Philippines Diary #29 – Puppies, String and Building Permits

October 23, 2009 – Friday

Yesterday we placed posts and string around our lot to ensure that when rice planting begins again our neighbours will know which bits of land they can use. This is because the old boundaries were often not straight. As it was previously all in the same family it never mattered but when our lot was sold to us the boundaries had to be properly reconstituted. This caused a long delay while the original subdivision plan was revised and approved. So some of the old boundaries have changed, shifting some and straightening others. Water from the local irrigation flows through our lot to the fields behind so we must ensure that this is not interrupted, constructing a culvert if required. In fact we need the water ourselves anyway for the area behind our house that we will continue to cultivate.
I purchased 5 balls of plastic string from our local hardware store for the grand total of 300 pesos as there was no indication of the length of each ball. For the posts, as Gina advised that new timber was likely to be stolen, brother-in-law Nelson cut several stumps from his paper tree branches.  Together he and I ran the string round our lot, fixing it here and there to a stump. It took us most of the afternoon. I gave up trying to walk in my flip-flops and went barefoot, which proved to be far easier. I was really muddy by the time we finshed. Of the 5 balls of string we used maybe one and a half but it’s useful to have for any future marking out we need to do.
On Wednesday we were joined by a new family member, a shih tzu puppy we’ve named YoYo. The pet shop in Santiago only had two dogs, neither of which we liked, but they put us in contact with a local breeder who we were amazed to discover lives opposite us. So we visited her and chose a boy puppy. He’s a real character and loves to sit on the tiles surrounding our bath when we’re showering.

Interestingly the lady concerned told us she was married at 14 to a Chinese man who is 22 years older than her. In the Philippines it’s legal to marry at 14 but they don’t give you a marriage certificate until you reach 18.  The marriage contract is civil as the church doesn’t approve of marriage at that age. Even marriage at 16 is only with parents’ approval.
The same breeder has both pure white and tri-colour German shepherd dogs one of which would make an ideal guard dog for when we move to our permanent home, so we will keep in touch with her in the hope that one of them has a litter soon.
We are still waiting for the engineer/surveyor to complete the Bureau of Inland Revenue filing. Partly it is because the BIR requested some additional proof of ownership in the form of birth and death certificates, partly because the engineer is responsible for the whole of Region 2, a massive area for one person to cover, which necessitates him travelling much of the week to conduct surveys and attend meetings, and partly because the last time he went to the BIR none of the officals he knows were there and he didn’t want to leave documents with a stranger or so-called "fixer". In his absence yesterday, his wife has accepted our offer take the engineer up to the BIR in Illagan on Wednesday to try again to deliver the certificates. They should then calculate the taxes due which means yet another visit to pay and collect the card receipt which has to be submitted together with the other papers in order to obtain the building permit. In the meantime the contractor has had approval from city hall to backfill our lot, to raise the height of the land above the barangay road (to prevent flooding), but is not allowed to pour concrete until the building permit has been granted.