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Jesus Is Our Carpenter

Arrived in our new home in a subdivision outside of Iloilo City a week ago this past Tuesday afternoon when a truck carrying blue-colored containers of drinking water passed by and honked (see photo below.) I didn't think I looked exceptionally handsome that day to catch anyone's attention and since the driver was a Filipino and not some pretty Pinay, I just ignored the honking and went back into our home. We had boxes to unpack, but I had not eaten since early that morning, so I decided to see if there was a sari sari store nearby where we could grab a soda and a quick snack.

Our realtor agent who had rented us our home had informed us that there was a small grocery store located in our subdivision. I went next door where the drinking water truck that had honked at me earlier was parked. I wanted to see if I could get directions from one of the locals for the market. A gentlemen quickly got out of his seat and offered me a container of drinking water for sale at 25 pesos each (58 cents, US Dollars) and since our water was not turned on yet, I bought two containers.

 

Two young Filipino men carried the water to our residence, and Jesus, the proprietor of the water business (was he dispensing holy water? I don't know), went outside to show me the location of the sari sari store which was just across the street from us. Jesus also had a construction business and wanted to know if I would like a fence built around our corner lot. We looked at a small white picket fence on a neighbor's property, and the carpenter said he would build us a fence if we bought the material. I advised him that I would check with my asawa since she is in charge of all landscaping projects.

 

Went back into the house to see if I could install the Carrier air con we had brought over to our Iloilo City residence. The master bedroom already had an opening for the unit and had the necessary welded security bars installed to hold it into place. As I lifted the air con unit up, I called my asawa over to help me lift it when we discovered our unit was about two inches too wide to fit into the opening.

To say I was disgusted and discouraged would be an understatement, but we placed the air con on the floor and weighed our options. Buy a smaller air conditioner unit? No, that didn't make sense. There wasn't money in the budget for that, plus we would have an extra air con sitting around not being used. There was only one room that had a opening for a unit. Go without air con and just use the fan? No, we had gone for ten months without any air conditioning when we first moved to the Philippines over two years ago. That certainly wasn't an option; it seemed quite warmer at our new location anyway. Ask the landlord if we could hire our local carpenter, Jesus, to widen the opening for us? Now that certainly seemed to be the most logical choice.

 

Our landlady, a local dentist in Iloilo City, and her husband, our landlord, an engineer, came over to collect our first month's rent in advance, six thousand pesos and one month's security deposit. We told them about the problem with the air con, and our landlord gave us the OK to hire Jesus, a man he knew personally. With carpenter wages going for around 250 pesos a day ( 5.77 US Dollars)  in nearby Guimaras, I didn't think it should cost us that much to have the air conditioning unit installed. My wife also discovered that the kitchen sink had a leak, and we decided to have our carpenter/plumber fix that also. I had no problem paying for the air con install and decided to cover the cost of the plumbing repairs. Our new landlords had waived the additional extra month's security deposit they usually charge, so as a gesture of goodwill, I thought it best to cover the cost of the sink repair.

 

I called on Jesus the next morning. Showed him the air con opening that needed to be widened. My asawa showed him the leak underneath the sink, and he said he would replace the trap and drain pipe underneath. My wife also wanted a new connecting water hose put on the toilet, evidently thinking that we were exceptionally wealthy people, but I gave my OK (like that mattered.) We had already gone through two miserable nights without any air conditioning, and I was hoping that our neighbor would not be following Filipino Time for this project (it'll get done when it gets done.)

 

Well, I was pleasantly surprised when within an hour of talking to Jesus, two of his disciples crew started to work on the air con unit issue. Soon another worker commenced work on the kitchen drain. I was quite pleased. In the meantime, my wife was going to attempt to hook up our new LP gas tank to our recently purchased two burner stove top (we opted for a cheap 600 pesos ,13.85 USD, model we bought at SM City in Iloilo.) I suggested she just have one of the guys install it. They gladly did. In the meantime, Jesus was busy driving around in his water truck (see photo above) as his men carried out their individual projects.

 

By noon that same day, and after a short break of Coke and bread that my asawa provided, the air con was installed and working, the kitchen sink wasn't leaking anymore, and the CR toilet had been repaired and the LP Gas had been hooked up. Jesus stopped by after lunch to give us the bill. 2600 pesos (60 USD) for labor and material. I thought that was somewhat high, but paid it without any complaint. I didn't want to be on bad terms with Jesus.  Our neighbor went next door to get a receipt. I realize that the cost for the repairs done would have much higher back in the States and was just grateful that the air con unit was installed. We certainly slept much better that night. Thank you, Jesus!

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12 Responses to “Jesus Is Our Carpenter”

  1. Dave says:

    Say it again, Brother Tony!

  2. John Miele says:

    Dave: Generally in the Philippines, the renter is responsible for minor repairs and maintenance, regardless of whatever the lease says… Things like your sink repair. Pretty much applies to anything not related to the structure itself. Very different than renting in the US. Also, many people have trouble getting their secuurity deposits back. Try and make a deal with your landlord before you move next time and just don’t pay last month rent (That tends to be a common way of handling it here).

    The LPG guys who deliver your gas will usually connect the tank free of charge, though Rebecca will usually give them 20 – 40 pesos or so (We have two tanks).

    2,600 seems a bit high for carpentry, though I don’t know how many guys he had. I tend to think that if they do a good job, who cares? As you live there longer, some of these things tend to sort themselves out.

  3. Dave says:

    Thanks for the info, John. Yes, I didn’t really have a problem paying for the repairs. Jesus had three guys working on the projects, and they did a good job. Sure saved a bundle as to what it would have cost in the States.

    New problem is the septic tank has backed up our toilet. But our landlord is right on it (well, not right on the toilet.) He had a crew out yesterday, and the guys are outside now digging a new drain pipe to empty out the old tank. Our landlord even stopped by personally to make sure the crew was getting the job done, and he is paying for all of the repairs. We’re fortunate to have good landlords.

    Thanks for the tip on the LPG. I’ll have my boss check with some neighbors to see who does our deliveries. I sure don’t feel like hauling it out to be refilled. I’ll remember your advice on the deposit when we get ready to move, but looks like we will be here for a couple of years at least. We really like our new subdivision and home.

  4. Gary Wigle says:

    I have lived in the Philippines for 18 months now. Still no aircon. Just a fan. I have had enough of the cold after living in Kansas and Michigan. The last two winters in Michigan the snow was one meter deep on level ground. The winter before those 2 the snow was 2 meters deep. Couldn’t see my car, that sure was fun to dig out. Have yet to see a snow plow here in Tagum City and I like it that way.

    If you walk out on the street where I live you can turn left and you run into a little store…then a internet cafe…then a bakery…a Muslim bakery, no pork in that bread. :-) If you just go across the street you run into a little store run by members of the SDA church so you will not find beer or cigarettes. They do have ice and soda pop. OR you can go across the street and turn right and find another little store. Busy street!

    • Dave says:

      I’m a lightweight, Gary, just can’t sleep comfortably without my air con. It also helps cut down on any street noise, which we really don’t have a lot of. At our home in Guimaras we had our mother-in-law’s cows which would loudly moo at all times of the night and morning. Don’t have any cows in our subdivision, just the rooster next door.

      You do have quite a busy street! We do have a sari sari store nearby, and my asawa will buy Coke (the kind you drink) and prepared rice there (we haven’t bought a new rice cooker yet.) A good-sized talabahan sits right across from the front gate of our subdivision and is about a 30-minute walk from our home. Should be a good place for some cheap eats like grilled pig intestines. We’re going to check it out when our next funds are deposited to our account. Also have a bakery that we want to look into, we need a source of some good local pan de sal.

  5. Papa Duck says:

    Dave,

    Sounds like you have a good landlord. Waving the extra months deposit and fixing the septic tank. You can’t beat that. It sounds like they want to keep the “rich kano” renting there house. Did you get a new tv yet? Take care and be safe.

    • Dave says:

      Yes, Papa Duck, I believe we do have a good landlord and that will make our stay here even better.
      No TV yet. We might do some shopping for one next weekend. I’ve been going to bed at 8pm and getting up between 3-4am without any television. I have a feeling I’m not missing a whole lot, though.

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