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Dale's cob house, in the Philippines has morphed-I am moving there, taking over,adopting family etc.  RSS feed

 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Nothing has been done on the housing front, since we haven't decided exactly what to do. There is still a good possibility that I will take over that village in some way.

I have dealt with drunks all of my life. It seems to be no different here than at home. Cater to the addiction somewhat and use superior position and intellect to your advantage. I've seen it happen here with businesses in the city. One man is running a very successful cement block business. The workers are all hard drinkers and none of them seems like they will ever be in a position to compete with him.

But I would still want to move the worst offenders along, by purchasing their assets.

1 corn field produces 3,000 pesos a year. That's 75 Canadian dollars. I can see giving him 20 years worth of income for a total of $1500. That would give me a nice chunk of river frontage. About a dozen deals like that need to happen to make it worth it for me. Most of the land is producing nothing right now in the areas I'm interested in.

When the land is grazed heavily by horses it becomes dominated by a woody shrub that they don't like to eat. It doesn't appear that anyone has had the foresight to remove this plant, so the pasture becomes quite degraded. Labor to clear an acre of this would be somewhere around $50. When I rented horses they were tied in this scrub overnight so we had to go a short distance to allow them to feed before using them. They are often tied within a few hundred feet good grazing.

Almost every domestic animal is tethered. Pigs, cattle and horses spend their lives attached to ropes. In the city I have seen hundreds of tethered fighting roosters. They seem to be the number one animal being raised. Every morning there is a horrible racket throughout the city as they all crow at once. There are about 10 of them at the house where I'm living. They dominate the yard and no useful thing is grown at ground level. Most of the trees produce something edible.

I was involved in a drunken banana harvest yesterday. I was the only one not drunk. 30 seconds worth of work was accomplished in 5 minutes. The roof got bent.



Why on earth would you want to live there?  I would move her and her mother here and call it good.
 
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Dale. You are not gonna take over. Did your potential wife explain to you, the Philippine law that forbids foreigners from buying and owning land or property in the Philippines.
She could own it but you can not, you could pay for it though and it would have to be in her name. It is a smart law because it prevents foreigners from coming in and taking the fuck over!

I think it was written for just you in mind. Big Smile!
In my out spoken honest, but truely worthless opinion: I totally agree with Trace, get the fuck outta there, bring your future wife back with you, and if you feel obligated send a little money to help her mother and sisters get on the road to independence.
It seems you are trying to plow a field with no plow and no horse. If I wasn't so worried about ya, I'd be laughin my fuckin head off.
Now I'm glad you didn't let me go with ya. I'd be sittin at the Shangrila eatin lechin and drinkin mango shakes with a shot of rum in it, just to cope till I could get outta there.
Stay strong Brotha!
 
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I want to own a piece of tropical paradise. This place could qualify after some social engineering. It has all of the building blocks that i'm looking for. Good land and water with a 12 month harvest.

The slopes of the gorge are populated by native species that are quite rare in other areas. There are monkeys snakes and bats and many more. They don't bother the crops. A deep gorge like this is a very unique environment.

If houses are built in right place typhoons blow over top and houses can be in the shade by 3 p.m. A very comfortable place compared to some places where i haven't been able to escape the tropical heat.

The river is clean and swimable, without any nasty things that bite. It comes from near the center of the island which is cooler high ground. We went swimming every day.

It's not just the two of us. I have taken on five extra people. There's also her mother and three siblings. Yesterday i send  money so that her sister could go to school full time and leave a job that pays about $80 us per month. Even when they are done school it may be necessary for me to create a business for some family members so they aren't slaves to others.

There are quite a few people in that gorge who i wouldn't mind being neighbors with. Across the river there is a large extended family that is doing much better since alcohol does not control their lives. It's sort of a religious colony. They have very little contact with people who live only half a kilometer away. Every morning they can be seen doing useful things and they are quite self sufficient. So people don't have to live the way they are at this village. They need to be shown a better way and some need to be shown the door.

Someone responsible needs to be in charge. If i buy a third of the land and become the only employer , that makes me the de facto leader. Anyone who doesn't shape up will not find employment, free electricity and other things. They won't be able to borrow the chainsaw or have their grains milled.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I built a very serviceable cob stove at the house where i'm living in the city. Wood and charcoal are now burned much more efficiently. There's a flat area that allows three pots to stay warm while another one is over the fire.

I'm at a house that is far above average, yet they were cooking in the most primitive manner imaginable. Most cooking uses a butane stove but they like to grill things like fish and chicken over charcoal..

Trying to load pictures
 
Trace Oswald
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I want to own a piece of tropical paradise. This place could qualify after some social engineering. It has all of the building blocks that i'm looking for. Good land and water with a 12 month harvest.

The slopes of the gorge are populated by native species that are quite rare in other areas. There are monkeys snakes and bats and many more. They don't bother the crops. A deep gorge like this is a very unique environment.

If houses are built in right place typhoons blow over top and houses can be in the shade by 3 p.m. A very comfortable place compared to some places where i haven't been able to escape the tropical heat.

The river is clean and swimable, without any nasty things that bite. It comes from near the center of the island which is cooler high ground. We went swimming every day.

It's not just the two of us. I have taken on five extra people. There's also her mother and three siblings. Yesterday i send  money so that her sister could go to school full time and leave a job that pays about $80 us per month. Even when they are done school it may be necessary for me to create a business for some family members so they aren't slaves to others.

There are quite a few people in that gorge who i wouldn't mind being neighbors with. Across the river there is a large extended family that is doing much better since alcohol does not control their lives. It's sort of a religious colony. They have very little contact with people who live only half a kilometer away. Every morning they can be seen doing useful things and they are quite self sufficient. So people don't have to live the way they are at this village. They need to be shown a better way and some need to be shown the door.

Someone responsible needs to be in charge. If i buy a third of the land and become the only employer , that makes me the de facto leader. Anyone who doesn't shape up will not find employment, free electricity and other things. They won't be able to borrow the chainsaw or have their grains milled.



It's a lot to take on, so good for you if you can make a difference there.  Best of luck to you.
 
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I can fully understand and appreciate your desire to live in the tropics.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I've been unable to load pictures

The best land prices so far are on the island of Palawan. It's a bit remote being near Borneo. There are indigenous tribes that still keep skulls from their head hunting days. Most people i've met are somewhat conversant in English. I've been told that many on this island speak Neither English or Visayan and some don't speak tagalog which is the official language. So that could be a problem. Most migrants to this island are from Muslim Mindanao or from the small group of islands to the south of Mindanao known as the autonomous Muslim region. I think it's autonomous because of large losses the Philippine army has experienced in the past.

Other islands have reached a tipping point and gone through a period of forced conversion and ethnic cleansing, so i will investigate carefully before going there.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote: investigate carefully



My Asawa and I are following this with great interest, who needs Provinciano or Wow-Wow-Wee.  Thank you for posting it.


Our bona-fides.  27 years ago I felt exactly as you do.  I made the same observations, and formulated identical conclusions .....

We have since evolved into guerillas.  We adopt what ever works, where ever we can.  That led me here and this thread.


In the spirit of sharing, I'd like to offer a few notions.


If you don't know why to tether animals, then your not ready for livestock.

If you don't understand "tampo", then your not ready for a Filipina.

If you don't understand "utang na loob", or "hiya", then your not ready for pinoy prime-time.


To be honest we are amazed that you have not been sold to Abu Sayyaf.


May I suggest "In our Image" by Stanley Karnow.  


As with any source of information it needs critical and contextual filtering.  But it is full of insight.  Read some of the works in the references section.

Who knows it might save some trouble.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I am back in Canada and many decisions have been made. It was quite difficult to use the internet at times. For now, I've decided against trying to take over the home Village, although I believe it is easily within my power. So many of them are willing to sell out. But I have an intention to create some sort of tourist business and I am the only white person they have seen down there in many years. The culture of that place is fucked and there are many other nice places a person could go.

So for now I'm not even going to buy her uncle's house land and horse that were offered for roughly 1800 American.

We went to another much smaller Island where I have found nice land at reasonable prices. Foreign visitors are regularly seen there and I didn't feel at all threatened. The roads, schools and hospitals are in good shape. After spending time with her mother and brother I realize that I would not want them living on the same property as me. Her mother is a strange woman who can't stop doing things. After being told that my mosquito lights for only for emergencies, she used it to go under the house at 1 a.m. and get some cleaning done. Then at 2 a.m. she went to the well for water. All her life she has waited until morning and it appears that the solar cycle is all that keeps her from doing things 24 hours a day. The brother is barely conversant in English and he is painfully shy and avoid speaking to people in his own language. He was born 9 km from the ocean but had only seen it twice before my arrival. Almost all of his life has been lived within a 5 mile radius of where he was born. He doesn't share the same curiosity that all of his sisters have. Two weeks ago he came to Cebu and this was the first time he has ever left his little corner of Mindanao. He was like a fish out of water in the city. Afraid to go anywhere for fear of not being able to find his way back. I took him to a block Making Place to get him a job. After I spoke to the owners oh, it was difficult to get him to say anything on his own behalf. The sisters tell me that he is an extremely hard worker but most of the work he has done has involved the processing of coconuts using a machete. He has also done Porter work where he carries heavy items up or down the steep Pathway to the Gorge for 50 pesos which is roughly a dollar.

Left on his own I am absolutely confident that he would never amount to anything. And I have promised my fiance that I will find some way for him to fit into society as something other than a slave. I found 2.5 acres that can be bought for 600 American dollars. It's decent land that could certainly feed both of them with surplus to sell. For $1,000 I could build a house vastly better than what they live in now. I'd probably spend a little more than that and give it a well pump.

Much of the new construction uses hollow concrete blocks. There are simple machines available that spit out for blocks at once. They are manually operated. Most people who own one of these machines make more than that of regular construction workers. The raw materials are readily available, so I might provide him with one of these machines and hire someone experienced in using it, to teach him how it's done and the importance of getting the mix right. I could market for him and I could be his first customer. He has spent most of his working life doing absolute drudgery. So I don't think he would mind the repetitive nature of making blocks. There are enough steps that it is still much more interesting than cracking coconuts. And it's easy to gauge how much someone is getting done when they are making blocks. Just count the stacks. It's also easy to determine how much to pay them, because it's based on the number of blocks produced. I don't want to be in the block business and be his employer. But it might start out that way. I want him to become reasonably confident doing it, and to eventually do it without my help. He actually did alright in school several years ago but he has had mental issues, probably brought on by self-imposed starvation as he attempted to save everything he made instead of spending some of it on food.

I have talked to him about this through an interpreter and he is very keen to try it and he desperately wants to get out of his home village. I haven't made a final determination on where we will live, so I cannot commit to a spot for the mother and brother. We want them on the same island but not right at our doorstep. My fiance only sees her mother sporadically and agrees that she would drive us nuts if she were living next door.

So the cob house thing is definitely on hold or not happening at all. I have built to cob stoves which work quite well.

I have visited many places where the culture does not need complete replacement. Places where people get up and go to work in the morning and they don't stay drunk all day. So that's the kind of community I want to move to. Everything went exceptionally well with my fiance, which makes the issues with her family easier to take. Both of her sisters are sharp girls. 1 sister is 8 months away from a degree in some computer thing. She will quadruple her income in that line of work. The other sister will soon go back to school full-time as well. I'm paying for it all. There's a cultural thing where people think they need to pay everything back, when they receive something. I have acknowledged this when talking with them but I told them that all I want is for them to demonstrate that they are now self-sufficient so that my fiance doesn't have to worry about them. Even my fiance talks about how she could ever repay me for things that we are doing together. How all of the money that we are using is mine and none of it is hers, and how will she ever repay me. I have stated that just having her with me is payment enough because she is so pleasant and wonderful to be around. I've also said that the best thing she could do for me is to continue learning everything about how to gross things on the type of land we are looking at and on how to attract foreign visitors. All of this is beyond her experience, but she's a smart girl and good at researching things.
 
Dale Hodgins
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One of the people I became quite well acquainted with is on his way to becoming a Canadian and he also works in Saudi Arabia. He has traveled to hundreds of islands and suggested some of the safer ones. For him Mindanao does not make sense for a white man because of the danger of being kidnapped for ransom.

One of his best buddies who comes to the  house for regular drinking parties, is a professional hitman. He's also a very good bricklayer. My friend has suggested that I hire this guy at the beginning of a project, even just for a few days, since no one would dare steal anything or mess with the project in any other way if they know he's associated with it. But I'm not sure that I want to have any connection to this man who looks like something out of a gangster movie. He gave me the creeps even before I found out about his line of work.
 
Dale Hodgins
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On a lighter note, we went to some nice places. One parcel of land is very close to this perfect swimming spot.

This 155 Yamaha belt drive automatic bike is absolutely awesome. Excellent fuel economy and perfectly built for the two of us. On one particularly good patch of Road we accelerated uphill at at 80 kilometers per hour. But usually we just cruised along between 50 and 60 kilometers per hour. 50 kph equals 30 miles per hour. The roads don't accommodate super high speed. I saw a couple of white guys driving Harley's with really dumb looking handlebars so they have to hold their arms up above their head. The roads can't begin to handle the speed those bikes could go.
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There's a cultural thing where people think they need to pay everything back, when they receive something.



Dale I have read this whole thread with interest. I was thinking about moving to Cambodia or Laos and was both fascinated and appalled, as you seem to be.

The cultural ideal above is the best and worst thing about SE Asia. What it stems from is the twin evils of lack of rule of law and low social trust. Loaning money inside the family is the best thing they can do compared with other possible uses. You build something and you get shaken down by the local government until it is no longer profitable. You loan money outside your family and its loaned ten ways and... its gone.

One thing I have made peace with is that you cannot change most of these issues even through force of will, even if you can in a developed country. I have no doubt you are formidable in Canada, but this place is set up with the rules of the jungle. Might and political power makes right. If and only if you can figure out how the religious group stays off the radar of the parasites, you may have a chance. One thing I have definitely learned working over there is that they know the place better than you do. That's why microloans work, they know the opportunities they would exploit if they had some capital. Not just the profit margins, but how to keep from getting raided and exploited by the parasitic class, which is an absolute prerequisite for sustainability.

Even being on an island may not be safe near Mindanao. The glorious caliphate has several sleepy places they use for income through smuggling. You are an easy mark whether you admit it or not and they have boats. The hitman seems like a bad idea, he would know way more than you want him to know about your operation, and when you quit paying him or refuse to pay him more he will be formidable. Unfortunately he is already "in the loop".  Unfortunately I spent a fair amount of my adult life dealing with this stuff, and it is hard not to lose your own civility. I came very close which is why I quit doing it. When you seriously consider killing someone because it makes sense- its time to go somewhere where it doesn't. And I am as gentle as a lamb in civilization, but we ALL have it in our darkest nature. That confliction leads to PTSD when it is constantly challenged. People either become wolves or prey and either one has serious psychological implications.

If you are serious about this, I highly recommend reading some recent books about the best practices in development. I have no doubts you could do it, but there are errors that will be very very hard for you to avoid. I have decided to spend a couple years working in local development work along groups that are doing it well before committing to anything serious.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I've decided to locate only in places where there are already a number of foreigners who are doing well. There are many places like that. I think I would only use the Hitman as a brick mason if I were in his neighborhood in Cebu as it affords absolute protection against thieves. He gets his own pay which is a bit higher than most and it takes a little slice off of everyone that he brings in. Once the bricks are up he has no further interest since he doesn't do carpentry or finishing. But I think my time with him is done. Most of that was spent during a four-day drunk and karaoke party that happened from December 31st to January 3rd at the house where I was living.

I'm looking to first get a piece of land and I've sort of set 10 hectares as my goal for now. That's that's 25 acres. There are several advantages to going to dryer limestone areas. It tends to be less humid and because the ground is higher, there are ocean breezes. It doesn't involve taking any real quality land out of production. The price per hectare is very attractive. Often the building materials are already growing on the property.

Although I would like to create something that would attract foreign visitors, I'm going to buy a place where I would be happy to live and farm, if nobody ever showed up. But at the same time I'm only looking in areas that already have some sort of natural attraction that is already bringing in visitors. So I won't need to convince people to go to the Philippines or even to go to the island I'm on. I will run various ads, but mostly I will try to attract the people who already plan to come.

My time there has taught me to always go over the price of services several times so that it's very clear. A taxi driver made say a price and if you agree to it, then they will say Plus Fuel. And that's where it ends for me if they didn't bring that up in the first place. Someone who has agreed to work for 400 a day, might say plus you buy me whiskey. So again, everything must be clear up front. I tell each person in advance that there is no way I will ever agree to one more peso than what we have just said.

This sort of thing can happen in almost any circumstance. Suppose someone has agreed to come over with their Buffalo to do some skidding or other work. They may have said 800 pesos. So you have to say is that for both of the animal and the man. Because otherwise halfway into it he may also say plus 300 for me. Or he may insist that you provide the Buffalo with a big sack of feed. Trying to negotiate the price after the fact seems to be something they do with visitors but they don't get away with it with other Filipinos.

Many people are hired by the day, so it's important to define what that is. For me it's going to be eight hours of work. Sitting in a rain shelter for 4 hours will not count as work. Going home after 4 hours is half a day. It's pretty simple math but it must be stated. If workers are to be fed that needs to be dealt with upfront. If you don't intend to get them drunk either during work or after, that needs to be made clear.

Suppose I needed to rent a tractor with the owner driving it. We would need to determine how long a day is, agree that this price is so much Plus Fuel. I would never go the other way because they will always try to fuck you on the fuel. We need to agree that it's for the machine and the operator and that if the machine can't work for any reason including breakdown, the clock stops. I pay for fuel but I do not pay for a machine that isn't up to the job. And we need to set it up so that either one of us can change our minds if we decide that it is not going well, and only that portion of the day used is paid for. These sorts of practices are common between Filipinos, but there's a definite tendency to try to squeeze money out of anyone they think can afford it.

Part time work needs to remain just that. Everyone must know that they have not been hired full-time. Their employment starts every morning and it ends every night. I may or may not need them the next day or ever again. If a job is going to last a few weeks, it's important to remind people early that their job will be ending soon. I don't want to have a bunch of lackeys hanging around hoping for something that isn't happening. I've talked to several locals who build things and this is how they do it. Some workers live hand-to-mouth and they don't save anything for tomorrow. I've experienced this in Canada as well. Those people will show up looking for work, once you're down to final cleanup and only using members of your own family.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm not sure what the legal ramifications are in the Philippines, if you have someone on the job who is half drunk. Obviously that wouldn't work if you have him driving a truck. But I'm not sure if he's operating a shovel. In some areas this could be a real problem since many workers like to start drinking their earnings before the work day is done. I've been to places where the men stay half in the bag all day and I've been to places where everyone seems to be sober and mentally alert.

Managing negative behaviors is going to be a big part of hiring people here. Drinking, stealing, lying and other things don't seem to be as clear-cut as they are in Canada. If I told someone in Canada that I fired their brother because of the drinking and stealing, they would accept that and not try to get me to hire them back. But here, it's quite likely that the person appealing on their behalf engages in the same practices.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Let's have a look at my cob stoves
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Dale Hodgins
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This stove is mostly used to burn charcoal and that charcoal is usually only burned in the round area where the pot is set. But sometimes they need to keep a whole bunch of things warm because of a get-together. Then the fire is started in that place, but after lots of charcoal is burning, some is shoveled onto a small tray and poured into the area that is also the air intake. The entire thing heats up so that the three pots sitting on the clay countertop are also kept warm.

I made this for my landlady, as a Christmas present. My fiance calls her auntie and they have known one another for a long time. She is now burning far less charcoal and wood, with less smoke. Before the stove was built much of the heat was lost to the side and she got so hot she thought her clothes would catch fire. Now that heat is reflected back toward the fire and all air flow comes up past the cooking pot. Small pieces of sheet metal are used to close off some of the top if a smaller pan is being used. We want the hot gases to pass over the pot bottom and sides. It was used for a few weeks after the initial build and then I gave it another coat as cob mixture to seal the cracks
 
Dale Hodgins
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They were using a very primitive method before.
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Dale Hodgins
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Concerning religious stuff and fear.

I am not an American and I try to make that clear to everyone I meet, because I don't want to bring negative judgment upon myself before we get to know one another. There is definitely a stigma there.

My travel insurance guy gave me a map. It shows me the places that are dangerous to go and the places that are generally quite safe to go. This map did not mention religion so I said how does this compare to a religious map. He said it's the same map, altered for our marketing purposes. The same thing happened when I was in Kenya. I was told to only stay in Christian areas. I didn't have problems there either.

I'm an atheist, which hasn't turned out to be a problem at all since the majority of educated people accept that this will be the case with most white people they meet. We met three Canadians. Two of them were atheist. We met 7 Europeans. All professed no religion. About half of the Americans we met were religious. I did this poll to demonstrate to Nova, just how typical my point of view is amongst foreigners who can afford a trip to the Philippines.

So I try to view the problems in Muslim Mindanao and the autonomous region as criminality run amok and not as a threat to all of Western Civilization. There are risks , but I think it's more likely that I will be bitten by a cobra. So I'm going to always have a snake kit on the farm. When I was on Mindanao, I met two cobras inside of five minutes. People in the village where I visited, knew about the issues on other parts of their Island, but it certainly wasn't a top of mind thing. I think with any of this stuff you have to look at the statistical chances. Of the many thousands of foreigners living in the country, how many come to harm? Then I need to ask myself, how many of them were hanging around a drinking establishment looking for whores. I have no interest in beaches, motels or nightlife. My fiance has never been into a bar. She would not want anyone to see her enter such a place. So I don't think we will get caught up in a nightclub bombing.

I plan to live on a farm well away from the beach and other white people. Most terrorist attacks happen in crowded places, particularly those that are considered immoral in some way. A guy doing farming and forest restoration doesn't fall into that category.
 
Dale Hodgins
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This simple Burning Ring has for air inlets at the bottom that may not be visible. I'm guessing that took somewhere around an hour to build it. The lady reports that it's using less Fuel and there is less smoke but it hasn't been Quantified in any way.

This table was already quite high for the lady who is quite short. I think it was built to the height of a different tenant. So I didn't want to build a very tall stack. She already stands on some scrap wood when using her fire. Her home belongs to the people who were my landlord.

The rent is roughly $25 a month which is the amount I gave them for Christmas when my fiance mentioned that they were just about out of food. The guy works for a construction outfit and operates a crane truck that I'm guessing would be worth $150,000 American, yet they are barely getting by. This is typical in the city.

I am going to need caretakers at some point. The young family are not controlled by alcohol and the man is quite responsible, which is why they've entrusted him with such an expensive machine. Any caretaker arrangement made would include free food from the farm and free accommodation in something vastly better than the chicken coop they now living in. But before mentioning anything's to these people, I have to see if some member of my fiance's family would like the job. The young guy is strong as a bull, so I do expect to invite them to stay whenever I'm building something from blocks or doing other hard work, during times when the construction company doesn't need him. They haven't left the city for several years because they can't spare the $10 that would cost. I would bring the whole family out, since that would be the closest thing to a vacation those kids have ever experienced. They helped in the cleanup of every bit of plastic waste in the vicinity of where I was living.
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Dale Hodgins
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Deep fried bananas with brown sugar.

There's a popular Street Food that is somewhat similar to a candy apple, except that it's a fried banana with a coating of brown sugar. It is served on a stick. I made many of these and my cost was about 1 peso or about 2.5 cents.

When I arrived at the house, which is better than average, the yard and the streets surrounding were covered in plastic waste. Mostly junk food wrappers but also cigarette stuff.

So I made a habit of giving empty plastic bags to the children and telling them that when those bags were full, the candied bananas would come out. It works. During the entire time I was there I might have fed them $15 worth of bananas and they gathered up enough of that plastic waste to fill 10 big garbage cans.

If I get involved in making those ceramic burning rings for charcoal, I could see sending a truck around a large area to gather up all of that crap to fire the kiln.
 
Dale Hodgins
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This apartment cost me $111 per month. That's about $75 American.

I sent my fiance looking for a place before my arrival because she needed to get out of a bad work situation where she wasn't being paid. She sent me pictures of places they cost $20 and then $40. She was extremely reluctant to look at places that cost more than that. So I had to continually repeat that I earned about $300 every day when I'm working. This place cost more than she was making in a month. We had by far the best part of the house. The big living room is shared with the children at the house who watch the television and the owner's son watch through it to get to his room but it was largely ours. We also had other private space including sleeping areas and a private bathroom. There was plenty of space for the soap making. The man who built this house was a general in the army. It now belongs to his eight children who bicker over how the rents are allocated. The entire play brings in about $250 per month and there are about 18 people living there. Some pay as little as $20.
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Dale Hodgins
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We took the landlord's children on a late Christmas shopping trip on 3rd of January. They were very excited when I said they got to split 1000 Pesos. That's about 18 American dollars.

They each got a fake Barbie, a pair of shoes, some really nice denim shorts with embroidered patterns, a pencil case, ruler and pen set for school, and some crayons.

They dressed up really fancy for the occasion and we all walked to the Grand Mall, which isn't actually very Grand. We were on the island of Mactan which doesn't have the Ultra Modern type of mall that they have in the center of Cebu. One of them has a train for the kids to ride around on.

Nova thought that 1000 was an extremely large amount to spend on the kids, so I reminded her that we would be spending several million on land.

I'm finally getting back to work at about 2 p.m. today. I really need the money now. I convert everything to Pesos in my head. Will I spend $20 on that? No, I could hire someone to work for me for 3 days for that $20. I'll save it. So I'm not going to even think about renting a place to live right now. The car is home until I move into a nice Oceanfront house that's part of my work. I was the cheapest bastard you'll ever meet before going there. I'm going to be much more tight with my money now.:-)
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Dale Hodgins
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I had a really nice crop of hair when I arrived. Nova said I looked very handsome. But just a few days later she convinced me that I would be much more handsome with it cut it shorter.

Then just before I left she convinced me to cut it again. And I have agreed to keep it this way. It's important to let them win on the little things.

The final shot shows how I look now. She got everyone we were acquainted to to play on my vanity. They said I look like a movie star. They said I look much younger and slimmer. She hasn't admitted to talking to them, but everyone had a positive comment. Women love to get their own way. So I pretended it was a big deal, because I always want to have my way. All I have to do is threaten to grow it long and I can squeeze out any concession I want.
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Barber shop
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Much better but not quite how she wanted it
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Dale Hodgins
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I was a giant play thing for the children of the house. We did swings, throws where I heaved them over my head, and whenever we went swimming it was my job to throw them as far as humanly possible. I would get them to lay flat on the water and then hold themselves stiff so that I could stand up quickly and straighten  my arms, as you would when lifting a barbell, but I would continue with the motion and send them 3 feet above my head. The slap on the water sounded like it might hurt, but they kept coming back for more.

At the house we often did boxing. Not really boxing but me holding a big pillow and the kids flailing wildly. Mostly ineffective Haymaker stuff.

Kylie is little, but by far the strongest kid of the bunch. She punches from the floor using her legs and torso in powerful twisting motions to deliver one hook after another and the occasional uppercut. At one point she caught me in the nuts and instead of stopping, she delivered two solid hooks to the kidneys, followed by an overhand right to just below my sternum. If she ever encounters a bully her own size, I already know the result. The 10-year old boy across the road is a head taller. He can't hit nearly as hard :-)
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Dale Hodgins
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I didn't see Cob Houses in the Philippines. I did see block buildings that are built to a much lower standard and they haven't fallen down just yet. Those buildings are cooler during the day and warmer at night. The environment was very similar to places I traveled in Kenya where they had very effective buildings made of mostly clay. Those buildings were much cooler during the day.

They have Clay in Kenya and they have Clay in the Philippines. So I think it's mostly a matter of tradition. Houses of wood and bamboo are traditional. The majority in cities seem to be giving up traditional construction for concrete block buildings. Some built to last a long time and some built to an incredibly low standard. If a poorly-built block building can stand, I think a well-built cob one could do the same.

So it's going to depend on what I end up owning. If I buy the sort of giant Limestone Hill I'm shopping for, I will probably have a house with a limestone and concrete foundation with reinforced hollow block walls, produced to my standard, by my future brother-in-law. If I have clay and sand available, there will be some cob. It will probably be a bamboo and cob matrix. I have found clay in every location except for the home Village where I wanted to build the house for her mother. But she will most likely leave that place and seldom return.
 
pollinator
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Great to hear from you Dale. Thanks for sharing. Your acting family all look great! <g>


Rufus
 
Dale Hodgins
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We made quite a bit of soap. Unfortunately the market for soap in the Philippines is rather nuts. Many women bleach their skin and come out as white as European women. We made natural soap that barely has a smell, it doesn't bleach your skin and it doesn't have plastic packaging. People wanted all of those things. We left some to sell there but I brought some of it back to Canada as well.
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Dale Hodgins
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It's important to wear safety glasses when working with lye. We soon discovered that most safety glasses are not designed to fit Nova's rather wide cheekbones. I told her that if she were a cartoon character she would be Stewie Griffin's sister. This led to her discovery of Family Guy. They don't play stuff like that there. Quite often we lost internet service but whenever it would come on, she would yell Stewie! !!! Finally someone else who can watch 3 hours of Stewie on YouTube clips.

We talked about the skin bleaching thing many times and just how abhorrent I find it. Nova's former job kept her indoors almost all of the time, to the point where she lost a lot of her color. We did lots of traveling that involved going out in the sun. Several times she sat in front of the mirror, worrying that she was becoming too brown. Several of her friends and relatives told her this was happening. The lady who runs our favorite restaurant told her not to get too brown, because I might leave her for a light-skined girl.

I bought one bar of that skin lightening soap just to bring back as a souvenir. I showed it to Kylie and Budai, the two little girls pictured earlier. I told them that stuff could burn their skin and give them scars and that it would make them look really silly if they lost their color. Their mother was in full agreement with this. She is about the color of Oprah Winfrey. There are pictures of her sisters on the wall of the house. Each of them look like they could be light-skinned Italians. The pictures were all are retouched to lighten them and the eyes were made rounder. Looking at those pictures you would never guess that these people were in the same family.

The last picture here is of an election sign. The men pictured are brown, but the image presented is not.
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They don
 
Ed Hoffman
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I've been to Mactan island. What an incredible trip, thanks for sharing, You are truly a lucky bastard.
 
pollinator
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Glad you had safe travels.  I hope your plans work out so you can help as many as possible, including a good life for yourself.

Sorry, I think Nova is right-I like the haircut better too😀
 
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Ditto. The hair cut makes your face look less long, which does wonders for making you look younger. The long hair also accentuates the widows peaks in not the best way.
 
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I wonder if the light-skinned fascination had a central geographic starting point, or if it was just arrived at by comparing the skins of those who worked outside with the skin of those who lived under shelter most of the day.

The caste system of India is was based largely on the colour of one's skin, or at least that was how it worked out, though I don't know if it started that way. Many of those ideas persist, including those that suggest that light skin must be prized and protected from darkening.

I'm glad to hear you're back safely, Dale.

-CK
 
Nicole Alderman
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From what I've read, the light-skin thing was, indeed, a sign that the person did not need to work outside. At least, that was the case in Europe/America. A tan person did manual labor. A "lily white" skinned person was able to not work outside and just sit and embroider or paint or play instruments--i.e. nobility.

Here in America, the ideal changed when those that had money went on vacations/summer holidays to bask in the sun and play at the beach (I think this was the 1960's), and therefore get tanned. So, tanned skin was a sign of wealth, rather than the paler skin of earlier times.
 
Dale Hodgins
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We had a favorite Hangout where I was often the only Entertainer, doing very good Renditions of things like wild horses and Angie by the Stones, my way and that's life by Sinatra and Bridge Over Troubled Water and The Sound of Silence by Simon Garfunkel. Being the only Entertainer I was a crowd favorite. I sometimes exhausted my entire repertoire. We've got tonight and Rebel Yell we're always popular.

One evening a lady sat quietly in the small crowd until Nova went to the bathroom. Then she came over and told me that she could fix me up with a relative of hers who had much lighter skin and round eyes. A nose that isn't so flat. Nice straight hair too. She was surprised to find that I wasn't interested in any of those qualities and that I thought Nova was just right the way she is. Even her own sister pointed out things that she considers faults, like her eyes being very squinty when she smiles. They really go for this bullshit.

I told Nova about it, thinking that she would find it funny, but she did not. She is very accustomed to being judged as inferior to those who have a more Spanish look. I told her I would go to Spain if I wanted to see that. It's just nuts that a country full of brown people, all work together to discriminate against brown people. It's similar to what China does with shortness. The Chinese are not tall on average. They discriminate against shortness in many ways.
 
Nicole Alderman
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She's gorgeous! Even though I think there's character qualities (which she seems to have in full) that are far more important than appearance, she IS a beautiful lady!
 
Dale Hodgins
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When we first met, she was tired all the time and had acne all around her hairline. Shortly after I got her friends to Rambo her out of that job, she was better rested and then during our first week we manufactured salt soap. It has cleared up almost all of the acne. But the main thing is she's much more confident now. She knows that I'm not going to run off with some other women based on superficial stuff that isn't even part of my culture.

When I was online, I met dozens of these girls who were hoping that I would buy stuff for them. She has discouraged the spending of every peso I parted with. We were at the beach with her sister and someone opened a stand with really nice quality sandals made with natural fiber straps instead of those plastic ones that are so common. She wanted the equivalent of $2.75 or about $2 in America. Both of them said that these were far too expensive and I had to stop and refuse to continue walking down the boardwalk until they both tried them on. I bought two for each of them. After 2 months, the first pair shows no sign of wearing out. If there's ever a bank robbery in Cebu, the policeman wearing proper shoes will win because chances are the perpetrators will be in ill fitting flip-flops.:-)

Her reluctance to spend money has caused some friction. I had to threaten to throw out white rice when she bought that instead of the organic brown rice that was about 20% more expensive. I gave away the white rice and we bought the good stuff. I threw away the margarine. Extremely stinky hair products and laundry soap were used up and then we started using the product that we manufactured together. Turns out the salt soap that was meant for faces, is also an excellent laundry soap.

But almost everyone who checked out our extremely soft towels, commented that they don't smell clean. That's because they didn't smell the horrible chemicals in Downey or various commercial washing detergents.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Sometimes I would see someone's face light up upon  seeing me. This can mean several things. It can mean that this person is hoping to sell me something or beg and they are very glad to have found a white person.

But more often they plan to practice their English and pepper me with questions about my home country. Middle-aged ladies are often trying to Market a younger relative.

Many people have some sort of commission Arrangement set up with tour operators. They asked me if I'd like to go island hopping, which means renting a private boat and crew and spending lots of money. I always tell them that I plan to travel in the same way that they do and for the same price. Some try to sell me Condominiums. I always tell them that I don't purchase sky, but that I am interested in purchasing any land that is under 50 pesos per square meter.

A waitress at our favorite restaurant decided she'd like to be my real estate agent. You just can't find anybody who knows anything about what land is for sale, without a whole lot of messages being sent around. There's nothing like a proper real estate office, except if you're interested in buying a chunk of sky. I told the waitress exactly what I was looking for and the price range. She came back with stuff that was 4000 pesos per square meter which is roughly 1 million dollars per acre. Expensive development land in a hotel District. So I repeated what I was looking for and she came back with more expensive stuff. She claimed to be in her own village checking out prices there, but the owner of the restaurant assured me that she had not left the city of Cebu. So that was the end of that. She was simply searching stuff on Google and forwarding the information.

Numerous other people have offered to find land. So I have told everyone that I will pay 20000 pesos which is $500, if they are the one who finds me the piece of land that I actually buy. And I  will pay nothing 4 leads that lead nowhere. One person was angry that I wouldn't even bother to look at something that was 7 times more expensive than the criteria I laid out. I had done my fair share of searching and determined a price range for a Farmland. Nova thought I should give them something but I said that I don't pay for failure and not paying attention to what I wanted started them down that road.
 
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People have all sorts of strange ideas when it comes to foreigners and their money. Some make the assumption that all are wealthy.

When hosting a birthday party, some relatives didn't want to eat too much, because they didn't I want my bill to be too high. I fed 20 people for approximately $50. So I ordered some big group plates and everyone ate their fill.  Good food, drinks and even a small amount of alcohol. That's the first time I've ever purchased alcohol for someone. Turns out that's part of a party for many of them.

There's a section of quite cheap housing on the way from the main road to the nice house where we lived. It's a pleasant walk with lots of goats and cattle along the way. On two occasions, one lady told Nova in visayan that I must be a really cheap white man because we weren't in a taxi. He must be a poor one. Almost every time we walked past, this woman said something and Nova refused to translate, but always walked a bit faster.

Quite often in public places, middle-aged women would approach Nova and speak in visayan, but it was obvious that it was about me. After these encounters I would question her. They asked her about the situation and then she would tell them everything from how we extracted her from her old job, to the places we have traveled, to the fact that we're looking for land and that I have put her sister back in school and that there are plans for other members of the family to go back to school. I told her that she doesn't have to give these explanations. But she always feels like she must give full disclosure, because she doesn't want people to think that she's a bar girl being taken out on a shopping spree. On many occasions I have reminded her that it doesn't matter what these women think. But she always gives them the long answer, which includes a list of vices that I don't participate in. She tells them he doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he doesn't gamble or run with whores. There's just enough English used that I realize she's running through the list so I generally say, and no religion. I always list it with the vices, just for fun. They don't know what to make of it. Some asked if I'm a devil worshiper. :-)
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Turns out the salt soap that was meant for faces, is also an excellent laundry soap.



Awesome! I recently started making my own soap and am really glad I did. I discovered different amounts of extra coconut oil (superfat) created different properties. I made a table with 3 different units of measurement to make it easy to batch the ones my family likes are;

Laundry Soap, 1% Superfat
OuncesGramsParts by weight
Oil33.00935.55.59
Water12.00340.22.03
Lye5.90167.31.00


Shampoo Bar, 12% Superfat
OuncesGramsParts by weight
Oil33.00935.56.20
Water12.54355.52.36
Lye5.32150.81.00


Body Bar, 20% Superfat
OuncesGramsParts by weight
Oil33.00935.56.83
Water12.54355.52.60
Lye4.83136.91.00


We have really enjoyed adding some Cedarwood Essential Oil right before they go into the mould.

Loving the updates!
(Edited to correct Parts by Weight)
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