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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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    Chapter XIII: Philippines, we are coming!

    "Do you actually know that we will be flying in two weeks?" My question to Rossana caused an unbelievable frenzy. A little later I was also very nervous. But where were our tickets? An express letter with our tickets reached us two days before our departure. A big stone fell from our hearts.

    Berlin – Frankfurt, Frankfurt – Singapore, Singapore – Manila with Singapore Airlines, and finally Manila – Davao with Philippine Airlines. Finally, after four weeks, we were on our way to Rossana's home. And it was our fourth wedding anniversary. That had "fatal consequences". 

    A stewardess had noticed that we were toasting each other over a glass of champagne. "Sir, Ma-am, is it okay for you if you transfer to the First-Class-Section?", she asked. "We would like to prepare you a particularly pleasant flight from Singapore to Manila on your very special occasion!" We felt on cloud 9 again.

    Six wonderful weeks with Rossana's family followed. The negative news from previous letters quickly dissipated. The first time the thought occurred to me what it would be like to be able to live forever in the Philippines. I started to love typical Filipino dishes. Yes, even balut!

    During that vacation, I met journalist, columnist, and book author Antonio "Tony" Figueroa. An amazing writer. I didn't know then that Tony and I would both be columnists in Mindanao Times starting in 2003.

    At the farewell party, many tears flowed again. We had to promise our family to come back after two years at the latest. That happened in 1989 together with four of our best German friends.

    Back in Berlin, I got to know another Filipino tradition: car blessing. Father Hermogenes "Gene" E. Bacareza blessed our new car, our Sunny. 

    During that time, Father Gene told me about his plan to publish two magazines for Filipinos – one in English (Ang Mabuhay) and one in German (Deutsch-Philippinischer Informationsspiegel Berlin). I was very excited and loved to work with him. His book about German-Filipino Relations greatly guided me in my work.

    Rossana loved the nature of Berlin and its surroundings more and more, even if our excursions by bike often reached their limits. The Berlin Wall, which enclosed the entire city of West Berlin, stopped us several times. 

    Often the exact boundary course between West Berlin and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was not identified for us. We were with our bikes on a dark forest path in the north of West Berlin, the so-called Eiskeller (Ice Cave). Suddenly uniformed and armed border guards were standing in front of us.

    (To be continued)


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