True Tales of a Traveller: Winter Break –

The twelth in the series, Winter Break is set mostly in the Philippines about a year after the deposal of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The People Power revolution that led to the end of the Marcos era and ushered in the new government of Corazon Aquino had been positively reported on throughout the free world, and just reading those news reports made me keen to visit the country and see life there first-hand. However, the years immediately after the People Power revolution were a time of soaring crime rates and political instability. A country that has never been regarded as a safe one for travellers, became a lot more dangerous. A weak government and a brutal communist insurgency which seemed at times ready to topple it, along with an undermanned police force and rampant corruption throughout law enforcement and the judiciary provided the perfect backdrop for criminals – and even people who no criminal history – to settle old scores with inpunity. In an era which makes Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous post-2016 campaign against drug dealers seem uncomfortably familiar, murder without legal consequences became commonplace, and ‘hitmen’ proliferated, many of them foreigners. This story also provides insight into exactly how that happened. What was originally intended as a few weeks of winter sun and pleasant relaxation turned out to be turned out to be as far from that as can be imagined…