President Arroyo has been on CNN a lot, today.

I did some traveling on the Island of Luzon while I lived there and stumbled into Abu Sayyaf territory by mistake. I thought they were restricted to the Southern islands but it's not true. The Arabic-speaking communities in North Luzon have Abu Sayyaf and aren't safe. I was at a resort in Iba, Zambales and was inquiring about restaurants to go to [after dark] and the waitress asked, "Aren't you afraid of the Abu Sayyaf?" I replied, "No, should I be?" She quietly walked away. When we left the driver said that the Abu Sayyaf would stop vehicles they didn't know and steal your money - especially if American, but that we'd be safe with him. I wasn't too inspired. He stayed with us for dinner, dancing and karaoke and we had a pretty good time.

The next morning we decided to cut short our visit and go somewhere safer. This time the transportation company sent along a security guy with us as we'd be driving through some unsafe places. Wow. As we were driving away he began loading the .45 he brought. He spoke great English, was a newspaper reporter and a bodyguard [interesting combination], and had great stories to tell.

That was the only time I questioned my safety in the Philippines and I lived there for eight months. It was quite an experience.

~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~