AFTER a lifelong search for home, American author and journalist David Haldane wrote Nazis and Nudists, a book inspired by a romance that started in the Philippines.
Longing for wide stretches of white sand beaches and lechon—the popular roast suckling pig—Haldane comes back to the Philippines from the United States to break ground for his new home in the village of Caridad, Surigao Del Norte. Together with his Filipina wife Ivy, and their five-year-old son Isaac, the family will be in the country until the 28th, to retrace and retell the epic journey that bridged the enormous gap between their ages and cultures.
“The real theme of the book is finding a place to call home which people define in various ways. Some people define it as an actual, physical place. Some people define it as a feeling of peace or connectedness. For me, that place is in the Philippines and in a specific spot which is Surigao. What I realized while writing the book was that this ‘search’ is really a lifelong search that most people pursue at some point, even if they don’t realize that they’re doing it, and for many years. I didn’t realize that I was looking for something. Years later, I looked back and realized that I was looking for home, which ended up here in the Philippines,” said David.
When he was 57, he flew to the Philippines to personally meet 24-year-old Ivy after constantly conversing with her through the internet which sparked an extraordinary love affair. David opened his book with a scene describing him and his wife, who was then his girlfriend, stranded in a small boat off Bucas Grande.
“We were a mile off the coast of a remote Philippine island,” the first line reads, “when I realized that the boat was sinking.”
“What really inspired the book was when I wrote a first person essay for Orange Coast Magazine in California about three years ago and was all about how we [David and Ivy] met. Nazis and Nudists was published and the response was astounding and a lot of it was very negative. There’s a big age difference between us and that stirred a lot of controversy,” David said.
“It just surprised me that people wrote a lot of letters just making assumptions about us without any idea of who we really were," David went on sharing how “the basic image seemed to be an old white guy who goes back and finds himself a young submissive beautiful Filipina woman to bring to America.”
“[People say that] all she wants is a green card, all I want is a pretty young thing to be on my arm. Anybody who knows us, knows that it couldn’t be any farther from the truth.”
Ivy is a microbiologist who works for a hospital in the U.S. According to David, “she makes more money already than I certainly did.”
“So that’s what inspired the book. I decided I wanted to tell them a story. And of course, one thing led to another and it expanded into my life story. So, that’s how our story started,” said David.
The Haldane couple explained that they will soon be moving in after the house in Caridad is done, and Isaac will be studying in the Philippines.
When asked why they wanted to settle in the Philippines, David answered: “From the moment I first came here, I felt a connection. There are some elements I love about this beautiful country, especially where Ivy comes from. I’ve always loved the islands and the ocean. I like the way of life. There’s that always calmness; it’s like a national characteristic and in the face of all elements to the contrary, everything will be fine. But of course, it’s not always fine. But it’s very wonderful to have that kind of attitude because freaking out and panicking doesn’t help, so I’m very attracted to that about the Philippine culture. I love that faith that everything will be okay and I would like to be more like that.”
“I love the fact that I have a lot of family here now, more than what I have at home and I always feel more alive in the Philippines because it’s a little less predictable here. Anything can happen here you’ll never know. Here, you get on a boat and it may sink, get lost, not leave or it may leave the next day—you just wont know. And though that’s scary for me, it’s humbling and it’s exciting.It makes me feel alive and I like that,” added David.
Until June 25, the e-book version will be available for free download on Amazon in its Kindle version in a promotion called Reading Deals. The paperback version will also be available on Amazon, but at its regular price.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 23, 2016.
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