The Diary of Samal Bahay Kubo


The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,000 times in 2010. That’s about 14 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 8 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 14 posts. There were 178 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 132mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 12th with 84 views. The most popular post that day was Bahay Kubo designs.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for bahay kubo design, bahay kubo, bahay kubo designs, modern bahay kubo, and bahay kubo picture.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Bahay Kubo designs August 2010


Suzuki Multicab – the ginger winger August 2010


Water, water everywhere (2010) February 2010


Samal Island Ecotourism (2009) July 2009


About July 2009

Apart from being insistently told we couldn’t check in for our flight out of NZ by a completely befuddled ground staff, the rest of the flight and transfers went far better than any recent flights here. There seems to have been a big shake up at Manila where the staff were very helpful and whisked us through – previously, I’ve had several meltdowns there, but that strife seems to have shifted to Auckland IA.

We’re in, and first impressions from the late night drive from the airport to the My Hotel in the centre is that Davao has thrived even in the last 11 months. I noticed a lot of brand new up market coffee shops that weren’t obvious in January. Streets were very busy and the people looked better off than when I first used to travel here 10 years ago.

So far, so good. Now the real work begins!

Sunrise at the developing resort. The 5-hour time difference between NZ and Philippines meant we slotted straight into the local hours of waking at sunrise (with the bird calls) and sleeping early just after nightfall (with the frog and tokay gecko calls).

The goats have the freedom of half the land...the half without vegetable gardens.

This magnificent, proud bird struts his stuff. Despite not voting for Xmas...

...he made a major contribution to the festive meal. Roast turkey, the first time for most of the family present

His other half seemed pleased to get a rest to look after her 8 eggs

Decorating work moved ahead in late December through to mid-January. Some of us worked Christmas, Boxing and New Year’s Day! We kept promising the kids a day at the beach and then finding ourselves stuck into some compelling tiling, painting or varnishing. The kids (and adults) have had time at the beach though.

Blinded by the light?

Not sure how many fingers Fatima had, but we've got more Okra than we can consume. We've started trying to sell it.

I was asked by an very pale friend whether I'd seen Manny Pacquiao since our arrival here, funnily enough, I saw him twice

Obviously, there was no room at the stables either, so they used the service station.

Digging a trench for the water 'main' to the bahay kubo. A special dispensation to the Metrowater D&C standards in this case.

Apprenticeships are available

The foreman has his own persuasive ways

Completion of some of the infrastructure, and the start of some ground work for the ‘good life’ marked February. The two male goats are proving to be a damn nuisance, constantly demanding attention as they find (or make) new holes in the boundary fence lower down the land and always turn up at the top of the land to eat the flowers through the wire fence. So, drastic action has been taken; the goats’ domain has been reduced, their shelter moved, and this morning I tied the two males together on a long leash under a fallen trunk. I figured that their movement would be restricted as they pushed and pulled each other. For today, it worked.

The face of baphomet, or Manny as we know him, the cause of 50% of our daily work

The new goat bahay kubo, for Manny and his many friends

Bijou, it may be, but it seems to occupy the position I had imagined my own future residence. A 5* goat house with sea views

We hired a local man and his carabao (water buffalo) to plough the bottom 1000m2 of the land. A job he probably wished he'd raised the price on as it took the best part of a week to complete a three way plough.

One photo of a working water buffalo isn’t enough for some people, so here are some more.

The buffalo plods slowly along while the ploughman constantly talks to it either telling it to pull or wait while he dislodges a clod or a rock.

You can save yourself a lot of time by having a wallow at the ready for the visiting buffalo to cool off in; the equivalent of 'smoko' or teabreak.

MARCH 2011
A lot of hard graft this month (without the aid of a water buffalo) and the start of a new building. The land in our area is strewn with fossilised coral, some on the surface and much more as you dig into the ground. I’ve taken up responsibility for keeping the weeds down on the sloping land (initially cut by the womenfolk). It took several weeks to cut the woody stems of the weeds by hand, with machetes – backbreaking work. I decided that it was easier to cut the green shoots of the weeds before they thickened. The first time I took on the job it took me a week from top to bottom, now it takes me two days. The hardest part of the job is when my switchblade hits a stump or a lump of fossilised coral which sends a nasty vibration up the handle and, frankly, damn well hurts! I now have two swollen joints in both my hands. But, together with the goats, the slope is starting to look like a piece of Inigo Jones parkland.

Capability Brown, eat your heart out.

I’ve also handpicked about 3 hundred weight of rocks and stones from the slope, dragged them up the slope and stockpiled them for use as fill material in the next building. I’ve lost a huge amount of weight, got a six-pack and feel so much better than I did sitting behind a computer for 10 hours a day.

As the next bahay kubo is being built along the boundary with neighbours, we decided to erect a bamboo fence for privacy.

Suggestions for uses of a coconut tree stump? This stump took about a day's work for 4 men in rotation to dig and chop out. We've got around 20 more needing the same treatment.

Setting out, and...

...and the foundations are in

Unfortunately, the family next door is clearing their overgrown plantation. Fortunately, they're selling us their lumber. This means exercise for everyone in the family carrying lumber up the slope. Here's Lolo (grandpa) at 73 - there's no stopping him!

Dudong the mighty foreman

Please don't try this at home, unless you already have a flat head.

Hady was delayed and found only a few matchsticks to put in a token effort

Properly attired in a hi-viz jacket, I show the family how it should be done. And take the opportunity to tell them all yet again about the rocks I'd brought up the hill and the weeds I'd cut down. Strangely, no one seemed interested...

Finally, it seems thatif not trend setters, we may at least be near the forefront of a bigger movement to communal bahay kubo living, as this article (Shahani’s life simpler, her Mañosa ‘bahay kubo’ just modern and comfy) from the Inquirer informs.

APRIL 2011
Our focus was somewhat sidelined by a family visit from Hong Kong and two christenings, oh and some days out at Samal’s and Davao’s attractions. Not forgetting Miss Body Beautiful – Samal…more of which later…

Look, no hands! Tyler demonstrates the zip-line (flying fox) at Blue Jaz resort

A sentinel at the entrance of a native village recreated in Park Eden 3000ft up the foothills of Mt Apo

Are they dancing or trying to break each other in half...

...another two of the Baldon clan demonstrate Filipino wrestling

The foreman demonstrates how to get some extra mileage from your caribao

Lola's Garden (grandma's garden) at Eden Park.

Lola's wishing well

Like shooting fish in a which I mean catching these tilapia in a small pond, and the extra price the tourists pay for the experience, the weight of their catch, and having their catch cooked and served. Now here's a get-rich-easily idea!

Was there anything else to add…? Ah yes, without further comment:

MAY 2011
The early hours of the 4th May brought torrential rain and thunder storms. I arose at dawn and took a walk around the property and as in previous heavy rain, nothing seemed too bad. But when you turn your back for just 5 minutes, this can happen…

A 35m wide overland flow path found its way onto and across the land

Full credit goes to my brother-in-law builders, who had the foresight to build 20-40cm of freeboard into the floors of all the buildings. No ingress was made by the flood water to any of the buildings.

May seems to have lasted for two months; not that we’ve been standing still, we just seem to have crammed so much in. We harvested our sweet corn, boiled it and sold it around the local streets, all within about three days. We have resown the land with more maize which seems to be growing even quicker than the last crop.

In the last week, we have also harvested about three sacks of peanuts, which we are now drying in the sun. Vendors sell tiny packets of peanuts at the ferry terminal for about Pesos 5. I’m trying to figure out how many tiny packets three sacks will fill.

Peanut pickers

We also bought casava from some local sources (our own plantation needs longer to mature). The ladies worked for several days preparing this root crop into something that takes about three minutes to steam into a delicious cake using our own coconuts. The cakes were equally popular around the locality.

While I can’t compete with the womenfolk’s industry, I did make a start on building a BMX trail along the lines of Woodhill (near Auckland, NZ).

It has been a struggle for me as we’re into the hottest time of the year and this ginger was wilting each day by about 10am.

Work progressed well on the latest bahay kubo by the end of the month despite the flooding in early May

Tragedy and joy struck in the middle of the month when our much loved female guinea pig died following the birth of her two piglets. One of the piglets followed her to the grave after about a week, but the other is thriving and has doubled in size and squeals if not given constant attention.

Two stars shining brightly. Sadly, the piglet on the left died, but this ginger seems to thrive better in the heat than me.

Baby guinea pigs like empty toilet roll tubes. Make a note of that.

We decided to thin out the goat herd and try goat meat. The goats aren’t compatible with growing anything as they almost break their necks eating plants on the other side of the fence despite having the lion’s share of the hectare to graze. The goat was stewed despite my suggestion to roast it – the proof is in the eating, and I think I was right! We intend to take the other goats to market in Davao and cash them in. Sweet corn is a lot less bother!


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 87,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


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