The Swagman eNews
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IT HAS BEEN difficult to get into the spirit of the season this year, hopefully 2021 (Chinese Year of the Ox) will be a lot more positive.
The news that a vaccine is on the way gave us hope that Angeles City may return to some sort of normal quickly, only to have that hope dashed by the news that it maybe years before everyone has access to the vaccine and the virus controlled.
The first inoculations for the general population won't happen until at least May 2021, and to inoculate enough people in the Philippines to control the virus is estimated to be from two to five years, if, the vaccine can be sourced and purchased by the Philippine government.
It has been reported that they only have enough vaccine for 1.5 million people.
I also worry as a foreigner living here as to how I can access the vaccine and what the cost will be?
I am sure that Filipinos will get priority, and it will possibly be free to citizens, and that is the way it should be, but I as a foreigner need some clarity.
I have contacted the Australian Embassy to see what the situation is for Australians. If I get an answer I will put out a special edition of "The Swagman" to keep you informed. .
In the meantime drop your embassy a line.
I masked up and went for my monthly wander, this time I planned to plot the bars, restaurants and hotels over in Diamond Subdivision, and on the way see what changes have taken place, specifically on Walking Street.
I was very disappointed, nothing of any note has happened since last month.
The only changes I found on Walking Street was that Carousel (Centauro) has been closed for violations, Insomnia has opened as a resto bar and Level 3 is easier to find with new signage.
The only bright spot on my walk was my SML reviver at the Station, always good value and a compulsory stop.
While there I noticed for the first time that there is a restaurant out the back, it turns out on Saturdays between 4pm and 8:30pm they have a Mongolian BBQ for P299. Have put it on my to do list for the New Year.
Not a lot happening from Walking St, down McArthur to Diamond, traffic was fairly heavy, always is, and there were many small businesses open but nothing to excite me.
I noticed that Sullivan's Irish bar has closed since the last time I passed by.
Made it down to Marlin Ave which is the entrance to Diamond.
Past Angeles Fried Chicken, good to see that it's open, best chicken in Angeles and an icon here, the guard at the checkpoint waved me through, no problem. I turned down Susana St. to take a short cut to Moons Bar, however when I got there, I found the gate chained, the locals told me all the gates in Diamond have been chained and locked, so had to turn around and walk back.
On the way I noticed Diamond Grill was open, it's on the other side of Diamond Park in Sarita St, so wandered across for a reviver, the place was empty. I sat for half and hour with the manager, who said things are very quiet.
On leaving I noticed a small outside sari sari with some tables, it's called Josefs. I had heard of this place from some expats when I was up at Blue Monkey last month, it had a couple of expat customers enjoying the evening with a beer.
Finally got down to S. Revera Lim St. where Moons is located. This was a real let down, I hoped that things would be looking up around my old haunt., perhaps some new bars had opened up.
British Legion across from Moons was open, as was Wishing Well down the street. King Arthur next door was closed. This little area used to be one of my regular haunts back in the day, with great little bars like Pearly Gates, a grubby little place, but had atmosphere.
Finally got to Moons, a bit of action going on and thought things could be looking up. Turned out the girls were having a Xmas Party and it wasn't typical night, according to a regular. Tess still runs the place and it is still up for sale.
Left Moons and took a walk down to Swagman. Kick Back and Relax is gone with the whole block demolished.
Aussie Shack was closed and a for sale notice on the window. Marble Inn was open as was Patio Inn, so I stopped in and sat talking to the only two customers, who were less than excited about the prospects of Angeles, so I left more depressed than when I went in.
Swagman sadly is still an empty block, though I was told there was some building going on in the old restaurant area where the pool was, but couldn't confirm it. There is a bar called Alejo's adjacent to Swagman that I never knew existed, and I lived in Diamond for quite a few years and was at Swagman daily, Angeles never ceases to surprise me. I went over to check it out, but of course it was closed.
Left Patio feeling more depressed than when I went in. It was dark and very gloomy, which added to my depression, and then it started to rain. Could it get any worse, yes, I couldn't find a trike and was looking at an hour walk home in the rain.
So there is no map of Diamond this month, there are no bars or hotels of any note to plot, maybe next month.
We always stay home on New Years Eve here in Angeles, as it can get dangerous out on the streets especially with fireworks being lit carelessly.
During the day it was pretty quiet but then at dusk the karaoke started and this year it became a battle between different parties around our house with the speakers turned to full volume, the singing started off bearable, but as the night went on the Red Horse took hold and it became atrocious, I thought bring back the fireworks.
Then the mental giants on their bikes started racing up and down the street, revving their engines.
One thing Filipinos excel at is making noise on New Year's Eve, and even with the firework ban they didn't disappoint.
As midnight approached, some people that didn't get the memo on fireworks started to let them off, and with the bikes and trikes racing up and down the street it probably was more dangerous this year.
Bruno, our big ugly mutt began to look distressed and jumped with every explosion.
I sat with him to keep him calm, he was quaking, and burrowed his big hairy head into me, I realised he is still a puppy, his size belies his age, and this was his first New Years Eve.
The noise kept up until around 2.30 am and except for the odd firework going off, it eventually quietened down, the karaoke singers were drunk and the off key singing thankfully ceased.
On New Years day I went for a walk down Perimeter, most places were  closed, streets around our area deserted, only Legends Bar, Candy Bar, Rio, Thai Hi Ohana and the Hangout were open with few hardcases obviously nursing hangovers.
I ran into a mate and we found the new Spontini Pizza place open, in Sierra Madre St, a nice little bar so we decided to stop and have a reviver, which turned into a lot more than several, which it often doe when we get together.
This is a nice little place, recently renovated, open to the street, comfortable booths, P60 SML and serve a really good pizza (other good food available). Spontini's (formerly Salvatores). was upstairs from the now defunct Angel Witch and Gilley's Roadhouse on Fields. The new place as a good feel about it and once customers know where it is, I think it will be successful, especially with the price conscious ex-pat community.
The Philippines has one of the lowest ages of consent in the world, allowing adults to legally have sex with children as young as 12.
The politicians are about the pass the legislation to increase the age to 16.
According to official data, a woman or child is raped every hour.
A government-backed nationwide study in 2015 showed one in five children aged 13 to 17 experienced sexual violence, and one in 25 was raped in childhood.
Prosecuting adult perpetrators in rape cases involving children has been difficult because they can argue the sex was consensual.
The proposed Bill makes it automatically illegal with the penalty of life imprisonment, though it would not punish young couples close in age.
It is expected to be approved by the Senate in the coming months before President Duterte signs it into law.
Activists say increasing the age of consent will deter sexual predators, but they caution that more needs to be done to combat sexual violence against children and to curb one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in South-east Asia.
I have a policy of not reporting on killings in the Angeles area unless it directly affects foriegners, but had to say something about the murder of a mother and son in Tarlac, which is not that far from Angeles.
During an argument over a boga, a bamboo cannon, which are common during New Year, an off duty police man drew his pistol and in coldblood shot a mother and then her son, in front of family members and his own young daughter.
He later turned himself in and has been charged with murder.
Here is a link to the video, but I warn you it is distressing. WATCH VIDEO
The Aussie dollar climbed or should I say staggered above 37, but I'm not getting too excited as it usually doesn't last too long.
If it could get to P40, the Swagman would be a happy fella!
Travelers from 19 countries in addition to the United Kingdom are banned from entering the Philippines in light of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant, which experts fear is more contagious.
These countries are: Sweden, The Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Canada and Spain.
All foreign travelers coming from or transiting through the aforementioned countries are banned from entering the Philippines effective Dec. 30 at 12:01 a.m. through Jan. 15, 2021.
The same applies to travelers who have been to the places included in the list within 14 days preceding their arrival in the Philippines.
My feeling is the ban will be extended, I hope that I am wrong, but I don't see how a short term ban will have any affect.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has been directed to cancel the planned resumption of face-to-face classes in areas deemed low risk for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in January 2021.
Personally I see no need for the resumption of face to face classes at this time, my children are doing fine with online classes. I don't have the worry that they may get infected. So until the virus is really under control, my kids will be either having online classes or be home-schooled.
It is difficult for them to be locked in the house for so many months, but I know they are safe.
It's been difficult to keep a positive attitude, but we have no choice.
Last year 2020, is a time that most of us don't want to remember and now it's been consigned to the rubbish bin of history.
It doesn't seem the virus will be contained anytime soon and tourism won't be restarted in the foreseeable future.
Angeles will survive, but it will be a different Angeles, maybe a better Angeles.
Take care of yourselves, stay healthy and look after each other.


If anyone has a story to tell or some photos of their times in Angeles, I would love to hear from you.
Looking back,celebrating the New Year at Swagman 2010.
Always a ready smile and a cold beer. You can catch him at Phillies these days.
Clock strikes midnight and the Swaggy staff celebrate.
Used to be a little hairy on Walking Street back then,
MAPS updated on January 1, 2021 and shows what bars are open or closed, you can click the graphics or the links WALKING STREET and  PERIMETER ROAD to view or DOWNLOAD a PDF.
Waking Map link
WALKING STREET AREA: OPEN: Bretto's (Paradise), Baccara, Shooters,  Voodoo, Kokomos, Lollipop, Level 3, Envy, Phillies, Canteen (Lanies), Club XS, Monsoon, Insomnia, Margarita Station, Brown Sugar 2, Prince of Wales, Wine Bar (Lovely).
CLOSED: Maha, Club A, Giant Bar, Opera House, Club Mix, Western Fields, Aladdin, Club Asia, Paru Paru, Yelo, High Society, Carousel (Centauro), Xanadu, Flamingo, Galaxy, Leopard, Cosplay, Angel Witch (Old), Viking, Nana, Champagne, Bad Boy, Apple, Shipwreck, Lancelot, Salambo, Owls Nest, Q Bar, Red Bar, Rhapsody, La Bamba, Gecko's, K Pop, Dollhouse, Atlantis, Gilley's Roadhouse, Bar 1, Secrets, Sky Trax, Soya, After Dark, Ace, Brown Sugar 1, Camelot, Old Club, Icarus, Las Vegas, Midnight Rodeo, Body Shop, Shobu, Eden KTV, Black Pearl, Blackbeard's, Niagra, Cora Marie, KTV Bar, Macho Man, O Neil, Frances Nicole, Dragon Heart, Verandah.
PERIMETER BARS OPEN: Amat's Cafe, Abby's Bee Hive, American Legion Post 10, Babaero, Blue Monkey, Bob's, CNB Cafe, Candy Bar, Det 5, Emotions, Garfield's, Hangout, Heide's, JBs, JKG, Legends,  Maxies Place, Night Moves, Popeye's, Rio, Shobu, Thai Hi Ohana, Vangies.
CLOSED: After School, Baby Dolls, Blue Sapphire, Cherrys, Don't Tell Mama, Drill Shack, Eruptions, F1 Bar, Garfields, Gentleman's Club, Girls Generation, Highway 54, Ice Bar, Honey Kos, Honeybee, Mairi, Niftys, Night Moves Orange, Platinum, Ponytails, Posiedon, Princess, Roadies, Sakura, Stampede, Star Bar, Steelman, Za Za.
DIAMOND: OPEN: Moons, British Legion, Wishing Well, Josephs, Diamond Grill.
CLOSED: Sullivan's
Some cheeky girls!
Still there next to Club Rio. It was always a great night.
Sexy Singer
Upstairs at Tequila Reef, some great singers.
Gone by not forgotten
After 40 years Edelweiss has sadly closed its doors in December. Thanks for all the great meals, beers and memories.
The video was to celebrate 30 years. .
A graphic map with the regulations that apply to the country you wish to travel to.
Information from Clark Airport
Check with each airline.
Check with your preferred hotel as to what restrictions may apply.
Smart Traveller Link
This song has always been special to me.
The trailer, In Tagalog has sub titles.
She's my baby, she's my pet!
Sweet and cheeky Filipinas!.
Good to see it back, an iconic Angeles publication.
Blue Book is a barometer for business in Angeles City.
Click the button below for the latest online edition.
HAVE A YARN to tell? Then please email them to The Swagman, always appreciate receiving any story or pics.
WHAT IS the Black Toe Edition?
It was a regular edition of "The WA Gardener" but we laughingly gave it that name, not a Black Label edition but the Black Toe edition, here's why!
Bob Duffield was the publisher, a journalist who served as foreign editor of "The Australian" from 1968 until 1974, until he ran foul of Rupert Murdoch, when he led the infamous walk out of journalists at "The Australian" over the biased editorial treatment of the then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
He wasn't fired, but was banished back to Western Australia to a less than fulfilling job at the "West Australian".
He would spend most of his evening shifts with a cask of Riesling and a carton of cigarettes, sitting under the Narrows Bridge on the Swan River, contemplating his sins.
On one occasion he found a moored dingy and decided to board it to wile away the time, and as he did he slipped and gashed his leg.
He failed to treat it and it became infected, eventually he went to a doctor, who initially sorted him out, but told him he had to lose some weight, cut down on his drinking and stop smoking, or he wouldn't treat him any further. Bob told him what he thought of his advice, promptly ignored it and never went back.
His leg got progressively worse and started to turn black, but he still refused to seek treatment and suffered with it for years without complaining, still drinking his cask a day and chain-smoking his Gauloises.
Bored working at the West Australian he resigned and began writing freelance articles for leading magazines including Newsweek and Time, lectured at The West Australia Institute of Technology, now Curtin University inspiring a whole generation of journalists.
His most memorable work was Rogue Bull, a 1979 biography of the mining entrepreneur Lang Hancock, who married Rose Lacson, a Filipina, born in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, which gives this story a Philippine connection to "The Swagman", if somewhat tenuous.
When I met him he was an editor at the Independent Newspaper in Perth, which at the time was owned by Lang Hancock and his partner Peter Wright.
We worked together for many years, both at The Independent and later I would typeset and produce artwork for a variety of magazines and books that he published, we also became good mates, and he would relate stories of his time working as a foreign correspondent, especially his time in Vietnam, his time working for Murdoch, his relationships with many of the public figures of the time.
He wrote his life story, which I typeset and put into book form, but it was never published, due to his wife putting the kybosh on it. I do remember many of his stories and perhaps will relate some of them in future editions, maybe just the ones that won't get me sued, even though they are all true.
One of the magazines he published was the "West Australian Gardener" for the West Australian Royal Horticultural Society but after a difference of opinion with the Society, he published his own version, "The WA Gardener".
I found it amusing that Bob who lived in a second-floor flat in Rivervale overlooking the Swan River, without a garden. I suffered from chronic arthritis and gardening was not one of my priorities, and to cap it off, an advertising salesman that suffered from agoraphobia and never left his bedroom, selling ads by phone, none of us ever got out into a garden. Probably good training for producing this newsletter under lockdown.
I received a call from Bob, who growled down the phone. "Ah! We got to get the next edition out!"
"No problem", I replied. "Are the copy and layouts ready?"
"Yes, yes, I have them ready", he mumbled, he sounded a little annoyed.
"I'll send Myrna over to pick them up", I assured him.
Myra was my wife at the time, a Filipina from IloIlo, she would do the pickups and delivery as it was difficult for me to get around at that time.
"Good, good", he growled. "We got to get the edition out"
"Ok ok, she will be over shortly",
He sounded like he was about the ring off when he said.
"Oh by the way, my big toe just fell off!"
I did a double-take, "What! What do you mean!"
He said he was walking across is kitchen and his big toe fell off.
"Are you ok", I asked
"Yes, Yes, he said, "Send Myrna, we got to get this edition out".
I asked him what it looked like, I'm not sure why!
He said it looked like the last snag on the barbie!
"What did you do with it?"
He said he flushed it.
He hung up, I was shocked, I asked Myrna to go quickly and check on him and pick up the layouts and copy.
While she was on her way to Bob's, I began to worry, so I rang  Dr. Desmond Williams, we had worked on a directory for China.
I asked him.
"If your leg is black, and your toes are falling off, what is the likely outcome?"
He said, "You will probably die, get to a doctor!
I thanked him and rang Bob back.
"Bob, you need to go to a doctor"
He barked back, "I will, when, we get this edition out!"
"Bob, you need to go now, if you don't I won't do the magazine!"
"Don't blackmail me you little bastard", he sounded a little grumpy.
I knew it was useless to argue with him.
"Ok, Ok, but promise me you will go soon as the mag is done."
He promised he would.
Myrna picked up the layouts and got the copy back to me.
I asked her how he was, she said he was ok, but the kitchen floor was smeared, she thought it was dry blood.
He was sitting at his desk and had a t-towel over his foot.
She grabbed the proofs and raced home.
I worked night and day and turned the mag out in record time, got it to the printer and Bob kept his word, and went to the doctor.
They admitted him to hospital, treated his leg and saved it, but he lost a few more toes.
The next time I saw him he was wearing a stocking to aid circulation, glass of Riesling in one hand and a smoke in the other, he told me his leg looked like a raw leg of lamb and did I want to have a look.
"Ah! No thanks Bob, I believe you."
We made the deadline, as we always did.
So that's why I call the edition "The Black Toe Edition."
Even on his last day, they told me he was working on a book, finished it, then just laid his head down and left, he had a deadline.
He passed away in 2000, he was only 65.
I often think fondly of that big, gruff, bloody-minded newspaper man, especially at Christmas when he would always take us out for a lunch and sometimes the stories he told me would come to mind and cause me to chuckle. 
As mentioned Bob's most memorable work was about Lang Hancock, it was published by Collins, which is owned by News Limited or Murdoch.
When Hancock died I asked Bob if there would be a reprint as it would be the perfect time. Bob said he wanted to, but Murdoch owned the publishing rights and because he still held a petty grudge toward Bob he wouldn't authorise a reprint. 
He was asked if he would write Rose's story, he declined as he said she was just too much hard work. 
I got the impression he liked Lang, not his politics as Bob was left of Marx, but just as a human being. He wasn't too unkind to him, but said he was actually a failure in that he never actually built anything himself. He had a lot of plans that never came to fruition. His greatest achievement was recognising the vast iron ore fields that have bought untold wealth to WA and in that respect he definitely wasn't a failure.
On Gina, the daughter of Lang he recognised that she had the steel of her father and the cool pragmatic decision-making that has let her take the legacy of Lang and make herself a force to be reckoned with, making her the richest woman in Australia and possibly the world. 
Bob said of her. "Gina tries to be nice to everybody, but if they disappoint her, or annoy her, or in any way seem to threaten her, the friendly filter in the opal-clear eyes drops to reveal a more steely blue. It is not anger, for anger is an uncontrolled emotion and Gina despises people who lose control of themselves, for whatever reason."
Her eleven-year court battle with her step mother Rose over Lang's will is the stuff of legend, eventually it was settled, with Gina going on to be reportedly the richest women in the wold and one of the most powerful. Rose went onto become a beautician, a rich beautician.  
It is difficult to find, as it is now out of print. It is available in libraries and a search on the internet will bring up different sites where you can get second-hand copies. LINK 
Lang's solution!
Was he a racist?
Filipina Femme Fatale?
Flamboyant, self-centered?
When Lang Discovered Iron
Largest reserves of iron ore in the world.
The Iron Lady
Interview with Australia's richest women.
BECAUSE OF THE restrictions on movement imposed by the coronavirus, the portly editor of this esteemed comic is becoming sadly delusional. Astute readers of last month’s edition will remember he offered such adjectives as ‘muscular’, ‘solid’, and ‘built like the proverbial'... to describe his physique. Heh, heh! If true he must have undergone a strenuous exercise regimen in the few years I have been away from Angeles. Because when I knew him, and I saw him regularly, he was ‘muscular’ and ‘solid’ in the same manner a hippopotamus is muscular and solid. (Editor: in Yorkshire accent. "Eh lad! All bought and paid for.")
If he has changed so dramatically, it’s either because of greatly improved fitness, which is doubtful during of the lockdown and the closure of city’s gymnasia, or, more likely, the nutritional content of instant noodles and SML have declined significantly from earlier times when these two items were the staple food of many an expatriate in Angeles City.
But I digress. The article on the Women’s BBL06 Cricket Final that appeared in the last edition has not done much to boost this comic’s circulation figures, which is disappointing. Not even one letter complimenting us on our courage in reporting on women’s sport in such a male dominated society as Angeles. Perhaps I have committed the greatest sin a writer can commit: that of failing to understand his audience: although expatriate residents of Angeles have defied being understood for nearly 60 years.
Well, we’ll see… (Editor: If you have a comment, please send to
With the lockdown still in force the problem of sourcing punchy, stimulating news items for inclusion in each month’s issue remains unchanged. The situation could be summed by the following:
    “I have good news and bad news.
    The good news is that there is no bad news.
    The bad news is that that is all the good news I have”.

This month, just for something completely different we include a review of a recently released ‘whodunnit’ by English author Ann Cleeves, creator of Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope. I was quite happy to review the book but confided to the editor one or two tiny concerns I had.
Firstly in almost 20 years in Angeles I saw little evidence that expats were great readers of anything other than the sports pages of the newspapers. Oh, sure they review the pages on Setting Up their smartphone, but having inserted the battery and the SIM card into the correct orifice, they tend to rely on their wife or their girlfriend for assistance with actually phoning someone, or answering the damned thing when it squawks.
Secondly, in my experience I rarely saw a foreigner read anything more taxing than the ‘Daily Specials’ menu at Margarita Station or Kokomo's or the price of beer during Happy Hour at a cool sports bar or raunchy bikini bar in the tourist precinct. I thought it might prove a challenge too far to review a 400-page novel and expect readers to buy, let alone to read, it.
Said editor brushed aside my concerns. He agreed that, under normal circumstances, I had a point. But the lockdown means there are very few places trading, and even then one cannot leave home to visit those few that remain open. Nor is gardening or walking the dog much of an option with the ever-changing restrictions. While watching bootleg movies and porn flicks ad infinitum isn’t viable with the kids and neighbours running in and out of the house all day and the pretty young maid hustling in with a cold beer every few minutes and looking better with every visit. And anyway, the missus has a headache. So, the editor is of the opinion that a book review could be just the thing to keep readers of "Swagman e-News" from going round the twist. Either that or it will tip them over the edge. Take it away, oh portly one.
A ‘murder-mystery’ or ‘whodunnit’ in the finest tradition of the genre. It is the ninth book featuring Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope of Northumberland & City Police Force - a prickly, conscientious copper of late middle age, shrewd and a bit rumpled, as if her couturier of choice was the local Op Shop. With the assistance of Detective Sergeant Joe Ashworth, whose life is one long conflict between the demands of his wife and family and those imposed on him as Vera’s bagman: eager, smart young Detective Constable Holly Jackman, and specialists brought in as necessary, Vera has a pretty good track record in nabbing the bad guys.
'TIS THE NIGHT before the winter solstice and Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope sets out on the drive to her rustic cottage in the Northumberland hills despite the falling snow and approaching blizzard. An enveloping gloom, lowering skies and poor visibility eventually persuade Vera to forget about driving home and turn her ageing Land Rover towards the small village of Kirkhill.
She comes across a car, set off the road, the driver’s door hanging open. Vera has to satisfy herself that no-one is hurt or in danger. She gets out, looks around. A quick ‘once over’ of the car reveals no sign of damage; nor is there any sign of the driver. During a final check Vera sees a small child huddled in the back seat. She transfers the child and his car seat into the Land Rover, leaves a business card on the dashboard, and drives on.
Lights ahead signalled warmth and sanctuary. It’s too soon to be Kirkhill, but Vera recognises the formidable entrance gates to Brockburn House, ancestral home of the Stanhope family. The cars in the driveway indicated a gathering of some sort, maybe an early Christmas do.
Many years had passed since Vera had last been at Brockburn House. It would have been with her late, frequently drunk father, Hector, on one of his cap-in-hand visits to the house he grew up in. Hector, as the family’s black sheep, was given short-shrift but, Vera remembered, aunt Harriet had treated her kindly.
Vera pounded on the heavy wooden front door with the force of a bailiff demanding entry. When Juliet Stanhope opened it she was unprepared for what confronted her. All she could see through the falling snow and gusting wind was a short, dumpy woman in a bucket hat, shapeless rain mac and Wellingtons; more a bag-lady than a person who would call at Brockburn House. Juliet soon recognised her cousin. Vera wanted a phone to call the police and she could certainly use a cup of tea. Juliet ushered Vera and the child, (no, not mine, pet), into the kitchen.
Between sips of hot tea and warm, freshly baked biscuits a more relaxed Vera rang the station and asked DC Holly Jackman to organise a search party for the missing driver, then, reading off the car’s registration, she wanted all the information Holly could quickly gather about the owner.
A little later when speaking to Constance Browne, owner of the abandoned vehicle, Vera learned the car was regularly borrowed by Lorna Falstone, and yes, Lorna had a small lad: Thomas. The kitchen door bursts open to reveal an agitated man, demanding the phone from Vera. He must ring the police. About a dead body. Outside, close to the house. And almost buried in the snow. Vera calmed the man, relishing his confusion as she told him she was the police, and instructed him to show her the body.
Returning to the kitchen, Vera rang Holly Jackman once more, this time to despatch DS Joe Ashworth, Crime Scene Manager Billy Cartwright and Pathologist Paul Keating, plus the required support staff, to Brockburn House for a full investigation.
The victim is Lorna Falstone, single mother and daughter of Jill and Robert Falstone, tenant farmers of the Stanhope family. To make significant progress in the investigation Vera must identify and speak to the father of young Thomas, a task proving to be difficult and frustrating for her team as Lorna had refused to reveal his name. There’s only so much the police can make of a murder investigation when the victim’s life is lacking so vital a detail.
Located during a search of Lorna’s council house is a series of melancholic paintings by Lorna of a bleak cottage ravaged by time, weather and neglect. Vera cannot immediately identify the cottage or its location, but feels it could be important in building a more complete biography of Lorna’s life.
The police recognise this is a local crime and potential suspects are likely to be from the estate and Brockburn House: the imperious Harriet Stanhope, Juliet and her husband Mark Bolitho, theatrical director/entrepreneur. The family’s tenant farmers, the Falstones and the Heslops and villagers of Kirkhill are all given a swift once over. Constance Browne may think she knows what is going on but, if so, is keeping silent. Opinion is divided on the retired Kirkhill primary school teacher, between those who regard Constance as a ‘do-er of good deeds’ while others consider her a crusty, interfering old busy body. Guests at Brockburn on the night of the murder are questioned but lacking either motive or means are quickly discarded as potential murder suspects.
With Christmas approaching, Vera allows Joe more time with his family and Holly assumes a greater role in the investigation than she otherwise would. DC Holly Jackman is revealed as a perceptive interrogator as she coaxes from taciturn villagers' information that clarify how and when certain events took place, providing the team with an accurate time line of events.
One further question, (only one?), is in need of an answer. There appears to be no logical reason for Lorna Falstone to set out for an unknown rendezvous in such wretched weather. And supposing the assignation was important to her, what reason could she have to leave Thomas alone in the car? OK, so that’s two questions. Perhaps whoever murdered Lorna will enlighten us on the events of that lamentable night when questioned by police.
The Darkest Evening is a compelling story of a brutal murder; a tale that flows at a steady pace to maintain interest, is well written and with credible characters. Equally pleasing is the contrast between the bleak hills and looming menace of the spruce forests around Brockburn, the foul weather, and the warmth of country kitchens where Vera seems so at home when conducting her interviews. I was sifting and adjusting my list of suspects as the story progressed, leaning first this way, then that, as suspects and clues came and went. I certainly didn’t predict the bitterness and danger of the unfolding dénouement any more than I ‘solved’ the crime. But then I so rarely get it right. Perhaps you will do better.
*The title ‘The Darkest Evening’ is taken from Robert Frost’s enigmatic poem, ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’.
Ann Cleeves returns with a brilliant Vera novel to savour.
Bonifacio Dental
Swaggy Bar Siargao
The Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) has suspended it's operations during Covid, so George has taken a break from advising visa applicants. The story below on virtual weddings and licences was suggested by George. He will be back. Thanks George for your valuable input.
COUPLES WHO planned to marry but were separated due to the virus and have had to put their weddings on hold, this maybe the answer.
In this technological age, with programs like Zoom and Skype it's a logical step.
I was granted a divorce over the phone by a judge in Australia, so why not tie  the knot online.
Not as romantic, but you can still get legally married, "online".
It is a legitimate marriage  and the licence and the ceremony is conducted from the Utah County in the USA.
Couples don't even have to be in the same country, you can be in Australia and your fiancé in the Philippines.
Firstly you need to APPLY ONLINE for a licence.
Utah County is in the State of Utah and is operating the only online marriage license portal in the world, the county’s clerk auditor just released information about performing marriage ceremonies via web conferences.
The county moved forward with plans to create a never-done-before marriage license portal that could be completely accomplished online with the goal of making the process more efficient and more cost effective.
By creating the portal, Utah County became the first in the world to have an end-to-end marriage license and certificate process.
It took county officials about eight months to launch the first phase of the online marriage license process before the completed program debuted in December.
In the first four days the county issued 257 marriage licenses and 150 of them were issued online.
Since the pandemic began in early March, the National Association of Counties and county clerks in other states, such as Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee have reached out with interest in the unique process.
There was never a need to innovate before because the traditional system worked, but now due to the pandemic there is an increasing need for the process to be based on public health and safety.
The officials conducting those ceremonies are all over the age of 60, and because of the risk to them of contracting coronavirus something had to be done for their protection.
Once social distancing recommendations have been lifted, the office is planning to re-evaluate the process and is considering continuing to offer online marriage ceremonies.
In the midst of the pandemic, several counties ceased issuing marriage licenses and have opted to link to the Utah County Clerk Auditor’s website, urging potential newly-weds to obtain their marriage licenses online in Utah County.
Complete your marriage license application online, verify your identity online, and pay online by credit card or debit card. The license fee is non-refundable and includes two certified copies (a paper copy and a digital copy).
Read the confirmation email containing the information about using your license and officiant worksheet.
Print off the copy of the officiant worksheet to give to the individual performing your ceremony.
Be sure your officiant follows the instructions in your email and on the worksheet for completing and submitting your license online to Utah County.
The current Marriage Licence Fee is made up of the following:
$40.00 - Utah County Marriage License Fee
Included - Two Certified Copies of Completed Marriage License (a paper copy and a digital copy)
$10.00 - Children's Defense Trust Fund-State Required Fee
$20.00 - Utah Marriage Commission-State Required Fee*
$10.00 - Victims of Domestic Violence Donation-Optional State Fee
$70.00 - Total Base Fee w/o Discount
$50.00 - Total Base Fee with Discount*
$80.00 - Total Fee w/Donation w/o Discount
$60.00 - Total Fee w/Donation and Discount*
*This fee can be waived by completing pre-marital education or counselling. To learn how to get the discount, visit
If one applicant is not able to appear in person at the office and the couple is unable to apply for a license using the online system, then the couple is welcome to schedule a virtual office visit. Both applicants can appear before a clerk over a video conference and complete their application. The clerk will complete their application, verify their identity, and take their payment. Schedule a virtual office.
Make an appointment LINK
Upload the required documents.
Both applicants must appear before the clerk for the appointment.
The fee for the ceremony is $US35 an takes approximately 30 minutes.
On the page there is a button to make an appointment. or CLICK HERE
All certificates of completed marriages issued and certified by Utah County have gone through all three of these steps. The couple has legally applied for and been issued a marriage licence, a valid wedding ceremony within the state has taken place, and the marriage has been registered with the county. Any couple with certified copy of their marriage certificate has been legally married according to Utah law and the laws of the United States.
Australian law requires that consent be given by both parties in person. In some countries, however, marriage by proxy is permitted.
In such instances officers should satisfy themselves that:The law of the country where the marriage was solemnized (that is, where the marriage celebrant authorised the marriage) permits consent to be given by proxy and the marriage was solemnized in accordance with that law where both parties gave real consent to the marriage.
If all the above requirements are met, the marriage may be recognised for the purpose for Australia Visa.
Marriage is an inviolable social contract and institution where a man and a woman enter into a permanent union governed by law to establish a conjugal and family life. Its consequences and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation except for the property relations between husband and wife in the marriage settlement.
The essential elements of marriage are the following: the contracting parties must be male and female with the legal capacity to enter into marriage and their consent must be given freely in the presence of the solemnizing officer.
Formal Requisites: Authority of the solemnizing officer: Valid marriage license.
The marriage ceremony must take place with both parties before the solemnizing officer and at least two witnesses of legal age where they (the parties) give their personal declaration to take each other as husband and wife
Marriage by proxy is not allowed in the Philippines; but such marriages ARE RECOGNISED here if valid in the countries where they're performed.
Contact an immigration attorney before you embark on any Proxy Marriage journey. A proxy marriage may add to proof of a bona fide relationship.
So if you make the commitment and follow through the Swagman wishes you all the luck in the world and a happy life, together.
Disclaimer: All information in this article is for education purposes only and The Swagman is not a qualified marriage or visa consultant and all information is presented on that basis.
Top Filipino Wedding Traditions.
A beautiful wedding, full of culture.
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Angeles Classified Link
A SELECTION of latest news stories out of the Philippines.
The Sun Star Pampanga and Punto are the newspapers that carry local content for Angeles City.
3 charged, 9 at-large over Christine Dacera rape-slay
January 5, 2021: The Philippine National Police (PNP) said three men have been arrested and charged over the rape-slay of flight attendant Christine Angelica Dacera in a hotel in Makati City. Nine others were considered at-large, the PNP said in a statement issued late Monday night, January 4, 2021. READ MORE
Fireworks injuries in Central Luzon 87% lower
December 30, 2020: The Department of Health (DOH) Central Luzon Center for Health Development on Monday, December 28, 2020, disclosed a sharp decrease in fireworks and firecracker injuries in Central Luzon. READ MORE
Holiday sting in AC nets P5.4-M shabu, 3 suspects
December 29, 2020: ANGELES CITY – Police seized P5.4-million worth of shabu and arrested three suspected “notorious” drug peddlers in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Ninoy Aquino here Saturday evening. READ MORE
Cop killed in broad daylight
December 18, 2020: CABANATUAN CITY – A young police officer was gunned down by an unidentified gunman along a section of the busy Maharlika Highway in Sanitan West here at about 9:30 a.m. Thursday. READ MORE
New Year casualty: Stray bullet kills 12-year-old girl in Lanao del Norte

January 1, 2021: MANILA, Philippines – A stray bullet claimed the life of a 12-year-old girl during the New Year celebration in Lanao del Norte, the Philippine National Police said Friday. READ MORE
Justice sought for 9 slain in Panay raids
January 1, 2021: Members of progressive groups on Thursday condemned the Rizal Day killings of nine members of an indigenous community that is opposed to a dam project on Panay Island and demanded justice for the victims of what they called a “massacre.” READ MORE
Greeting New Year minus the big bang
December 31, 2020: To welcome the new year amid the Metro Manila-wide ban on firecrackers, try banging pot lids, shaking piggy banks or just plain old clapping and stomping, an environment and health group urged on Wednesday. READ MORE
NBI to probe unlawful entry, use of Sinopharm vaccine
December 31, 2020: MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said he had ordered an investigation into the use of a locally unregistered vaccine to inoculate presidential guards for COVID-19 as it might have violated several laws, contrary to administration officials’ claims that it was not unlawful. READ MORE
Several senators seek probe into spate of unlawful killings in Philippines
December 18, 2020: MANILA, Philippines – Several senators are pushing for a Senate investigation into the spate of unlawful killings in the country, following the slaying of a doctor and her husband in Negros Oriental.
Cop shoots dead a mother and her son in Tarlac
December 21, 2020: MANILA, Philippines – A police officer assigned at the Parañaque City shot dead his two neighbors, a mother and her son, in Paniqui, Tarlac. READ MORE  VIDEO (Warning: Some people may find it distressing)
Sinas cautions cops: Just don't shoot anybody
January 4, 2021: The Philippine National Police (PNP) warned its uniformed personnel against immediately using their service firearms especially in running after criminal suspects following the incident in Pampanga when a cop shot dead a civilian who was mistaken to be a robbery suspect. READ MORE
Policewoman in trouble for indiscriminate firing during New Year’s Eve
January 1, 2021: The Philippine National Police (PNP) reported Friday that the New Year celebration was generally peaceful in the country except for at least two cases of indiscriminate firing of firearms where one police officer was involved. 
16 firecracker-related injuries logged by DoH
December 31, 2020: The Department of Health (DoH) logged 16 firecracker-related injuries as of New Year’s Eve despite the government ban on firecrackers. READ MORE
Duterte tells United States: No vaccine, no Visiting Forces Agreement
December 27, 2020: President Duterte warned the United States that he will proceed with the abrogation of their Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) if it fails to produce 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the Philippines. READ MORE
Department of Foreign Affairs urges Filipino travelers to postpone trips
December 31, 2020: It is better to postpone your trips to the Philippines until January 15 or after the end of the travel restrictions to avoid personal hassle and not to incur additional expenses. READ MORE 

Whatever happened to: Quarantine violators in Philippine government
December 31, 2020: MANILA, Philippines – To put it plainly, not much, really. (So far, at least.). So-called investigations ended up going the opposite direction, in fact. One got a promotion. The other apologized and moved on. Excuses were made. READ MORE 
Slain OFW's employer gets death sentence in Kuwait
December 31, 2020: MANILA, Philippines – Kuwait's criminal court has sentenced to death the employer of Filipina overseas worker Jeanelyn Villavende who was tortured for days and killed in December last year, foreign affairs officials said Wednesday. READ MORE 
Coronavirus: How the pandemic could play out in 2021
December 31, 2021: Vaccines for COVID-19 are now being rolled out, but in some parts of the world, this good news has been tempered by the emergence of new, potentially more infectious strains of the virus. Exactly how the pandemic will evolve has become more uncertain. READ MORE 

Hilton opens 308-room hotel in Clark Freeport amid pandemic
December 30, 2020: Hilton, one of the fastest-growing hospitality companies in the world, announced Wednesday the opening of the 308-room Hilton Clark Sun Valley Resort in Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone, Pampanga. READ MORE 

Department of Transport: Philippine National Railways Clark rail project on track to be operational
December 31, 2020: The Department of Transportation said Thursday the Philippine National Railways Clark Phase 1 is on track to be operational by December this year. It said PNR Clark Phase 1, or the Tutuban-Malolos line, had a 40.48-percent completion rate as of end-2020 and was scheduled to be partially operational by December 2021. READ MORE

Duterte slams ICC refusal to drop case
President Rodrigo Duterte questioned the persistence of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to pursue the complaints against his administration in connection with his campaign against illegal drugs. READ MORE

COVID-19 pandemic: Latest situation in the Philippines
January 1, 2021: How many people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Philippines? How many have recovered, and how many have died? What is President Rodrigo Duterte doing about it? What should the public expect in terms of the economy and vaccine development? READ MORE
Please report broken links to
Positively Filipino Link
Happier Abroad Link
Link to what's happening in Phillie website
Christian Filipina
IF YOU are looking for up-to-date, interesting Youtube videos of Angeles City then PhillyinthePhilippines is just the ticket, Highly recommended. CLICK FOR CHANNEL
Philly in the Philippines, takes his last look at Walking Street. Will he be back in 2021?
HERE IS a FREE downloadable PDF brochure that may come in handy if ever faced with a Earthquake. The brochure gives advice on what to do BEFORE, DURING and AFTER! Just click the graphic to download. Please share the link with others. THERE ARE OTHER BROCHURES IN THE "BE PREPARED" SWAGGY SERIES VOLCANOS AND TYPHOONS.
Swaggy recommends these facebook links in Angeles City, from Classified Ads pages to Government information. By joining the groups you can reach 1000s of people in Angeles City. 
FACEBOOK GROUPS (Usually need to join)
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MOONS BAR: Diamond Subd. 33 year old Sports Bar Walk in / Walk out Long term lease. FB Messenger Tez Molloy Text 0906 322 6923 To arrange meet up.
BUNNY BURGER Phone: +63 (0)929 745 2334 - +63 (0)927 533 7443 For Details.  
GENTLEMEN'S CLUB: 4 Sale call 0977 388 2762
PRINCESS BAR: 4 sale Don Juico (Next to Amats Diner) Ph 0906 950 9526.
HEIDE'S (formerly Wobbly Boot) SEE DETAILS
For more information on any of these bars  or properties please contact the
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WHO'S YOUR DADDY? The Swagman's experience on obtaining Citizenship by Descent for his children and obtaining DNA test when requested by the Australian Department of Home Affairs
MARTIAL ARTS IN THE PHILIPPINES If there is one area of expertise The Swagman has it's martial arts. A 7th Dan Judoka, who spent over 50 years training, coaching and competing at the highest level before he began his wandering. What Martial Arts are practiced in the Philippines, and where to find the clubs and teachers in Angeles City.
FOR THE BUCKET LIST: CLARK The Swagman explores Clark, and whether it is a place to settle down.
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