About the Philippines Part 3

In my last segment I gave you a brief overview of the typical lifestyle of a Filipino family living in the provinces. However, I failed to mention a few crucial things. First of all, not all Filipino’s living in the outlying areas suffer under the conditions I spoke of; some are lucky enough to have family living abroad, or have lived abroad themselves, and can live a comfortable life in a nice home. Nonetheless, most of the families I came to meet while living in my sister-in-law’s house lived pretty much the same as I described.

Therefore I felt a bit more needed to be said about the typical Filipino life. Most living in the area I stayed at can only be described as squatters; families who built homes upon land they do not own. At any time they face the real possibility that the government, or local businesses such as the cement factory nearby, could lay claim to the land they live on and force them off it.

Many, as is the case with my wife’s family, have lived there many years. When a child grows up they often decide to build a home right next to their parent’s home; leaving little room for growing vegetables, or having a yard even. In fact, my sister-in-laws home butts right up to the road in front of their house with no front yard whatsoever.

It also makes for a big problem with the typical Utilities that we Americans take for granted. In America, housing developments are planned out with plumbing, sewage, and electrical lines planned for in advance of the homes themselves being built. Not so in many instances in the provinces. Often a home is built, then later electricity is added on; if it can be afforded, as is the water and other things we take for granted.

Even so, many families do not have running water inside their homes; relying upon wells for their daily needs. Even those who do have running water often don’t have the kind of water pressure that we expect from our faucets, and as I said in part 2, the water often goes off for hours on end without warning.
Even with running water things would be quite the shock for many in America who are accustomed to turning a faucet and having warm water to bathe in. Gas is used in many homes, but for many it is too expensive to be used to heat up bathing water, so they typically take cold showers. Let me tell you, taking a bath in the morning in the Province is better than a double espresso as far as waking you up in the morning.

A typical Filipino bathroom also does not have a shower; it often consists of merely a faucet, a large bucket or drum, and a ladle to pour the water over your body. Below is a photo of where I took my showers or baths if you wish to call them that, while I visited my in-laws. Note valve which goes to a shower head attachment; a recent addition by my sister-in-law’s husband to make our stay more comfortable. However, that is not something I saw in many of the facilities I saw.

Below see an outdoor version of the same thing.

It may come as quite a shock to you, but I became quite comfortable showering this way, and it would not have bothered me in the least had my wife put a drum and a ladle in our restroom for me to shower with. My only problem was shaving, not having a mirror to shave by took some getting used to; but I adapted.

Another thing this deficiency in running water entails is that it makes the washing of clothes a big job. Instead of tossing the clothes into a washer, and then a dryer, the clothes are usually hand washed, then hung to dry. In a humid climate such as the one in the Philippines, it means your clothes never truly get dry; they are always a bit damp when you put them on. Below find a picture of another sister-in-law doing her laundry.

As I also said in my last segment, the electrical power is haphazard, at best. Since new homes are not planned for, the electrical distribution system was something I had serious questions as to why it did not melt down due to the bizarre wiring practices used. See below for what I mean.

I’m certain that comes nowhere close to meeting the code laid out for public utilities here in the U.S., but it is typical of what I saw throughout my visit in the Philippines.

Since I’m on the subject of the typical facilities in an average Filipino home, I may as well talk about the cooking area too. While many homes do have gas run burners, I cannot say that I recall seeing a single full range oven. Hotplates yes, gas burners, yes; but ovens; not a single one. In fact, I saw many families cooking meals outdoors in areas such as the one below.

Not only are the kitchen facilities not up to what we Americans expect, the cost of certain food items makes cooking meals expensive. For instance, here are some prices from a local supermarket.

At the current exchange rate that pepper costs $2.26

$2.17 per head of this scrawny brocolli

and $1.35 for one of these tiny heads of lettuce

Again, that is why many go to the less costly open air markets such as the one below.

Now that I’ve given you a fuller picture of how the typical Filipino family lives in the Provinces, let’s move on to another area of discussion.
To be continued…

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