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Journey into Disaster
I proudly present chapter
How it works in the Philippines.
There are about 20 minutes with the Motorela, the motorcycle taxi, from the police station to the BSWD. When Michael is getting out of the Motorela, he notices the white concrete stone, which carries the red-blue emblem of the BSWD. The narrow sides of the concrete block follow the contours of the emblem: two vertical hands that are folded in the shape of a heart and enclose a group of people. Michael wonders about the oblique position of the block. There are prints of coarse soles on one of the narrow sides.
“Somebody was really mad,” Michael laughs to the driver. He grins broadly as answer and has a glowing cigarette butt in the corner of his lips. With a screeching engine, the Motorela turns on the spot and rushes away with a blue exhaust plume.
Michael goes to the right. There he sees the square with the tattered basketball net, the rusty play equipment, the swing and the unsightly children’s home. The multi-storey functional building is surrounded by a high chain link fence. On top of the fence has barbed wire rolled up in an endless spiral. Michael shakes the closed gate hard so that it and the heavy chains rattle and clink loudly. On the right side there is a small, weatherproof box with the bell inside. After ringing the bell three times, a fat security guard in a poorly fitting uniform arrives. His pants hang and the shirt peeks out. It seems funny to Michael, and he grins.
“What are you ringing the bell here crazy? What do you want?” the guard asks.
He shows the bags with the Tupperware, drinks and sweets: “For the children from Sendong City. I’m Phil’s father, um Philipp Kabaltos. We cooked and went shopping. Also toothbrushes and toothpaste, little towels and whatever children just need.”
“No visits! Instruction and order of at the top, mister! From the highest!”
Michael is unimpressed. He lights a Marlboro and immediately blows the blue smoke sharply into the air: “Sir, I don’t want to visit them for long, just bring the food over quickly and ideally take the Tupperware back with me. They’re only borrowed.” While Michael talks, he holds the Marlboro box under the sweating guard’s face.
His eyes light up: “The Lord has sent you! I wonder, my cigarettes are empty. Very funny, it seems a few smoked himself. Usually, one pack is enough for one night shift. Thanks! And you’re one of the fathers of the five brats, uh boys? Are you from Sendong City? It’s none of my business, but why were the boys out with the foreigner?”
Michael remains friendly, inside he is boiling. He knows this scruffy guy is the most important man in the whole damn BSWD right now. He must pass him. That’s why Michael replies calmly: “The foreigner is our friend. Eight years ago he took the photos at my wedding. He’s okay. We know him very well.”
“Oh!” says the guard and blows out the smoke. His jacket is at least three sizes too big.
Michael holds the box under his nose again: “Take it if you don’t have any more!”
He pulls four Marlboro: “Good, wait. I’ll see what I can do for you. But I can’t give any promises.” Then he shuffles away towards the building and arranges his pants and shirt and straightens everything.
Five minutes later the guard laboriously opens the gate. In the meantime he babbles: “I gave a good word for you. Sir Sala, my boss, allowed 20 minutes. But only, because you are a father and not the stupid media. And, yes, because you are a nice guy. But not talking about the case, I mean do not talk about the foreigner. Otherwise, the visit is immediately over! Okay?”
“Crystal clear, sir!” replies Michael curtly, and is thinking: Just don’t talk too much. Better shut up. I’ve achieved my target.
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