Quote

“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Friday, December 24, 2010

Banana

The messy banana tree
Everyone knows the banana. Every supermarket in the world sells banana's. Nothing special. But ...

Not everyone recognizes the tree, so here it is.

As you can see it is not a nice tree and to be honest it is basically not a tree.

The stem is like an onion, it has a lot of soft layers, which can be peeled off. The big leaves look very messy, but are very useful for all kind of purposes in the kitchen as to pack food for cooking or to use as a table sheet.

Jack fruit


Since I have now a bit more time to give attention to other topics then posts in Lolo's House B(uilding) LOG , I intend to report with brief blogs on local animals and plants that I encounter here. Also because we intend to plant fruit trees in our new garden soon.

This time I want to show you Jack fruit. This tree is growing in our garden for probably three years, grown from some seeds.

Each piece can weigh up to more than 30 kilo. It is the largest tree borne fruit in the world.

It looks like a durian, which I saw first time in Indonesia, but unless the durian, the jack fruit is not so irritating smelly. It seems the two are not related.

What amazes me in the garden - well it is not really a garden, but just a few meters between the house and the fence - that we have three such trees in a row, but only one bares fruit, the others not. May be it has to do with the fact that the fruit baring tree is next to the sink of the pump and gets most of the water.

This is an interesting tree for us to put in the garden as the tree grows fast, gives a lot of shadow and the fruit looks nice and can be used for all kind of desserts and even as a kind of vegetable.


Theft

Christmas party with our renewed team of workers and guards
Two weeks ago some people reported to me that one, but probably more, of the workers are steeling materials from us, while pretending to work. It was the group around the steel-man. This group is responsible for cutting, bending and fixing the reinforcing steel bars for the foundation columns and beams. Be aware that steel is a valuable material and when cut in pieces, it is easy to bring home a few kilo per day. So that is what the cutter did, in stead of working for us, cutting for himself.

After reporting to and consulting with the building company from whom I hire the workers, the people were immediately removed from the construction area, and punishment arranged by the company.

A team of 5 new workers were added the next day. A few days since it was quite silent, the workers were really impressed and I believe that it was an important message to all workers.

Last week I was again confronted by, this time potential, theft. In the middle of the night (2 am) I was called by the guard that 4 men were seen around our property with a clear intention to try to steel materials or worse. So we rushed to the site by car, with a lot of noise. We didn't see them, of course they were flown already. We decided to sleep there as well for the rest of the night.

A measure taken since last week is that we have now 2 extra guards, in total 5, such that at all times (nights) we have 3 guards on the site.

When we had our Christmas party yesterday, I got several comments saying that I am a good boss. Mind you they have a lot of freedom, within limits, now and then we organize a party and salaries are above the free market price.

So for the group of thieves this will not be a happy Christmas, but for the rest of the team it will be and they may expect a good New Year as I will hire them at least for some more months.


Merry Christmas 2010

Christmas lights flashing around the bahay kubo
Of course I wish all people who read my blog a Merry Christmas, but this blog is also especially for my family, back in The Netherlands.

Unfortunately I cannot join the celebration with you as I am still waiting for my permanent visa. As long as the procedure is not completed I am not allowed to leave the country.

On the other hand it seems to be very cold now as well as a lot of snow in The Netherlands, and you know I don't like it.

I am just recovering from an illness with high fever (39 degrees), but feel much better already after I consulted a doctor yesterday and took my prescribed drugs (augmentin 1g, twice a day).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Deep well pump


December 4 we started with installing the deep well pump installation. December 10 the job was done, however we found some problems that have still to be rectified. This will be done as of December 14.

The guy I hired for a project price - actually his team of 5 to 6 workers did the job- did it before in my in-laws house 5 years ago.

It started with drilling the hole and installing the deep well pipe. In our case 9 x 20 feet = 180 feet or 54 meters. Note that it is all done by manual force, using a drilling installation, a manual pump, some water and a lot of patience.

With this depth you get very clean potable water in this area. That seems the reason that we have here a production facility from Coca Cola and San Miguel Brewery.

It took them three days to drill the hole and install the pipe (2 inch, schedule 40, 54 feet).

The location of the pipe is next to the outbuilding (workshop/utility room).

Outbuilding

Ready for fitting windows and doors
In previous blogs I wrote about our garage, workshop, utility room and storage. It is basically an outbuilding with several functions: a workshop and utility room and will later be extended to include a shelter for 1 or 2 cars, so a kind of garage/carport and perhaps a shower/toilet for the swimming pool.

The reason that I built it now, is that I wanted to have a storage room where we can store all materials and machines that we use for building our house.

The workshop (6x6 meters) can be used for storing materials safely (for rain and typhoon) and locked secure against robbery during the building period.

The utility room (6x3 meters) will be used for the deep well pump and water tank, generator, pumps/valves and filter for the swimming pool, and drink-water filter if required.

It seems that it is very uncommon in the Philippines to build something like this before you build your house. Everyone here thinks I am crazy. May be I am, but I am very happy that I built it.

It is almost finished. The temporary roof (from coco lumber and cheap aluminum sheet) is completed now. Some say that it is spilling money, but I don't see it like that. I will reuse or resell the roof materials later and put a roof made of steel trusses and same roofing material/color as we will use for the house.

Anecdote:
From here-say via one of my workers - who is living in our hamlet (barangay) - I learned that the people here believed that we would build a 2-storey house and are surprised to see a 1-storey building and strangely connected to the fence in the back yard.
What they believed was a house is our outbuilding!!!
What still has to be done is the flooring and windows and doors.

The flooring will be done together with the flooring of our house (next week). The windows and doors will be done after the gate is done (target before New Year), so target is mid of January.

As the storage/workshop will be ready in the course of January, it can and will be used as well to temporally store our household stuff that I will send from the Netherlands, probably end of January or early February. The storage room is 72 cubic meters and the container is 60 cubic meters, so it should fit.

Find below a short history in picture format.


Digging for the back-side fence has started

Back-side fence almost completed

The building will be attached to the fence



The building will have 2 compartments and will have 11 columns ...

... of which 4 are shared with the fence, and ...

... 2 windows and 2 doors



On top of the walss of hollow-blocks a concrete beam will be made


View from the fish-pond outside the fence















LK

Friday, December 10, 2010

Foundation

Today is a remarkable day again. We finished more or less the foundation of our house. That means we completed:
  • all digging work
  • all steel bending work for the columns and foundation beams
  • all concrete for the column foundations and foundation of the beams was poured to the soil
  • all foundation beams are filled with concrete
  • all foundation walls (hollow blocks) are erected
  • all gutter pipes are installed
  • the steel works for a final beam on top of all walls to join later with the floor
  • the wall beams are filled with concrete
  • the columns are filled with concrete until 1st floor level
  • all spaces between the walls are filled with fine (beach) sand until floor level, about 232 cubic meters of sand (still going on)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pay day


Every Saturday is pay-day, but we have basically two pay days:

  • Wednesday a cash advance of 500 peso is payed to all workers
  • Saturday the remainder sum of the salary is payed
The salary is based on pre-defined daily rates for helpers and skilled workers.

I administer every day who is present, so at the end of the week (Friday evening) I calculate for each individual the remaining salary and  write the results on a little brown payment bag. for each individual. Up to now that is 22 bags every week. Then I fill the bags with the money. To be able to do this I went to the bank already early morning to get the required small notes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fence (3)

The front of our property,
bordering with the barangay road

This is a picture show of the building of the front fence, as part of phase 1 of the fence building. Phase 2 has started already and I will report about it in a next blog early next year.

Period: 28 October to 1 December, so 4+ weeks.




Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kick-off House building


The big event is today, Saturday November 27.

We added the first concrete to the soil, after digging foundation trenches and holes, pumping ground- and rain-water and bending the 16 MM reinforcing steel-bars for the columns on which the house will be built.

Such an event in the Philippines is accompanied with several rituals.

First of all a cross is installed on the building and construction area. The purpose is to get rid of the bad spirits, so that later on it is a safe place to live and save for the construction workers as well.

We started with 10 people more than a month ago (mid October), added 10-12 more to speed-up the fence building and will now downgrade again the team to 12+ people next week.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Electric connection

Left of the large Decorp post is our post with the insulators mounted.
The Decorp post is in our property.
As part of the fence in front of the property, along the barangay road, we extended the outermost column near to the post of Decorp (Dagupan Electric Corporation), used for low voltage single phase (230V) and high voltage 3-phase electricity distribution in our barangay.

To start the procedure for a connection, we had to fill-up forms in the city hall, get permission from the fire brigade and bring the papers to the Decorp office in Dagupan. And for each step in the process a fee is required, sometimes under the table to speed-up the procedure.

The column is 6 meters high and used to mount the required insulators and metering house for connection of our property to the public network of Decorp.

Everything was prepared and on Monday November 8, our electrician came to install everything required as described by the Decorp inspector a week earlier.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fence (2)

The front almost finished, and on level, only the columns to be done
It's now 5 weeks after we started the fence. It's almost done and more.

The front is completed in terms of basic construction and height. The columns are on level, the walls with hollow blocks as well. We had some discussions whether it wasn't too high, but decided that this is what it should be, to have maximum privacy. It means that from the road you have no direct view into the garden - except thru the gate.



However the house will be visible of course as it will be two storey's high, and also because the ground level of the house will be beyond garden level, as an elevated building.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dog for dinner

As they do with pigs, they clean the skin with a gaz burner.
For those who are still doubting that they eat dog in the Philippines, I want to show you what I saw last week.

One of our neighbors was preparing a dog they had killed and will be served later the same day at a party.


My wife was asked to try to taste the dog, which she did, and it seems to taste like a goat.

As we have here so many dogs, barking every evening/night, one more or less will not make a big difference.







Water

The typhoon is over, the flood is still there.
Looking back at the last few weeks of our building project, I learned that WATER is our friend and enemy.

Because the former rice land level is quite low, about 50 cm beneath road level, and after the heavy rains of the last weeks and the flood from the hopefully last typhoon of this year, the land is sucked with water and it still is flowing in certain areas, especially near to the fish pond. 


Happily there is more rice land which is even lower, so the water is flowing in that direction. I made drain outlets in the fence to the lower side, so in case we have a flood again within the perimeter of our lot, the water will be drained towards the neighboring lower land.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fence (1)

Digging the trench, hollow blocks (6") are stacked up already
I titled this blog "Fence (1)" as there will be one or more updates as we are progressing with the fence.

We started 10 days ago, Monday 18 October.

Starting means getting the workers on board, ordering the materials and tools, building a small shelter or shed for the cement bags. My wife and brother in law already made a deal with a local supplier for delivering all materials for interesting prices. We would start with 8 workers, they work 6 days a week.


Another activity was to do the measuring as to find out where to put the fence and digging the slot/ditch. We had already measured and layed out on the lot where the house will be built, the sticks and plastic yellow ribbon tape were still there.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Owner (Jeep) sold

The new owner of the owner (jeep)
Today, more or less unexpectedly, my owner was sold.

We were discussing already for months whether to keep or sell our owner (jeep or jeepney), as we are not using it quite often and the technical status is not as it was before and should be. The LTO licence of 2009 was expiring this month as well.

A few month ago there was an interested buyer from San Carlos, but he finally he decided to not accept our latest asking price. A few weeks ago suddenly the owner of the property we were buying was interested and we had several negotiations and offered our lowest price, which was finally rejected again.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Super Typhoon Juan (Megi)

This is left of the shed, the cement is saved already
Typhoon Juan (international name Megi), would be my first typhoon experience in the Philippines, as last year's (super) typhoon Pepeng I just missed with 1 day.

It was a disaster for us, as we were in the middle of building up our new site and fence. The small shed built by the workers to hide for the sun when taking a break and to bend the reinforcing steel would not last and the cement bags would be destroyed by the water, if we didn't take last minute measures. The financial damage is not very serious, but the mental damage and delays are there of course.

Luckily we had just moved our bahay kubo from the fish pond to the building site and put it on the highest point. Some people were sleeping in the bahay kubo, since we started a week ago, and they took the first measures when the typhoon has its landfall during the night. There was no damage at the bahay kubo. other than that the water reached finally until the floor.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rice-cutting and Back-filling

Rice cutting machine of my brother in law
The last few days we spent our time preparing the lot for delivery of building materials, like gravel, sand, hollow-blocks.

As the previous owner had planted some rice - to be honest it was more grass than rice - it had to be removed or harvested - destroying food is a sin in the Philippines - as far as possible with a motorized rice-cutter and by hand of course.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hospital privacy


Early this week my family was on a trip to Manila for US visa. The same day my sister in law, who stayed home with my wife and her baby, got an increasing stomach ache from a spontaneous abortion the day before.

A lady from our barangay with hospital experience, as a former secretary from the barangay captain, was called and the plan was to visit the emergency department of a governmental hospital in the area.

We went around 10 am and she was hospitalized for a day treatment room in the genealogy department. It seems that it is now government policy - as part of the family planning policy - that all women should deliver their baby in hospital, so that was probably the reason that all rooms for 2-3 beds, where now occupied by 6-7 patients.

John Grisham


Since I read for the first time a book of John Grisham, early September this year, I bought another one just after I finished reading.
And now I have become really addicted to his legal thrillers, as you can see in my book index, which is still expanding.

Last week I bought again 6 books of him and I am sure in 2 or 3 months I will again buy the remaining books, as far as available in my bookstore in Dagupan, however other priorities the coming weeks will slow down my reading pace.

Interesting for me as a European reader is, apart from the plot, to get a better understanding of the US legal system, which is really one of a kind, even it is derived from British law.

Although I have no legal background, I do understand that it is much more complicated than at least the Dutch legal system.

Interesting as well is the educational aspect of the law system. In the US system you have the law school and the bar-exam to become a certified lawyer, while we have in the Netherlands a system based on a scientific education and next practicing and certifying in e.g. a law firm. Similar differences are with medical education.

An additional advantage of digging into US law system is that it helps me to understand the Philippines law system, which is quite close to the US, although in the Philippines there is no federal law system of course and religion plays a more important role than in the US law system.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bahay kubo

San Carlos City bamboo market
One of the first things we wanted to do in our new property was to install a "bahay kubo". In the Philippines this is a well known little garden house made of bamboo.

We decided to buy one in San Carlos city, as they have there a big market, where they sell many bamboo products. The bahay kubo will serve different purposes.

1) It is a place to relax as to escape the daily burden of our barangay (neighbourhood) and to enjoy the breeze from the farm, the natural aircon, which we miss in the barangay. This is to bridge the time between preparing for building a house until the moment we can start moving into the new house.

2) Second it is meant as a place where the people who are going to build our house can relax and have their lunch and merienda, the Philippine break for some drinks and (usually sweet) snacks. We even envisage to have a guard sleeping here as long as the fence is not closed.

3) It will become our garden house when the whole project is finished. It probably will get another location on our property.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yeah!! We got it.


Yesterday, 21 September, was a day to remember. 

We went to the bank in Dagupan to withdraw our money (in cash) to pay the owner of the lot/property that we purchased from him. According to Philippine habit a lot of "witnesses" were brought in. Apart from the buyer (my wife), the seller, the attorney and myself, the following persons were present:

1. Bank manager's assistant
2. My brother in law
3. My mother in law
4. My auntie (sister of my mother in law)
5. The wife of the seller
6. Two sons of the seller 

Missing was the manager of the bank, Mr. Henry, who had promised to be present. It was said that he was delayed because of the heavy rains we had yesterday, so the manager's assistant helped us.

When the money was made available and the pasbook updated, we deducted the amount required for taxes and fees, transferred the remaining amount to the seller, the deducted amount to the attorney and he made some legal statements that the money was transferred.

Total costs for taxes, attorney and surveyor fees was about 10%, of which we had agreed on already to divide it between seller and buyer. 
The following list shows the taxes that are included:
  • Capital Gain Tax        6.00%
  • Document Stamp Tax 1.50 %
  • Transfer Tax               0.50%
  • Registration fee           0.25%
  • Sales Tax                    0.50%
According to our attorney it will take from now on a month to transfer the title. Meanwhile we will start to produce the paperwork for applying for a building permit (City Hall) and start preparing building the fence.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Flashback: My Car history

My 1st car, Ford Anglia
Below is a summary of all cars I owned or used as a company car. I tried to recall the period in which I used it, but this will not be accurate in all cases. I will have to gather info from family and friends to fill-in the details, so updates may follow. For more details click the brand/model (if available).

P.S. At the end I added other used motorized vehicles as well.


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