Sunday, 27 April 2008

Me in the Phils.... was I ??

I have been home now for over 2 weeks. Things seem strange, in some ways it feels that I never left the Uk and the Phils is a distant memory.......... but when I sit alone at night, all the good things and some of the bad come back to remind me of how much I loved living there.

I've been out and about in Uxbridge town at different times, when I'm walking and people watching I can't help but see so many people that when I look into their eyes, I can see that the lights are on but there is no-one at home.... so many people just drifting through their lives.... probably as we all do.
I really notice the young people, walking with their mobile phones pressed to their ears and I hear a constant barrage of 4 letter words, they don't seem to care who can hear them... sadly lots are teenage girls. I can see the aggression in so many people, everyone rushing to get wherever they are going and nobody better get in their way, so many young men that I wouldn't trust to even talk to......... to me anyway they stand out as of low intelligence and with a criminal mind... yes I am being judgemental.

The weather since I returned has been quite good save today as it is raining.........

I really wish I was back in the Phils where people.... although they may have less but smile so much more and seem relatively happy with what they have.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Gerry in Uxbridge

Well I have been home for just over a week now, everything has mostly gone well since my return.

It started with me going through customs with 6 bags and I didn't get stopped !!!.... I was home within 45 mins of landing at Heathrow.

I have managed to get most utilities connected except my internet.... I am piggybacking to write this.

I drove to Sandbach in Cheshire to visit my sister Anne for the evening then I drove to Glasgow to visit Helen & Jimmy, Patsy & Joe and finally Paul & Karen where I delivered to them the karaoke mike that I bought on their behalf in the Phils.......... I never sing Karaoke but Karen FORCED me... honest !!!! ...... for the record it was the Stones...... satisfaction.

I then drove 6 and a half hours to visit Maurice in Janice in Skegness, this journey isn't the best but with my CD's on and the sun shining it wasn't too bad.

So I have driven nearly 1000 miles since my return which was very enjoyable, I forgot how nice it is driving on the freeway doing a 100mph +..... it was just for a min or two !!!!

I have had a really good week with my family it was really great to see them all... and I ate extremely well at all of their homes.......... thanks all !!

I have had to do shopping again but luckily here we have Marks and Sparks.... their food is deeelliiicious..!!!

Hope you enjoyed reading my blog in the Phils and I will continue with this for a while....but only about once per week.
Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

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

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

This reallyis my last post on Philippine soil !!

I didn't go to bed last night but I probably fell asleep for about an hour. I was in the shower at 6.15am, I then packed my laptop and the rest of my stuff, it took me longer than I thought. I finished packing at 7.20am just in time for the rental agent's arrival, I then noticed that I hadn't packed my dvds and CD's so I had to make room for them. I packed my kettle and other stuff for coach William and left it all in the lobby for him to collect... time was then becoming an issue as it was 7.40am and the taxi was due at 7.45.. rushed back upstairs for my last check... sorted out Teddy the agent ( really helpful guy) then got mu luggage downstairs for the taxi. Getting stressed...... I have 6 bags to take to the airport... How can I reduce them !! don't know so just get there and worry then.

The building assistants put my bags in the cab as I was saying goodbye to people ... trying to keep one eye on my luggage in case the cabbie legs it with my gear. Now in the cab and on my way to the airport... a bit more relaxed now.... get to the airport at 8.30am... trying to find a cart for these 6 bags... this knee problem is getting on my nerves... luggage on cart... reach the first security checkpoint.. pass through there no problem, onto the conveyor belt checkpoint, I'm hobbling and trying to get 6 bags on this blooming belt... goes through and then have to get another cart for these 6 bags... the airport is like an ants nest with so many people crammed in there.. I'm walking (hobbling) with this cart trying to get through the throng to reach my check in desk..... luckily I'm flying business class so need to queue there.... is she going to allow me 3 bags checked in and to take 3 aboard ???? She is a pretty and friendly young girl, we chat... 7 months sir you must like it here.... yes yes love it .. what else can I say so she lets me get these bags on.....I say lots of nice things and she lets me take 3 bags !!! THANK YOU !!

First hurdle over.... now to queue up to pay the 750p terminal tax... keeps myself busy in this queue filling in my immigration form..... now I am in the queue for immigration.... through there too... this has all taken over 1 hour, I'm hot, stressed.... watching your luggage all the time, don't lose your passport or boarding pass etc etc. Now in queue for last security check... sail through there... now on my way to the business lounge... get inside.. sit down in a comfy chair and let all the stress and anxiety leave the body. I can sit in here relaxing until 15 mins before the flight takes off..... which is where I am at this moment... it's now 10.20 am, 10 mins and I will be aboard back to dear old Blighty !!

Time for me to go.... Thanks to all for taking the time to visit my my blog and leave comments.

This is me signing out for the last time .... Gerry in the Phils..... soon to be sad of Uxbridge..... :-(

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Midnight Tuesday my final evening in the Phils......

Well my final evening has arrived, I had my final walk to Glorietta, Packed my bags late afternoon but there are too many, I will never be allowed 1 large suitcase, I smallish bag, a laptop case with lots of other things inside, a backpack, a bag with a souvenir in it and finally a racket sports bag with lots of other things inside too. Lots of dvd's that I bought while I was here, I hope they don't expect me to pay the duty on them..... if they do I will simply throw them away. I also have another cunning plan, if they say .... "too many bags sir"...... the smallish bag has all the shirts that don't fit me very well at the moment..... so I will simply dump that too.

I had a meal with coaches William senior and Junior, Dianne and my favourite player Keeyan, he is 9 years old, he is the son of coach William Juniors sister. It was enjoyable.

Coach William senior brought Keeyan and was supposed to bring Sarah, she is an 8 year old girl that is very talented and I have a real soft spot for her, she is the child that gave me my first "Mano Po", she is staying with the Coaches during this time as school is out and she is taking part in the summer camp training. She won the under 10 division of my tournament, she is much poorer than the rest of the kids, she didn't come tonight because she doesn't have any clothes that could be worn in a decent restaurant... not my opinion but theirs.

She is staying with the coaches for the whole 2 months of the summer training, Coach William told me that she came to his home with all her clothes in an old cardboard box because her family are so poor. People try and help her there, I think that it is really great, someone bought her trainers to play in as she didn't have any, her racket is the type that no kid would want to be seen dead with in the UK and yet she is better than any of them in her age group. I sponsored her by buying her a new racket and case, so she is dead chuffed about that, I really feel for her, she is such a sweet girl but is held back by her position in life. I've noticed that she hangs back when the coaches ask who wants to do this or that, she allows people to go before her as though she is 2nd best, she is very humble as is her father.... this all really affects me big time so much so that tears can come to my eyes when I think of it..... probably something to do with my upbringing in Glasgow.

Sarah with Keeyan in the center

This is the few young players that took part in the summer boot camp. Keeyan normally a quiet boy jumped up and grabbed me round the neck...... luckily he is only 9 and a lightweight or I could have ended up with serious neckache !!

I am now sitting here in my condo for the last time, I intend staying awake tonight, for one I don't think I will be able to sleep, anyway I can get a good sleep on the flight home.

So it is all over now, I limped home (knee is shot) but enjoyed strolling home and taking all the sights in, 11pm and it's still hot as I walk past all the tropical trees to my street. I arranged for a taxi to come for me at 7.45am via the night receptionist, I like the fact that someone does that for me, she can speak in tagalog and agreed a price for me.

I'm sitting here looking at my packed suitcases, everything now looks bare but tidier than it has ever been during my stay. I got my beer by my side ( well no point in leaving it) and I have to finish the last little drop of whisky that I have left in the bottle. I am leaving the things that I can not take........ electric kettle, water dispenser, some wine and some tins of food that I didn't eat for coach William, he will take whatever he wants and give the rest to others that may need it.

well that's it the adventure is over, it has been a great experience and something that I will never forget. I can only hope that things work out and I am back here living full time in the very near future.
I've seen 2 men shot dead, a bombing in the mall. a 5.8 earthquake, an attempted coup of the government, experienced a curfew one night, and many many bribes and corruption. Plus so many other good things too, a people that respect their elders, a place with having grey hair makes you a well respected person with an opinion to listen to rather than just being that grey haired old prat as I would be seen as in the UK. A place where my badminton training is respected rather than no-one really giving a toss whether you are there or not.

A place where I can say to a teenager or someone in their 20's.... "hey don't do that" and he listens without saying something like ... "go forth and multiply you old git!" !!

A place where you can toot your horn at another driver without the risk of being killed or even being given the one finger salute... I don't know how they stay so calm ALL of the time.

A place where so many people say to me " good morning sir..... how are you..... did you enjoy your lunch.

A place where people text me and say " lets eat" even though they may be 100's of miles away.... strange but nice too... I used to read that as.... "we are going to eat together" but was confused because they were so far away.... all it really means is hey it's lunchtime.... lets eat..... you where you are and me where I am..... hey it's the Phils.... sometimes there is no rational explanation !!

A place where you have to be careful of the words that you use as they will take them literally. My favourite being when I say to someone " hey I'm not going to be charged extra for that am I", they reply " yes sir" meaning .... yes you won't be charged extra... when I'm expecting a " no sir you won't". There are lots of instances like that.... it makes life interesting.

I could go on and on but will stop here so that you can finish reading and go to bed.

It's now 1am Wednesday, just over 9 hours and I will be on the plane. I am so not tired... I will end here, drink my last whisky, look over the makati skyline and think of all the good people that I have met and the good experiences that I have had.

So it's goodnight from me in this tropical heat awaiting my arrival at heathrow, when that plane door opens and that icy draft comes in I know where I wish I was. I will have a jumper with me, something that I have never even thought of for 7 months.

I hope you had a wonderful Tuesday............... Goodbye

Monday, 7 April 2008

My last Monday......... ;-(

well badminton was enjoyable today, I coached a group all afternoon until 6.30pm. I then played one game with Arnell which we won.... so I won the last game that I played in the Phils.

I have serious problems with my knees so much so that I bought a knee support for my left knee which did help. Of course then my right knee gave me real pain all night and I simply struggled badly to move. The first thought of course and this is what doctors will probably say... you are getting old so what do you expect... well normally I would say yes to that, but my regular readers may remember that it was only last year here in the Phils that I played 18 games in one night with no knee problems at all and I won 14 of them. So what happened to that guy !!... my knees can't just lose it that quickly, old age problems would be more gradual.

It was a nice night and it ended with some pressies and 2 big banners with good wishes on them.... see below.

I got home at 12.30am, Arnell gave me a lift home again and his daughter came as well as she wanted to see where I lived. See below

It's now 2.30 am Tuesday, I am sitting here feeling a little sad and drinking a little dram, but more than anything I feel sort of strange... weird even... it doesn't feel real in some way.

I will pack early tomorrow, also I will try and get everything done that needs to be done so I can maybe have a meal in the evening with my coaching friends. I will also have my last walk into glorietta.

Hope you all had a great Monday

Sunday, 6 April 2008

my last weekend is over.......

Well that's the weekend over, it was OK albeit a bit quiet.

Sunday I spent a lot of time in Glorietta just sitting in the coffee bar and watching the world go by. I took lots of pics and generally just people watched, I sat and thought about life and how and what I have to do to achieve what I want for the rest of my life.

I have had friends phone to ask me to go for a meal this week but I don't have the time now, Monday is all badminton and on Tuesday I have to pack, clean the condo and sort out the bills and rental contract, return keys etc etc.

I have made up my mind for sure that I want to retire as early as possible and move to the Philippines, that isn't an easy decision as you may think. Even though I have lived here for 6 months and loved it, there is still so much else to put into the pot to think about.

Each time that I walk around the shops there is never anything that I need or want to buy, I can afford just about anything within reason but I have everything in life that I need, that's a good position to be in. I sometimes wish that I could find something that I want or need but I never can.

I can never buy a house or lot here in the Phils, foreigners are not allowed to own land here, I am allowed to buy a condo but even then only 40% of the condos in that building can be owned by foreigners. Luckily I am happy with a condo, if the pesos goes back down that would help me to buy 2 condos, 1 to live in and the rent from the other will help to maintain my lifestyle.

Do you know that I brought so much stuff that I have never used, especially things like sun screen, insect repellent, tablets for this and that... they will all be returning home with me. I did use some after sun once but that's about it, I will be having a toiletries sale on my return.

I Have had just over 20 hits on average per day, that is to say that my blog has had over 2o visitors per day on average, now there is me, Anne, Mary & Gary, Jan, sometimes Patsy and lately Helen and of course occasionally some friends. That works out to about maybe 7 visitors each day that I can account for..... of course the question is ...... who are the other 13/14 ???

Well enough for tonight.... I hope you all had a great weekend and your next working week is good too.

Love from a hot but beautiful Manila.............

Saturday, 5 April 2008

My last Saturday..... :-)

Well it was a nice day today, the sun was shining and I had a walk around Makati and took some more photos. Yes I do feel very sad leaving but walking around helped me to appreciate what I have had here, I appreciated the "good afternoon sir" a little bit more as I won't be hearing it much in the UK.

In some ways though these last few days have been a bit difficult as I don't really don't know what to do with myself, returning to the UK is uppermost in my mind, Wednesday is looming over me and it seems to stop me from organising my day better as everything is being geared to leaving.

I had a real scare at 10.30 am this morning, I just realised that I hadn't obtained my exit clearance certificate from the Bureau of Immigration when I was last there. If you live in the Phils for 6 months or more you need this certificate to allow you to leave. I frantically rang them but of course it's the weekend so no answer, I checked their website to see when they are open but of course no information. It meant that I would have to get there on Monday morning first thing, I have to give them 3 photos and have my fingerprints taken. This would have spoiled my Monday as it is a complete day with my badminton friends, coaching under 18's during the day and adults part of the evening, then we are going for a farewell meal.

Then like a light bulb going off in my head I remembered..... I went to Vietnam in January.... which means that the 6 months restarts at that point, officially I have only been in the Phils for 3 months of this trip..... PHEW !!!!

Tomorrow (Sunday) will be my last day to rest, Monday is all badminton, Tuesday I have to make sure all bills are paid and up to date, I will have to have a clean up, the owner will be visiting to check out the condo and of course I have to pack everything away. Packing is going to be difficult as I have had to buy quite a lot of new clothes, I am allowed 35 kilos, I hope that I can keep under that, I may have to throw away some clothes to keep the weight down. I am allowed to bring home only £145 of things bought outside the UK, I wonder if there is a bit more leeway for someone that has been out of the UK for 7 months, as obviously during that time everyone would have bought some new clothes. We shall see... do I walk through the "nothing to declare" or the "declare" aisle ?

On my walks around Manila I often see people going through the rubbish bags looking for plastic, mostly bottles but anything made from plastic is saved, I believe that they get a few pesos for every kilo. I think it takes a lot of bottles to make up 1 kilo, mostly it is woman with their children that do it. On my walk home to my condo I mostly enter through the rear of the building (it's quicker) and often see a woman with her child going through our buildings rubbish, she is tidy, she saves what she wants from the rubbish bags and then re-ties them so there is no spillages.
Today when I came home she was there with her daughter, we smiled and as I am leaving the Phils I gave her daughter 50 pesos... she was overjoyed and ran over to tell her mum ( this is more than she earns in a day with the plastic) and I was able to take a photo of them, I felt a bit strange taking a pic of her when she was doing this, I felt uncomfortable like I was taking a pic of someone's misery for my own enjoyment.... anyway they both seemed to be OK with it and smiled. You can see for yourself below.

Notice how clean they are, you wouldn't think by looking at them that this is what they have to do to eat each day, for those that read my blog regularly you will remember how I told you before, they don't have much but what they do have they keep clean and look after well.

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

Friday, 4 April 2008

My last Friday..........TGIF

Sorry that there was no post yesterday but the Internet in the building was down, I stayed up until 1 am but it stayed down.

Today I was going to a summer training camp in Las Pinas but unfortunately coach William had an accident in his car whilst coming to pick me up. Shame as I was really looking forward to it, I was all packed and waiting by the mall when he phoned to tell me the news. He was hit by a Jeepney, no serious damage, bumper smashed off and the lights broken. He was lucky as the Jeepney owner (not the driver) agreed to pay his damage (very lucky) but is going to take the costs off the drivers salary each week (very unlucky). Car accidents are strange here to me, there doesn't seem to be a law about having insurance, the richest pays, the poorest drivers just leg it as quickly as they can, I was in coach Williams car when a tricycle bumped into him, the driver got onto the pavement with his tricycle and done a runner !!

Being a foreigner, if I am ever involved in an accident, it will definitely be my fault no matter what happened, even when the police come along it is still my fault.... WHY.... because I'm a foreigner and can afford to pay for the damage... no matter who caused it...... yes of course it's unfair but some things in life you just have to accept.
My friends have even told me.... I guess tongue in cheek..... but that if I ever run a person down it is best to make sure that they are dead as damages are worked out on limbs or senses damaged, so it is cheaper to kill them !! as then you only pay one set damage.

Today I walked through Greenbelt to get a karaoke mike for my brother Paul (nice mike bty), when a guy coming towards me stopped and gave me the " Hi sir do you remember me)routine, for those that have read my blog since it started you will remember this happened to me a lot, it's a way of con men getting to talk to you and walk with you as they pretend that they know you from your hotel, they say they are security there then go on to ask you for money for a sick child/mother/wife/cow or whatever. I used to quite enjoy the banter as I would always catch them out by asking "which hotel", of course they took a guess but never got it right, this time I was in a hurry so I just said to him " NO I don't know you" and carried on walking.

Rice is a big issue here at the moment, it is so important that it could be the downfall of the government. You have to realise that 90% of the population depend on eating rice 3 times a day. The Philippines used to be the biggest exporter of rice in Asia, it is now the biggest importer in Asia. The officials went to the Asian markets to buy their stocks of rice but because it is now more expensive they only managed to buy 20% of their quota, which will not fill the bellies of the population for 3 months. Rice prices have gone through the roof and there has been reports of hoarding, some businessmen have been arrested for that very thing. The government are trying to address the situation but have failed so far. Filipinos can do without beef, pork and chicken but if you ask them to do without rice... their staple diet.... this could cause big trouble. This could really bring down the Arroyo government.

At 6pm I decided to visit my favourite Chinese restaurant, it is in Greenbelt, really nice but expensive for here, a meal and 2 pints cost me £8, I know that's cheap for the UK but you can eat much cheaper here. Oddly enough I did have rice, the portions are huge, enough for 2 fat greedy Brits or for 4 Filipinos and their kids.... I only ate for 1 fat greedy Brit.... NO I didn't eat it all... only half !! But under the circumstances a real waste, the government have even asked the big fast food retailers to offer a half rice portion to save some stocks but the retailers and the public have ignored it, it's a shame really as a lot of rice is wasted in these restaurants.

I hope you all have a great weekend, I hope I do too as it is my last one in Manila.... everything I do at the moment is.... my last !!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

My last Wednesday evening.............

I was in the shopping malls early today looking for some items that family have requested. That took up most of my time today. As it was a quiet day I have taken the opportunity to include some pics that are sort of bits and pieces.

Below is some pics from my tourney which was held last Sunday.

Below is some pics that I took to show how difficult it is to walk on Manila pavements if you are a blind person... this is very common, trees, lamposts and electrical cable posts everywhere.

Below is another group of odd pics.

TOP LEFT. In this barangay the local youths are under a curfew.
TOP RIGHT. Do you think that young girl is wasting her time sweeping !!!
BOTTOM LEFT. Do we still have these old type glass coke bottles in the UK ??
BOTTOM MIDDLE. A family living by the pavement just cooking dinner.
BOTTOM RIGHT. A group practicing their dance routine in Makati fire station........ ...............only in the Phils !!

Anne, I sent you a text and an email but no reply !!!! :-(

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

11pm Tuesday

I spent a big part of the day shopping and taking photos. The pics are just for me, they were all of places that I see every day, the main road, the entrance to the mall, the walkways that I use and the places that I see and visit. I will look at them when I am stuck in the UK and it will bring back nice feelings.

We had a real downpour today, I haven't seen rain for a few months now so it was actually quite nice to feel the water on your skin, it cooled me down for a while.
It was really heavy or as they say in Glasgow..... it wis stoatin aff the grun !!