Monday, May 28, 2007

New House Add'l

I just looked at the picture of our house in progress that I posted and I just want to mention that, yes, we will be tearing down that ugly, ugly wall.

Grocery Sucess

Shopping for groceries can be a chore here. When making a dish, my shopping lists are often read, "If I find ingredient A, buy ingrediant B". There is no point in having four out of five items needed for a meal. I have started to buy items if I may need them in the next 2-3 months because some things show up once, never to be seen again. We often will hit a few stores in one day of shopping to try to get everything needed. Soft corn torillas are the latest item I cannot find anywhere.

Last week we went to Unimart in Greenhills and found: enchilada sauce (both green & red), peanut butter without sugar (difficult for me to find--I bought three jars), and local free range eggs. I consider this, VERY successful shopping.

We leave in two days for a vacation in the states and I am quite excited to go grocery shopping (Trader Joes especially). My food plans include: eating burritos from La Cumbre a few times a week, going to Izzy's Steakhouse, drinking as much milk as humanly possible, ordering Round Table Pizza (I realize this is not the pinnacle of fine dining but it is very much comfort food to me), eating pounds of strawberries & cherries, and living off of sourdough bread. I am going to gain so much weight!! I can't wait!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New House: Getting Closer

The house is coming along. The second floor had the slab poured a couple of weeks ago and walls are starting to go up on the second floor. The photos kinda stink because it is all just concrete hollow blocks and cement. I will be able to get better ones once the finishing starts. They are aiming to put the roof tresses up this week which will be good because rainy season is definitely just around the corner.

Some pipes for drainage have been installed. It is so different for me to see a house being built here of cement and plastic pipes versus the wood and copper/iron pipes of SF. Another difference here is the treatment of soil for termites. We have had a couple done so far. Apparently termites can become a major issue here.

Everyone's a Critic

One of our household staff was teaching her grandson to say my name. He couldn't do it (he is two years-old). She told him, "is Tita maganda (beautiful)?" He looked straight at me and said, "Dog."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More Dog Problems

The chiwawa mix is in heat. This is my first time seeing a dog in heat (most people I know have mutts that have been neutered/spayed) and it is not fun. She climbs into my lap and humps my arm. She bleed on a white dress I was wearing (this is actually how I learned she was in heat). She goes outside to the front yard and stands next to the rott so he can sniff/lick her. We are now keeping her away from the rott because if he tries to mount her, it will not be pretty.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Rottweiler

As we get ready for a month long trip to the states, I am getting concerned about my dog. He is just over one year old and a rottweiler.

Dogs in the Philippines are often treated a little differently than the states. Where many people in the states view a pet as an extra family member, a lot of people treat pets here as....pets. Many people keep their dogs in cages (something I had never seen before coming here and still have not fully gotten used to). This is not done to be mean, but people's houses are a lot smaller here and many people do not allow the dog in their house. Backyards are often nonexistent. Our current household has FIVE dogs. I treat my dog somewhere in the middle...he is not a member of the family but he is a beloved pet which means no cage and regular walks. Guess which one is not in a cage (well to be fair, the biting chiwawa is not in a cage either)? Herein lies the problem:

1. While we are gone, no one will walk him. He is only a year old and quite hyper. He needs walks. I talked to one of the household help and although he said he can walk the dog, short of me texting him everyday from the states means this won't happen. Nobody else wants to walk him because he is a rottweiler (with the disposition of a Labrador) and that alone makes people scared of him.

2. While we are gone, they will feed him crap food. I buy imported "natural" food and once I leave he will be on the Alpo with rice diet. It makes him stink.

3. He is not yet neutered. I wanted to wait until the one year mark (theory about letting the dog get to a certain stage in physical development). Do I neuter him in the week before we leave and hope he can heal in that time and won't have any complications or wait until we get back when he will be almost 14 months old?

See, I guess this is how you can tell I am an American. With all the problems in the world, I am spending time tripping about my dog.

Nothing to Do With Anything

Come on, watching cheese age? This is good stuff!! (Reminds me of mom watching the Yule Log late night on Christmas Eve).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Oreo Cookies......

I am not positive intellectual property exists here. I will ponder this while eating my Fibiso Hi-Ro.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Once we were off the Boat of Death, we arrived in Boracay. Just a short boat ride to a short van ride and we were there!! Boracay is absolutely stunning. It is second (in my book) only to Palwan in beauty. Just perfect--the sand is the consistency of flour, the water is so clear you can be neck deep and still see your toes. It is just gorgeous.We stayed at Cez Manor which was not beach front but less than a minute walk to the beach. We paid PHP2,500 (about $50) per night. We selected this place based on our large group (14 people) consisting namely of teenagers which meant that one of the rooms had six people (two parents, four sons). Hotels here do not seem to be very bothered by large groups of people in one room which was good for our friends paying two college tuitions at the time. The hotel....well, you get what you pay for. For $50, you get two beds, a shower with hot water (trust me, this is an amenity here, not standard at all), air con, and satellite television (PHP300 deposit if you want the remote). The only thing to note about the Philippines is if you are staying at a no-name hotel, there are things you may find that would never fly in the states (holes in sheets, pillows that smell like feet/mildew, mildew so thick in the bathroom you can scrape it off with your finger, bathroom sink that leaks heavily but the housekeeper will at least switch the trash can for you, holes in the door, no window anywhere in the room).

We spent a day island hopping and snorkeling which was absolutely fantastic. There were some great fish and just mass quantities of them. I did not take any pictures as I am tired of coming home from vacation with half of my camera filled with blurry pictures of fish that look nowhere near as cool as they did in real life. Just wonderful snorkeling. We stopped on a little island that was stunning, had some of the bluest water I had ever seen, and had a man with a machine gun. I sidled up to one of the boys and before I could open up my mouth, he said, "no, this is not normal and I do not know." We gave the gunman pizza rolls. I assume he was an un-uniformed security guard of some sort but who knows. He seemed to like the pizza rolls. Everything was great with out boat. One of the boat guys threw an empty Vienna sausage can in the water and Ado made him go dive down and get it. Lucky for him we were only in about 12 feet of water.

At night in Boracay, the beach turns into a multitude of restaurants serving every type of cuisine imaginable. We selected Mongolian BBQ which was PHP220 per person (~$4.50) for all you can eat (or here as they say, Eat All You Can). Good food. They had mushrooms which was a big plus, albeit mushrooms from a can. We brought a couple of bottles of wine (no corkage) and proceeded to stuff ourselves. On the beach they had set up low tables with pillows on bamboo benches. Just spectacular. A live band was playing right next door and for me it just about creates the perfect dinner in paradise.

The following day all the kids got henna tattoos (PHP100 or $2) and we spent the day rotting on the main beach. Perfect weather. Lunch was at the Mandarin Spa (wood fire pizza) and dinner was Greek at Cyma in D'Mall which I quite enjoyed. Fantastic food. We had a tomato/cucumber/feta salad, fried cheese, and lamb ribs. I don't eat a lot of lamb here so it was a nice treat.

We took Cebu Pacific home. We had never flew them before but it was a nice flight. Made it to Manila in 45 minutes. Much better than the cruddy boat (can you tell I am still disturbed by the boat ride??).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Boracay: Taking the Boat

This past weekend we went to Boracay with a group of friends/family. While we were planning, we got the brilliant idea to take the boat (MBRS Lines) down and the plane for the return. This, in hindsight, was not such a good idea.

The ship leaves Manila at 17:30 and reaches Boracay at 8:30 the next morning. Usually you can eat dinner, have a couple of drinks in the bar, and then go to sleep. Upon awaking, you are already in Boracay.

We have taken the boat to Boracay before in 2003. At that time, it was low season, meaning the boat was practically empty. This time, the boat was oversold. Apparently one of the owners was running for office and gave free passes to potential voters. There were people mashed into every corner you can imagine. To reach our cabin, you had to step over tons of sleeping people. As a result, the bathrooms all smelled like death (worst smell you can imagine), the aircon didn't work, and there were piles of garbage all over the ship.

The president of the boat line will be at our house on Sunday so we will talk to him then. For now, I will never, ever take MBRS Lines to Boracay. If you are so inspired to do so, is the website. Bring earplugs and a portable fan.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Demonic Rabbit

This scary rabbit is the face of the freeway (NLEX-North Luzon Expressway). I don't know why but he is very scary to me. His eyebrows look kind of sinister. Thank god we do not have cartoon animals by the toll plazas in the states.