My asawa, along with our brother-in-law Joery, and nephew Sherwin, recently visited my father-in-law’s property located in Lawi, Guimaras, my wife’s homeplace where she grew up with no electricity, no running water and dirt floors. Lolo has extensive land holdings, over 2,500 acres, 1,035 hectares. His property is covered with mango, coconut, cashew, mahogany, hitang hitang and banana trees. Bamboo grows all over. Material for the new hut in the Philippines are now secured as my wife and Joery picked out several hitang hitang trees along with an aging, massive mango tree that is dying but will provide us with a unique wood for the floors of our new residence.
But why buy our own lot if Lolo owns such a large property? I asked my asawa that years ago. The problem is access. There are no roads near my father-in-law’s land and bringing in any utility poles for electricity would be very cost prohibitive. No hospitals or markets are close. Thus, I deferred to my asawa, who surely knows her home province better than I do, and we bought the current lot we will soon be building on.
Now chances are, unless you’re from our region in Western Visayas, you have not heard of the hitang hitang tree. Perhaps you call it something different in your local language. It is a very durable wood that was used in the trusses of my wife’s other property that I refer to as “The Compound.”
When we had the old wooden roof replaced five years ago, the hitang hitang trusses were not infested by termites as the other wood used in the roof was. Joery used the wood to build a new school house for his wife’s preschool. The hitang hitang will be used in the construction of the nipa hut where my father-in-law will live. Here are some photos of the hitang hitang tree that my spouse took this morning at “The Farm,” where we currently reside.
Leaves of young hitang hitang tree
Hitang hitang tree
The huge mango tree, shown in the lead photo, is over 60 years old but it’s top branches are all rotting and it bears no fruit anymore. My wife remembers that tree being huge when she was still in elementary school, decades ago. It seems a shame to take it down now, but it is diseased and the wood will be re-purposed, as mentioned, as wooden floors. This will be a pleasant reminder to my asawa of the place she grew up in. My asawa informed me last night that we will also have the mango wood milled and used as doors in our new home in addition to the flooring.
The hitang hitang wood will not have to be milled. It can be used as is once it is cut up. My wife knows a person that has a chainsaw and will chop down the trees and transport them to our construction site. The woodcutters are giving us a one peso discount on each board he chops up from the mango tree, nine pesos, 20¢ a board. A mango tree has a sticky sap which can gum up a chainsaw and make it more difficult to cut. He will chop up the hitang hitang trees for eight pesos, 18¢, a board. Once the actual building of the nipa hut is started later this week I will be taking pictures of it and posting them.
We will have a concrete floor in Lolo’s bedroom with a drain in the middle of it. My father-in-law occasionally takes off his diaper at night and pees all over the floor. A hose will be placed nearby and Lolo’s mahogany wood bed (he uses no mattress) and floor will be hosed down. It’s a chore for our maid to clean my father-in-law’s room every morning and this should make the unpleasant task more bearable. A CR, Comfort Room, will also be built in the nipa hut along with a small sala, living room.
We will also have a small TV and DVD player in the nipa hut. Lolo, now in the 6th Stage of dementia, loves to watch boxing and ballroom dancing, of all things. He can watch the same fight over and over and never know the difference so we will purchase some boxing and ballroom DVD’s for him to watch.
Lolo taking a siesta at The Compound
With a crew of three or four men, it will take about two to three weeks for the nipa hut to be built. A barbed wire fence will also be immediately placed on all sides of the property and a wall with a cyclone fence and a gate will be built around the new house when it is finished. Brother-in-law Joery has built several nipa huts and should have no problem constructing this one.
Since the main house and nipa hut will have a wall and fence surrounding it, Lolo will have plenty of room to roam around though he now spends most of his time just sitting on our front porch singing to himself or talking to dead relatives. But we hope to encourage him to get a little physical activity and sweep a little around his hut and walk around more. At the present time he no longer takes a walk unless our helper Mera or niece or nephew takes him for a walk. He hasn’t attempted to fight with anyone recently but we still keep a wary eye on him. He may be 83-year-olds and a head shorter than me, but he’s still a tough old geezers. And at 62 year old myself, I know all about old geezers.