It’s been six years since our last visit to Philippines; it goes without saying that there have been changes over the past few years – some positive while some others, not so much.
J.P. has two additional cousins who hadn't been born our last time here and the two who we have seen before were almost unrecognizable – they’re no longer infants. His youngest aunt, who was only slightly older than he is now, has grown into a tall, very pretty teen aged young lady.
Most of the family is living in the new house. There’s still more work to be done on the house, but it’s certainly an improvement over the old house.
As expected, not all of the changes that have occurred these past 6 years have been for the best. The traffic in Dumaguete is unbearable. It’s never been what you might call a pleasant experience, but the increased number of vehicles on the streets doesn't add anything to what was once a very charming city.
Worst of all the changes has been the tremendous increase in the price of everything. Some items, such has sacks of rice are still cheaper than in the U.S., but prices on some items are absolutely outrageous. The price of a 50 Kg sack of rice may be half that of the same bag in the U.S. – I purchased a can opener at Super Lee’s yesterday for more than 600 pesos, approx. $15 at the current rate. A can opener which, it turns out, I didn't even need in the first place.
Even as the price of everything has skyrocketed (showing the Philippine peso to have lost value) the value of the U.S. dollar has dropped even more. During my earlier visits, I could easily get 50 pesos per dollar but today the exchange rate is only 41 peso per dollar; a peso that has itself gone down. I don’t know how well other currencies are doing viz a viz the peso, but from what I can see, the global economy is still n a slump.
Some things here haven’t seemed to change. Tiny geckos, slightly longer than a man’s index finger still have reign over the people’s homes. Most of the Americans I know would freak at the thought of little lizards crawling about the house. They don’t, however, get in the way while they keep the number of insects in the home to a minimum.
J.P. seems to be taking everything in stride. He’s adapted to life here faster than I did my first visit. Technically speaking, of course, this isn't his first trip, but he remembers never at all from that visit).
Life in Philippines isn't easy. Most of my fellow Americans would absolutely dread being here. I’m sure I’m out of the ordinary, but I actually like it here.