Monday, November 29, 2010

The Bodyguard and the Hitman

Remember this movie? However the rest of this post is not fiction. 
Several years ago I went on a business trip to the Philippines.  It was part of a International Development Program we were involved in and I was lucky enough to spend 3 1/2 weeks there.   While it is an absolutely beautiful country with wonderful people, there is an element of danger.  There are parts of the country that have alot of rebel activity etc. 

As part of the agreement, we were provided with 24/7 bodyguards in the form of Philippine National Police Officers.  Myself and another co-worker were provided with 3 (heavily armed) guards and they stuck to us like glue.  Perhaps I was a bit naive, but I believed it when they told me that this was just a formality and wasn't really necessary.  It wasn't until well into the trip that I began to suspect that these guys were probably a major blessing.

One morning I woke up early and discovered an old mattress outside my door.  Apparently they slept outside our doors each night and removed the "evidence" before I got up.  I asked about it later that day and they didn't want me to know because I might worry.  (Duh!)  They were very handy in the form of pest control however.  Me, being a girly girl, was fairly traumatized by the lizards.  These were not the cute little geckos we are familiar with - there were some big-ass lizards around. 

My primary guard was Johnny and he was so sweet and good to me.  To the point of checking the public bathroom stalls for lizards.  (Yes - this was often necessary)    One particularly funny incident happened one evening as he walked me to my hotel room.  I closed the door, put down my purse, looked up and there it was ........ a giant lizard on the wall just inches away from my head.  (OK maybe not exactly giant - but still a lizard!)  Without thinking I let out a huge scream.   The next thing I know, my door is swinging open and Johnny is flying in with his hand on his gun!!!!   All I can do is tremble and point to the wall..... Here he thinks I am being murdered and all he sees is a lizard - which is as common to him as house flies to us.  He did kill it and then he mocked me mercilessly.  And of course the story spread to the other bodyguards.

While the country and people were generally wonderful, it is still a much different society and system than we are accustomed to.  Corruption and violence are sadly a common occurrence.  Today we received a news report from one of our contacts that on Sunday Johnny was the target of a Rebel Army hitman.  While attending an outdoor event he was shot and killed. 

It is one thing to read or watch news reports of this type of thing, but it is quite disturbing to actually know someone that is involved.   While we often complain about our governments and policies, we truly do not know how lucky we are to live where we do.


  1. Oh gosh Kim, I am so sorry to hear about Johnny.
    That is so sad. Yes, it is always shocking when you know someone like that. It was a wonderful story and I am so glad you shared it. I will say a prayer for his family. I know the people I have met from the there have been the most polite sweet people ever.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow, Kim, what a story. I'm sorry that Johnny was killed. I had no idea how dangerous the country could be. One of my very close friend is from the Philippine and another lady from our church is from there too but they never mentioned how dangerous it was over there. I must mention this to my friend the next time I see her.

    I wouldn't be too fond of big lizards either. Having your own body guard is pretty cool though. Thanks for sharing. JB

  3. Oh, for pete's sake ~ I had to correct a mistake so I will comment anew!! I am so sorry for your news about Johnny ~ I'll also say a prayer for him and his family. Hopefully, you never have to go here again ~ I didn't realize either that is was so dangerous there. And thanks for sharing your story ~

  4. Kim what an interesting story. But the ending is so sad. I was not prepared for it. I am so sorry that Johnny had to die in such a horrible way.
    You my dear are one brave woman because as much as I have had to do some crazy things for the sheriffs dept there is no way would I travel to the Phillipines body guard or no. hahaha
    Thank goodness for Johnny saving you from those giant Lizards. I too would of been the same. I hate the ones we have here much less giant ones. lol

  5. Hi Kim,
    That is a great story but how sad the ending! It sounds like the Lizards were probably the last ones you should have been frightened of! The violence in the world including here in our country is certainly disturbing. A prayer goes out to Johnny's family and all those who are affected by the rising crime in the world. May there come a time when we can travel to other countries safely and live in peace and harmony with all nationalities of people. Thank-you for sharing your story!
    Cathy G

  6. I am so sorry to hear about one more senseless death. We forget that we get to grumble or protest about our government with out worrying about being killed or inprisioned. Lucky you; you got to see the other side. As for me that is why I sit in NH and count my blessing.

  7. Kim what a great opportunity you had. Not crazy about big lizard myself so I probably would have been screaming also.
    So sorry to hear about Johnny tho.
    We are blessed to feel safe in our own neighborhoods.

  8. Kim ~
    I loved your story until the end :( How fortunate we are to live in countries, while not perfect, that are so much safer than many others.
    Prayers for Johnny's family.
    Hugs :)

  9. I want a bodyguard to search for spiders...
    All jokes aside, we are so blessed to live in countries where we can feel a sense of peace.