Thursday, June 01, 2006

4 months of holidays come to an end

I went back to work again as of yesterday. I Had a wonderful time reuniting with my Thursday classes, finding that I had missed the vast majority of my students. Teaching is fundamentally a social thing. I have definitely been missing that aspect of my life while I was in the Philippines.

Even though I'm back at work I think I'd much rather be working than take anymore holidays. That's just as well since if you count the post Christmas holiday I've been on holiday for 4/5ths of this year! What that means is that I probably have to work for the rest of the year to pay the bills and get ready for my daughter and girlfriend to come over to Korea to live with me.

Meanwhile, things seem to have gone bad in the Philippines. Oh, Charlize is happy and healthy and so are Rosi and Rowena, it is the roommate that is causing all of my grief these days. While I was in the Philippines in April and May I met up with another Canadian who had a remarkably similar life situation. His son had just been born when my daughter was only about 10 days old.

He too had some troubles with the "in-laws", and wanted to find a safe place for his girlfriend and son in Kalibo. So, we decided to become roommates. The girls met and seemed to get along well so we went through with it. Unfortunately, I am now in Korea and he has stayed a bit longer in the Philippines to settle things with the hospital and make sure his son is ready to come back to the apartment.

His son was born two months premature and needed intensive care. It looked pretty touch and go for a while. The boy is a real fighter if you are to believe the Canuck, with whom I share the apartment.

The trouble is that this guy, call him Brad, has decided to go back on his word in relation to a few agreements that we have made. He will not admit that he is changing our agreements out-right, instead he simply asserts the new order, as he sees it, and expects me to come on board, as it were.

We both agreed that it would be good to have a yaya (nanny in Canadian parlance) so that the girls could more easily handle the regular household chores. Shopping is not an easy task in Kalibo, especially when your arms are full of baby and without us dads being there, they would essentially both be stuck with their hands full with nobody to help out.

Brad wanted to hire a yaya that had heaps of experience and qualifications, envisioning that his son would need 24 hour care once he was released from the hospital. As such, he suggested that we hire an 'expensive', professional yaya and he would shoulder 60% of the cost seeing as how my daughter is very healthy and has no special needs. The salary that Brad suggested was P3000 ($US 60) per month, which is about 50% higher than the normal wage of P1800 to P2200 for a city like Kalibo.

The higher salary would bring my share of the monthly costs 100 to 300 Pesos greater than it would normally be. But if you are paying only a little more for a professional it seems to be a reasonable idea -- all things being equal.

Now, he has found his girlfriend's aunt as a yaya. She has no special qualification, although she does have many years of experience. Brad wants to pay her P3000 a month! And now he is insisting that his son will not need any special care and so we should pay the salary half and half. On the face of things this seems reasonable. But it is the principal of it that is really beginning to make me angry.

He and I had an agreement about the salary and now he wants to change our agreement. But he cannot do this like a man and ask me. Instead he simply tells me what he thinks we should do and makes no apologies for breaking our agreement. He seems to expect me to take orders from him.

A similar thing happened about a week before I left the Philippines. He called me from the shops to ask if I wanted to split the cost of a certain kitchen table with him. I agreed to share the cost, and he indicated that he would come home with the table in a short while.

When he arrived home he came without a table, saying he did not want to wait in a long line up. Later on, I too, saw the table and said I would pick it up. That is when he told me that he wouldn't share the cost. He wanted me to buy the table out of my own pocket. He also expected me to buy a mattress for the yaya's bed and, no doubt , a few other things.

His method of coercion was pretty simple. Whenever we discussed the absence of a table he said he would not buy it. Either I would buy it or the girls would have to do without.

It is really sad. Why are there so many slippery runts in the world who will do anything in their power to take advantage of others?

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