Friday, August 31, 2007


Today is August 31. We went to SM San Lazaro today (SM is a huge brand of malls & department stores) to hit up their 50% off sale. We came home with some bowls (randomly branded for JC Penny...yeah I am a classy babe but for P100 ~$2 for five ceramic cereal bowls who cares), some books, yummy Gonuts donuts, and Christmas music. In the states, everybody is having their last picnic of the summer and here they are playing Christmas music. Now as much as I love Christmas, this is waaaay too early for me. I am not even remotely in the mood for Christmas. I am hoping it is just this mall, otherwise I will try to avoid all shopping until mid-November.

Ugh! Christmas music is August! I won't even get into the Christmas tree that was also on display...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Singapore: The Antithesis of Manila

I just got back from a week in Singapore. Singapore was awesome. It was fantastic to get away from traffic and pollution. Greatest thing about Singapore was the walking. In Manila, I never walk anywhere. There are no sidewalks and the air quality leaves much to be desired. It was a fantastic change to just get out and be able to walk everywhere.

Singapore was also a lot more green than I had expected. I was picturing a concrete jungle and instead there was greenery all around. Trees, parks, you name it. We did every touristy thing known to man: Sentosa Island, Clark Quay, shopping at a slew of malls, Holland Village, the Merlion (this lion/mermaid statue that spits water).

The best attraction for me was the zoo. The zoo was unbelievable. We went to both the regular daytime zoo as well as the night safari and both were brilliant. I have never been to such a fantastic zoo. The animals actually seemed very well cared for.

There is also some great art all over. Cool statues and such. Just a really enjoyable city.

I cannot figure out how this city can be so organized and Manila be so disorganized. It is only when I leave Manila that I really see how good it could be. I loved never having traffic and being able to rely on a clean, user-friendly MRT. I loved that there were trashcans everywhere and you could actually get rid of your garbage (in Manila I often have to carry cigarette butts with me....I often have trouble finding a trashcan even right outside of a mall). I loved that when the light was green for pedestrians you could actually walk without having to fear a car would take you down. Don't get me wrong, I love Manila but I just think the potential to improve is huge and I actually cannot figure out why it hasn't already.

That's Some Monkey.....

I have never seen such an anatomically correct statue of a monkey. This is from the Singapore Zoo which is by far the most amazing zoo I have ever been to.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


In a little less than four hours I will be flying over to Singapore to spend a week there with two friends from college. I am looking forward to: (1) the food--everybody tells me it is very clean, (2) the shopping, and (3) SEEING MY FRIENDS! One who lives in Singapore I haven't seen since she moved back there a couple of years ago so I am really, really excited to see her. I am not looking forward to: (1) cigarettes--apparently they cost about $8USD per pack. I know, I know, I need to quit.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Family Planning in the Philippines

Today the Philippine Inquirer published an article by Jaileen Jimeno (viewable here and here) that really opened my eyes to the reality of family planning in the Philippines. Up until now, I thought the lack of family planning was due to 1) lack of education and 2) lack of resources. It was not until I read this article that I realized the direct interference of the government to purposely block access to birth control.

For anybody, anywhere, to think that natural family planning is a solution is an idiot at best. For a top educated president like Arroyo to claim to believe this is asinine. When my grandma and I were talking about this subject when I visited SF earlier this year she told me, "Do you know what they call people who practice natural family planning? Parents."

Some of the stats in the article stunned me. 6 out of every 10 women have an unplanned pregnancy! That shocked me. I knew it was high but I never imagined it was that high. I can't tell you the number or family members/neighbors in our area that have multiple kids before the age of 25. My biggest issue is the fact that women are having more children than they want. If someone wants to have 15 kids, so be it. I am not part of the don't have kids if you can't afford it camp. My issue stems from women who want two or three and end up with six. The infrastructure cannot keep up with the population. It is all just very, very frustrating.

Nobody it seems is focusing on what happens to the kids once they are born. There is an orphanage in the area that we go by and visit every few weeks. There are usually about 50 kids there, many with disabilities and many siblings. If people want all these kids to be born, why are they not taking care of them.

Coming from a city where condoms were available free in high school and my pediatrician told me to call her immediately if I ever had unprotected sex (I was 13--not even close to having sex) to get an emergency high dose of birth control (old school morning after pill) I am stunned to now live in a place where sex education is not even taught in schools. I really fear for the future of the women here. Something has to change but I don't know if it will be soon enough.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Well the rain finally came and man did it come! It has been raining straight for about two days. This is great because we are in drought situation here (water levels in the reservoirs way below what they should be). The bad news is EVERYTHING is flooded. We meant to go to Cubao yesterday to buy some tools and couldn't make it that far. Everything, everything was flooded. This did make us rethink our plans for the Prius.

Ever since our trip to the states (where we drove a Prius most of the time) we thought about bringing one here for our main car. We checked with Toyota in Quezon City and were informed they would not be sold here until early 2008. We cannot have one here (imported or otherwise) until they are sold here because there is no point in having a car that nobody knows how to fix. Looking at all the floods yesterday, we realized that a huge gas guzzling truck will be a necessity here during the rainy season. The floods in Manila and Makati can easily get above the knees with no problem. The Prius would not handle that very well at all.

I think we will spend the better part of the day at home. We wanted to hit a sale in Bulacan (up north) but after talking to a friend found out the city is flooded and not passable. Perhaps tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

House Update

Our house is coming along nicely! This week we started to have the pool in the back dug which is great and we are starting to think more about landscaping. Before this whole experience, I never realized what went into building a home. There are so many things to think about that never even crossed my mind before. Even minor items such as placement of electrical outlets and phone jacks are things I had never really though about before.

The roof insulation and tresses have all gone on and we should have the roof tiles up in the next week or two. I cannot watch that process happen. Seeing the guys walk around up there freaks me out too much! I was told they get the tiles up there by tossing them up.

Electrical rough-ins have been installed in most of the rooms and the aircon rough-in will be next week as well. We are now looking at an October/November turnover. Most of the walls are concreted over so you no longer see sets of CHB stacked up, they just look more like solid walls. In additions, the floors have been evened out and are starting to be prepped to lay the floor.

I am loving the brickwork that has been started and this will continue to the inside as well as the back lanai.
We are starting now what I consider the "fun" part. The selection of cabinets, tiles, bathroom fixtures, etc is the part I am looking forward to. My one concern is the inside of the house seems dark....hopefully once the walls are painted and all the scaffolding is removed this will change.

The entire process of construction is just different than anything I have seen. For example, when the workers arrive in the morning, they change out of their closed toed shoes (often sneakers) and pants and work the day in shorts and slippers. No boots. No gloves. Definitely no hard hats. There is a lunch break (signaled on our crew by a bell) and everybody goes and eats. Then everybody finds a place in the shade to nap. They bell dings again and they all go back to work. This is repeated once (sans sleep) in the afternoon. We are bringing them lunch today. Man, these guys can eat! When you walk around the site, there is the laundry of the guys hanging on clotheslines all over the site. These guys work their ASSES off. This is hard work and the weather lately has been muggy and hot with very little rain.