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Hi everyone!
I've been here since the begining, and just realized I haven't introduced myself here. My name is Joe Hartwick (not the movie producer) and was born in northwest NJ when there were still farms around. I now live in the Pocono mountains of PA. Born 1956, married 1996 and have a beautiful step daughter 17 years old. I've worked on horse farms, dairy farms, factory work, went to school to study architecture and didn't finish, worked part time for 2 years at a Deere/Gravely dealership, ran my own lawn maintenance business for 6 years, and currently have been designing machinery for the same company for 18 years. I own 3 Deere tractors, a couple of cats, a house and an acre of lawn and fruit trees. I also maintain my mom's place of 1 1/2 acres in suburban NJ. My mom and dad split early, so mom got the task of teaching 2 boys about tools, baseball, and girls. She did the best she could. My dad got 2 daughters from his second try at marriage, he is currently looking for wife #5.

I've been to 28 states, Japan, Guam, Canada and the Philippines and met my loving wife in the Philippines where I finally got married. And since we get by on such a tight budget, my mantra is "If it's free, it's for me!"
 

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Joe
Interesting story thanks for sharing. Since you didn't mention it, I figured I'd ask, what does "bontai" mean?
 

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I'm not 100% sure if it is Tagalog or another dialect, but in the Philippines, it means guard or sentinel. I guess at 6'-3" and 310 pounds, I looked like I could guard anything (except the doughnuts):D :homereat: Most folks there are 12" shorter and 200 pounds lighter.
 

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:lmao: That explains it!!:lmao: Thanks Joe, nice to get a little history to go with the name. Sounds like you've led an interesting life. :thumbsup:
 

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Wow, Live and Learn…

And all this time, I just thought you were only a really nice guy
who goes out of his way to help anyone who is fortunate enough
to know you. Seems like who people really are always makes its
way through, one way or another. Thanks for sharing the background
with us Joe, but we have known who you are for a while now.
You’re one of the good ones.
 

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Hey Joe, when I was in the Philippines in the late 70's early 80's when I was in the Air Force active duty everybody everybody also call me bontai because at 6'6" tall and 296 pounds i tended to fighten the average Filipina and Filpino. I spent 5 years in that wonderful country. When I arrived there they were still under Marshall Law from the Marco's adminstration. I never used it after I got back from the P.I. because I had learned the language fluetly enough other names came into play. Kula (Uncle) Michael is commonly used on me more because of my wonderful step-daughter and step-son. I have always enjoyed the visits to the P.I. ever since. My wife and were married in 1976 and are still going strong after 28 years of marriage. Hope that you are happy with your Pinoy.
 

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aegt5k you are right.. without knowing about joe, i knew he was a good guy.. good historical info joe.. i'd say welcome... but ive probably been communicating with you via this and other forums for a few years now.. so ill just say hi..
do you guys go back to the Philippines very often? you're thinking about retiring there right?
 

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I was making a lot of trips after we first got married, to get the paperwork done so my step daughter could come to the US. That took 4 years and an unbelievable amount of money and patience. My last trip was in Nov. 2000. I'm still paying for it. I hope to go with the family next year. My in-laws live in Benguet Province in northern Luzon, no Moslem terrorists there, just head hunters in the neighboring province, but they don't do that anymore... or so I'm told. It is a very poor farming village with a few cows, and rice fields, and fruit trees. Wonderful people that have always treated me well. I like the remoteness of the place. It takes 2 hours to travel the 22 miles from Bagio City by Jeep and once you come to the end of the road, you walk across a small suspension bridge (wide enough and strong enough for a Deere 316, I checked) there is a kilometer hike to the village. No traffic, no major outside influence, just a few hunderd happy people that work hard, sing and dance at any opertunity, and dozens of kids playing or studying in the local school. My step daughter came from a school with a total of less than 100 students in all grades and went to school here with over 6000 students and once she aquired decent English in about 6 months, made honor roll for most of the last 3 years. It certainly has been an adventure! And we have several friends here in PA with Filipina wives and during get togethers, the food is great, and we all have a good time.
 

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I would like to see some pictures of that Joe. Maybe you will be able to share with us some sometime. By the time you retire and move down there maybe they will have cable and Roadrunner access. :tractorsm
 

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Bontai,

Sounds very interesting. Where were you in Japan and when?

Seems like a really great place to retire...the nice slow life.

Congrats on your daughter's success. Sounds like she is really doing well. College soon?

Greg
 

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I was in Japan in Osaka, for a very short visit, I think it was 1999. Gosh darn expensive place! I didn't care for it much, but I'm not real comfortable in any city. Much nicer where there are trees and grass.
 

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Well my wife and I have been back to Philippines 6 times in the last 21 years, the last time 2 years ago. My wife is Calasaio Pangasinan. It is sort of on the way to Baguio City. I was staioned at Clark AB when I was in the Air Force. We always had a nice trip back except getting out of Manila International airport and the working with the U.S. Embassy was always a hassle. More then once I had to contact my U.S. Senator (Thanks to Chuck Grassley from Iowa) Who always has been good to servicemen.
When My wife and I go back now we are always been treated really nice in the smaller rice communities. Most Filpinos really respect Americans and are more curious about us then anything else.
 

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The bus from Manila drives right by Clark Airbase on my way to Baguio, so I know where that is. I always found the little kids that may have never seen an American up close in their lives are the most curious, esprcially about my blue eyes and full beard. My wife is Ibaloi, part of the Igorot tribes in the mountains. Her village is so remote that they just got electricity in 1995. The only phones are cell phones, and you have to go to higher ground for them to work. They get 2 TV stations and still listen to dramas on the radio. It is a lot like going back in time to about 1950. It is a shame the country is so poor and so poorly run. They could be an economic power like Korea, but the political corruption just sucks the economy dry. But the cost of living is so cheap, my meager pension will allow me a pretty nice lifestyle when I retire (I hope).
 

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My wife is a quarter Chinese and the rest Filipina. True what you said about corruption in the country. It is so sad about the problems the country has but it is still an interesting country. I do not nor can I grow a full beard but when my step kids were young they were really wondering about my blue eyes also. After our son Chris was born He looked like a typical Amerasian except he got my blue eyes. So jet black hair, brown skin and the eyes. The girls were after him from about 14 years old and on.
 

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Joe,

I was in Fukuoka (Kyushu Island) in '99. Was there from mid '97 to end '99 then back to Seattle.

Lived in Osaka from '72 to end '79. My wife is from Toyonaka, a suburb of Osaka.

I know what you mean about the country. I lived with a family in Sakaiminato on the Sea of Japan side between '70 and '72. Went pheasant hunting in the mountains and skin diving in the Sea. Toilet was 3 - 4 outhouses on the corner. Took the family's youngest son on my shoulders to the public bath a block away. Beautiful country side.

Greg
 

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Folks the world over have always treated me nice as I respect the customs of the host country I am in. When I was on flying status in the Air Force the only country I was not comfortable was North Vietnam. I was selected for mission to recover remains from the war. We received 3 sets of remains from Vietnam. It was really respectable be very nerve racking until we were out of Vietnamese air space. When we arrived back at Clark we had placed the remains from the wood boxes we received and placed the boxes in Coffins before arrival. When we landed we then transfered the remains in a ceremony to Mortuary affairs. We were greeted at that time by Vice-President Bush, I just wish I could find the pictures to scan but I think they were lost in a fire at our home in San Antonio in 1983.
 
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