Sunday, February 25, 2007

Just a quick update:

I went into Manila recently and every time we had to turn the car off, the battery died. Turns out that in the Philippines, batteries are only good for max 1 year. They are about 1000 pesos, about $20. We ended up getting a top-of-the-line one with a 1-year warranty for about $30. The driver I hired for the day was shocked that I didn't know that I need to replace the battery every year. I had to tell him that in Canada, I had a car for four years and never once needed to get a new battery and it ran in -20 degree weather.

I have found out that we are only 1 season behind on Grey's Anatomy and a season or two of Desperate Housewives, CSI and House. There are reruns of the Bachelorette and American Idol, Project Runway, America's Next top Model and Survivor. I could probably make a mint betting on who will be the final Survivor. We do get South African survivor too - but the host isn't as good as Jeff Probst. We get up-to-date American Idol, Amazing Race and Rock Star (When it is on). Anyways, I am loving the reality tv shows and it makes me feel a little bit closer to Canada.

Andrew has figured out how to crawl. The only thing is now he won't sit still. Bedtime, diaper changes, clothing changes are very difficult as now not only is he a wiggle bum but he can also crawl away. He is a large 18.8 lbs and 26 inches. He has man boobs and pudgy arms and legs. Still doing open mouth kisses, blowing raspberries and is now working on talking. He started with this sound Dave thinks was like 'Daddy' and now this sound like 'Ah boo.' It could be him trying to say Andrew but that might be wishful thinking. He is also able to imitate you when you splash in the water, and clap your hands and say 'Yeah!.' As always, he is obsessed with Pheobe. He loves looking at her and has been dying to touch her. Well today, she let him. On two separate occasions, Phoebe let Andrew 'stroke' her head. It was more like a hard pat, but she didn't get mad. It surprises me how patient she is with him. Mind you, she must still think that he is her kitten. It is still better than what he does to his stuffies - especially the electronic puppy that Tracey got him and his Turtle from Terry and Laura. Those poor stuffies get mauled. He has some thing about the nose. The bunny bears are no longer his favourites. He just bites the ears, then whips them around by the ears.

Dave's parents were with us for three weeks and we did a trip to Bohol. The resort we stayed in was amazing - and the snorkeling was awesome. Dave's parents did a tour of the tarsiers and the chocolate hills. We also took a small 6 seater plane up to the Rice Terraces and flew over them and the 100 Island National Park and stopped at the Zambales coast for lunch then flew over Mt Pinatubo. The view was amazing but I got a little scared when we went over the volcano and it was a bit bumpy.

My parents will be here in March and will stay until just after Easter. Anyone else up to a visit to the Philippines??

Andrew went to his first birthday party - and the first one in the Philippines. Wow, they go all out!! For a little boy's 2nd birthday they had a catered affair complete with candy floss makers, a bouncy castle, clowns, music, etc. There were even party favours and presents for all the guests. It was for both the parents and the kids. I think there was about 100 people there. It did make Dave and I a little nervous about what we are going to do for Andrew's 1st. Do we do the whole big bash thing like it seems most do here, or do we go for something more low-key and more us. One funny thing was that there was the Jollibee Bee (think of Ronald McDonald) at the party and he did a dance to some song that was all about what you can do to a pussy - stick it don't lick it. And no, we are not talking about a cat. I couldn't believe those lyrics - and especially at a kid's party.

We went to Subic Bay this past weekend and it was nice. Not as nice as Bohol but it was nice to be at the beach. Andrew of course, loves the water. We also went to Ocean Adventures which is like a Sea World but with the tanks right in the China Sea.

There has been some sad news here though, one of Dave's staff members was killed by a drunk driver on her way in to work. It has hit Dave pretty hard - and even though I didn't know her, it was upsetting to me too. Who knows what the legal system will do to the driver - but I don't think it will be much - seeing as there was a case while I was in Canada about a jeepney driver who hit a passenger. then decided to back up and run over the person again since it is cheaper to pay for a funeral than a hospital bill. This is definitely a very sobering and saddening though and has made me be a very, very safe driver.

Hope all is well with you guys,
Love Deb, Dave and Andrew

Monday, August 14, 2006

Update #16: The Tease


My battery is about to die, so instead of typing in my whole blog, I'll provide a little teaser. In a couple of days I should be able to make it back to Alexa's deli to type it out in more detail. I have updated Andrew's Web site, our regular Web site, and our Photo site, so I have been busy. I have also added a new video Web site at

We are moving August 24th so get ready to change our address and phone number once again! We don't have a phone number yet, but our address will be:

15-3 Plum Tree Drive
Waterstone Villas
Balibago, Angeles City
Pampanga, Philippines

When I come back to blog, I will be able to tell you about the inauguration at Clark (where Dave will be working) which had the President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attend. The pics are under Clark on our Photo Site.

I will also tell you about my girls night out with Laine where we hit the girly bars - at least the ones where they would let us in! It was quite a fun night!

This is a quicky so I will tell you this one. When Andrew and I were last at Alexa's deli to meet Marion for a coffee, we were approached by a woman who said Andrew was adorable. I, of course, agreed with her. Then she gave me her card and said she runs a modeling agency and would like to add Andrew to her roster. Pretty neat eh? We'll see if Daddy ok's it.

We also purchased a used Honda CRV. It is a 1998 but has less KM than our Honda Accord. It is in pretty good condition (no rust!!). Both Dave and I took it for a brief drive around the neighborhood. Yep, we drove in Makati!!!! We will need to get our Philippines drivers license though before we can drive it for real. Don't worry, in Pampanga, the traffic lights are actually obeyed and the driving is not scarier than driving in Toronto. When we do trips into Manila, we will get a temporary driver so he can manage the horrible traffic.

That's about it before the battery crashes. Hope all is well with all of you. The three of us are doing great and Dave and I are enjoying seeing Andrew change each day and show more and more of his personality.

Love Deb, Dave and Andrew

Monday, July 24, 2006

Moving again........

We have found a new place!! Yeah! We will be moving to Clarke around the week of August 22nd. I don't have our new number yet or the exact address, but this is the place where we will be living:

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Update 14: Long time, no blog

Forgive me readers, it has been a long time since I last blogged. Things have been pretty hectic here with being a new mom and recovering from surgery. Andrew is a joy to be around but sometimes it can be very trying. Especially when you are going on only a couple of hours of sleep. I find it rare to get out of the house as when I do have a free moment I want to spend it sleeping. Andrew is sleeping at max four hours at a time but it fluctuates a lot depending on how his tummy is and how much he has had to eat. When he wakes up he is up for long stretches of time and wants to be cuddled and enjoys looking at you and cooing.

Things slow down a lot in Manila in the summer. A lot of expats leave to go home for the summer so a lot of social activities get cancelled. It is rainy season, and it rains almost every day. We’ve had a couple of typhoons with one where the eye of the storm was right over Manila. However, a typhoon is not the same as a hurricane. The wind is pretty strong and there is a lot of rain, but nothing like the hurricanes in Florida or New Orleans. The real damage happens afterwards with mud slides in the provinces.

I haven’t done any day trips or anything new since giving birth so I don’t have much to report. I have gone out for dinner twice (without Andrew). Once was to Pepatos - a great Italian restaurant - to celebrate Camilla’s birthday. The other time was to a Filipino restaurant with Dave’s client. Let me tell you, the food is definitely different. Pig knuckles and pig skin are very popular. They eat the whole pig here, from snout to tail. Rice is the main staple and ice tea is very popular. Vegetables are pretty much nonexistent. I also went to a gay karaoke bar with some of Dave’s colleagues. The other type of karaoke place is like you are singing in your own living room and we wanted to feel like we were at a bar and the only place we knew like that that was close by was a gay bar. For those of you who know me from previous karaoke outings, you know that I can’t sing very well. In the Philippines, it appears as though everyone else can sing amazingly. I chose to sing ‘BINGO’ - yes the children’s song, and my main song selections, the Gambler and Sweet Caroline. Dave sang ‘If I only had a brain’ from the Wizard of Oz. Dave did a good job. I... well... I sang.

I have updated Andrew’s Web site so there is some news there. I've also uploaded some more pics - including some professional ones (however they are only low res). Other than that, I should get back home. Hope all of you are well. We are thinking of you and hoping to see you when we go back home in October.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Andrew has arrived

This will be short and sweet as it is time for my son to be fed AGAIN.

For those who don't know, our son, Andrew Alexander Clements arrived on June 9, 2006 at 6:49 AM via C-section. He weighed 7 lbs, 5 oz. Both of us are doing well. Andrew is a cuddly little man who has a ton of funny faces and can be very demanding when he is hungry. I will write more about the delivery and our first couple of weeks but right now, I need to get back home.

Thanks for all of those who welcomed Andrew. He definitely has a lot of family and friends who care about him. We can't wait for you to meet him!

Love Deb, Dave and Andrew.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Update # 12: We've Moved!!!

This is going to be short and sweet as we don't have Internet at home yet and I am running out of time at Starbucks. This is our new Address:

15 B, Tower 2
Salcedo Park
121 H.V. Dela Costa Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City

Our phone number is 011 63 2 844-8573.

As of now, we can receive calls but is has not yet been approved for international calls - as it is in our landlord's name.

As a quick update, I am back on bed rest and only allowed out in a wheelchair. The baby is doing well though and we are looking at a C-section that should be scheduled sometime after June 7th, 2006. More updates will come when either we get Internet at home or when I can sneak out of the house. Hope all of you are well.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Update #11: Old news to me, but new news to you


This will be a mixture of a blog I had worked on prior to the move but didn't get around to finishing as well as providing some new info. It might be hodge podge of grammar and tenses, but hey, at least you're getting an update!!

To start with the most interesting news: the baby is to be born on June 9th, 2006 via C-section. For more details on him, check out his Web site. I have also included a couple of the photos from the 4D ultrasound. To quote Camilla, in one he still looks a bit like an alien, but the profile one looks like a chubby baby.

If you want to see our apartment, I've added a link to the building (Salcedo Park) in the links section. The apartment shown in the pictures is not the apartment we are in, but the layout and everything is similar. It is a large 3 bedroom, 3+ bath, with a huge kitchen and a great view. There is also a maids room with her own separate bath. The building is beautiful and has amazing facilities with a beautiful pool that I love! It is located in Salcedo Village in Makati on H.V. Dela Costa Street - the same street where Glen and Laine and James and Diane live.

The cat loves the place, especially all the large floor-to-ceiling windows. It reminds us a lot of where we used to live in Toronto. The security staff aren't as nice as they were at the other apartment but I think that is just because I get freaked out that the name of the company they are from is called 'Shooter Security.'

We moved the day after I was discharged from hospital and have Laine's sister in law as our household helper. Her name is Blaire and she is amazing. She does all the washing, ironing, cleaning, and has had to do all the shopping as I was not allowed to leave the house. The first couple of times she went shopping for us turned out to be interesting though. I asked for tin/aluminum foil as I didn't know if she would know of it as tin foil or as aluminum foil. Well, she came back with the silver metal you put on roofs. I think we've worked through most of the kinks though. She's also been good company for me when Dave is at work. If you call us and hear a strange voice on the phone, it is most likely Blaire.

Speaking of the phone, we now have our phone unlocked so we can make international calls. We were planning on getting a VOIP hooked up but to do that we need high speed Internet. The only place that provides high speed Internet requires a 1 year contract, so this will probably have to wait until we are more permanently settled. The beauty of a VOIP is that we can call the US and Canada for a cheap flat rate and you guys will only need to call a 416 or 905 number so the long distance bill for you will be really small.

We were registered for Prenatal classes but unfortunately had to cancel due to bedrest. I guess it won't really matter though as I won't have to do any pushing or anything since it will be a C-Section. I was also scheduled to take an Indian cooking class that sadly I had to cancel too. Oh well, hopefully I will still be able to gain access to the recipes.

We had our first jeepney ride by accident. We were coming back from the medical lab where it is really, really hard to get a cab. Finally a cab stopped. Most of the cabs in the city are Toyota Tercel equivalents, but this one was like an SUV. Anyways, it had the 'metered taxi' sign on it so we just hopped in. We said our address and the driver just started to drive. Then I had the fright of my life when all of a sudden the door gets opened and other people just start hopping in. We then realized that we were in an expensive jeepney. Anyways, he dropped us off near our apartment, but due to the pedestrian barricades, it turned out to be quite a walk for us.

On our way back from one of our doctor appointments we had an incident with the street panhandlers. Now to give you some impression of what it is like here, it is not like panhandlers in Canada. Where they just sit there on the street corner with a sign and a hand out or where they wash your windows. Here, they walk in the street - even against traffic - and stop and knock on your window. I find it really hard to just ignore the person, so I generally look at them and say 'sorry.' Big mistake. Then they give you sad eyes and tell you that they are hungry. There are even kids as young as 5 working the streets at night selling all sorts of wierd things like flower necklaces. Luckily just when I have been about to give in the light changes and we are on the move again. Well this time when we were coming home from the doctors, I was stroking my belly and thinking of my little son all safe and sound in my tummy. Then at a stop light, there was a woman with a naked baby boy in her arms asking for money. I couldn't say no, especially after knowing how hard some women and babies have it here and knowing that our son will never go hungry or unclothed. So I gave her some money. Well let me tell you, that was the longest light ever. Right after people saw we gave money, we were surrounded by other women with their babies. Me being a bunch of hormones and already feeling maternal, we had to give to them too. Well then the first mother got mad that the other moms were taking money that should have been hers, and there was a bit of an argument. Luckily the light changed and we were on our way.

Prior to the move and bedrest, Dave and I went to Tagaytay and to Bottoms.

Tagaytay is considered to be THE place to go for Easter as it is considered to be a religious place. Why? I have no idea. Just like I don't know why the Filipinos believe in vampires and witchcraft. I've learned not to ask questions anymore.

Anyways, we went to Tagaytay because it has cooler temperatures, clean air, beautiful views (the landscape is steep rolling hills) and a hotel with a pool I could actually get in and out of. See the last month or so at our old apartment I couldn't use the pool. It only had a step ladder to get in and out, and I was so large that I couldn't do it anymore. The hotel in Tagaytay had steps so I was finally able to get the weight of the baby off of me and cool off.

Me in the pool. I'm still not allowed to swim. So basically I just sit there and read.

The other thing about Tagaytay is that it is where there is a volcano that recently erupted. The volcano is in the middle of the lake. I used to know the name of it, but due to time and just pregnancy brain I can't remember. I think it is the Taal Volcano. We were planning on doing a tour of the volcano but it involved a rocky boat ride and horseback riding and there was no way I was able to do any of that. So we basically just got to enjoy beautiful scenery and I got to sit by a pool again. It is a pretty place, but definitely one of the more overrated tourist places in the philippines, at least in my opinion. Plus the food (my main reason for existence now) sucked. Even Dave wouldn't eat it. The exception though is fresh fruit and veggies. Tagaytay is known for their agriculture.

A pineapple field. I had no idea pineapples grew out of the ground. Please say I'm not the only one who thought they grew on trees.

It was also our first exposure to a tourist place in the Philippines and it is definitely different than in North America. For one thing, they have no location maps, tourist guides, brochures about sites in the area. You are basically on your own. Plus if you don't speak Tagalog, it is really difficult to be understood. Then, when you go to your room - which was definitely clean and ok - there is still nothing to introduce you to the area. There wasn't even a menu for room service. It was quite interesting - it must be that in the Philippines the whole reason for travelling is to stay in a hotel - either that or it was just the hotel we were at.

Bottoms is one of the girly bars located on Burgos street. This is basically one of the red light districts in Manila. I have been begging Dave to take me to one of these bars as I see them all the time on my way shopping and wanted to know what it was like. In the Philippines, a regular bar is very rare to find. I think there are maybe two or three in Makati. The rest are what are considered girly bars. The only people there are men - except for the time when Laine and I tagged along - and basically there are a bunch of scantily clad women dancing. Let me tell you, the dancing and amount of clothing is no different than what you would see at a bar in downtown Toronto. I was pretty unimpressed, I was expecting it to be more like a peeler bar.

Anyways, there are two drink prices: one for the patrons and one for the girls. If you want to talk to a girl (or do more), you have to buy them a drink. The cost for a patron drink is something like $1 but for a girl drink it is like $4. Anyways, in our case we just bought some of the girls drinks (otherwise it is considered rude) and when they were with us we just talked to them. The mamma san of the place even started buying us rounds. I miss wine and beer. Sadly Calamansi soda is just not the same as a nice bottle of red wine. Apparently though it was a tame night and some times you can even see people having sex in the bar. Maybe next time!!

After another frustrating time trying to get service over the phone in the Philippines and spelling my name out, I still became Gabrielle Clemente. I've tried using Deb, Debbie, Deborah and it still shows up on the contract or sales slip as Gabrielle. It is so frustrating! I've had Wendy's hang up on me twice when I call for delivery because they just can't figure out what my name is and in order to get food delivered they need to know your name, address, bra size, date of birth, etc. I've decided I have to have a nickname that will allow me to fit in. I'm thinking of Princess or Bunny. What do you think? The other option is to just say 'Yes' to whatever name they throw out at me.

That's it for now. Hope all of you are well.

Love Deb and Dave