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Lost and Found

By David Haldane

June 7, 2018

It felt like I’d taken a pill and suddenly realized that it was the wrong one. Instantaneously, panic erupted in me like vomit from my gut. “Oh my God,” I thought, “I’ve lost my bag.”

It was a balmy night in General Luna, and we’d come to see our lawyer. By then I’d grown accustomed to carrying the little grey bag slung neatly over my shoulder. In it was my wallet containing, among other things, a driver’s license, credit cards and small amount of cash. Losing all that, of course, would be a major problem. But that wasn’t the worst of it; in preparing for our meeting, I’d stuffed several important legal documents into a pocket of the bag.

“This is a calamity,” I told my wife, Ivy, “let’s retrace our steps!”

When that failed to turn up any clues, we stumbled numbly into the local police station to fill out a report. The truth was that I had no idea how or where I’d lost my bag. My best guess; that I’d stuffed it into one of the side panels of our car from which it had managed to escape through an open door.

Ah, but we were on Siargao Island to renew our wedding vows and I was determined to keep my cool. Anyone who’s ever misplaced a wallet, especially in a foreign country, can appreciate the sense of helplessness it engenders; you feel distressingly weightless, as if you’ll surely be blown away by the next gust of wind. But I was with my wife, who hailed from this island, and so managed to gulp the panic down. With cell and Internet signals so few and far between on Siargao, there was little we could do at this point anyway. So, I tried to forget about it and enjoy our stay.

The day after our wedding ceremony on the beach – and four days following my loss – we hired a pamboat to take twenty guests on an island-hopping tour. I had just clambered aboard at its berth in Dapa when an attractive young woman, apparently the skipper’s aide, smiled and asked my name. “Did you lose a bag, sir?” she inquired cheerfully, and it was as if the hand of God had broken through the clouds and grabbed me by the collar.

The upshot: someone had found the bag in General Luna and given it to his son, who was a fruit vendor there. The son, noting the name on the driver’s license, had placed a notice on Facebook that was seen by the boat owner who recognized the name as the same under which a deposit had been made on the rental of his boat. Or something like that…

Anyway, to make a long story short, Ivy and I rushed back to General Luna where, at a place called Jolan Fruits and Vegetables, I was finally reunited with my long-wandering bag. Much to my relief – and, I must sheepishly admit, surprise –everything was still intact, including the documents and cash.

We gave the guy a reward, of course, and promised to donate to his pet project, an environmental group called SEA Movement, which stands for Siargao Environmental Awareness Movement. For the record, you too can donate to this very worthy cause on its Facebook page at

So, what did I learn from all this? First that there are good people everywhere, even the remote islands of Third World countries rife with poverty. That fanny packs are generally safer than shoulder bags. And, finally, that the utterly astounding karma I’ve experienced in recent years related to everything involving the Philippines seems to be continuing. My conclusion: apparently God really does want me to move here.






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A former Los Angeles Times staff writer and winner of a 2018 Golden Mike in radio broadcast journalism, David Haldane fell in love with the Philippines on his first visit there in 2003. A few visits later, he also fell in love with the beautiful young Filipina to whom he is now married and, with whom, he has returned many times. David has written extensively about his experiences in the Philippines for several publications including Orange Coast and Islands Magazine. Today he and Ivy, along with their eight-year-old son, Isaac, divide their time between homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Surigao City, Philippines. His award-winning memoir, Nazis & Nudists, recounts, among other things, the courtship of Ivy and finding a place to call home. For David that turned out to be at the tip of a peninsula marking the gateway to Mindanao where he and Ivy are building their dream home next to a lighthouse overlooking the sea. This blog is the ongoing chronicle of that adventure.






  1. Jack says:

    Yes David I have had that experience on a few occasions, especially my drivers license and ACRI card, my goodness what a panic that starts, one time I reported it to the police and had to get an affidavit from a lawyer etc etc, they were missing for almost 3 weeks when they eventually turned up in my wife’s bag as we were preparing to go to Ozamis BOI to report the ACRI card missing, another time after 10 days I found them under the fold down seat in the back of the car, how they got there? God only knows. Another time we withdrew a sizable amount of cash from the bank, when we got home I asked my wife where her bag was, major PANIC stations, it was gone. Retraced our steps and found that she had used the CR in City Center hardware in Dipolog, we went to the customer relations desk and low and behold someone had found it in the CR and handed it in. All the money still intact, so I agree with you there are honest people still in this world. Regards

  2. Luke Tynan says:

    David, wonderful article. Happy that you were able to get the shoulder bag back.. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Raymond says:

    l was just wondering if any of the members share an interest in gold here.
    l have access to many sites.

  4. Stephen Talpas says:

    The people of Siargao are some of the friendliest I have met anywhere. Not surprised your bag was returned intact. Now if they could do something about the wifi service…

  5. John Reyes says:

    What is a fanny pack, David? I have this heavy duty but fashionable rust-colored Israeli paratrooper shoulder bag I carry with me whenever we go about town during Philippine vacations. It has lots of compartments, even bullet holders. It’s where I keep our passports, credit cards, cash, cell phones,, video camera, and wet wipes. But, I carry it slung across my chest for safety and quick access. The only time I remove this bag from my body is at the end of the day when we’re back in our hotel room. This way I never had to worry about leaving it somewhere inadvertently.

    Way back when you could buy a week’s worth of groceries for $20 for a family of three in Monterey, California, my young wife placed her purse containing all the cash we had until the following pay day on the roof of our car so that she could help load the groceries in.

    We drove off without missing her purse until we got home. Frantically, we drove back to the market the same way we came, hoping we’d find it lying on the road somewhere before someone else did. Unfortunately, we never saw the purse nor it’s contents again.

    • David Haldane says:

      Bummer, John. I once left my wallet on top of the car parked in front of my house, and found it several years later in the bushes where a thief had thrown it after emptying it of its cash. It was very weird, kind of like a time capsule. A fanny pack is one of those little bags with a belt that clips around your waist. Most people wear to the front or side. Rather unstylish, but very practical…

  6. Jay Alexander says:

    My lost and found stories like many of you had happy endings. Those memories actually sustain me when I have had more recent occurrences. I don’t know how many times I will be so fortunate before the streak runs out…

    Once, I pulled my wallet out to find a couple of newer one dollar bills to feed the cart machine at SFO. The next cart in line was stubborn. I must have put my wallet on the machine to better grasp the unruly cart. I was only dropping In-Laws off that day, but I insisted on taking them to the gate (before 9-11). Much to my surprise, I heard my name announced over the PA, that I needed to report to Canada Airlines to retrieve my wallet! What the heck?! Contents intact!

    But the best one was a law enforcement Motorola radio… I was driving (rare back in that day) an M151 Jeep taking care of the troops going from post to post on CLARK AB, my first assignment. The Jeep had several mechanical problems, so at one point, in the dark, I pulled over to inspect the engine. I must have taken a radio transmission. Instead of returning the radio (fondly referred to as a brick) to its leather case on my belt, I placed it on the ledge of the engine compartment above the radiator. I closed and buttoned down the hood and continued on my way. Later that night, i noticed it had gotten very quiet and only wondered why. Duh, no radio transmissions to be heard. About that time, the Jeep started acting up again. I went through the same motions of lifting the hood and placing my hands on that same shelf to lean in for a closer inspection. BINGO, I discovered the source of the silence, my hand rested on my forgotten radio. I can still recall the intense feeling. Relief washed over me like a Guardian Angel kissed my cheek!