eBookfrom Amazon: “Hey Joe” – Poems and Stories from the Peace Corps
Paperback from Amazon:
Paperback from CreateSpace:
Paperbackfrom Barnes&Noble:

Read review by P. David Searles on PeaceCorpsWorldwide.

Get something to drink, take a nice comfy seat and settle down for the trip of your life. You’ve never experienced anything like this – Culture Shock! “Hey Joe” was a greeting of affection Filipinos had for Americans – and still do.

Have you ever lived in another country for any length of time? I spent two years on the remote island of Romblon in the Philippines as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1968-1970. It is amazing what a difference it makes to actually live in a different culture than to simply visit as a tourist.

   upon the beach
gaze out upon the blue tableau
      waving back at you
      lapping at your feet
      sinking in the sand
         between your toes


Join me for my first day in Romblon with images, people, sounds and odors overwhelming me. See me dine on unimaginable things – especially in the poem “Love Potion”. Learn how I earned my nickname “Puti Iboy”.

Relax in the “Garden Beyond My Window”

Hibiscus blossoms scented
   flowers flood the trellis
      old orchids are in bloom
Cacophany of colors
   shapes and mingled odors
      extract me from my room

Remember the Greek cynic philosopher Diogenes who walked in daylight with a lantern looking for an honest man and never found him? Well I did. He carried my bags off a boat outside a slum in Manila – read “The Tip”.

Experience my bewilderment as I witness the stone-age tribe in my poem “People on the Rock”

Stark dark naked bodies shining
   people on the rock
Gazing skyward can’t believe you
   people on the rock
Do you see us as we see you
   people on the rock

It was the era of the Vietnam War – Woodstock – the first man landing on the moon. Everything I took as a given was challenged. My pre-conceived ideas of life, community, family and friendship were turned inside out, shaken apart, dismantled and reassembled. I was advantaged and was going to live with those who were less so. First hand in the “third world” was going to be a shocker.

This is a collection of poems and stories about my experience. You will be learning some of the local dialect along with me as you read.

So come larga (sail) with me on a banca (outrigger canoe) across the Sibuyan Sea to the malayo (remote) isla (island) of Romblon in the Philippines. Take your siya (chair) at the lamisa (table) as my new panimalay (family) and I enjoy our panyaga (lunch) of kanon (cooked rice), isda (fish), utanon (vegetables), fried saging (banana) and tubig (water). Meet my host Nana Lola. Lakat (walk) down the dalan (street) with me as I join my migas (friends) Manny, Louie and Popeye to drink tuba (fermented coconut milk).

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed living it.

If you would like to learn more about the US Peace Corps, here is their official website:
And here is a website of returned volunteers:

Here are some photos from Romblon/

Home (2012_11_18 12_19_01 UTC)
My balay (house)
Romblon, Philippines

Church (2012_11_18 12_19_01 UTC)
St. Joseph’s Iglesya and Rizal Statue

Festival1 (2012_11_18 12_19_01 UTC)
Boats in the harbor at the “Binirary” festival

Festival2 (2012_11_21 04_04_53 UTC)
Revelers at the “Binirary” festival

MyStreet (2012_11_22 14_57_51 UTC)
View of Manuel Roxas street from my home.
The vehicle is one of the motorcycle sidecar “taxis”

Rooftops2 (2012_11_28 10_57_38 UTC)
View of Romblon from the atup (roof) of my boarding house


4 Responses to Memoirs

  1. Hey Joe, Mabuhay Bob,
    I just finished reading your book and it brought me back to my Peace Corps Philippine experiences. I’ve been writing my memoir of my experiences in Baguio (1967-1969). I enjoyed your verse about culture shock as it seemed to express that experience better than any prose I’ve read. You can find me at: (older blog) and


  2. Brian says:

    I’ve got to read your experiences. Had something similar when I studied in Salzburg, Austria,
    many years ago. It’s amazing, with your being two years older than me, so many common events have occurred in our lives.


    • lenxbob says:

      Hey Brian,

      Yes, I think you would probably enjoy reading “Hey Joe” about my years in the Peace Corps. It was quite an experience. Sounds as your time in Salzburg might be similar.

      So you are considering moving near the Sarasota area? It is a real nice place to live. Lots of things to see an do.



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