Arriving in the Philippines
by Ramon Margallo
Praise God for His mighty provisions and protection. The exhaustion of the 27-hour trip turned into excitement as soon as the plane captain announced that our flight from Guam was landing in 30 minutes. Guam was the last leg of three stopovers originating from Charlotte, including Washington, D.C. and a delay in Honolulu (picture at bottom).
With the plane touching down 20 minutes early and without immigration and customs issues, we were exchanging our dollars to Philippine pesos within 30 minutes. We are off to a good start at 9:10 pm. Even though there was a decline in the exchange rate by 50 cents just in the last hour, we viewed it as only a minor setback. Finally, our local phones were “loaded” with necessary minutes to communicate with local numbers before heading out of the terminal to humid Manila air.
For some reason that we still don’t know, the person who was supposed to pick us up did not show up. Text messages remained unanswered and phone calls went to: “the number you dialed is unattended.”
Two airport employees tried to help us make contacts. My wife, Nini, noticed that their IDs were somehow flipped. This may not have meant anything, or even if it did, we desperately needed help with our heavy bags. They were filled with Ratio Christi materials – the main item being a 2014
calendar with each month of the year containing a quote from “Twelve Points that Show Christianity is True” (by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek). For this calendar, we thank Adam Tucker of Ratio Christi. To accommodate the weight limit, we discarded most of our clothes. After all, we can always buy clothes in the Philippines, but the RC material won’t be available anywhere! (picture at bottom)
The two employees had to leave. We gave them chocolates and invited them to the conference.
When it passed 11:00 pm and we had still not been picked up, we decided to simply take a taxi. We were still hesitant because of safety issues, but the security guard assured us that “airport controlled” taxis are safe. I thought, “I’d better put on a Ratio Christi shirt and take a walk along the curb filled with just-arrived passengers.”
But I made one mistake – I left my shoulder bag on top of the cart. It contained our U.S. passports, a MacBook, pesos equivalent to $1,400 (mostly for our one-month rent and food), and my seminary thesis of a Philippine cult, from which the material for three of my four lectures will come…
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