On the return journey from Bohol, I had a brief stopover in Manila, where I was able to catch up with friend and fellow photographer Gunther Deichmann.
It was a perfect opportunity to talk about the future of photography, the meaning of life and other thought-provoking subjects while we shared a drink or two (or perhaps more accurately, several pitchers plus a few bottles...or was that several bottles plus a few pitchers?).
Before hooking up with Gunther, I read this note in my hotel room:
To our valued guests:
There are occasions when the hotel receives calls from individuals trying to connect to our guestrooms. These prank callers identify themselves as members of "Abu Sayyaf" and that they are working with hotel employees. Their objective is to scare hotel guests into giving them money.
We wish to assure you that the management has taken steps to ensure protection to our guests.
In case you receive any of these calls please advice the reception at local 7 or Security at local 222 immediately.
1. Do not give your room number and name to anyone you do not know outside the hotel.
2. Do not answer calls from people you do not know.
I probably should've been concerned, but actually, I laughed it off and forgot about the note. My desire to take a shower and change into clean clothes was more pressing.
But...shortly thereafter, my phone rang. The operator indicated that I had a call from "Mr. Desmond".
All of the sudden, the content of the cautionary note became relevant, since I don't know any "Mr. Desmond" in Manila. I told the hotel phone operator that I did not know a Mr. Desmond, and hung up.
Back to my shower.
Shortly thereafter, the phone rang again.
This time, the operator said: "Mr. Wu, you have a call from Mr. Junta."
My first reaction was: "Gee these would-be extortionists are certainly persistent."
I was just about to hang up again when the proverbial light bulb went off in my head.
Junta. Desmond. Junta. Desmond. Junta. Desmond.
Aha! Gunther Deichmann.
I took the call, and sure enough, it was a somewhat puzzled Gunther wondering why I'd refused his earlier call.
Simple. The hotel operator had misheard/ mispronounced Gunther's name, and as a result, I thought he wanted to extort money from me.
Of course, I didn't say that to him, but when I showed Gunther and a few other friends this photo later that evening, we all had a good laugh.