Philippine Island Times Adventures of an American expat in the Philippines

May 22, 2009

New Home Starts

Filed under: siquijor — Donald @ 12:45 pm

When I returned from Cebu I found that my landlady had begun construction on a cottage in my backyard. No more view to the sea. Having a beachfront place to rent out has always been her dream, though, so I was happy for her. I was less happy to hear that she had financed it at 3.5% per month and was planning to cut down the biggest tree in her yard for lumber.

While having my coffee the next morning I heard the workers pass by. Seemed a little odd that they were starting before 4:00 a.m. with only the moonlight to see by, but then I remembered them digging in the hot sun the previous afternoon and I thought I understood. I didn’t. My landlady later explained that “there is a traditional way to build a house.” The workers had come before sunrise to place in the new excavation some hair, a few old coins, and blood. The hollow blocks they build with around here literally crumble in your hands, so maybe it’s not a bad idea.

The Great Leap Forward

Filed under: General — Donald @ 12:39 pm

I’ve spent way too much time over the past few months figuring out the nuts and bolts of living here. One big issue is transportation. Tricycles are available at the road in front of my house, but the wait can be over an hour and they only run during daytime. My landlady rents me her motorcycle for fifty cents an hour, but it’s not always available, and riding on an island with lots of dogs and no good hospital is a risky proposition. It’s unusual for a month to pass without hearing of a motorcyclist being killed on Siquijor. Finally I went to Cebu and forked over big money ($3500) for a little truck.

These things are made by Suzuki, the motorcycle company, for the Japanese home market. Once they get too old to pass emissions tests there they are chopped up and sold. Filipinos buy the parts and put them back together in great numbers. It’s a 4×4 with high- and low-range gear ratios and a locking differential. The engine has only three cylinders and a tiny 660cc displacement, but after giving it a workout, I’d bet that with the right tires this truck would climb a tree. (One of my tires is mounted backwards, by the way. Not a country where you can expect perfection.) A couple of removable benches under the canopy will seat four Kanos or six Filipinos.

No nook or cranny of Siquijor is safe from my advances.

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