Sunday, 29 January 2012


Christmas Tree at Bohol Bee Farm. Made from coconut fibre.
Christmas is over and this past Christmas was very different than any other I have spent! I took my boys to visit their father in the Philippines!!  What a trip.  The flight there was crazy!  St. John's to Toronto. Toronto to Seoul, Korea (13 hours long), and Seoul to Cebu!  And even then, we still hadn't arrived at our destination! On top of all the travel, there is 12-hour time difference with us losing half a day in travel. Phil met us in Cebu where we stayed in that city for two nights, then went on via passenger ferry to Bohol, the island where he lives. As soon as we got into the airport, we could smell the difference from Canada and Newfoundland.  I had jeans on and very quickly rolled them up and took off my socks.  The temperature when we arrived was 29 degrees Celsius.  It was 2 degrees Celsius when we left St. John's!  A musty, humid smell hit us as we deplaned.  That scent tickled my olfactory nerve until we were settled all snug in our seats on Korean Airlines on our return home.

Two days in the city of Cebu were spent shopping at the mall, mostly. There is a nice big modern mall with all the latest in fashions and brand names much like we would get here in Canada. The only thing was, Large size in the Philippines, is not Large size in Canada! I felt like an Amazon woman there, and although I am no twiggy, I would rate myself as "average" by Canadian standards.  Prices were not much different than here, although the currency is in pesos and my old brain had to rely on my young sons' brains to convert currency for me.  They were getting pretty good at it after a very short time, especially Graham, who is like Mr. Krabs for loving and handling money!

Day two saw us taking the two-hour ride on a passenger ferry to Bohol. The Super Cat ferry! Reminded me of the ferry from Fortune to St. Pierre.  It was smooth and comfortable.  Lots of ships we passed along the coastline, some small fishing boats.  I noticed a good few pieces of Lots of trash in the water.

When we arrived in Bohol, Phil had his vehicle parked there so we all piled in (and I mean "piled) his Isuzu two-door SUV. There were the three of us, Phil, and his girlfriend. I was a little concerned about three of us jammed in the back, but in the Philippines, it seems no vehicle travels with less than 10 people in or on it, yes, I said ON!  Out came the camera as I started snapping photos wildly of what I was seeing!  Motor cycles with families of 4 and 5 on them, no helmets!!  Some side-riding like Lady Godiva herself. Babies in mother's arms, toddlers jammed between mom and dad and the sacks of rice or satellite dish they were also carrying!  It was amazing!  I soon realized that safety standards are not what they are in Canada.

I did take notice of the infrastructure as we drove to Phil's place.  It was difficult not to!  What caught my eye were the electricity lines running through the city where we arrived on the ferry.  It reminded me of my father's workshop in his basement of the family home.  He saved every cord, wire, string; anything that could possible used for something else. There were piles of wires and cords in his workshop just hanging on nails or hooks, tied up like ponytails.  The wires running along the streets in Tagbalaran looked like strands of hair tied up carelessly with twist-ties hanging down in front of buildings, drooped like Christmas garland on staircases.  That was just the beginning of the difference in infrastructure I noticed, compared to here in Canada.

Just before we left the city, I noticed a building under construction. Workers were up 7 or 8 stories high, wearing flip-flops, hanging off buildings with no safety harnesses, out on the edges placing rebar. I don't know what the work accident rate is but I would be interested in knowing if there is a Workplace Health,  Safety, and Compensation Commission there and how that works!

Roads in the Philippines are poured concrete and really just one lane wide.  Vehicles just veer off to the side if another one is coming toward yours.  AND, I forgot to mention, there really seems to be no rhyme or reason to traffic. It's every man for himself.  There doesn't seem to be many accidents, but traffic just flows in and out, weaves through, passes are made on the inside or outside, wherever there is room, and drivers are courteous in that they barmp (is that a word?) their horns just before they pass someone.  As a result, there are horns barmping constantly.

The vehicles themselves, are all small three-cylinder tiny vans or what look like old smart cars to me.  I can't remember their name but Phil, if you are reading, you can help me out here.  Phil did tell me that many cars and whatever they are (vans cut off, trucks? I don't know) came from Japan or other parts of Asia, and the driver's side was on the right, but were modified to be left-sided driving.  Consequently, all the mechanisms for operating the vehicles are backwards, such as indicator lights, wipers, etc.  So, if you wanted to turn left, you flicked your indicator as if it was turning right!!  Glad I didn't drive there much.  I wonder about the clutch! Forgot to ask about that.  Phil??

Finally we arrived at Phil's place which is rural Bohol.  It kinda reminded me of Logy Bay, but a bit like cabin life, something like the community of Ocean Pond.  Phil has a new modern house built last year by a local contractor.  He was away for some of its construction and found a few flaws upon his return.  Well, the contractor didn't know what the fuss was about.  Isn't everyone 5 feet tall? Why does the bathroom mirror need to be any higher?

Who needs hot water in the kitchen?  The contractor didn't see a need for such a thing.  And, I must have stubbed my toe a dozen times in Phil's house with each room having a two-inch difference in floor height between rooms!  Phil says he has to go to the back of the house through the kitchen to turn on the lights in the front rooms of his house!  It was a lovely house though.  Most houses in his neighbourhood are newly built with many expats living nearby, but the older, already established homes on the island mostly had grass roofs, no solid foundations, and not painted bright colours like the newer ones.

As I mentioned earlier, there were animals all over the place in Bohol.  In the mornings, there was the lovely howl of roosters all over the place.  None quite so sweet as my own Dick at home.  He has the nicest crow.  A real classic cock-a-doodle-doo!  The roosters of Bohol sounded like they were going through puberty.  Maybe it was the heat!  Cock-fighting is fairly popular there, and we did pass by some roosters that were tied by the claw up on a stick out in the middle of a field.  It appears that roosters used in cock-fights are not to be around hens at all, so they are tied on away from other poultry.  I didn't get to see a cock-fight, and heard they are quite disturbing, but I would like to have witnessed one for my own interest.

Chickens were everywhere too, crossing roads flat out.  They are true free-range hens!  The chickens are all smaller breeds than I have seen here.  Chicken is a big part of the diet in the Philippines, as is pork.  We did see pigs in many yards too.  Most of their meats are roasted.  Every house seems to have a BBQ pit of sorts.  In fact, every few hundred feet on the side of the road near houses, there are small BBQ pits as if they are vegetable stands.  Phil told me that people often cook things in these pits, and sell meals to the passers by.

(this is as far as I got with the Philippines trip.  More to come when I get around to completing.  Stay tuned)

In order to link my trip to my hobby farming blog, I have to talk about the animals we saw on the trip! Well, there were chickens, goats, cows, and pigs everywhere we went, it seems.

Geographically, the Philippines is not that far from the equator so needless to say, it is quite hot there.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joan,
    All the vehicles converted to left hand drive also have the clutch converted. My vehicle is an Auto, so no problem. The steering console wasn't converted, so many times I hit what I thought was the turn signal, only to have the wipers come on!! Anyway, the busses are called jeepneys, or PUJ, which is public use jeep, and the small litle vans and pick-up trucks are called multi-cabs. They are usually 3 cylinder and about 600cc engine size. Phil