Saint John the Baptist Church of Tabaco City

This last Sunday I went to English Mass in Tabaco City at Saint John the Baptist Church. The church was full from the front to the back to include the sides. It took nearly 20 minutes for most of the attendees to leave. After Mass I took some photos. Some photos I used grey scale and some I used vintage effect. 

I used a Pentax Camera Model X-5, 16 Megapixels, 26x zoom, 3″ tilting LCD screen. 

David Lee Martin

Functional US Army Veteran


KC Land Park in Tabaco City

This week and half I have taken some time to travel around a bit. I went to Naga City for a few days then to Tabaco City. While I was in Tabaco City I went to KC Land Park with my wife’s cousin and a few friends. I managed to get a few nice shots of the Mayon Volcano and of the park.

Although there were some beautiful things to see, the place wasn’t without some disapointment. There was a lot of trash laying around the drive way and parking area. The fish ponds were not maintained. The algae was so thick you could hardly recognise the fish. There was construction going on with one of the structures but the builders had the entire work area a mess, no organizational skills were evident.

Trash was all over the area surrounding these birds. This is near the inner most part of the driveway next to the structure being worked.

This probably pissed me off the most. This small horse has about 15 feet of rope tied to her. 5 feet behind her tie down post is a huge pile of trash. There seems to me that there is a lack of care for the Animals kept here that are suppose to be part the the local attraction. Suppose this horse consumed some plastic…. She would likely die a sufferable death. The trash also represents an injury risk for horses as there is a soft spot under the rear of the hoof called the “frog”, it is very sensitive to sharp objects to include stones and requires frequent checks and cleaning. If this is cut through the horse will be rendered lame. Bleeding there is also very hard to stop.  This horse was well domesticated. She had no problems with me walking up on her and petting her. 

If you are in Tabaco City and want to go here, just find a tricycle operator near centro, (down town) and ask them to take you to KC Land Park. It is about a 10 minute ride and cost me 100 peso for 4 of us…. Kano price I guess. 
David Lee Martin

Functional US Army Veteran

Bats at Saint Michael’s 

Today I went riding around and once again stopped at Saint Michaels Church in Caramoan. I had a few questions to ask there. But this time I noticed something inside the church that I did not before. Bats!

I think they are cute little fur balls with wings that are misunderstood and feared too much. They are nature’s insect control. Their primary diets consist of insects and nectar fruits. They don’t bother people unless disturbed. These are most likely the common fruit bat.

Amazing how they can adjust and cohabitate the same space as people without being a problem. Just watch out for guano. 

Here is a net that someone previously put up. Most likely to stop the birds from coming in and crapping all over the pews and the Altar. Then someone who respects wildlife probably noticed it was killing the animals so they cut it open. It still caught a few. 

David Lee Martin

Functional US Army Veteran

One Year In The Philippines

I have been living in the Philippines now for a year. I came here with about $10,000 saved in the bank and it did not last long with the finishing of our home and buying my bike. Only last May did my Veterans Affairs appointments start and surprisingly I was given a small disability percentage, it does help. That payment started in July. It’s not enough by US standards if I was living in the US, but it is enough to sustain a decent life here in the Province. If you come here to live, have a plan.
I been living the simple life here with my wife. We have pigs, chickens, and grow vegetables. I have seen more of what life here was like in the provinces for the locals. Many people here living with next to nothing, surviving off the land. Growing rice, vegetables, and some livestock. Beef is expensive and not so common, but fish, chicken, and pork is somewhat abundant. I have definitely become more healthier living here. There is No fast food in Caramoan. I hope it stays that way.
The primary source of income in my area for the locals is coconuts. They dry it out and sell it by the weight. It goes towards the making of coconut oils, creams, and what ever else you can imagine with coconut extract. Like rice, coconuts are also a family affair, even children of the families will take a few days out of school to climb the trees for coconuts that are ready for harvesting. Some people make money through the small resorts and island hopping. There is a tourism industry here but it is not much as Caramoan is a bit out of the way with no airfield. The TV series Survivor has helped a lot with boosting tourism as many countries other than the US have filmed their version of Survivor here.
Many people in my area do not have much for serviceable clothing. Most men wear worn clothes full of holes and rips. Many women don’t have bras and their clothing are worn thin. Many kids have clothing that do not fit well or they are faded hand-me-downs from older siblings. Their only good clothing is usually saved for church or the school uniform, and sometimes that is handed down and not properly fit. Many young kids are barefoot here and even wear flip flops to school. I would love to help everyone if I could. But I am not a charity and I would go broke myself helping everyone here who could use the assistance. I have already given away shirts and stuff that I don’t wear or did not fit as I expected it would. Even still, the overall quality of life here is better than it is in Manila.
Just about everyone in my area is Roman Catholic or Born again Christian. There are a few missionaries in the area, even Jehovah’s Witness. I don’t see them too much in Caramoan. But near to Naga City they are more common. Even me, since being in the Philippines, I have taken more interest in Catholicism. I was not raised to be a religious man. My Grand mother was, but my mother wasn’t. I been reading more on the Catholic religion. Soon I will be baptized a Catholic. My wife is Catholic. After living in the Middle East for many years I see that Christianity is far better than Islam on any given day. Islam is cruel, Heartless in most areas, and quite sick.
My main mode of transportation here is my Motorcycle. I have a Kawasaki Rouser 200 NS which is an excellent affordable bike for someone my size. We also bought a Kawasaki Barako II 175cc. We turned that into a tricycle for transport and resupply use. I been saving and soon I hope to buy a new truck. Sometimes I am stuck at the house due to the weather. I don’t ride in the rain. A truck would better suit our needs.  When I go places like Manila, Naga City, or Tabaco City I will use the bus. Public Transportation in the Philippines is really cheap compared to other countries. I have had nerve damage in my right wrist since I was in the Army. After about an hour of riding and throttling on the bike my hand becomes completely numb and I will have to stop a while to shake it out.
As a pensioner or someone living on disability without a business; the provinces of the Philippines is a good location due to the low cost of living. Before my disability started we were able to sustain ourselves on much less than 500 USD a month. However we do own our home and have a well for water. Our only utility bill is electric and it runs far cheaper than it does in the US. On my last trip to Naga City I met an older American couple from the Los Angeles area of California who moved here because it was more affordable to live here.
To my readers, If you have been to the Philippines or live here as a foreigner, what are your experiences? Did you get a pass or fail in your endeavors?
David Lee Martin
Functional US Army Veteran

Nissan Navara Sport Edition 

As from my post the other day I had mentioned that I was in the Market for a new Vehicle. Just by chance, my last day in Naga, the local dealers had switched their display models in SM Mall. Today Nissan displayed their NP300 Navara 2.5 4×4 VL SP which is priced at PHP 1,656,000 cash. That is $35,675 US. 

After sitting in the Navara I had a better feel for it than I did for the Ford. I had more leg space and the driver seat was more comfortable. But how is it for actual utility or work use? That I don’t know. 

This paticular one is 4×4 with an electronic transfer. Something new to me by far. I am use to fighting with the sticking of transfer shift levers and sometimes manually locking hubs in military vehicles. This ease of access in modern technology truly is a blessing when needed.

Some of the features I like are the: fog lamps, step sides, roof rail, plastic bed liner, back-up camera system with sensors, 80 liter fuel tank, 7 speed Automatic transmission with manual mode, front and rear air conditioning, and a USB and speaker cable jack for sound system accessories.

What do you readers think? What is your favorite mid-size pick-up brand or model of choice?
David Lee Martin

Functional US Army Veteran

Rafabel’s Cakes and Pastries

This week I am in Naga City, Bicol. Today I tried a new coffee shop. Not really new, just new to me. I love just about anything to do with coffee, except the crazy flavors they come up with. So today I bought a regular Cappuccino and a slice of Oreo cheese cake. Sadly the cheese cake was a little on the dry side.

I would have to say I was quite impressed with the Cappuccino. It’s not a main-stream joint like Starbucks or Seattle’s Best. The price of the cappuccino was cheap but tasted better than Starbucks.  Kinda goes to prove that main-stream is not always better. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to try something new. 

David Lee Martin

Functional US Army Veteran

The 2016 Ford Ranger

I recently decided to buy a new vehicle. Something affordable and practical that can be used for work, hauling things, and family use. So I am taking a look at the Ford Ranger series. I would prefer the F150 but they no longer sell that line in the Philippines.

These pictures are from Google Search.

I was looking to buy directly with cash with a budget of about $18,000 – $20,000. It has been a long time since I bought a new vehicle. Inflation kinda slapped me around a bit, international import tarifs might also have play in the cost. The cheapest model I am considering to buy is the Ford Ranger XLT with automatic transmission at a cost of PHP 1,279,000 ($27,500 +/-). I refuse to finance anything, especially in the Philippines. Banks here they rob the people with financing. With their 5 year plan; if I were dumb enough to finance, the total would be PHP 1,844,370. So it looks like I will be pinching pennies for a few months. Maybe I will be looking at the 2017 models when I am ready.

My philisophy is that if I did not already need it to survive already, then I don’t really need it. I just want it. It is always best to save your earnings and pay cash. It just takes a lot of discipline. In the end you will thank yourself. It will feel like an earned accomplishment. That brand new car smell is more gratifying when you sit inside and know you owe no one for interest and financing. That it’s 100% yours; paid for with hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, and especially patience And self-discipline. 

Automatic Transmission

What are your thoughts on Mid-size trucks? What brand do you prefer or would you recommend? I like Fords because they have always been known to be good American farm trucks and reliable when properly maintained. 

David Lee Martin

Functional US Army Veteran