, with their hair tied back into a tight bun and their faces exquisitely made up, the cash-out girls look like a line-up of glamourous chorus girls in a Hollywood spectacular. I never thought I'd say this but paying at the till in supermarkets in Cabanatuan - and Gapan and Manila for that matter – is an absolute pleasure.

When we went to the rice farm owned by Lito, my 68 year old  nephew-by-marriage, I was introduced to his daughter, a healthy looking girl called Michelle. In my interested schoolmasterly voice - and I have a kindly understanding smile to accompany this voice – I asked her how she was getting on at school but was told that had already left. And then, as if she anticipated what I was going to say next, she said 'I am the mother of three.'

Such a child to have such a brood already and I wondered if one or more of the village lads had been taking advantage of her innocence. I then learnt that she was thirty-four! Incredible. These women here, they look so young.

Have I ended up at the fountain of eternal youth and beauty? It certainly seems so.

'A Virgin in the Philippines' is due out as an e-book in the next week or two

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