Pouring the first floor

I have 3 carpenters, 1 electrician/plumber/carpenter, 1 welder/laborer and 4 laborers working on my house full time.  To pour the concrete floor today we hired 8

laborers for one day.

The first floor is on a total of 20 piers of various heights, the shortest is about 4 feet and as you go down towards the ocean the piers get taller.  The house is 7 meters by 12 meters (about 33 feet by 40 feet) and will have two stories.  On the ocean side of the house will be what they call her a terrace but what I would call a patio or porch.  It will be 26 feet long by 10 feet deep on the first floor and  27 feet by 10 feet on the second floor.

Both floors will be 4 inch thick concrete with tile (when I can afford the tile.)   I do not like anything I build to fall apart so I used 1″ rebar going one direction and 5/8″ rebar the other direction.  I used the 1″ because I have a 6′ cantilever that is not supported and I wanted to make sure I have enough strength in the floor.

I used steel decking like most commercial and industrial buildings are made of.  I tried to get steel that is 1.2mm thick but it had to be special ordered from the island of Luzon and would take 30-45 days so I settled for the .8mm thick steel they have on hand in CDO.

When I used to work construction they would use bar joists close enough together that they did not need to use any additional support to pour the concrete on the steel deck.  I used steel I-beams 10 feet apart so they used a forest of coconut lumber to brace the steel deck until the concrete cures.

The slab a total of 1291 square feet and 4 inches thick so they will pour about 15.6 cubic yards of concrete.  ALL of the concrete is being mixed in a small diesel powered cement mixer.

Since the floor is roughly five feet above the surrounding ground they are using home made buckets to lift the concrete up then using a bucket brigade to shuttle the concrete to the lead carpenter who is dumping them.  One of the other carpenters is doing all the troweling alone.

I had bought a bunch of plastic buckets for them to use on other projects but the lead man said to buy empty  2  1/2 gallon soy sauce jugs.  They cut them in half and used some #8 wire that I had left over from a project in CDO to make the bail handles.  They are far more durable than any plastic bucket and cost half as much.

To give you a little information about concrete.  It weighs about 4050 pounds per cubic yard.  I think that is dry weight and not wet weight but I am not sure.  They use way too much water in the concrete they mix here so it is easier to level and finish but it weakens the concrete but it is impossible to get them to use less water so I gave up trying.

Anyway since they are using a bucket brigade each man has to handle every bucket.  If my math (calculator) is correct that means each man will handle roughly 63,544 pounds today.  I will repeat that sixty three THOUSAND, five hundred and forty four pounds.

Not every one is in the bucket brigade all the time.  Two guys are running the mixer, two guys are shoveling the concrete into the buckets, two guys are filling empty cement sacks with sand and gravel that will be carried to the mixer and dumped in and one guy is doing the trowel work.  As they get closer to the mixer they will not need as many in the line to they will be able to rotate out and rest but it would have killed me this morning to do as much work as each man did before lunch.



I think there must have been a major storm move past Camiguin in the last week because we have had a lot more rain than normal. It was also pretty windy last night.
It started on about Oct. 11th. I noticed the waves were about 3 feet from the top of the crests to the bottom of the swells. Normally the waves are about a foot from top to bottom. The biggest I noticed were this past Tuesday. They were 5-6 feet high.
Wednesday the ocean was back to normal but today it the waves are back to 4-5 feet. I went down to our beach today while the tide was going out. The waves were still big enough to splash me above the normal high tide level. I noticed that the 3 big rocks that I used to use to judge the tide are GONE. I will have to pick something new to gauge the tide by.
Work on the house is slow this week. One of the laborers did not show up Monday, it was a pretty rainy and unproductive day on Wednesday and no one worked today because of the rain.
I am not sure how much it rained yesterday and last night but it had to be a lot because I see water where I never saw it before. Les was bored today so we went for a drive. There is a small concrete ditch beside the highway all the way around the island and today for the first time I saw water in it in places. There were also a few streams of water coming down the mountains where I have not seen them before.

Living in Sagay

Rented rooms in Sagay
We have been living in two rooms we rented in Sagay since September 6th. We also get the use of two other small rooms we use as a kitchen and place to put a washing machine.

The first two nights here were so quiet we both had trouble getting to sleep because we were used to the noise of CDO. It was as quiet as my farm house outside Van Wert.
We did not notice a swampy area diagonally across the street from us until it rained though. Since the first rain after we moved in we have been serenaded by a whole herd (flock, gaggle, school, whatever the term for a group of frogs is) of what could be bull frogs. I do not know if there are 10 frogs over there or 1000 but the noise is continuous every time it rains. It continues for a day or so after the rain stops and starts again when it rains again.

Another thing I blame on the swamp is the huge number of mosquitoes we have in our room. We kill several every day and I have sprayed twice but we still get bitten a few times every day.

Filipinos invent special events just so they can have a party. Every city and little town and even small sections of the big cities have their own festival every year. This saint, that saint, this war hero’s birthday etc.

The town of Sagay had a 2 day festival last week about some saint but that was just a minor celebration compared to the one coming up in about a week. The Lanzone Festival is an island wide party. It will be a week long and celebrates lanzones. Lanzones are a sweet fruit that is very popular with Filipinos and the ones that grow on the island of Camiguin are supposed to be the sweetest ones in the Philippines. Personally I cannot stand them. The one time I tasted them I spit it out.


Anyway the government spends a huge amount of money to put colored cloth onto bamboo poles then put them along the highway all the way around the island. The highway is about 40 miles long. Last week they also put up about 6 full color signs printed on cheap tarps in front of my property. They are all the same sign and only about 10 feet apart so it is a waste of time and money if you ask me. There are about 4 different patterns of signs they are putting up all around the island and I am guessing they will have a few thousand of them up before the festival starts on the 21st.
I do not really care about the banners or signs one way or the other but one bad side effect of the upcoming festival is all the extra noise. We are in the center of Sagay now but it is only about 4 or 5 blocks deep from the ocean by about 10 or 12 blocks along the ocean. About 4 blocks from us is a gymnasium they also use for an evacuation point in case of a typhoon or tsunami or other emergency. For the last 8-10 days they have been using it for several different groups of school kids to practice for what I assume will be a parade. They have about 20 drums on the stage and 20 boys “playing” them until about 10:30 EVERY STINKING NIGHT. I use the word “playing” but I mean to tell you they beat the ever living shit out of those drums. The smallest drum looks like it is about 16” and the biggest drums are about 40”. They are much bigger than a 55 gallon barrel.
There is no place in town that is quiet when they are beating on the drums.
The kids look like they are practicing some sort of tribal warfare dance like you see in the old movies.
The lanzone festival is the biggest one on Camiguin and it draws thousands of tourists from all over the Philippines and lots of foreigners as well.
Camiguin has about 90,000 people living here but tourism is the ONLY reason there are people here. If not for the money tourists spend here the population would be about 1000 because there is no industry, very little agriculture or anything else for people to do to earn money. There is some fishing, they grow some rice here and a lot of people raise a few pigs but they do not produce enough food to fed the 90,000 here.
Almost everything comes on trucks that are brought here on ROROs. Ferries that you Roll On, Roll Off of. That is how I get my car or truck back and forth to Mindanao.
I look forward to the time my house is finished and I am not in the town anymore. I want QUIET.



Best laid plans
We woke up about 3:40 AM today to go back to CDO for a few days. We got to the pier at 4:30 only to find out the ferry that was supposed to leave at 5:30 was broken down. The next ferry does not leave until 7 AM so we drove the 10 miles back to the room we rent on Camiguin to kill time.
The Philippines has at least as many people on welfare as the USA does. One day earlier this week I noticed a couple pink t-shirts with a logo on them. I asked Les about them but she did not know what they were at that time. Then we started seeing other color t-shirts with the same logo on them all over Sagay (the small town we are staying in.)
She asked around and found out the t-shirts were given by the government and each area got their own color. It was also FREE MONEY day for the poor people. As a result the town was flooded with hundreds of people who could not wait to spend their money. By about noon all the excitement was over and the town was back to the sleepy burg it normally is.
When driving to the ferry this morning I did notice there is one bakeshop at was open. Considering how small this town is I was amazed. It is hard to guess how many people live here because there are so many kids but the town is only about 3 blocks wide and 8 blocks long so I would say it has about 500-750 people maybe. There are about a dozen small stores that sell groceries, about 4 bakeshops, 2 gas stations, 5 or 6 small hardware stores one public elementary school, one public high school and one private school.
I can see the private school out my window right now. It is on the far side of a block that is between us but they have had band practice a few days and it can very easily be heard inside my room and that is with the A/C on here.
The men are making good progress on our house. They are pouring the concrete for the foundations that will be under the posts our house will sit on. I am hoping to be living in our new house by about March 1st.
Our house will be on the main highway between Sagay and Catarman. Catarman is a little bigger than Sagay but not much. We will be about a mile from Sagay and 2 miles from Catarman.
Until this week I thought the tide here was only 12-14 inches and that may be what it is normally but even our landlord here in Sagay commented yesterday about how high the tide has been this week. I started paying attention to the time last week and now I think the difference between the extreme high tide and extreme low tide is almost 3 feet. That puts my house closer to sea level than I really like but since I am still about 6’ above high tide plus the 4’ legs that my house will sit on so I still consider myself very safe.
Les has been reading on Facebook about two earthquakes that hit CDO about 4 AM this morning. I guess one of them was 4.5 on the scale so I assume that woke everyone up.
It is now 1 PM and we are in CDO. No earthquakes since we got here but I got a few PSAs on my phone about some quakes nearby. One was a 5.4.


Les and I just went for our first skinning dip in the ocean together. It is completely dark here by 6:30 PM and we went out about 7 so no one could see us even if they were near.
The place we are staying for now is a very large lot with the house located in the center of it. We are about 1 ½ miles from our own lot.
The beach here lacks a lot in the sand department. It is very much like ours, all rocks. Most are muskmelon size or smaller but some are as big as basketballs and all of them are loose and can move if you step on them. It makes it a challenge to walk out to the water.
I will try to put gravel on part of my beach to see how long it stays in place. If it stays long enough to justify the cost I will probably replace the gravel as needed when it washes away.
We are renting two rooms here. They are on the second floor and are only rooms in this building they rent out. The first floor is storage for lumber and junk. The landlords are a large family of at least one doctor and one businessman. I have no idea what the other people do for work but it sounds like we will be alone here almost all the time. These rooms were only built so the extended family would have a place to stay for reunions, parties etc. Since we are renting them they will all stay in the main house like they did before they built these rooms.
We took over two rooms of a third building for our kitchen and washing machine. It is not exactly the most convenient but it will work fine for the six months or so that we will be here. We rented the second room for her kids to stay in at Christmas if we are here and to store some of our junk in. Both rooms have queen beds with private bathrooms. We asked for a water heater to be installed in our bathroom and they did it.
If anyone wants to visit we can put you up very well at any time. It will take about 10 minutes to organize our junk in the other room is all. Both rooms are pretty big.
I would love to have visitor/visitors from home.


Plan C

Plan C
My plans have had to change about my house plans here several times in the last few weeks.
My first plan was to buy a shipping container and convert it into a temporary house for us to live in while our house was being built. We planned to rent it out as a resort room or apartment after we moved into our house.
I put a $400 deposit on a Hi-cube container (9’ 6” high overall compared to a standard container height of 8’ 6”) last month. Les had talked to one of the ferry captains here and was told one of the ferries was able to haul it. Well the captain was wrong. It is too tall once it is loaded on a truck.
My next plan was to build an 800 square foot house made from steel and put it in the same place the shipping container house was going to be located. We soon realized the costs were spiraling out of control to build that house as well as a concrete house for us.
My current plan and hopefully my last is to build a steel house on the same footprint as the small house but make it two story and 1600 square feet. It will also have an 8’ wide by 40’ long patio on the ocean side and a balcony on the second floor above the patio.
I was planning to build a concrete house about halfway between the highway and the ocean but I would have needed to buy a lot of fill material because I have been told several times that it used to flood here during heavy rains. They have done a lot of work on drainage along the highway but after suffering from two floods in CDO I refuse to take a chance.
Our steel house will be very near the ocean and built on legs over 3 feet high so that if it does ever flood the water will just go under the house. The ground under the house is 8.9’ (106”) above sea level. I do not remember if that was high tide or low tide when we measured but the tide here is only 12” – 14” so it is not too important. My floor will be one meter (39”) above that for a total height above sea level of 12.1’.
That is not quite as high as I had hoped but the higher I make it, the more steps I have to climb to get into the house. Life is a series of tradeoffs.
We are renting two rooms in the town of Sagay just over a mile from where our house will be. The rooms are brand new and still need some work done but are pretty nice. The owners are part of a big family and they built the rooms to stay in while they are on Camiguin for parties/reunions.
The biggest advantage of a steel house compared to a concrete house is the speed it can be built. A concrete house like I planned would have taken at least a year to build. I think we can be living in our new house sometime in early 2018.
Les and I will go back to CDO tomorrow. She was not happy with the progress the workers were making on the addition to her mom’s house so she fired them. Now she needs to tell the new men what she wants done. I need a few more tools and materials anyway so I will take her and bring her back to Camiguin on Thursday. The round trip to take my truck on the ferry plus the diesel costs about $100.