Gittin’ ‘er Done!

It’s comical.  My precious little wife has turned this barrio on ear.  Her popularity, knowledge of the locals, connections, guts, and perseverance have got people hopping.  All over town.  It’s Sunday and they are working.  Working on the Sabbath.  I’m laughing my ass off.

A guy from the road maintenance crew showed up yesterday.  He is of course related to Praxy and he really likes and respects her.  She showed him our problem around our house.  Drainage.


We are the lowest developed property in the barrio.  Our house is also built on sand and rock deposited by runoff going across the street.  It made easy work for the builders when they put in the foundation.  We are on fill.  The houses on either side of us are on rock.  Framing in those forms was very tedious and difficult.

The puddle on the right of the picture drains to the right of our house.  If it is REALLY full and the rain is pelting down, additional water drains strait to our house.  I’ve channeled it way as best I can.   Even dug a little channel along the front of our house.

No problem unless a huge rain storm comes along, the type of storm that a typhoon brings with it.  Our house could get flooded.  Even after all those steps to alleviate this situation, the fact remains.  Water flows down hill.  Take that one to the (stream) bank.

Today, the road construction man showed up again.  This time with two other guys.  Turns out he is a supervisor and the two other guys are equipment operators.  They looked the situation over carefully and saw our point.  Next time either a bulldozer or road grader comes through, we will have a custom dirt berm put up in front of our place!  They are also talking about installing a “canal” (concrete drainage ditch) to channel the water away from not only our house, but the controlling it as it passes the neighbors houses.  Last thing they said as they left, “Your wish is our command!”

It will be done.  Guaranteed.   The supervisor’s grandma lives across the street.

Another scenario started week or so back.  The locals here in the relocation barrio (Nuevo Asgad) have been rather…errrr…neglected.  The poorest of the poor are over here.  Their houses in the old barrio, before Yolanda, were near the ocean.  Of course those houses went the same way our house did.  The way of the dinosaurs, political honesty, and the 19 cent hamburger.  All long gone.

The houses are built, but there is no fresh water other than a private source at one of the sari sari stores.  Ester’s.  They have a well and sell drinking water for the local barrio.  That and the hand pump next door are the only choices the neighbors have.  Of course they can buy purified water (locals call it mineral water), but that is 35 pesos per bottle.  Minimum wage in the Philippines is 250 pesos a day.  As you can see, most don’t buy the mineral water.

The locals cornered Praxy at an impromptu meeting with their road block.  There was little or no effort being made to get water from the local water tower to the new barrio.  Could she help?

She talked to me about it and I gave her some coaching.  Not that she really needed help, but she likes to hear my opinion.  I have a pretty devious mind and see right through obstructions like this.  One advantage of my working for the US government.  Lots of obstructions to practice on.  After thirty years a person gets good at dealing with obstructions.

Two days ago she flagged down the barrio captain as he rode by on his motorcycle.  She cornered him about the water problems and held his feet to the fire asking for explanations.  After a very uncomfortable hour, he ended up assuring her that it would get done and get done quickly as there was funds in the barrio’s treasury.

Next day, the trench got dug.  Photo on my previous post.  250 meters from old town to new town.  I thought this might be something to placate Praxy, I call it “farting someone off.”  Nope.  Today, a crew is putting in the plastic water lines while they get soaked off and on by rainfall.   I have a feeling that there will be an available tap near here by early next week.  Locals will have to pay to get connected and pay monthly for water of course.  That’s not the point.  The point is: they now have the option.  It took a year.  It took Praxy less than a week to accomplish what no one else could do in a year.

If she wants work done on the house, no problem.  Someone will show up.  They expect to be paid and they will get paid.  Someone is available to do her bidding.

I was planning to check on the price of hose tomorrow, but now there is really no need.  We’ll probably put in running water next trip.  Getting a little late now as I only have 12 more days here in Asgad, maximum.  Praxy says she will leave with me on the 21st of January.  It wouldn’t surprise me if she comes back next August to check things out.

Ha.  Just now she and two other ladies left with a large bag of sunflower seeds harvested from our plants in the yard last summer.  The pipe trench is being filled and there will be a long line of sunflowers between the two barrios in a few months.  Providing the road maintenance crew doesn’t take them out when they come through while fixing our problem.  I hollered at Praxy to let her know.  When planting time comes her eyes glaze over and she can miss important nuances.  To whit, road graders are really tough on anything soft.  Plants, other than large trees, easily fall into that category.  Monocotyledons won’t have a chance as they aren’t very woody.

The library continues to do a booming business.  Adults and teens are becoming more frequent patrons.  Three college age girls showed up for their first time yesterday as they were home for the weekend.  “We’d heard you have a library.  Can we look around?  Can we get some books?”  “Of course,” was the reply. 

One of them gasped audibly as they walked into our library room.  They had never seen anything remotely like this outside of their college.  Yet, this was completely different.  Rather than all texts and reference as in their college library, there was reference and texts plus a variety of books, fiction and non fiction, available for free on loan.  They gave us their opinion that this is the only public library in all of Samar.  And here it was in their home town of Asgad.  Heaven!   After browsing for twenty minutes, they left with some recreational reading material.  A rarity in this country, let alone Eastern Samar.

Very rewarding to see and hear people enjoying themselves in our modest little library.

The contract working on the agriculture building told us he could build some cabinets for us if we supplied the materials.  We really need them, I think I’ve got Praxy talked into it.  The price is a little steep, but his work quality is excellent.  I’d rather pay a little more for something decent.

We went out back this morning and I took careful measurements for the addition we are planning. 


Hmm.  And addition about 25 feet by 20 including a porch?  Dunno.  I’ll get a CAD program and map out some ideas when I get home.  10:35  1/10/2016

12:10pm 1/10/2016  still on a Sunday, no less.

We were minding our own business eating lunch and here it came.


Praxy asks nicely for something and the response seems to be, “How high do you want us to jump?”  She replies, “You don’t have to do it now.  You don’t have to do anything special.  You don’t even have to jump!  Maybe the next time it’s handy.”  The response?  “We’re going to jump anyway, right away.  As high as we can.  Stand back!”


Lining it up and…


aside for the possibility of a puddle on the road in front of our house, the flooding problem has been relegated to history.  Not so for our unfortunate neighbors on the left of this picture.  We’ll see how that one plays out.   At least their house has more elevation above the ground.  Flooding might make access difficult to the hand pump.  That will always be an issue.  However, there will soon be fresh well water available from the old barrio to those who want it or can afford it.

Amazing.  The neighbors are trying to figure out how to keep Praxy here year round.  I’m hoping they don’t hide her or hogtie her on the day we are scheduled to leave.  There is NO FREAKING WAY that any of them could accomplish what she has done in the last few weeks.  A year wasn’t enough.  I’m scratching my head.

She just told me that Dada, the German man that is overseeing the reconstruction, wanted her to stay and interpret a week after Yolanda struck.  She wanted no part of that and we were reunited two weeks later as mentioned in my blog.   1/10/2016  12:30pm

1/12/2016  9:18am.  Time to do a little catching up.  We haven’t been doing much that is interesting.   Perhaps I should start a new post and call it “Trying to Make the Mundane Interesting.”  I suppose it had to come to this.  You can’t spend a month in the town of Asgad and expect exciting things to happen very often.   Not that I really care.  The last trip, because of Yolanda, was interesting in the extreme.  Stressful, scary, complicated.  Had enough of that crap.

We work around the house, then relax around the house.  Interspersed with trips to town for supplies or the beach for a swim and fun.  Maybe I’m starting to practice up for retirement and I’m just starting to figure out how to goof off for long periods of time.  I told Praxy before we left the states that I’m still too active to retire and sit here in Asgad.  This last four weeks has got me wondering if that statement was premature. 

There are a short list of things that would make it very comfortable around here and I could easily stay quite a while longer with their presence.  Refrigerator/freezer.  Generator.  Air conditioner.  (biggie) Transportation-motorcycle.  Kitchen.  Dedicated bedroom. 

Some other things can be lived without for a while.  Sooner or later you have to find some of these and they may never be truly available here in Asgad.  Internet.  Cell service.  Unfortunately, it will take a while to get all this together.  The main problem is we don’t have the space to put them.  Which cycles the discussion back around to an addition out back.  Which then cycles into cost of construction and time off of work to be here while the construction is underway.  There is NO WAY anyone should ever build something in the Philippines unless you are here personally to supervise the work.  Take that statement to the bank.

Presco showed up unexpectedly on Sunday and invited us to a party.  Manding (a title of respect to female elders) Pelar’s 91st birthday part, at her house in the old barrio.


She is still very perky and a bit feisty in a good way.


Great food and company.  Only close family here.  Glad I am included!  Not in this picture as I took this photo.  Catharine has uploaded a photo with me in it to her Facebook page.


Afterwards, spirits.  Emperador brandy and El Hornitos tequila.  With tapos (fish, rice, and leftovers from the meal) and salt and calamancies for the tequila.  The tequila is definitely not for the young.  Tequila flavored liquor; strong, and hard as sin.  It reminded me of “Blanca” (white or new) from Mexico.  No thanks, I stuck with the brandy.  Glad I did.  Headache in a bottle.

Later on a half gallon of tubac (coconut heart wine) showed up.  So I finally got to try fresh tubac and all I can say is that it is definitely an acquired taste.  Not for me.   Pilar and Presco drank it all up.  Pilar really enjoyed herself, she was smiling every time I looked at her. 


One last thing.  I finally got to meet Catharine Ogatia in person.  We’ve exchanged many Facebook messages and photos; it was great to talk with her.  She helps us with getting money channeled into the house when it needs repairs.  She received the library books at her home in Guiuan, the books that are soooo popular now that they are in Asgad. 

We worked together to help Dr. Andrews from the University of Notre Dame.  He contacted me through my blog requesting assistance.  A group of scientists were planning a return to Asgad and Eastern Samar last winter, a year after Yolanda, to take more measurements of the storm surge up and down the coast.  They needed transportation, food, and motels for their stay.  Communications were still weak in the area, and food and lodgings were an unknown.  First and best person I could think of was Catharine.

Turned out Catharine loved the job of organizing trips for foreigners and hopes more jobs like that will show up.  She escorted him and his fellow scientists from Japan around the area and provided translation services as her English is excellent.   Everyone was pleased with the results.

See all the books on the floor in front of her?  She shrieked with delight when she saw our modest library.  She and another young man had stopped by to get some books to read.  Again, someone astounded at the selection and number of books.  Both of them.  They each took off with four, we couldn’t turn them down as they live in Guiuan.   Turns out he just graduated from college with a teaching degree and is looking for work.  Reading will pass the time.

We in the USA take reading material for granted.  Remember that next time you crack open a book.

10:45am  1/12/2016  Asgad, Salcedo, Eastern Samar, Philippines.

About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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