A piece of the American South in the Philippines??

My parents are back from their month-long stay in the Philippines.  As usual, they brought back a bunch of things they had bought while in Manila and in Bicol.  When they buy things, they always wrap it in Manila newspapers so it’s interesting to look at once the newspapers are unwrapped.

One of the newspapers had this insert that caught my eye.  It was a housing development called “Georgia Club” based in Santa Rosa, Laguna province.  What cracked me up were the descriptions for the housing development in which it was modeled after the “American South”!!

It’s like living in another world

In a more laid back setting, this 15-hectare prime residential property brings a feeling of life that is not cluttered with the otherwise fast-paced, technology-obsessed world today.

Instead, Georgia Club goes back to the basics, with nothing manmade except for its gorgeous, quaint houses that evokes classic American South.

At Georgia Club, we don’t just put attention to detail.  We place it on charm.  That’s why we have more than the usual state-of-the-art clubhouse, and swimming pool.  We’ve added small touches like placing a mailbox in front of every Southern-style home, to remind you of the forgotten joy  of reading a handwritten love letter.  Open porches draw you into the seemingly unimportant pleasure of just watching the day dip into twilight.  And while most things in the world have been diminished into what’s instant and fleeting, isn’t it wonderful that life can still be about the most lingering and gratifying of experiences?  So take that leisurely drive to St. Rosa today and discover the kind of live that waits for you here.

LOL, wut?  Whoever wrote this copy definitely did their research on the American South but honey, just cuz we live here in the South don’t mean we don’t are trying to get away from the real world!  As someone who actually lives in the American South, I am amazed at how they are really trying to replicate the feel of the plantation homes/lifestyle/whatever you wanna call it minus the slaves.

I didn’t see this on the website but it’s printed on the newspaper insert I have:

10 exciting things to do in Georgia Club

Charm’s new address, Georgia Club, offers a variety of activities to do and to experience, promising a day of adventure or of relaxation – your choice – that makes the most ordinary days just a bit more special.  Here’s a list of things to do in Georgia Club:

  1. Set-up a picnic at Daisy Park.  Spend the afternoon lounging around this lovely garden, enjoying the time with friends and family.  Kids can play in the playground while mom prepares the food and dad cooks the barbecue.  [My take: mom nor dad would be cooking as filipinos hire maids to do that for them]
  2. Read a book at the porch. It’s a special feeling to have the time to sit in the porch with your feet up, reading your favorite book.  The Madison, the biggest of all model houses in Georgia Club, features a wrap-around porch like no other.  [My take: Filipinos reading books on the porch? Hardly!  More like hang out at their porch, drinking beer or gossiping about the neighbors]
  3. Go for nature photography.  Trees, flowers and birds around in Georgia Club making every shot perfect.  Nothing beats spending time in nature and actually appreciating it.  It wouldn’t hurt to take pictures of the architectural wonders, too.  [My take:  I guess you'd want shots of a manicured lawn or whatnot over the tropical landscape outside of the property]
  4. Spend time bird watching.  The whole Georgia Club is a bird sanctuary–with over 20 species of endemic birds at any given time–so get your cameras ready to capture in photographs birds in their natural habitat flying with wild abandon.  [My take:  Good luck at catching a shot of those birds while construction bangs away next door over the new house]
  5. Walk the dog.  You and your dog could be challenged with the vast space this 15 hectare prime residential property offers.  It’s a good way to work a sweat and provides quality time with man’s best friend.  [My take:  I RARELY saw anyone walking their dog while I was in the Philippines, both living there and vacationing there.  They typically don't treat their dogs well...chain them up and cage them.]
  6. Play basketball, volleyball or badminton.  Georgia Club has convertible country where its residents can play basketball, volleyball or badminton.  No video game can replace the real thing so it’s time to get back into sports.  [My take: Be prepared for the guys that will play basketball from sun up to sun down.  Our house in Naga is next door to the neighborhood basketball court (we also have a house in a residential development like this) and there are ALWAYS guys playing constantly and loudly!]
  7. Throw a party for friends and family. The club house is spacious enough to accommodate your friends for a birthday party or just a simple get-together.  It’s  the perfect opportune to exercise your social skills without having to log onto Facebook or Twitter.  [My take:  I'd love to see how well maintained they keep their club house after a year!]
  8. Check out the sun-dial. It’s not every day you see a larger than life sun-dial and Georgia Club has one at the Daisy Park.  Here’s your chance to see if the time-telling device does give out and accurate reading or not.  [My take:  Who gives a fuck about a sun dial????  That's not a southern thing, that's an ANCIENT WORLD THING!]
  9. Fly a kite. The breeze in Georgia Club is your best friend, proving a cool atmosphere all day and night.  Rekindle the kid in you and fly a kite.  There are more than enough open spaces for this activity in this community.  [My take:  Not once did I see anyone flying a kite while in the Philippines!  Better to fly them at the beach.]
  10. Know your neighbor.  No man is an island.  In Georgia club, this could not have been more true.  The thriving community attracts individuals and families who’d be more than willing to be acquainted with their neighbors.  A true community, indeed.  [My take:  Oh please!  Both in province and in the city, you're gonna get to know your neighbors, regardless.  So, this is nothing new.]

I just think it’s a little laughable at the way they try sooo hard to recreate a “lifestyle” as they think that is part of the US.  My sister lives in Atlanta, GA and I’m sure she would be laughing her ass off at this so-called community for the rich in the Philippines.

While I was looking at the floor plans of the houses, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of where they would set up their “dirty kitchen”, despite having the clean modern one inside.

I also couldn’t stop laughing at the whole mailbox idea.  Our house in Naga doesn’t have one as the mail man just rings the bell to hand us the mail.  Honestly, I’d prefer that over a mail box there.  Having the mail box would invite people to open it and steal mail which I have no doubt would happen there.  Here in the US, it’s rare that it happens.  It’s a federal crime to tamper with the mail as if you are seen doing it, people will definitely report you to the cops.

The style of the houses, I can see the Southern influence in the windows and some interior things.  If you look at the largest model house, Madison, they have a bedroom for the maid and driver.  Heh, so typical.  Filipinos can’t do their own housework or driving.  Still stuck with that colonial mentality of hiring others do to things for them yet they want the american lifestyle but not the independence of doing things themselves.  I know rich people here in Memphis who don’t have live-in maids nor drivers.
I think, if you’re a fil-am wanting to build/buy a home in the Philippines, you’re better off staying away from these types of residential developments.  For one, you’re probably spending more than just building it yourself.  My mom built our vacation house in Naga at the time the exchange rate was really high.  57pesos to US$1.  Our house is so much bigger than these homes.  We have 5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths but no garage.  Don’t need as we don’t own a car there.  Why bother when our relatives live close by and they have cars.  Plus, we use jeepney, bus and vans to get around.

I would love to see a residential development in the Philippines that is DISTINCTLY filipino.  Problem is, what is distinctly filipino?

Filipino beauty ideal: Be as white as you can be

I’ve been holding off on writing this entry for a while because I wanted to take pics of as many different skin whitening products while in the Philippines but alas, I couldn’t. I was able to sneak some but dammit, each time I tried to take pics when I would go to LCC, Robinsons or an SM, there was always some employees constantly restocking the shelves.

Anyhow, on with the blog post!

In the Philippines (and I stress IN), the ideal filipino beauty is to be fair-skinned. I’m not kidding you. In a land where everyone is born with a permanent tan, these people want to be white. Why? It all dates back to the Spanish rule. Back then, filipinos wanted to emulate their masters as the spanish culture melded with filipino culture (or what was left of it since the Spanish tried to destroy some of it). The lighter skinned spanish beauties were looked up as the ideal beauties of the day. When a spaniard married a filipino, they produced a “mestizo”, a lighter skinned filipino. Colonial mentality would idealized these mestizos as the ideal filipino beauties with their fair skin, straight noses and long graceful carriages where as typical filipinos were dark skinned, had flat noses and short stature.

The white-skinned ideal was still popular when the Americans ruled the Philippines for a while. The filipinos embraced the American culture enthusiatically,…still to this day. The only difference is where Americans, particularly caucasian-americans will spend money to darken their skin, filipinos do the opposite.

Now, I know that other asian countries also have this same “ideal” of “lighter skin is better” since they also sell skin whitening products. I think the Philippines is unique in this ideal since they were ruled by 2 western countries far longer than other asian countries have been.

While I was in the Philippines, I was amazed at the amount of skin whitening products that were being sold. In fact, it was just down right scary. For one, I was afraid to even buy any type of skin/cosmetic product for fear that it contained a skin whitening agent. If I had been able to, I would have taken a picture of the entire aisle of these products. To me, they seemed to outnumber just regular lotions/soaps. I was fortunate to have brought full bottles of my own skin products from the US so I really didn’t have to worry about buying any in the Philippines.

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Going back to the hometown

Yesterday, we drove to Goa. This is my mom’s family hometown. She still has siblings that live in Goa. From what my cousin Jeff had told me, Goa is the largest city in Partido. Partido is just one section of Camarines Sur (which is divided into 4 sections). I used to go to the hometown with my cousins back in 1989-1990 on the weekends and we would just hang out. Unfortunately for me (LOL!), all the cousins I hung out with were my male cousins (either my age or older) and what do males do on weekends? DRINK! I’ll never NEVER forget the time they got me drunk for the first time in my life. That was during the town fiesta that falls on my birthday. That’s another story so I’ll more on.

Mt. Isarog

We left in the morning. This is Mt. Isarog. Goa is on the other side of this extinct volcano. Kinda sucks one has to drive around the mountain to get to Goa. It takes about an hour or so, depending on how many slow ass tricycles and buses are on the road slowing down traffic.

Rice fields all the time Rice rice baby! Oh the rice! It's rice time! Bet there are a ton of leeches in that field! Rice fields near Ocampo

You sick of seeing rice fields yet? I’m not! As we were driving to Goa, I shot these from the jeep. The colors are REALLY this vivid! We left around 9am and it was raining in Naga but once we hit Pili, it stopped raining. The sun was out but blocked by the low lying clouds. So, the overcast produced these amazing shades of green!

We get to Goa after an hour and before we can even get to my Auntie Feching’s house, we stopped in front of Auntie Paring’s house. Jeff called out to some of our cousins in front of the internet cafe next door. As soon as the guys saw me, they were hauling me out of the jeep! LOL! I hadn’t seen them since 1990! Norman, Nonoy & DonDon (yeah, filipinos and their perchant for nicknames!) were happy to see me and ushered me into the internet cafe. Nonoy’s & DonDon’s mother, Auntie Paring, runs the internet cafe. It’s a side business, I guess. They were adding more rooms in the building to house more computers. Goa has many little internet cafes now so even if you don’t own a computer, you can surf for under 30 pesos or so. Actually, I’m not sure how much my cousins charge but I’m sure it’s under 40 pesos, at least. That’s basically under US$1/hr!

The guys have Auntie Paring’s house set up with wifi so when I’m in Goa, I can surf on my laptop there without having to go to the cafe. At the house, I saw my cousin Hatchit who is a doctor. I only got to meet her once 18 years ago when she graduated med school in Manila. Now, she has 3 kids and has her own medical clinic. I talked with her for a while, then with DonDon. All of these cousins are older than me.

After a while, Norman took me to his mom’s house further up the street. I had lunch there. Here are some pics (especially for Clarissa!): (click on the pics to find out what they are)

Beef steak Gabi? Fish steak Fish & veggies in soy sauce