Friday, June 26, 2009

A difficult week

This week our kid, Mito, was taken ill. He vomited at school, and a pediatrician prescribed antibiotics. At night he was still not OK, and we took him to the hospital. They put him on a drip, for rehydration, and prescribed stronger antibiotics. After 2 days on the drip, the doctor at hospital suggested oral rehydration. We were back at the hospital in less than 24 hours, and this time lab tests revealed an amoeba infection. A further 2 days in hospital, and a visit to Manila later, he's back to OK, but it really was a difficult week for Laila and myself.

What really scared me, though, was the cost of medicines here. They are on the same level as i'm used to paying in Europe. The hospital provides free consultation and service, but no help at all with medicines. I spoke to a friend of mine, and he confirmed my thought - people visit the hospital only as a last resort, because they know that in all probability they won't be able to afford the medicines prescribed. His term was 'mona lisa hospital' - they look at you, and let you die.

There must be some way to help, at least the very poorest patients. Poverty here is different to the notion of poverty in other places, I guess. Many people live directly off their land. Local produce and fish is particularly cheap, and the value of labour is ridiculously low, even compared to, say, Metro Manila. The price of medicines therefore seems dispropotionately high. A 1 litre solution for IV (drip) is 120 pesos, that's about 2 euros, and normally lasts 8 hours - so 3 in a day - that's more than many people here earn in a week. One of the antibiotics we bought was over 1000 pesos. I am trying to set up a fund to help buy medicines, and if any reader would like to contribute, do please contact me. Even small amounts are welcome, and could very well save lives.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Visit to Marinduque Hot Springs Resort in Buenavista

Today we were invited to the Marinduque Hot Springs Resort, it's a bit of a drive to get there - about 18km from Gasan, which is in turn about 18km from Boac, however the roads on the way are really picturesque and it's a lovely drive. Most of the distance is along the seashore, with beaches to the right, grasslands to the left, and green mountains in the background.

These are the 'tres reyes' islands, owned by Carmencita Reyes who used to be governor of Marinduque - from what I know she's well into her 90's these days, and still a senator! Here in the philippines politics and riches seem to go hand in hand ...

Having arrived at the Hot Springs resort, this is one of the first views .. I didn't take photos of the larger pools (silly me) - there is a main pool, which is deep, and a shallower one for children, both of which have water approximately at body temperature. The one in this photo is the hottest of the pools, and is equivalent to a hot bath .. in the centre of the photo you can see the water coming out from the spring, it's actually very hot to touch! The weird colours of the photo are because they were taken after dusk, and this is actually a very long exposure (13 secs or so if I remember well)

with friends ..

we met this guy, and many of his brethren, in one of the passageways - it's quite a big frog, about 8cm from tip to tail - he froze in place, scared by the camera flash, but when I touched him gently he hopped off on his way ..

this is one of the larger pools, but not the largest one - the covering on top is netting, to stop trees and insects falling into the pool.

What the photos don't show is the excellent supper that came exactly afterwards .. the cook really went out of his way to please us .. we had tanigi (one of the nicest fish around here, 'Spanish Mackerel'), two types of chicken (cordon bleu, and some sort of chinese dish) and rice, with San Miguel to help it on its way!

All in all a very pleasant and relaxing outing .. i'll surely be visiting the Marinduque Hot Springs Resort again soon!

Firefly, Firefly ..

the little lights that can be seen in the photo the trail left by a firefly .. it's a 6 second exposure. I was just testing my camera after having solved a long-standing battery problem (a couple of batteries I had bought off ebay have a tendency of blowing up chargers .. I fixed my last blown up charger by replacing the 12v power supply, and got myself a new battery, and all is fine!).

The 'firefly' was really a tiny light brown beetle-like critter .. about 8mm long.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Visit to a Butterfly Farm in Gasan

Today we visited a butterfly farm in Gasan, Marinduque - there wasn't much variety on display - seems that the rainy season is not a good time for butterflies, and after last week's heavy rain in particular, not much was left to show.
The place is lovely though, very green and tranquil ..

the url for the farm is

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Trip to Poctoy Beach

the day before yesterday was taken up by a drive around lovely Marinduque .. the destination was actually Poctoy Beach, which is one of the few beaches in Marinduque that has 'white' sand. The sand is actually a golden colour. Most beaches in Marinduque have black sand, strewn with pebbles and bits of coral. It may sound strange, but it looks nice (check out my photos taken in Gasan).

The itinerary for the trip was, starting from 'home' in Tabi, Boac in the direction of Santa Cruz.
We stopped there to visit the market.

From there we drove through lush greenery all the way to Torrijos, which is where Poctoy Beach is located. It's quite easy to miss the beach itself, there is a sign on the right, and a large archway on the left saying 'Welcome to Poctoy Beach'. Through the archway leads to a parking area (I think we were meant to pay P25 for the parking) and from there it's easy to step down to the beach itself.

Although the weather wasn't ideal (it was rather overcast and windy) the sea was warm and swimming was pleasant. After a swim, we bought a large dorado (dolphin fish) from a woman with a stand by the shore, and for a little extra she barbequeued it for us .. really good and healthy eating! We paid for the fish by the kilo (80 pesos per kilo) and an extra 50 pesos to have it cooked (the cooking was by the kilo too, actually) .. so .. an excellent meal, in lovely surroundings, for very litle money.

As in all Marinduque, the people at Poctoy beach are incredibly friendly. The guy tending the showers charged us 10 pesos for the use of the shower, and then came up with fresh buko (coconuts, cut open for drinking) that he didn't want to be paid for! He said we could even come back for more, as he had lots .. I struck up a conversation with some people who were holidaying in Marinduque, coming from Manila. As usual, I had to explain where Malta is.

After Poctoy beach, we took the 'long' route back, through Buenavista, Gasan (and stopped to check how 'our' beach was faring), and finally back to Boac. It's quite a long drive around the island, but the roads are good, the scenery is incredibly beautiful. I spotted quite a few bright blue birds - though I wasn't given enough time to identify. From my fleeting glimpse they might be some type of kingfisher, though I might have to correct myself later.

I also spotted some places i'd like to visit on future trips - the butterfly farms in Gasan, hot springs in Buenavista .. Boac cathedral is on my list too :) each day I love this island more and more!

8 hour 'brown-out' .. arghhh!

it's almost 3am, and i'm just back from over 8 hours without power, what the locals (euphemistically?) call a 'brown-out' .. from what I am gathering, power-cuts are a regular occurrence here, i've experienced 3 in the past 2 weeks, normally about 3 or 4 hours, but today was a real whopper. Apart from being unceremoniously dumped off internet in the middle of a conversation that was important, everything that was in my fridge is now suspect, and i'm working at 3am to make up for the lost evening ..

I wonder what makes the power here so unstable .. first time round, a couple of weeks ago, power dropped due to strong lightning, but today the weather was calm and there was no indication.

I think a generator is in the offing !!