I am back in California now. On March 19, 2008 I landed in Cebu, Philippines. On April 4th I flew to Manila where I was met by my friend Marni, a Colonel/Supt. in the Philippine Nat'l. Police (PNP). He had shipped his Harley and my rental Harley he had borrowed from a friend to Cagayan De Oro City (CDO), so we flew there Saturday, April 5th. We were off to join the 18th Annual Philippine Motorcyclist Clubs Convention.
Harleys are scarce in the Philippines. There are no dealers there and most of the older, restored Harleys were brought by US Sailors and other Service Men when they were stationed there. Some were torn down and the pieces shipped there to be re-assembled. The import tax would double the cost of your import + the taxes imposed by the "crocodiles", the Import & Duty Officers.
We went to the hotel where our Harleys were parked, checked them out, and started off to the VIP Hotel where we would stay with the other 12 PNP riders we were to ride with. Everywhere we went we had a police escort on motorcycles. Well, when we left the 1st hotel our escorts lost us in 5 blocks! We stopped a few times until we were able to get to our hotel. Marni said he was going to recommend that the CDO motorcycle units got training on how to do escorts.
That evening all of us rode to the large lot where we parked and checked out the vendors. There were approximately 1,000 motorcyclists attending with (to my surprise) many Harleys. Marni's 2003 Heritage Centennial was a big hit with the crowd. His "ape-hanger" handlebars made it stand out among the bikes parked there. When we got ready to go back to the hotel later, there were thousands of fingerprints on his chrome. Many people posed by his Harley taking photos. A great meal was served to us in the big hall while Marni and the others found and talked to old friends. They had 3 long tables of foods with many servers. A 4th table was set up with foods for Muslims. The barangay (town) of CDO was in the southern Muslim area.
Early Sunday morning, April 6th, we headed out of town for our ride towards Manila via several RORO's (Roll On, Roll Off) boat rides through many other Islands. The Philippines is made up of over 9,000 Islands, but if you compress them together, it would fit in Arizona (almost). This police escort worked pretty well and didn't lose our group. On the way out of town Marni got a call from an attorney friend that wanted our group to stop at his house for refreshments. This attorney would be a great help to me later on.
We headed east out of CDO following the coastal highway. This was a very scenic ride with not much traffic. Many children and adults were shouting and waving when we went by them. We had to be very careful with children and even adults wandering out onto the highway and never looking for the traffic. And plenty of chickens and dogs getting out there also. I paid attention to how the other riders would just kick at the dogs and swerve around the people so I wouldn't hit any of these "hazards".
We stopped for fuel and our Leader said he had received a text that our Ferry boat was leaving shortly. We had to pick up the pace to catch this one so that we would be ahead of all the other riders going to the next island on their way back north to Manila. I don't like to rush while riding, but I had to keep up with them. I had been taught the many hand signals used by the riders in front of me and watched them very carefully. It was easy for me to get mixed up though! I had to pass a truck quickly when I saw oncoming traffic after I had pulled out to pass. And there's always the stray dogs to worry about!
Just before Kolambugan (in Lanao del Norte) I came into a long curve where there was a concrete patch in my lane. This patch was sloped out, not like the rest of the road. The other riders ahead of me expected this kind of "road engineering" or else they went around this patch as I never saw any of them veer from their course. This patch threw me to the right and I tried to get back in control. My rear wheel slid out from under me and I turned loose of the Harley. The Harley went spinning down the road on the left side and I went head first into the guard rail. The last rider behind me was on his cell phone instantly and Marni came back to help me.
From the USA I had brought my ¾ helmet with a face shield with me and also a ventilated jacket with removable back and sleeve covers. There were armor plates on forearms, elbows and shoulders with a thick kidney support across the lower back. My helmet took a beating and the armor plates on my left arm were scraped and the kidney belt was also damaged. These were well worth the money I spent on them!
While lying there with my head under the guard rail, I did a mental check on my body parts. I could also see my left foot was pointing out sideways and I couldn't move it. My right hand was hurting but I could move it just like before the accident.
A small truck stopped behind me and Marni helped the 6 people remove my motorcycle boots and they all loaded me in the rear of the truck and off we went to the clinic in Lala. These small clinics are no longer supported by the Government and were given to the municipalities and now it's up to them to support them financially. We got just a little ways down the road when the tailgate fell off the truck. Marni quickly dodged the tailgate and we stopped and put the tailgate back on. Marni is a great rider and can handle anything!
While we were there the 3 women in the back of the truck with me told Marni they had better remove my jeans while the pain was not too bad. I emptied my pockets and the thoughts went quickly through my mind wondering what kind of briefs (if any) I had put on that morning. I was OK as I was wearing boxer shorts. The 3 women comforted me while I lay on the small pickup's bed. One held my head in her lap, another held my left leg on her legs and the other one sang to me. Their smiles were great comfort to me!
Marni told me the story about a friend of his in Cebu City, Cebu that had wrecked his motorcycle. The doctors wanted him to remove his Levi jeans so they could work on his leg. He remembered that he had put on an old, raggedy, holy pair of underwear that morning and he wouldn't remove his jeans as he didn't want them seeing what he was wearing. He finally talked them into cutting off the legs of his Levis!
The clinic was a small room with 1 operating table and room for my stretcher. There was a small air conditioner up in the wall and they instantly turned this on for me. They were very proud of their aircon! The sink across from me had a sign "There is soap and water to clean the instruments. Please use these". They cleaned up my scrapes and I lay back while Marni went to find an ambulance to take me to Iligan City. A little girl about 8 years old came in and they laid her on the operating table and started cutting on her forearm. She had no anesthetic and quietly moaned during this 15 minute operation. When she would get louder, her father would scold her and she would just moan. What incredible pain tolerance she had! When the Doctor finished, I watched her wash and rinse the instruments and put them into the can with the other instruments. I hope they had alcohol to sterilize these.
Marni came back and told me that the local ambulance was busy all day. He had called his attorney friend in CDO (remember him?) and asked for his help. The attorney had a relative that was a Vice-Mayor in a nearby municipality and he arranged for us to "borrow" their ambulance for "no charge". When it arrived we took off for Iligan City.