Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Marinduque - Brown Out Capital of the Philippines!

Although compared to the day on / day off regime during the worst of Marinduque's powercut spell we're living in a brightly lighted heaven now, that isn't to say that there are no powercuts any more ... we had no powercuts yesterday, 2 powercuts (of a couple of hours each) the day before, and there's no power at the moment, for at least 90 minutes now ..

Still, compared to Brazil, Marinduquenos are amateurs!

Brazil Powercuts

in today's news .. a dam providing 17,000 MW, about 20% of the total power in Brazil went offline. The whole of Paraguay (the dam is on the border between Brazil and Paraguay) went off too, though not for as long as Brazil ..

Our lovely Marinduque runs on a puny 7 MW of power .. even my homeland, Malta, which has 1/3 the land area of Marinduque and twice the population, has over 700MW of power generation capability.

I keep on thinking that they can't get it right because they really don't want to!

The current rumours are that though Napocor is, for better or for worse, providing power, there is still no agreement signed between Marelco and Napocor - Marelco seem very intent on flogging their dead horse, the agreement made in 2004 with 3i Powergen .. and meanwhile, the people live in poverty.. so sad!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Smartbro is faster 9 times out of 10 .. not in Gasan!

I saw this advert on TV this week, and after patiently suffering horrendously slow Smart Bro connections for the past few months, it seemed really funny ..

I haven't had the temerity to run a speedtest, however in Gasan Smart Bro runs over a 2G network, achieving a blinding 50 kilobits / second .. that's worse than my dialup modem back in the 1990s. Coupled with modern websites, it just doesn't work .. GMail doesn't load except in the 'lite' version, and even that takes me 10 mins to log in & check my email. Facebook? forget it! Given 15 minutes of time I can just about load the Google Analytics page to check traffic on this blog.

Are any of you readers in the forgotten areas of the Philippines suffering from the internet divide? (between the haves and the have nots, that is) ..

PLDT told me a while ago that they should be launching ADSL service in Gasan come December, as with everything else in Marinduque i'm adopting a 'won't believe until I see it' and avoiding raising false hopes. It would be so nice to be back online at home!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

IHI for 2 pesos, DUMI for 5 pesos .. roll up guys!

some Santa Cruz funniness .. this sign is near a public latrine, for the non-tagalog speakers, it reads 'Piss' and 'Shit', at 2 pesos and 5 pesos respectively ..

here's a jeepney coming up to Santa Cruz public market ..

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Our house in Gasan - building update..

At the moment work on the house seems to be progressing at a snail's pace - there's a lot being done, but finishing work is probably the most time-consuming work, and some jobs have been held up by miscalculations in materials, which must be shipped over from Lucena - a process which always takes a long time!

That said, the attic room is beginning to take shape - as the photos here show - the ceiling frame and panels are really complicated! Interior painting has been started too, and the bathroom tiling is mostly ready (though currently at a halt because the supplier in Lucena sent the wrong quantities of tiles).

We've had our well dug - it was quite a funny process - and very 'manual' in the filipino style - a pipe was given a pointed end, by cutting out sections with a hacksaw, beating it to a rough point, and welding the edges together. The area behind the tip was then made into a sort of rough filter, by punching holes through the pipe - not with a drill as one might expect, but by hammering a nail through the metal repeatedly! The pipe was then driven into the ground by force of lots of hammering and the occasional twist with a wrench. Incredibly water does come through, and at quite a good rate!

Also, last weekend a surveyor came over (he was meant to come the weekend before, but in the filipino idiom, didn't show up and switched off his mobile phone) and marked out the actual boundaries of the property, so now I can have a fence put up without borrowing bits of my neighbour's property..

Monday, November 2, 2009

An 'orchestral' brass band concert at Santa Cruz, Marinduque

Lately I have been missing my previous life in Europe - and what I really miss most is the cultural life - concerts, gigs, exhibitions of all sorts are always happening. Here in the Philippines, culture isn't a high priority, and once you're in Marinduque, that feeling is even more pronounced - you can't expect art galleries if there isn't even a cinema or a decent rock club! So, I was really surprised when my significant other told me she was invited to an orchestral concert last Friday, and doubly surprised when the concert turned out to be quite a decent and enjoyable event!

After a long drive we arrived at Santa Cruz - the concert was being held in a 'gym' there - it's probably the largest well lighted hall in the whole of Marinduque, so actually quite a good place. The concert was given by the Mogpog Brass Band (with 30 or more members, i'd say) led by their able conductor, together with a rock-band outfit - guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer. The bass drum guy from the brass band sang vocals on some song, and there was a woman with a really lovely voice .. the names escape me, as I didn't manage to get a copy of the programme .. if you are reading, send an email and i'll update my article!

The first part of the concert was a series of filipino band marches (which to me sounded quite similar to each other ..) followed by a number of american band marches (more of the same, but with the occasional extra flourish). The real performance was the second half of the concert - where a number of popular songs were rendered by the bands, most times with the vocalists - the first one was Evanescence's 'My Immortal', but the style went from samba to 80's (with songs like 'Gold'), all very well rendered!

The ongoing typhoon put a major damper on the proceedings round 9pm, when (in typical Marinduque style) power went out - however the conductor wrapped up the concert by bravely playing one last song in the dark, using only a torch!

So, a very enjoyable evening, and a big bravo to all those involved!