From the Midwest redneck author of "The Rooster Crows at 4am!," "Lizard Poop!," and "The Philippines Expat Advisor"
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!