Man selling rice in Antipolo

The Antipolo, Rizal, Philippines Wet Market

The last time I was in the wet market in Antipolo I didn’t take a lot of photos because I was worried about offending the stall owners.  Well, that and thieves.  The place was really crowded at the time.  On our last trip I realized I had my camera with me and the place was relatively quiet, so I started snapping photos.  The reactions were different from what I expected.  A lot of the girls behind the counters smiled and laughed.  Then the guys started laughing at them for getting so excited over a picture being taken.  It was fun!

Rice in the Antipolo Wet Market

Rice in the Antipolo Wet Market

We don’t normally get our rice inside the market.  We go to a stall just outside it.  I haven’t checked to see if the prices are any different, but my wife’s family all buy rice from the same guy, so it just seems natural to go there as well.  Besides, the stall owner is always smiling and seems really pleasant.

Man selling rice in Antipolo

Man selling rice in Antipolo

I can’t remember if I posted the photo or not, so I’ll post it again here!

Antipolo Wet Market

Pig feet and intestines

Pig feet anyone?  No?  How about those intestines?  Nothing goes to waste in the Philippines and every part of the animal gets put on sale.  Someone must be buying it…

Longganisa at the Antipolo Wet Market

A Filipino type of sausage called longganisa.  We bought the redder looking kind on the left and had it for breakfast.  It was a little sweet for my tastes but it was good anyway.

Fish at the Antipolo Wet Market

Fish, crab, shrimp… You can get almost every imaginable seafood here.  I think I even saw some sturgeon for sale.  I noticed that there were a lot of very large bangus (milk fish) for sale.  Some of them were as long as my arm.  My wife said that after typhoons the milkfish swim closer to the shore so it’s easier for fishermen to catch them.  The prices were low too at 40 PHP (about 0.95 USD) per kilogram.

Vegetables and cooking supplies at the Antipolo Wet Market

A row of stalls selling vegetables and random cooking items like oil, spices and sauces.

Going to the wet market is always interesting because there’s so much activity and so many people wandering around.

Religious Procession Through The Town Center

Sometimes interesting things cross your path, in this case literally, which is why I’m glad I almost always have my camera with me!

We had just been dropped off in town by the tricycle so we could walk down the street and do a little shopping when we heard a bunch of loud bangs and then saw hordes of people with candles walking down the road we were supposed to cross.  When we got closer, we could see it was a procession coming from the Antipolo Cathedral and going down the main road.  I had no idea what was going on, but I figured it was a good time to take photos.

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After getting my pictures I asked my wife if she knew what the procession was for.  I’d seen her asking someone what was going on, but she wasn’t sure what the guy was talking about.  He had said, “It’s the last procession of the month!”  That doesn’t make sense though, because these photos were taken just a day or two ago, at the beginning of July.  If there’s more than one procession a month, which his answer implies, then the last one wouldn’t be at the beginning of the month.

Regardless, it was an interesting sight and it was very lively with the fireworks going off just above us.  They weren’t the kind that make patterns or lights, just loud noises, or I’d have taken photos of those too.

This also reminded me of a segment of the Filipino history book I’m reading.  When the Spaniards first started imposing their way of life on the natives here in the Philippines, Catholic missionaries would try to lure in the more stubborn people by holding frequent festivals in the towns.  The festivals and religious ceremonies and events were purposely gaudy and exciting as a way to entice Filipinos to come, enjoy and then hopefully convert, and after converting start paying tithes of course.

Since we’re talking about tithes, I also read that back then if you were a member of the church and didn’t pay your tithe, you were publicly humiliated for it during the sermon in front of all of the people from your town.  My wife says this practice still occurs in some churches in the Philippines, most notably the Iglesia ni Cristos, which is a Christian sect in the Philippines.

Settling In Update (with some good photos)

Everything has to be done in small steps, in increments.  When I got here to the Philippines I was throwing myself into the house renovations while trying to buy furniture, stock groceries and household items, find a job and figure out my visa all at once.  It’s great to be motivated, but it’s burning us out too.  We haven’t taken any time for ourselves recently, unless you count laying on the bed, exhausted, with our laptops in front of us.  Hopefully we can work in some time for that, because we’re about to put the brakes on this headlong rush, hopefully by the end of this week.

The housework is coming along nicely.  We’re getting the place cleaned up, we’re selling the scrap metal and we’re taking out the useless junk to my burn pit, which is actually more of a burn mound now.  I need to find time to scoop all of that up and put it on the curb.  It’s becoming very unsightly.  There’s a lot of things I’d like to get done around here, but I’ve moderated my plans to fit time and budget constraints, for now.  Gotta be realistic about this.

The biggest issues now are my visa and finding work.  Thankfully, we just found a lucky break while downtown at the Bureau of Immigration.  There’s an old law that says that I’m entitled to a one year free stay in the country by virtue of returning to the Philippines with my wife, who is a citizen.  That will give me plenty of time to apply for the resident visa, which takes a load of stress off our shoulders.  I’ll have to post about that process later, if it works out the way it should.  Finding work shouldn’t be difficult.  The laws here on hiring foreigners are nowhere near as strict as in Singapore, and with that one year pass and later a resident visa, the whole thing about my being a foreigner should become a non-issue.

Here are a few things that have been keeping me occupied for the last week or so.

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We stopped to check out this huge hole in the ground.  The construction is congesting traffic and giving the local shopkeepers a headache since some of them had to close down to make way for the work.  Eventually this is going to be a multilevel car park that should free up a lot of road space in Antipolo’s town area.

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When possible, we’ve been browsing the markets.  You can find a lot of interesting (and weird) stuff in them.  Occasionally you even come across a great deal on something that you’d pay double or triple for elsewhere.  The stall in the picture above sells mostly religious stuff like creepy dolls and statues and tons of rosaries.  Ya.  Creepy.  I know they’re supposed to be religious and inspirational, but most of them look like something that would scare the crap out of me if I caught sight of them in a darkened room.

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Don’t ask me why, but there was a random steel bolt sticking out of the wall in our bedroom.  I got a hacksaw and put in a lot of work to cut that thing short.  Later, I’ll cover it over and then repaint the wall.

We also spent some time in the hospital with my father in law, who is now thankfully doing a lot better than he was when we rushed him up there.  That was a stressful experience and I’m glad he’s home again.

One of the things that I like about living out here in Antipolo is the look and feel of the neighborhood we’re living in.  It’s full of people all day long.  I don’t know how, because you’d think everyone would go to work, but at any time of the day you can look outside and see kids and adults walking around or sitting down and talking.  At night it’s so quiet you can hear the second-hand on a wall-clock ticking.  That makes for some good sleep.

Here are some photos:

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The neighborhood is down in a valley.  The view as you’re going in or out is pretty nice.

Anyhow, day after tomorrow we’ll be heading to downtown Manila to Intramuros, the old Spanish administrative area from the colonial era.  The main Bureau of Immigration office is there and we need to pay them a visit.  Afterwards we’ll hopefully get to see the Manila Cathedral and some other landmarks in the vicinity.

Also, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’m posting other, less personal, stuff about the Philippines on EverythingButBalot.com. Check it out if you have time.

My Own Personal Pit of Destruction

A few days ago I posted an update talking about hauling useless crap out of my in-law’s house and burning it.  Just to go into some details, that useless crap includes things like broken hangers, rotting wood, shredded electrical wire (that’s likely to burn the house down if used), random plastic caps and knobs and broken light switches, molded paper, completed crossword books, old newspapers, 3 year old grocery receipts, random pages of magazines, broken umbrellas, molded clothing that’s literally rotting, and other unpleasant ‘treasures’.

The trash pick-up here is only once a week, but with the amount of crap I’m hauling out, in addition to regular daily household wastes, I had to get creative.  That’s why burning it is the best option.  It also prevents animals and scraggly children from tearing open the bags to see what’s inside and leaving a pile of trash in front of your house that has to be bagged up again.

The lot next door is unoccupied, so it’s front ‘lawn’ makes a great place to build a fire.  Here’s the fire pit as it stands now:

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It’s a bit messy.  I have to get out there with a rake and a shovel to dispose of the remains but I haven’t had time to yet.

It feels great to get rid of all of that crap.  The house is gradually getting cleaner and livable.  It’s a big place and it’s a waste if it stays the way it is, not to mention it’s unhealthy for everyone that lives here, so I’m staying motivated to get the job done.

Tomorrow I think I’ll finally finish cleaning out the back of the house.  We bought a washing machine 11 days ago but haven’t been able to install it because there was too much scrap wood and metal in the way.  It’s a good thing too, because I’m almost out of clean underwear.

The Antipolo Library

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My wife and I love to read so we were excited to check out the Antipolo library when we saw the sign near the town hall.  We couldn’t figure out how to get into it at first because the whole lower level of the building is taken up by unrelated offices.  We had to ask a guard for directions.  There’s a narrow stairwell on the left side of the building that leads up to the entrance of the library.

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We expected to have to pay a fee to enter, but instead we only had to sign in on their guestbook.  We also had to put on home-made shoe coverings before we were allowed to walk around the library.  I wasn’t too thrilled with that, since they’re reused without being washed.  I’m not a big fan of getting toe fungus from strangers.  Oddly enough, when we left, we were asked to deposit the shoe covers back at the entrance and then told to walk through the library to a separate exit without them.  Kinda defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

I’m really impressed with the fact that Antipolo has a library at all, though I can’t say I’m all that impressed with the titles available.  The place is small.  It’s about the size of a small classroom and has 8 to 10 racks of books which are about 6 feet tall and 6 tables that each seat 4 people.  The books that are available are all very old, some outdated to the point of being useless information, the medical books being the biggest example of that.  Medical practices and knowledge change constantly and you can’t learn much that’s still relevant, or even correct, from a textbook that’s 20+ years old.  The categories cover very basic topics that seem to focus on high school level education and the area for fiction and literature seemed really small.

There were two or three computer terminals available, but all of them were running what appeared to be a game that’s used to teach basic English and logic with a 5 year old audience in mind.  I didn’t notice any signs for Internet access, but I didn’t get to check the terminals.

What the place excels at is providing a relatively cool, quiet place for groups of people to study and read.  Peace and quiet is rare in Antipolo.  If you happen to want to use the library, I suggest bringing along your own reading material and your own laptop with a mobile broadband USB modem.

Hopefully, better facilities will be available when we move to Manila proper but for a provincial area, this is more than I expected.