For many years and many times each year I would travel to my office in Manila, The Capital of the Philippines, developing products in small villages for my customers, who at the time were FTD, Florists Transworld Deliveries, and The F W Woolworth Co. I would stay at the Manila Hotel in a suite of rooms at poolside, costing $10.00 US/night,WoW!!! Being there so often, and with my open personality, I got to know just about everyone on the staff, including the Manager, as well as those guests that came as often I did to do their business. Since I always wore my scarf, and have been since I was 18, everyone there called me Mr Bianco, “The One and Only”. My day would start early in order to get to little villages that were far from Manila in the jungles. The roads were not roads but paths and locals had to move over to allow us to pass, the people were polite and stepped aside, not like in China where the people ignored cars even when their horns were blasting.
At the end of each working day I would go to the lobby bar, order a Manhattan cocktail, “stirred not shaken”, and walk around the lobby saying “Hello” and talking to the other business travelers. One time while doing just that, a commotion was happening at the front entrance, as it’s doors burst open and in came solders with machine guns across their chests surrounding a pompas looking woman and motioning all in front of them to move aside. As they were approaching me, they motioned me to move away, but me, being “Bianco”, no way!!! They came right up to me, but I would not move, no way! The woman looked at me with a nasty frown, and I stared back! It was a stand off, and I certainly wasn’t moving. I then put my drink in my right hand, and pointed to my eyes with my left index finger and looked at the woman and said out loud… “I’m an American, and I don’t move for anyone, guns or no guns!!! The solders didn’t know what to do as it never ever happened before to them. However, I had done the same thing in China a few months earlier, and didn’t back down then, cause in those days being an American was to be respected! Well, after about a minute, she shouts something to her bodyguard in Phillipino and they turned around me and proceeded in another direction. I knew who she was, it was Imelda Marcos, and boy was she mad! After she left, everyone of the staff either winked at me, or when alone, came over and shook my hand, as everyone hated her. Naturally she found out who I was but thankfully it stopped there, however, later when I would arrange to send a brilliant child that I had chosen from the locals of each village that I would give a product order to. I would act as their sponser to help them to enter America, paying all their expenses. After this incident, I now had to pay the Philippino government an extra $8000.00 per child as a clearance for them to leave the Islands. However, my office staff found ways to collect that money from the people I bought from, and gladly they did! Mr Marcos was killed shortly afterwards and Emelda took off with all her shoes for America and to safety, well away from all the people she and her husband had persecuted. The news traveled everywhere and wherever I went people would yell “Here comes “The one and only”. There is another event that I experienced on the island of Bataan, that was exhilarating. I had rented a skidoo and while traveling around the island, I noticed I had seen the view in front of me as I headed for the lonely beach. It hit me then that 42 years in the past this was the beach that the American forces landed to begin
A side note here!
At the time, on all the Islands of the Philippines locals were dedicated Roman Catholics, but only 1% of the population had money, and all others were extremely very poor, so those 1% had guards surrounding all their properties, sitting on high walls keeping out anyone who approached. However when you approached the small villages, there would be a beautiful entrance showing off each village in a new light. However when you went through, and approached each village, it was just a bunch of grass shacks, surrounding a main square where all the people congregated. Their religion protected them, but didn’t feed them. Life there was simple but honorable and truly respectable. I was always amazed at how happy all were even though they had nothing compared to the rich. While in each village, I would ask what they had to make the samples I had… Usually baskets made very expensively in America, or planters of ceramic for flowers. The town leaders would say they had nothing like the samples, but I would then explain that I didn’t want the same materials used. I said that if they went into their jungle they would fine reeds that could be dried and shaped into the the samples I would leave them. When I saw how they sat and had tables, I said that this same material could be used for other samples I would send them, but till then, I wanted them to make me samples of what they had in front of me. I would redesign the chairs I wanted made out of the rattan they had growing everywhere. I would send them new samples for them to make copies for me then to offer to my customers. A new company had just sent their buyer here, who was also staying at the Manila Hotel, so I told my office manager to make certain that our villages didn’t show or sell our design to this company called “Pier One”.