Our contrarian garden

Living on the Island Garden City of Samal (otherwise known as IGaCoS), it behoves us to keep an attractive garden of our own. Previously, a fern I photographed at Davao’s Kadayawan festival gained some attention from an Australian gardening magazine. A new (and exciting) growth in our kitchen garden prompts me to illustrate some of the plants we surround ourselves with.

Elephant Yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius)

I had a complaint the other day about a terrible smell outside the kitchen. I went off to investigate and discovered an amazing flower about the circumference of a dinner plate stinking like a rotting corpse and covered in flies.

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We were given the ‘jungle’ plant by a relative, it was just a strange prehistoric looking plant with a scaly stem which grew to about 5′ tall. The flower was a bit of a surprise.

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While I had the camera in my hand, I also took a photo of another curious flower living outside the kitchen.

Blood flower, Fireball Lily (Scadoxus multiflorus)

Blood flower, Fireball Lily (Scadoxus multiflorus)

 

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the garden…

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Caladium

Caladium

Crepe Ginger/Spiral Ginger (Costas speciosus)

Crepe Ginger/Spiral Ginger (Costas speciosus)

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Allamanda

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)

Codiaeum

Codiaeum

Cabbage tree (Cordyline)

Cabbage tree (Cordyline)

Powderpuff (Calliandra)

Powderpuff (Calliandra)

Jungle Flame (Ixora)

Jungle geranium (Ixora coccinea)

Dwarf palm (Chamaedorea)

Dwarf palm (Chamaedorea)

Cactus

Cactus

Euphorbia canariensis

Euphorbia canariensis

Furcraea

Furcraea

Pineapple

Pineapple

Off-cuts

Update 5

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My attempts at making a bed for the crooked man

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Some steps I made from from some very old off cuts

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Add a touch of varnish

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Another set of shelves following the design of the first set

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Update 4

When the local lumberjacks cut up coco-lumber with their oversized chainsaws, they inevitably leave behind large wedge-shaped offcuts as they turn trees into planks. The offcuts are from the base of the tree trunk and consist of incredibly heavy dense wood. Because of its odd shape and weight, this wood is usually left to rot and occasionally burnt on the spot. What a waste! So last August (2013) when our local road was widened, it required the felling of a number of coconut trees. After the locals had helped themselves to all the wood they wanted, I loaded the large wedges and scraps into the multicab and brought them home for the right moment of inspiration.

Wedge-shaped coco-lumber offcuts

Wedge-shaped coco-lumber offcuts

More 'scrap' wood

More ‘scrap’ wood

Note the long fibres in the coco-lumber planks

Note the long fibres in the coco-lumber planks

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A smokin' joint!

A smokin’ joint!

Final assembly and a coat of varnish

Final assembly and a coat of varnish

Turning 'waste' into something with long-term use - cost: a handful of screws and a small can of varnish!

Turning ‘waste’ into something with long-term use – cost: a handful of screws and a small can of varnish!

Update 3

Even the apprentice has got in on the act.

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I know what you're thinking, but this bookcase is in active service and is rock steady and full of large books!

I know what you’re thinking, but this bookcase is in active service and is rock steady and full of large books!

As you can probably tell, we're almost out of off-cuts.

As you can probably tell, we’re almost out of off-cuts.

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Update 2

I’ve finally got some time on my hands during the kids long summer holiday to sort through some of the other off-cuts left over from the house building and other projects. I decided that I needed some book cases and we had so much applause from visitors for our table (see original story, below) that I thought we’d have a second bite of the cherry to see if we could sell one.

First the book shelves (as they are mostly complete).

First up, my own very simple shelf 'crafted' from just six pieces of wood. The two planks were rescued from a hedge (the lower one having cement on it). The top plank was painted dark brown and then disposed of. It's not pretty or clever, but it will hold coffee table books.

First up, my own very simple shelf ‘crafted’ from just six pieces of wood. The two planks were rescued from a hedge (the lower one having cement on it). The top plank was painted dark brown and then disposed of. It’s not pretty or clever, but it will hold coffee table books.

While I was working on the simple bookcase and practicing my mortise and tenon joints (after about 38 years since my last woodwork lesson), my homestay guest got inspired and beat me to the pile of uneven lumber for the more ambitious project.

While I was working on the simple bookcase and practicing my mortise and tenon joints (after about 38 years since my last woodwork lesson), my home-stay guest got inspired and beat me to the pile of uneven lumber for the more ambitious project.

To the untutored, Sasha used ‘cross-halving’ joints.

To be fair, he is an interior designer, and I'm not!

To be fair, he is an interior designer, and I’m not!

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If you are interested in rediscovering woodwork as a hobby, the internet is full of useful sites such as Woodworking Joints and a Project Gutenberg manual Woodwork Joints.

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Laying out the next table-top. I'm hoping that the variety of woods will give interesting shapes and colours when it's planed and varnished

Laying out the next table-top. I’m hoping that the variety of woods will give interesting shapes and colours when it’s planed and varnished

Update 1

Having been building on our land for almost two years, we’ve accumulated a lot of off-cuts of wood, bamboo and also sea shells from the beach, driftwood and coconut shells. When we’re doing nothing else (which, to be fair, is rare) we get creative and make wind chimes. Here are some of the experimental chimes we’ve made (and sold) recently.

Made from sea shells and bent bamboo

Made from sea shells and bent bamboo

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Bamboo off-cuts make nice noises in a strong wind

Bamboo off-cuts make nice noises in a strong wind

Coconut shell and bamboo

Coconut shell and bamboo

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Original story

In the course of erecting a new wooden staircase for a new building, we produced a lot of odd shaped wooden off cuts. In the normal course of things (in the Philippines and on building sites everywhere) off cuts get thrown on a fire or in a skip. Having spent a lot of money buying the timber, I was determined to re-use and recycle as much as possible.

A pile of offcuts

After a few practices setting out to find an interesting shape, the pieces were joined together by craftsman ‘Dodong’ Baldon

No legs, but a driftwood base to the table

The table in its raw state

After a few coats of varnish

The offspring table in the foreground and the parent staircase in the background

Tesla Just Powered a 600-Person Island With Renewable Solar Energy — TwistedSifter

When you live on a remote island, scarcity is a recurring theme; from food to power to accessibility. The island of Ta’u in American Samoa knows this all too well. Located 4,000 miles (6,400 km) from the west coast of the United States, the island is no stranger to power rationing and outages. To…

via Tesla Just Powered a 600-Person Island With Renewable Solar Energy — TwistedSifter

Secdea Resort, Samal Island

Emma gets all the birthday treats! In 2015 (a significant year for her…say know more), I treated her and the family to a day at the new Secdea Resort on the northeastern coast of Samal Island. We’d tried going there twice before, but had been put off by the price of a day visit. But we kept hearing good things about the place (‘world class resort’ and so on), so for her important birthday, I bit the bullet and (mixing my metaphors) coughed up.

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Some nice detailing using driftwood as ornaments

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A twist on the old theme of wagon-wheeled chairs

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The resort has some beautiful pools for swimming despite being by the sea

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When you visit the beach, you realise why. The coastal area is mangrove, which is totally natural and an ecological haven for crabs and fish. Rather than destroy this, the resort has gone to extraordinary lengths to make this a feature, with walkways and signposting.

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An epiphytic fern

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She who must be obeyed commands her Crab Army to attack

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The rest of the grounds aren’t bad, either

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Banana Beach Resort, Tagum (Davao del Norte)

This year’s special treat for Emma’s birthday was an overnighter at Banana Beach Resort, near Tagum City in Davao del Norte – about 60km north of Davao City. The resort had recently been recommended to me for its natural setting and wild monkeys and pigs. There are actually very few wild monkeys left in the Philippines, which is a very sad fact, so the chance to see monkeys in the wild was something I wanted to do.

The resort isn’t cheap, costing around P1000 per person per night for an open cottage.

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The open cottages have mosquito nets, mattresses and clean linen and towels. There are drop-down screens for privacy at night.

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Black sand beach and a view taking in Davao Oriental (on the left) Samal Island (in the middle) and Mt Apo (where the trees meet the horizon).

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The pool and restaurant

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The restaurant and cottages are right on the north coast of the Gulf of Davao

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Mt Apo, soon after dawn

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Samal Island breaking the horzon

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Davao Oriental swathed in early morning mist

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Pathway to the bahay kubos (nipa huts)

And so to the Forest Tour…

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The open-sided tour vehicle meets monkeys and wild pigs (known locally as baboy damor)

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The beginning of the tree-top walk

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The tree-top walk is about 5m off the ground

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60 Ha of forest has been set-aside for conservation purposes

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The guides are ever-present and great at answering questions

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The giant buttresses of the Dao tree

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Davao’s Kadayawan Festival 2016

As previously described here and here, Kadayawan is Davao City’s harvest or thanksgiving festival.

Photographs from this year’s Indak indak (the competitive cultural street dance)

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Meanwhile, on the other side of the city at SM Ecoland…

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Opposite Farmer’s V – Penaplata, Samal

The Bahay Kubo - Restaurant & Bar

20160612_122959 Call/Text 0999-663-4703 for directions

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千奇百怪的英文名 – funny English names in Asia

Back in the late 90s, our office used to issue every staff member with their own copy of a printed telephone list that was reissued every time staff left or joined. First job of the day that the list arrived was to read through it and find the new hilarious names.
Cute Fok
Smile
Rocky
Rambo
Augustine
Stephanous
And so on.
When the Asian financial crisis set in and there were more lay-offs than joiners, we started a rival to the Hang Seng index – the Wong-Chan index to see if the Wongs or the Chans suffered more when the lay offs came. Gallows humour!

My Hong Kong Husband

There are things in life we don’t get to chose – we cannot choose the color of our skin, our nationality or as funny-Asian-kid-namewe say in Poland, you cannot choose your family. That’s not necessarily true, but it’s not going to be my today’s post’s topic. I want to talk about something that not everyone gets to choose, yet some are lucky enough to be able to.

Names. In Poland by the law you are required to give your child a name that’s consisting maximum 2 names (like Maria Magdalena), cannot be ridicule, inappropriate or the name has to determinate the gender. Fun fact: all female names in Polish language are ending with ‘-a’. 

In Hong Kong, however, you are allowed to choose your own English name that will be shown on your HKID aside of your so-called Chinese name.
The traditional name is usually chosen by the father’s…

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The Metaphorical Durians

Durian Writer

This is an extended version of a Project 2 speech I delivered on April 14, 2016 at Malang Toastmasters Club. Originally titled Durians and Southeast Asians, I decided to rename this post The Metaphorical Durians so as not to confuse with my older piece in January, which by the way is what influenced me to discuss about a similar topic, this time delivered as a speech before fellow Southeast Asians.

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