Friday, September 10, 2010

My First Trip to the Philippines, Day 9

Day 9

Yeah, so…remember that beach house I mentioned yesterday? I think there’s a good chance we might be buying it. I was admittedly skeptical when they told us about it but after seeing it this morning I changed my mind. It’s not a huge lot with a mansion on it but compared to what I was expecting for such a cheap price it looks like a hell of an opportunity. It’s got a small, fully furnished 2 bedroom house (pretty sturdily built) and a huge nipa hut (bungalow) out front, also fully furnished. Between the house and nipa hut there’s an empty plot that we could build something on or use as an outdoor cooking area or maybe even a small garden or something. There’s also a small back yard with a water pump although it does have indoor plumbing too. It’s locked up so we weren’t able to see the inside yet but from what I’ve seen it looks great. The price, well…let’s just say it’s cheap enough that we could probably pay cash for it without having to borrow any money or dip into my retirement fund. I mean, hell, this whole place costs 10,000 bucks less than my car for cripes sake! That means we could own this place outright and since it’s ready to be moved into right away, we could use it as a vacation home when we visit every year or so. The best part is that the wife’s family live only a half hour away so they could manage the place, when we’re not there. Use it whenever they want, even sell their vegetables, food, whatever, to make a few pisos. The nipa hut is pretty big and perfect for beach parties. I could easily put a karaoke machine and a pool table in there. Who knows, in 20 years we could even retire here. The funniest part is why the people are selling it in the first place; I guess the owners live in the US and their father lives in nearby Dagupan City and he’s the only one that uses it. However the reason the father – who is in his 70’s – uses it is for his extramarital trysts. Apparently the family is tired of his antics so they decided to just sell the place. Not sure how true all that is but it sure is pretty funny. I told the wife to get the owner’s contact info before we leave and when we get home we’ll give them a call and see what we can work out. Even at the full sale price it’s a great deal but if I can talk them down a little, even better. Ever since I got to the beach all I can think about is that I’d love to come back here every year if I can so this place would be perfect. And the thought of the X Man and Luca having a place right on the beach to spend a month or so every summer is just too good to be true. The main thing that would make it doable is that the wife’s family lives so close so I wouldn’t have to worry about the place when we’re not there. I won’t go too crazy til I get home and talk to the owners as it seems too good to be true but it definitely looks like a great opportunity and it’s definitely doable for us. Stay tuned…

Anyway, I love it here so much and the rooms are so cheap that we decided to stay another night. I told the wife to tell everyone that they’re welcome to stay but most of them work and stuff so In the end the only other people who stayed were two of the wife’s sisters, Lorna and Christina. They spent just about the whole day on the karaoke machine by themselves too, singing songs one after the other. I might have joined for a song or two except that after last night’s festivities my voice is almost completely gone. The constant singing combined with my cold has just about done me in, I can barely even talk let alone sing. The guy who lives next door (Nestor) sort of oversees a lot of the places around here and he’s been very helpful in showing us around and making sure we have everything we need. He walked us down the beach a bit to a big resort place called the Lazy A Beach Resort which is great ,they have a restaurant that serves all the local Filipino and Asian dishes as well as western style breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Like I said, there are a lot of ex-pats around here. The best part is that they have free WI-FI so I was able to catch up on email and sports scores while I enjoyed the best tasting omelet I’ve ever tasted. I figured a big breakfast would be a treat for the wife’s sisters but with a plethora of Asian and western style dishes on the menu, they each opted for the Filipino breakfast which consisted of white rice and two hot dogs. Old habits die hard I guess. Across the lawn from the restaurant (which is open air, so nice) there’s a big building with…wait for it…a karaoke machine for the guests and there was a short dude (I honestly could not tell if it was a guy or a girl) singing song after song by him/herself. I mention this because he/she was wearing a #5 Kevin Garnett Celtics jersey. It’s funny, I’ve seen probably 10 Celtics jerseys since I’ve been here and every single one has been a #5 Kevin Garnett jersey. Weird.
On the way over this morning, Nestor had pointed out a couple places right next to where we were staying that had western ex-pats as owners. One of them was a bar a couple plots down that he said was owned by a Canadian guy named Peter, right next to that was a beach resort owned by a Scottish guy. I figured I’d stop by the bar later that day and chat with Peter, maybe get to know a little more about the area. But first, it was so warm and the X Man wanted to play in the sand so I decided to take a dip. I can’t believe how warm the water was, it was almost like being in a warm bath. I didn’t want to stay in the sun too long so I went into the shade and listened to Lorna and Christina singing karaoke while the X Man played by himself near the water building sand castles and digging holes and such. God that kid just loves the beach. After a while some locals started pulling in one of the fishing nets so I went down to the water to watch. They ended up with nothing more than a few tiny fish which seems to be the norm since I’ve been here but it was still fun to watch them perform their craft. I’m telling you, the longer I’m here the more I love it, this place is just so completely laid back and welcoming. I can just relax and enjoy myself without having to worry about anything, not even how much money we’re spending since everything is so cheap.

In the afternoon we did end up going to the bar. It’s a typical beach bar, sort of a little shack on the beach with stools around the outside, like the one that Tom Cruise was working at in the movie "Cocktail". Me and the X Man went ahead and when we walked up and sat down I noticed all the other guys at the bar were white like me (albeit older) and each of them was with a young Filipina, pretty much as you’d expect. I sat down and they looked at me and one guy said “Ah, another white guy! Welcome!” He asked where I was from, I said the US, he asked which part, I said about 45 minutes north of Boston and the guy at the end of the bar pipes in “You guys got a shitty baseball team up there!” I laughed and said “You must be a Yankees fan…” Sure enough, he was although he was from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania rather than New York. We all got to chatting and they asked me the usual questions, am I on vacation, is my wife a Filipina, is it my first time, etc. I mentioned that I was looking at buying a place nearby and they immediately asked me a litany of questions almost like they were reading from a list. It was obvious that they were experts and had all been through this before so I decided to pick their brains a bit and I liked what I heard. I told them the price and they all said it was very reasonable for this beach. I described the place a bit and they asked where it was. Now, I have to admit that I’m a bit leery of them because for all I know, they could be businessmen who would jump at the chance to buy a place like that as an investment so I didn’t want to give too much away. I just said “Down the beach a ways”. At that point I saw the American guy lean over to his buddy and say quietly “Sounds like the place that Mike is looking at…”, which made me a bit nervous that we might have competition. Regardless, they all agreed that it sounds like a good, solid deal and said that having a place on this beach would be a great thing for us. The American guy was a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant (E9) and had been here for many years so he gave me a lot of good info and advice. I appreciate that they didn’t sugarcoat anything for me, gave me the plain truth about what to look for when buying property around here and such. They said that I asked all the right questions and seem to know what I’m doing so I should be fine which makes me feel even better about possibly buying the place. After a while they all left except for the guy who greeted me when I arrived and as it turned out, he was Peter, the owner. He’s originally from Newfoundland, Canada but spent a good chunk of his life in Scotland so he speaks with a strange accent. He was quite an entertaining character and I hope we’ll be seeing more of him in the future as well.

Interesting thing happened while we were at the bar. You see beggars often here and at one point a young kid, probably all of 11 or 12 came by begging. I sometimes give a few pisos to beggars but the wife’s sisters said don’t give him anything because he works for the syndicate. I asked what they meant and although they weren’t 100% how it works, basically it’s like an organized crime type thing, they get these young boys and send them out begging and whatever money they make goes right to the bosses. They said they knew because of the mark he had tattooed on his hand. Eventually he left and soon another young boy came up begging and they saw the mark on his hand as well. They asked him to show us his hand and he immediately hid it behind his back and would not show it to us. So we gave him nothing except a slice of pizza (you can order pizza at the bar) since the poor kid was probably starving. Harsh dose of reality right there, I thought to myself.

Had dinner again at the Lazy A tonight, it was fantastic. We ordered a smorgasbord of different Asian dishes (and French fires for the X Man) and I caught up on email and sports scores again. We got an sms that the wife’s family had stopped by and were wondering where we were so we left and met them at our place, they were there with Roding and Audie. We sat and chatted for an hour or so before calling it a night. Roding has arranged to go early tomorrow morning and pick up the key to the beach house so he can show us the inside before we leave. Can’t wait for that.

Day 9 in the books, not even a sniff of a snake so far. I love it here.

Click here for Day 10


Anonymous said...

The beggar story was fascinating. What did the mark look like??

Rik said...

I honestly have no idea, I didn't actually see it. I think it's some kind of tattoo or something.

Anonymous said...

The first boy got tattoed letter "J" on his hand and the second one was the same but with number 2.I feel bad for those kids,they begs for the syndicate.I can't imagine what they do to them if they can't give any money to the boss :(