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Archive for the Category "Only in the Philippines"

The lackadaisical attitude of many Filipino parents can prove costly Jun 16

At around 11:22 this morning I opened my Facebook to see what everyone was up to. I noticed I had a new friend request, so I clicked on it to see who it was. I didn’t recognize the person, so I deleted the request. After I deleted the request I happened to look down and I noticed a picture on the person’s timeline. I looked and thought to myself,

“That looks like…hmmmmm…I wonder.”

I thought maybe the little girl in the picture was my friend’s daughter (who lives here in the Philippines with her mother). I had met the little girl and her mother a few weeks ago while my friend was here visiting. Anyway, I copied the profile link and sent him a message with the link asking if it was his “baby momma”. After sending it my mind starts to wonder,

“Why does she want to add me? Please don’t let her be a drama queen like his other baby momma. I have enough of that with my kids’ mother. I don’t need more.”

Well, at around ten after one this afternoon he finally answers me and it was indeed his baby momma here. It turns out that she had also sent me a private message, which must have been deleted when I deleted the friend request, that I never saw. Apparently, the daughter was in the hospital (turns out it is a clinic).

He asked me if I had 5K (5,000 pesos) to pay half the bill, so she could get the kid out on a promissory note and take her home.  Well, not only am I not rich, but I am borderline poverty level lately. Between not making much money, paying for my kid’s private school and the price of food lately, I am getting killed. So, 5,000 extra pesos is just not something I could even dream of right now. Much less have.

After telling him the bad news I felt bad and really wanted to help him any way I could. He is just a super nice guy and he’s not only helped me in the past, but he has gone above and beyond in the generousity department.  So, I started to ask some questions about the situation. He gave me what information he could and I asked for her cell number, so I could text her and get more information. He mentioned that she messaged me on Facebook, but I never saw it. I went searching and found it and messaged her.

It turns out that she (and her daughter) were at a medical clinic not far from where I used to live (a few months ago). I couldn’t be sure, but I think I actually went there for treatment once. Anyway, according to the mother, the little girl had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and ascaris bacteria in her stool.  Now, UTI’s are extremely common in the Philippines among women, or at least they always claim to have one whenever something hurts down in that region. So, that wasn’t concerning me too much. However, the ascaris bacteria (round worms) did concern me. How did this little girl get that? So, I did a little research and apparently it is prevalent in places, like the Philippines, that have tropical climates. The poor sanitation and hygene that is so pervasive in the Philippines is also a major contributing factor to getting Ascaris Lumbricoides.

Anyway, the mother sent me a photo of the doctor bill, which as it turns out, totaled out at over 10,000 pesos. I have to say I was a bit shocked. I started to go through the itemized list of charges and saw Paracetamol listed at 300 pesos. That threw me through a loop because it is an over the counter drug, which is not expensive. I guess they charged her for an entire bottle instead of the few tablets she probably received.

To make this long story a little shorter let’s jump ahead to some of the information the mother gave me when I first asked her how the child got sick. First she tells me the little girl chews her fingernails. Now, I do the same thing as does my eldest daughter (who is 9 years old at the time of this writing). I told the mother to buy a nail clipper and cut the child’s nails short and make sure she washes her hands thoroughly a few times per day.

Then the story changed to the child went outside with no shoes on. Well, this is another extremely common phenomenon in the Philippines. I constantly see adults walking around with no shoes. Kids walk around with no shoes and quite often no pants or underwear on. I taught my kids, from the time they were able to take their first steps, to keep their shoes on inside and outside of the house. I am constantly reminding people to put their shoes on. I used to yell at my ex, her sisters, nieces and nephews, etc… to all put their shoes on in my home. I used to yell about it because I didn’t want anyone to slip and fall on the tile floors. Why? Because the CR floor is almost constantly wet. That water gets tracked throughout the rest of the house and in the rainy season it gets tracked in from outside. Yes, even though we have rugs the water still finds its way across the house. It’s just one of those things you learn to deal with when you live in the Philippines as an expat.

Anyway, I am getting off topic. I started to get madder and madder at the mother because I knew that if she had even the slightest bit of concern for her daughter and stopped living like the typical lower rungs of society Filipino, then this wouldn’t have happened. It feels like everytime I turn around I see a parent not paying attention to their child and the child getting into some kind of danger our trouble. I once saw a 4 year old playing in the street and the mother had no idea because her back was turned to the child as she was being tsismosa with a sari-sari store owner.

I was shocked to see her actually take responsibility for her failings as a parent, but that didn’t abate my anger or excuse her. I legitimately wanted to help, but the more I talked to her the angrier I got.  I finally suggested to her to ask the doctor if she could sign a promissory note, but she said that she was too shy because she already promised him she would pay today. You see, my friend had already told her I would come with money. He did this without even talking to me first, I assume in an effort to calm her down and shut her up. When I was unable to help it left them in a hell of a bind. He doesn’t get paid until next week and she doesn’t have much money, nevermind 5,000 or 10,000 pesos.

Later she messages me on Facebook and says the doctor will let her do a promissory note for half, but he wants the other half in cash up front. Sure. He was already promised half by the American on the telephone (my friend). So, of course he is not going to settle for a 10K promissory note now. What you have to understand about Filipino culture is a great many of them just assume that all foreigners are rich. This is because so many Filipinos are poor and most of the foreigners they see are here on vacation spending money they saved up for years to get. The Filipinos don’t know the foreigners had to save it up and all they see is them spending it on nice hotels, fancy restaurants and gifts for the pretty Filipinas who are expecting this kind of treatment because they have received it from foreigners in the past or their friends have.

Anyway, in the end I stopped answering her after telling her to contact my friend. I had stuff to do and I couldn’t help and I was just getting angrier and angrier because her lack of concern for her child’s well being led to this poor kid getting sick which resulted in my friend having to come up with 10,000 pesos. Ridiculous and frankly, it should be criminal.

Why don’t they listen? Jan 12

I’ve been posting about my new house and how a few things need repairs. I mentioned the water spigot in the CR as my arch enemy in this house.

FINALLY, Jenn bought the pipe cement that I need to fix it. So I told everyone I want them to shower or whatever so I can turn off the water for the night. I want that pipe to dry out so I can fix this damn thing so it has all night to dry.

I see the pot, in the sink, that Maricel used to cook sopas in so I fill it with water so it can soak. I wasn’t too worried about it being washed right away. I just wanted them to finish using water so I could do what I had to do.

Bowl of Sopas with a spoon

Of course, it doesn’t work out how I wanted it to. I ask Jenn if she wants to shower tonight. She tells me to just fill the water bucket in the CR and she will use that. I told her that won’t work because I am turning off the water for the whole night and we will need that to flush and stuff. So, she makes a face. I turn to her sister, Maricel, and I ask her if she will shower. She tells me she will so I told her to get a move on. She heads to the sink and proceeds to empty the pot, I JUST FILLED. I ask her why and she tells me she will wash it.

Implied Facepalm

I said to her that I just got done filling it and explaining about the water as she sat right there. Why would she think I want it washed NOW?!?!?  I told her to get her butt in the shower.

I swear. Sometimes it is like I am invisible.

UPDATE:

Even as I am writing this the fun continues. I go out there to help my daughter find my other daughter’s bottle. I ask Jenn if Maricel showered and she tells me yes. I ask Jenn if she is going to shower and she tells me she will “get cleaned up.” So I tell her to get her butt in the CR and get it done. She responds that her toenails are still wet, FROM HOURS AGO!!!  I get a little pissy about it and walk off as I hear Jenn say,

“I will just wash my face and stuff.”

I swear, I am going to lose my mind.

More fun with Globe Customer Service Jan 11

Globe Telecom Logo and Slogan

I moved out of my old house and into a new one. Due to the last minute nature of the move I didn’t have time to disconnect or transfer my phone/internet.  The way we left things with our landlord didn’t inspire me to leave the connection intact. To be honest I was worried about them using my phone. In the Philippines you are charged for domestic (NDD) as well as international (IDD) calls. In some cases it’s actually cheaper to call international than it is to call domestic. Yeah. I know that’s ridiculous but that’s also an example of what it’s like to live in the Philippines.

I contact Talk to Globe’s Live Chat to ask them to suspend or disconnect the service and the lady tells me that before they can disconnect my service I have to settle the bill first. I explain that I moved out and I don’t want to pay for phone calls I am not making should the landlord decide to use the phone. The customer service representative pastes the exact same sentence they previously posted and disconnects the chat. You can read the chat transcript below. (I edited out some of the personal identifying information.)

Nollie: Hi! This is your live chat agent. How can I help you today?

Gary: Hello. I need to suspend my account because I have moved out of the house where my service is located.

Nollie: Hi! Sir Gary, just to clarify are you inquiring/transacting with your labdline no. [deleted]?

Gary: Yes, I want to make sure service is disconnected

Nollie: For verification purposes, may I know the account holder’s fullname and exact billing
address?

Gary: [I gave my full name and address]

Nollie: Thank you for the information.

Gary: Sure

Nollie: May I ask how are you related to the account holder?

Gary: I am the acct holder

Nollie: For temporary disconnected, I advise you to please settle first the account overdue balance.

Gary: That’s great….I need it turned off. I dont live there. I do not want anyone using the
phone because I have both IDD and NDD and I will not pay for calls made after I moved out.
So disconnect it please.

Nollie: For temporary disconnection, I advise you to please settle first the account overdue

I call Globe’s Customer Service Hotline from my cellphone and I get the same line from that representative. I explain the situation a few times and she tells me there is nothing she can do. I get angry and ask for a supervisor. She puts me on hold for a few minutes.

Finally, he gets on the line and I explain the situation to him. He puts me on hold for a minute and comes back and tells me he setup a lock so no one can make NDD or IDD calls and puts a note in my account. Then he gives me a Reference Number. It wasn’t the resolution I was hoping for but it did solve my problem adequately.

WHY COULDN’T THE OTHER TWO REPS DO THAT?

My Medicine Run Jan 01

The week between Christmas and New Years, Jenn had one of her nieces (Kylie) staying with us. I am not a big fan of having a lot of people in my house but in this instance I was OK with it. The little girl is well behaved, for the most part, and it gives my kids someone else to play with. The problem is, Kylie has a cough.

Many Filipinos (NOT ALL) do not teach their children to cover their mouth/nose when they cough or sneeze so we had to teach her to cover her mouth when she coughs. Many kids here don’t learn this very quickly, old habits die hard, but Kylie picked it up pretty fast. (She even learned to wear her slippers in the house quickly which is something I have been struggling to get my 6 year old, Nicole/Nikki to do.)  At any rate, even though she covered her mouth just about every time, my baby (20-month old Samantha/Sammi) still got sick, so I had to run to the pharmacy to get her some medicine.

So I showered and headed out the door, up the hill, out the main gate of the subdivision and I am waiting for a jeepney to the nearest town. As I am waiting, I noticed just how relatively dead everything was. You have to understand that I am not a big fan of mingling with people in the province so I was happy about this.  Far too many of them have what I call the “Zoo Complex”.

The Zoo Complex

This is what I call it when Filipinos stare at or act goofy around foreigners.  They do a lot of silly things like:

  • Staring/ogling
  • Pointing
  • Silly comments like, “Hey Joe” or they will whisper to each other about the, in my case, American or the White Guy.
  • Try to be overly friendly. This varies from person to person but the more sincere ones, that I do respond to, will respectfully try to start a conversation. Others, usually the kids, teenagers, immature adults or drunken morons, will just start shouting idiotic things at you in English.
  • Be greedy – Kids will walk up and say, “Give me money.” Gone are the days pf polite panhandling.

I treat each case based on how they treat/approach me. As I said, if they are respectful and polite or at the least seem as though they are genuine then I will respond in kind. The ones that act silly or goofy I will either ignore them or give a lesson in manners. I am from New Jersey which means I am definitely not shy. I have no problem telling someone they’re being rude.

Germ Jeepney

(Thanks to Kurt Rasmussen for the title.)

As I was saying, I was waiting for the jeepney and just as I see a nice empty one coming suddenly a large group of people emerges and lumbers their way onto my nice empty jeep. I started to get on and I notice that several of them are coughing and I thought better of it and waited for the next one.

I grab the next one to come down the street, short wait luckily, and I hop on and get to the town in pretty short order because traffic was really light. Thank God for the holiday!

But let’s backtrack a little bit here. When I got on the jeep we had some fun with the change from the fare. The fare price is 8 pesos. I gave the guy a 20 peso bill. (Keep in mind there were others on the jeepney when I got on and they had not gotten their change yet.)

The driver hands me back eight 25 centavo coins and two 5 peso coins. I looked and had to count it twice. This was highly irregular for a driver at the end of his run to not have any 1 peso coins, but here nothing surprises me anymore. I was a little annoyed but I accepted it because I assumed it was all he had.

So I sat back and I start to notice other people asking for change. I thought it was a bit odd that I got my change right away and others, who were on before me, never got theirs. OK, so maybe he forgot to pay them. It happens right?

So I am passing change from the driver to the other passengers. As I am passing it back I notice that they are getting 1 peso coins. At first I thought nothing of it but then I realized. He was messing with me.

You see, some (NOT ALL) Filipinos are racist. Simply put, they don’t like foreigners. Some don’t like foreigners from certain places, but others just don’t like foreigners in general. I am going to assume he is one of the latter. This may seem paranoid but after 7 years here you learn how to spot the bigots. (I just want to say that there are a lot more nice and friendly Filipinos than there are bigots. I have worked with many and met many in social situations who I became fast friends with and whom I admire greatly. One look at my Facebook friends list will confirm that.)

He did gave me the eight 25 centavo coins to mess with me. He figured the white guy won’t like it because we are all rich and we only carry those large bills like 1000 and 500’s.

JOKE IS ON YOU PAL!!!  You probably make more than I do lately.

Eight 25 centavo coins and two 1 peso coins

The two 1 peso coins were not part of the change I received. They are there for reference. The eight 25 centavo coins you see are the actual coins the driver gave me.

The List

Jenn had given me a list of things to buy while I was out.

  • Two separate medicines for the baby
  • Lugaw – A Filipino soup that can be prepared in several different ways
  • Oranges

I’ve been to this town many many times but it’s always been an adventure whenever I went alone. Something always goes wrong to either make it difficult or so that when I got home I got in trouble for screwing up the list of tasks. Of course, this little trek was to be no exception.

I figured I would be smart about this and do my best to make this as painless as possible. I got off the jeepney and I looked around to plan out my strategy. The place to buy the lugaw, which I had never noticed before because it is a little hole in the wall crammed in between two stores I know very well, was directly across from the Mercury drug store and the fruit stand was right around the corner from the same Mercury.  I was feeling good about this and started to let myself think I had a shot of getting through this ordeal in one piece with no mistakes.

The Pharmacy

I decided to hit the drug store first because all I had was the 1000 pesos bill Jenn had given me. Good luck finding a small store with change of a 1000 much less a merchant (where I live) willing to make that kind of change for a foreigner. Mercury is a big national chain store and as such was my best chance of breaking the bill.

I crossed the street pretty easily, which never happens, but thanks to the holiday, traffic was relatively light. Mercury is open on New Year’s Day. My confidence is booming now.

I walk into Mercury and notice it isn’t crowded and I stroll to the rear of the store where the pharmacy counter is and that is when my confidence starts to deflate some. There is a huge line of people. Well, it is a Filipino line.  In the Philippines, a lot of the time instead of people lining up in a nice neat vertical line they will queue up horizontally the length of the counter and clerks take customers in whatever order people bully their way to the front.

So when in Rome…..I bullied my way to just behind these two old ladies and blocked so no one could get to the clerk before them. Once they were done I got selfish and got my order filled. HEY! I had a sick kid at home and I did my good deed for the day.

Of course, the fun isn’t over. Of the two medicines I needed they only had one of them. I didn’t really care too much because there are three other pharmacies in the area. OR SO I THOUGHT. I forgot it was a holiday and of course they were both closed, which I didn’t know at the time.  I would have called Jenn to ask her if it was OK to get the substitute the girl at the counter suggested, but I left my cellphone home with a dead battery. DOH!!!

After I discovered they were closed, I decided to cut my losses and just get the rest of the items on the list.

Mercury Drugstore Libertad Mandaluyong

Just the storefront of a Mercury in Mandaluyong. I will get a picture of the store I was in and a picture of the counter line next time I am out. Let’s hope it’s not soon. LOL

Lugaw

I crossed the main street and go into the Lugaw place. There are two girls and a guy outside. The one who looks at me, of course, has to be the one with the typical insecure and jealous boyfriend. I LOVE THAT! So he gets mad and I just kept walking and let them argue it amongst themselves.

I get to the counter and said to the girl EXACTLY WHAT JENN TOLD ME. Basically, I asked for 15 pesos worth of lugaw. Even that has to be a problem because the cheapest they have is 17 pesos and there has to be more than one variety at that price. I flipped a mental coin and ordered the lugaw with beef and as she is preparing it I see her dump, what looked like, red pepper flakes into the mix. UH OH! I know the baby doesn’t mind spicy food but Nikki isn’t real fond of it. I started to ask about it, but quickly realized my question was falling on deaf ears as the girl’s English was “no so good.”

I decided to take my chances with Jenn since she gave me the wrong info to begin with. and just paid and left. Once outside the boyfriend was gone and little miss smiley wasn’t smiling no more. Instead I got a dirty look from her as if her infidelity was my fault. So I laughed as I enjoyed it and continued over to buy the oranges.

Lugaw with beef

Lugaw with beef. I grabbed this off the internet but I will get a real picture next time I see it in the house.

Fun with the phones

As I walked passed 7 Eleven I noticed they had a payphone so I decided to call Jenn and ask about the one medicine I couldn’t get at Mercury and the possible substitute. Once again even the simplest task has to be made difficult. I pick up the receiver and insert my two 5 peso coins and notice a little message on the phone’s LCD screen telling me the coin box or change box or something was missing. I figured I would dial anyway and quickly discovered my suspicions were confirmed. I was wasting my time.

I crossed the street AGAIN (third time if you include the time I had to cross to visit one of the two closed pharmacies) and head to the other 7 Eleven nearby. I get to their phone and dial Jenn’s cell phone figuring she is downstairs (our landline is upstairs and I knew she’d be too lazy to climb upstairs to answer) and I don’t hear a ring tone. I hung up and tried again with the same result. At this point, I am starting to think this phone isn’t working either, but I wasted this much time so far what is another few minutes?

I insert my coins and dial the landline. This time it rings and Maricel, Jenn’s 16 year old sister, answers. I tell her what I need to know and she turns around and yells for Jenn to come upstairs. More wasted time explaining to Cel. Jenn yells up to ask what I want I tell Cel to tell her to hurry up the stairs because I am on a payphone. She yells for Jenn to come up and I can hear, THROUGH THE PHONE, the sound of Jenn complaining as she stomps her way up the stairs. ARGH!

Jenn finally gets on the phone and greets me with a gruff,

“What?!?!?!?”

I explain the situation and she gives me the go ahead to get, not the substitute, but something else entirely. So back to Mercury I go.

Mercury Again

I get back to Mercury and say hello to a security guard who works there and who was always friendly to me whenever I came in. I go to the back and the girl looks at me with surprise. She’s the same pharmacist who helped me earlier and I guess she thought I had a problem with what I bought earlier. I order the Solmux for children…DROPS…not syrup, as instructed so many times in the past. This is resolved quickly with no problem as the counter was much less crowded this time around. A small miracle in and of itself I guess.

Fun with the jeepney…AGAIN!

I go outside and get on a jeepney that had happened to stop in front. This was great because it saved me from having to walk down the street and wait for a jeepney to fill up. I figured between the counter being relatively empty on the second go round, getting all the items on the list and the convenient jeepney I might just be able to salvage this trip after all.

Of course, that was not to be so.  The driver’s wife, in the passenger seat, made change for me first (here we go again) and quickly which made the other passengers angry because, again, she had no change for them. Deja Vu!!!

Add to that I was way up in the front of the jeepney so when it stopped I had to climb over an entire jeep full of none to happy with me people to get out.

Time to face the judges

I get home and, somewhat proudly, start showing Jenn that I got all the items on the list and Nikki, my lovely 6 year old daughter, says to me,

Daddy, where are my oranges?”

DOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

So much for getting everything on the list!!!

 

Eat Bulaga! Juan for All, All for Juan Jan 11

Eat Bulaga! Juan for All, All for Juan

So I was uploading videos to You Tube for my father’s website and at around 2 PM Jenn yells for me to come down. My first thought was,

“NOW WHAT DOES SHE WANT?”

Lately she’s been calling me down to help her with the baby, who has been sick, and it’s getting a bit nerve wracking because I can’t get anything done. At any rate I go downstairs and she tells me how they’re making fun of someone on TV and she figured I would be interested. Normally, she would be wrong but once I realized what was going on I figured it would make a great post and well….here it is.

So, I start watching it and I ask a few questions and find out that on Eat Bulaga’s Juan for All, All for Juan segment they are visiting the house of a British guy and his Filipina wife who live in the Pasig section of Manila.

Eat Bulaga is a popular daytime TV show (on the GMA network) in the Philippines. The Juan for All, All for Juan segment features two comedians (Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola) who travel to the home of a lucky winner and bring them prizes like cash, gift certificates, free groceries, etc…

Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola

Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola

So anyway, this poor guy is sitting there with his wife and all these kids are around and everyone is happy and smiling and this poor guy is trying to be a good sport about it all but his smile gets increasingly more and more fake. You can tell he’s not happy to be in this situation.

They were asking him a ton of questions about his finances, his living situation etc… Then they start in making fun of him some and doing the typical “I am getting a nosebleed.” routine Filipinos do when they have to speak English because they’re talking to a foreigner. I can sympathize with the guy because I’ve been in similar situations and it’s all rather childish.

Filipinos have this tendency to slip back into Tagalog when they don’t have to speak English. Some will speak English around a foreigner just to show they’re smart or educated or whatever the reason is. Again, it’s rather childish but that’s how they act in those situations.  Two lines they use often are,

  • “Don’t English me I’m panic.” which is supposed to be a joke.
  • “Nosebleed” as if having to speak English is hurting their brain or something and it causes a nosebleed. This is also a joke but sometimes I wonder.
And if you try talking to them in Tagalog they will laugh and giggle like little kids. I guess it’s funny for them to hear a foreigner speaking Tagalog. I have no idea why other than to repeat my comment about them being childish. I mean you don’t see Americans or British or anyone laughing when a Filipino speaks English so why do Filipinos find it funny when a foreigner speaks Tagalog other than to just assume they’re being childish?
(An interesting side note to that is one of my students from China did the same thing to me this morning when I said the Chinese word for Cell Phone to her during class. She started to giggle like a schoolgirl so maybe it’s an Asian thing. I don’t know.)
If you’d like to watch the full segment here is where you can see it.