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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.


 
 
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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.

 
 
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"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.

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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.

 
 
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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.

 
 
I had my fathers remains interned at the Columbarium at Fort Sam Houston on Monday.My dad was a veteran of WWII, he was part of the Coastal Artillery Command at Fort Davis, NC, so he never saw any action overseas.  He was a good, kind and gentle soul who would never hurt anyone.
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I want to thank The Department of Veterans Affairs, along with Fort Sam Houston Cemetery.  They supplied an honor gurad who performed a 21-gun salute, and a bugler to play taps before my dad was interned.  I really did not expect this, and I know dad would be very appeciative and honored by this small but respectful ceremony.
Elly cried so hard, she and my dad were "Bingo buddies".  She placed a bingo marker and a troll-doll in the columbarium with his remains.  I gotta be honest, the troll doll would freak me out!  Don't let her do that when I kick the bucket!
Elly also commented on how beautiful the cemetery was maintained, but was in awe of the vastness of it.  Even though I took her to Arlington National Cemetery back in the mid eighties.  I told her their were two US cemeteries in the Philippines, one in Manila, and another not far from our home in Bataan, at the old Clark AFB.  Unfortunately, the Cemetery at Clark was left off of the list of VA cemeteries overseas and is not being maintained by either the US or the Philippine goverments.  I believe the local Angeles City VFW and an American Firm based in Kuwait fund and maintain the cemetery until Congress and get their priorities straight and right a wrong. It took them almost 100 years to stop Concurrent Receipt, so I won't hold my breath!