Living in Poverty! Yeah!

Posted on February 28, 2010. Filed under: lifestyle, Philosophy | Tags: |


  • The Kitchen

    POVERTY.  Just the word brings up certain emotions.  Is it fear?  Do you always have the urge to look away?  I’m not talking about here in the U.S.  I’m talking about real poverty.   The kind where there is no hope of making any money and no food for the day!

This post is not about living in poverty but CLOSE!  This is about interacting with people half a world away who live like most of the folk in the world.  I was walking with one of my daughters one day back in the summer.  It was morning, steamy Missouri conditions as we walked.  She said “Dad, it’s really hot this morning”.  I agreed with her, it was uncomfortable.   I replied to her by saying “You know, it is hot, but do you realize that most people in the world live out in it everyday?”

It was April 25, 2009 when I finally got home to the Philippines for the second time.  I call it home because I love being there.  After all, home is where you love to be.  We arrived in a taxi 20 minutes from the airport to the place we were to stay for the next 3 weeks.  We frantically searched for the right roads that would take us to the place where we would meet my wife’s family at their house in Pavia.  The language barrier was a bit of a problem and just remembering the right house was a bit of a problem as well. 

We arrived and exited the taxi to an environment that would make most people cringe!  The heat was a little oppressive, the humidity was uncomfortable but the image of my little niece coming from the door of the house was a welcome and long overdue sight!  She reached us before her grandmother (my wife’s Mom) .  Her long silky black hair was shining in the sun and her little forehead showed the effect of the climate  with little sweat beads on her tan little Filipino face!  Her beauty is apparent and her welcoming smile was all the relief I needed from the heat!  I grabbed her with a one arm embrace, the suitcase being in the other.  She was a little tentative with me because it had been two and a half years since we had met for the first time in 2007.  Mae Mae, (her name) was glad to see her Tito and Tita after a long absence! 

We were going to be here for a while.   Pavia is a tiny village settled outside of the larger town of Iloilo,  a much larger and more modern town in the central part of the Philippines.  It is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else.  Everyone knows your business and helps you take care of it too!  There is a security knowing that my wife is related to almost everyone in this little subdivision.  My wife’s grandmother is considered a local “Faith Healer”, not the kind you see on American t.v. but a sought after talent in those parts just the same.  I believe my wife probably has thirty cousins, all with families of their own in this little town.  

Our accommodations were quite simple by western standards.  As we entered the home it is secured by only a wooden gate that locks with a padlock.  The floors are rough concrete, the walls and ceilings as well.  I invited my mother in law to give me a tour of our new digs.  There is no formal kitchen, but a kerosene one burner stove set on concrete blocks and a hand pump well served the family’s needs.  They also had something I had never seen before.  A charcoal burning stove complimented the other cooking tools.  I am always amazed how resourceful these people are.  We spend big bucks to grill out and they enjoy it anytime they want for a fraction of the cost!  I was pleased when Nanay (Filipino word for Mother)  showed me the bathroom.  It was this little concrete room in the back of the house.  It actually had a flushable toilet!  You don’t know what a luxury it is among the poor to have this!  There was a pipe coming out of the wall with a shower head on it as well.  Sorry, no hot water!   So here it was, a small concrete room with nothing but a toilet and a shower head probably in a 6’x6′ space.  She led me to the place where we were to sleep, it was a 12×12 bedroom with two windows, you know the kind, they look like venetian blinds only made out of glass with a small crank to open up the small horizontal glass panes.  In the middle was a Papog.  A Papog is a handmade bed frame, fashioned entirely of bamboo.  Four big supports on the corners and the bed surface was made out of split slats of bamboo are used as a sleeping surface.  This creation was actually quite comfortable due to the fact that air is able to move freely through the sleeping surface and keep you somewhat cooler on those steamy tropical nights. 

We stayed three weeks with our family.  What I noticed most was there was a different kind of peacefulness there.  You really can’t put your finger on it but time seems to slow down, there is a politeness that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.  People always ask me “Aren’t you afraid to go to the Philippines?”.  I am always amazed at the way people are fearful of the unknown.  It seems we are spoon-fed stories about the world around us in order to make us fearful and distrustful of other countries and people.  There are troubles in the Philippines, mostly in the southern provinces of Mindanao.  There are Muslim anti government rebels that are wanting to self-rule.  I don’t go there any more than I would go and travel in South Central L.A.  or Washington D.C.  for that matter.   Did you know statistically speaking that you are more likely to be killed in D.C. than if you were to live in Israel?  If you follow all the news stories you would think that Israel is one of the most dangerous places in the world.

I absolutely love travelling and staying in the Philippines!  The people are warm, and friendly.  The local food is incredible, especially if you dare to be a little adventurous!  You will never be cold, and the living is very affordable!  Of all the nations of Asia, the Philippines is the most Western friendly nation.    It is the only Asian nation where Christianity is the majority religion.  If anyone ever wants to go, just get with me and we will plan a trip.  I am going in January of next year!  Can’t WAIT!

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13 Responses to “Living in Poverty! Yeah!”

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Randall you’re absolutely right…nice blog

I hope this is an accurate description of a little slice of life in Pavia. Thanks for your comment. Pavia and Villia Juanita Subd is a great place to live. I have very fond memories of my time there and can’t wait to get back. You don’t have to be rich to have a good time and have a fantastic life! If you want to get future posts please subscribe at the top right of the page.. Thanks Edgar!

Very nice information.

I think it’s human nature to have preconceptions about a place or people we do not yet know. I wonder how Filipinos view Americans/westerners? Some of the preconceptions about Americans that I have come across while traveling is that everyone carries a gun and owns a flat screen T.V. Even we have preconceptions about certain states/ cities in our own country.

At the risk of generalizing, most Filipinos think that all Americans are rich, of course in comparison to them (or at least the poorer ones). They think most of America looks like New York City. Yes, we all have our pre-concieved ideas. Most of them have some truth in them but never show the whole picture. Some of them are total lies! That’s why travel is so beneficial. It will open up our mind to all of life’s possibilities.
I live in the Midwest. People in the Northeast refer to us as “fly over country”. I have friends on the east coast that believe that anything below the Mason-Dixon line is like the wild west! Of course Mid-Weterners have thier own views about those on the eastern seaboard!
I think the important thing is to try to break through those barriers and learn to live life well. It is also important to appreciate other cultures and don’t bring our western mindset and try to force it on others or hold it out as something superior.

Very nice comments! Thanks Stacyann!

Very descriptive blog entry about life in Pavia, Randall. Your relative’s home is very similar to what we have on the nearby rural province of Guimaras. And yes, there is a different kind of peacefulness in the Philippines. Very laid back, no one is really in a hurry (unless you’re a cab driver in Iloilo!)

I spent about two weeks there about a year ago. I always stay homesick for my new home. I would love to visit sometime when we get back to Pavia. Cab drivers even take it in stride from my point of view. We did not go to Guimaras last time but I am seriously looking forward to some beach/just down home Filippino living. Thanks for linking to my blog! I really appreciate it. I have visited Pampanga, Bulucan, Manila, Anitpolo, San Fernando. Pampanga, Sto Tomas was my first experience in the big PH. Love it there. My new home is in Pavia since my family lives there. Thanks for the comment!

I agree with you 150%. Everywhere life is compared to the West/America. I am always reminded of my sister-in-law. By western standards, having a bucket and tabo are poor, but her neighbor wishes he were as rich as she is, so he could fix his roof. In a few months, the mortgage is paid, give the west another year and head home to Baguio. Homesick in a western paradise… Enjoy…

Wow! I am envious! I’ll take a bucket and tabo compared to 60-80 hour work weeks in America! Baguiao sounds like a wonderful place to retire in the PH. Lot’s cooler there. Filipinos have a better pace of life than we do in the west.

Materialism is not the norm in the Philippines. We don’t realize how much this culture in America has sucked us into the “religion” of more, more, more!

Give me a simple Filipino life anytime!

Thanks for the comment!

Hello Friend,
I am happy to see you love the Philippines very much. I have lived there for 12 years and made a wonderful home in the Angeles area. As I need to go back to the states because my parents are getting old and needing care, I am offering my property at a ‘Negotiable price’. You will be amazed at what I was able to build here. You can see pictures at http://www.labellacollina.com

God bless all of you who are adventurous and positive about life.

Warm regards,

David

Very beautiful property. Looks like paradise! Sorry but too rich for my blood!

Thanks for commenting!

i try to tell my friends that the philippines is safe but like you say the media makes you belive that its nothing but muslim head hunters looking for americans. you know let people think that,this way less people would come out to see the best kept secrete in the world which is the best country in the world the Philippines.

Yes! You have to use some caution at times but that goes for anywhere you are.

It is hard to break someone’s perspective and I have found it helpful not to try. I just go and enjoy myself and then come back and tell the stories.

Folks in my circle know me and have learned to trust what I say. I must say I think most are jealous and just wish they had the guts to go!

One trip to Boracay and you will never be the same.

Thanks for commenting!


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