Saturday, March 19, 2011


Today, my Philippines Friday isn't really about the Philippines, but I thought it was appropriate because Ben has probably watched this video a MILLION times and laughed the entire way through.  Come on guys, it's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Five Years and Counting

I remember sitting down with Ben when we were first married and talking about our goals and where we would like to be in five years.  I wish I knew where that list was so that I could compare it with reality.  I remember that we wanted to own at least a condo, so we went above and beyond on that one.  I am sure we said something about how many kids we would have, still waiting on that one.  I also am sure we thought Ben would be done with or close to done with his education, also still waiting.  One thing I am 99.9% sure was not on that list was that we would have already lived in 2 states and a foreign country by this time.  No matter how much Ben and I have always discussed the fact that we would some day live in Asia (most likely the Philippines), I know that neither of us thought it would happen this quickly.  What an exciting place to be to celebrate five years of marriage!

I do wish we had those kids and that Ben was done with school, but I would not give up where we are or any of the experiences we have had to get here.  People tell us all the time to take advantage of this time, this time with no kids where it is just the two of us.  Well, we are definitely doing just that! This weekend we took a ferry out to the island of Bohol.  I know some of you are asking why we need to go to another tropical island when we already live on one.  Well, Bohol is like the quaint, quiet, old fashioned, restful, calm, clean, no traffic, no people, no stray dogs, no garbage, better version of Cebu.  We needed a break from this place and Bohol was the perfect place to do it.  We spent time relaxing in a hammock by the ocean, eating great burgers and home made pizzas, climbing the chocolate hills, having lunch on the Loboc River, seeing tiny monkeys and huge pythons, crossing a hanging bridge and just enjoying the history of this place.  We  loved every second of it (maybe not the power outage from 7am to 7pm on Sunday).  We were also mindful of how very blessed we are to be safe and healthy and alive after the horrible disasters in Japan.

I cannot wait to see where we are five years from now!   Happy Anniversary Babe. I LOVE YOU!

The relaxing view

The oldest Christian church in the Philippines (supposedly)


Tarsiers....tiny, awesome little monkeys native to Bohol

I don't like heights and a "hanging bridge" didn't seem really safe, but it was fun anyway

On our floating restaurant

We went to a butterfly sanctuary, I loved it

The Chocolate Hills (this doesn't even do them justice, they were amazing)

Sunset on the beach

Our resort at night (with no electricity which made it even prettier)
For the rest of the fun pictures go to my album on facebook

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Philippines Friday-The Cost of Living

I decided I am going to start a new weekly post called "Philippines Friday".  In these posts, I will share with you something about the Philippines.  I want to record and share our Filipino experience and this will make sure I at least post weekly.

This week I do not have pictures to share, but I wanted to share something else with you.  Recently I have felt a little frustrated with a misconception about living in the Philippines.  People think it's cheap to live here.  I mean...the average income in this country as of 2006 was 172,000 pesos, which with today's exchange rate is about $4000.00 a year.  So, how could it not be "cheap" to live here, right?  How else could people do it?  I have been asking myself this question ever day since I arrived.  HOW DO PEOPLE AFFORD TO LIVE HERE? I guess the first answer is, People live in VERY different conditions here.  (scroll back 2 entries to see how different the conditions are). No, not everyone lives with no running water and no electricity.  But, it is not uncommon to find large families living in very small dwellings and in conditions you can barely imagine. Also, most people do not own or drive cars.  They use the public transportation system, which includes riding trikes (motorcycles with little buggies on the side) or jeepnies. If you want to live in a  home that we would consider "normal", drive a car, eat at very basic restaurants, go to movies once in a while, wash your laundry in a machine instead of by hand, go to a gym, pay for things like the internet, air conditioning in your home and eat "regular"'s NOT CHEAP!  I will give you a little breakdown of some of the things we pay for here:

1. Rent for a "decent" apartment about 700sq ft is $700.00 a month in the city, out on Mactan it is a bit cheaper.  (Yes, this is cheaper than the rent we paid in California, but you could DEFINITELY find a comparable apartment in Utah County for this much or less)
2. Electricity each month for that same size house with air conditioning is about $230.00
3.TV is $20.00 a month and only works about 50% of the time
4. The Internet is about $35.00 a month
5. Gas for our car is currently costing us about $5.00 a gallon (and our car gets 14 miles to the gallon, yikes)
6. A bag of Tyson Frozen Chicken (like the one you buy at Costco) is $21.00
7. A 1/2 gallon of the ice cream brands you can get here are about $4.00.  The GOOD stuff (Tillamook) is $9.00 for a 1/2 gallon.
8.  Used cars are very expensive here.  They are actually between 1 and 3x as much as they are at home.  This will be nice when we sell our car, but not nice when you have to buy one.
9. Groceries in general.  ANYTHING organic or imported is at least double the cost of what it would be at home.  Vitamins are about double what they would be at home.  Going to the grocery store is not cheap.

Yes, there are things here that are "cheap", but they are more of the "extras" not the necessities.
1. Eating out.  We have found great restaurants with good food for between $3.00 and $20.00 a person.
2. Movies.  A "normal" theater is about $2.75.  If you want 3-D its about $4.00.  IMAX is about $9.00.  The treats at the movies are cheap.  A soda is between $.75 and $2.00.  The popcorn is like a dollar.
3. Massages.  You can get a one hour massage for $5.00
4. House Help.  You can get a house helper that lives with you. cleans for you, cooks for you, etc for between $50-$100.00 a month.  Obviously, they get free room and board, but still!
5. Manicure/Pedicure: $4.00
6. Haircut for Ben including a head massage $1.25

One thing that really hit me and helped me realize HOW people live here with such little income was when I read in the newspaper the other day that the average Filipino household spends 50% of their income on food!  Now, again, this was in a newspaper and not something I have been able to confirm, but when I read that it made more sense but it shocked me.  How much of your monthly budget goes to food?  Is it 50%?  I know for us it is not, that is just one portion of our budget, not 50% of it.

Anyway, I guess I had to just vent a little today.  Don't get me wrong, we are grateful for the incomes that we do have and the lifestyle that we are able to live but looking around me I realize that the idea that it is "cheap" to live here is a perception, one that hinders the motivation or ability to help the situation get better.  We are surrounded by suffering and poverty and I think this perception only hurts the situation, it does not help it.

PS.  I know some people would see this post as just being negative.  That really is not my purpose.  We are enjoying the opportunity and experiences we are having here.  I think I post a lot about the positives of living here too.  But, I am also not the type of person to pretend.  I say it how it is.  I don't sugar coat things and make them sound better than they are.  It's just not my way.  I hope this isn't seen as being negative, just honest and forth-coming.  Plus, if anyone is moving to the Philippines I want them to be a little more well-prepared than we were:).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Love Your Enemies

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;  (Matthew 5:44 )

My mom always says, "You can't claim a virtue that has never been put under fire". Well, I am being given the opportunity to claim a virtue, the virtue of "loving your enemy". I am sure I always thought that I was living this principle. But...I didn't have any enemies (at least that I knew of:)). I didn't have to do good to those that hate me or pray for those that persecuted me. I do now. It makes me sad to think of this person as my "enemy". That is a harsh word. But, they do seem to hate me. They do persecute me. They do seem to have no love in their heart for me. I guess maybe it's more appropriate to say that they see me as their enemy. I have to find a way to not respond when this person says hurtful things about me or to me. I have to find a way to pray for them and I don't mean just to mention their name in my prayers, but to honestly and with true intent pray for them. I have to love them, even though they hate me. I have to forgive them, even if they never change. How do I do that? How do I live this principle? Any of you have practice in this area? Advice? I would appreciate all the help that I can get, cause this is hard!