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A taste of home: Cooking on a kettle grill, in the Philippines May 19
For many of us, who have been living in the Philippines for a long time, we start to miss the foods from back home. I know this is true for me. Very few homes have an oven, so many of the foods that we take for granted, back home, are hard to make here. A great example of that would be a Thanksgiving turkey or a cake.
A few months ago, my girlfriend (Abby) and I, bought a kettle grill at Ace Hardware. Ever since, we have been grilling meat, chicken and fish, very often.
Yesterday, Abby bought this nice THICK piece of pork loin, which still had the skin and fat layer on it. I trimmed that off and sliced it in half lengthwise to get two thinner (one inch thick) cuts. We barbecued it, in a kettle grill, after marinating the meat in BBQ sauce.
 
We also baked two really big potatoes, that we foil wrapped, and tossed onto the grill with the meat. I have NO idea where she is getting these potatoes, but they are bigger than what you would get back home.
 
I wish I could afford the bacon, cheddar and sour cream, because that would have made this perfect. Unfortunately, I am having some cash flow issues, at the moment.
 
One piece of advice I would offer is to start cooking the potatoes first and directly over the coals. Make sure the coals stay hot, by ensuring good air flow. Also, make sure to flip and turn the potatoes. Don’t let them sit in one position, too long, or they will burn.
 
As far as how to preparing them, I just rinse them off good. Dry them, but don’t get crazy. We just do not want them dripping.
 
Wrap them in tin foil / aluminum foil. Then poke holes in them with a fork. Yes, poke the holes through the foil and into the potato.
Why won’t Filipinos call the utility companies? Jul 29
Tonight, I finished work at 5:30 PM and went downstairs at 5:45 PM. I was going to chop some apples to mix in with some tuna fish, but I had to wash my hands first. There was only one hitch. THERE WAS NO WATER!
 
I went next door and asked the neighbor if she had water, but hers was out, as well. She told me that it went out at 2:30. I then asked if anyone had called the water company and she just shrugs.  *SIGH*
3d White people speaking on the phone surrounded by a forbidden
I went inside, grabbed the landline phone, and my most recent water bill and I sat down to call Maynilad. The first thing I did was dial the number on the water bill envelope.  Of course, it just kept telling me that all circuits are busy. Usually, that just means that they are saturated with calls. So, just keep trying to call. Unfortunately, that proved fruitless and I changed tactics.
I grabbed my phone and jumped on Maynilad’s website. I quickly found a facility to check service advisories. Sometimes, they will post scheduled maintenance on their site.  It wouldn’t shock me in the least if the water was out purposely and they just never bothered to notify us.
Maynilad Water Company website
I typed in my CAN (Contract Account Number) and pressed SUBMIT. Well, to say that I had wasted my time would be an understatement.  Not only was there no scheduled maintenance in my area, but there was nothing else of use to be found in the results.
So, on to Plan F. I went to the CONTACT US page and found a number for Cavite.
Maynilad Water Company contact us page
I dialed that and I got disconnected a few times, which is all too common in the Philippines.  After a few tries, I finally got someone on the phone. Amazingly enough, she was actually quite helpful. She took my contact information, as well as, my CAN and gave me a ticket number. I think she called it a reference number, though. I am not sure.
Anyway, she informed me that it would be up to 24 hours before repairs would be effected. Now, this is no big deal. They will probably get it fixed before then.
It is the Mr. Scott (Star Trek) way of doing things. Give an inflated estimated time of repair and when you get it fixed early, you look good. I remember him saying that, to Geordi La Forge, on Season Six Episode Four (“Relics”) of  Star Trek: The Next Generation.
 (Unfortunately, this is only part of that scene. He actually says it right after where this cuts off.  If you do not have Netflix, you can watch the full episode on Daily Motion.  For that scene jump to time index 16:21.  We are not affiliated with Daily Motion in any way.)
Anyway, I asked if anyone else had reported the problem and she told me that there were no other reports in the system for my area. So, that means that for three hours my moronic neighbors ran around the subdivision trying to get water from the well and nobody could be bothered to actually call the water company to report the outage.  We could have gone days without water, because Maynilad would have no idea we had a problem and all because these dopes couldn’t be bothered to call.
This same thing happened, in February. when the subdivision lost water. I was the only one to call. The last two times we lost electricity, I was the only one to call Meralco. My roommate, who is from Boston, is the same way. If the power, water or internet goes out, he will bitch moan and complain, but he will not pick up the phone. When I ask him why not, he just says that it will do no good.
Let me tell you, this is completely false. Don’t get me wrong. My faith in the utility companies in this country is extremely low, but even I will admit that if you don’t call then definitely nothing gets done. At least if you call, there is a chance of it getting fixed.
Looked at a house for rent in Villa Feliza 2 in Bacoor, Cavite Jul 23

Yesterday, my girlfriend (Abby) and I went to check out a house in Villa Feliza 2. This is a small subdivision right near SM.

Right off the bat, let me just say that I am none too happy with this whole thing.  First off, the ad said the house was a two bedroom. Well, it is actually a 3 BR and not a 2BR. It turns out that the top (3rd) floor is a big room (18.88 square meters), which is great because it means that I can use it as an office and spared bedroom.  Now, you may be wondering where the negative is. Well, it is a small one, but they can’t even get an ad right? COME ON! I know. I know. It’s trivial.

The only problem with the third floor is that it is going to get pretty hot up there.  The heat is not that big of a problem because I can put some insulation in the ceiling and air condition the room. However, this brought up the second red flag.

When I asked the landlady about putting in a split type AC on the third floor room, I found out that lady is not the owner.  It turns out that she is the owner’s sister and the owner is an OFW in Saudi Arabia. At this point, more red flags start flying. Why? Because this means that every time something needs to be fixed, the sister will have to consult the owner to get permission, which is going to cause all sorts of delays. I have had enough problems with landlords not wanting to fix things to know that this is going to turn into an issue in the future.

Getting back on topic, though.  She gets her on the phone and calls her sister in Saudi. The owner asks who will pay for the install.  Of course I will pay for it, but more red flags start flying.  Then, I asked about something else and again the owner asked if I would want to take the cost of that out of the rent. Once again, my answer was no, but by this point there are so many red flags zooming through the air that I can’t see the sun.

Let me explain.  Not only is this woman not in country, which (as previously mentioned) is going to make getting repairs a real nightmare, but she is going to be incredibly kuripot.  My current landlady is like that and when she does get a repairman in here, after her exhaustive search for the lowest possible bidder, the job is never done right because the lowest bidder is always the biggest incompetent, as well.

On top of all that, they want 15K a month and 500 pesos more for the security guard, who is never at the front gate, to begin with!!!

This house is not all bad, though. The driveway area was redone, but in tile, which will be slick when it rains. So, that is 50/50. However, there is plenty of sun for my plants, which is a bonus. I will have a nice large office and we will remain close to my girlfriend’s doctor, which makes her happy. The kitchen is newish and in good shape with a hood over the stove to reduce the heat from cooking. There is a place for the refrigerator and there is already an air conditioner in the master bedroom.

OH!!! I forgot about that. The master bedroom is 11.99 square meters, yet they have a .5 hp air conditioner in there. For a room that size,  you want a 1 hp air conditioner. So, what do I do? Hope the existing air conditioner can, by some miracle keep the room cool? UGH!

Obviously, I am going to have to pay to enlarge the opening and replace the air conditioner in there now, with my own.  This actually works out well, because I can put the .5 hp air conditioner in the small room  The small room is just a hair under 10 square meters and will be the baby’s nursery.

Sorry. Did I not mention that my girlfriend and I are expecting a baby in December? Well, there it is. So, quit your griping that I didn’t tell you.

Anyway, getting back on topic. This house definitely has some potential, but with all the red flags, plus the price I am just not sure if I will take this house or not. I know I can get a much nicer place a bit further south, for that money, but the last thing I want to do is get further from Manila. The further you get from Manila, the worse the utilities become.

The “Out of stock” phenomenon in the Philippines Jul 23

My girlfriend comes upstairs and tells me that she is not going to make the salsa chicken that we talked about. I asked her why not and she tells me that we do not have any chicken. OK. So, I ask what she will make instead. She tells me that she will make chicken curry.

Somehow, that made sense to her. She may as well have had just said, “We’re out of stock on chicken.”

Why this is relevant

I am telling this story because it partially explains why restaurants can say they are “out of stock” for one size burger, but not another one.

The reason she couldn’t make the chicken salsa is because we did not have the type of chicken that she wanted to use. She wanted to use chicken breasts. However, we have other chicken parts.

It’s the same thing with the restaurants. They might have two 1/8 pound patties, but no 1/4 pound patties. Instead of using their heads and combining the two 1/8 pound patties to make a 1/4 pound patty, they just say they are out of stock.

Another example, that actually happened to me, was at Pizza Hut in SM Bacoor. They told me they did not have some large pizza they were promoting, at the time. It was a New York style pizza that was larger than their regular largest size.

When I asked them how they could be out of stock and to explain, the girl said they did not have any boxes left for that size. I laughed and told her to just break it up into two smaller size boxes. It was like a light bulb came on over her head. It was cute and rather sad to watch.

Simply put, they refuse to use logic, common sense, or use initiative of any sort.

Laziness and incompetence, as well.

There is another reason why we so often hear,

Out of stock, sir.

Simply put, all too often, the worker you are dealing with is too lazy to look in the back or whoever is in charge of purchasing is incompetent.

An example of the latter is when I used to co-own a pizza restaurant. We would buy our mozzarella cheese from a local supermarket. The cheese was decent quality, the price was right and the store was relatively conveniently located. Unfortunately, there were far too many times when we went in there, on a supply run, and they were ‘out of stock’.

We used to shake our heads and ask the stock boy to look in the back for more, but he would just say,

“Sorry sir. Out of stock.”

This became a source of aggravation, but my partner and I still joke about that.

We tried to talk to the manager to see if we could get him to ensure that it was always in stock, but as I am sure you could predict, that was a dead end.

Earn money from home teaching English online Jul 15

Recently, I had mentioned, in a Facebook group for expats living in the Philippines, that I earn money teaching English online. Shortly after posting the comment I started receiving private messages from other expats who are interested in teaching English online. I figured that I might as well add a post here sharing some information. Let’s take a look at a few of the more common questions that I have been getting.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is teaching English difficult?

Well, that depends on your temperament. Just like with any other job, there are days where I absolutely enjoy myself and so it is easy. However, there are those days where I absolutely dread every single class or even specific students.

I mentioned temperament because this job really does require patience. If you are not a patient person, then this job may not be for you. Teaching children and beginners requires even more patience.  If you do not have patience then you will find yourself getting aggravated and wondering why your student is having such difficulty with, what you consider to be, simple concepts.

2. How many hours do I have to work?

Well, that depends on the company. Many, if not most, online English companies allow you to choose your own hours. Some will let you have total control, but others require you to submit your schedule and not change it for a week or a month or whatever.

clock-640x640

The company I work for, 51 Talk, allows you to open and close slots (25 minutes per slot) up to 30 minutes before that time. However, once a student books that time slot, you are locked in and failure to show up for the class does carry a pretty stiff penalty. In addition, they require you to make yourself available for a certain number of peak time slots per month. I forget the exact number but I believe it is sixty peak hour slots per month. Again, I do not remember exactly, because I do this full time, so I am always way over the required minimum number.

Update: I have confirmed that Sixty peak hour slots per month is the correct amount.

3. How much money can I earn?

Well, that depends on several factors, but I have heard of guys making upwards of $4,000 a month. This may not be very good if you live in Europe, Canada or the United States, but here in the Philippines, that is pretty good.

(Click here if you’d like to learn more about the cost of living in the Philippines.)

4. Can I earn 100,000 pesos / month by teaching English online?

The short answer is yes. However, how easily you can do it depends on two main factors.

  • Number of hours worked
  • Hourly rate

Number of hours worked

I do not like to teach more than 3-4 classes in a row. I try to break up my day by building in short breaks. My usual schedule looks something like this.

9 AM – 1030 AM
11AM – 1230 PM
2 PM – 3:30 PM
4 PM – 5:30 PM
7 PM – 8:30 PM
9 PM – 10:30 PM

Again, I would like to reiterate that this is the schedule I keep. This is what works for me. Your schedule might look drastically different. You set your hours based on what is best for you, as long as you maintain the minimum number of peak hours required per month.

(Keep in mind that you will have to learn the 24 hour clock, a.k.a. “military time”.)

Many people like their weekends off, but Friday-Monday are usually my busiest days. Tuesday-Thursday are my slow days. Everybody has their own trends, and these are mine. Your booking  patterns might be different.

dollar bills fanned out by a notebook computer

Pay Rate

Another important factor is your pay rate. For example, (American Academy) starting salary is $7.50 per 25-minute class ($15 per hour). The pay rate jumps with each promotion.

I am currently making $22 an hour ($11 per class). So, I can make 100K pesos in less than 200 classes or 100 hours, spread out over a month.

5. How will I be paid?

The company will do a direct deposit or Paypal. Personally, I use PayPal, but it is really up to you.

6. How often will I get paid?

Salary is calculated based on the 1st of the month to the end of the month.  Typically, salary is paid during the first week of the following month. However, contractually, the company can wait until the 12th of the following month, should they need to.

7. What are the requirements?

  • You need to be either American or Canadian.
  • You need to be a native English speaker. In other words, English must be your first language.
  • Teaching experience is not required, however, it is a big plus.
  • A four year university degree is also a HUGE plus.
  • A wired DSL connection, but a fiber connection is better, obviously.
  • A relatively new computer.  You might be able to use a tablet, but it would have to be a Windows 10 tablet. This has not been confirmed, so better safe than sorry and have a PC or a Mac. However, I do recommend a PC, because I’ve heard some stories from Mac using teachers and they’re not happy ones.

8. How do I get started?

Simply fill out this form and someone from 51 Talk will contact you about an interview. Obviously, you want to make sure that you have your resume ready to send to them.

An offer of assistance

If anyone has any questions or wants any further advice, feel free to leave a comment below. Another option is to leave a comment on our Facebook page.

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