My years in America. America! America!

My years in America. America! America!

My years in America. America! America!

My years in America. America! America!

Long time no posted here. Not only I neglected this blog but also a place lived a big part of my life, that is nearly 16 years in the USA. Yes, it was a January of year 1985 when landed in LAX. I had a suitcase, some money and many skills. Oh! Did I tell you I also was young and handsome?…  

After the usual “welcome to America” in the airport, immigration and customs all I remember from that day is the suspicion of that Filipino immigration officer that pushed hard the questioning of my Visa type B, like, business she wanted to know in details on what kind of business I’m in and the purpose of entering the US. So if you see a Filipina officer in the airport  change lane and go to the other one with bleu eyes and blond hair.

Anyway, there I am in a taxi heading to Venice Beach 20 minutes ride from LAX with no suitcase, being told “will arrive with the next plane from Paris”. Arrived to my appartement at midnight with not even a change of a pair socks. Indeed, my suitcase was delivered a 10 PM next day at my place.

Venice Beach California

My years in America. America! America!

My years in America. America! America! I went back to Venice on February 2015. My cute condo was demolished and the little garden on the front was gone. They built 6 units instead of two it was before.

My apartment at 419 Ocean Front Walk was right there where its name is, @20 meters from the sand. A small, cute two stories two units condo facing the beach with a small garden on the front and a big, big window facing the boardwalk.

I hadn’t even had the time to explore the beach when a loud screaming and voices woke me up at 7 in the morning. Jumped out to see what was going on, saw 4 cops on top of a man on the floor trying to handcuff him. Said to myself, he must have done something grave to have all these cops trying to arrest him; I ask a bystander if he knew why he was arrested and got the shocking reply.

He was drinking a bear on the street
I said, then? Was he drunk?
I don’t know he said, but you can’t drink on public places here.
Do they really need all this manpower to subdue a guy just for drinking a bear?
Apparently the bystander didn’t like the question, he left.

Venice is a crazy place to live. You’re caught  in the middle of a middle class bourgeoisie home owners, homeless, leftists activists, nostalgics of the hippie era, artists and singers in search of a breakthrough that will change their life, but more often will never come.

Cops are everywhere on the streets, their 4X4 patrol the beach all night long looking for campers. I have rarely seen such a concentration of low enforcement on a tourist place. Talk about California the most liberal state of the Union…

Let’s post a video from my FB  I filmed last year for the heck of remembering the real face of Venice.

 

And this picture here

My years in America. America! America!

My years in America. America! America! Venice Beach California February 2015

 

Should I mention all reasons for loving this country I’d have to write a book not a blog.
First and most important in those years, you weren’t seen as a foreigner but rather as a new comer. Thats at least how my US friends used to introduce me to others,Unlike the rest of the world, new comers and US citizens are caring the same form of ID, the driver’s license that is; as opposed to French and other Europeans where the citizen cares a National ID and the Immigrant one of the several stay authorizations reserved to them.

Love affaire cultural shock. Only in America!

Days later I met a woman in her 30’s  she invited me for dinner to… MacDonald’s. We talked about everything and nothing, she told me she was working then as a social worker for the county with a salary of $8 an hour, never married and she would like to, something it was the last thing I was thinking recovering from a recent divorce.

Anyway, we finished dinner and decided to go. I saw her taking her plate and bringing it back to the designated place, something I didn’t, left everything on the table. With an authoritarian style she almost ordered me to do the same, I replied sorry, I’ve never been to a fast food before and don’t know the rules.

But out of curiosity, I asked her why should I have to do that? I’ve been to restaurants all my life, had never seen it before. Her answer was that we must help to keep the cost down, should every customer leave the table without clearing it they’ll have to assign an additional employee to do this therefor raising their prices!

She went on saying, ” One more thing you should know, here in America, she said, we must help the rich to become richer because they are the only ones can resolve the  poor people problems! Not the government! 

How a liberal like me, by French standards, coming from a socialist country where even the most extreme conservatives views are far from being not even close to her statement can digest this? 

I hadn’t to. She does not have legion of supporters on her thinking, I’ll even say she was an exception. But I did like the woman for expressing her views as she sees  them, regardless of what YOUR perception is on the same.

I like Americans for defending their opinions, expressing them fearless, no complex or reservation, as stupid and incomprehensible  might be to us Europeans from a different culture living with taboos and often non sense conservative traditions that often complicates our life. Should I go as far as to say I should endorse Donald Trump? Just for having the courage of his opinion? (I’m a US citizen).

No, I won’t! Even though he now tries to correct his rhetoric on violence sexism and racism is too late. Sorry Donald, you don’t fit the all American profile of a leader as I knew it in the 80’s. You look to me more of a mad man than a president of the US. 

 My years in America. America! America!

 

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding Evan Iliadis Blog

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Los Angeles California Year 1992. I met a girl, We liked each other and fall in love.  My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

 A few months later I said: Do you want to marry me? She said: Humm!!!! Maybe a bit early for me. I have many obligations back home and can’t think of my own future right now. I said: a bit early? You’re 30! Besides, I can also help with the obligations you have back home. She said: Let’s think later  about this,we’ll talk again. I said:  I’m 45 and long time single. Maybe I should look somewhere else. A few days later she said: OK. Let’s start thinking about it. When and where we are going to get married? My Big Fat Philippines Wedding
My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Our first outing to my  favorite spot. Marina Del Rey THE WAREHOUSE bar and restaurant. One of the places I missed most in CA. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

I said: Look. You don’t have any family here, neither do I. In France will be very expensive, why we don’t go in the Philippines so I can meet your family and have our honeymoon in a white sand beach resort? It’s more fun in the Philippines!!… She said: It sounds like a plan to me. Let’s start shopping, we have to bring everything from here. Let’s go first to the jewelry store for the rings. Done: Beautiful pieces of art the rings. I said: I want a first world class wedding, we have to bring a lot of champagne, the real stuff, not American Sparkling Wine they call it champagne. I want French Wines and Whatever food can go in  Balikbayan boxes. She said ok. Let’s go to the CostCo in Inglewood. We went, 3 hours later, came out with 3 huge shopping carts full of goods. We start looking for my car. No where to be found. Oh! Maybe we forgot where we parked it? No! We didn’t forget. My beautiful Mustang 5.0L  V8 Convertible was gone! It was my third one, just bought 8 months ago. The mother of all sport cars ever built in the US!  Those who owned one know what I’m talking. Those who had one with manual transmission know even better the kind of toy!

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

The mustang No digital cameras then. That’s what explains the poor quality of the picture. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

The customer service at Costco called a taxi. When the driver saw the load, he said that we need a truck, not a taxi! Not happy, but his car was big enough and with a bit of effort we have been able to load the whole thing. The car was recovered by the LA Police department 45 days later when they arrested the driver. He said he stole it to impress a girl he was dating. The insurance had already paid, they offered me to “take a look at the car, maybe we can negotiate.”  When I saw the wreck  he made of a well maintained car, I said “thanks…but No, thanks….

May 1993. My D-Day in the Philippines. My Big Fat Philippi

15 hours later I landed in a continent I have never visited before. New faces, new accent, observing the vendors inside the airport and people passing by all you notice first is smiling and good mood. In a little kiosk where we ask some  drinks the young guy asked me. Sir!  Are you  Joe Pesci. I said, No, why? “You look like him and you talk with the same  accent in English”. I heard that before, many times, remember is the Good Fellas era, Pesci’s best movie ever! I’ll embed an excerpt  for you, but beware: Yes, true, close look, same height and face  and I speak with the same accent, minus the slang. Then, to the domestic airport in Manila, long, long wait in the airport, only one flight every other day at that time to Bohol, in old planes, scary, I thought they were taken out of service anywhere else and dumped  to the Philippines. Let’s pray and  say goodby to our loved ones, just in case… (Things have changed since. Now 4 flights a day, mostly nice new Airbus, new airport)

Welcome to Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

I said: I want a first world class wedding, we have to bring a lot of champagne, the real stuff, not American Sparkling Wine they call it champagne. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

One  hour 30 minutes drive on  a bus (Jipney) that Stella had made “special reservation” for us and the family came to the airport brought us to Batuan, a remote area in the center of the island, far from the sea, close to be called a jungle. I thought I’ll never make it alive to the destination, the jipney  driver was driving so fast a  mass of a junk fuming black smoke, I couldn’t breath! How they could allow cars  good for the junk yard, on a road good for horses and carabaos as it was then? Things have also changed in this department..  There are now buses in good condition with aircon, the road is nice, the travel time shorter.

Friend, this is a blog, not a book. Writing all my first impression and adventures it will take not one, but several books. Bohol at this time was one of the poorest provinces in the country, but known also for its hospitality and traditional values, virgin and clean beaches, not a tourist spot.

Let’s continue with our story, the wedding, which was the reason we were here.

We thought, getting married in the Philippines would be as easy as  a Las Vegas drive in, just show your IDs and you’re all set! No folks! Things are more complicated than that.

Once in the City hall for the marriage license, the Mayor asks if I had a marriage capacity license with me.

I said: Excuse me? What is it?

He said: In the Philippines, every foreigner is obliged to show a certificate of marital capacity. Do you have one?

I said: Of course I have one! But I can’t show it to you just like that! This is a private thing and none of your business..

He said: Are you taking me for a stupid? Let me explain you. As a foreigner, in order to get married in the Philippines, it’s a must that we know you aren’t married already, or any other reason preventing you from getting married. So, put up or shut up.

I said. Oh! I have with me a judgement of divorce of a previous marriage.

He said. That’s fine! Go to the French consulate in Manila and tell them to give you the certificate, they know what to do, they are familiar with our laws.

The next day, I called the French consulate in Manila and asked  the consul to help me with that. He said: “Monsieur, don’t even think about” don’t waste your money and time to come over. You should have first inform the French Consulate in LA where you reside, in turn, the consulate will send the information to the City Hall of the town in France where your first marriage took place. The mayor will publish your  petition  for a license for 30 days outside the building, if no opposition, the Consulate in LA will issue the document to you. Not us.. Bad news! 8 days left and no hope to obtain the document. 

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding Evan and Stella Iliadis

But the Mayor could no longer resist to the pressure he was receiving from constituents and family, to ignore the fact that a foreigner is honoring us with his presence and he’s giving him red tape treatment. Besides, prominent people, including the Governor of the island and the entire Dagohoy Masonic Lodge from Tagbilaran were planing to attend the wedding.

Finally, we found a way to bypass the requirement, with the promise on my part to provide it as soon our return to the US. Done? Not exactly.

In the Philippines, a marriage not blessed in a church is not a real. In this remote area of Bohol in 1993, a civil marriage only, was just unthinkable. Because I was divorced, and also made the mistake to say my first marriage took place in a Catholic church in France, (My ex was Catholic I’m Greek Orthodox).

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

The chances of getting re-married in the same church are zero. We went to see the Eveque in Tagbilaran for a dispensation, when finally found him, not only he refused, but gave us a nasty letter to give it to the priest, basically ordering him to respect the rules and slam the door on us.

We are Friday, the wedding is scheduled for Sunday, still we don’t know where we’ll get married. Sadness and disappointment are all over the family in the house. But, hey! We are in the Philippines Folks! There is always a solution to the problem, Karma has been kind to us, always sided with us.

Late Friday evening, a relative came to the house to tell us that a priest of another church, not Catholic, will be willing to marry us, but he doesn’t have a temple, but he will come and celebrate our wedding at any place of our choice. Welcome to the

Philippine Independent Church  My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

 Also known as Aglipayan Church.  Good. We have now to decide fast, find a suitable place to build something like a chapel, something we can accommodate the guests  estimated at more than 200. We went and asked the manager of the Restaurant in Chocolate Hills if she can rent us the place, or at least part of it, for the celebration. Very skeptical about the request, never happened before in the history of the place, but she accepted.

We are Saturday morning, May 22 1993. One day before the event. Since last night the pigs were screaming under the sharp knife of “the executioner”, cooking and cleaning all over, the whole family, neighbors and volunteers are working overnight, a team of brothers, cousins and nieces are busy decorating  the chapel up in the Chocolate Hills.

Let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Today, 20 years later, I got a glimpse on the net and saw who you really are, what you exactly representing. I wish I knew it then. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Venerable Priest, I don’t even remember your name. It all happened so fast, what  was counted then, is getting a religious marriage as a Stela’s family wanted.   I’m not a religious person, I don’t state publicly my convictions on the subject. But somehow, the symbolism  behind your Ritual came to harmony with my spiritual beliefs  acquired elsewhere, and my Philosophy as to what a religion and a church  should be.

Today, 20 years later, I got a glimpse on the net and saw who you really are, what you exactly representing. I wish I knew it then. Today, all I can say is, Thank you for coming to us, thank you for the message you sent us during the ceremony, it was received,  be proud of your church and its history. Keep your symbolic and  meaningful  rites, especially the wedding ceremonial Ritual.

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

Tatay Fortunato Jumawid Nanay Nazareta Jumawid ready to accompany Stela to the Altar. Evan Iliadis My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

To Tatay and Nanay who raised my wife, be assured, America and later France, countries she lived most of her life have not altered the principles you taught her as a child. Still the same, respectful and compassionate with her family, friends and neighbors. Thank you for your efforts, for what you have done, so I can find that unique Filipina in a place I never thought will be possible. In America. Rest in peace Tatay, you know your daughter is in good hands. 

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

To all beauties  of the Jumawid Clan who worked hard, countless hours on the preparation, this picture may remind you a different era, the  time of innocence and laughter. 20 years have passed, you now all have family and children on your own. The laugher is still here, I saw it, not long ago..

More pictures in a few days. Meanwhile, if you want to get married, do it in the Philippines. It’s really more fun!…

My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

It’s more fun in the Philippines! I guarantee it. My Big Fat Philippines Wedding

The Rotary Club years part 2

The Rotary Club years part 2

The Rotary Club years part 2

The Rotary Club years part 2

In a previous entry you got a general idea of the origins of this organization and a typical third world club as lived  and understood. Noticed? I said organization, not an Order as I would say describing a group of people bind together by initiation and consequent revelations of rites and “secrets” going back in ages.

There isn’t such thing in Rotary. So do a favor to yourself and take off your mind any relation you think exist between them.

Are all Rotary clubs in the world equal? Depend on the angle you look at it. If you live, say, in the US, Australia or France it’s all clear and straight forward.

The Rotary Club years part 2

Waterless toilets, built by Dave Collins acting as the funds managing member of a matching Grant. I will tell you what happened in the next entry.

They invest a bit of their own money, they help in setting up fund raising events like barbecue, soirees and other get together payable events, slowly filling up their club bank account.

Is there anyone taking direct financial advantage of this?
Not really, at least not at the club level. The sums kept in these accounts aren’t that fat to trigger the temptation of fraud or misuse, provided most of the members are in good financial shape, no need to put their reputation at risk.

As said, the return on investment will be paid at some point down the road by the members helping each other in their respective business, (with no guarantee this will happen), or by the community at large that the Rotarian has been recognized as a man in good standing. At least that’s what he thinks and pray for… Excuse me? Why I mentioned man only? See it here.

Where the raised funds go? The Rotary Club years part 2 

Most of the  membership annual fees (Varies around the world) go to the Rotary global world administration in Evanston, Illinois and the Rotary districts the local club belongs. Don’t ask for more details, it might be out of subject and long to explain, don’t ask ordinary Rotarians either, they don’t know.
What is an ordinary Rotarian? Is just a member, he won’t stay long, a year at best, usually a couple of months, as opposed to one who is engaged in the organization, hoping to capitalize sooner or later from his efforts, some will, others not, eventually they will disappeared too.  You got it? Me neither!…

As for the raised funds by the club, they can choose to “invest it” the way they think is best and useful, in line with Rotary International guidelines, usually supporting a “Matching Grant” in partnership with a club located in the third world. This brings me to the subject I’m here today.

Rotary International Matching Grants. What it is? The Rotary Club years part 2

I’ll make it simple for you to understand. Rotarian or not, if you are a member living in the third world, chances are you have no idea what I’m talking about, chances are you don’t even know how you wind up being a member. Here we go: Below is a screenshot of a Roatry site  where clubs mostly from the third world put adds searching sponsoring clubs and districts  in the third world to finance a project in their community.

The Rotary Club years part 2

The Rotary Club years part 2

The applying club in this example is the Rotary club of Tarlac  in the Philippines. All they had in hand for an $18,149 project was 0nly $100. The Rotary Club years part 2
I’m asking? That’s all they had?  100 dollars? Prominent people, politicians, businessmen… It seems to me a bit low. Not everyone is poor in the poor countries and none in the rotary. But somehow they feel the first world has an obligation to help them without any effort on their part. They are here to collect the likes and congratulations. Utang na loob to our local leaders! The Rotary Club years part 2 The Rotary Club years part 2

 Has anyone seen something I didn’t? Like a few words from a newly installed president? Something about Rotary? About poor and destitute? All we see is her (President’s) ass on 3D! Front, right and left side. It’s more fun in the Philippines, even more in the Rotary… Who funded the rest of the project? The Rotary Club years part 2

The Rotary district they belong, (Philippines) 4,500, a rotary club in South Korea , a Rotary District in South Korea 2,000, the remaining 8.550 from the Rotary Foundation .  75% of the project was financed by the hard working members in the first world, these people that never expose themselves on Youtube with edited pictures and fake smiles. Talk about narcissism on the net… The Rotary Club years part 2
Next when I find the time:  Rotary Foundation Matching grants, building contractors, why the Rotary foundation and clubs around the world should review the criteria of sponsoring clubs in the third world, unless they kicked their ass as they do it on YouTube, to raise on their own at least 2 third of the money needed for the project.

The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years.

Some time in the year 2003 two American guys came to my house asking me to join the Rotary International club in Tagbilaran. It wasn’t the first time I was approached by this organization, it happened before in France and later in the US by Brothers Free Mason already members.

Honestly, the social clubs never attracted me, as much respect and admiration I had, and still have for the Lodge, the Rotary and other similar clubs never touched my heart, the status of these organizations was known to me in the first world as it was clearly defined by Paul Harris like this: The Rotary International Years.

“In 1905, Paul Harris organized the first Rotary Club “in fellowship and friendship” with three clients, Silvester Schele, Gustavus Loehr, and Hiram Shorey . His initial goal was to create a club of professional and business men for friendship and fellowship. 

Early on, Harris realized that Rotary needed a greater purpose. While Harris served as president of the Chicago Rotary Club in 1907, the club initiated its first public service project, the construction of public toilets in Chicago. This step transformed Rotary into the world’s first Service Club.[4][5]  If interested Read more The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years. Bill Gates

It wasn’t perceivable to me how a group of  businessmen and prominent citizens in the third world can show compassion for their people, claiming to be a philanthropic organization while I believed it was nothing else than a source of closing business deals amongst members; Weaving at the same time that positive image in the community as givers and compassionate helping themselves to win trust, clients or votes or all of the above provided many had business, government positions and liberal professions all at the same time.

Unless your name is Bill Gates, you don’t need customers and more money, but just an image cleanup; To be known as a human, not as a financial tycoon and money hungry as he often is portrayed like these reporters  of the LA Times told us the story. Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation – Los Angeles Times  It confirms what exactly I was thinking. The Rotary International Years.

The 2 Americans who offered me the membership had nothing of the usual Rotarian profile. One, Jack Galbreath, a retired Vietnam Veteran, married to a Filipino living in Bilar, Bohol for many years was known as helping poor and destitute in his community. But not really without having in mind some  personal ambition and counting on return of investment. The Rotary International Years.

His wife Ester Corazon Galbreath  was elected Mayor of the town of Bilar several times, later elected also as a Board member in the Provincial Government of Bohol. The poor and destitute are still hungry, the fish given once in a while was a day’s meal, then  hungry again the next day. Poverty numbers in the Philippines go on the upside year after year with no reversal in the foreseeable  future.

The other one, Dave Collins, also an American  retiree from GE a Mechanical Engineer according to him, he also wasn’t the typical Rotarian as I knew them in the first world. Married to a rich Filipina owner of several pawn shops known in the country as sharks, because of predatory lending practices, also known as 5/6ers because of  the interest rate they charge, 5 to 6% per month even  up to 20% per month. 

During my first  contact visit to the club, looking at the members I was surprised of the diversity  of trades and professions composed of about 20, like a known career politician, a private hospital owner and his wife in their 80’s, veterans in years of membership, a nurse, one or two local branches bank managers, a low rank government worker, a couple of “foreigners’ wives” (Yes folks, that makes you important in the Philippines) a wife of a seaman, (That also makes you important), a German owner of a resort in Panglao, a Fil/American also owner of a resort in Dauis,

An American woman, teacher by profession who became a missionary managing an education camp in the north of the island financed by the donations to an American church ( go figure which one, their presence is mushrooming in the Philippines)  later, the children camp turned out to be a tourists resort. There was also this Born Again preacher known as Harrell the hallelueaj because of his frequent religious themes screaming even during the meetings! Here is the latest on Harrell.

Not really that impressive. One wonders what the give and take would be with a mosaic of trade and professions as I saw it, in a third world country that buying power is desperately low, such a small pie to share, who was who exactly and why they were there?

Digging a bit further in the constitution and bylaws of the organization discovered this:

OBJECT OF ROTARY The Rotary International Years.

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:

  • FIRST: The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
  • SECOND: High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
  • THIRD: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
  • FOURTH: The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

The first remark to myself was that probably they are kidding themselves. In the Philippines, hospitals are refusing patients’ discharge and exit the premise without paying the bill while still in. I have seen bodies decomposed in the hospital’s mortuary because no one of the relatives offered to pay the bill. High ethical standards? Where? When? The Rotary International Years.

Then this came up:

THE FOUR-WAY TEST

The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings:
Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Mysterious? Secret philosophical, deep meaning words only  Grand Masters of ancient Babylone can decipher?
Not at all. All it is, something to keep you busy with the interpretation. Make your own, as fit. If you don’t, no big loss to you. Somebody else understood it for you. As long as you paid your dues, you’re fine.

And the little cherry on the pie:

AVENUES OF SERVICE

We channel our commitment to service at home and abroad through five Avenues of Service, which are the foundation of club activity.

  • Club Service focuses on making clubs strong. A thriving club is anchored by strong relationships and an active membership development plan.
  • Vocational Service calls on every Rotarian to work with integrity and contribute their expertise to the problems and needs of society. Learn more in An Introduction to Vocational Service and the Code of Conduct.
  • Community Service encourages every Rotarian to find ways to improve the quality of life for people in their communities and to serve the public interest. Learn more in Communities in Action: A Guide to Effective Projects and this Community Service presentation (PPT).
  • International Service exemplifies our global reach in promoting peace and understanding. We support this service avenue by sponsoring or volunteering on international projects, seeking partners abroad, and more.
  • Youth Service recognizes the importance of empowering youth and young professionals through leadership development programs such as RotaractInteractRotary Youth Leadership Awards, and Rotary Youth Exchange.

No matter what I’m reading and seeing  the mystery is deepening, often becoming senseless, can’t find the real “raison d’être” there, who these members are, how they benefit from the Rotary, how they amortizing their $300+ a year total cost of dues.  Certainly not philanthropists, not in the third world anyway, plenty of reasons to distinguish those “practicing” in the first world, raising money that is, for those in the third world recipients  of the money.
 I’ll explain you all that in the next entries. 

 

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

More than a year has passed already, both me and Stella  on the go everyday early in the morning, driving her “farmer’s car” as she called her   preferred  multicab Suzuki 4X4  visiting her lands in preparation for the “big project” plantation of trees on 30 hectares that is.

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

An adventure I had never thought she could handle with such easiness provided the area is remote, 4X4 cars can only go as close as 2 kilometers, meaning walking the rest of the distance no big deal, but transportation of seedlings fertilizers and other material had to be done on carabao.

Myself, driving another ” Passenger” multicab,  I bought it new, made in the Philippines!…What a joke!.. Equipped with a Suzuki engine but the rest was a  total rip-off. 13 years later still runs but with crutches!… Culture shock.

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

Anyway, the time had come for me to handle the 400 mahogany and other species  of standing trees I bought. Daily meeting in the forest with my favorite chainsaw man Armand, an artist in his trade, known as “the electronic precision” tree trunk  slicer, doing with a Still brand chainsaw better than a band saw sometimes on 50 centimeters in diameter. Culture shock. 

Once done,  daily trips to Cebu for machinery and accessories, setting up a shop making a reproduction of classic French design massive wood parquet tiles, furniture and other woodwork in quantities limited to my personal need. Culture shock. 

Social life was limited, no time, a few drinks with a small number of foreigners living in the area, mostly good people but felt a bit shocked to see a number of them in their 50’s and 60’s  even 70’s with wives in their 20’s, felt a bit sorry for the girls when reading the embarrassment on their faces and the artificial, I’d say fake manners and fabricated forced expressions to look happy during the gatherings. They weren’t. Remember, we are in Bohol, not in Cebu. Local boys were making fun with them, editorialists in the local newspapers also, this kind of foreigners wasn’t welcomed.

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

I’ll never forget that day about a scene in the SuperCat boat going to Cebu when all eyes of the passengers were turned towards a couple with a baby. He was an American in his 60’s short, skinny and bald, a sun burned skin was making him look even older.

The girl, looked  in her teens, a small body, short also, very dark skin, shy, looked like still works in the rice field with that baby maybe days or maxi a few weeks old in her arms it wasn’t something the locals had seen often.  The couple  did not exchange a single word of conversation during the 2 hour trip.. Talk about enthusiasm…

Life in Bohol becomes boring after a while. The beauty of Panglao island entertains the tourists including sex tourists with imported “entertainers” from Cebu and Manila and other provinces but when one lives there and has visited the place countless times it’s time for renewal of interests.

The choice isn’t easy. Especially when you live in a gated house behind a land of 3000sq.meters with a securely build  fence  locals aren’t happy with you. They used to cross this land to reach a destination a few minutes faster, now they have to go around and that bothered them.

But slowly this issue was resolved, diplomacy and “beautiful eyes” manners beat the hostility of those wanted to paint us “the neighborhood new conquistadors” but for once wasn’t an “Amerikano”, as white skin foreigners are called regardless of their nationality; I was privileged to be called   “The Griego” referring to  my real ethnic background, even though I was the holder of a US Passport and known as a US citizen to the PH immigration.

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

looking through the fence kids passing by on the way to school wearing “chinilas” (Cheap plastic sandals)  walking 3 kilometers to reach the elementary school brought me back to my childhood in Greece, that childhood whatever could be in a bloody civil war that had just ended. Culture shock. 

I learned later from the teachers that many had not taken breakfast before go to school. A few hundred meters outside the north side of my  fence an old lady in her late 70s, living alone was sharing the basic food when available to her (Rice and salted fish) with two mentally retarded in their 40’s. Some of the neighbors came to my house and ask if I could help. Read the rest of the story here

Next in a few days : The Rotary International years

The farm Stela’s paradise.

The farm Stela’s paradise.

The farm Stela’s paradise.

The farm Stela’s paradise.The farm Stela’s paradise. 

Our first farming experience was a success, Tatay has once again reaffirmed his knowledge and passion for mother nature, Stela’s turn was next. She was known of “having a good hand”, for the locals this means that certain people has this inner and inexplicable power of anything they plant is growing. Some say, they are talking to the plants in magic words!

Whatever this is, she decided to allocate one hectare of the thirty her father owns to plant peanuts. The place is in the most remote areas of the interior of Bohol, where Stela’s 4×4 could go as close as 2 kilometers to the he land, then by foot if there was no materials to bring, in which case a  rented carabao was the only way.

The farm Stela’s paradise.

The farm Stela’s paradise.

First, she proceeds by cleaning the area, removing a big number of the stones  facilitating so the plowing, then she built a “resting  house” as they call the  nipa hat resting area for the workers

On a early morning 3 carabaos start plowing the soil for the first time in years if not ages.. locals couldn’t afford the cost of this operation, so here we go again another “worthless land

Indigens  living  in the area were looking at us with a bit of suspicion questioning  the undertaking of the operation in such remote area, some were saying the “Americano” is digging for gold, not to plant peanuts, and other  tsismis about our real motivation.

Even myself, observing on the sideline perplexed, wondering “how much money we can make from one hectare of peanuts? “… Probably… Just peanuts!….
But if I couldn’t figure out the math, I discovered out something I didn’t know about my wife. Her true love for nature and challenges  related to her passion.

Stela who lived more years of her life in the US than in the Philippines her heart was still in Mindanao where she lived her childhood, walking miles away  every day for bringing food to her father working on the farm and how much she enjoyed it.
She had never complained to me about the harsh condition of life, instead, she was telling me about the beauty of the area, the abundance of fruits and vegetables and their exceptional taste, also plenty of fish.

The farm Stela’s paradise.

The farm Stela’s paradise. From the left.Cousin Jeserel,Christian and Adrian Iliadis our sons

So it was clear to me, it wasn’t for financial gain she was doing it but for reviving her childhood, showing us in real time what work in the farm is all about, she wanted me and our children to get a first hand experience, sending us her usual message like ” You guys in your countries are taking everything for granted!”

The farm Stela’s paradise.
Did we make any money? Not really! As I thought!  You don’t go to the Philippines to make money. You bring it there to spend it! Did we lose any? No! We got our expenses back by selling the peanuts as cheap as….. Peanuts! China has flooded the country for half the price! The farm Stela’s paradise.
Stela fulfilled part of her dream, the kids were in heaven, still remember those days, the best gift we ever gave them,the kind of fun money can’t buy.  Me, I started learning doing the math… “A la Filipino” that yielded in “Bring a big fortune in the country if you want to make a small profit.”

On the left side column I posted a photo album  of this entry. Enjoy.

The farm Stela’s paradise.

The Aristofarmers

The Aristfarmers

The Aristofarmers

The Aristofarmers

The Aristofarmers

The Aristofarmers

Once moved into our new house  next project in line was the farming as Stella designed it in her mind, eager to implement but spending limited time so far, the landscaping of the house yard being a priority.  Remember. 3 000 Sq meters to handle folks! There were  only rocks and wild grass. She made it a paradise… The Aristofarmers

Tatay and Nanay had a small land of about half a hectare nearby their house, abandoned, uncultivable, mean not suitable  for rice field. But whatever is “worthless” for others it can useful  for Stella… Tatay  agreed. No land is worthless in the hand of real farmers, father and daughter share their love for nature and the savoir faire,they  decided to challenge the naysayers. We hired 3 carabaos  and an early morning after the traditional breakfast the digging began. Exiting to see it, admirable, 18th century “technics”, yet bringing results beyond expectation. Look at them below. Satay Dodo always the leader…  The Aristofarmers

The Aristofarmers

The Aristofarmers

The rest of the extended family kept busy finding  Mahogany seedlings under the mother trees as they call it. In effect, we decided as a test not to seek seedlings from the local DNER office the nearest being located at 55 kilometers but instead do it the old way. According to the knowledgeable, “look under the big and healthy trees  and check for their “babies!” That’s exactly what we did!.. Cousins, nieces nephews, all in-laws were busy in the forest. We needed 3 000, we got half of them in 3-4 days and decided to buy the rest from  the village nearby . I will post a photo  album on the sidebar with comments on each photo for the rest of the steps, but I wouldn’t close this entry without a couple of pictures of me.

As I said before, the carabao’s work fascinated me and decided to try. I haven’t been as good as driving a tractor. Yes folks! It’s more complicated  to deal with a carabao! Because the animal has a soul, it obeys to one who  feels the love and understand his kind words. Brutal westerners are not included!

The Aristofarmers

The Aristofarmers

You don’t become a farmer. You are born a farmer, All the credit I can get is for being tenacious and a believer, convince the villagers that where there is soil there is a mine, be it a gold mine or a tomatoes mine, both are profitable.  Three years later it looks like  probably our efforts shall pay off. The Aristofarmers

The Aritofarmers

The Aristfarmers

SPRING-Some time in the year 2000  I landed in the Philippines with wife and 2 small children setting home on the Island of Bohol, a place that we had visited several times before the final decision. I was living in California at that time where I spend the best years of my life as a single, but also the worst place to raise kids and build a traditional family, as me and my wife knew it on our respective countries: The Philippines and France.

Frankly speaking, 13 years later out of the US we did not miss this country. The dogma American society based its values upon “Don’t ask what the government can do for you but the other way around” sounds rude for those raised in Europe, where we built our society on a social security system asking the healthy to pay for the ill, until in turn, the healthy will become ill and receive the same. We have refused firmly with swift actions and vigorous protest  to put our health in the hands of unscrupulous Private Health Maintenance Organization like in the US, Thanks God, didn’t happen!!!’ We still get world class treatment…

EVAN ILIADIS-INFO. PHILIPPINES YEARS

The patio in front of the house 2.5 M X 4 floor made with parquet “made in house”. One inch thick Mahagony pieces assembled to reproduce designs found in the pre-revolution palaces in France.

The principle, despite some flaws, has never been questioned by any European country and contrary to the illiterate Yank living in the Philippines, who thinks we are living on welfare, the truth is when the disaster strikes, we are taking back some of what we have heavily contributed over the years by means of taxes and other levies. And God knows how hefty  they are!.. No! We are not living in a communist or a socialist country ( First sergeants don’t  know the difference anyway ) But on an insurance system that anyone is covered with anything, against all disasters, based on solidarity and good faith. How about the abusers?  Their number is so low compared to the majority playing by the rules, not worth  putting the system on trial, as it only serves the Right Wing parasites around the world  to destabilize our Democracies.

EVAN ILIADIS-INFO. PHILIPPINES YEARS

EVAN ILIADIS-INFO. PHILIPPINES YEARS. Stella has a passion with farming and gardening. “The rich girl from America” as the neighbors call her have rarely seen her with high heels shoes and fashion dressed. Gins dressing and her yellow 4X4 Suzuki  was her favorite lifestyle

Year 2000, the Philippines welcomed us with red carpet laying down all the way  to the bank, thanks to the PNB manager! Yes folks! A lot of money at that time with a dollar at 56 pesos, the cement 80 pesos a sac, steel bars less than today’s price, labor abundant and half of today’s cost, you could afford that dream house you always wanted. My wife, knowledgeable in farming and agriculture finally found her Nirvana, reviving her childhood in Mindanao, a dream come thru realized earlier than she thought, before the age of retirement as she expected. She was only 38.
She wasted no time to hire a crew of 20 workers for the cleaning up of 30 hectares of land ownedby her family making a garden out of a jungle it was before. Mahogany and Gmeleina plantation, peanuts, mango and coconut trees, tomatoes, eggplant bell peppers, watermelon, jackfruit trees, name it, everything grows!

I start looking for a land, found one on Panglao Island, 3000 sq. Meters, 200 meters from the sea. Finally! It took me 4 months of a daily sport running all over for this “ideal location”, I wanted cheap and beautiful! And It is both!
In my turn, I hired a crew of 10 workers, some good craftsmen in masonry and carpentry, others I trained them to become as good as the others. Good people, as long as you know how to be firm on expectations and generous in compensation.

First thing first, I  built a temporary native house of total living space 250 sq.m, something  that triggered the admiration of all neighbors and visitors. It was something unique and the talk of town. Made with “sasa” (10 centimeters diameter  bamboo sliced and opened to make flat sheets nailed on both sides  of the frame made with 4×4 Gmelina. Strong, reliable enough, relaxing. Moved in from a rented house in Taloto, now I can  think of the “real” house. I started by fencing the area, hollow blocks on the lower part, iron bars above . A big job for a 3000 Sq M land, 4 meters wide cemented driveway from the gate all the way to the entrance of the house, about  200 meters long.

Stela began planting palm trees, she chose 30 of a variety called “dwarfs” as we thought will grow low. Yeah, right! talk about dwarfs! You’ll see in other pictures what we got in just 7 years! Huge! tall and full of coconut juice fruits!..Then multicolored species of  Orchids flowers start climbing covering the iron fence, people passing by have never seen that before.

EVAN ILIADIS-INFO. PHILIPPINES YEARS

EVAN ILIADIS-INFO. PHILIPPINES YEARS. Sheets of sasa laying on the floor treated with Solignum and nailed on both sides of the frame. Laborious, time consuming work but the result is worth the effort.Click on the image to enlarge it

 

That’s for today I’ll be back shortly with more on this chapter. On the left sidebar I posted a few pictures of the native house and others. Click on the thumbs to see the full image. Happy reading and thanks for stopping by

Evan Iliadis – The truth  

Welcome to Evan Iliadis new blog. Not that I really need another one but for the heck of going a bit off the  usual subject is now  the right time to introduce you a few of my detractors in a different way and means as permitted by the terms and conditions of WP.com, the right to respond on their attacks that is. Evan Iliadis – The truth

In effect, 6 guys got together for the purpose of writing “anti Evan” blogs as most people call them. 5 people have more than 100 blog pages  (including on this version of WP)  and stolen photos published on my Facebook and other blogs I own. The problem with these pages the detractors have, is that the more they updating them the more look the same, same rant, same titles,“Evan the liar” Evan the “psychopath” Evan,Evan,Evan! Everywhere! Evan Iliadis – The truth  

Their names are Christopher “aka” Chris Bennetts” living in remote areas of the Philippines (?) – Guenther Vomberg form Cebu Philippines- Matt Wilkie form Minglanila Cebu Philippines- Tim Potter from Sugarland Texas living in Cebu Philippines – Perry Gamsby former Cebu resident now living in Australia, Brad Hughes  a US citizen living in Cagayan de Oro Philippines.
They all met through my several blogs I maintain on the internet in combatting prostitution and human trafficking in the S/E Asia, particularly in the Philippines, where serious accusations about the practice within the expat community went by  without been prosecuted, corruption and collaboration of crooked officials oblige. Evan Iliadis – The truth  

I had no other choice than appeal to good people around the world for help in a “naming and shaming” campaign shaking the expat and sexpat community forcing them to erase entire blogs and forums, closing bar fines and bikini bars (brothels), deporting criminals and psychopaths out of the Philippines, removing their membership  from boards putting their web sites under private registrations. Evan Iliadis – The truth

Finally! The Philippines National Police  starts paying attention, reading my blogs and arrested pimps and pedophiles operating out of the Philippines behind bogus Call Centers and other legitimate services on the surfaces, but behind close doors the real business was the now famous “sex dens” involving exposure of minors and forced into prostitution girls. Others from around the world joined Evan and helped him with information in tracking pimps, scammers, human traffickers in the expat community. Here she is: Activist Cecilia Flores-Oebanda

Evan Iliadis - The truth

Evan Iliadis – The truth

Evan Iliadis – The truth   wouldn’t be the truth without an homage to an activist Lady living in Cebu Philippines, consecrating her life rescuing minors from the hands of criminals human traffickers. She has paid the price for that, Philippines government corrupted agents in connection with the mobs in the expat community worked hard to smear her name.  She survived! So did I!    

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