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Jeepney Source: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Unified Patriots by Vassar Bushmills

Another Famous Common Person I Have Known, Benny

In Spring, 1974 I spent a few days at Clark AFB in the Philippines. Part of the rate for my hotel room in Angeles City included a Jeepney and a driver. His name was Benny and he took me all over the place, such as the first Japanese kamikaze airfield nearby. I told Benny I wanted to go to the town where they made rattan furniture, and he asked if would be OK to slightly detour “a few miles” and go to his village so he could pray in his home church during Lent, (a requirement for Filipino Catholics, so Benny said.).

We left the main highway and onto a dusty dirt road, heading due west, into the interior. There were nothing but forest and open fields of cane, which we’d cross a few hundred yards at a time, then back into the forest until we came back into the sunlight and another open field of cane. I can’t say it wasn’t just a “few miles” but it seemed like a hundred, and along the side of the road were workmen in shorts pants, straw hats and big machetes.

It dawned on me that the only thing that did not fit into this landscape was me, with a $600 camera around my neck, a light sport coat that just shouted “t-o-u-r-i-s-t”, and $700 in cash in my wallet. I asked Benny how much further, or maybe we could go back to the main road, whichever was closer, but it sure didn’t look too friendly out here, all those bolo knives, and not a smaile or “Hi, howya doing?” among them[…]

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