Peggy and Randy Ford Authors- FOUND OUR WAY 16th Installment

46. In December our household shrank to three. But shortly there after our friend Lino Brocka (yes, the movie director) gave us two very small chicks, Chittichitty and Bangbang. They had a box (and a light) in one corner of the kitchen. Chittichitty could fly in and out at will, but Bangbang couldn’t quite make it out. They were the same size when we got them, but Chittichitty grew faster. Several people suggested the former was probably a male and the latter a female. We thought that they would grow out of cuteness and that then we’d give them away. We were sure we could never eat them after we raised them as pets. Then Lino brought us a puppy, or tuta. Peggy had wanted a puppy ever since we arrived in Manila, but I kept insisting that it was better not to get one since we’d just have to leave it and because rabies was a real problem. But when Lino brought the puppy by and we saw that it was clean, we couldn’t turn it down.

Linda, our maid, named the chicks. She didn’t have a name for the puppy, so we called her (the puppy) Tuta for a while. Later Lino named her PETA after the Philippine Education Theater Association, where Lino and I both worked. The puppy was white and grayish-brown in a very irregular pattern. She wasn’t pretty, but she was certainly cute. Biting was her favorite game, but we hoped she’d grow out of it. I was her favorite person.

We really enjoyed watching the chicks change from tiny fuzzy animals into ones who could fly. But then came a very sad day. The puppy killed Chittychitty. (She had always chased the chicks, but we didn’t think she would really hurt them). After this sad event we made big plans to keep Bangbang away from the dog if no one was around. And then what happened? The day after Chittychitty died Bangbang drowned in the toilet. Most Filipino toilets have no seats, leaving just the porcelain and the hole with water. The downstairs bathroom door was always open because that was where the dog was supposed to do her business. Apparently, Bangbang flew up on the bowl rim and fell in.

47. My turning 26 didn’t completely assure that I wouldn’t be drafted, but I was now in a new category (6), which was further down on the list of priorities. Married men 26 or older were not generally drafted, but it depended upon the needs of the local board. We just hoped that there were plenty of men available in Dallas in the 4 or 5 categories that would be called before my category (6).

48. It was the beginning of March, and whether we would extend until the end August or leave the Peace Corps in June was still up in the air. Requests for extension of service had to be in at least three months before the scheduled termination date, which meant we had until March 16 to apply. At that point we were still waiting for a letter (a required letter) from the person who originally requested that I stay longer. We thought if she didn’t care enough to write one letter, there was no point in staying. Peggy would’ve liked to have stayed so that she could’ve had longer to work in the community center, but I really got the urge to travel on.

Our thinking for some time was along the lines of heading next to Borneo, specifically to Sabah, Brunei and parts of Malaysia. But the fact that Malaysia and the Philippines had broken off diplomatic relations made it rather difficult to get there. No planes went from Manila to Borneo, and ships left for Borneo only from the port of Iligan. That would’ve been o.k. had we not be convinced that we could only leave the Philippines from Manila. We could get a boat from Manila to Hong Kong or Singapore, and then get another one for Borneo, but that would eat up a lot of extra money.

I spent considerable time pouring over a travel guide to South and East Asia and a map. I thought we might go to Singapore, then slowly work our way through Indonesia to Australia. (We’d pick up Malaysia and Brunei on a return trip.) A drawback to this plan, we thought, would be that Indonesians did not like Americans (which we found wasn’t true), and travel there was even more difficult than in most of the rest of this part of the world (which was also untrue). So we thought starting there might be really discouraging.

Still another alternative entered the picture. Back in my days at the Dallas Theater Center, I worked with the son of the director of the Korean National Theater. If we went to Korea, I was assured of getting to study and work in this theater. We had planned to make Korea one of the latter stops on our trip, but we began to think that any major trouble in this part of the world (in addition to Vietnam) increased the possibility that we wouldn’t be able to get into Korea. Thus we thought maybe we should go there while we could. A big disadvantage was that Korea had cold winters, and we would need a whole new wardrobe. Besides, going to less developed countries was more exciting to me. .

We also knew that most of traveling in this part of world would be just traveling, since jobs were too scarce to give to outsiders. But jobs were supposed to be plentiful in both New Zealand and Australia, which we thought meant we would be able to work and travel in those countries. Also, I had friends in drama in Christchurch, New Zealand. Finally we also thought Japan would be another place where we could work since there was supposed to be a great demand for English teachers and tutors there.

How long we traveled, we thought, would depend upon how far we could stretch our money and/or the job situation, how involved I became in different theaters, and how much we enjoyed the life of a vagabond. I was thinking in terms of six or eight years, but Peggy tended toward two or three years. She was somewhat apprehensive of just striking out on our own in countries where we knew no one and none of the local languages. But I kept telling her that it would be much like trips around the Philippines, which she enjoyed thoroughly.

Peggy and Randy Ford

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