Pluck a curious American out of his familiar surroundings and plunk him down in a rural farming barrio in a third world country. Give him a computer and a lot of free time. Immerse him in a bewildering culture, pummel him with a strange and unfamiliar language, befuddle him with intricate social rules, equip him with an unrestrained ironic wit, and turn him loose on the reading public with a book describing his slightly off-center view of the world. The result is “My Philippine Adventures: Hazy, Hot and Humorous,” an unrestrained tumble through the thickets of Philippine culture, an as-it-happened account of one man’s adjustment to, and eventual acceptance of, life in a tropical backwater that he only half jokingly refers to as Paradise.
Now comes the second installment. New in 2015, another lopsided view of a humble Philippine barrio in the northern boonies of the island of Luzon, as seen from the hammock of a transplanted American up to his ears in an alien culture. “Flip Flops and Girly Beer: Life in a Philippine Barrio” is a romp through the customs and superstitions, the dangers and the delights of life in rice country, on the banks of the Abulug River, far from the conveniences of the city.
“Does My Shirt Smell Funny?” is an ironic, slightly off-center, view of two radically different cultures (Maine and Philippines), presented as a series of vignettes, ninety percent humor and ten percent philosophy, with subjects as varied as how to trap a skunk, how to deal with bad karaoke, and the existential importance of peanut butter. (403 pages)