Picture
Back in 2009, when my wife and I first saw this house, one thing I never thought to ask was, " Can I get Internet out here"?  Well the answer would have been "No"!
We tried all the major carriers in the PI, Globe, Sun, Smart, well that's about it.  They all tried, and failed.  I had been getting so disappointed that whenever I was approached by someone offering Internet, I would just respond with, "yea, right, I'll hold my breath".
Elly spoke with someone at the palengke (market) in Dinalupihan, and they guarenteed Internet service, and gave her a brochure.  One of the players on my basketball team, also found someone who would guarentee Internet.  We drove out to her shop and I paid 999 pesos to authorize the "SmartBro installation".  They showed up with a WIMAX internal device and got no signal, so they appologized and I was back to square one minus 999 pesos, which I was told could only be refunded after 13 days in Balanga only. Two weeks latter, we still haven't heard anything from the people Elly spoke to, so she called them, they siad it takes 2-3 weeks to process the application, so we waited some more.  Then I got the call that they would be out to install my new outdoor WIMAX receiver.  They came out, tested and said everything was A-OK!  But other technicians would be out tomorrow to activate the system, please pay 499 pesos.  The next afternoon, the "Activation Team arived and BINGO!  I had Internet, high speed, fast upload & download.  I even started playing World of Warcraft again!!! - Alas, this only lasted 2 weeks, then PDLT told me that once again, my house moved behind the mountain and I could only get signal between 1-6AM.  WTF!!

I'm now pretty pleased with my new office-gym-storage-guest room.


 
 
Picture
We are still getting settled here in the Philippines, last week 3 more boxes arrived from the U.S., and my Texas Longhorns, which I crated myself.  Elly had her landscaping done in th2 front, we hooked up some wall fans and hired a full time cook & maid.

Unfortunately, we had to sink a lot of money into the Ford Everest.  A glo-plug busted inside the engine and as long as the were going to tear it apart, we had the heads re-done, new valves, etc.

It's running pretty good now, and I got to drive it from Pita to Olongapo City yesterday.

 
 
Picture
"I'm not getting on the plane without my dog"!
Elly was serious when she said that, but neither of us would leave the country without Lea. I started the paperwork back in February for Lea, by requesting an "Import Permit" from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in Manila.  They emailed me one the next day, but it was only good until April 8th.  WTF!  We don't fly until 1 May!!!  It took another week and a half to get someone to stamp an extension on the permit to expire 8 May.   Next was getting all the shots and the APHIS 7001 certificate.
I made an appointment with the Veterinary Services at Fort Sam Houston.  Most people there were extremely helpful, (except one, a lazy lying admin bitch, which I'll tell you about next).
On March 23rd I took Lea in for all her shots and a second micro-chip.  The original wasn't International, so a new micro-chip had to be impanted in her.  When there I noticed the paperwork had used an address which was obsolete, the one I had while I was in the Army back in 1997.  When I pointed it out to this lazy lying admin bitch at the front desk, she said she would take care of it when I come back for the physical with Lea.
Well, we returned on April 4th and the Veterinarian completed a APHIS 7001 for Lea.  When the lazy lying admin bitch presented it to me, it still had the wrong address on it.  I again pointed this out and her reply was, "Well, you're moving anyways, so no big deal, you won't be back here any time soon". I thought ok, no big deal, if they didn't think so......

This paperwork was next day'd to the USDA's office in Austin for their seal and stamp, then next day'd to the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles for their authentication process.  Well, with under two weeks to go until we travel, I still didn't have the documents.  I called the Consulate and they informed me that it was returned to my old address in San Antonio, TX, 5 days ago!   NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, if it could go wrong, it did go wrong, even when I enclosed a letter to the Consulate with instructions to send it to my correct address in Cibolo, Texas!  Panic mode has now set in, what are my options?  Wait for the people at my old address to send the papers back?  I actually went there and spoke to them, an elderly Brisitsh couple who confirmed receiving the documents and returning them to the postman the next day after writing "unknown" on the envelope.  I couldn't chance waiting for the documents to be returned to LA and resent to me.

Picture
So, on Monday, April 23rd, I decided to start the process all over again, get a new APHIS 7001, Drive to Austin and get it sealed and stamped, then fly to LA and have the Philippine Consulate authenticate everything and fly back home.  Sound like a plan?
Holy crap!!  It worked.  First, I contacted Fort Sam, (Fort Sam military vet was TDY, civilian vets at Fort Sam cannot sign the APHIS 7001), at least that's what the lazy lying admin bitch told me over the phone.  She also told me that I had all the paperwork so they couldn't do it, and that they are only allowed to do it once in a 30 day period.  What blatant bullshit! I had Garden Ridge Animal Hospital do the APHIS 7001 based on the shot records from Fort Sam on Tuesday morning. I then called the USDA and explained my situation, they allowed me to bring the forms to them in Austin and they would seal & stamp the form, which they did. Stamped and on my way back to San Antonio by 1PM.  I then scheduled a round trip flight to Los Angeles, using my Delta Frequent Flyer Miles, the ticket cost me $10.  The taxi ride from the airport to the consulate and back was $55 each way, but in the end, all is well.  Our Lea has her paperwork completed, she will be on the airplane to the Philippines on 1 May along with me & Elly. All is good.  And yes, all this for a dog.

 
 
Picture
I am known for doing dumb things, but this was without a doubt the dummbest!
Over a month ago, I saw online that you can submite for a passport renewal and it inly takes 2 weeks.   Well, my passport was not yet expired, but since I wanted to ensure I receive a 13a visa from the Philippines, I decided to expedite the process and get a new passport.  Well, 3 weeks latter, I still dodn't have my passport back.  After calling several dozen times and leaving hateful messages, I finally got a phone call from New Hampshite, where my passport was being processed.  They said it would take just a few more weeks.  (What the hell happened to "Expedite")????   Well, I pleaded with them to just return my old passport and I will renew in the Philippines, they did and it came back in the mail just a few days ago, Now, my dogs paperwork, that's a whole different story.

 
 
With the help of my friend Ed and his wife Samantha, I got my deck and fence painted last weekend.  This was a bear of a job, but Ed's paint sprayer made quick work of it.
Picture
Unfortunately, Saturday would up being the hottest day of the year thus far, a whopping 96°s!
Drank lots of water and was really beat by the time we ran out of paint!
The hardest part was pulling back all of Elly's roses so Ed could spray the fence behind them.  Did I ever tell you how much I hate roses, especially their thorns!  I do have to admit, this being the first week of April, her roses are coming out in full bloom, and they are very colorful.
We went out to dinner with our neighbors on Thursday.  We had pizza & beer.  Doesn't get much better.  Then on Friday, me & Elly, Terra & Jason and PJ, his mom Gloria & Lorin all went to Saltgrass Steak house.  Yep, there goes my diet.  I ordered a couple of "Corona-ritas".  They are Margheritas in a fishbowl, with a bottle of Corona upside down inside the glass as well.  So as you drink your Margherita, it slowly turns into a cold beer.  Me-likey!!  I can't wait to develop my own San Mig-eritas in the Philippines.


 
 
I don't know if I'm packing everything I can think of just because my wife is doing the same, or because I believe deep down inside that I may really need this stuff when I get to the Philippines.

I'm down to 60 days and counting until We take our one way flight to the Philippines, along with Lea, the wonder dog, who BTW turned four last week!
Picture
I'm mostly concerned with Lea and the 27 hr trip.  I spoke to Delta Airlines again today and they promised me that as long as Lea is healthy, she will be alright.  Just pack food & water for her.

Tomorrow, we'll be holding a gargae sale, hopefully that will clear our 36 years of crud, I mean collectables.

I have been getting recommendations and asurances from expats living in the Philippines through emails and other blogs.

I'm going to be so happy that I won't be working full-time anymore, I need to relax, enjoy life and take care of my health. P90X, "BRRING IT"!
I hear San Miguel is great for medicinal purposes, among other things. Just sayin...

 
 
Thirtysix years of "stuff", really adds up.  Especially when you need to get rid of almost everything you own.  At first I thought about shipping most of our household goods, especailly since there would be no tarriff or tax upon arival in the Philippines.  But a 20-foot container would only hold our living room set, grandfather clock and a few boxes.  The cheapest shipper wanted $6,800.  I can buy some pretty nice furniture in Manila for that kind of money.
Picture
After sorting  out what we going to ship in Balikbayan Boxes and what we are going to sell on "Craigslist", the boxing began.  But first, "Craigslist". 
Craigslist is actually pretty awesome, I started getting emails within 30 minutes of placing our spare bedroom set online.  We also sold a crytstal chandelier, all of our Christmas stuff, all in all about $850 in one day.  Elly also sold her grandfather clock, a 55" TV, an Entertainment Center, a dining room set, etc, etc, etc.  We figured out that with her car and my truck sold, we will be making out pretty good.
We also signed a two-year lease for our home in Texas.  A great couple, Jason and Terra Wood and their little girl Cammeron. I feel very confident they will take great cdare of our home.
Now the Balikbayan boxes. A balikbayan box (literally, "Repatriate box") is an ubiquitous, corrugated box containing any number of small items sent by an overseas Filipino known as a "balikbayan".  Though often shipped by freight forwarders specializing in balikbayan boxes  by sea.
A 5.5 cubic foot box costs us $105, and takes about 45 days to arive door-to-door at our home in Dinalupihan, Bataan.  Elly had three boxes packed and ready to go before I knew what was in them!.  I want to packup my handtools and some building supplies like electrical wire, which may come in handy as I re-wire our house.  I hesitate to bring my power tools, since the voltage in the Philippines is 220 VAC.  Yes I could use a step-down transformer, but I can re-purchase those items in Manila with the money I earn from selling them here. I gave up trying to crate my 76" longhorns, put them on craigslist. (sigh).