Friday, March 30, 2007


Today is graduation for a lot of students here (last day of the school year for a lot of kids) and they are playing the graduation march on loudspeakers in my neighborhood. Occasionally I will hear a name. I am assuming it is from the school a couple of blocks away but I cannot for the life of me figure out why it is being broadcast on the speakers. If you knew a graduate, wouldn't you be there?

(By the way, this loudspeaker with the church happens a lot. On special holidays they will play the mass happening at the church all day. Since Holy Week is almost upon us, I know what I will be waking up to next week)

Monday, March 26, 2007


Here it is very common to see boys/teenagers/young men in headbands. I am not talking about the 80's style collect sweat from the forehead type, but the type schoolgirls wear. It is a weird phenomena made weirder by the fact that they actually look okay in them (better than one would think).


Okay, to be completely honest no one wears headbands like the little boy does but this is what I woke up to one morning and it amused me.


This past weekend we took a trip to Batangas. It is summer here and it is HOT (even for the Philippines) and we wanted to get out of the city for a weekend and head to the beach. Batangas is about a three hour drive south of Manila. The first night we stayed in Matabunkay, Batangas which apparently at one point in time was a nice beach. Now it is a nice mud flat so we headed out first thing Saturday morning to find a better beach in Nasugbu. One of the guys shilling stuff on the beach recommended the Costa de Oro resort so away we went.

Only catch with this resort is there is no road access so one must take a boat. No problem, boats are fun and I especially liked this one because it was called "4 Sisters" which I felt was a good sign. The resort was C L E A N!! New sheets, clean floors, and the pool was so clean you could practically drink out of it. Only complaint was shared bathroom but since we were the only guests it did not bother us at all. During full times, this could be an issue. Fronting the resort on the beach were nipa huts which were perfect for our late night drinking sessions and early morning breakfast. They also made some awesome french fries.

Great swimming and very good weather. Snorkeling was just so-so which was fine as we were mainly looking to just relax. All in all, a wonderful weekend escape.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


A lot (too much actually) of my focus with getting accustomed to living here has been the food. My in-laws get on me about not eating Filipino food. What I have tried to explain to them that it is not that I do not eat most Filipino food, I don't eat much of American cu sine either. I am a picky eater. I do not eat seafood (of any type), onions, mayonnaise, sweet potatoes, etc. I do not like fat on meat and have been know to cut the tiny pieces off chicken breasts before cooking them. I am living in an island nation which of course takes advantage of the fact that there is tons of gorgeous seafood right off the coast. This leaves me with few options for food or even grocery shopping for that matter.

Cheese is sold here namely in an aisle--non refrigerated. This is due to the fact that much of it is "cheese food". I have been going to Santis for my cheese fix. Love, love, love it. Cheese from Germany, Italy, France. In addition there are tons of cold cuts (prosciutto, dry salami), meats (lamb from Australia, all beef hot dogs), dried mushrooms (cannot live without porcini), heavy cream, etc. I love it. I am in heaven there.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Ostriches are scary animals.

Monday, March 19, 2007

So About the New House

Here is the deal with our new home. We are building in New Manila, Quezon City which is pretty central to everywhere we go. We are in a subdivision which are HUGE here. Way bigger deal than the gated communities in the states. Some are very swanky. Ours just means we pay PHP500 a month to have three or four security guards salute us when we pass through the gate.

We are building a two story home with an attic room. There are a total of four bedrooms (plus the attic which could be used as a guest room as there is a full bath). Lest this sound too big for two of us, one of the rooms is for my mother-in-law who will have a permanent room in our home. Secondly, if I have kids, they need space. Plus all my family is in the states and they need a place to stay or they won't come visit me (not entirely true--my youngest sister is planning a trip and she is down to stay anywhere). In addition, there are eight bathrooms (including maid & driver bathrooms). Yeah, too many. This is cut down from the psycho 11 we originally had. I have never lived in a house with more than one shower. I am very excited to see what showering is like without someone else in there at the same time brushing teeth/peeing/etc. Maybe I will be lonely.

The house is Mediterranean/Filipino. We wanted something that used classical architecture (many of the new homes here are very, very, very modern) with lots of windows, arches, balconies, and open space. The mission is to have a comfortable house with little to no use of aircon. We are installing ceiling fans in just about every room--as well as aircon. I am not too confident about our mission.

In the back we will have a pool--a small pool. 9m x 3m, although I think I will see how much wider we can make it while still leaving space to walk. I also am looking at local plants here as I want a garden. Not into the cement....looking at Vigan bricks, and terra cotta tiles with accents, etc. Very natural looking.

Oh yeah, found out they will rush to try to get it done by C H R I S T M A S. long still. At least it will give us time to save for the furniture because home loans are not very common here. We are paying cash and lets just say after this, we will not have a lot of cash.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

New House

Well, the house is coming along, albeit slowly. Or maybe quickly considering the only power tools are a cement mixer and a jackhammer we bought. They have put most of the posts in and some of the walls (that are I have no idea).

The wall looks a little wonky to me but I dunno. I guess this is normal here.

Dog Bites

Rabies is still a disease here that kills people. Wait...obviously rabies is fatal everywhere, however there is a higher rate of people getting rabies dying from it. In the house we currently have five dogs: chiwawa, two mini pinschers, a Dalmatian, and a rottweiler (all are mixed--no purebreds). All were here before we arrived last year with the exception of the rott. I have adopted the rottweiler and he will move with us when our house is completed. As a result, he got full vaccinations INCLUDING rabies at the appropriate puppy ages. In addition, we figured if any dog nipped, it would be the rott.

Forward to this past Monday. The chiwawa bit a 3-year old in the face.

We could not find her papers, therefore no idea when/if she had had rabies shots or boosters. As a result, the little girl had four shots that night, prescribed antibiotics, and will receive a shot every month for the next four months.

A rabies shot is maybe....PHP300? PHP500? Not much compared to not risking a little girls health and her shots will cost more in the end. Dog is now in a cage (don't even get me started on the practice of dogs in cages!!!!)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spandex Warrior II

Sorry for the fuzziness of the pictures....we were driving on C-3. The second photo is a mix of spandex warriors and normal bikers.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Spandex Warrior

Sky Cable

I have been trying to get service from Sky Cable shortly after moving here. The techs came out a few times, always telling me that there was no post near my house (long story why I kept having them come--there was a purpose though). I was finally told that they would never put a connection in my neighborhood because, "too many people will steal the service."

This afternoon when we are coming home, we saw some Sky technicians only three blocks away. We stopped and got one of the guys cell numbers. He told us that they have a new prepaid service (pre-paid is huge here as there is no real credit history. Case in point, I have a DSL connection in my name. I am not a resident or citizen of the Philippines.) and will be extending to our block in April. I am not holding my breath but am a lot more optimistic. The only cable company in our neighborhood is Destiny and the suck.......because everybody steals it and weakens the signal.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Milk is Back!!!

The one food item I miss the most here is milk. There is tons of milk--local caribou, Australian, etc but it is all psycho pasteurized (with the exception of the caribou milk). The milk here is fine for coffee or cooking but when used as a beverage, which is my absolute favorite drink, it tastes horrible to me.

As a result, I buy half gallons of Darigold Milk for PHP208 (about $4). It is imported from the states (Washington State), hence the extreme price. I can't get enough of it, although I drink it rarely due to the cost. Sadly, last month none of the local stores here had it. I went to Rustan's, Makati Market, Robinsons, Unimart, and S&R and found nothing. Today we went to S&R and the milk was back in stock. It is a little sad how excited I was. I was starting to assume that since there was no milk, it was no longer being imported which would have made sense. Milk is perishable and I am sure there is not much demand for an expensive version of it here. Plus, I have to take a sip while I am in the store as I have bought a spoiled one in the past. This means I have to drive home holding it between my legs.

It just bums me out when I remember my wonderful Strauss organic milk from the states. A nice glass bottle, cream on the I am ecstatic with hormone filled goodness.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Gingerbread House

When I went home for the graduation, I had the brilliant idea to buy one of those pre-made gingerbread houses from Costco to make with the kids here for Christmas. I just uploaded the pictures. The house made it all of about 30 minutes before it fell apart....I have since found a recipe for the frosting that is adjusted to last through our humidity. I gotta say, I think the kids did an awesome job.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

House is Coming Along!!!

Compared to before, we are coming along. I am in love with the neighborhood. Our village (subdivisions are huge here) is very quiet and the neighbors we have met are great. There are tons of trees and nice streets. We are two minutes to a very busy street with the wet market, drugstore, 7-11, every fast food know to man (is it sad that I am excited about the Taco Bell?), and St Lukes Hospital which is apparently the place to be if you get sick or injured.

About five minutes away is a street with tons and tons of restaurants. Everything from a food stand to a nice sit-down place with linen and fancy waiters. You could probably eat at a different restaurant every night for a good six months and not hit the same one twice. We are 15-30 minutes drive (depending on traffic) to two huge malls (Greenhills and Gateway) and S&R (Philippines answer to Costco. I love it.). A good friend of ours from the states lives five minutes away.

We have two architects, one for the rough-in and one for the finishing. The one for the rough-in is an old family architect that leaves much to be desired. She is slow, her quotes are way, way, way, way off and we can't get a straight answer about anything.

Our finisher on the other hand is awesome. Although she is a million times more expensive, she was upfront about her costs and all of her projects have taken our breath away. She is finishing the house in a Mediterranean/Filipino style that we both love. Looks very classic and old which is what we like.

We have decided that since our architect (rough in) sucks so much we are shopping for our own materials as we (new to Manila) can find better prices than them. I am so not impressed. Perfect example is the driveway. All we need is it left in a raw form. They want us to pay PHP30,000 (about $600) to lay the cement. I told them today not to touch it. For $600 I can have it laid as well as have it finished (i.e., brick detail, etc). Mind you, this $600 they quoted does not include the materials. This is a driveway that is maybe three meters long. Tops. What can you do?