Category Archives: Life in the Province

Life in Dumaguete by couple of our members

Philippines Fiestas

The provincial Fiestas are a nightmare for bar managers and owners because every year they happen and every year more and more girls leave work and return to the province for the fiestas, often staying away for a couple of months. Just the other day as I was bewailing the lack of girls for the opening of Cambodia after being told a whole lot were in the province. Shagger who was sick and tired of listening to me said, “now there’s an article people would like to read, write up something about the Fiestas and their role in Philippine society”. Well Shagger does have moments of clarity and who am I to question him, so with that said here comes an article on Philippine fiestas and I hope all who read this, find it informative and entertaining.

To examine the Fiesta and understand what it means to Filipino’s I believe it is necessary to briefly look at the history of fiestas and see how they developed in Philippine culture. The beginnings of the Philippine fiesta go back to before the Spanish conquistadors arrival in the 1500s. In the original culture the indigenous Filipinos would make regular ritual offerings to placate the gods, and it is commonly accepted that these occasions of offerings together with the Spanish influence evolved into the fiestas we know today.

For the indigenous peoples the fiesta also marked a time to recognize their connection with the land and to celebrate the gifts the land had bestowed upon them. This connection with the land is almost a universal truth and it is celebrated by peoples of diverse cultures throughout the world. There are many different “harvest festivals” but perhaps the world’s best known celebration of mans connection with his physical environment, together with accompanying religious overtones, is Americas Thanksgiving Day.

With the Spanish invasion of the Philippines and their predominant cultural influence the fiestas took on a whole meaning. The Spanish kept elements of Filipino culture and simply combined them with their own creating the basis for Filipino fiestas as we know them today. For the Spanish the Fiesta meant a multitude of things. Firstly it was a celebration of life itself and secondly a celebration of the Spanish system or more accurately the Spanish way of life. Thirdly there were always religious overtones and fourthly political aspects. Last but by no means least the fiestas represented recognition and a celebration of the people’s closeness to the land and the importance of the physical environment in ensuring their survival. During Spanish times the Fiestas involved people from all levels of society. People from an entire provincial area through to a local Barrio, no matter how rich or poor, took part in the Fiesta.

The very word fiesta is a Spanish word originally so there is no denying the Spanish influence on these proceedings. For the Spanish the celebratory aspects of the fiesta were accompanied by a well developed sense of the dramatic and a natural flair for ostentatious showmanship with a healthy dose of melodrama thrown in. The Fiestas provided the perfect outlet for these aspects of the Spanish psyche. For example during the fiestas in Spanish times the women would be paraded down the street dressed in the most flamboyant clothing they could find. There was always joyous dancing and partying and this was in some ways the predecessor to modern day beauty contests. In this regard the fiestas were comparable to the Madri-gra’s. The concept of a woman’s beauty being displayed and celebrated is still very much part of Filipino culture and in modern times this takes the form of a beauty contest which are often an integral part of modern fiestas. Many provincial fiestas will include a beauty pageant featuring 15 and 16 year old girls and this will often include a parade where contestants along with various sponsors will be paraded down the street for all to see.

The Spanish were devout Roman Catholics and this Catholicism served both as a justification for colonialism (converting Filipinos to the Catholic faith) and as the major pervading influence on the structure of their society. From the most powerful and wealthy land owners through to the political appointees, the conquistadors and even the average Spaniard the Catholic religion influenced the society they lived in and helped define their place in that society.Given that religious beliefs were a cornerstone of Spanish culture it is only natural that they should play a major part in the Fiestas. Indeed the very basis for many of the modern day, nationally recognized fiestas in the Philippines, is religion. For example the most easily recognized fiesta throughout the Philippines is that of the Black Nazarene which represents a black statue symbolic of Jesus Christ carrying a cross. Every January 9 a blackened statue of Jesus Christ bearing a cross is set on a gold and red carriage and pulled through the Manila district of Quiapo by male devotees. The feast of the Black Nazarene is a time honored Philippine ritual that is reputedly as old as Filipino Catholicism itself. Even though in the modern world change occurs rapidly here in the Philippines time honored festivals such as the Feast of the Black Nazarene continue to draw larger and larger crowds every year.

Most fiestas in the Philippines will have religious overtones either in the form of a direct physical representation of certain sections of the bible or in a the form of celebrating a local patron saint. This is clearly demonstrated by the Feast of the Black Nazarene (as shown in the two photographs above) which draws literally thousands of male devotees as seen in the two pictures above.

Under Spanish rule the fiestas were used as an occasion to reinforce the Spanish political system that held sway over most Filipino societies. The political aspects of Spanish society were always emphasized from the wealthy land owners through to the political appointees. Often the fiesta was marked by an actual political appointment and nearly always a speech and maybe a present giving session by some of the provinces more powerful identities, all of whom were invariably Spanish.

Just as the pre Spanish fiestas recognized and celebrated mans connection with the land so to do the modern day fiestas, in fact it is almost as if in this regard, fiestas have gone the full circle. Initially an essential element of the fiesta was to celebrate mans connection with the land and the gifts it had bestowed upon him. With the arrival of the Spanish this element of the fiesta was lessened but never forgotten and in today’s provincial fiestas this connection with the land has been re-emphasized and plays an important role in most provincial fiestas. Many Filipinos who reside in the cities, come fiesta time, will travel to the provinces to experience the so called rural lifestyle. At these fiestas it is not uncommon to see the older folk engage in the traditional dances which mimic the peoples work on the land. This is a subtle reinforcement of tradition and recognition of provincial man’s close link to his immediate physical environment.

(A traditional provincial dance performed by the older generation in which they mimic work in the rice fields.)

Recognition of mans connection with the physical environment will often take the form of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. One perfect example of this is the Kadayawan Festival in Davao which represents a celebration of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. The fiesta is one week long and celebrated every 3rd week of August which is the season of good harvest of fruits and orchids.

The modern day Filipino fiesta incorporates all the facets of the indigenous peoples and the Spanish fiestas as well as some uniquely Filipino aspects. For Filipinos the fiesta works on multiple levels and represents numerous things. In Filipino culture the provincial lifestyle is romanticized through artwork, literature and movies and the fiesta represents a chance for city dwelling Filipinos to get back in touch with their roots and experience the rustic lifestyle portrayed in popular culture. The Fiesta also represents a chance for them to mingle with seldom seen relatives and friends. In fact the general get together element is a critical part of fiestas in the Philippines. .As one popular Filipino writer put it the provincial fiesta “is the tie that binds Filipinos from a region or an area together, a time to reunite with your extended family and you kababayans (countrymen/women.)

Another important part of the Fiesta is the social mingling aspect and the giving and sharing aspects. No matter where you are you are expected to attend and take part in the festivities. This taking part will include a variety of things from dancing and singing in the streets or at a designated meeting place (often the town basketball court) through to sharing food or drink with close friends and relatives. Again a Filipino writer has expressed it well, “no mater where you are, you’re expected to attend. It is a time to rejoice in friendship, spend all you have, forget the expense, just be happy you can afford to entertain and feed others, if you can”.

For Filipinos the fiesta often represents the recognition of certain physical aspects unique to an individual geographical region in the Philippines. For example the ebon-ibon festival which is held in the town of Candaba Pampanga Philippines. This fiesta emphasis environmental conservation and represents the people’s recognition of this areas unique physical attributes. The Ebon-Ibon festival is a showcase for the many species of birds and their eggs that can be found here as well as recognition of the unique marshlands and swamps that attract a huge variety of birds to this area.

One very important part of the modern day fiesta is inherited from the Spanish and that is the love of pomp and pageantry. The provincial fiestas represent a chance for the Filipinos to express their natural attraction towards pomp and pageantry as well as an excuse just to have some dam good fun. A perfect example of this is the Centurion festival held in the town of Pinamalayan on Oriental Mindoro. During this festival the townspeople dress up as roman centurions and parade through the streets posing for photographs with onlookers.

Filipino society places a large amount of importance on the social aspects of life and the fiestas are very much an expression of this. As one Filipino writer put it “The fiesta is part and parcel of Filipino culture. Through good times and bad times, the Filipino fiesta must go on. Each city and barrio has at least one local festival of its own, usually on the feast of its patron saint, so that there is always a fiesta going on somewhere in the country”. A Filipino friend of mine is fond of quoting an old maxim which says “The Filipino is a social animal” and the fiestas are very much proof of this. Most of the larger fiestas will have an overriding theme but beneath that theme the fiesta is viewed as an excuse to socialize and party with ones peers and friends. The fiesta is a social gathering which serves as a chance to mingle, a chance to party and most importantly, a chance to renew old friendships and family ties.

In summary the fiesta is part and parcel of Filipino culture and every fiesta has multiple levels of meaning to all Filipino patrons. For Filipinos the fiesta is an expression of religious philosophy and recognition of a certain way of life or a certain political system. It is also a reflection of mankind’s connection with his physical environment as well as a reflection of the unique characteristics of a certain geographical area. It is a chance for the older generation to reinforce cultural values, as well as, providing a chance to strengthen the all important ties of friendship and family. The fiesta also represents a chance for Filipinos to explore the rural lifestyle that is so constantly idealized in Philippine art and literature. Last but not least the fiesta is simply an excuse to have fun, to have a holiday, to engage in ones love of pomp and pageantry, to entertain and to socialize.

Below is a list of the more prominent festivals and fiestas throughout the Philippines along with a brief description of each fiesta.

Kalibo, Aklan
13-19 January

The Ati-Atihan Festival commemorates the 13th century land deal between 10 migrating Bornean chieftains and the aboriginal Ati King Marikudo. It also honors the town patron, the infant Sto. Niño.

The festival features thousands of drummers who ceaselessly pound their drums while festival attendees dance on the street with soot blackened bodies and colorful costumes.

Cebu City
18-19 January

This is Cebu cities premier fiesta., The Sinulog is a century-old tradition observed in this part of Visayas region. Included are a mass prayer dance which takes place on the streets of Cebu culminating at the Cebu Sports Center.

Iloilo City
25-26 January

This is the major festival celebrated in Iloilo city. Participants don Ati warrior costumes with black body paint then to the beating of drums they dance on the streets brandishing weapons and shouting ancient war cries.

Baguio Flower Festival
23 February – 3 March

This festival takes place in the City of pines Baguio during flower season. The townspeople of Baguio reveling in the cooler climate don multi colored costumes which mimic the colorful blooming flowers that can be found in the region. The flowerbeds are presented in a parade of floats, Panagbenga.

Malaybalay, Bukidnon
28 February – 1 March

This festival is features the tribal ethnicity of Bukidnon The fiesta commences with an an early morning pamuhat ritual which is then followed by an ethnic food fest, trade fairs, and a lot of native dancing.

13-20 February

The island of Marinduque is commonly referred to as the “Lenten Capital of the Philippines”,. During Holy Week, the people of the island engage in the age-old ritual of the “Moriones”. This will mean colorful warrior costumes are worn, together with carved masks which depict the Roman soldiers of Christ’s time. This parade supposedly depicts the story of Longuinus, the centurion who pierced Jesus’ side – and his subsequent beheading.

San Fernando, Pampanga
16-18 April

This fiesta features the villagers of San Pedro engaging in the act of self-flagellation. Villagers perform this on Good Friday whipping themselves with burillo whips. The event climaxes at midday when penitents are literally nailed to their crosses.

11-15 May

This festival is designed to celebrate a bountiful harvest and is marked by a dazzling display of colorful flowers and showcases the towns culinary traditions. There is a heavy emphasis on the kiping – a colorful, translucent rice tortilla that serves as an edible ornament and the suman-sweet, sticky native rice cakes.


A parade of the town’s loveliest ladies, depicting the search and discovery of Christ’s Cross by Queen Helena and Constantine.

Murcia, Negros Occidental
24 June

The underlying theme of this festival is oneness with nature. The main parade includes participants dancing down the streets clad only in mudpacks.

Daet, Camarines Norte
15-24 June

The people of Camarines Norte are renowned for their love of pineapples and this festival is actually in honor of the pineapple. Alternatively known as the Pineapple Festival this occasion features a colorful street presentation complemented by art exhibits, trade fair, cultural dances, and sport events.

Balayan, Batangas
24 June

Pampanga is renowned for its tasty lechon (Roast pork) and every June this culinary delight is celebrated in Balayan, Batangas, popularly known as the “Parada Ng Lechon”. This festival features a dazzling display of succulent pork .The festival coincides with the feast of St. John the Baptist, where people repeat the ritual of baptism by pouring water.

Tacloban City
29 June

For the natives of Tacloban tattoos in the pre Hispanic days signified aggression and courage. These days they symbolize a cultural revival, and a wild,fiesta called the Pintados. Participants in the festival deck themselves out in body paint, mimicking the warriors of old while dancing to the frenetic beat of drums.

Tagbilaran City
1-2 July

The Spanish colonization of the Philippines began with a blood-sealed peace treaty on the shores of Bohol. This event is remembered today via a fiesta at the island’s capital city. The festival incorporates a street parade featuring ten colorfully-dressed groups dancing to the beat of drums. There’s also a traditional Filipino carnival, a martial arts festival, and Miss Bohol Sandugo Beauty Pageant, and many other exciting activities.

Dapitan City
25 July

This is an exotic and colorful pageant re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars, with particular emphasis on the Battle of Covadonga where the Spanish forces under General Pelagio took their last stand against Saracan.

Davao City
20-24 August

Davao’s annual festival, Kadayawan Sa Dadaw is an entire week long and culminates. on Saturday morning when the Kadayawan parade is held. This parade features colorful, orchid-bedecked floats and more than a dozen “ethnic” groups dancing to the beat of wooden drums.

Surigao City
9 September

This festival features Surigao’s tribal background. The Surigaonons celebrate their heritage with a loud, frenetic street dancing parade.

Naga City
20 September

This is a 9 day long festival that combines religion with culture and tradition. The festival culminates at sundown with the fluvial parade as it makes its way down the river, surrounded by a sea of glowing candles.

Zamboanga City
10-12 October

The big fiesta in Zamboanga the city of flowers is the annual Hermosa Festival. The prominent spectacle of the fiesta is the vinta (native sea boats) race. Also featured are cultural and flower shows, art exhibits, and trade fairs. This is an all out celebration of life Chavacano style!

Bacolod City
14-21 October

This festival made Bacolod famous was originally an event meant to fortfify the locals to face hard times by putting on a smiling face hence the now famous parade of people wearing smiling face masks. The main part of the festival includes street dancing, drum beating, drinking, eating and just partying.

Building a House in the Province

As many of us have probably heard tale of or even been involved with, it is alot of filipina’s dream to build their family a house back in the province. Most of the bargirls, and even non-bargirls, come from meager backgrounds in the province where if they’re lucky they have both parents trying to grind out a living and provide for their ever growing Catholic families. They come to AC and Subic and a host of other places to make money to send home in the belief that it will help the family; school fees, grocery, health care are some examples I’ve heard for expenses and then there is always the drunk father or lazy brother who just piss away this money in gambling or drinking. Money earned by some filipina making a living on her back. It is their upbringing and philosophy to help the family and we’re never going to break them of that; family comes before them and way before their relationships with foreigners.

The house in the province is a symbol or sign of the families success; it is also a demonstration by the girl that she can care for her family properly. A well constructed house signals that she is now the provider of the family; a stature thing encompassing the father as provider and head of family. Now, MOST girls will NEVER achieve this degree of success by only barfining and getting her fair share of Lady Drinks. This type of success will only come thru securing a long time barfine, WU sponsor or by somehow finding herself a boyfriend or husband (which is extremely rare considering the insurmountable odds and number of bargirls).

Those of us on the board who’ve been involved in building a provincial house may not be willing to admit it due to expected degree of harassment that will come from the hardened mongers who see any type of compassion or support for a filipina as ignorant or SOMEHOW inhibiting them from fucking said girl. I have gathered some information that I’ll share with you. This is a Zambales house and the cost reflects that; it is potentially somewhat more expensive than buidling elsewhere off Luzon.

First off describing the construction technique; the home pictured was built on a piece of property where the family controls the land. The home replaced a single room wooden building with tin roof on piers. The new home is of block construction reinforced with rebar on a concrete slab. The kithen and CR were built first across the lot from the previous home which was later demolished to make room for new house. The kitchen acted as a base to support the family (cooking, CR and sleeping) while the remaining three rooms were built consisting of a main living room and two bedrooms. The kitchen comes with multiple venting blocks, a 12 foot concrete slab countertop, a sink, CR etc. No running water; water is stored in buckets in the CR to flush and bathe with and several surplus water jugs in the kitchen for cooking with. An electric water cooler provides cold and or hot water as needed and a two burner shellane stove for cooking.

Each room has at least one louvered window to allow for good air flow. Electric wiring was run to each room for lights, plugs, fans etc. One additional luxery was to put in a ceiling and linoleum on the concrete floor. Beds and some furniture were constructed out of the left over and surplus lumber; end tables, benches, tables etc. As time goes on, the linoleum can be replaced with economical tile and furniture purchased or acquired.

The whole place is being painted with the traditional filipina choice of pink, green or light blue with white ceilings. The exterior was not painted but skim coated with concrete to cover the block which looks nice but also serves to help prevent deteroation. The fence has yet to be finished to protect the lot from people walking in.

I will summarize the associated costs for construction of a two bed room, 520 square foot house (26 ft x 20 ft):

Block/cement/sand: P61,730
Wood/plywood: P46,200
Aluminum/metal/rebar: P22,028
Plumbing: P1510
Electrical: P5975
Misc: P17,917
Labor: P54,000
Total: P155,360 ($4425 USD or approx. $8.5 per square foot)

Which brings me to labor; this house as with many in the Philippines will be built by someone in the family who has some degree of experience in building. Don’t go down to your neighborhood construction company and expect this to be built for the same cost. This construction was done by one uncle and two helpers over a 3 month period and several hundred dollars worth of Red Horse and Emperador. There were 3 workers involved; 1 employee (uncle)for 12 weeks at P1500 a week. 2 helper employees for 12 weeks @P1200 a week and one cousin for 6 weeks who was paid P7200. Also, untracked was their food and meals which were provided as they stayed onsite 95% of the time. Overall, they did a decent job; the new house is a far cry better than the previous wooden shanty the family lived in raising 4 kids. It has already withstood one signal 3 typhoon and I expect it to sustain the family thru many more.

Now, to some this type of home would no cut it….it doesn’t have nearly enough luxery for them but for a filipina who came from a very very modest upbringing without a fulltime father to provide, this house is a dream. It can only get better with the addition of some furniture and necessities. It will remain like alot of provincial homes, a perverbal work in progress as money is available.

Early construction

Demo of the old house

Early view of the sala

Completed small bedroom

Completed sala

Almost completed kitchen

Completed big bedroom

Acrobat Internet Providers

When I woke up this morning I had no idea the circus had come to town. But sure enough as I walked outside I was greeted by some amazing acrobats. I mean, these guys made the Flying Melinda Brothers I saw as a kid in a Ringling Brother’s show many years ago look like rank amateurs.

But the thing was, these guys weren’t performing high risk stunts for the amusement of pre-adolescent cotton-candy eating wide-eyed children, no these guys were risking their lives putting up a 120 foot mast so that we could have Internet access at the new house.

For you see, some things need to be sacrificed out here in the boonies. With the great beach front property comes the wonderful world of wireless service.

While the electricity is hard wired in and there is good running water (from a deep well) everything else is through the air.

Phones are no problem. As we are in the mobile phone capitol of the free world we all had one or two cells each and were all well versed in the workings of cellular communication. In fact just at the house alone there are 7 full time cells running 24/7 and the familiar chimes signaling an incoming text can be heard throughout the day and well into the night.

Television is also not a problem. ‘Cable’ TV will be through Dream Satellite. The dish is already installed on the roof although we haven’t yet filled it with load or ran the cables to the various rooms. We each have an Xbox in our room hooked up to large screen TVs and with over 400 movies and 3000 TV series all networked and available on demand through the Xbox media center, as well as over 2000 DVDs in the house, Dream TV has not been a priority.

So the big problem, the major end-mission, fold up and go home, deal breaker, don’t pass Go and don’t collect 200 dollars catastrophic problem, would be Internet. For if there was no Internet access here in our new estate on the beach it was time to pack up and move again.

DSL or Cable was out of the question. No service reached out this far into the provincial jungle we now live in. Sure you can get ice, fish, milk, vegetables, as well as other items delivered fresher than you’ve ever had it right to your front door, but there was no land line Internet access yet available.

Dial-up would be a joke. For emergencies and before the mast was put up we got online with our cell phones, but that wasn’t fast enough and only a temporary solution. No way in hell could we ever do what we need to do using our cells or by having a land line installed.

So that left wireless…

No biggie, we thought. We can’t be the first people to do this. I mean is it really possible that we were the first people who want our cake and Internet too?

Of course not. A quick search on the web and sure enough we found the right company to come out and put up a mast so that we could survive. And I don’t use the term “survive” lightly. No Internet for a Web company means death so this was set up even before we got to the island.

The appointment was made even before we had made flight reservations from Manila to Dumaguete. We knew that as soon as possible after getting to the new house we would need Internet so after we got an appointment for the mast erection (ok, stop giggling…) we then booked our flight for the day prior.

Weather though would have a hand in the logistics. Simply Mother Nature letting us know that we are not in charge and she will let us have Internet when she wants and no sooner. So even the best laid plans sometimes go awry and also this one. We would have to wait for the storm to pass.

So after a two day delay due to the typhoon, the boys were out early in the morning to put up the mast.

The entire process was actually quite fascinating. They simply drove up in a trike loaded up with all the equipment they would need and got to work. Not one of those wimpy AC trikes, no this was a province trike, the kind you can fit 5 to 6 people in…comfortably! And it was packed. Pole segments, antenna pieces, cable, wire, nuts, bolts, testing gear… the works.

The crew consisted of 5 guys and the salesperson/supervisor who we were dealing with over the phone thus far. One guy was the technician so that left four grunts to assemble and erect the mast.

First a hole was dug and the first section of ten was sunk in, buried and anchored into place. This first section was about 12 feet high and longer than the other 9 sections that were added later.

Each pole segment is about eight inches around and has a small metal foot/hand rest welded to the outside every two feet. By the time each segment was put in place there are 30 guide wires attached to the mast keeping it relatively straight and secure.

When finished the ten segments along with the antenna section itself stands about 2 flagpoles tall or around 120 feet straight up out of the jungle virtually reaching back to civilization bringing us the life blood of the Internet.

The only thing is, there were no cranes and the 10 sections were not telescopic so that a pulley system or something could be used to fully erect the mast. No, each segment had to be placed in manually and then guide wires attached one at a time.

So you would think a harness or some climbing hooks or some carabineers would be used, right? Nope, you’re dead wrong. This maniac of a crew climbed up and did all of this without any safety gear what so ever.

120 feet up in the air with their feet locked on to some small little strip of steel welded to a thin pole, all about 8 hours after a typhoon had blown through the area. I say feet because they were not holding on with their hands as those were needed to run wires and fit together pole segments.

So like antenna monkeys grasping onto poles they scurried up and down the mast like it was nothing at all. Each time making our hearts skip a beat as we just prayed there would be no accidents or miss-steps.

“At least you know they are doing a good job as their life depends on how secure the previous pole is put in place.” I say looking straight up into the madness.

Before the last piece with the antenna components was put in place I gave the guy who was climbing up a quick lesson on digital camera operation and and he took a couple pictures of the property from way above.

These are probably the only ones that will ever be taken of this property from that angle. I promise you that any more pictures taken from that high will not taken by me as I am NOT going up that pole just for some panoramic shots of the beach!

Watching him up there I almost felt guilty hoping he didn’t drop the camera. Very little thought was given to if he himself could hang on and manage to snap a couple of pictures for me.

Oh well, karma is a bitch and I’m sure I’ll pay for that. 🙂

So down he came with the last piece of the mast in place. All that was needed was one more trip up the mast to cart the antenna and wire up there and we would be in business.

And quick as that he was up and down and all finished. Now that the antenna was in place and the wire was run down and connected to a router it was time for the technician to take over. In no time at all we were up and running and now had Internet at the house.

Ironically we were worried about connection speed and usability issues as well as down times due to the wireless connection however the only down times we have experienced so far are from a loss of connection from the main hub in Dumaguete to Manila. So even though we are off the main island of the Philippines, Luzon is still the cause of our Internet problems!

I am sure that Comclark is somehow involved and is actually the ones who have the switch and are fucking with us. “Oh yeah?” I can hear them say, “Leave Angeles City will you? And you think you are out of reach of our Internet hand?” Then with an evil chuckle they unplug us.

God I do not miss Comclark at all!

Anyway, when the circuit is good here in Dumaguete our connection is somewhere around 350 to 450 Kbps. We do get bursts of up to 600 to 800 Kbps and besides the Manila problems (which there have been a few as they are still recovering from the typhoon) service has been very good.

In fact, so good that it is sometimes shocking.

One night we were all down by the viewing deck having a cold beer watching the surf and got a text message from the Internet tech informing us of another outage due to a cut fiber line in Manila.

What a shock! The guy was proactive and texted us about the outage even before we noticed it ourselves! After all the battles with Comclark and the ineptitude of their staff, this was a pleasant change and a type of service I could definitely get used to!

Our collective and proverbial hats off to the acrobatic Internet boys who brought service to the beach house.

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…


An Angry Sea

AE Staff Note:

Life in the province…

It will be different. There are of course monger opportunities here and we will report on them, but this section of AE will be used mostly for discussion about living away from all the glitz and glamour that is Angeles City and the strange and bizarre life which living on a beach affords.

We love AC and will never abandon her, no matter what. But the grand experiment of our move to Dumaguete is underway and we want to share it with you.

Read on and join in the roller-coaster ride that is province life.

The ocean is angry this morning…

It’s as if the last week of typhoons and tropical depressions has finally pushed the sea into fighting back in the only way it knows how. What is usually serene and tranquil is now violent and chaotic. Deep blue surf gently kissing the sand has been replaced with chocolate waves of power pounding the shore.

I look out at the local fishermen who have no choice but to sail out into these tempestuous waters searching for food and thank some higher power that life has afforded me a position where I can just watch in awe at the dedication of these poor souls as I retreat into the comfort of my dry home. I am once again thankful my life and my family’s do not depend on me facing the violent sea as an only means of survival.

Lately out here in the province along the shore the rain is also different somehow. Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind as the cadence of the downpours seems to be very disordered. In one moment the rain hits you hard and strong coming straight down then 10 seconds later there is a fine mist as if walking through a fog and then the fine mist is replaced 10 seconds later with a sideways shower hitting you in the face.

It’s as if someone is playing with a huge shower massager in the sky trying to find the right setting yet never finding comfort. And this has been going on for 3 days now. In the 15 minutes or so that I have been writing this essay I have seen 3 downpours with a few respites with it now sprinkling. Then, as I finished that sentence the sky just opened up and emptied a swimming pool on top of my roof.

What is most troublesome is the small river in the back of our house which is masquerading as the only access road to our small neighborhood. This group of houses at the end of this small muddy trail stand all alone and all depend on this path like a bunch of coconuts all grasping onto one lone palm tree for survival. Our van has 4 wheel drive and it has been tested these past few days driving out of this cull de sac for supplies.

So we hunker down in our respective rooms not going out much. The daily swims in the ocean have been put on hold for a while and as yet another black out hits we start up our generator and think of back in Angeles we would be hitting Roadhouse or somewhere to ride out the storm.

Here’s to all those that have been affected by the rains in the Philippines. May we all bask in the Sun and dry out soon…

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…


Dumaguete Death Lizzard

Switching over to province life has been a major internal time shift change. Like some bizarre inner-body day light savings time clock turn back, 20 years of being a night owl has turned into waking up at the crack of dawn and sleeping when it gets dark.

But I have not gone down gently.

Old habits die very hard and I still find that while I don’t lay down when the sun sets, I still find myself sleeping much sooner than usual. Morning wake ups are different here too. While in Angeles one is woken up by yelling street vendors trying to sell you something you don’t need or by trikes plowing by your bedroom window like it was the only bypass to downtown available, here in Dumaguete the waking up process is much gentler.

One might be woken form a wet dog nose poking you to take her for a walk down on the beach, or maybe the sound of the girls playing in the hammock. These are good days…

But this morning was alarming. I jumped out of bed from the screaming of girls yelling out, “TOOKO! TOOKO!

What the… Why is everyone screaming and what in the hell is Tooko?

My house here in Dumaguete is actually separate from the main house. It has its own private kitchen and is far enough away to provide some privacy when needed. I staggered out of bed, threw on some shorts and wandered over, still wiping the sleep out of my eyes, into the main house to see what all the yelling was about.

Inside looked like a scene from a Mad Max movie. Everyone was holding some homemade weapon running around screaming “TOOKO!” and poking at things. Two girls were standing up on furniture while my psycho girl with baseball bat in hand was poking under a table.

The Marine and the Dane looked on guard but quite amused at this whole process. Our driver was nowhere to be seen as he wanted nothing to do with this mayhem now ensuing in the house and was standing outside looking quite nervous. I later learned that because of this lizard he had actually spent the night in the van as he had seen one wall walking in his room.

Suddenly a blurry flash of reptile flesh scurried out from under a bench and ran up behind a painting which was on the wall on the staircase leading up into the master bedroom. I didn’t get a good look at it but I could hear it scurrying around behind the picture.

Being the stupid one without any of the information needed for battling a mini-Godzilla, I stepped forward to try and flush out the monster. I was trying to balance myself on the stairs and still have enough leverage to lift the large glass framed portrait all the while thinking to myself, ‘How bad can it be? It’s just a lizard,’ and grabbed the large portrait off the wall and pulled it back to reveal the beast.

And there it was, the Dreaded Dumaguete Death Lizard.

And boy, was it was horrific!

Note: This picture really doesn’t do it justice. Plus this is another one taken outside on the wall and not the one that invaded our house. But you can get a sense of it.

I was only expecting a slightly large misshapen gecko or something like that. But this eight to nine inch long thing had quite a large head on it with florescent blue and purple scales in a stripe from the back of its head down to the tip of its tail. Its eyes seemed to move independently like an iguana but the look on its face was not cute like some beer commercial spokes-lizard, no, this reptile meant business.

He seemed to stare at me with one eye while surveying the rest of the scene with the other. I stood there like an idiot holding the large framed picture off balance staring into the one eye of the death lizard. Looking at his mouth I saw that this indeed was not a gecko and could easily fit some of my flesh into its mouth with little effort. The head was quite large compared to its body and it looked to be 75% mouth!

And then he jumped…

Screaming girls to the left and screaming girls to the right made me jump straight up to a height Michael Jordan would have been proud of. Landing was not quite so graceful though. I came down awkward trying to dodge the now pissed off Death Lizard and maneuvering away from the jumping and screaming girls all the while trying not to drop the huge portrait still in my hands.

*Clang* *Smack* *Clang* *Crash*

I look to my left and see the bats and poles striking the ground chasing the fiend back underneath the bench which surrounds the dining room table. Placing the portrait back on the wall I join the hunt and we flush the creature out from there and towards the hallway.

Now my girl is getting brave. She’s walking around with one slipper off and the other using it like some sort of Dreaded Dumaguete Death Lizard Reptile Swatter and I can hear a *Swat* *Swat* *Swat* as she chases it across the wall.

Ador, our driver, is still outside and I finally ask, “What’s the deal with this mutant lizard and why is everyone afraid of it?” They explain that ‘Tooko’ is the sound it makes when howling, presumably before a kill. Also, legend has it, the thing has a pit-bull like jaw action so that when it bites into your flesh it will not let go until you or it dies.

Well, that would have been some nice information to have BEFORE I got close enough for it to see my jugular was well within leaping distance!

I got it!” I hear the honey-ko scream, “I got it with my slipper!

Is it dead?” I ask as I was now looking for some sort of pole like weapon myself.

No, it’s in the CR.

Does it need some toilet paper?” I ask.

She had somehow chased it out of the living room, down the hallway and corralled the monster into the CR and was looking to go in for the kill.

Ok, time out… Let me take some time and re-set the scene.

Tooko the Death Lizard is now in the CR while three grown men are well behind my girlfriend who is now charging into the CR armed only with a single flip-flop while another guy is outside hiding. The other two Filipinas are still back in the living room wondering how they can stack up furniture to get even higher off the ground and wait for a reported killing of the Venomous Lounge Lizard.

Our nemesis has now somehow crawled behind the toilet and is sitting just out of reach of any tool we can find to stick back there and poke him out or pierce his hide. It was then that our Danish friend recalls some of his Viking ancestry and comes up with a plan.

He goes and gets a big pot of water and places it on the stove to boil it. The plan is to cook the thing out of there letting technology accomplish what three guys with random blunt weapons and a Filipina with a shoe couldn’t do.

*SPLASH* the boiling water hits the back wall and we can hear the thing flailing about.

He is not happy.

He has now slipped far enough down that his tail is fully visible and my girl takes a large pole and stabs at the tail. Like its cousin the gecko, the tail comes off and is wiggling on the ground as if it was still attached.

That was enough for my girl. Being scared of snakes she thinks that is enough wild kingdom fun for the day and retreats back to the living room. Meanwhile Netguard hands me a long spoon and I’m stabbing at the thing trying to kill it or drag it out.

Finally the thing drops to the floor and tries half-dead to scurry away. Down came a pole from the hands of the Dane and the lizard is brought down.

I think its still moving! You don’t think it’s a Dreaded Dumaguete Zombie Death Lizard, do you?” I say but as quickly as I can get those words out another strike across the lizard’s head and Netguard finishes off the beast.

*Whew* Victory at last! The Dreaded Dumaguete Death Lizard is vanquished and no longer a threat.

I can only hope that there was only one of them on this island! If not I think we need to stock up on hot water and flip-flops!

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…



Life in the province…It will be different. There are of course monger opportunities here and we will report on them, but this section of AE will be used mostly for discussion about living away from all the glitz and glamour that is Angeles City and the strange and bizarre life which living on a beach affords.

We love AC and will never abandon her, no matter what. But the grand experiment of our move to Dumaguete is underway and we want to share it with you.

Read on and join in the roller-coaster ride that is province life.

Life on a beach…

Sounds good, right? The imagery running through your head right now is worth more than I could ever write here. So just take a moment and picture what you think life on a beach is and multiply it by 100. That is life here in Dumaguete.

But just what makes that possible and the events to actually get that dream beach front property is not a bed of roses, let me tell you. There were trials and tribulations aplenty which led up to finally sitting down on the beach with the wind blowing through your hair staring out at the playing turtles in your front yard.

But the question remains. Why leave Angeles City, a permanent vacation, to an isolated area like Dumaguete?

First of all, let’s face it. Life in AC’s not too shabby. I mean, what’s not to love? There are a ton of bars, great places to eat, good Expat support, great friends and of course we can’t forget the thousands of willing and able Filipinas just waiting there all seemingly for you. If you can’t find happiness in AC, you just aren’t looking hard enough.

So what makes a man want to leave?

Yup, it’s that ‘life on a beach’ thing again. That dream house right on the beach so close to the ocean that the pounding of the waves can be heard as you drift off into an island slumber. Hell, back in the real world I paid about a hundred bucks for one of those sleep machines which simulated all sorts of white noise sounds in an attempt to put the listener in a comatose like state to get some much needed rest.

While it had the ‘babbling brook’ and ‘forest rain’ setting, inevitably the switch always found its way to ‘pounding surf’ as this insomniac tried to catch 40 winks before heading back into the rat race early the next morning.

Yes, leaving the states was a no-brainer and done with little thought. AC was easy. It was a rescuing of a tired soul. I often tell people that although I am only 40 years old, it is not the years it is indeed the mileage. I needed AC and it probably saved my sanity.

Here on the beach that calming ocean sound is constant. Even now as I write this I can hear the waves pounding into the shore in a relentless battle between surf and sand.

Things slow down here and a pace of life is visibly slower even after only 3 to 4 days of being here. Yeah, I think I’m going to like it here. Sure I will miss the AC life, but it will be nice to visit there as a tourist and forget all those things that annoy there.

Drummer and I always joked that we would like to invent a pill that one could take every night before a bar hop which would make each night feel like the first night. You know, give that ‘deer in the headlight’ look that all cherry boys have. You forget about the vendors on the streets. You ignore the bad service. You forgive the constant ‘white face’ price gouging. You simply have a great time and appreciate all the great things Angeles City has to offer.

Well, I found the pill. It’s called province life.

Past the death lizards and snakes, past the 3 hour pizza runs and the wet salty dog running into the house, past the bug convention at dusk and the muddy foot trails posing as major roads, there is a charm to Dumaguete that makes it all worth while.

At least for now…

Because, let’s not forget. This is just a trial. I might go island crazy and start to look like Dustin Hoffman in Papillon trying to judge those ocean waves for escape routes. Just maybe friends in Angeles will hear a pounding on their doors some night from a runaway island boy looking for a place to crash in AC. I just don’t know yet what life in the province is going to be like.

But oh what a fun ride it will be…

Stay tuned for stories and reports on all aspects of province life. For better or for worse I won’t sugar coat anything about this grand experiment. You’ll get both the bad and the good about living here in Dumaguete.

Living the dream; life on a beach.

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…