Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dolphin Watching My new thrill

When Dave decided to buy a banca (a motorized canoe with outriggers), I was thrilled. We live on a small peninsula surrounded by mangroves, the South China Sea and Puerto Princesa Bay.

I've read that both spinner and bottle nose dolphins ply these waters. These, I believe are spinner dolphins. Spinner dolphins can be found in schools of up to 200 individuals!  They like to feed at night on fish and squid and I read they like to do most of their jumping and spinning at night as well. I guess we were lucky to see them during the day.
A spinner dolphin doing it's thing!!

A lot of tourists come to Puerto Princesa, Palawan for the Underground River, I'll take dolphin watching over it any day...although I have seen the Underground River three times now!!
Shot taken with a GoPro Hero cam in a waterproof case from above the water from the front of the bangka

Spinner dolphins are considered small and weigh up to 79 Kilograms.

Shot with a GoPro Hero2 cam, mounted on a metal pole and submerged when the dolphins would swim by. Swimming with the dolphins or feeding them,  is not allowed  . Best to leave them wild! 

This spinner dolphin was right next to me in the boat...taken overhead with a GoPro Hero2 cam, hand held. There were so many all around us, I just pointed and shot. It was too bright to see what I was shooting, but the GoPro is so wide angle you are bound to get something.

When we spot the dolphins, we head out towards them. They suddenly, magically appear next to the boat and swimming ahead. They will usually disappear again and then resurface when we once again get near them. This is the underwater view of what they were doing and where they were coming from in all directions. Shots were taken with a GoPro Hero cam, in underwater housing, then attached to a metal rod and dipped into the water when we'd start to see them close by.

When we moved here in 2009 I heard there was dolphin watching but we have never taken the tours. When we went out on our own bangka a few weeks ago, along with Alysha, our daughter and some other village children, we were literally flanked by dolphins!

Most tourists come to Palawan to see the to visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River, which of course being one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, is spectacular, and which we have seen 3 times. But for me, since this is practically in our "backyard" so to speak, watching the wild dolphins frolic is my new obsession and joy.

I love living in Puerto Princesa!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thoughts on Motherhood

When I first put up this blog in 2008, our daughter Alysha was only a year old and wasn't talking yet. I was 59. I was wishing she could talk so that I could communicate with her. She is now 6, (going on 30).  I have to say, it's so much better now that she can tell me what she wants.

It was never my ambition to be a mother, and since the Universe contrived a 
situation which removed my ability to conceive, I simply accepted it. In fact, I felt I had so much to work out on in my  youth, that it would have been selfish and detrimental to myself and my child to have had one.
Me and Alysha on our farm in July of 2012 taken by Dave Dewbre

Now that I am going on 64, I have mortality issues. I worry I won't be around long enough to fully teach her all that I want her to know about our world, other people and life itself.  I know that is counterproductive, and I do indeed try to live one day at a time and make the most of it. But once in awhile, I do prepare for the time I won't be around.

She has started school and lives with my even more elderly parents (mom will be 86, dad 93, both healthier and spry than I have ever been) in Puerto Princesa City, during the week, and we now only get her on weekends. I have found that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. Although I reluctantly became a mom late in life, I am very glad I have this opportunity to give Alysha a good and meaningful life. Dave is a great dad and she has learned many things from him, like tinkering with mechanical objects!

I'm not an ooey, gooey mom. I don't get all up in a lather every time she falls down. I just tell her to get right back off and brush herself off. She's very independent now, and chooses to dress herself without my help. She's says, "I WANT to do it myself."

My mom Helen, spoils her, so it's left to me to be the "strict" mommy and see to it that her being spoiled doesn't make it ok to take advantage of people by whining when she doesn't get her way all the time. I think when I was her age, I was a baby tyrant doing whatever I had to to get mom to see things my way. Of course, mom didn't know how to say no to her only baby daughter, and I took quite the advantage of her!  Compared to me then, she's a pretty spectacular kid. We are blessed as she is blessed to have each other in our lives.
Dave with Alysha and her electric car.

When Dave first expressed his desire to raise a daughter, my first thought was, "That's nice, please send me postcards and let me know how ya'll are doing". My way of saying, I didn't sign up for this! Especially since I was fast approaching 60 back then.

After having thought, meditated and prayed about it, and not wanting to deprive my mate from an experience he wanted, I relented. Later it became a mission, and now it's a joy.

I am learning as much about myself as about Alysha. She is teaching me patience and many other things. Here's hoping I stick around long enough for us to really have a grand life together with me and Dave.
Alysha in red, strolling on our property with
our helper Shalla, goat Rachel, cat Ming
ming and daughter of our other farm hand.

We live on a 2 hectare lot in the countryside, away from the maddening noise and traffic. We have been learning sustainable practices. We have animals like chickens and a singular goat named Rachel. I've gotten cats and dogs and a bunny so she will learn to love God's creatures and also how to take care of and respect them as well.

Hopefully she will grow up to love and try to protect Mother Earth as we are trying to do on our semi sustainable farm. If I survive, when she is 20, I will be 83. Heck, my mom is 85 and still drives her to school 5 days a week. I guess there is still hope for me.
Our native home in Luzviminda

A photo of my and Alysha taken in May 2014 - She is now 6 years old and a delight to us all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Medical Tourism Philippines

Had an almost week long stay at St. Luke's Medical Center in Global City, Taguig. Some sort of unidentifiable virus, caused me to be in isolation with no guests allowed.  One of the things I have to work on is my immune system apparently.  One thing I am glad about is the cost of health care in the Philippines and it's no wonder that it is becoming a center for medical tourism.

When I left the States, my health insurance was costing me $850.00 per month because I was over 55 years old.

One night at a hospital in Tucson, Arizona, including my insurance deductible cost me over $7200.00 for a shared room. They left me alone so long that my IV was actually pulling my blood back into the IV bottle, instead of the other way around!  The visit did not include any xrays, or extensive tests either.

At St. Lukes, I was given  X-rays, CT scans, extensive blood tests and a team of 5 doctors, plus a beautiful private suite with my own fridge and microwave.  There are restaurants and even a Starbucks on the ground floor. Dave ordered online for food delivery, since unfortunately, as good as the care was, the food wasn't up to my palate and it was nice to have good gourmet food delivered to my room.

My room had a PC with free internet and even a printer scanner. I had no energy for any of that, but if you're in business and stuck in a hospital, I suppose they would come in handy.

The lounge area in my suite and office center. Not that
I needed one or even was up to using it. I brought
my own ipad and laptop!
They also allow family members to stay with you to make sure you get the care you need and be there for you emotionally as well. All of this cost me $3400.00, because when you are over 60 years old here, you get 20% off your hospital care and doctors fees as well.  If you aren't a senior, do the math and add back the 20% to that bill and compared to a hospital stay in the States for a shared room, it's still a bargain.

One thing of note however, your assigned doctor at any hospital charges 20% of your room rate. I had this suite and the bill would have been much less if I just had gotten a private room without all the bells and whistles.

The nurses and all the staff were so friendly and made me feel comfortable as possible under the circumstances.  When I checked out, I was given a list of all the attending doctors, with their contact numbers and a full list of prescriptions with concise instructions on how and when to take them. And all the hospitals do take credit cards, which definitely helps, since who carries around cash for an emergency visit, which mine was.

Dave got himself an executive check up at the St. Luke's Wellness center on another trip.  I was able to wait for him in a lovely lounge with lots of snacks to keep me from freaking out from low blood sugar. They have all the equipment for tests there so you don't have to go down to the areas where all the sick people are and wait around there.

Here's a list of their Check up packages, and if you live in the United States., I am sure you will agree that it's worth the flight here.

The doctors and nurses are all highly trained as well. The portable Xray machine looked like a girafe which I thought was a cute touch.

It's never fun to be ill and I hope to never have to stay in a hospital again. But I have to say that compared to hospital care in the U.S. the Philippines is a better choice, not only for costs but for the highly skilled Physicians, nurses and technical staff.

Entry way to my suite at St. Luke's,
Taguig with my own fridge and microwave,
and behind the cabinet next to the fridge;
hidden was lot of shelves and a safe to
store your personal items.
I was given a CD of all my tests when I checked out as well as written reports. Every doctor that is listed and works at the Hospital has computer access to your files when you have the tests done there. This makes it really handy too.

This trip to the hospital made me realize that our time on Earth is precious and I am making a lot of changes to my daily life and my own attitude towards certain things as well.  I am glad to be alive and each and every moment is a gift that I will treasure.
Huge fruit basket, a whole watermelow, and other goodies
buried underneath what is showing.

My executive Suite at St. Luke's, Taguig

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sustainable living

It took 10 coconuts to make the 2
bottles of VCO. The one bottle
was full but I had to use some
to cook with!
We have been on the farm now, not quite 6 months and I've been noticing how many coconuts we have around the place. First I started using the coconut milk to make various curries from around the world as well as coconut based deserts and also, I've found the coconut cream is delicious in coffee as well.

I have been reading of the benefits of Virgin Coconut oil and bought a few bottles to use in cooking. So it was a natural progression for me to do some research on how to make your own VCO. Having read up on the internet, it didn't look too awfully difficult, especially when you have a helper who can climb those trees and grate the coconuts!

Coconuts from our trees.
Recently I have also been using the VCO on my face and body after a shower and it makes my skin glow, although I have to admit, I'm not overly fond of the coconut smell on body, but it does dissipate so that eventually I don't notice it.

The process of course does create some by products and not wanting to waste any part of the coconut we have used the coconut husks to plant my orchids in and the coconut shells themselves are are making into various and sundry items like bowls or scoops.  The grated and pressed coconut from making the milk goes either to feed the chickens, as a soil conditioner or lightly roasted with sugar to put over ice cream or the native desert suman, as steamed sticky rice.
I cant even begin to tell you how rewarding it feels to make use of what the land has offered us.

Instead of tossing these into a landfill, we are using them
to grow herbs and veggies. They are just now
Having a plethora of plastic bottles was troubling me so recently, after having seen a photo on Facebook of a hanging garden made from them, I put up the same thing here and there are seedlings sprouting already. It seems a better way to use the bottles than tossing then into a landfill, which at the rate Puerto Princesa is growing, we will be able to make a huge vessel of them!
A skiff made of recycled soda bottles.
Click to enlarge any photo.
Speaking of vessels, I saw this photo on Facebook of a little skiff made of plastic bottles as well as life vests...very clever I say!

Living so far from "civilization", or at least far enough to make it inconvenient if you want something, it makes sense for us to grow our own veggies and also, since we live on an island, to recycle.

We have started to harvest the rain during rainy season to preserve the well water table. We use this water for dishes and washing clothes in, and even for showers.

Our electric motorbikes are charged with the sun.
We use solar panels to charge batteries and so we have solar lights at night even during the frequest electrical brownouts. Dave  even charges his electric motorbikes with solar panels.

We have a few chickens which we allow to free range. The eggs they lay cannot even compare to store bought eggs from commercial egg farms. The yolks are deep orange, and the whites hold their shapes and don't run all over the pan and they taste so much better than store bought.

Playset, slide, swing and sandbox
of bamboo from our groves.
There are 5 bamboo groves on the property so Dave had a playset made for our 4 year old daughter. It's a swing set, slide, sand box and a covered raised area where she likes to play as well. This is her favorite place to play.  When she gets bored with the sand box, which actually keeps her amused for hours, she can swing or slide or day dream on the upper deck.

Check out my other blog on sustainability for more details.

Monday, April 23, 2012

7th Wonder Undergroumd River Celebration Manila

Click to enlarge
We were fortunate enough to attend the historical Official Inauguration of the Puerto Princesa Underground River as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, last April 21, in Manila.

Unfortunately I didn't bring a pro cam so I just have a few snapshots to shot for the evening...but the opening show was great. It was made even more enjoyable because my family and close friends were able to attend and share it with us.

Afterwards we sat near Mayor Edward Hagedorn and we were able to personally thank him for the evening and all his efforts in promoting eco-tourism to the PPUR.

Former Under Secretary of  Tourism Cynthia C Norton, Cecile Limjoco, Mayor Edward Hagedorn,
Diana Limjoco, Back: Dave Dewbre, Jerry Rollin and Avic Alcantara
President Ninoy Aquino presented Mayor Hagedorn a plaque which will be installed on site at the PPUR
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is a definite must see! We have been there three times!

Mr. and Mrs. Randy Limjoco, Dave Dewbre (back) Diana j. Limjoco and Avic Alcantara
Here is an Online article about the event on ABS-CBN

Read my blog about Puerto Princesa Palawan
Read my blog about the Puerto Princesa Underground River

Blog of Diana J. Limjoco of the Clan Limjoco