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SAMAR - Once you visit, you'll want SAMORE

Saturday – 4 Sep


[smartads] It’s a beautiful, quiet morning and I decided to emerge from under the covers at 0611.  Not sure why I even got up at all, except I want to write more into this blog.  This is starting to get obsessive and I’m glad.  It’s something I like to do and it doesn’t drive my wife crazy.  That’s a good combination.  Last night after I published the post, we had 2, count ’em, 2 brownouts.  First one occurred at 7:54pm.  It only lasted about 20 minutes, but about 10 minutes  after that, we had another.  We called the electric company and they said they had to replace something (I forgot what they said, I think connector) and it “wouldn’t be long”.  Man, I hate it when they say it that way.  Thankfully, this time, everything was back up at 9:28pm.  I was on my computer for both of those surges though.  I don’t see how anyone can maintain a computer here with all the sudden power outages, but there are plenty of computer around here.  Those surges bother me.

Today is my weigh in day.  I’ve already weighed in actually, and the news is not so good.  Not terrible, but I was expecting better results.  When I weighed in 2 weeks ago I was at 135.3 kilos (approx. 297 1/2 lbs) and today it was 136 kilos (approx. 299 lbs).  That’s a gain of .7 kilos (about 1 1/2 lbs).   Yeah I know, that’s ‘heavy’ duty stuff, but considering when I arrived here in May weighing 149.9 kilos (approx. 330 lbs), I’m on the right track.  Guess I’ll have to start the dreaded “E” word…Exercise.  It shouldn’t be so bad though, I’m sure I can find someone that will volunteer to walk with me to Calbayog Proper, it’s only about 1 mile.  I can still do that now, maybe not with blazing speed, but I can make it.  In fact, I’ve already done it once since I’ve been here.  Had to get a ride back though.  Figure after I get fit enough, I can take the long way around, go past the new open market they are building, go through down town, in front of the (soon to be) old market, then head on back home.  That would be about a 4 to 5 mile walk.  I’ll keep you informed.  Maybe since I’m relying it all to y’all, I’ll do a better job at losing weight.

The beginning of football season is upon us, and I’m a little bit worried.  No, not if the Cowboys can be the first to win a Superbowl at home, I know that’s going to happen.  This is my first football season in the Philippines and I’m worried because I’m not sure how much American football they will show on TV here.  They sure show a lot of soccer and basketball though.  I won’t even mind if I have to get up at 1am and/or 4am to watch them.  Just have them here.  I tried internet TV, but it didn’t seem like it would work well.  But when the season starts, I’m going to try it again, if I have to.  Maybe if I can get 1 or 2 of them to work, I can actually watch the games at a decent hour of the day.  My fantasy football may suffer if I can’t keep up with the games and players.

Lita was at the market again.  She is back already.  She bought 4 boxes of milk for the cereal.  I made pancakes for breakfast this morning.  I usually do pretty well with them, but today I kept burning them on at least one side.  It’s fine though, I ate them anyways.  I gave Cathy one too.  She likes pancakes and she is eating for two.  We don’t have Aunt Jemima here, but the Marigold version is decent.  Anna Pearl (another niece of mine) got one too.  She a very nice and nice looking young lady (16).  I’ll have a picture of her in here soon,  just as soon as I can get a picture of her younger sister, Chatty (14), in here.  Chatty is camera shy, unlike most Filipinos who are camera hogs and always striking a pose.  Both Anna Pearl and Chatty are Neneng’s younger sisters.  I think Chatty’s parents made a mistake in naming those 2 girls though.  Anna Pearl is the one that is chatty.  Chatty is more shy, turns her head when people are kissing on TV, but she seems to be the smarter of the two.  Since jobs are so hard to come by here, and someone has to pay for school, food and living, Chatty and Anna Pearl work for Neneng.  Anna Pearl gets paid because she decided to quit school to work more full-time.  Chatty doesn’t get a paycheck, but Neneng pays for all of her schooling needs.  Here when you take a mid-term or final test, you have to pay for it.  Last time I checked, for a semester of school, including all tests, it was about 6000 pesos (approx. $130).  If you don’t have the money, you don’t get to take the test and you don’t pass the course.  Of course the tests do not cost that much to take (not sure of exact amount), but most Filipinos here, don’t have extra money to spare for things like that.  I mean even when/if they do graduate from high school and/or college, unless you get lucky here or find a suitable place overseas somewhere, you’ll end up being a cook or tricycle driver anyway.  By cook, I don’t mean a chef either, or even something as wonderful as a short order cook.  Just another cook in the mix of things.

We gave Vicky’s youngest son (about 7 or 8 years old, but small for his age)  a lot of ice candy to sell down the street at his house.  Gave him 50 of them.  He sold them all, already.  It’s only 1:30pm.  Gave him 50 more to see how he does.  We gave him 20 pesos for his trouble (that’s 10 ice candies worth, and a lot of money for him).

I’m going to put in the Tagalog word for today now.  I almost forgot yesterday.  Today I think I will use the word:  baboy (ba-boy) .  Because that is what I feel like after not losing, and actually gaining a little weight this week.  It means: pig.

A nephew of my wife’s, that I’ve never seen before , just showed up.  Not sure what’s going on, but I’m sure she’ll tell me later, she always does.  Looks like just a friendly visit.  That happens around here a lot.  We have like the whole clan over here 3 or 4 times per month, just to eat and shoot the breeze.  Sometimes we drink beer and play cards.  I’m going to try to get some of them to play Empire Builder next time.  Most of them will make a special effort to communicate with the me in English.  They don’t mind practicing their English on me.  Oh, both of the young guys that showed up are her nephews and they are going to be working for one of my wife’s cousins (Juvic & Grace’s Mom) and she is getting ready to take them over there, because they are new to the area and not quite sure how to get there.

This computer is running super slow today.  I received a request (outside of the blog) to show a picture of my house.  Think Keith also asked on the blog.  Anyway, I’m going to put on there what I have.  The house is not much to look at on the outside and it’s only half-finished, but I’ll put it there anyway.  I just took some newer pictures of the interior and exterior of the house, the best I could without exposing too much of the things we still haven’t put away from when we moved in.  You see, this is only a temporary house, kind of.  When all is said and done, we will be moving upstairs and this is suppose to belong to Judith and her family (Grace & Juvic’s Mom).  But if Judith ends up being able to buy the house she is in now, then we may just stay here and build like an outdoor style restaurant upstairs with large umbrellas over the tables.  It’s a thought and very feasible.  That should be a very good business when the hotel opens across the street.  Even though they will have a restaurant in there, I think that some people will be in a hurry to do things, you know how Americans are, and they just want a quick bite to eat.  Besides we would have things that they don’t offer in the restaurant.  We’ll have American style food.   We are going to do that anyway with Loly Cat, just not a full restaurant, yet.

I was just informed that we will now also be selling charcoal.   Charcoal here is just old, dried coconut shells.  It works well though, burns slow and steady.  We bought a 25 kilo bag for 150 pesos and she will be selling it for 5 pesos per 1/2 kilo.   Not much of a profit, but we’re not in a hurry.  A lot of little things and eventually we’ll get to where we want to be, where ever that is.  Vicky’s son showed back up.  He sold 1/2 of the second set of 50.  He wanted to replace them because they were starting to melt.  We sent him out with a total of  25 again, so if he sells them all, that’s be 100 for the day.  Guess I’ll let you know about that tomorrow.  Time to sign off for the evening, it almost 8:00pm.  Think I’ll add a few more pictures too.

Salamat, Palaam


  1. UJ, regarding power surges. Visit an Ace Hardware on your next mall visit or just ask at nearby electrical or appliance stores. What you want is an “auto transformer” or “voltage regulator transformer”… in the size you need for a computer (a few hundred watts capacity) you should be ale to find one for a few hundred pesos.

    Don’t compute without one. A surge protector that we are sued to in the US won’t do the job, you need an auto-transformer that maintains the voltage at 220, plus or minus 5%. Mine has been sitting here next to my computing desk for four years now, and typically you can here it working many times per hour as the power fluctuates. A worthy investment.

    • Now that is something I will be sure to do. Thanks for that information. I have a surge protector hooked up and it was still fluxing so much it made me nervous. I guess I just use that and can get put away my surge protector. The transformer I am using now I can use elsewhere in the house. Will I need to switch my computer over to 220? It’s still at 110 now because I have it plugged into the surge protector.

      • The auto voltage regulator I use is a brand called Omni, it’s sold all over the country at Ace Hardware, in sizes from about 100 watts up to 500 (or more). It provides both 220 and 110 output recepticals … I have surge protector strips plugged in to the 110 and the 220 outlets, becuase between the different computers and peripherals I have plugged in, some are 220 and some still 100 only from the States. I move every possible to 220 as things wear out or get replaced, you want to get every possible on 220 as time goes by, becuase it save power and avoids the confusion of plugging into the wrong voltage, once all the 110 volts stuff is gone.

        • You know what, I’ve already got one of these. Mine is called a National Star Automatic Voltage Regulator SBC-1000W. Cost me just under 1900 pesos. Had it the whole time and didn’t even realize it for some reason. Thought it was just a plain transformer. I can’t see the needle when/if it jumps because it is on the floor under my desk. My surge protector is plugged into the only 110 slot (there are 2 220 slots also) and everything else is plugged into the surge protector. When/If things wear out I guess I will have to change to 220. Hope I remember to change my computer to 220 when/if my surge protector needs replacing.

        • I was just wondering, since you seem to have some knowledge in the area, if you had any idea why my pictures are not loading like they use to. I keep getting an error message right at the very end of the loading. Only difference I see with this new site vs. the old site is that in the old site I had 1GB per picture for loading and this one I only have 64MG. But the pictures I am trying to load are only around 4-5MG. Any ideas? I asked Bob, but he seems to be at a loss at this time. This is the error I keep getting or one very similar: Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 69206016) (tried to allocate 14592 bytes) in /home/balita/public_html/ on line 253

          The bytes are usually different, but the line 253 is always the same.

  2. If I was you I would check with a computer expert to see what you can do to protect your computer. The Philippines has what we call dirty voltage. During the day when everyone is using power, the voltage drops to 180 to 190 volts. At night when people starts turning things off, power will start to go up to 290 to 300 volts. This is not good for electronics or electrical motors. This is probably why you only get an out the door warranty. Since I built my house I have had to replace 3 motors, 1 micro wave oven and I don’t know how many light bulbs. My house is on its own transformer because the barangy transformer was not big enuff to carry house and barangy. I would turn coffee pot on and micro wave and transformer would trip, so power company had to install transformer for my house but this is not out of the goodness of their heart to insure everyone had power, we have to pay for this transformer monthly.

    • I just may check with an expert. There are times when the power fluxes and it bothers me. So far we have not had to replace anything major, only 1 light bulb. I think a surge last week fried my speaker though. They don’t work anymore, although the headphones still do. As I stated in an earlier post, they are building a new improved power plant a few clicks down the road. It’s because of that new hotel across the street, but we are on the same grid as they are, so we should benefit from the new power plant too. That should be done by the end of the year. We do not have any problem with one appliance tripping another, but at the moment, we don’t really have anything big connect. We have a microwave, but it’s wattage is 1200, and we don’t have a transformer big enough for it yet. We’ll get it in time, no hurry. I would like to have a toaster though. Know where I can get one around here in Samar? Or will I have to travel to Cebu to get one? We plan an outing to Cebu before January, so we can go to a real steak house, so maybe I can wait until then. Oh, by the way, thanks for reading my blog and hope you return again, only if it’s just to see if I got the transformer or if you might have some more tips for me. But I’m hoping you liked the blog and will return just to keep up-to-date.

  3. UJ, delighted to have found your blog. Do come by and visit mine, at your leisure, in fact, think about writing an article for me … with links back to your blog of course … becuase you are living out something I have written several times in the past .. economy-birding in the Philippines. Instead of letting the bad economy lay you low and saddle you with debt the rest of your life, you’re living the dream and staying afloat in style. My hat is off to you and yours.

    I was going to offer up some blogging tips, but I here you are already working with Bob Martin … you won’t find a better mentor.

    Because of the way works I see I am signed in under an ID I rarely use. My name is Dave Starr, I live in Marlilao, Bulacan up on Luzon, and you can write me direct any time at dave 9(at)philfaqs(dot)com. Godspeed.

    • Well I’m delighted you found my blog too. Because, since you seem to be a professional blogger, you know I need all the hits I can get. I took a quick look at your blog, will take a closer look later. Not sure I’d know how to get started on writing a post for your blog though. Guess you’d have to approve it first. Which I guess you have basically done that already. Would it have to be something close to what your blog is about? I’m so much of a rookie at this, it’s not even funny. So far Mr. Martin seems very knowledgeable and I’m looking forward to learning from him. We’re in the process now of transferring me over to my own domain at GoDaddy. Got your e-mail noted and just may get in touch later.

Texan in the Philippines