My wife’s parents have a set of apartments in Porac, in Pampanga province. It’s a medium sized building on a pretty good sized lot that has four separate apartments built into it. Each unit seems a bit small. The two middle units could comfortably house 2 people at most, and the end units 3 each, since they have a second floor.
Apparently, construction goes pretty slow in the Philippines. The building has been receiving off and on attention over the last 4 years or so and it still needs some finishing touches. It’s a matter of money. You can’t build when you don’t have the capital. The interiors need more insulation, plywood to cover the bare steel beams in the ceilings, and some renovations to the bathrooms and kitchen areas. Still, they have potential and when they’re complete they should be pretty nice.
Even though they’re not complete, my father-in-law has been living out of one of the 2 story apartments. It’s comfortable enough, but up until we got there it didn’t have running water. That was kind of a shock to me. How do you live in a place for four years without running water, when all you have to do is pay a few thousand pesos to have the water company come hook it up? If I were going to live out of a house, even one that wasn’t completely done, the first thing I’d do is get the water hooked up. Well, maybe the second. It would need electricity too. For the past 4 years, my father-in-law had been using a well in the front yard to pump water into buckets to carry into the house or to do laundry with. Maybe it’s a matter of perspective, or how you grew up, but running water seems like a basic necessity to me.
We only stayed in the house for 3 days before traveling to Antipolo, in Rizal Province, to visit with my wife’s brothers, but those three days were a real pain when it came to doing anything that needed water. Cooking, bathing, laundry… it all took twice as long and four times as much effort as we were used to. So, by the end of our second day there, we decided to front the money (about 3000 PHP or 60 USD) and have the water hooked up, not just for our sake, but for my father-in-law’s sake. He’s not getting any younger and hauling buckets of water is something best left to younger people. Younger than me or my wife too, apparently, because it was exhausting.
The situation reminded me of stories my grandmother used to tell me about having to haul water from a well when she was a kid. I think she said her family’s well was located at the bottom of a hill too, which was much worse than what we had to deal with. The well in front of the apartments was only 15 feet away and on level ground. I used to brush off her stories as something amusing to laugh about, but now I have a greater appreciation for the effort involved in using a well for a water source.