Philippines Blog #54 – Nearly There

December 8, 2009 – Tuesday 

The switch to 24-hour operation has made a big difference and we wonder why this wasn’t done from the start. However, given that the building permit application process has been so protracted, the delay in the backfill hasn’t actually held up construction. Yesterday they redistributed and compacted around seven truck loads of fresh gravel and one part of the site had risen to within about a half a metre of the red target mark on a steel rod. In fact they only need to bring it within 6 inches as the remaining distance will be taken up by a stone layer and finally the thickness of the concrete floor itself.
We normally visit the site at the end of a day to sit in the cool shade of nearby trees as the sun begins to set over the mountains to the west. The sky was so clear yesterday afternoon that the sun was quite dazzling and as sunset approached around 5pm it was positively artistic watching the men working in the fading light gainst the silhouette of banana and paper tree leaves. We wandered through the neighbouring lot to visit the area that Nelson has recently started to plough in preparation for rice sowing. More water is entering from the nearby irrigation but as the land is terraced it’s still well below the level of the construction site.
At present Nelson is creating a nursery area to grow the young rice plant seedlings. At the next stage, with the assistance of local workers, he will divide and replant them in the newly ploughed and irrigated fields. The same pattern is being repeated in other fields we pass on our way to the construction site. Mostly we can see the irrigated fields but here and there we see the intense patches of light green, the small rice seedling nursery areas.
For our roughly one hectare of cultivatable land we have paid Nelson an intial 9,000 pesos which covers the cost of seed and fertilizer plus paying for assistance at the splitting out stage. Later more money will be required for insecticide. Harvesting and threshing is generally paid for in rice rather than cash. It will be interesting to see at the end if we get our investment back (in cash or in rice) but maybe it will not be possible to measure the economic return until all our land is in use. At present we are deliberately leaving fallow any area which if irrigated might pose a threat of flooding to the construction site.