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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

November Newsletter

Philippine Dreams
Issue 18 November 2005 Free To The World!
A Word From Your Publisher.

Another month goes by at a fantastic rate of knots and it’s eMagazine time again! Luckily we are starting to get contributions from other Dreamers to pad out the pages! Jim Sibbick returns with some insight and opinion on the security situation in the Philippines. Jim travels just about anywhere and everywhere and he’s still alive and kicking. Apparently on his last trip to Mindanao he was only kidnapped twice and killed once, so he got off lightly! Jim lets us know some of the areas he thinks are safe and those you may be advised to avoid.

JJ is still on Marinduque and letting us know what’s happening on that sleepy island. Another new contributor, Allan Bradley, tells us about his trip to Surigao, the surfing capital of the islands, another “must see” destination for my next visit to the PI. On top of that we learn about a new investigation agency opened up by a very experienced and reliable ex-Chief of Police and the new Philippine Dreams Filipina Club I will be starting by popular demand. If you are looking to meet and correspond with a Filipina you can be sure she is who she says she is, watch this space!

As well, we get an update on that Rural Bank “too good to be true” investment product that claims to pay 20% on your money. Plus the Anonymous Bear is back with his own view on all matters Filipina and Filipino, with some Aussie observations thrown in for good measure. All in all, another must read, can’t miss, two thumbs up issue of your favourite FREE eMagazine, Philippine Dreams!

Cheers, Perry
Perry Gamsby, Publisher, Editor, Chief Bear Wrangler and so on.

In This Issue!

Philippine Dreams Teams Up With Trusted Local Contact To Help The Lovelorn And Lonely !

Jim Sibbick Offers An Opinion On The Safety Of Visiting The PI Worth Considering!

Bradley Allen Offers Some Insight And Anecdotes On The Surfing Capital Of The Philippines!

A Retired Police Chief Opens An Investigation Agency In The Philippines.

JJ Keeps Us Up To Date In His Inimitable Homespun Style!

Are There Business Opportunities To Be Had in The Philippines? We Take A Look At A New One Each Month. This Month – Rural Bank Too Good To Be True Scheme Seems Kosher!

You Can Take The Filipina Out Of The Philippines…

The Latest Properties, Investment Opportunities And Real Estate News.

Click Here for the Stop the Bear From Whining Fund

Click Here for my latest book Filipina101


Philippine Dreams Teams Up With Trusted Local Contact To Help The Lovelorn And Lonely !

Watch this space! Over the next month or so I will, in conjunction with my good mate John Martin of Compostela Cebu, be starting a penpal club called Philippine Dream Girls. All of the women will be over 18, with their identity verified via NBI and Barangay clearance papers. All men who wish to join and correspond will also have to submit their full details and all membership details, male and female, will be viewable by all members, but only members. If you don’t like your real name and age to be public knowledge, don’t join!

So many men have asked for a place where they can meet genuine Filipinas who aren’t scammers. Well we can’t guarantee they won’t scam or put the bite on you for cash but we will vet them as best we can, no guarantees. We will advise them not to ask for money but if you decide you want to send them some cash, then John will assist you. Flowers, cell phones, load, whatever you want so long as it is legal he can arrange. All of the girls will be locals which will make visiting them easier as he can help with introductions, accommodation and transport.

As Compostela is only about 18 miles (25km) from the center of Cebu City you can stay in town and take a taxi, bus or jeepney out there, have lunch at John’s Diner and meet your penpal. More than one penpal, advise John first and maybe meet them separately in town!
The cost for this? Nothing, zip, zero, nada, wala, absolutely not a peso.

Neither men nor women will be charged to join the Yahoo group and check out the files and photos or use the chat function or post etc. No promises of marriage or anything else are offered so we don’t break any Filipino laws, nor do we wish to. It is not a mail order bride service, merely a place where you can possibly find a Filipina who wants to meet you, via the web, who you are pretty sure is who she claims to be.

All internet activity is carried out at local cafes at the member’s expense, John doesn’t have internet access or charge for this. I will be chatting to other café owners I know who may want to jump aboard and direct their customers to this group providing they sight sufficient ID to verify they are who they say they are.

Many men, and Filipinas I know are sick of the anonymity of most dating services. They can’t be bothered playing the chat room games and are tired of finding someone only to have them turn into just another waste of cyber space. There will be no guarantees remember, it is a member driven group that I will manage and set up for the benefit of others and the sale of my eBooks. John will hopefully get some business at his diner and for providing services and the members just might meet someone decent.

If you are interested, email me. If not, leave it alone, I really am not interested in your opinion, concerns, worries, outrage or whatever. I have made my decision to do this. This is a genuine, honest attempt to help people, don’t make it something it isn’t. Salamat!


If you are looking for that special Filipina Dream girl to spend the rest of your life with then Filipina 101 is the best resource you are going to find with everything you need to know to find the Filipina of your dreams. I tell you how I found my Filipina Dream girl.

Filipina 101 examines the major questions and doubts most of us have when we embark on an international search for a soulmate.

Here are some of the things you will find in Filipina101:

* How do I find a reputable penpal or introduction service?
* Snail mail or email and chat cams, which is better?
* Should I send her money to help with internet costs?
* Do I bring Gifts and what is appropriate?
* Will she be writing to other men?
* How do I tell her I have kids and when?
* Where should we meet for the first time?
* We Reveal The Number One All Time Best Pick Up Technique That Rarely Fails!

Scared Of Being Scammed And Ripped Off? We Tell You The Signs To Look Out For, The Alarm Bells And What Rings Them! The truth about Virginity and Sex before marriage. Can you try before you make a life long commitment? How to identify the professional ladies of night that might betrying to masquerade as innocent and hide their double life. You can read more about Filpina 101 by clicking here



Jim Sibbick Offers An Opinion And Some Insight Worth Considering!
Posted in General Philippines by Jim on the October 14th, 2005 Editor: This article first appeared on Jim’s Blog, check it out and hopefully we can pirate some more articles from Jim in months to come.
Visit Jim’s web site where it is available to download for free. If it was of interest or value, consider making a small donation to help the site with the huge bandwidth costs they absorb every month.

Everyone has different opinions about security, or any topic for that matter, based on their personal experiences.

The following is my opinion on security in the Philippines.

As you may already know, I have been visiting the Philippines for 11 years. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING bad has ever happened to me personally. That is not to say that nothing bad will ever happen to me and and I am not saying nothing bad will ever happen to you but I am happy living in the Philippines and I am sure you will be too, so long as you use some common sense.
I do have friends who have had their cell phones stolen or been pick pocketed or had necklaces snatched. Also, my laptop computer was stolen last year along with some other items when I left it with Paul Petrea and thieves broke into his home. These were all petty, opportunistic crimes and I don’t believe anyone’s life was threatened in any of these events. So, YES, there is crime in the Philippines but you need to put things in perspective. Crime happens everywhere in the world, not just the Philippines and you shouldn’t just think to yourself that you won’t go to the Philippines because you heard of a particular event happening in the Philippines. You need to weigh the risks, look around where you live, ask yourself if the same things are happening there and decide if the risk is acceptable to you.

If you follow the international news, you will also be aware that there are terrorists in the Philippines.

There are several organisations trying to bring about change in the Philippines. Two of the most prominant are the Abu Sayef and New People Army (NPA). This is my opinion of these organisations, wrong though I might be.

The Abu Sayef want the Philippines to convert to Islam or at the very least they want Mindanao for themsleves and want it declared a separate country. They have taken hostages in the past, but it seems mostly for fundraising purposes, so they can continue their struggle against the Philippines government. They could show up at your front door but their most likely target areas are south western Mindanao and when they want to make a point with the Philippines government, they target the seat of power, Manila. Their struggle is not with foreigners so if you keep out of their way, they will most probably keep out of your way.

The NPA want the Philippines to become a communist country. Again their struggle is with the Philippines government and not with foreigners. I believe they have a stated policy of not wanting to harm foreigners. This doesn’t mean a poor disgruntled local member of the NPA won’t think you are ripe pickings but I presume the NPA heirachy can see the value in tourist dollars and the fact that more foreigners in the country is a good thing. The NPA do have fund raising activities such as charging a toll to bus operators and burning the buses that won’t pay the toll but from what I have seen of the activities of the NPA, they will support the weak against the strong or the corrupt. To show you what I mean, here are second hand accounts of three NPA attacks I know of:- A police station in a Leyte town was attacked by the NPA and naturally the media portrayed the NPA as the bad guys but speaking to the locals, the local police were very corrupt and most of the locals were pleased that the attack took place.- A corrupt barangay captain was getting rich off the locals in his barangay and his final reward was a bullet in the back of the head, supposedly by the NPA- A V-Hire operator decided that someone else’s licened route would be more profitable than his route and refused warnings to cease operating illegally. The NPA stopped his van, threw out the passengers, without harming them and burnt the van.

You will hear and see government warnings saying don’t go to the Philippines. I have two thoughts on the warnings:- They are racist. When I was shopping around for the best airfare to the Philippines several years ago, I was told by the travel agencies, there is a warning about travel to the Philippines. I asked if there was ever a warning against going to London when they had bombings. NO, there wasn’t.- They are put in place to stop litigation from your country’s citizens. After the Bali bombings a few years ago, many Australian citizens were trying to blame their loss on the Australian government for not warning that Bali was dangerous. Now the Australian government just says flat out, don’t go to Indonesia and they say the same for the Philippines.

People’s opinion on safety has a lot to do with perception. I told a Filipina from Manila recently that my laptop was stolen in Cebu City last year. She rolled her eyes and made a comment about not being surprised because Cebu City is such a dangerous place, not like Manila where it is safe. She has never been to Cebu City but she knows it is unsafe. For my part, I think Cebu City is safer than Manila.

I have wandered around in some of the most unsavoury parts of Cebu City at all times of the night and day and only felt unsafe once. This occurred one night when a friend of mine was taking pictures at the infamous basket ball court off P. Del Rosario Street and a Filipino took exception to his photo being taken and wanted his picture deleted. According to my friend, he wasn’t in any picture so he couldn’t delete it but the Filipino was still unhappy and threatened to cause trouble but nothing came of it. I normally would wander home alone from the basket ball court but this time I left in a taxi with friends. My brother in law got lost one night in the area near the same basket ball court. He was trying to find the Cebu Century Hotel. The only thing that happened to my brother in law was that when he found a taxi, the driver refused to take him. The driver instead just pointed to the Cebu Century hotel and said, “there it is”.

I remember fondly my trip to the Philippines in 2000 shortly after the Abu Sayef took hostages from Malaysia and brought them back to the Philippines. Before I even left Australia, everyone was saying, Don’t go to the Philippines, it is a dangerous place. I went anyway. I had to visit my friend in Davao. When I arrived in Leyte, I told the family that I was going to Davao. The family thought that where they were in Leyte was perfectly safe but, Don’t go to Davao, it is a dangerous place. I went anyway. When I arrived in Davao, I had a very good time. My friend thought Davao was perfectly safe but said, Don’t go to Western Mindanao, it is a dangerous place. I had no plan to go so I didn’t. I now have met foreigners living on the Western side of Mindanao, in Cagayan De Oro and who were living there before 2000. They think it is safe now and was safe then. I wonder how far into Western Mindanao I really have to go before someone will tell me that where they live is unsafe.

Here are some final thoughts:- Don’t make yourself a target and you are unlikely to become one. Dress sensibly, keep your valuables hidden and treat all Filipinos with respect.- If you let yourself be afraid of what terrorists might do, you will never leave home and your life is wasted anyway. Might as well get out and enjoy life and let the terrorist do the worrying.
See you in the Philippines!



Bradley Allen Offers Some Insight And Anecdotes On The Surfing Capital Of The Philippines!

Hi Perry,

How ya doin’ MAAAAAAATE? Good Aussie greeting there :)

I hope your lovely wife has settled in and is not too homesick, thriving I bet!
Just thought I’d slip in a few anecdotes re my 2 visits to Surigao. If you can use them in your newsletter, feel free, and edit to your heart’s content.

I’ve never heard anyone else mention Surigao on this site, it’s a bit off the beaten track apparently. I don’t know what road access is like but Mem and I get there from Cebu via overnight ship, a great way to travel. It has it’s drawbacks though.

On my first trip, after Mem and I had stoked each others fantasies b4 hand re booking a private cabin as opposed to tourist class and what antics we might indulge in with our privacy, I left the booking of the tickets to her. Her shyness ensured we travelled tourist class, which meant we were in a large floating dormitory. We had bunk 39 and 40, how cosy! Unfortunately bunk 39 was at the end of one row and bunk 40 was about 25 metres away at the start of the next row. We tried to change bunks but families and friends were in their groups and were reluctant to change. I asked re a cabin being available and we were lucky. I paid the difference and we were in.

With mixed feelings our relationship was consummated that night. It was too easy, but it was also very nice, hard to win, eh? I thought Mem was being a tad paranoid about the possibility of someone peeking through the curtains. There was a 100mm gap between them and the window with the bow of the ship being outside with it’s anchor chain “storage chutes”? ventilation ducts etc. An area for crew only.

On the second visit Mem was adamant someone was peeking and when she went for a shower ( A cold one, I would pay dearly for a hot shower over there!!) I turned off the cabin lights and quickly yanked the curtains aside and saw the kneeling figure of a man quickly jump up and disappear! Fortunately he had had little to entertain him at that stage. The curtains were subsequently pinned back to the wall with spare pillows from the second bunk in the cabin. So, a warning to all travellers, check your curtains and turn the lights off !!

After disembarking from the ship Mem warned me to stay close and look straight ahead. I had to ignore the beggars and offers of help to carry my bags etc. She always accompanied me where ever I went, rightly concerned that I could be abducted and robbed by a corrupt cab or trike driver. Very wise counsel !!

The main difference at first glance between Cebu and Surigao is the trikes. You catch cabs in Cebu, trikes in Surigao. The road rules are similar in both cities. Trikes go 3 abreast both ways on roads that only fit 2. This causes congestion but keeps speeds down to a safe level. Traffic lights are for decoration only. When collision is imminent the cowardly give way, testosterone wins. Road rage is rare, because everyone accepts how it works.

There are no malls in Surigao and less beggars. Less distinction between rich and poor because everyone is poor. Mem arranged accommodation when required in both cities. We used “pension hotels”. The rooms were fine, a/c and even hot water in the last one we stayed at in Cebu!

There are some wonderful beaches around Surigao and I enquired re a block of land there, approx $10,000AU.Hmmm ... maybe I got my maths wrong! .. I’ll check on that. I may retire there in years to come. There is a world class surfing beach in the area but we never did get there, next time maybe. I say world class because I’ve been told a world championship event was held there.

According to the radar weather watch on my pc, it’s pissing down outside my window, but alas my view doesn’t agree. Need the rain!

That’s all for now,

Take care and thanx for your group.


One Of Life’s Gentlemen Starts A Venture To Help Dreamers.

Editor’s Note: I know Pete Onni, the Finnish Arnold Swartzeneggar (because he is smart, large and has that “I’ll be back “ accent) because I hired him to fill a role in a Cebu company we both worked at when he was retiring from 30 years as a professional policeman in Finland, the USA and the Western Pacific. I am sure he will provide a service that ensures honesty, integrity and professional results. Pete lives here in Cebu with his Filipina wife and their child and I wish him every success with this new venture.

As an American married to a Filipina and living in the Philippines I have had the opportunity to see and hear a lot when it came to the interactions between foreigners and the local population. Also, I have been in law enforcement for most of my adult life, and for the past several years I was the commander of the local Interpol office in the Western Pacific. I have seen almost every type of scam possible, and was involved in the investigations of several, from bigamy to multi-level marketing schemes.

I have seen many dreamers being conned out of thousands of dollars, and in some instances their life savings. This bothered me and a couple of my close Filipino friends, who want to see the Philippines become an attractive destination for retirees and investors instead of becoming known as a haven for scam artists.

In an effort to help foreigners, we established a security consultancy/investigation firm. We work with clients ranging from companies to private individuals. Our staff is composed of active and retired investigations and intelligence professionals from all corners of the Philippines. We have a unique network of extremely capable people, some working for us full-time, others part-time. We also have a close working relationship with similar firms in other Asian countries, including Thailand, Japan and Malaysia.

We put a very high value on confidentiality. If a client prefers to remain anonymous, only one person in our firm will know his or her identity, that’s me. All the other persons involved only know a code number, not even the nationality or gender of the client. Once a contract has been completed to the satisfaction of the client, the full report will be sent to the client, and all related documents, files etc will be destroyed at our office. The client may of course choose to publish the results if he or she so wishes, after all, the report is the property of the client.

Our website is We can be contacted anytime for additional consulting. If we feel we can not be of help, we will tell you that.


JJ Keeps Us Up To Date In His Inimitable Homespun Style!

Perry and all: Hello to all:

We are setting here in Marinduque, thinking how lucky we are to have carved our little homestead out the jungle,, or more correctly, out of an old rice field. The jungle was centuries ago. We still have vestiges of that rice field, but hope that as soon as dry weather comes, be can start building it up again.

Our little home is in good shape. A few weeks ago we replaced light bulbs. We then cleaned fans. The we reinstalled light bulbs, putting in higher wattage bulbs to light our path. We can now see better and have a nice time at night and when the lights are on. Did you know that they still make 5 watt bulbs. The 5 watt bulbs are plentiful here on the Island of Marinduque.

We are now getting mail from the USA, instead of mail from the Philippines. We look forward to the mail, but it only seems to come two or three times a day. I got a card from my daughter. The card was for my birthday, better late than never. My wife celebrated a birthday in September. After hers comes mine. My kids have each celebrated birthdays here in the Island. They prefer to celebrate in the USA. Say they get more. I prefer to celebrate here. I had 40 to 50 here, mostly family. We had a case of Barcelona and only used a few bottles. I enjoyed watching the family make lumpia, pancit and the local foods for my benefit. I made pizza from the ground (flour) up. We had mozzarella cheese from Manila and it did fine. We have made a small batch here from local milk. I came out well. We also have made a little sausage. They want it sweeter, and I want it with out any sugar at all. I won, but could probably not sell much in the local market if I were to set a man at a retail stall or give him a cart to peddle his wares. We have tried local sausage with just local ingredients and no sugar, good stuff. Adding spices from the USA is just icing on the cake.

We got our car back from the repair after my son turned it over last year. It looks wonderful. We could have really had a disaster on our hands, seven men, three in front and four in the back, all swerving to miss a dog. All a little bit tipsy including the driver, my son. No charges, no injuries and much relief on my part. We went through the usual hoops with the government to get the plates. We had it inspected, a real joke. Smoke belching from the exhaust of the car ahead of us and he had ‘zero’ emissions.

I wondered if I would pass. I have a diesel and had you guessed it, zero emissions. Cost me 300 pesos, if I remember correctly. We got to the LTO to wait for a few ahead of us. We bought insurance from an office up the street that issued a policy, instead of buying a policy from LTO. We even got a discount, 575 vs. 650 php, again if memory serves me well. I had to pay to take the car our of storage, and then pay current fees, and pay fees for the year before I owned the car. Why, no body had paid them so they were due and I was stuck. A cousin in charge of the office did cut a little slack though, maybe 100 pesos and a few trumped fees that were avoided. Nice to have cousins in high places. About a day later the fuel pump stopped working and we were forced to by pass the pump. I am running on gravity feed and canvassing for a fuel pump in Manila.

We start painting the roof of our house yesterday. Seems we paint a primer of Chinese Red first, then paint the actual roof color in a few days. We chose beige as it is not common here. We wanted brown, but guess what? NIS, not in stock sir...! Should have known. We do not want red, we are not Chinese, and yellow, blue and green are all in use by neighbors. Beige is available and not common. Also, it will fit in with the brown bricks. My nephews did the painting, one with two hands and one with an umbrella in one hand and a brush in the other. He sure looked funny with that umbrella on the roof. They painted until after dusk.

I have not seen them yet this morning but understand they will be here in the afternoon. Seems the roof was a bit warm. They do not want me to go up on top of the roof, they are not sure it would hold me.

We also found out that the nails were put into the roof with out some type of gasket, which are usually put in with each nail to avoid leaks in the rain. Guess we have been lucky. Anyway, we will put a sealer in the seems of the roof before or after, as appropriate, the new coat of paint. I brought a sealer from the USA. I have a five gallon bucket and may put it on the roof instead of the veranda, where it was originally intended to go.

I’ll have to call the manufactures and see if that sealer can go on a roof. I advise everyone to be on hand when your house is being built. So far we have had no leaks, but with the guys painting it, and maybe opening up small holes, who knows. Time will tell. (As an added not the painting nephews came at noon, dry not and they are sure it will not rain now).

We had an enclosed glass case put around our tub. We got a coil for the water too. Now we are waiting for someone to hook up the coil for warm bath tub water. Hope that doesn’t take two years like the first coil did. I thought the coil was hooked up when we were in the USA. Wrong again. Anyway, using the shower with cold water promotes a small leak. Still no sigh of the mechanic who put it in coming back to caulk the area.

Maybe he will not get such a high recommendation as before and maybe we will not have him do job number four. He did our screens, and also enclosed our main shower, which does not leak, but which did require him to come back and recaulk the instillation a second time.

Mama wanted a cubo built. We selected a spot in the back yard. Oney is a cousins brother-in-law. He seems to be blind in one eye and slow, but the cubo is coming alone well. Funny to see Oney jump out of the way when the nephews went up a ladder to paint the roof. We had our usual gardener working, the nephews and Oney, a self taught carpenter. He does seem to be doing well though, and is quiet as he works along.

Oney refused to built the cubo with lumber from a tree that fell down during the last storm. Says it is bad luck. So we will be buying lumber and material for the cubo. Oneys price for the 9 foot nipa palm shingles is 16 pesos. My wife found them for 25 pesos per shingle. We’ll stick with Oney on this one. I guess we’ll split the lumber with the folks that have the fallen tree, and let them take care of getting the permit.

We have acquired plans for a barn to be built on the hill side of our farm here in Marinduque. We have checked out the trees in the local area and went through all the legal hoops to have the trees cut and made into lumber. We have gotten static from the main municipal officer on building a structure of this type so close to the hospital and provincial capitol. Then we got a land declaration and found out we were free to do so. We can build without restrictions. Another cousin talked to us and asked that we pass the plans but a third cousin, the barangay captain. My wife is taking care of that little problem this weekend.

Or so its hoped anyway. The barn can be built for private or family use without problems. I thanked them for thinking I wanted to go commercial with the plans and the project. I would never opt to take care of 2000 chickens or 40 pigs, or over two goats. I did thank them for thinking I was that industrious though. I think that the joke missed and went right over their heads. We do plan to start by cutting wood on Saturday, tomorrow. I have a nephew who will supervise the project, but he is not one for always keeping his word, so we will see how the progress of the project moves along.

Our quail are good, what is left of the project. We are having problems with the incubator and have now corrected that problem. We are getting high humidity without adding water to the actual body of the box. We are shooting for 70 percent humidity, but with 84 % on the island, that seems to been harder to do that we had originally bargained for. Anyway it has been raining a lot, just enough to make it muggy and to dampen the clothes hanging on the line. I am sure we will get the clothes dry in time, but when?

How about the Houston Astros? Someone on this list informed me the Astros were ahead in an email yesterday. Mama had the computer the rest of the afternoon. She is a bigger sports fan than I am, and I love the Astros. I am probably the only guy in the island that can watch a game in peace, any time, as long as I root for mama’s team. Anyway, I am proud of Houston. It has taken since 1962 for them to get into the Series. Hope they go all the way. We did not ask for much when 250,000 folks came from the dampened Gulf Coast. We took them in. I guess God saw our goodness and has blessed us again. We missed the affects of Rita, and now the Series, how much better can Houston get?

We will need to replant some of our orchard, we will be waiting for dry season to bring in dirt and to plant the trees again. Better drainage may help. We also need to wait for dry weather for digging our fish pond. We did find out that draining the manure of the chickens and pigs into the fish pond was a good idea. We are told the fish will grow like topsy, any ideas? When we were in Manila last week we got some potted herbs.

We did well with every thing accept the Rosemarie. The Rosemarie died because of over watering. We have put the herbs, one per pot, into clay pots what grace our veranda and the small railings in fine rustic style. We have mint, basil, colander and some other herbs. We wish we had bought more basil and oregano, but there is always next trip. We bought every clay pot that we knew was for sale in Boac and Gasan, Marinduque. We also bought lots of flowers to complete our veranda.

Summer is about over. We have semester break her on our island over the next week or two. The kids are all off from school, at least the kids in grade school and high school. I am sure I will have competition in getting on the computer to answer my email.

We made banana bread from the scratch yesterday. For those of you who have forgotten what that mean, it is from the flour up. A friend on the list wrote me off line telling me he also made bread an pizza. I hope to exchange recipes with him. He also makes sausage. He does better than me and makes bacon and boiled hams. I hope to also learn that skill from him. We are hoping to bring our smoke house and our clay oven into fruitation by late November, in time for Thanksgiving. The banana bread was good. The nieces all asked what box mix I used. When I broke our laughing they seemed insulted, as though I would not give them the box mixes for them to try at home.

When they found out the recipe was from the flour up, their demeanour changed for the better. I guess everyone loves homemade baked goods, even our locals in Marinduque.
Our local medical mission is still scheduled for 7 to 11 February. We plan to hit every town in Marinduque.

So far we have gotten a few boxes of supplies in. We are better supplied in some respects than the local hospital. I visited a young boy several days ago. He had an infected foot. He never did go to the hospital for medical attention. I offered to drive him but he declined my offer. Told me he did not want to use the hospital as he did not have money for such things.

The boil popped on Tuesday and drained. He cleaned it with alcohol and went to work on Wednesday. He wrapped a rag around the wound and it seems to be healing, but open at the skin level. The wound is as big as a quarter, and deep, but seems to be granulating in and the swelling and pain have subsided. Who is to say he is wrong. Seems hell to be so poor to have to decide to eat or have a foot heal. Exodus seems to continue for the greener pastures of the mainland. Folks still leave for Lucena, Manila and overseas. The agencies that recruit for overseas workers are making a killing. I understand that it is leave and fly now, payback over the first year, work a second year to make the job worthwhile and then come home and start a small business where you will work your fingers to the bone for the rest of your life time. Many seem to be in this mode of thinking.

Lansones are now fading away. What few that are still in the market are not costing more. Two weeks ago they were giving them away by the kilo, 20 peso a kilo. Now they are still a bargain, but are double the price.

We are starting to plant coconut trees and are looking for mangosteen and durian trees. If anyone knows of any sources of these trees, please let us know. We are also looking for goats and pigs from certified sources on the mainland. Marinduque is certified free of Hoof and Mouth disease. Importation of animals is now pretty tough. We’ll have to wait for our sasso chickens too. There are no planes from Manila to Marinduque now and will not be any until at least January. Travel to Manila is tougher.

Took 5 hours last week to get there, three to get back at night. We are also waiting to get ducks and some more turkeys. We may have to wait for the season, what ever that is. The realities of raising animals on this island is starting to take hold. We have located a source of turkeys, geese and guinea foul, but they want a fortune for each bird. Also the poor farmer does not know the males from the females. Our own small flock of chickens seems to increase. One small chicken, a native mama, had four eggs and three hatched. She is watching here three little chicks like a hawk. See seems to be a good mother. Hopefully we will have a few more like her. We gave away five or six fighting cocks when we left in February. Upon returning we find one old boy has won three or four times. Sure, and after we gave him away. Nothing was said about the other four or five, they must have made tough stew.

Our seed boxes need to be replaced. It seems that our gardener took them off the railing that surrounds our veranda and put them on the ground by the chicken coop. That made for them to rot. Why, I have no idea why he would move them. But we’ll start again. Soon I hope.
Without seed boxes, we are sort of stuck with getting seeds planted in the vegetables garden. We hate to go direct and the soil is wet anyway. Maybe it is just better to wait. Again, we’ll wait and time will tell us if we are right or wrong in doing so.

We are still waiting to plan gabi. Any suggestions?

I planted my comfrey roots, I think I got them in too late. I have not seem much progress with them coming to life. I may try again in the early spring, during drier weather.
We have gotten our fences back up. The neighbors have slowed down on their passage across out land.

We are now dealing with a man who brought our new furniture from Lucena by truck, floated on the ship, to Marinduque. I had hoped mama would have been more specific as to the charges. Our living room now looks quite western and our old island, bamboo furniture looks well on the verandah. We have a new character with that old furniture. Some of the locals think we are a bit ostentatious with that furniture on the verandah, but I like it. We have a nice environment when folks come over for a visit.

My friend that borrowed a book last summer and was going to return it the next day still has not shown up. Neither has his electrician. I guess it is a good thing that I did not wait for him. I continue to wonder. I had a man scheduled to chop a stump out today too. Everyone want money, but no one wants to work. He was sure to come this morning, but he did not make it yet and it is 1:30 PM. I smile a lot. Not long ago I post a post in one site about 10 reasons to smile in the Philippines. If you don’t smile you may not see the humor in some things.

Well that is it for now. I hope you are all doing fine and we look forward to hearing from some of you regarding this post.

As ever,
Are There Business Opportunities To Be Had In The Philippines? We Take A Look Each Month. This month… Rural Bank Too Good To Be True Scheme Seems Kosher!

First, let’s revisit the original story form the April 2005 Issue, then read the update:

Investment Gem Or Potential Rip-Off?

There is an old saying that I firmly believe, “if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is”. There are a lot of opportunities in life, however, that may seem to some too good to be true. Their lack of experience with that particular opportunity may make it seem almost surreal and far too good to be kosher. Meanwhile others who may have more information or previous experience recognise the opportunity for what it is and make the proverbial killing. How do you know which is which then?

Recently a friend of mine posted how he had looked into a scheme to invest a lump sum on a time deposit with a local Rural Bank and he would earn 20% p.a. interest on his money. His first deposit was for a modest P100,000 and if it played out, he was planning on investing several million in different accounts, different banks and in his and his wife’s names. Spread the risk so to speak.

On the surface his actions seem prudent and sensible and he would be looking at bringing in around P50,000 a month in interest as a form of income, and all without touching his pension and other savings! Brilliant! But is it too good to be true?

Firstly, I don’t think my friend is easily taken in by scammers. He has lived overseas for most of his working life and has been around the block once or twice. He is also an engineer, a technical type who is pedantic, even anal, in getting all the details sorted out, weighing up each nuance and really squeezing the decision of every drop of “if” before committing. One of those “show me” types who don’t accept someone else’s’ word for things unless they have seen it for themselves. In other words, unlike me, he isn’t the type to leap in boots and all on a whim! If I asked him to research an item and find out the best value for money example on the market, he would bore me to death with all the details but I would buy the model he recommended because I trust his judgment in those matters.

But this investment scheme doesn’t sit right with me. I know the deposit would be protected by the PDIC, the government body that insures deposits in member banks, and it appears the chosen Rural Bank is a member. I don’t like Rural Banks here because they have a history of going squishy on depositors. There are three basic types of banks here, Thrift, Rural and Commercial. Each have different areas they can supply services in and also different degrees of difficulty (i.e. protection for depositors) they must comply with when being set up.

I knew a German in Danao who ventilated his skull with a pistol bullet after losing P5 million when his Rural Bank went belly up and the CEO went on holidays with the cash! In those days the PDIC only covered P100,000 per depositor per bank. Now that amount has risen to a more respectable P250,000 per depositor. With my friend making (less than) P250,000 deposits in several participating Rural Banks and in his and his wife’s names he is indeed spreading the risk and also utilising the protection of the PDIC. Providing there isn’t a problem somewhere should he need to make a claim. Sounds like he has it covered but I still hear those alarm bells!

I can’t think how a bank in the Philippines can legally loan money at such a rate they can afford to pay investors/depositors, 20%? Are they getting into the 5/6 business and lending money at extortionate rates to high risk borrowers? Heaven forbid! No business can borrow money at 20%, pay it back and stay in business unless we are talking drugs or prostitution so how can a small Rural Bank pay that kind of interest on time deposits?

What if the CEO’s of the Rural Banks have every intention of doing the right thing but they fall into a cash flow shortage problem and can’t make the monthly interest payments? What if they are intentionally defrauding the investor, or misleading them as to the risks? What if they put aside enough of the deposit to pay the first year’s interest payments, then bug out? They take the rest of the principle with them and are long gone before the lack of funds to keep making interest payments is discovered. Meanwhile, buoyed by the regular interest payments you not only invest more, you urge your friends to share the good fortune.

How about they get to the end of the five years, have made every interest payment due but the principle is no longer in existence due to “unforeseen circumstances”, honest or otherwise? What if this is similar to the SEC Share Float scam? A company genuinely releases a float to raise funds but then misuses the money to pay whopping salaries and dividends to managers and board directors and fail to reinvest in the business, which soon goes under. It can be totally above board, the request to SEC to raise capital with a float, the raising and then the board voting on how to utilise the money, despite it not being in the best interests of the shareholders per se. It happened here recently with the first owners of a Master Franchise with an internationally recognised fast food brand.

For me, there are not enough guarantees and too many iffy details. It does sound too good to be true but I hope for my friend’s sake I am wrong. Very wrong. If I am, then I am perfectly happy to not only pass on the news to the Dreamers, but to apologise for ever doubting his judgment. I do hope I am wrong, I just really don’t think I am. What do you think?

And here is the update from the Investor himself. I have taken the liberty, at his request, to omit specific amounts of money, that are not relevant to the basic news value of the update and of course are the personal details of the Investor. I would like to thank the Investor for his candor in sharing this detail with us so we can all better decide whether this is a viable option for our own investment and retirement plans.

I am well pleased with the deposits in Bank of East Asia (who arranged to pay into my account with EastWestBank for the Car Loan repayments) and Pilipino Rural Bank (who credit my ATM Account with Land Bank, with withdrawals at HSBC and BPI ATM's also).

So much so that having received a Pension Lump Sum from 2 of my 3 Pension Providers, I wanted to avail of another 6 year deposit, like I did with PRB. Trouble is that scheme was closed at PRB and only available in Bacolod. Marhlan & Nestor of Legacy Group managed to speak to the chairman, and this is what they reported back to me:-

Good news!!! Luckily, the Chairman of Legacy Group has just recently advised this morning to grant the 1 year advance interest of 20%, plus monthly crediting of interest on 6 years CTD for the following banks: PCRB, Rural Bank of Carmen, PRB, and BEA. This will be effective however until the end of October (Oct.31' 05). This means that after October 31, only Nation Bank Bacolod will be allowed to grant this offer.

So I am closely watching the GBP-USD Exchange Rate to see if it climbs since this seems to directly affect the GBP-PHP Rate (almost exactly GBP->USD->PHP) is good free ‘Tool’ to see how the Exchange rate changes during the day. It has climbed to a peak of 1.778, which is where it was 08:00 on 21st, and on 7th October early in the day, and on 24th September. However at 22:00 on 21st October it was up at 1.8125, or better still 5th Sept when it was 1.8501 – why could my funds not have come through by then!

The Foreign Exchange Rates as quoted by HSBC On-Line Banking seem to be lower, and lag behind what the FOREX Rate actually is. Trouble is their Buy/Sell spread is 2.5%, so not much chance to capitalize on this lag. All day their Rate for buying Pound Sterling(GBP) has been 0.0103684 (96.447), when that FOREX Chart showed GBP-USD @ 05:00 to be 1.7688 . So in this basis, HSBC should be offering 97.774, or there about, in the morning?

This might not seem a lot (less than 1%) but when you are considering changing £X,000+, that’s nearly Php10,000 extra!

I owe PhpX.xM with my HSBC AssetLink loan against PhpXM on Deposit. My first thoughts were to repay as much of this loan as I could possibly afford and then be able to borrow with less than 24 hours notice again. Became aware of the needs for fairly large sums when Mama got sick and had to be admitted to Hospital – and more so with Harry Carter.

However, being able to avail of that 6 year plan means putting 4 deposits of PhpxK (A, B, A/B, A/C where A is say Bob, B is Mary and C is Child) means getting PhpxK back as soon as my PhpXM cleared. Will use that to pay off on AssetLink Loan then use the PhpxK a month interest to repay more of loan each month. This means I would be able to ‘borrow’ PhpxK in an emergency and this amount increases by PhpxK each month. I may well be able to pay off more of my loan, especially when funds from my 3rd Pension Provider come through. I could of course deposit another xK in the 6 Year scheme and get PhpxK advance and PhpxK a month.

To give you an idea of the amounts: if one was to take in Php1.5M deposit in ‘Cash’, one could get the Php300K advance interest the same day, and use that as a 6 Year deposit and get Php60K cash back from that and be receiving Php25,000 a month interest!

I don’t want to invest more in Rural Banks than I have in HSBC particularly, but the 6 Year scheme is very attractive. The 8.3% I am getting on the 5 Year HSBC Term Deposit is no longer available.

Please don’t quote the amounts I am depositing, but feel free to say I am particularly pleased with the Rural Banks affiliated to the Legacy Group, especially the 6 Year Special Deposit, and will be investing more here in Cebu, by the end of October. If it were not for the PDIC scheme I would not be putting even Php100K deposit (the old PDIC limit)! (Editor: Philippines Deposit Insurance Council)

The fact that Joint accounts carry separate Php250K from Single Accounts (* as stated in PDIC web site) makes a big difference also, otherwise I would have run out of Rural Banks here in Cebu and be having to consider Bacolod and other places outside Cebu – not so convenient!
Thanks again, sounds like the investment is paying off. I hope you never have to test the PDIC but overall it seems like a relatively safe yet profitable investment strategy. Nobody has ever gotten rich playing it too safe and risk is relative, I think this is so far a good thing. We’ll hopefully be able to keep tabs on the progress of this investment over the next few years. If you are thinking of following suit, this guy found the deal, so can you. Just check out your local Rural bank and have the goolies to give it a go!

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You Can Take The Filipina Out Of The Philippines…

The other day the Asawa decided she wanted a bank account to call her own, so I gave her some cash and off we went, I.D. in hand to open one. Our first stop was at a Suncorp Metway branch. The name alone should have warned me, it sounded like half a dozen mergers posing as a place to pay lots of fees. When we wandered in to what resembled a mobile phone shop more than a traditional bank I should have taken the hint. Seeing the middle aged Filipina behind the counter sent the alarm bells clanging but we paid no heed. More fool me!

This woman took one look at us and formed her opinion on the spot. I could sense her mind ticking over and saying “mail order bride” with a clenched teeth curled lip kind of growl. She was all business as we told her our intention. Then we produced the vital, never been so important before terrorists took over our lives identification documents. I.D. In Australia you have to produce so many items, each with a points value to the total of 100 points.

Some banks consider a valid passport as 70 points and others, even the local phone mob, only 30! This gem informed us with a sneer that Asawa’s Filipino passport was not acceptable. Period. Her Philippines Drivers License ditto, despite the photograph being a dead ringer for her pretty face. Her local bank ATM card hardly made 40 points and her Medicare card 30! If she had known the hoops we had to jump through to get that piece of plastic maybe she would have given it a higher score. Maybe not.

I challenged her on the passport and drivers license and she informed me that as Asawa had been back in the country more than 30 days, it was not acceptable. Same for the Drivers license, even if the law did allow her to drive here on it for three months (frightening as that thought was!) I asked her why and she said it was the rules. The Rules. Could she please show me where it was written in the rules, er…I mean The Rules? No, it was on The System. Obviously potential customers did not qualify to view The System!

I informed her of the Federal Banking Act 1988 as amended, the National Identity Act 2002 and the Consumer Protection Commission regulations, all of which stated the passport was admissible, especially as it had a current Permanent Resident Visa and the Australian Road Rules Act, Management 1999 which allowed the photo fitted Filipino Drivers License as valid ID for another 31 days. Sorry, The Rules stated I was wrong and that was on The System and apart from that, what did we have to prove we lived where we claimed?

We submitted a letter from Centrelink (Australian Social Security), another from our bank and a letter from Medicare, all addressed to her at our new home. Unacceptable says Marilou. Why asks Anonymous Bear? All dated more than 30 days ago says she. I know, says Anonymous Bear, against The Rules, in The System, right? She smiled her acknowledgement, steepled her fingers and smirked. She had the fat Kano and his too dark from the mountains mail order bride by the short and curlies!

I then informed her we were taking our ten thousand dollar cash deposit elsewhere and we left. Of course we didn’t have ten grand and half the Acts I had quoted verbatim don’t actually exist but she wasn’t to know that, unless it mentioned it in The Rules, which as we all know is in The System!

We went down to the local Credit Union, deposited our money in her new account, took up the offer of Home Contents Insurance and left after a very pleasant interlude with a fifth generation Chinese Australian woman. Obviously she was unaware of my wife’s lowly status, dark skin tones and the fact that she was our social superior due to working in a bank or whatever the motivation of the Filipina at the Suncorp Metway bank was for treating us and our business with such contempt.

As we walked past the open doorway to the Suncorp Metway branch (this was in a mall) I showed Marilou the Credit Union documents, smiled my biggest, cheesiest grin and pointed at her and laughed. She looked up, started to give me the corporate smile and then the cloud crossed her face and she was darker than the inside of Al Jolson’s make up case. Why is it that Filipinas play these pathetic, immature power games on each other? Why do they have to raise themselves up (in their esteem) by putting other people down? Why do they have this social inferiority-superiority complex and why drag it here?

Who knows?

The ID dilemma continued as we attempted to get the Asawa a new cell phone on a post paid plan. This time telling the truth didn’t pay off as we no longer have any proof of where we lived in Cebu and we haven’t lived here long enough etc. So the plan is to leave it a week and the odds are we will get a different operator approving new accounts and we will tell fibs and say we have been in the place for several years. The System has made me a criminal! Well, added to the crime sheet anyway!

The government’s insistence that, other than the considerable efforts of themselves to tighten every freedom we ever enjoyed, we are now going to be safe from those pesky terrorists who everybody knows open false bank accounts and use cell phones to set off bombs. OK, maybe they do need to move cash around and yes they do misuse cell phones but I reckon the chances of Al-Qaida needing to buy one from Telstra and then running off without paying for all those calls to Mecca are pretty slim.

Next stop the Motor Registry to get the Asawa a Learners Permit. Her Filipino license meant she didn’t have to keep a log book and log 120 hours of supervised driving, but as it had her mother’s maiden name as her middle name and her passport and other ID had her own maiden name as her middle name, the Indian woman behind the counter went all Bolshie on us. What is it about Indians in any position of authority that they have to interpret the letter of every law and be totally inflexible?

She made us swear out a statutory declaration which we had to rewrite because a mistake was made due to her pathetic, abominable English and her barely understandable accent. Despite having been taught in the Military Police and at Sydney University Law School it is acceptable to strike a single line through any mistake and initial same, this petty official knew better. Or rather she didn’t but she wasn’t letting on and besides this was her patch and she would be the boss and this was a good way to put these people in their place! We discussed the issue and she was joined by a Chinese woman who spoke even worse English, some old dear from Romania with an accent thicker than week old goulash and, you guessed it….a Filipina.

We were doomed! Here I was in the city I had grown up in feeling like I was back in Cebu, a stranger in a strange land. It just didn’t Grokk! Finally we re-wrote the statutory declaration in my scribbliest paw writing as she wanted it, had the Justice of the Peace on staff (a kind of Notary and the Chinese woman would you believe!) sign it after much worried scrutiny in case it contained anything that might cause her to lose face and we had the much vaunted Learner’s Permit.

The Filipina looked disgusted that the whole process had only taken an hour and that our two cubs were running riot with her pamphlets (go girls go!) and fired off a burst of Tagalog at the Asawa. I replied I was sorry but I didn’t speak provincial dialects, only Cebuano and then bid her goodbye in that language. More or less. Something like Sige Bye sa Burrikat Kordapya! (“Goodbye you no-name whore!” in Cebuano), smiled and walked out. I’m pretty sure they don’t have those words in Tagalog but just to be safe there is no way will we ever return to that Motor Registry!

Whereas in the Philippines we had to put up with petty officialdom and stupidity, here we have to put up with government sponsored paranoia aimed at letting us leave every detail of our lives to them in return for a risk free, guaranteed to get out of this life alive existence. Unless the paperwork is handled by a Filipina, then we’re back to the petty officialdom and stupidity. Seems the more things change……
Manila And Cebu Realtors Affiliate With Philippine Dreams!
Surf Over To Arlene Winkley’s Offerings At
Manila, Baguio, Luzon: Gigi Fellizar
Realtor (REBL 6952 Member, MunREB); Columnist, Manila-US Times (Glendale, Ca. USA) Email
Cebu, Bohol, Mactan: Romulo Cortel
Tel # 063-32-4176342
Mobile # 0919-3240492

Check out Dave William’s Yahoo Group for lots of information, tips and advice on everything to do with Real Estate in the Philippines! Dave’s wife is in the business and has a lot of first hand experience dealing with the buyers, sellers, authorities and government

Friday, October 28, 2005

Philippines Dreams - Everything You Need to Know about the Philippines

Philippines Dreams - Everything You Need to Know about the Philippines: "Q1. How easy is it to meet nice girls in the Philippines?
A1. As easy as you want it to be. Meeting a Filipina is a contact sport. It�s a numbers game, you simply get out there and make contact and ask for their number! I tell you all about the �Text Buddy� technique in the book."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Philippines Guide - Link News Philippines Sites

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Philippines Dreams - Everything You Need to Know about the Philippines

Philippines Dreams - Everything You Need to Know about the Philippines: "'As You're Laying on a Beautiful Beach Looking Out At The Ocean, Sipping A Cold Beverage, Getting Some Sun, and Being With A Beautiful Exotic Sexy Woman Do You Really Think You Will Miss The Office, The Phones And All The Hassles Of Your Old Life?'"

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Filipina 101

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Cheap Tickets To Philippines

If your traveling to the Philippines or plan on traveling to the Philippines thisebook is a must read. James Steubing has written what he calls the Travel SecretsGuide I purchased this ebook as I thought what the heck if I'm able to save a few dollarson my plane ticket then it would be well worth the price. I read a few chapters onhow to save up to 50 to 90 percent on international flights and then it has a hugeresource section for each country and who to call so I started calling around.

Originally I was quoted close to a thousand dollars for the ticket I wanted. The departure date was within 4 weeks. Out of all the online websites I went to the best price I could find was a little over $900 bucks. I searched all the normal sites like expedia, cheaptickets, etc.

After about 7 phone calls I found someone with the same ticket nearly $300 cheaper. Ofcourse I jumped on it and didn't even bother to find out if I could have gotten theticket even cheaper from somewhere else as there where a lot of places to call. So I would recommend this ebook as a must read for anyone traveling to the Philippines, it's worth every penny. It also has a ton of other information on stuff like hotels, cruises, rental cars, how to get the best seats, etc.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

October 2005 Philippine Dreams Newsletter

Philippine Dreams
Issue 17 October 2005 Free To The World!

In This Issue!

Jim Sibbick Returns With Information On A Popular Mode Of Inter-Island Transport!

Frank And Lilia’s Story Continues!

Emery Richmond Contributes Some Great Memories Of A Vacation In Talisay.

JJ Sends In An Update On Marinduque

Are There Business Opportunities To Be Had in The Philippines? We Take A Look At A New One Each Month. This Month – Turn About Is Fair Play!

Where Is Our Favourite Bear?

The Latest Properties, Investment Opportunities And Real Estate News.


Jim Sibbick Returns With Information On A Popular Mode Of Inter-Island Transport!
Editor: This article first appeared on Jim’s Blog, check it out and hopefully we can pirate some more articles from Jim in months to come.
To view the Superferry’s video visit Jim’s web site where it is available to download for free. If it was of interest or value, consider making a small donation to help the site with the huge bandwidth costs they absorb every month.

The video features the facilities and accommodations on board Superferry 12 and Superferry 17. It also shows the external view of Superferries 2, 12, 17 and 18 as well as a small amount of scenery on the way between Cebu City and Manila.

Superferry 12
Ever since I heard that the Superferry 12 had a swimming pool, several years ago, I have wanted to travel on it. I think I imagined it to be some sort of cruise ship.

I have just completed my long awaited trip on the Superferry 12 travelling from Cebu City to Manila and I think my expectations were greater than what was delivered but it was still a good ship to ride on.

There were two of us and we travelled in the suite room. P4,824 good for two including meals. P4,560 without meals. These are the promo prices and the promo has just been extended until the end of August.

Superferry Promo

I paid to have the meals included as you get three meals for an all up price of P130 per person. The meals were good quality but I would have preferred to eat the food you had to pay for.
The suite room really was a suite room. It had a divider and you could entertain guests on one side and still be fairly private in the bedroom area which had a single bed, double bed and dream satellite with most of the channels. The bathroom had a combined bath and shower.
The Superferry has a swimming pool which was only able to be used for a few hours during the 21 hour trip. It also has a children’s play area with not much to play with and computer games at P40 per hour. There are two excellent restaurant/bar areas, one for first class and one for economy, which had a band playing until midnight.

They have what I would call a mini mart which sold all the sort of last minute things people forget plus drinks and snacks. They had a hairdresser as well. I paid P100 for a trim which is about what I pay if I go to a hairdresser in Ayala Mall in Cebu First class passengers are entitled to use the Jacuzzi for free but you have to reserve it. There were actually 2 Jacuzzis together but one was empty. The Jacuzzis are on what they called the fifth deck which is the very top of the boat and are in the open but you are shielded for privacy.

My main reason for writing today is in case anyone will be travelling on a Superferry from Cebu City in the near future and to let you know the current system for boarding. We were told that they don’t start boarding until 2 hours before. We were there 2 1/2 hours before and boarding had already started. You have to go to pier 4 but you don’t board the Superferry at pier 4. At pier 4 all you do is go through the security check including the bomb sniffing dogs. Once you get past the dogs, you turn left (turn right for Cebu Ferries) and proceed to the building exit. At the exit they give you a priority number. This entitles you to wait outside in a shed until your number is called then you board a transit bus which drives you to the ship, which in our case was very near SM Mall.

Frank And Lilia’s Story Continues!

Editor’s Note: Dreamers may recall last year Frank wrote about his first trip to the Philippines to meet his Filipina. Now, he returns with a view to convincing the powers that be at the British Embassy they should allow Lilia to visit with him and his kids in the UK. What is it with immigration types? Do they hire them as a type then spread them around western embassies? Seems the US, British and Aussie immo departments draw from the same pool of anally retentive types, then train the Filipino officials! Enjoy this well written instalment and send Frank an email asking for an update!

Anyone with brine running through their veins will know that a Dead Eye is a round flat wooden block with three holes….. Well I’m round, fat (nearly fits) a wooden block for a head etc and with that very tenuous link I will tell you about my second visit to the Philippines which took place in Feb 2005.

In my previous account I mentioned that my partner, Lilia was from Davao and that I’d spent a wonderful two weeks with her in July 2004. I also mentioned that she had a Visitor’s Visa interview set for November to facilitate a 6 month visit to the UK. But I’ll pick up from flying home…

Pretty well straight away, Lilia and I picked up our routine of calls and online chat. Some days I work from home so we scheduled our contact into my lunch break. At others I would get up at maybe two, three or four am and sit and chat and if time allowed go back to bed to catch up on increasingly needed sleep. Pretty tiring stuff but worth every minute. In the run up to November I was mailing and faxing all the documents Lilia needed for the interview: Letter of invitation; 6 month’s bank statements for personal and business accounts. Details of how when and where we had met and our contact since; Details of the accommodation we would share etc.
November 2 arrived. I waited for her text, and waited and waited and at 8am UK time the usual text came ‘Online hon.’ Logging on never seemed so slow. Usual pleasantries and then she told me – Visa DENIED. Standard stuff, insufficient accommodation, insufficient funds and insufficient reason for Lilia to return. I rang the Embassy and spoke directly to the Entry Clearance Officer. ‘So what about my six months bank statements for three separate accounts including my company returns? What about details of my adequate semi in rural England? And what about Lilia leaving two daughters and a business behind in the Philippines? We talked and he eventually agreed to accept further documentation. This was duly faxed and after a couple of weeks I received a mail. Finance and accommodation conceded. Intent to return rests - Visa Denied.

I fired off a three page letter to my MP. He in turn forwarded it to the Home Secretary. Two weeks later the Home Secretary, David Blunkett MP resigned over a small case of alleged inappropriate actions over a Visa for the Filipina Yaya of his lover! My letter was processed anyway through UK Visas and eventually they responded that the decision of the ECO stood. Despite the result, I think I had a pretty good crack of the whip considering there’s no such thing as an appeal against a refusal for a Visitor’s Visa. One thing stood out in their final reply. ‘Of course Ms Moreno [sic] is at liberty to apply again…’ So we did. The new date arrived. 25 Feb 2005

In the meantime, I made plans to revisit Davao. This time accompanied by my five year old Daughter and two year old son. It was time for them to meet Tita Lilia in person! Our trip was scheduled 31 Jan 2005 to 14 Feb 2005. Unfortunately this meant that I would not be there when the interview took place. We contacted the department responsible for scheduling interviews several times and eventually were given a cancellation. The new date was to be the 10 Feb. Success. We would be in Manila together.

Now I love my kids, and I think they are reasonably well behaved, by Western standards anyway. I also already take care of them 24/7 so I know what it’s like to have them with me for long periods of time, but even I wasn’t sure what two such young children on a nineteen hours, non direct flight across 6500 miles would be like. Well they had their moments, but overall – they were great. And Qatar Airlines were also really good with them. I must say that I didn’t know I had spawned two such Gourmets, their appreciation of Airline foods was pretty well the standard ‘yuk’ strange that, I thought it was quite nice!

Qatar flies UK – Doha – Manila. The stop over was only two hours, but the kids were tired and this was perhaps the most difficult part of the journey. Émile (aged two) continually wanted to be carried along with my hand luggage and the kids back packs (I’d decided that the buggy wasn’t necessary – dohhh! And I eventually bought one in Davao), but as I said, overall the flights were uneventful.

So Manila airport, We arrived at 11pm and splurged out of the terminal and it was like I was back six months except for a pair of blonde callipers around each leg! This time I remembered which hotel to ask for - last time I asked for the car of the hotel I was staying at in Davao which caused some confusion since we were in Manila - and the car was duly summoned. Lilia looking absolutely fantastic breezed across the road and we hugged. Fèbiènne is fairly gregarious and joined in, Émile, typically shy, remained strapped to my leg, revolving only to stay equidistant from ‘Tita’. Soon we were en route to the Manila Diamond. Last time we stayed at the Pan Pacific and although it really doesn’t make that much difference when it’s only an overnight stay, I really wanted to look out of the room over the bay. Despite the kids lack of sleep over the last twenty four hours, they were of course quite inquisitive so after a couple of laps round our room, and a couple of laps round their adjoining room, they were caught, showered, tucked up into bed, lights dimmed, eyes closed and good night Vienna. For me a quick dash into our room, showered, now where were we……….

Lilia’s lunch with family on our arrival day, adjoining rooms, breakfast for four and transport the whole nine yards wrapped up for 22,978Php.

One minor glitch was the realisation at 2am that a bag was missing. I checked with the hotel to see if it was left in the cab – no. I rang the airport – closed. So I got up early, returned to the airport and was guided to the left luggage room. Here a uniformed member of staff was nudged awake. The details of the flight on which I arrived were given and the bag bought forward. A fee was paid (I can’t remember how much) and a tip given and I returned to the hotel a tired but happy chap. Breakfast over, we packed, paid and back to the airport for our last leg to Davao.
On my last visit Lilia and I stayed predominately at the Pearl Farm, Samal. Very nice it was too, but there was not really much for kids of five and two so this time we chose the Waterfront Insular. I’d only really seen the hotel on my way through to the Jetty for the Pearl Farm, but it seemed like there was a play area and large areas to run around for the kids and a web search suggested that this was the best choice. Again we chose adjoining rooms which meant we were across from the main body of the hotel in one of the annexes.

The rooms were spacious, clean and tidy. The veranda had a basic table and chair set and overlooked the shore. Room maintenance / cleaning was regular and thorough with additional spraying for Mosquitoes on request. Disappointingly, apart from the pool, there was still not much for the kids to do. There were a couple of outdoor play things, but these had seen better days. In a world where Disneyland is accessible and Jungle Bungle / Whacky Warehouses abound, it may be that we in the West expect too much on demand and our kids have lost the art of spontaneous play, but for a vacation venue I would still have liked to have seen a little more to keep the kiddies amused.

What was great though was that being ‘local’ meant that Lilia’s daughters could spend much more time with us on this visit. After school and at weekends they were with us. I did feel sorry for them though that their passive nature was stretched by the more raucous nature of my two! They are by far from spoilt brats, but they are more demanding than their Filipino counterparts and as we plan towards moving to the Philippines it will be nice to see them settle into a slightly more ‘filipino’ mode of life.

As for the rest of the hotel, as per the norm in South East Asia Charges for everything are apparent rather than hidden overhead as in the West and despite charging for nearly everything except the air we breathed Asian commercial hospitality has clearly not forgotten that it is a service industry where the customer and not operational needs come first. Service needless to say, was superb and congenial.

Food at every hotel I have stayed at in the Philippines has been fantastic – plentiful, high quality, varied, delicious. I have found some interesting variants on Western dishes and it did take me 3 attempts to get the Chef to understand poached egg on toast for Fèbiènne’s dinner one evening, but I am not a tourist who goes abroad to sample foreign delights but still expects his egg and chips (fried egg sunny side up & chunky fries I guess for y’all in US of A) I can never understand people who go abroad and complain ‘it isn’t like ‘ome is it Ethel?’ No, when in Rome as they say or at least Davao, I like to get as close to local life as I can (by the way, I do know that the Insular is a far cry from real life in Davao or most anywhere over there.)
There are two principal restaurants at the Insular. The Orchard café & Coffee shop and La Parilla Grill. Most of our meals were taken at the former, whether inside or on the veranda. It was really nice also once again to share dinner with Buck Brennan and his wife Maribel. Buck is a really straight guy, nor airs and graces, knowledgeable and very helpful. Anyone considering time in Davao should at least check out his web site

On a couple of evenings ang Pamilyá came to dine. On these occasions we tended to use La Parilla Grill. Price generally isn’t an issue. Food is so cheap here and we can enjoy dinner with the family for what I’d expect to spend on a good night out with a mate here in the UK. The fresh fish grill is just knock out. I love fish and considering the UK is an Island with a strong tradition of fishmongery, I find it astonishing and annoying how much fish costs here and appalling how little the fishermen actually get! (Sorry will get of my soap box now) Anyway when Fèbiènne asked to try Lobster one night, I was delighted she was expanding her menu past McD’s and fish fingers. So I readily agreed. When I checked the bill to pay -cost of the meal for eight ~ 8400 Pesos. Cost of the Lobster ~6200 Pesos! I was so pleased that at least the rest of the family enjoyed it! God bless the young!

One thing the kids really did enjoy was the pool. There is a normal ‘adult’ pool and a small paddling pool for wee ones. We’re still not entirely sure what caused it but there is a suggestion that abrasive cleaning material resting on the floor of the paddling pool grazed Fèbiènne’s toes. Although we tried our best to keep it clean, the wound got infected. The day before we returned to the UK I felt there was no option and we ended up at the A & E of the Davao Doctor’s hospital. She was seen almost immediately, after deliberation it was decided that they should lance the toe, dress it and give antibiotics.

I have had some unpleasant experiences in my life, but watching any of my children being hurt even for their own benefit ranks amongst the worst. She was a star. Yes she yelped, and cried for a little while, but she accepted what needed to be done and endured. Total cost of treatment and drugs – less than 600Pesos.

This was actually our second visit to the Hospital during the holiday. Prior to flying out, Émile had a pretty nasty hacking cough. We have tried to resolve this with anti biotics in the UK but he was still coughing throughout the first week. At the end of that week I was unhappy and we decided to see a doctor. I was apprehensive yet interested at the care we would receive. On arrival we checked out the ‘menu’ board. Rheumatology, Oncology, Cardiology… Paediatrics. Choose a doctor, wait outside their room until surgery opens, check in get seen 250 Pesos, that simple. The Doctor was great. She checked Émile out prescribed some more antibiotics and said if he isn’t getting better in four days come back she would X-ray his chest.

Émile had the same attitude towards the antibiotics as to airline food. It wasn’t a great success in getting him to take the entire course. Since we were due home soon after the 4 days had elapsed I chose to wait to get him to his own GP when we got back. Wrong choice. It took another three months and four courses of drugs before they X-rayed his chest here in the UK to find out he had Pneumonia! Suitably treated at last he is now pretty well recovered but I can’t help wondering if the third world country’s health care system would have found and treated him correctly back in February

I believe we have a pretty good health care system in the UK. Warts and all, it is free at the point of delivery and by and large they get it right most of the time. But waiting lists and best treatment versus costs have increasingly become issues here and it seems to me as long as you have suitable insurance / funds, general medical care may be equally well served in the Philippines. This is particularly important to me as I am still looking to move to the Philippines in a couple of years with my children and their care is paramount.

Health hiccups aside, the visit was still going well. One particular trip was worthy of note that to Eden Nature Park. We took a minibus from the Hotel I understand that the site is about 12km out from the city which took about an hour to drive. Of note en route is the Orange Grove housing development – looks as though it’s going to be pretty nice, really beautiful setting, but I think many plots will be held as an investment and the site could look unfinished for some time. Eden Park itself was worth a day out: The restaurant was passable; The site tour interesting; Various ethnic display entertainment; but the floral gardens – maybe out of season – could have looked better. Entry for three adults and four children aged two to fifteen was 2500Pesos. The site tour was extra but I can’t remember how much.

We had eleven nights for four in the Insular. We took dinner most of the nights including some as room service. I hooked up to the net on two occasions and had some printing to do. There was taxi service from and to Davao airport. The final bill was Just over 102,000Pesos
Earlier I mentioned that we had managed to get a revised interview date for a visitor’s visa. We flew up to Manila on the morning of 10th Feb ready for the interview. The timing was quite tight, only about twenty minutes to spare allowing for travel from the airport to the Embassy. I rang the Embassy to advise them that we were on our way but subject to traffic. The response – ‘Don’t be late!’ When we arrived I realised that I had not bought enough cash with me for the fee. The British Embassy of course does not accept British cheques for the visa fee, nor is there any way of drawing cash at the Embassy. So whilst Lilia checked in I ran to the nearest cash point – Sorry card not valid! And the next – Sorry card not valid! Bugger! I ran into the nearest bank changed the last Sterling I had, legged it back to the Embassy, launched the cash at Lilia, and staggered, knackered to the café in the square outside the interview rooms. We (the kids & I) waited and waited. One lady did come out and joined another chap from the UK sitting outside. She was in tears. Lilia appeared. She sat down, looked me in the eyes and beamed YESSSSS!

The only problem now was how to get the passport stamped at 3pm, and make it back to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) by 3:45 for the last flight back to Davao. I rang the Embassy to see if we could pick up the passport early. They agreed. Even so by the time we had got back it was 2:45pm Lilia was inside for an age and reappeared at 3:15. I was thinking that we would have to spend a night in Manila when she told me that a staff officer was going to drive us to the airport. Now I’ve never been in a car sirens blaring and hitting traffic head on, well at least not with sirens going off anyway, so that was quite an event. But we still arrived too late. Bugger again! However as per usual, your friendly neighbourhood Filipino stepped in. Told us where to pick up a later Air Philippines flight. We rushed in a cab to the domestic terminal booked the flight and were escorted personally onto the flight which was waiting for us. What a day!

The course of true love never runs smooth does it? We now had to book Lilia’s ticket to the UK, return of course. My credit card did not have enough left on it to cover the cost. This in part was due to the fact that vendor’s, particularly the likes of hotels, hold an amount against the card to cover themselves in the event of those departing before payment. Once payment is made the vendor’s release the ‘held’ amount in this case both payment and ‘held’ amount were against my card reducing the available balance. Electronic transfer to clear some of the balance would still take too long. The travel agency did not have the ability to swipe my debit card. So quite literally I had to draw 4 lots of 20,000 Pesos over four days to cover the ticket in cash. But with all this, we were on our way. We could move to the next level. We could spend six months together and start to see if the relationship would work long term.

Our flight out of Manila was at 07:00 so we had to be at NAIA by 05:00 The only way we could achieve this was to take the last flight from Davao to Manila on the day before. We decided just to hoof it as far as hotels were concerned, No point in a flash hotel just for a few hours. So we arrived at NAIA and fell in with the Airport hotel touts. It seemed to take ages to get something and by the time we arrived at the hotel, checked in, etc it was really late.
I think the kids got to bed at about 10:30pm and Lilia and I about an hour later. We had the foresight to arrange a cab for 04:30. The hotel was the Executive Plaza, Mabini St, Malate. 1 double room, perfectly adequate for the purpose.

Cost 3,623Pesos The taxi arrived on time and we got to the airport also on time. What I didn’t work out is that the Airport tax at NAIA is 550 Pesos and not 200 as at Davao I was short of cash and running out of time. I left Lilia and the Kids at the tax point kiosk legged it downstairs to a cash point drew out the extra and rushed back flustered, tired but still happy that Lilia was coming home with us.

One of my last comments is unfortunately not a happy one. I have said previously that all the staff at the Airport in Manila including Security, Customs and Immigration were at least courteous and professional if not even friendly. I found this particularly true travelling with two adorable looking Kano kids. I am ashamed to say this is not the experience when dealing with UK equivalents. Touch down on Blighty’s soil and the minute you walk through the doors off the tarmac you’re met with belligerence at best and down right rudeness at worst. The attitude shown by at least one individual at Manchester airport to travellers was so rude that if I hadn’t been so knackered after a long flight, and if I had thought for one minute that it would make a difference I would have complained. British passport holders were invited down one route and Non British passport holders herded into another line. I chose to stay with Lilia. I could see that the immigration officials were holding what could only be described as repeat, impromptu interviews openly and in public. I felt that at least if I was with Lilia any question about the validity of her visa would be more easily dealt with if we were together. I still believe the questions were shorter than they otherwise would have been because when the Officer asked Lilia where she would be staying and I interjected ‘With me.’

I realise particularly in the current climate that security is very very important. I also realise that many people for what ever reason want to establish a home in the UK rather than some shanty town elsewhere. But good manners and a courteous professional approach does not reduce these Officers’ ability to do that job.

Britain PLC? Mabuhay Pilipinas!

So how did the visit go? Well I think that’s for my next tale. But, I will tell you that we arrived home at 8:00pm. February 14th. 9:00am the next day we were at the mall, Buying a BIG coat!

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Emery Richmond Contributes Some Great Memories Of A Vacation In Talisay.
I just finished reading your “anak” short stories. I was touched by them. I have been to Cebu. As you can see by my e-mail address, I stayed in Talisay. I visited three families that I had been sponsoring for over three years. My visit was for 10 days, in late April of 2003. I chose to live the local life rather than stay in a tourist type hotel, like the Plantation, White Sands, or the Shangri-La. I went to a couple of clubs, and took the families to Kawasan Falls, on the southwestern part of Cebu. I shopped in the local markets, as well as the Gaisano Mall. I took the small children up to the top floor at the Gaisano Mall where there was an arcade of sorts.
When I got to Cebu I remember thinking how I hated it there and couldn’t wait until I could go back home to Connecticut, USA. (12 hours time difference) But by the time I had to leave I was heart broken, sakit casin casin. I was supposed to go to Malapascua, but I was sick the day I was to go. I was suffering from the water, the jet lag, and three or four days of sleep depravation. After a massage and a nap and some aspirin I felt so much better. I even played golf at the Alta Vista Country Club.

As you have pointed out on your web site, Cebu is a very beautiful place. I feel so sorry for the poor people there. Thanks to your writing I now understand why the locals were calling a bunch of kids “Rugby Boys”, because they were always sniffing glue from plastic bags, or plastic gloves.
I got to see Cock Fights, and attended a pig roast. I bought shoes and school supplies and two electric fans (one of the families I sponsor doesn’t have electricity or I would have bought three fans.)

I will return to Cebu in the future. Maybe retire there, maybe not. I will again visit the Doll House (southern Cebu) and the Arena, and the Casino Espaniol, and who knows, maybe even visit Finlands, next to the University of San Carlos.

The people of the Philippines are so friendly. They always smile and even though they have next to nothing, they appear happy. I was amazed to see how clean and polite they are. I would be walking in narrow alleys between tin covered shacks and there would appear beautiful, stunningly beautiful, maganda katawan, young girls. They lived in dirt floor huts, yet they wore clean well fitting clothes. It makes me wish I was a billionaire, so I could open a factory over there, just to employ thousands of locals and pay them a wage enough so they could afford a decent apartment, with food in the refrigerator.

I have so many memories of that trip, some sad, and some happy. I know I have made a difference in their lives, but I wish I could afford to do more. I have been sponsoring them for over five years now. It’s not enough to send the children to college, but hopefully it will be enough to keep the girls from becoming GRO’s and the boys from becoming Rugby boys.
I have added your site to my list of favorites and will visit it often. Please keep it up. I’m sure more people feel as I do. By the way, (I’m sure you hear this all the time) you are a wonderful writer.

Regards to you and Amelita, and all the little Gamsby’s,
Emery Richmond

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Perry and all:

As you all know, Houston and the State of Texas, have been very active in the rescue of the folks from the entire gulf coast that were flooded in the recent storm. We have 16 folks, five families and a house full. We have been showing them where the FEMA offices are, taking them to the Red Cross and Salvation Army and trying to find them assistance in what ever way they could get it. We now have an additional 250,000 new Houstonians that used to call another spot in the Gulf Coast home. So far they seem happy. We are proud of our city and the help it has given to our neighbors to the east.

I have also been busy packing and getting ready to move back to the Island of Marinduque. We miss our little island and its people so much. We were planning to travel on the fifth of September, now we will travel next week. We’ll depart Houston for Seattle, then Taiwan, then Manila. We are looking forward to traveling to Marinduque, but we really are not looking forward to the trip. Once we get to Manila, we still have a 10 hour trip to get to the island. Ten hours when you are tired is a bit much. Hopefully at this time of the year, the ships will not be full and we will have safe and quick passage.

We got another letter a few days ago. Folks are complaining of the storms. We can sure understand that type of thinking. The news after 12 days is still about the storm and floods of New Orleans. Even with a Supreme Court Justice dying, we hear about the flood first and often. We hear our crop of rice will be good this season. Folks are still having babies. The friend that had twins last month is doing fine, as are the babies. Most folks are looking forward to dryer and cooler weather. Folks there are aware of the flood, but for them it does not seem to be too big of a deal.

The kids that are staying with us have been in school all week. We have a second grader, a first grader, a kinder and a pre kinder. The tiniest one started day care. At least the kids are in school. My nephew here in Houston, that started teaching last month, has an expanded classroom. He is getting baptized early with fire. Open house was a success and he seems to enjoy the work. He did however count on less kids in his high school math classes.

Most of my family back in the islands still have broken arms. The family are not writers and do not send letters. My elderly aunt and cousin do manage to write and we call our niece a few times a week. We are hoping for a car to meet us in the airport area of Manila. We’ll know how real that is after we land. We have never had a problem in having someone pick us up at MIA but we always worry about it. We even had family meet us at Clark went we were stationed at Subic. We have been lucky with folks waiting to waiting in the hot sun, or so it seems. My mother-in-law once waited six hours in the hot sun for our arrival in Clark. I hope I would bee so loyal to the cause. We were as glad to see her as she was to see us.

We have been collecting sausage recipes. We have learned that sausage is an old item on many cultural diets. We have learned that sausage helps get meat from animal to table in eatable condition. Seems that sausage can get us through the long hot season. Also works in a long cold season but we do not have to worry about that in Marinduque, seldom snows or even gets cold there. We have found recipes for rabbit and goat, beef and of course pork sausage. We have also found out that the grind makes the difference. We hope we have the right grind. We bought stuffing tubes and hope they are as good as the ones we use in the island. We have made a lot of sausage, and we hope these new recipes are as good as the ones we have used in the island.
We have read so many books on raising chickens. Seems to be a lot of books that are geared to raising a few thousand birds, but few that are geared to raising chickens in the back yard. We have made connections with SASSO and a few other types of chicken like Hylite and Babcock. I think we will stick with the SASSO. We still think that 50 or so will be an ideal flock size. We also plan several combinations of chicken and pork sausage. We may even add a few kilos of meat from rabbits to the pork and chickens and see how the combination goes over on the family. I think I would rather eat sausage in the Philippines than steak. At least with sausage one does not need steel teeth.

We have started writing a book on living a more self sufficient lifestyle in the Philippine Islands. We have about 18 chapters written and plan on another 12 or 15 chapters. We also need to work out a few recipes and a few growing patterns before we can finalize the printing of the book. We have written about growing vegetables, raising poultry, goats, rabbits, pigs, and keeping bees. We need to make sure our adaptations to the Philippine conditions work in the majority of time and circumstances. Our chapter on keeping bees needs to be proven out and will be the last to we written. We also need to choose a type of fish to put in our new rice field fish pond. Needless to say, mama has a few definite ideas on what type of fish she wants to raise. Anyway, the book on the have more plan in the Philippines is well underway, and we hope it will be finished in less than a year.

Our mango season is finished but we were so impressed with this year’s crop. Our new trees, still small, held their own. The grandkids miss the daily blessings of uncle’s trees. We now look forward to other fruits coming on now. We know that our bananas and papayas will be doing well. We look forward to eating lots of bananas and papayas over then next few months. We love bananas and have also got a lot of plantains that will be giving forth fruit that I eat only a small amount of. I see frying bananas fried every day in the island, sometimes rolled in flour, sometimes cooked plain. Sometimes the cooked fruit is rolled in sugar; sometimes it is eaten without such coating. The natives seem to love them; I still have reservations as to their goodness and value in the human diet.

We have a few jack fruit growing. I am not sure that means they are near harvest or just setting fruit. I will find out as I get to the island. I love jackfruit but do not eat much of that fruit either. This year I’ll put oil on my hands before I eat the fruit, and I will spread out newspapers before we cut it up. I am hoping the folks back on the island have put cement sacks over the small jack fruit. This way, with the sacks, I will have a fighting chance of getting the jack fruit before the ants do. I remember an Anglo doctor had a big jack fruit tree in Subic. I put bags over the fruit early on. We cut six or seven fruit from the tree over a few months. The locals loved getting the fruit before the ants. I often wonder about that tree. The tree had the largest jackfruit I ever saw.

Speaking of bananas, I like them barely yellow, and a bit on the green side. I have learned to make several recipes of nice banana bread. We find the recipes on the internet, and it seems the families that are staying with us love the bread. We now know what to do with all the nearly over ripe bananas. I am not sure what the natives will think about the banana bread, but in a week or so we will know.

Now, again speaking of papaya, we are taking seed from Belize. We will see which is better, the papaya from Belize or the papaya from Thailand. I love the stuff in vegetable dishes and in a green state. We love it with coconut milk, which we get from our own trees. We eat some as a ripe fruit, but I love it so much that it seldom gets beyond the green stage. I hope to try some as a pickle relish this year. I may have to find the recipe. Any suggestions? I have not been able to find a recipe for the pickles yet. I hope the recipe will be easier to find in the islands.
We are still looking for trees of coffee, mangosteen and durian. We also have some idea of getting limes and lemons from the southern islands. That will take place in late February or early March when my sister-in-law visits her home in Davao.

We are also looking for instructions on planting gabi. I guess local farmers will be able to help us out, but I would like to have some idea of what I am doing before I actually do the job itself. We have made arrangements to drain the rice field and to add more fill. I am hoping that the trucks going in and out will not mess up the farm too much. We need patience and hard work to get the land up high enough. Then we will build the raised beds. I can taste the tomatoes and sweet peppers now. We’ll see what else we will be able to grow. We have decided to take far less seeds into the islands than in the past. We are taking some, but not nearly as much as we have in the past. We will use more local seed. What we can not get in the islands we may not need as much as we now think we do.

We have been making a few small cheeses. We have obtained rennet and citric acid for making cheese in the islands. I hope to have access to goat’s milk or buffalo milk, so that we can make our own cheese. Fresh mozzarella will taste so good. (Somehow I may regret those words ever being put to paper). We have made good cheese here, and we will see what happens in the Philippines. We also look forward to keifer and yogurt. Time will tell.

We have located a few comfrey roots. We hope that we can get a decent stand of comfrey growing in Marinduque. We can dry the plants for hay, and feed the plants as fodder to the animals. Comfrey may just be the answer to our prayers.

We located the hygrometers. We need them to monitor the humidity in the incubators. The old ones were just $19.95. The new ones come with a thermometer are now $24.95. We really do not need the thermometer, but were forced to take what we could get. I wish I had bought the instruments when I had a chance. I guess it is better late than never...or so I have been told.
We have out raised beds drawn out. We are told we better go with 4 foot wide beds, but I am still hoping for five foot beds. I guess it really does not matter. I want the locals to be able to use the beds. All agree that the design we have come up with will work well. Again, time will tell.
We need to plant some bamboo. I am not sure where to get the plants. Perhaps I could just dig a plant up from an old grove. Any ideas on planting bamboo?

We have researched the raising of guinea hens and geese. We have never done both but not from birth to death. I am sure the birds will both add to the homestead. Some how did you ever get the idea that I love birds. My wife wonders why I was never a vet. Sometimes I wonder too.
We have gotten a great deal of assistance from this list. I would like to thank folks for their post(s). We especially like the idea of building a lot of food carts so out local folks can sell things and make a few bucks. We also appreciate the other money making ideas that I have found in this monthly newsletter.

We have sent our electrical cords, and also lots of hoses. We have also sent many Forex boxes. The price went back down this month. We found out Forex sends about 200 boxes out of Houston each week. During the month of October, this jumps to over 600 boxes a week. Get your boxes in early this year.

We will not have to go to the thrift store this trip. We are sending clothing that folks have dropped off for our flood victims. Most of what we are sending is small, but that is the size they need in the Philippines. I can just see my little God daughters running around in these clothes.
This article is a little shorter and has a different style than past entries. I look forward to writing to you all from Marinduque late next week. I wish everyone the best of luck. I have been blessed to have been able to provide food and shelter to 4 families over the last two weeks, and to be supportive as they build their lives over again. We have seen how a city, one we have called home for 15 years or more, come to the aid of 250,000 folks that lost so much during the recent storm. I hope you have all been blessed as much as I have. I believe it is always better to give than it is to receive.

Regards one and all,

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Are There Business Opportunities To Be Had In The Philippines? We Take A Look Each Month. This month… Turn About Is Fair Play!

I am thinking hard about some business ideas I had when I was in Cebu that I think will work very well here in Australia and just about anywhere in the west. The actual activities are really irrelevant, what I want to discuss is the mindset behind them. Doing it the Filipino way in the west rather than the more typical debate about trying to run a business in the Philippines in the western way.

What are the things that separate the Filipino way of doing business to those from the USA, Australia, UK, Europe, New Zealand etc? Why will some things work in one location but not another, yet there are plenty of western style businesses doing very well under western management/ownership in the Philippines?

A major consideration is the investment amount. The old joke about making a small fortune in the Philippines by starting with a large one is sadly often far too true. Then again I know expats who have very successful and profitable businesses in the Philippines and have been there for many years. Part of their success is the very fact they have been there so long and they set up before laws changed, others have come and set up much more recently yet still do well.

Not all are involved in exporting whatever product they manufacture here at so low a labour cost but most of the really successful ones are. Few serve a local market on anything other than a relatively small scale with most of them exporting their products back to markets in their original countries. Western expats are not alone here, the Japanese do this and so do the Koreans and even growing numbers of Chinese from both Taiwan and mainland China.
Here in Sydney we have numerous Filipino’s importing Filipino goods for the expat/migrant/OFW market (depends on how they see themselves). We can buy Magnolia Mango ice cream if we want to pay six times what a cheap tub of vanilla made locally costs. I can buy just about anything here that we used to buy in Cebu, thanks to these enterprising importers. If I visit the local furniture shop I can buy a lounge suite like the one my parents recently bought. They had to wait a few weeks after placing their order as it was being made for them in Manila! It still came out cheaper than a comparatively styled and similar quality suite made here in Australia, even after shipping and import duties. Obviously the secret is the lower labour costs although the Philippines is competing with China and Vietnam and barely holding their own at the moment.

So why not take a leaf out of the Filipino book and set up a Filipino style business wherever you happen to be right now? I don’t necessarily mean import furniture or any other Filipino made product; just apply a few of their business principles. Firstly keep it in the family. Don’t employ any staff if you can fill the place with a relative. Keep their wages low and give them a piece of the action instead.

Secondly, keep it small and manageable for the time being. Don’t get too excited and too carried away. Sell lots of little bits to lots of little people, volume is the key. Find something you can supply to a lot of people that costs very little each purchase. Then sell them again and again. Slowly expand territories and always keep costs as low as possible. Watch your utang or debt and try to sell out before having to pay for inventory just sold. Simple rules that perhaps we have forgotten in the west as we focus perhaps too much on customer satisfaction.

In the Philippines there are so many customers that keeping them happy is not that big an issue. Until everyone and his aso copies your idea you usually have a monopoly so exploit it. The same goes if you start a business in the west. Just focus on selling lots of product and if some people feel you owe them more than what is on sale, ignore them! People in the west nowadays really do expect far too much from retailers, their government and so on. Forget about it, just concentrate on selling product, socking the money away and buying that row of cheap houses out the back of Cebu so you rent them out and have that retirement income one day. Good luck. More on doing business in the west the Filipino way next issue, I might actually tell you the sure fire idea I will be implementing here soon!

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Where Is Our Favourite Bear?

I’m here! I made it! Australia! Oz! God’s Country! About bloody time! I had the devil of a time getting out of that box Perry put me in. He taped it up real tight and shipped it off to the vast family estates at Calape with the rest of his stuff. Well a lot of that stuff isn’t alive anymore! Hehehehe! I used some to pad out the Balikbayan Box I used to get myself here. Four weeks on the deck of some freighter pitching about in the heat was no fun at all, made me feel like some wrinkled seismic geologist type! Sydney came all too slowly for my tastes. Then I had to find where he was hiding and then let myself in when he wasn’t watching. Luckily my accomplice La Terrorista was on the ball. She may be just past two but she can jig a lock like a pro!
I must say things here are a little different to Cebu. I went for a ride on the train and nearly fell afoul of the choo choo Nazis. Transit police in black outfits with silver leather jackets, close cropped hair and goatees. Looked like the platform was being patrolled by the National Front! Their attitude permeated the air around them and they really did have chips on their shoulders.
The other day I snuck aboard with the gang when they went for a boat ride on the harbour. We were puled up by the Aqua Nazi! This was a waterways officer with a similar “hate them all-let god sort them out” mindset. He tried to soften his assault later when he realised nobody was either intimidated or doing anything remotely wrong but the damage was already done.
There are anally retentive fascists everywhere, it seems. A bunch of them own this cross city tunnel they just built. Took them three years where they messed the traffic up no end and now they want everyone to use their tunnel. They even have the authorities wrapped around their thumbs and changing traffic flow so it is a virtual fait accompli you will use their tunnel and pay $3.36 for the privilege. That went up to $3.53 after less than a month because their computers said it was time to implement the annual percentage increase! If you haven’t got an electronic toll tag you have to pay an extra $1.60 “administrative fee”! Bloody hell, we pay for them to administer their own business, sounds like they were formed by some out of work ex-public servants with that kind of attitude! So nobody is using the tunnel except the over paid radio talk show hosts on expense accounts and with taxi charge accounts and the tunnel operators still refuse to lower the toll. Does the government do anything? No. Obviously too many people have been promised cushy jobs when they leave “public life”.

The other afternoon the asawa sadly witnessed a small boy hit by a 4WD and die. As sad as that is, what is sadder for society as a whole is that since the lad ran in front of the vehicle and the driver could do nothing to avoid him, they are screaming about the fact his 4WD is modified and raised. No right to be on the streets, a death machine and so on they hype! What if the 4WD had been standard or a 2WD sedan? No news there but the poor lad is still gone and his family devastated. We know as we lost our little niece very close to the same spot 11 years ago, hardly made the papers since the vehicle was a sedan and not a “death machine”.

Anyway, as well as getting used to being in Oz I have been meeting some of the Filipino’s living here and sending their anaks to the same school as La Terrorista’s sister goes to. Although most of the kids seem to be Iranian, there are a few other Filipino kids there and the token Aussie young ‘un. The mothers of the Filipino kids are all older than asawa and their husbands also older in the main although one is actually married to a Filipino! Funny thing is, she was only married to the Aussie who brought her here for a year, gave birth to a child who looks as Filipino as they come, then divorced him and managed to find true love in the arms of a Filipino she had known back home before marrying the Aussie. The Filipino is now her husband and living with her for the past ten years and all is well as the kid looks on him as if he were his natural born father. How convenient. The things you hear lurking around mother’s waiting for their kid’s when you speak a little of the lingo!

In fact, I had to chuckle as within days of first meeting asawa there were two Filipina’s who were trying to teach her how to rip off her husband as he was an Aussie and therefore not giving asawa any money, right….? Or how to keep her Parenting Allowance and still hold down a job….just don’t tell Centrelink, ok na lang? The real kicker came after she met another Filipina and visited her house. Then the other Filipinas actually chided her because “we have known you longer than she has and yet you go to her house but not our house!” She had known them less than one whole week!

She had offers of help to get her driver’s license in the Philippines, (which she already has) and then they would do the swap to a local license for a few hundred dollars. Sorry Dong but you can no longer simply swap a Philippines license for a New South Wales one, there is a list of countries that are acceptable for automatic swapping and the Philippines isn’t amongst them. Wonder why? If she wanted a Medicare card they would get it for her, no trouble. Just a few hundred dollars! Once again her apologies because she already has her Medicare Card. Her husband got it for her for free! She had known these people less than a week and they were offering to pervert the course of justice for her…for a price! Almost as if we had never left Cebu!

Next came the play for her loyalty with a gift of some crockery that wasn’t good enough for the giver (“I was given it two Pasko ago but I don’t like it, very cheap but ok for you I think….”) but good enough for asawa to take and be forever grateful. Not only that but since the Filipina was sure she needed the money she would sack her current care giver and let asawa mind her 2 year old while she went to her managerial position…supervising other chicken pluckers at the chook factory. Asawa could take on the responsibility and risk her Parenting Allowance (“don’t tell Centrelink, they will never know, I won’t tell on you…” was the Filipina’s advice) for a lousy twenty bucks a day! Then her husband (the Filipino) said her husband (Perry) couldn’t afford the rent on their apartment, as if he would know what Perry can or can’t afford! Only a Filipino would have the temerity to say something as personal and rude as that!

So asawa learnt her lesson early and well and keeps far away from all the other Filipino’s and Filipina’s except for some wives of Perry’s friends. The local Filipinos just couldn’t wait to get her into an utang na loob (debt of honour) situation! Seems you can take the Filipina out of the Philippines, but you can’t take the Philippines and its endemic corruption and cronyism out of the Filipina! Stay tuned, I rather like this new place!

Manila And Cebu Realtors Affiliate With Philippine Dreams!
Surf Over To Arlene Winkley’s Offerings At
Manila, Baguio, Luzon: Gigi Fellizar
Realtor (REBL 6952 Member, MunREB); Columnist, Manila-US Times (Glendale, Ca. USA) Email
Cebu, Bohol, Mactan: Romulo Cortel
Tel # 063-32-4176342
Mobile # 0919-3240492

Check out Dave William’s Yahoo Group for lots of information, tips and advice on everything to do with Real Estate in the Philippines! Dave’s wife is in the business and has a lot of first hand experience dealing with the buyers, sellers, authorities and government.


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