Sunday, July 27, 2008

Random Thoughts

A few weeks ago we went to a championship basketball game. All is normal, but the guys play on a half-court instead of a full. Our team won. Woo-hoo!

We finally set up our grill. We shipped it here from the states when we first moved. One thing we did not consider was the size of the LPG tank. On the right side of the grill, there is a cabinet that the tank should fit into. The sizes here are different from the states, and therefore we have to have our tank outside. All of the ones here are too tall to fit!

We threw our first party here. Great thing about having a covered lanai is we have lots of places for the caterers to put tables. Everybody told me to lock up my good knives because the caterers would steal them, so I did. I still have all my knives.

We finally set up the furniture in our cabana......

...which turned into a nice drinking spot for my father-in-law and his friends. (Note, although I brought out wine glasses, they are drinking wine out of shot glasses.)

No party is complete without an uncle chopping the lechon.

Or a picture of the pig head (I have no idea who stuck the fruit there or why).

On other random notes:

-S&R now sells tampons!!!!!!!!!! This is the best news. I was so excited when I saw the boxes on the shelf. Tampons are impossible to find here. Seriously.

-We got a trainer for our Rott. This guy is the Caesar Milan of the Philippines. He makes my dog behave like never before.

-Our other dog (actually of mother-in-laws) is in heat and has her stupid period. Gross. I have to make sure there is always her blanket under her. People! FIX YOUR PETS. My mother-in-law refuses to get this dog fixed so until it ends, I am on blanket patrol.

-I am addicted to Five Cows (an ice cream place here) ice cream cake that is blueberry cheesecake. The blueberries are a little sour which balances out the sweetness of the cheesecake ice cream perfectly.

-Our new next door neighbor is a psychiatrist. I asked, and he told me there are approximately 500 psychiatrists in the entire Philippines. 80,000,000+ people and 500 psychiatrists does not sound sufficient.... I actually read on a message board for expats that the reason there is so little focus on mental health is because Filipinos do not get depressed. Yeah. Right. It has nothing to do with the fact that if one is having trouble putting food on the table or putting the kids in school, your depression or anything else is not likely to be a high priority.

-Hospitals here often have people selling cashews either inside the hall or outside. Best thing about going with my mother-in-law to the doctor is eating garlic cashews while waiting. My favorite seller is on the second floor or the Medical Arts building at Cardinal Santos.

-This is the coolest thing I have heard in a while (post dated July 27). As most of my family & friends know, the family planning situation here really upsets me.

-A few people here (many of them Fil-ams) when talking to me about the upcoming US elections, have asked me (when hearing I support Obama) if I am worried that when he is elected, "the blacks will take over." For real, what am I supposed to do with that statement?? There are so many bases to cover. I just don't know where to begin. Take over what? Who are these "blacks that might take over"? If there was more equality, wouldn't this be a good thing? If there were more people of color getting high government jobs, wouldn't this be a good thing? I just don't get it. And then there are the people (same people who pose the taking over query) that ask me if I am worried because he is a Muslim. 1) I really don't care the president's religion. I am still waiting for an agnostic president. 2) He is not Muslim. 3) If he was, who cares??? Final note on all this, as we can see by the current situation here is the Philippines (see above), a president does not necessarily support the groups they are a part of. If so, I do not think Arroyo would be figuratively fucking the women of her country.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Way Too Busy.....

So, if blogging was a job, I would be fired. I suck. Life has been psychotically busy. We had three apartments in San Francisco coincidentally vacant at the same time. I posted one on Craiglist and received 379 emails from people interested. Not only did I have to respond to the emails but I was trying to do so in a way that they would not be receiving my response at 3am. Bonus was all three units are now rented with only one open house. Gotta love the tight rental market in SF.

We have done more shopping for the house. I am still getting used to where to shop as prices for the exact same item can vary HUGELY from store to store. Items here that are bizarrely expensive include sheets, ziplock bags, mop & glow, furniture polish, and Tupperware type containers. Items that are surprisingly inexpensive are tiki torches, native material place mats, dishes, baskets with lids, and glasses. We also bought a random serving platter for P150. It is branded the Cellar for Macy's. Gotta love the export overruns/rejects. We bought most of our dish items at a place next to Suki Market in QC (about 20 minutes from our house). I still wish there was a Target here so I could stock up on cleaning supplies and wall clocks.

I am closer to grocery stores that sell items I usually eat now. Bizarrely, I can no longer find refried beans at any of the stores (which used to be a fairly easy item to find) which bums me out. Mexican food is not popular here. Even the Taco Bell (the most McDonalized version of Mexican food in the world) near our house closed down after one year. I miss Mexican food (which is a staple in San Francisco). I made enchiladas a couple of weeks ago. Since I have not been able to find soft corn tortillas, I made them with flour tortillas (which are pretty easy to find here). Randomly, I can easily find Enchilada sauce at Unimart (grocery store here).

I made tacos the other night for some of the kids that were over at the house and it was cute how they had never eaten them before. The younger ones were not eating at first and it was because they were nervous about how to put them together. All loved the tacos though.

Random side note, I was slicing olives for a taco topping (I know, a little odd) and while I was slicing, I would occasionally eat an olive out of the can. The kids (ranging from elementary to college) were appalled. They had never seen black olives before. They were really grossed out. At that point, I realized had someone never eaten an olive before, it would look disgusting. It is a black slimy thing that comes in a can filled with briny water. I have been eating them since I was a little kid (we used to stick one on each finger and eat them off). More olives for me!

I still have no clue where my camera is. I also, disturbingly, lost my makeup bag. I do not want to buy makeup here (insanely expensive compared to US, even for cheap drugstore brand) and I do not relish having to buy it all in the states and shipping it here. I am hoping it will turn up.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Finally Moved

So we finally have moved into our new home (hence the lack of new posts). It has been absolutely crazy--dealing with cable, phone, and internet installation (Bayantel, which is our DSL company, installed a party line which means every time my neighbor gets a call, the internet drops), appliance/furniture delivery, and training the house staff. Everything with the actual house, however, is awesome. I don't have any pictures because I am not sure where I stashed my camera.

There was a fatty typhoon that came through Manila a couple of weeks ago and our house was fine--no hidden leaks or anything so that was great! We lost our electricity for the day and although we did buy a generator, instead of turning it on we headed over to Tondo where they still had lights (but tons and tons of floods).

We went ahead and hired a boy for the house (in actuality, we received a call from my in-laws telling us they had brought a boy here from Bicol for us). Nice kid. Only speaks Bicol and a little Tagalog so he gives me a lot of odd looks when I talk to him. Training him is a pain in the ass and best left to Ado. I get the feeling he did not do a lot of housework/gardening back home. This is his first job and also his first time in Manila so everything is a learning experience for him. Ado keeps buying him underpants. I am not sure why. It sucks that a 16 year-old kid is here in a weird city with weird people (me and Ado) so he can send money to his family back home.

Life otherwise in Manila is the same. I went to Greenhills to do shopping and rented a wheelchair for my mother-in-law. When I returned it, the lady tried to charge me P500 for a two hour rental. I told her to give me a receipt then and the price changed to P100. Ugh. I hate having to constantly deal with things like this. Usually I notice because they get too greedy. Had she said P200, I would not have tripped, but P500 in crazy. For all I know, the real price is P20 an hour. Whatever. Such is life for a funky foreigner here.

We got a new puppy. Prior to going on our last trip to the states, a friend mentioned that her dog had just given birth and did we want a puppy. I told her, "yes" and then promptly forgot about it until we got back and she brought us an 8 week-old puppy. Dachshund. I named him Oscar (I know; not very original). He looks sweet (as seen above with the neighborhood manicurist) but he is the devil. He does not like ANY of the dog toys we bought and prefers to eat shoes, curtains, hanging clothes, etc. We have left him in Tondo for now until we are home more at the new house so we can watch him and discourage him from chewing up everything we just bought. Love, love, love the new puppy.