In the Philippines, there basically is no zoning when it comes to real estate, so you never know for sure what kind of neighbors you will be getting. In most developed countries, land is zoned – there are areas that are designated for businesses, industrial, residential, etc. In the Philippines you might have a business move right into a residential area, there is no law against it in most cases.
A couple of years ago, a new building was constructed on the land behind our house. As I sit at my desk in my office, I have a clear view of this building. It is a commercial building, and in the back there is a large area that the land owner uses to grow orchids. I’ve never had a problem with these folks, and also had never met them before. It is an older couple who owns the land, and I see the man and his wife out there tending to their orchid gardens nearly every day. There is a rather high wall between our properties, so we can’t see each other if we are each in our backyards, though, so we never met. However, if I am in my office, which is on the second floor of our home, I am looking over the wall, down into their orchid garden, so I can easily see them out there.
The building itself houses a number of businesses. It is a 2 story building, and on the first floor there is a coffee shop and a business selling model remote control vehicles like cars, helicopters and such for hobbyists. On the second floor, there are also two businesses, although to be honest, until recently I never knew what kind of businesses either of them were. They never caused me any problems, so I had no reason to find out.
They never caused me any problems, that is, until last week. Suddenly, last week, a new business moved into the 2nd floor of the building. When they moved in, our ability to sleep at night came to an abrupt end. Several times during the night, there would be groups of people out on the balcony joking around loudly, laughing boisterously and generally being quite unruly. We are about 100 meters away from the balcony, but they were so loud that they woke us up. This would generally happen at about 1:30 am and 3:00 am or so every night.
On the third night that we were awakened by these folks, I decided to go over to the house and talk to the people and see if they could hold the noise level down. So at 3 am, I walked over and talked with a fellow named Bernard. I was nice to Bernard and told him that they were so very loud that they were waking us up, and we were unable to sleep. He promised that they would hold the noise down, and for the rest of the evening they did. That was on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
When Thursday night came along, we expected that we would finally get a decent night sleep, which we badly needed. But, again, at 1:30 we were awakened by these loud folks! Apparently, my discussion with Bernard from the previous evening had been forgotten quickly. So, again, this time at 1:30am, I walked over. When I got to the gate, I gave out a holler “Ayo, Ayo” (that’s what you say when you approach somebody’s house and are asking to be let in). Nobody answered my shout. I called and called, but nobody would come, although I could hear the people still being boisterous on the balcony. At this point, I opened the gate myself (it’s not a house, but a business building, it’s not like I was going into their house or anything), and went and talked to the people on the balcony. They complained that they were already quiet enough, and basically blew me off. I talked to Barnard again and learned that he was the person in charge.
I explained to Bernard that my family could not sleep because they were so loud. I told him that although I didn’t want to do so, if they could not hold the noise level down, I would have to go talk to the Barangay Captain and I was sure that he would put a stop to the problem. For the rest of the night, all was quiet, which made me happy.
The next morning, when I saw the older couple who owns the property working away in their orchid garden, I asked Feyma to come with me, and we went next door and explained the problem to the land owners. They were quite shocked to hear of the problem. They told us that the business there was a call center, and they thought that these people would be very quiet. But, what we found out was that during the break times, these folks would go enjoy their break outside on the balcony. They didn’t think about it that they were in the middle of a residential area, and they were waking up all the other neighbors with their loud behavior!
About 30 minutes after speaking with the land owners, I was sitting at my desk, and could see over at the building. I saw the owner talking to Bernard. Ever since, nearly a week later, I haven’t heard a sound out of these call center agents! Ah, sleep is nice too!
If it’s not one challenge it’s another!