Monday, 31 March 2008

played badminton.... well sort of..

I played badminton tonight, well I was on the court anyway... "playing" was maybe a bit of an exaggeration. I really am struggling these days, my game has hit rock bottom and it is sooooooooooooooo disappointing. I am so slow and now with my knees giving up the ghost my playing ability is zero ! I haven't aged well in the last 2/3 years ;-(

On the bright side though I am still enjoying my time here, it was so hot today but I did go out for lunch and do some shopping. I couldn't stay out there very long as the heat is debilitating. After that long day yesterday I even had to have a long nap this afternoon. Coach William drove into Makati to pick me up and take me to Las Pinas, he has done that a lot lately which is very kind as it is a long way for him.

Another good friend "Arnel" wanted to drive me home tonight as he felt that he never gets the chance to talk to me much, he has a lovely wife and 4 children, 3 boys and a girl... the whole family play badminton and they are all very good especially the teenage boys. Arnel and I get on really well, he has travelled a lot around Europe with his business so is a bit more knowledgeable about geography and other cultures.
I think if I lived here we would be best of friends.

well it is now 12.30am Tuesday here so I have only 8 days to go.....in case you wonder why it says it's Monday above this post, the reason is that I still have my laptop set to UK time.

I hope you enjoyed your Monday. I am going to have a glass of whisky and look out at the Makati skyline outside my window.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

My Badminton tourney...

I was up at 6am this morning, got ready and left my condo at 7am, got an honest cabbie straight away and I arrived in Las Pinas at 7.45, the fare was only 230 pesos and I gave him a 100p tip..... well he was honest, it was a Sunday and I was in a good mood !

The tourney got under way at 8.30am and continued without a break until 9.35pm, I am extremely tired and I didn't even play. How the players managed I'll never know as it was 125* in the hall. It was a very successful day, the organisers were brilliant and everything went very smoothly.

I did my speech just before it began and walked around watching lots of the games, some were simply fantastic, the talent here is quite unbelievable, we also had a young but tall filipina that is the No 1 under 14 and No 1 under 18 female in the Phils, she of course won her class easily.

I also had to give out the awards throughout the day, you know the thing, they stand on the rostrum and I put the medal with the ribbon around their necks then lots of photos are taken,some official and the others were usually their parents or friends.
I must have had my picture taken somewhere between 300-500 times today. People again were coming to me and asking if they could have a picture taken with me !! Famous for nothing but it makes them happy.

All in all it was a fantastic but tiring day for everyone. The next part of the "Coach Gerry McGuire" series is in July but alas I won't be here. Lots of people have talked to me and asked me to stay... which is nice of course but simply can't be.... for the moment anyway.

I had to say a few more goodbyes tonight, some people that are going away on holiday and don't return until after I have left...... :-(

I hope you all had a great weekend.................................

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Saturday 11pm

Quiet day.... very hot.

My badminton tourney starts tomorrow, I have to be in Las Pinas for 8am as I am doing the opening speech. It takes me an hour to get there if I can get a taxi to take me there.

My family should have a look at this video on youtube , it's just a video of possilpark from 1975, 3 years after I left.... Thank God !!!

the address is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XXLPYAd_4o you will have to copy and paste it into the address bar. It opened up a lot of videos about Glasgow, I ended up spending most of my afternoon watching them, isn't the internet an amazing thing, here I am in the Philippines watching videos of where I was born from 33 years ago !!

I watched an "orange walk" along saracen street too, could see the library and I have also seen the Lido cafe online !!

An "orange walk" for my English friends isn't a fruit strolling down the road, it's an anti- Catholic religious march held all over Glasgow each year.

I hope you are all having a great weekend, I have to go to bed now as I am up early in the morn.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Friday 11pm

I went for a walk today but it was just too hot, I walked for a couple of hours but near the end I had to go into a mall for the aircon, I walked a little afterwards, I was only about 15 mins walk away from home but I simply had to take a taxi..... I was burning up and my hair was soaked with perspiration.

It was only 90* but felt like 100*... oddly enough that is the expression that they use on the official website.... they give you the official temperature but also what it feels like too.... maybe because of the humidity, although that is still on the low side at only 67%.

In the UK, traffic wardens are hated and abused ( I've never understood that as they are just doing a job), in my street here we have permanent traffic wardens that are based here, they are well respected as they are part of law enforcement, they even take the money from you for your parking, this leaves them open to corruption. But I have never seen anyone say anything abusive to them, if they say you can't park there then you simply don't.

There is so much more respect here for people in authority, I always remember watching drunken young guys outside the pubs in the UK late at night arguing with the police, even pushing, swearing and abusing the police officers..... they wouldn't do that here, when police stop you or decide to speak to you, you say "yes sir" and you WILL be very polite or you will find that they don't have the politically correct views that UK police have to work under.

Of course it's the family culture here that is the real reason for such good behavior, a child talking back to an adult never mind their parents would be very rare. Their family structure is so well maintained with siblings, uncles, aunties all showing them how a family behaves within itself, this spills over into the other parts of their lives with friends and strangers too.

What can we say about family culture in the UK.........mmmm, too many parents shouldn't be parents, lots of them shouldn't even be in charge of their TV remote control never mind a child.

That's my little rant for today.

So it's TGIF yet again.... I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Thursday 10pm

Today I played badminton for 2 hours from 5-7pm...... it was sooooooooooooo hot and the humidity was very high.. even the Filipinos that I was playing with were complaining so you can guess how I felt if they could feel it so bad !! You could wring the sweat from my shirt.... it was soaked completely !!

After I had a cold shower... which was boooootifooool.... I then walked through the slums of Mandaluyong... I always enjoy that walk and it was great again.

I then.... shamefully I must admit stopped for a pizza and a milkshake... well I was hungry and perspiring... I needed somewhere with aircon.... well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it !!!

I'm going to publish this post, watch a bit of TV, then have a late night whisky before I hit the sack.

Thanks Lisa for the text, nice to hear from you, love to you and David.

I hope you all have a great Thursday

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Wednesday

Well it was a nice start to the morning to watch England win the series against New Zealand.... interesting finale from young Southee.

That's the end of the cricket now until I get home. So that's a goodbye.

I also had to say my first goodbye to a friend that left this morning to go back home to their province.

I guess from on in there is going to be a lot of goodbyes.

I didn't do much today as I was tired from rising at 5am to watch the cricket, I had to do a few chores.... same things as at home.... I had to go and pay my electric, water and cable bills, I walked to the bank to pay and I seem to walk around now with different eyes, I see things that I have taken for granted til now... I realise that things are going to change shortly......

I stopped in one of the coffee shops in Glorietta and just watched the world go by...... and lots of pretty Filipinas too :-) It was nice to sit there and soak in the atmosphere that I have become used to. The waitress calling out "Sir Gerry" when my coffee is ready, she knows my name and seems pleased to see me each time.... no I don't tip her !!!

I sit there on the comfy chair looking out onto the concourse as so many people walk past smiling, young women holding the wrist of their friend ( strange that, they hold the wrist like they are leading them somewhere ), 2 young guys with their arms around each others shoulders ( kids do that in the UK but adults..NEVER), so many people but more importantly so many smiles.... I wonder why ?? Is it the same in the UK but I've just never noticed.... I wonder ? The thing is I always found that at home in the UK whenever the sun was shining, my spirits were lifted ( no not whisky, I lifted that in the evenings), of course here the sun is always shining.... which is a big plus.

Walking in the back entrance to my building the armed guard says " good afternoon sir, enjoy your lunch ?", I reply in the positive as I make my way into the building, a young lady is coming through the door as I reach it, she says " hello sir" as she holds the door for me, I say hi and usher her through first... she is a staff member and appreciates me putting her first. I reach the elevator.... I mean the lift.... but remember to go in and check my mail first, yes there is another envelope for me, just then someone again says "Hello Sir Gerry", it's Teddy, he is some sort of condo broker and has been trying to sell me a condo for months, but he's not the pushy type. He also looks after my condo on behalf of the owner, whenever I have a problem I simply call him and he has it fixed. I don't have to change a light bulb as Teddy sends someone to do it for me.... I like that !!
It is all very small talk but I appreciate it as in the UK few people would speak to me at all and they certainly wouldn't call me "Sir"...... I've been called a lot of things in the streets of London and "Sir" was never one of them !!!!

Hopefully the above will give you a little insight as to some of the reasons that I like things here in Manila.... and did I mention that the sun shines EVERY day !!!!

Enjoy your Wednesday.......

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Tuesday evening 11pm

Well this morning's cricket from New Zealand was good as England did well and should win the series with the last day starting in 6 hours time..... yes I will be up watching it.

Today was a quiet day as I have had a friend staying over for the last 5 days, I watched the cricket, rested in the afternoon and ate in the evening. Now it's time for bed and an early rise at 5am.

Exactly 2 weeks tonight I will be packed and ready to fly home the following morning.
No need to say how I will feel !!

There was a show on TV from the UK showing the street crime and violence, friends that I know here simply didn't understand.... they asked me why did those guys get drunk and want to fight ?? Why did that older lady get attacked.. how can that happen ?? They simply cannot understand that.... over here older people are respected.. even the bad guys respect older people... it's so inbred to respect your elders here that they cannot fathom why or how any old person would be hurt in any situation.

I can honestly say that I have NEVER seen a drunk in my time here, that's not say that it doesn't happen... but I have never seen it. Even on New Years Eve here when everyone is in the bars... believe it or not they drink to socialise and chat but being drunk would be seen as uncouth and low class.

The bars here are wonderful for the simple reason that there is control and discipline, people REALLY do enjoy their night out WITHOUT being drunk and acting stupid or violent.

I must repeat this because those that live and go out in the UK will find it hard to believe but I have never once seen a drunk. I have never been accosted or spoken to by someone under the influence of alcohol and I have NEVER been threatened physically or been intimidated by any single person in the 7 months that I have spent here.

I can not say that about the UK, just walking through a town centre like Uxbridge on a weekend I feel intimated and have been threatened more than once for simply daring to walk through the town where I live. Usually by young men with a lot of alcohol inside them and in groups of 6 or more.... really brave eh !!

Enough of my rant....

Hope you had a nice Tuesday.... so Helen if you read this, it is me and you only I'm afraid !!!!!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Monday ...actually Tuesday 12.30am

Well watching the cricket today was great... 5am to 1pm was wonderful for me... England batted superbly as I expected.... hopefully they will kill the kiwis off in 5 hours time.

I had a great day today, first the cricket and then I went coaching to Las Pinas at 5.30pm.... got a lift there which is always better. They are all training and preparing for my tourney which starts this Sunday. I have to type a letter for all players that is going into the handbook that each entrant will recieve. I also have to prepare a speech for the begining of the tourney as it is in my name, I have to make the official opening speech... me to 400/500 players.

I really enjoyed the training, the players worked hard, they were all adults and they understand and enjoy my training techniques.... when I am finished they always give me a round of applause and they come up to me afterwards to thank me for explaining things so well. You don't get this sort of respect in the UK.

I am playing badminton on Thursday with my journalist friend, he has arranged for all of his friends/players to go for a meal afterwards and has invited me. He has also asked me if I would write articles for his badminton website. I'm happy to do so as long as the rights are still mine. I feel that I could earn some money if I had my own badminton website and maybe training facities here in the Phils.

Lots of the adult players... when I told them that I leave in 2 weeks said nice things about me and asked me to stay. Some even pointed out that I could live in Las Pinas quite cheaply and that they would find a good wife for me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hope your start to the week has been good...

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Sunday 10pm

I was up early as usual at 5am to watch England play New Zealand, it was a great day for cricket but an even better day for England taking 7 wickets in the afternoon session (Anne you can tell Keith I was right as I did say to him that England would do the same to NZ but admittedly I didn't think it would be the 2nd session).

Manila is still quiet and I think it will be for a few more days yet. I've had a quiet day, cricket and just doing bits and pieces, now i will just get some sleep before I get up again tomorrow morning for cricket again.

I spoke to my sis Anne on the phone yesterday, we spoke about a few things but one of them was about Filipinos going on holiday outside of the country, I'm sure that a lot of people in the UK just take it for granted.... if you want to go on holiday you just go into a travel agent and book it, if you are traveling far you may need a visa, this is usually a done deal if you live in the UK.

It's not the same if you live here in the Phils, if you want to go abroad it isn't so easy, you have to get a visa not only from the country that you are visiting but first of all you need permission from Philippine emigration before you can go ahead.

Most applicants are turned down, they may allow you to travel more freely in Asia but if you are thinking of the U.S or the UK then it is more difficult. You have to prove that you will return, if you have a good business and property you will probably be OK but other than that you can forget it... you will be refused permission to leave. Even if a UK or US citizen gave you the money for the air fare and even agreed to sponsor you when you are abroad, your chances would be so slim as to be negligible.
We constantly hear people complain of immigrants and how easy it is for them to get into the UK and taking our jobs etc..... well please don't include Filipinos in that, the only Filipinos that you meet in the UK will be bona fide, usually well off ones that are allowed to visit for a holiday or others that have been granted a work permit whenever we need more nurses.

Hope you all had a great wekend..................

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Saturday

Not doing much at the mo, a very quiet time all round. Manila is still very quiet as it is still holy week.

As we all know it's getting very close now to me returning to the UK, each day that passes I get more and more sad, I walked around Makati today and as I passed the points of interest that I have become accustomed to, I thought to myself..." I won't be seeing this again or for a while at least".

I love sitting in my lounge in the evening, I may be watching TV or reading a book but just to my right I can see the beautiful lights of the Makati skyline.

I love it when I am up early in the morning and I can see the sun come up over the buildings, the city is starting to come to life, people start leaving their buildings to go to work, the traffic begins to build up, the street vendors are setting up their stalls to prepare for the day, and 1000's of ordinary shop assistants spilling out of jeepneys coming into Makati to their jobs in the big malls.

I enjoy it when I leave or enter my building when the guys on the door open it for me with a good morning sir and the receptionist smiles and asks me how am I today. I enjoy my walk into Glorietta in the sunshine (always sunshine), I walk through Greenbelt mall past the many shops and stalls that I am used to seeing each day heading to either the coffee bar or for something for lunch.

I will miss so many people smiling at me every day, so many people wanting to talk with me especially in other parts of Manila, I will miss the girls asking me where are you going sir, what is your name, can I have your cell phone number please.... that doesn't happen very often in Uxbridge... yes you are right... it NEVER happens, after reaching 50 in the UK you don't exist anymore !!!

I will miss my long walks, the difference between some of the places that I see and normal life at home is so extreme. I will miss the little bit of danger that you face here as wherever you go you always stand out like a sore thumb, if there are any robbers around you WILL be the target. Yet I have lived here and visited many places that I have been told not to, and still no-one has robbed me.... so what is wrong with me that's what I want to know !! I feel quite insulted ;-)

All in all, I will miss Manila and the lifestyle VERY VERY much.

I hope your Easter weekend is going well.........

Friday, 21 March 2008

Friday.......... " The pleasure of getting old".

Today was just a total day of rest as there was nothing else to do.

Makati was like a morgue, I went out to get something to eat and was hoping that anywhere was open, only McDonalds I'm afraid. There was so few people and cars on the streets, I could walk across Legaspi street without bothering about cars... amazing.

I read Thursday's newspaper while I was eating and I found an interesting article called " The pleasure of getting old"..... is there any ?? well for anyone my age or older you may find it of interest... as it has been a quiet day it will fill up some space.

Written by a female author:

The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old, I was taken aback for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it and let her know.
Old age, I decided, was a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time of in my life, the person that I have always wanted to be.
Oh, not my body ! I sometimes despair about my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less grey hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio, I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.
Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on my computer until 4am and sleep until noon ?
I will always dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the '60s and '70s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will.
I will walk the beach in a swimsuit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandom if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They too, will get old.

I know that sometimes I am forgetful, but there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.
Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car ? But broken hearts are what gives us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning grey, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.
As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old it has set me free. I like the person that I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.
And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it).

May our friendship never come apart especially when it's straight from the heart. May you always have a rainbow of smiles on your face and in your heart forever and ever !


Author unknown.


I wish that I could agree with it all but..........



England are 4 for 3 (cricket V N.Z) at the moment so life is not looking good at all !!!!!!!!

I hope your weekend is better than how mine has started !!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

1pm Thursday..........

I feel a bit stupid writing Thursday's post at 1 pm, the past few days posts haven't been published by blogger.com very quickly so I am posting this as early as poss to make sure that you can all view it. It's not so bad posting early today I guess as there isn't much to report.

The holy week has really kicked in now, Makati is empty, very little traffic or people, I went for a walk to the malls to get something to eat.... they are all closed !! The only place open today and possibly tomorrow is McDonald's. Greenbelt 1,2,3,4 and 5 all closed as is Glorietta 1,2,3 and 4.... I thought they would still be open. I have little food indoors so it's either McDonald's, beans on toast or tuna sandwiches for the next 2 days.

I will be mostly just lazing in my condo today and tomorrow, reading, watching TV, online and sleeping.... could be worse I guess, I will do a bit of walking at times also.

The weather here is getting VERY VERY hot I can really feel the difference. Today is 95* and the forecast for the next 4 days is all between 95*-100*... surprisingly the humidity isn't too bad yet, when that kicks into the 90%-100% that's when you feel like a wet rag.

If anyone has any questions about Manila, the Philippines or life living in a tropical island please feel free to ask, I will do my best to answer, it will also help to post when I am not doing very much.......

Enjoy your Easter weekend..............

I have published this at 5.33am Thursday UK time so lets hope Blogger publish it on my site before your visit......

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Wednesday...........

Today was a quiet one. I went to play badminton this afternoon with the journalist Norman and his friends. They are not very good but it is so hot that the exercise makes me perspire, this is what I need.

We played from 4-7pm, had a shower and a chat, at the end I told him that I fancied a walk home, this is in Mandaluyong and the walk is through that slum area that I love walking through. They all said "NO you can't do that it is too dangerous", " that is the ???? area", I can't remember what the actual name that they said. They were saying that it is dark and you will be taking a great risk, I must admit at that point I thought... " mmmm, maybe they are right so I said maybe I will get a taxi.

We parted at the exit and I walked to the main road, on the way there I thought no I am going to walk home, it's warm, the streets are crowded so how is anyone going to rob me or anything else, the only problem was that I was carrying my large badminton bag.
Anyway I start to walk and turned left into the main area of the deprived area, it's now about 8pm but VERY busy, I felt totally safe although realise that could be a mistake on my part. It wasn't, I walked all the way through with no problems at all, I was careful and I even found myself putting my money in my sock but it was unnecessary.

There were lots of guys in groups hanging about but they were too busy with their own drinking/chatting to be bothered by me. If anyone was going to rob me he would have to be an opportunist as I don't regularly walk through here, they stared and wondered what I was doing, many people asked me where I was going as they always do. I even stopped at a Sari Sari (store) to drink a coke.... only 8p and it's the old glass coke bottles that I rarely see these days, had a chat with the people there, I also stopped at another stall to look at DVDs, all copies of course, you get 12 movies on each DVD ( didn't know that you could do that) all just newly released for 70 pesos (85pence), I stayed there for a while as I got chatting to some young people.

I picked a DVD ( I shouldn't as it was pirated I know) and continued on my walk, a young girl and boy that was at the stall walked with me as they were walking in the same direction. They spoke great English and were asking me all sorts of questions, this was the only time that I wasn't focused on my surroundings and other people, it came to my attention so I tried to stay aware as possible, anyway they lived in this area so we parted half way through. They thanked me for the chat and asked for my phone number.... amazing but they always do that, they feel honoured to have a foreigners cell phone number, they will boast about it to their friends and maybe send me a text whilst in their company to prove it.

I continued my walk and ended up stopping for a pizza on the way home, it was an enjoyable evening all round. I think I may be so attracted to these areas because of ....as a psychologist may say..... it reminds me of my roots, it's possible as Possil was not unlike these areas... not as poor obviously but poor in the scheme of things at the time. In Possil we had 100's of kids playing in the streets, lots of men/woman hanging around talking especially round saracen cross, people hanging out their windows just watching what was going on... this is not dissimilar to the deprived areas of Manila.

My friends that were aghast at the thought of me walking through there on my own have this perception of these areas as most Filipinos do that live in relatively "nice" areas, they all believe the same thing that the people that live there are all thieves and robbers, no doubt there are some as in most poor places but overall I think it is an unfair and wrong opinion. If you are aware and walk through with confidence/boldness/friendliness, I believe you are relatively safe. I simply... for whatever reason.... love that area.

Sorry to all if this is not published by the server immediately, they have been very slow recently, taking between 8/12 hours to publish my posts but there is nothing that I can do about that.

Have a great Wednesday.....

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Tuesday night 8pm

I published Mondays post at 4pm UK time but it wasn't published by the server until many hours later, if you didn't get to read it last night it wasn't my fault this time.... sorry.

Mostly just a quiet day today, there is not many people or traffic on the streets, holy week is kicking in.

I went for a long walk at 10pm but gave up at 3pm as it is now getting VERY hot during the day, it's only 30* but feels hotter, the humidity is only 66% but again feels more, with each day the weather feels hotter and hotter.... I can feel my skin burn.

Manila is the same as most big cities, the rush hour traffic is horrendous, some commuters found a way through the traffic, they bribed ambulance drivers to put their sirens on and take them fast through the traffic to the city.... now drivers don't get out of the way for ambulances.... hopefully it's not me in the back of one having a heart attack cos if so I'm gonna die.

I'm publishing this at 12.20 pm Tuesday UK time.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Monday

Well I was up at 5am to watch England play again, it was worth it to see them finish New Zealand off. It finished after only 2 hours though which left me up and awake yet it was only 7.30 am.
The decider starts this Saturday, I will have another 5 days of getting up at 5am but it will be worth it especially if England win.

I went to Las Pinas again tonight to do some coaching for adults. This time coach William came to Makati to pick me up and his father dropped me home at midnight. I did enjoy it as they are all preparing for "my" tournament which is this Sunday. I enjoy coaching them as they put so much effort into doing what I ask of them, they sweat and run til they drop... it is so very hot here now as it is the beginning of summer. They all gave me a round of applause at the end of the 2 hours session and then we had a question and answer time... they appreciate my knowledge.

This Wednesday I believe is the start of holy week, you can't book a hotel room or flight to anywhere in the Phils as everyone is on the move. Holy week started off as a religious thing to include Easter but it's just more like a holiday week. All the people that live in the towns and cities return to their province to see their families and everyone else goes on holiday somewhere. I had to put any trip to Cebu on hold.

I just remembered something else that I miss from the UK, that is a fast Internet connection that consistently keeps you online. Over here I have to reboot my computer and modem at least 5/6 times a day and I have to constantly shut down the browser and restart to get access to a site. I have unexpectedly got used to it.

hope you all enjoy your Monday...... is that possible ??

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Sunday

I was up at 5am as normal to watch the cricket, England had another good day.

Today as in most countries of the world, Sunday is a very quiet day, no traffic and few people on the streets. Most of my day has just been catching up on my lack of sleep.

To think that by Wednesday i will only have 3 weeks to go, I am getting nervous about that, I feel that I must try and visit Cebu and other places before I miss my chance, I feel the pressure of time disappearing. I really wish that I wasn't going back to the UK. :-(

I have really got used to things here, although it's not perfect and there are some things that I don't like (taxi drivers)but overall I am happier here and I have a better lifestyle here.
I will miss where I stay here in Makati, my beautiful building and the staff, I will miss my little condo as it has everything that I need and a good view over the city. I will miss the politeness of everyone that you meet on the streets whatever their status, I will miss the respect that I get for my badminton coaching over here.

I will miss the ladies from the laundry place across the street as I always have a fun chat with them when I take in my laundry every 3/4 days, when I bought them some sweets one day they were so pleased and they look after me really well.

I could go on and on....................


I hope you had a great weekend wherever you are.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Saturday.... taxi drivers... again !!!

First of all I was up at 5am to watch England play, they had another good day.

After the cricket finished I went to Las Pinas for the junior badminton coaching, as always getting a taxi to take you there is always a hassle, I have to offer more money than what's on the meter. It so far outside of their normal zone so I can understand their reluctance, I got a cabbie to agree to 50p over the meter, I have no problem with that as it is simply like giving him a 50p tip.

I had a good day there from 3-6 coaching the kids, but it was SO hot, the summer here has begun and I can really feel it. It was back to my shirt being soaked and having to change into a fresh one asap. At 6pm we went to another sports hall for further coaching and playing, this place is much nearer to Makati, only about 20 mins away.

I played for an hour, had something to eat there then Coach William senior agreed to take me to Alabang, this is the so called 2nd "Makati" to get a taxi. Alabang is very posh, beautiful gated homes with big malls etc. We got to the town centre and the taxi rank, William senior asked them (too nicely) how much to take me to Makati, of course they see a "foreigner" and told him in Tagalog "600 pesos", that is just so greedy, they said that they don't do meter, only "contract" that just means whatever they can get you to agree to pay.

We decided to go outside the town centre to another suburb that borders Alabang, we got there, I told William that I would ask them, this is a really busy place, I went to the rank, I could see them all come over to me like vultures, "Sir, Sir,Sir..taxi"....me "OK I want to go to Makati on the meter( even without meter I know it should be about 200"... drivers.....600 pesos... me getting angry now as an hour has passed and I still haven't found a taxi to take me home and I am tired.... I said " I will give you 50p over meter"... no chance so I told them that they were a bunch of thieves... I have 6 around me at this time... I told them about the 19 drivers that had their licenses suspended for doing the same thing that they are trying to do to me... they are beginning to disperse now to get away from me... I told them I am going to speak to the police that they refuse to take me using the meter.
William senior touches my arm and suggests that we go, he informs me that speaking to the police would be a waste of time as they get their share from the drivers to allow them to do it.

So we decide to go to Paranaque which is where William lives but I am going further and further away from Makati, anyway we get there and wait, eventually we stop a taxi and the driver agrees to take me and puts on the meter... good man. He takes me home no problem, the fare works out to 175 pesos and I give him a 65 pesos tip for being a honest man.

I HATE taxi drivers. If I lived here I would have to drive.

I hope you are having a more relaxing weekend

Friday, 14 March 2008

Things I miss from the UK

First of all England had a great day today in the cricket... should win from this position.

Things I miss from the UK in no particular order.... Sky TV, driving, M&S meals, "seriously strong cheese" that's the brand name and it is sooooo strong.... love it.

Do you know I have sat here for the last 10 minutes trying to think of anything else that I miss... and I can't !!! Must be more !
Yes I would miss the health service that's another one !

I don't miss people as such because those that are important in my life have kept in touch with me while I have been here.

This would all indicate that maybe I should move to the Philippines permanently. I must say that over the past few days I have realised that I have LESS than 4 weeks to go before I return "home", the thought has really made me feel so nervous, you know that feeling right in the pit of your stomach.
I can say that if I could stay here in the lifestyle that I have been accustomed to.... I DEFINITELY would, in truth I would need a reasonably high income for that which is not attainable at this moment, the only other way to stay here on my present income would mean that I would have to drop down the social ladder a couple of rungs.

This would mean that I wouldn't be able to afford to live in Makati for sure, I would have to move to a smaller town/suburb or maybe even another island. I have met people here (foreigners) that live on £250 per month but that's living like a native... not the lifestyle for me. On £500 pm I could probably live reasonably well on another island or in the Manila suburbs.... again not really for me. To live here in Makati it has to be a minimum of £750 per month, that would ensure that you live at the top of the food chain and have the best of everything. So I will have to either...... (a) live in the suburbs now or (B) work a few more years before I could live in Makati. I shall take stock and decide later.

Things that I DON'T miss from the UK.
Bad behaviour in the streets... in the workplace.....or just about anywhere you go.
No respect for anyone in authority.
No respect for pensioners.... in fact they are badly abused in a lot of towns and cities.
Towns and city centres that are taken over at weekends by the 18-30 years old, lots of drunks that want to fight with anyone that gets in their way.
Young guys ( hoodies) that can at least intimidate anyone that passes them.
Down and outs drinking in the streets and in places like underpasses where people have to walk pass them, school children/OAP's feel threatened.
Road rage... whereby the least thing can make a driver want to attack another.

I could go on and on about things that I don't like but it's just my personal opinion and I think my feelings already show.

Generally I suppose it's the lack of family unity that causes indiscipline everywhere. there is a total lack of respect for anyone especially older people.
There is a constant threat of possible confrontation for the least little thing which could lead to a physical attack.

Yes this is just a generalisation, but you ask anyone over 60 that live in cities and that would be the answer that lots would give, yes it may only be their perception.... but it is true to them and personally as you can guess.. I would agree.

Yes I am sure that I would prefer to get old here in the Philippines.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful weekend.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Thursday 11pm...... cream crackered !!

I wanted to get up at 5am this morning to watch the cricket, I woke up at 3 am after less than 3 hours sleep and that was it I couldn't get back to kip.
So I got up and watched the cricket which was interesting and England finished well.

At 4pm I got prepared to play badminton for the first time this year, I got all the badminton shirts that I bought here in October and none of them would fit !!! Now this is really bad because I bought them all as the shirts that I brought with me from the UK wouldn't fit me as I had put on weight at that point also. So now I had to wear the shirts that I bought recently..... no nasty comments please I feel bad enough as it is... that's life... it runs in the family.

I went to the badminton centre, the players that I was to play with and against were below average, if I had played them in October last year it would have just been a nice little run out for me and I would have won easily with little effort.... this was not the case..... I played 8 games and was knackered.. I won about half... the joys of getting old........... it's so unfair !! I have all the knowledge and technique but the body is struggling.... well you did see me walking up those 33 flights of stairs..... not a pretty sight I know.

So it's now 11pm and I am at home in my condo, the legs are feeling a bit stiff and I really should be in bed soon as I have to be up at 5am tomorrow (Friday) to watch England.... the first hour should be good as Ambrose needs only 3 for his 100, Collingwood needs only 2 for his 50 and only 9 runs for the 300 to come up..... if you know anything about cricket you will understand the above... if you don't.... then I'm sorry !!!!!!!

Another TGIF coming up.... enjoy the begining of your weekend

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Wednesday..............

Had a very quiet day... well we all do don't we........ I just went out for lunch, bought some shopping and that's about it.

It's 10.30pm so will be going to bed shortly as I have to be up at 5am to watch the cricket again.

I am playing badminton tomorrow night,the first time this year, I have been in Vietnam 2 weeks, in Mindanao for nearly 4 weeks and was ill for 3 weeks so haven't really had the opportunity or desire to be honest.

You all know that the badminton academy that I have been involved with have a big tourney organised using my name. It has over 400 adult and junior players involved, it is over 4 quarters of the year so is a big and long tourney.

Anyway I am playing with this guy and his friends, he is a journalist for a national newspaper and has 2 badminton websites. He has interviewed me for his websites.

I have mentioned before that being a journalist in this city is a dangerous job to have, he was telling me that you get used to it but he still gets scared if anyone in a car rolls down the window in traffic, that is the usual form of assassination, that or a motorbike pulls up next to you and pop pop... you're history. He offered me a lift, I made a mental note to sit in the rear seat !!!



Hope you all have a great week....

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Tuesday.... got my visa

Well I got a cab to the Bureau of Immigration, I picked up my visa in 5 minutes then was on my way. Just as well I got the visa quickly because as soon as I got it I was thrown out, I forgot that you are not allowed to wear shorts in the BI.... don't know why but that's the rules.

I left there at 11am and decided to walk home again. I meandered a bit and got home to Makati at 3.30pm.

When I walked home yesterday I walked through Rizal park, I had to walk past lots of people that actually live in the park, they are very poor, no homes or jobs, I got talking to one family especially and tried to take some pics but my camera batteries were empty so couldn't. The kids are so cute and of course you always get the cheeky cute one. I took the same route home again and met them again, this time I got some pics, the cheeky toothless one insisted that I keep taking pics of her and her friend, she loved to see her photo each time.... the smiles and laughter was wonderful.
I have published some pics below.











Monday, 10 March 2008

Monday........my last visa......

Today I went to the Bureau of Immigration to get my last extended visa for 1 month.

Last time I was there I had to pay a 1000pesos bribe to get my visa in 30 mins, this time I thought NO WAY am I paying a bribe... it's only for a month so I will just wait in line.

Have you ever thought that you have got something right and been clever then life jumps up and bites your bum.. well that's what I felt like today.

I went there determined.. if the officer said to me wait at the side, I was going to say NO just show me the way to the visa office as I am not paying a bribe. I walked in upright and ready for action......... I said visa extension please... he said...no problem sir just over there.... that took the wind out of my sails !!

I was directed to another building and entered where it said VISAS.

I walked into utter chaos, the room was a big square with 30 glass windows with a teller at each of them. There must have been over 200 crowded in this room, some filling in forms and most others queueing at the windows, where do I go, what do I do ?.... I have my passport and money so I obviously need to fill in a form with my details, where do I get this form as there is no signs at all !! There is one empty window so I ask there.... I struck gold as he gave me a form... fill it in and take it to window 24... great stuff... so I am off and running. Finds a space on a counter and fills it in, walks to counter 24 and am told I need copies of my passport... there is a photocopier there with someone grabbing passports and copying pages from them, I do the same, cost is 4p... back to window 24.

I wait at this window with about 5 people in front of me, not too bad me thinks, their is a guy about my age from Newcastle just in front of me, we got talking, he is here for 3 months but he is lucky as he has a Filipino girlfriend with him that was doing all the talking and getting things done for him, and she was soooooooo beautiful, spoke perfect English and her uncle is in the NBI... so he was a very lucky man, I thought so anyway until he told me that he was robbed in Bohol in his hotel room, they got £2000 in cash and his passport.... well you can't have it all !!

Anyway he gets served so it is my turn... the teller puts a "closed" sign on the window........... NO I says... whats happening.. why didn't you say beforehand so I could join another queue, she replies " it's only for 10 mins sir"... yea right I know what the Filipino 10 mins means. Anyway all the other queues are big and I didn't know which one to go to so I thought I best to wait here in case it is only 10 mins, others were waiting along with me. 10 mins passes, 15.. then 20.. I knew it !! anyway some official in the room says to us that we best to go to this other queue, I complain and say this is unfair, lo and behold he puts me at the front of this queue, the other people in this queue didn't complain. I gets seen, the clerk takes all my forms photocopies etc and then returns them to me with a bill to pay, he says go this other desk, pay the bill and return to this queue. OK so I do, I wait in another queue to pay, the bill says 2550 pesos, it's a bit expensive as my visa is only for 1 month ths time not the usual 2. But I just want out of this place... the tension is irritating me.

It comes to my turn, 3550 pesos he says, I say but the bill says 2550 pesos, he hands me another bill that says 1000pesos this has been attached to my original bill, I look at it, it is a "express" fee, now what the express fee is about no-one has ever known but I do know that it is always charged but it is always 500 pesos so I ask why the difference of another 500 pesos. Can you believe it, 500p is for the express fee and the other 500p is for a certificate to say that you paid the 500p express fee !!!
Only in the Philippines.. I protested but the teller said if I want to complain I would have to join another queue.... no thanks so I just paid very grudgingly.

I then join the first queue again as I have paid so I have to show him the payment slip before he can officially stamp the visa in my passport. My turn comes and he takes all my documents and passport, after a few mins he says "10am tomorrow".... what do you mean, he says come back tomorrow after 10am to collect your passport.... WHAT.. I thought I paid an express fee to get it... well.... express (quickly)!!! No you have to come back !!! Give me strength.

I walks outside and stands there for a few mins. I have paid 300pesos in a cab to get here and return home, I have stood in queues that have made me feel so stressed, I was perspiring the same as everyone else as the room had no aircon, I paid 3550 pesos for a 1 month visa when it is cheaper for a 2 month one, I have to come back tomorrow and pay another 300 pesos for my cab and then wait in another queue to get my passport !!
I did this all as I didn't want to pay a bribe to the fixers at BI, I should have paid the fixers their 1000pesos, at least with them you get your passport in completed in 30 mins while you wait in a nice quiet non stressful area.
To save not paying that 1000p bribe(it may have been cheaper because of only being for 1 month) I have spent hours in a very stressful room, paid more than I should and I have to return tomorrow whilst paying another 300p for the cab and more of my time.

Moral of this story is that I wasn't as clever as I thought I was by not paying the bribe... although I was morally right to do so.

Do you know that the fee for the 2 months is NEVER the same, you would think that it would be a standard charge, it never is, I have spoken to many foreigners on websites and you never know how much you will be charged it all depends on the teller that does your application... the teller that I used also had a sign on his window that said " exact money only".... this is a bit difficult when you never know how much it is going to be.

Beaurocracy in a 3rd world country is amazing to watch and experience, even I could organize the visa section into a customer friendly and more efficient place than it is, Filipino officials couldn't organise the proverbial p--- up in a brewery.

Hope you all have a nice day.. I am returning to get my passport in 2 hours (it's now Tueady)... wish me luck.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Saturday 8th

Well regarding the cricket... which I know you all love....... joking of course, but at least England had a great last session to make the match interesting... I still believe we will lose easily but hope to be wrong.

I am a couch potato at the moment, tonight I watched football which I rarely do, I watched Portsmouth beat Man u which was very enjoyable.... sorry Paul in Skegness !!!

Anne (my big sis) mentioned about how clean the clothes were on the street kids that I showed on my post yesterday, well this is common here and let me educate you on what is the general thing here for lots of young people even here in Manila.

Here in Manila and probably more so in Makati there are 1000's of young girls and boys working in the service areas, mostly assistants in the shops of all the malls here, there are more shops and all sorts of services, hotels have many working for them.
They all only get a 6 month contract because that allows the employers to avoid paying any benefits, so you work for 6 months and if you are lucky you may get another 6 month contract if your face fits. Really scandalous but this is the real world.

All these people need somewhere to live, eat and help their families on a meagre wage, from the many that I have spoken the following description is the norm. They can't afford to rent a house or a flat/condo especially not anywhere near Makati, what they have a lot of here which I have seen many times, is a bedspace to rent, they will rent a bed in a room, if you share with 3 others it is cheaper than renting with only 1 or 2 but all you get is the bedspace which could be a bunkbed.

Now every day I see these young people as I walk around Makati and I know some of them through badminton, they are always immaculately dressed with really well ironed shirts and trousers/dresses, some of them are lucky to have a uniform if they work in the big stores. The main thing is that in reality they have very few clothes but they look after them because they can't afford to buy new whenever they want.

So what you see on the outside doesn't tell the true story, most of them work all day, here in the Phils it's generally 12 hours per day and 6 days per week. They will go home rest and wash/clean/iron any clothes that they may have/need for the next day. They will eat cheaply somewhere probably from the street stalls which we even have here in Makati and they are extremely popular... couldn't touch them myself but I'm lucky. They will then have to sleep in a room with 3 others before doing the same thing the next day. Lots of them have to provide for their families that live in the province so they will not spend 1 pesos on themselves that they don't have to.

They may not have much but what they have they look after, that goes for most of the people that live in the slum areas.
I've seen some lovely well dressed young ladies but when you have a chat, you find out the above mentioned is their situation, if you met them on a regular basis you will see the same clothes every 3rd or 4Th day or some sort of permutation of same.

Nice jeans and clean T shirt is the norm here, sometimes walking through the mall it's like seeing 1000's of clones, long dark hair, white T shirt and tight jeans with a butt to match.

That is your little bit of Filipino education for this evening.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.... I am planning trips possibly to Cebu and Baguio. When the summer gets really hot I should really go to Baguio as it is colder there....... we shall see.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Friday has been a lazy day watching England trying to avoid losing.

Thinking about the poverty that I saw yesterday reminded me that I had some pics that I haven't published yet. These were pics that I took last year, most of them i took from the outside, yesterday I was inside which was so interesting.

So below you can see those pics, I would describe these as the "posh" slums... I know that is contradictory but also true.
Yesterday while walking through Sante Ana I bought a coke for 8p, even in makati it is normally 25p min, so how can they sell it at that and still make a profit ?? The shop was a little space between 2 "homes".

Enjoy the video and welcome to the weekend

video

Thursday, 6 March 2008

my long walk.... thursday

I was up at 5am this morning for the cricket and it didn't go very well at all. It finished at 1pm here, I had a nap til 1.45pm and then I decided it was time that I went on one of my long walks.

I decided to head out west of Manila to see where it took me, I always think that is the best way, just walk and walk and see where you end up.

Anyway I walked about 30 mins away from Makati and things started to look interesting, you know what I like if you are a reader of this blog. I found this slum area that I never knew existed, people as always were giving me the "hey Joe" amongst other things.. all nice I may add, girls of all ages smiling and asking me where I was going and what was I doing there.... it's a hard life !!
Some guys asked me to sit and drink with them but that is a big NO NO here, I am at least street savvy. Just say thanks but don't have the time.

I left my condo at 2pm by 3pm I really was in the middle of somewhere that I didn't know and had never heard of, the place was called Sante Ana, I found myself walking down this really interesting street, it was fantastic, a place of mass human activity, severe poverty but everyone had a smile for me, people sitting on the pavement chatting, cooking... yes fires on the pavement everywhere !! .. homes that were the simplest imaginable, a labyrinth of buildings of the poorest quality. Just a piece of wood as a wall, if you were lucky a piece of corrugated iron as your roof. I simply can not describe this to you, I should have taken my camera but I only wanted to carry that which I didn't mind being stolen.

I walked and walked through this "estate", I thought that there may not be a way out as I had walked for over an hour through it. I really wish that you see things that I saw today through my eyes... but it's impossible and any words that I use would be insufficient. I kept walking and walking, it's now 5.30pm I have been walking for 3 hours and 30 mins, I came to a bridge there, people were living under and around this bridge, at first I thought it was a rubbish dump until I looked down over the parapet, people were living there, cooking their dinners, young mothers holding babies, children playing games... a real community.

I stopped on the middle of the bridge, there were 4 naked young boys... about 9/12 years old, they were jumping into this river which was about 60' down !! they asked me for money (everyone does) to jump in the river, I refused but they did anyway...I was amazed, they jumped from a statue on the bridge straight into the water. I watched them for a while, they were on the base ot the bridge near their homes, this was their play area, they were running into an open sewer naked... whilst watching them this is where they kept their dry clothes !!!!! I threw some money over for them to dive into the water to get...it pleased them a great deal... I thought that they deserved it.

I continued walking and found myself in a part of Mandaluyong.... somewhere I have been before..... this is north of Manila... how did I get here ??..... anyway I kept walking and began to recognize some roads.... I remember that it used to take me 2 hours to walk home from Mandaluyong, it was now 6pm.... I had been walking 4 hours and had 2 to go from here.

I reached the area that I lived in for the first 2 weeks of my stay here in Manila, it was a place in north manila. I reached there at 7.15pm but was getting thirsty and hungry so I decided to have a wander down Burgos St.... this is the dodgy area.. sort of red light area. I sat in the outside restaurant of a fancy hotel.
I ordered 2 beers and some food and people watched..... very interesting indeed.

Most of the guys sitting in the same area as me were similar to me...meaning white, old and alone. I shouldn't say this but I like to think that I am not unacceptable as a male, nature didn't do some of these guys any favours if you know what I mean.
There were Germans there, French and Brits, they all looked sleazy to me but then again, maybe they were thinking the same thing about me !! The standard thing is some old fat ugly white guy with an attractive young Filipina.. very little in common but who am I to judge, I was imagining balloons above their heads... the white guys balloon said " wow this is gonna be great sex ".... the Filipinas said " how much cash can I get out of this idiot ".
I feel for the girls... honestly... you really have to understand things here.... feeding yourself and your family...be it parents or children is a real big issue. No jobs.... eat or don't eat.... needs must.

I had a nice meal and drinks then left to go home.... by taxi ... I couldn't walk the last 45 mins.... on the way to the cab this lovely looking filipina who had been standing by the side of the restaurant waiting as they all do.... said to me... sir would you like a massage.... as it happens I really needed a massage after such a long walk.. but that wasn't the type that she was offering !!!!

I got home before 9pm, I'm going to have a cold shower and an early night so that I can get up at 5am for the cricket again.... yes glutton for punishment.

Nearly another weekend here......................

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Wednesday 11pm

I was up at 5am this morning to watch the cricket between England and New Zealand, I can't say it was fantastic because it wasn't but England finished the day probably about 1 point ahead.

I had to go out today to buy some reading glasses, I couldn't find the cheap ones so had to pay £4 to go into the fancy opticians to get a pair.... quite nice if I don't say so myself.

I'm about to go to bed again as I have to be up at 5am... yes for the cricket of course.

I have finally managed to upload some interesting video that I took in Saigon when I was there. I never got round to editing it until today, please take a look I'm sure you will find it interesting..... maybe even funny... not for me though.

If anyone is interested in helping out at the orphange please let me know and I could arrange something..... no pressure, it's easy for me as I am single so I do understand for families it isn't so easy.... but... if anyone wants info... just let me know.

enjoy my video and have a laugh at my expense..............

video

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Tuesday 10pm

It was a day of cricket today, I watched Australia lose unfortunately. I have to go to bed early tonight as England's match starts at 5.30am tomorrow.... yes I will be up to watch it... sad I know.

I went into Marks and sparks today for my little treats, alas they are getting too expensive.. a tin of mince is now £5.20.... I love it but it's just too much, I bought some choccie digestives for £1.60, a computer mag which costs £3.99 in the UK was over £12 here so I couldn't bring myself to pay that much. Tins of Heinz baked beans were £1.15 so I treated myself to them instead.

it's strange but since I have been here in Manila for so long the mozzies leave me alone but yet whenever I visit other parts of the Phils I get bitten.... any explanations for that !!!!

Mary thanks for the long comments, I have replied to you in an email, enjoy your last 4 weeks.

Hope you all had a good day as I am off to bed now....

Monday, 3 March 2008

I'm home again.... Monday

I arrived home yesterday but the internet was down most of the day so I couldn't post until this evening.

Well my 5 days in Mindanao were interesting. When the family in Ozamiz knew that I was visiting Mindanao they asked me to visit them again as they wanted me to meet more of their family and they wanted me to go with them on a family outing to the beach.
It was a nice couple of days, I have included some pics of the outing and their homes. Well I hope to add them to this site asap anyway.

I then took the bus again to Cagayan de oro, on the way we were stopped at an army check point, some people got off the bus but most just stayed on, I just thought that the ones that got off did so for a smoke or stretch their legs. 3 soldiers got on the bus, one came up to me and said "off" and pointed his rifle to the door, I didn't need to be told twice, he wasn't being aggressive, I just think his English was limited.

It turned out that all men have to get off to be inspected and soldiers also check the baggage on the bus, women are allowed to stay on the bus....... now is that sexist or what !!!! Of course if I was a terrorist it wouldn't take rocket science to understand that if you have any weapons just make sure that your girlfriend is carrying them !!!!

Strangely it only took us 4 hours to Cagayan this time, last time it was 5 hours, both drivers drove fast and only stopped at official stopping points so I simply don't understand the difference !!

Got to Cagayan and met the couple that manage the children’s home in McDonalds as agreed. It was a 45 minutes drive south to the home, we arrived there about 4pm, they showed me to the "guesthouse" where I was stay for my 2 nights there.
I was introduced to the nurse "Rachael" and she showed me around, there are 24 kids in this home and they live in little houses with 2 "parents", this helps them to live as a normal family.
I just found out that day that this is actually an orphanage, all the children have been given up for adoption.
I met 4 siblings in one house, they were all between 3-6 years old, James, Eduardo, Mercy and Joy-Joy, they were all so cute and Joy-Joy the youngest wouldn't leave my side, she was holding my hands and jumping up and down and always stayed with me. Amazingly all 4 are in the process of being adopted by a family in the U.S... so sometimes there is a happy ending.


James, Mercy and Eduardo


Joy-Joy... so good they named her twice !!

I also met another child that is a "special" child, he has a house to himself and 1 to 1 care because of his problems.
I met Benedict, a 10 year old boy that has been adopted, his new parents are picking him up today, he was a very happy boy when I spoke to him.

In one of the other houses there was 9 children, 6 siblings from one family that can't be adopted, they are aged 12-20, their mother has signed the release papers but the father wants money to sign, he says that he can get money for them if he lets them go to Japan..... he means the girls could work there as "hostesses"...... what a wonderful father to have !!!!
This is the family that I will be helping, I am sponsoring one girl to go to high school, she is starting there this June and I am also helping the 2 oldest to go to college which I believe starts very soon, they had no sponsors so thought that they would be unable to attend their college courses so I guess they will be happy when they find out that they will be going after all, all 3 will be for the next 4 years.
The eldest is a boy (Alfredo 20) he is attending a college but he is a bit.... how do you say.... "slow" minded.

After meeting them I was then served dinner in my guesthouse and left alone. it was then about 6pm, it was very dark and supposed to be very quiet as we are on a mountain in the countryside. The building that I was in was very old and a bit dilapidated, the first thing that I had to do as I entered my bedroom was to kill this huge cockroach, only then did I feel like leaving my bag there... closed !!

There was no TV or radio, I hadn't brought my laptop as there is no internet either, luckily I had brought a book with me which helped. The first night there was very creepy, I now know for sure that I am definitely a city boy. I tried to read but it was difficult as it was my first night, I had centipedes, cockroaches on the floor, Geckos on the walls and ceilings and this cacophony of sounds from outside.

The countryside is supposed to be quiet and peaceful, I can assure you Makati is quieter in the rush hour traffic !!! I could hear a thousand crickets....cricketing or whatever you call the sound that they make. I could hear sounds right by my window ( which were all open and I couldn't close them but there was screens on all windows) sounds that I have never heard before, at one point I could hear the sound of a rattlesnake, now of course I thought to myself I doubt very much if there are rattlesnakes in the Phils, they are mostly in the U.S but that was definitely the sound that I heard, I guess there must be insects that make a similar sound.
The next morning I mentioned this to Rachael when she brought me breakfast..... no she said we don't have rattlesnakes here... I breathed a sigh of relief.... but she said we do have pythons........... WHAT !! thanks a lot that really makes me feel safer !!!!!

Saturday morning I said that I would take a walk into town, I was getting bored as Saturday is their day off and I wasn't going to be involved with anything until that evening. They said (as all Filipinos do) you can't walk that far, we have to make sure that you are safe etc. Anyway all changed because an American visited me, he lives there and has an organisation called H.E.L.P. he has a great program for helping people there, he raises goats and gives them to people, they have to give him the first born to keep his herd up and lets them bring their goats to his place to be serviced so that the breeding continues.
He also has a rubber tree plantation which he took me to see, he has 35 hectares with each hectare producing about $2000 per year which he uses to support needy children. I also visited his home which was very nice, his wife’s sisters live there and he tried to pair us off.... !!! peleassee !!

I then went into town.... town in the loosest sense of the word, it was just lots of shacks side by side selling coke and a lot of tat but probably necessary tat for there. Now remember this place is a long way from a real town so they seldom see a white face, I'm used to people staring as it happens everywhere that I go outside of Makati but this was on a different level..... people just stopped what they were doing to look at me... groups would just stand still staring as I browsed their wares, children were pointing, guys shouting the usual "hi Joe", 3 girl assistants in 1 store ran into the back of the shop when I walked in, the owner said that they are shy of Americans..... I'm not an American.. that's what I was thinking but was pointless in saying. I then walked the couple of miles back to the orphanage, it was really VERY hot, luckily I had borrowed an umbrella to use as a parasol which really helped.

I forgot to mention that when I was on the beach in Ozamiz, about 8/10 of the children always followed me everywhere, as I was walking along the beach I decided to take off my shoes and socks so that I could walk along with the water hitting my feet, as I took my socks off everything went quiet, I looked up and all the kids were staring at me.... !!! I asked the one adult there what are they doing... he said that they are just amazed by your feet, your feet are so very white and they think they are beautiful !!! well that's a first.... my feet... beautiful... I don't think so but I do know how much they are mesmerised by whiteness...... they LOVE white !!

I will end here or this post will be too long, I could write so much more about Mindanao but maybe another time.

I hope you all had a great week end and are refreshed for this new week video