An Unbelievable Adventure with the GGM

An Unbelievable Adventure-

Our 1989 Trip to the Philippines with the GGM and Mrs. Pedoy!

Master Carlton Kramer

My three week trip to the Philippines with the GGM, Mrs. Pedoy, and Chief Instructor Peter Schmall, was the biggest adventure of my life. It was filled with unbelievable situations that would make a great fiction novel.

The  Pedoys & Chief Peter Leave Without Me!

One night after class and dinner in spring of 1988, the GGM asked Peter and I to take him and his wife back to the Philippines the following year. We said “sure”, and didn’t give it much thought, one year later the GGM had saved up enough money and was ready to go. Peter and I were committed and soon we found ourselves at the airport on our way to Cebu. The three of them had purchased confirmed seats and I was on space available airline pass. When we were at the gate ready to board, I was informed that the plane was full. The GGM was very depressed and made me promise that I would find my way to Cebu and meet them at the Montebello Hotel. (I had no idea where this place was). There I was, waving goodbye to the 3 of them with no car to get home.

The next day, I had to buy a first class ticket to Manila because the flights were still full. From Manila, I caught a flight to Cebu and grabbed a taxi to the hotel. The Taxi ride was a 45 minutes to an hour long. I became uncomfortable on this long ride to the hotel. Finally, I could see the hotel up on a hillside and started to relax, but I was still wondering if I would find the Pedoys and Peter. When I got to the hotel, they were there waiting for me. I was so happy. But what really made me feel good, was how happy the GGM was to see me!

I Short Circuited the Hotel and Everything Goes Dark!

Chief Peter sits next to the hotplate that short circuited the entire Montebello Hotel in Cebu

To save money, I brought food and a hot plate from home. It was a bad idea. The food in the Philippines is so cheap. The exact same brands of soup, saimin and tuna are ¼ the price. When it was time for us to eat, I plugged in the hot plate into the outlet of our room and short circuited the entire hotel. The electricity went out for over an hour. During this period, we lighted matches to find our way around the room. For some reason, we mistakenly discarded the burned matches in Mrs. Pedoy’s soup. When the lights came on, she started eating her soup and kept taking the burned matches out of her mouth. She made a comment about how bad the soup was. Once we figured out what happened, we threw the soup away and went to eat in the hotel’s restaurant.

I Refused To Get On The Boat To Ormoc- Leyte!

Imagine a really old small interisland ferry boat in the Philippines. This boat’s capacity was for 100 passengers. Somehow they managed to squeeze onboard 400 passengers, including goats, pigs, geese, cows and other animals which accompanied us.

We checked out of the hotel and were standing in front of this wreck (ferry). The GGM explained this trip was an 8 ½ hour ride to Ormoc. It was 10:30 p.m. at Cebu Harbor. I had visions of shark infested waters and a coming storm. I refused to get on. The GGM simply said, “Where are you going to go, you don’t speak Filipino. There are no taxis this time of night. Don’t worry; I got a private cabin for us. This is the only way to Ormoc.” He finally convinced me to get on but I was still worried.

There were two beds in the cabin. Mrs. Pedoy had one bed and Peter had the other. I slept on the floor and the GGM sat on a chair facing us. Throughout the entire night I kept waking up. Each time, all I saw was the GGM staring at me. At the time I didn’t realize he couldn’t sleep because he was too excited about going home to Ormoc. It has been 62 years since he left home.

Meet you at the Pongos Hotel!

We got to Ormoc at 6 a.m. as the sun was rising. The GGM was so excited that he jumped off the boat and yelled to us, “I will meet you at the Pongos Hotel.” Peter and I looked at each other and neither one of us could even remember the name of the hotel.

We were concerned about the luggage and Mrs. Pedoy. Our worries soon were on the GGM because here we were in a strange place and we didn’t speak the language. At that time we did not know that Ormoc is small and there are only two hotels in town.  There were no cars or trucks. Only horses, motorcycles, and a few jeep’neys. Ormoc reminded me of Waimanalo, Oahu. A small town with houses spread throughout the valley. A few hours later we caught up to the GGM and he looked depressed. He informed us that he had inquired about the Pedoy family. Sadly, no one had ever heard of them in that area.

What Kind of Valuables Do You Have?

We checked into the 3 story Pongos hotel. The cost was less than $5 a night per room. Our rooms were on the third floor. The bathrooms and showers were down the hall. There was a bar on the street level, which was extremely loud.

Peter and I went to the front desk and ask if we could secure our valuables. The front desk person got very excited and asked us, “What kind of valuables do you have?” The way he said it with such enthusiasm made Peter and me feel uncomfortable. So we told him we wanted to secure our passports and other personal items. To our amazement, he said to wait here, and he left the hotel and went outside. Peter and I looked at each other and decided not to wait. It was a mistake telling a stranger that we had valuables.

Peter and I Barricaded Ourselves in our Room With 2 Bolos Each!

There were no locks on the hotel room doors. Peter and I were so worried that we were going to be ripped off, so we pushed Peter’s bed against the door and we slept with the lights on and our bolos in case of an emergency. Although we were on the top floor, the bar was so loud that we could hear everything and it kept us up for most of the night; we were so tired in the morning. We went to check on the GGM in the morning and to our surprise, his door was wide open and he was snoring loudly with his pants and wallet on the chair in his room. When we told him that we barricaded ourselves in our room and slept with our bolos, he laughed so hard he almost choked. He then told us this was the best sleep he had in his life.

Rumors Spread in Ormoc That the Old Couple from the USA Are Super Rich!

When the locals heard Peter and I refer to the GGM as “Master”, the people in Ormoc thought that we were the servants/ body guards of the Pedoys. The rumor was that this old couple was supposedly so rich; they flew to the Philippines from Hawaii with two big Caucasian bodyguards.

Chief Peter Argues Over 1/10 of a Penny

One of the stories the GGM loved to tell is when Peter was arguing over 1/10 of a penny with a sales clerk at a bakery in Ormoc. Of course Peter wasn’t arguing over the small amount for a doughnut, but the sales clerk thought he wanted the doughnut for one centavo less than what they were selling it for. When the GGM saw that the lady was getting upset with Peter, he walked into the bakery to find out what was going on. She complained to him in Filipino that she didn’t have the authority to sell the doughnut for a centavo cheaper that the big American was demanding. But Chief Peter was just trying to figure out how much to pay her. GGM gave her the money for the doughnut and teased Peter for the rest of the trip.

You Climbed Up There When You Were Six?

When we got to Ormoc, you could see the dark and tall mountains that overlooked the town. Just looking at them gave me the creeps. So I asked the GGM if that was the mountain he climbed when he ran away from home at the age of 6. He calmly said “Yes”, as if it was nothing.

I remember the stories he told us about snakes that lived in those mountains. He recalled some were as wide as 50 gallon barrels. I looked up at the mountains again and told myself I wouldn’t have gone up there by myself at 6 and I wouldn’t go up there now as an adult.

GGM’s Donation To The Church Leads Us to His Family

One thing for sure about the people in Ormoc, they don’t trust strangers, especially Americans. No one would tell us if any Pedoys still lived in Ormoc. The GGM was depressed and decided to leave Ormoc the next day. Before leaving, he went to church and prayed. He made a donation to the church. The amount didn’t seem that large to us, but certainly a lot to the pastor. The pastor thanked the GGM with all his heart and asked his name. He said my name is Braulio Pedoy. A young lady in the office was going through baptism papers overheard the conversation. She said, “Pedoy? Pedoy is my maiden name.” We all looked at looked at each other and felt it was a miracle to find his relatives when we had given up!

Braulio Pedoy Died in 1927

She was so excited; she took us to see her father. His name was Telesporo Pedoy. He was the GGM’s first cousin. His physical appearance was identical as the GGM. His white hair and haircut, his height, and his features were the same except for his physique. Telesporo had broader shoulders and was a little more muscular than the GGM. The first thing he said was, “You cannot be Braulio Pedoy, and he died in 1927!” The GGM showed him his Oahu bus pass photo, and he still refused to believe. He felt that this man from the U.S .was trying to take back his uncle’s 100 acres of land that he left for him and his family.

I Remember When You Were 8 years old, You Had A Kernel Of Corn Stuck Up Your Nose

The GGM stayed calm and told Telesporo that he remembered the time he had a kernel of corn that was stuck in his nose, and no one could get it out.

I wish I had a picture of his face when the GGM said that. Telesporo broke down and started to cry, hugged the GGM and said, “No one knows that story, you must be Braulio Pedoy.” Soon after, he threw a big dinner for us. It was the best food we had eaten since we left Hawaii.

I told Peter, if my first cousin came to me after 60 years, I would care less and certainly not cry over it. I learned a lot from this trip. In the Philippines, first cousins are considered immediate family.

You Are Moncado Men Aren’t You?

The next day, Telesporo suggested we visit his older brother Simplicio, who lived on the outskirts of town. The moment we entered his house, he said to us in English very negatively, “You are Moncado men aren’t you?” The GGM confirmed we were all followers of Master Moncado. Simplicio started shouting and putting down Master Moncado in wordings that I refuse to repeat. The GGM spun around and walked right out the door. I looked at Peter and said, “Well, I think that is the sign we are leaving.”

The whole situation was unexplainable. Simplicio hadn’t seen the GGM since 1927, so why would he say what he said. And why would he hate Master Moncado so much?

Going back to the hotel, The GGM said that no one can speak that way about Master Moncado and that something terrible will happen to the Simplicio. Sure enough a few months, when we returned to Hawaii, we got news that Simplicio had died.

There Were No Planes in 1927!

I was dreading the thought of the ferry ride back to Cebu. We checked out of the Pongos Hotel and went to the pier to catch the boat. When we arrived, the boat wasn’t there and we would be delayed. You couldn’t make reservations, and only the Captain of the Ship handled the cash payment for the ride.

While waiting in the holding area at the dock, I overheard a man say in English, “Let’s not wait for the boat, let’s fly out of Ormoc.” I immediately went up to him and asked him if there was an airport in Ormoc, which he confirmed.

I then went up to the GGM and asked him why he didn’t tell me that there was an airport at Ormoc. He said there were no planes back in 1927, and he couldn’t imagine that an airport would be built in this small town because of the cost.

From Now On, I am In Charge of Arranging The Travel Plans!

Needless to say, there was no way I was getting back on the boat. I told the GGM I would pay for the plane fare and we proceeded to ask for directions to get to the airport in Ormoc. Philippine Airlines flew new prop planes in and out of Ormoc once a day and the cost to Cebu was just $25 for each of us. The airport was quite a way out of town. On the way, we passed a military road- block which was pretty intense. To my surprise, the flight was only 20 minutes to Cebu. I was so happy!

Bohol Here We Come!

Chief Peter and I made reservations to Bohol; otherwise the GGM might have had us on another interisland ferry.

The Healing Shrine!

In Bohol, the GGM hires a driver to escort us around the island for the next few days. First stop was the healing shrine. For this adventure, see our article on “The Healing Shrine of Potenciana.”

What Do You Think Of President Marcos?

For some strange reason, I felt obligated to go to a Rotary meeting on my trip to the Philippines. There was a meeting being held on Bohol and I attended a luncheon of about 25 men. During the luncheon, a very intimidating individual stood up and asked me in front of everyone, “What do you think about President Marcos.” I didn’t know who or why he would ask me such a question, so my response was, “I had no opinion of President Marcos.”

This individual didn’t want to accept my answer and asked, “Isn’t President Marco living in Hawaii, you must have an opinion?” For some reason, I kept to my answer- “No opinion”.

After the luncheon, I asked one of the more friendly Rotarians; who was that guy? He told me that he is a Colonel in the army and a loyal officer of President Marcos. He commented to me that it was very wise of me not to say anything negative about Marcos.

Didn’t Expect You To Risk Your Life For Us!

On the way to the Chocolate Mountains, we stopped by one of the GGM’s friend’s house. Our car didn’t have air conditioning and it was so hot. When the GGM’s friend asked me if I wanted to drink some coconut milk, I quickly agreed to his kind offer. I expected him to go to his refrigerator and pour us a glass. But instead he grabbed his bolo and climbed a 3 story coconut tree bare footed and chopped down some coconuts. I looked again at his hut on stilts, and then noticed there were no electrical wires or screens on the windows. I realized this was a whole different world and how spoiled we Americans are.

The Miracle of the Chocolate Hills

Each hill so perfectly formed

The GGM was nice enough to take Chief Peter and me to the Chocolate Hills on Bohol. It is one of the wonders of the world and although he and Mrs. Pedoy had seen it many times, he really wanted us to see this miracle place. There are over 1,700 hills spread over an area of more 20 square miles. They are covered in green grass that turns brown during the dry season, hence the name. Chief Peter and I agreed they would get way more visitors if they called it the 1700 Perfect Shaped Breast Hills.

Hard Labor At Less Than a $1 a Day

In Bohol, we saw a lot of prawn farms being dug by hand. These men worked all day in the mud, in their boots, digging mud out of large holes in the ground. When I asked our driver how much they were paid, he told us about 40 pesos a day. (Less than $ 1)  Peter and I looked at each other and we suddenly felt how lucky we are to have good paying jobs at home.

Mrs. Pedoy’s Relatives Walk Two Days To Find Us

The GGM was avoiding some of Mrs. Pedoy’s relatives on Bohol because in the past, they were always asking for money. One night, we got back to our hotel around 9 p.m. There were more than a dozen of them waiting for us at the gate of the hotel. They heard that Mrs. Pedoy was on the Island and they had walked two days to get to there.

We paid for their room, including their meal. After dinner, they started to beg Mrs. Pedoy for money and clothes. She gave them everything she had. Then one of the female relatives asked for the slippers she was wearing. Chief Peter yelled at them to all go to bed, enough was enough. The next morning they were still scared of Chief Peter and didn’t ask for anything else and we had breakfast and saw them off.

Mrs. Pedoy is a Real Trooper

I had an opportunity to travel all over Hawaii, the mainland, and the Philippines with Mrs. Pedoy. She is a great traveler. Although she can walk, we used to place her in a wheel chair and pushed her around. She never complained about anything and had a great sense of humor. We knew she loved travel and she was ready for anything. Sometimes we used to push her really fast to give her a little excitement and she would hang on for dear life, yet she never scolded us or complained. She was fun to be with and we miss her very much.

Finally Home

When we arrived in Hawaii, Customs stopped us because we had brought back about 50 rattan sticks. They were so sure there was something illegal hidden in them, because who would bring rattan sticks to Hawaii? But I didn’t care, we were home and we had nothing to hide.

This trip taught me to love my country, my home, family, and job. What an adventure it turned out to be and we certainly became closer to the Pedoys after such a great trip to the Philippines. We had a chance to practice Escrima throughout the trip with the GGM and we were able to see Ormoc where the General and the GGM came from. My parents were so against me going, but now I look back at the trip and I am so grateful the GGM asked me and Chief Peter to go with him. It did turn out to my life’s greatest adventure!

The GGM and Chief Peter sparring in the room in Bohol

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