ekimswish's Blog

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Green Philippines



Green is a very descriptive word when it comes to the Philippines. There's green all around you in the trees and nature. People, expats and locals alike, are either green to where they're at, or to the world beyond. And you could always use a little more green, as in money.

I also like those green Boston Celtics, as does national hero Manny Pacquiao.

Just as I expected, I will need more money to continue this adventure, so I will have to hop out of the country to get it. This time, I'm more like an OFW since I will leave my family here, only I'm not Filipino. I've always been critical of the OFW effect on the country, and now I'm clicking my heels to join them.

Recently the construction of our house has dragged on and run up a bit in cost, while our piggery has slowed down and made less money. Neither event is a fatal blow to our dreams. They're both small, temporary problems. The house should be finished this week, about 3 weeks longer than the one week they predicted it would take, and 30,000 pesos more expensive than the 20,000 pesos estimated. It's not all to be blamed on others. We added a kitchen and bathroom to our nipa cottage, rather than just using the mother-in-law's across the street - DUMB IDEA to start with. We've also built a small pig pen behind our house with a septic tank and all, to help our business run smoother.

Business. The problem with the business has always been the road. We started the farm with the help of my wife's childhood friend and neighbor who's done a great job, but while we were out of the country. She chose a remote location on my wife's family's land to avoid trouble with neighbors. Maybe it was a bit too remote. There's no road from the road to our farm, and you need to cross a small bridge on either side. This means people picking up pigs have to carry the pigs out on bamboo stick or in a 50kilo crate 100 meters + through a mud path to the road, where they load their own vehicle, because we don't have a vehicle ourselves to deliver. Carrying by bamboo stick can damage the legs which effects the quality of the meat from the legs. I helped 3 other guys carry a pig out by crate on our shoulders once, and it was tough. I couldn't breathe well later that night, feeling like my rib cage and spine had been crushed! I wish it on no man, including my workers, even if I would do it again for the workout ;)

Our uncle has said he could build us a road with his sand and gravel business for under 20,000 pesos, but needs to wait until the conditions are dry. This is rainy season. It's not dry.

So due to the road, people have hesitated to pick up our pigs lately. The first couple of weeks we sold a pig a day. Recently we've sold maybe two pigs a week. I'm not in panic mode because I know exactly what the problem is and how to fix it. Nevertheless, it's frustrating waiting out the rain so we can build this road. Fortunately, our main customer has decided to build a stockyard in the neighboring province, and she's going to pick up 10 of our remaining pigs this week. Three more have been reserved, and the last we will give to the people on our street the morning before Christmas.

The street is known locally as little Tondo, but I've come to resent that nickname. I've employed a lot of the local young men from "Little Tondo" and they're hard workers. Giving out free pork for Christmas to the local poor is said to help us protect our investment with good will.

Anyways, I've got a lot of money coming in from my Korean pension refund soon, but it won't be enough for the family and the farm over the next three months. I've decided to teach English in Taipei, Taiwan, and send the money to my wife here in the Philippines, so she can manage the farm right. With the extra cash, a road to the farm, maybe a financing plan for a pick up truck, we should make a lot of money with this investment in the next year. The woman starting the pig stockyard said she wants to get a lot of pigs from us every month to save money getting them from her usual source, very far away. Even if she doesn't, with improved access to our farm we should get a lot more customers. On top of that, we're thinking the wise thing to do would be to open a meatshop in the booming town next door to us.

Pigs, pigs, pigs..... Money, money, money. Did I mention that I love living here?

I've gone to the beach about 3 a week lately, as well as played some basketball. My weight has dropped from 200 pounds when I left Korea to about 187 now, and counting. When I drink, I drink Tuba wine, straight from the coconut tree with nothing added but some bark for flavor and coloring. It's not that strong, so I'm never wasted, and it's not so fattening (that I know of) like beer or hard liquor. My children have other women helping us look after them, friends to play with, Christmas parties to attend. My wife is fairly happy with all of the local people she's grown up with. Out in the country side here, life is cheap. I eat local food, meaning fish, veggies, and rice, and if that doesn't cut it, I get some bbq pork and chicken on the side. We sleep early, when the sun goes down, and wake up early, when it comes back up. Seven in the morning is considered sleeping in.

I'm not totally disappointed with moving to Taipei either. I lived there before and loved it. I have a lot of friends there. It's a great city with a lot of food at the nightmarkets. Living alone, I can play lots of basketball and eat cheap nightmarket food, and focus on work. I've always wanted to get back there, and I hope it works out this time. I'm going to miss my family for a while. I might work there a year, with frequent visits. But hate me now, love me later is the way I see it. I'm sure my kids will forget about next year when I'm not there the following year when I'm there and we're having fun. It'll be a lot better living here with a good business than working for hourly pay back in Canada, and I think my kids will like to skip the 6 months of winter as much as I do.

So that's an update. I can't get much into the forum topics lately since I'm usually in a rush. It's also hard to read them and give an honest opinion with all the eyes reading over my shoulder in the internet cafe. Once we have internet, maybe this week, I'll be able to follow from the privacy of my home.



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Great story and well written. I hope you continue to update the blog when you move to Taipei, or wherever the next stop, and keep us informed of your adventures. You've definitely chosen the road less traveled. Merry Christmas to you and your family.Mike

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All I can say is ditto to what Mike said, and we look forward to seeing more of you on the forum, and your continuation of your blogs. Good luck with your adventures and we hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a very happy new year. :541: Lee

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Captivating, simply captivating! Boss Man suggested a long time ago that posting about normal everyday life as an Expat provides some very interesting and lesson learned experiences. Even as a Filipino, I don't think I would have the gonads to trail blaze a life that is virtually off the grid. You apparently accomplished a foothold in your remote barrio. First and foremost, you have become well known as a serious family man and also have a heart to care for other villagers. Whether socializing in a friendly game of B-ball or just hanging out with men folks drinking the local shine, you have gained mutual respect among your new friends. Very important when you're gone for a few months.Again, we all appreciate your time for keeping us updated. Judy and I wish you and your family the very best. Merry Christmas young man!Respectfully -- Jake

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I enjoy reading of all your activities on Leyte and have high regards for what you have done over there. Making a living as you are is not at all easy and you seem very level headed in how you go about things. It’s not easy.You made me laugh about weight loss. During our Cebu/Leyte visits I eat fresh fish and fruit like a pig and lose weight every time. My dear Mother in law is just amazed how much I eat.Once you get to Taipei please keep posting how life is there today. I lived in Taipei almost three years well before you were born. At that time Taiwan was much like Philippines is today. I have very fond memories of Taipei.

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