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We’ll leave the light on for you

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It was a bright sunny day when I flew into the Philippines from San Francisco on my way to meet a ship in Dubai UAE. I had five days to kill before I had to check on to the ship. (USNS Mars T-AFS-1 which was formerly the USS Mars.).

It was 1993 I was still single earning a great wage and banking my Navy Retirement checks since 1986. Using an old Boston expression; “Fat dumb and happy!” that was me in a nutshell. The last time I was in the Philippines was in 1982 when Mr. Marcos was in charge. I noticed many differences, one being there were far more brownouts than eleven years ago.

49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines

I noticed generators in front of a lot of businesses in Manila and Olongapo City. As I was walking down Magsaysay to my friends bar on Fender Street they (Generators) were everywhere. This was something I never saw in the early eighties (Maybe that could be because they weren’t available or unaffordable.) Whatever the reason, it was now the new normal.

During my short visit both in Olongapo and staying at the Marmont Hotel in the Barrio, I noticed sometimes the power was off during the day and more so at night so there was no Air/Con in my Air/con room which BTW cost extra. The trick was to drink a lot of beer, go to sleep and when the power went off you failed to notice, wake up in the morning slightly hung-over and covered in sweat as the power returned and take a cold shower (As if they had hot water) and phone the desk for coffee. (And a cold beer)

When I lived in Puerto Rico and we only had power outages after hurricanes or other types of storms; Florida was pretty much the same. Other countries I visited suffered from brownouts once in a while, it even happened on some ships I was on, but we called it losing the load. In Guam they were a regular phenomena but I lived on the ship there and had constant electricity (Except when losing the load)

When I built our house I also bought a new Honda Generator in 1999 (I still have the same one) and BTW it is running as I type this missive because for the second time this week the power is off. Plus it is a bright and sunny day, here on our mountain in Bataan on the big island of Luzon.

If Manila has a power loss, outlaying provinces will have their power diverted so the grid can supply Mega Manila, the home of the rich and powerful. But as a good guest in their country I understand and just fire up my Honda and say nothing.

As I’ve said in the past, depending on the time involved for the brownout, we will charge any neighbor’s smart phone for them, as many as 15 at a time.

So from 1993 until 2018 nothing has really changed with electric power outages in my area, I know I will hear from someone that will say they haven’t had a brownout in months…To which I say, Oh my, isn’t that wonderful, but are you residing in my Barangay? But it does not alter the fact that some of us do lose power at different times and different locations. Dear lord, can you imagine the panic if it was Nation Wide?

I like cruising Subic Bay on my friend’s 35 foot bunka (I never say Bunka Boat as that would be redundant in two languages) and seeing the old abandoned Nuclear Power Plant on the shores of Bataan. But I’m pleased it is not running as I’ve seen the films on Chernobyl in Russia and Jimmy Carter at Three Mile Island.

On the bright side we have had times with no brownouts for a month or so, should we just accept that, or celebrate it when it doesn’t happen?

Why are they called brownouts? A brownout is when you receive a limited amount of power, but not enough to power your entire house. Me; I get “Blackouts”, where there is absolutely no power flowing.

At one time the Electric Workers asked me to shut off my generator so they won’t get shocked while up the pole. I had to take the Forman to my drinking house and show him that the main breaker was off to the outside. And he is the expert?

 

One more item that miffs me to no end; is if I can go through over 96 hours a month with no electrify. And the following month wonder why my power bill isn’t lower? After all I paid for the gas to generate that power; do they still bill me because I have power even if I generate it? This is the main reason I won’t buy solar panels from China, the grid would charge me for not using their power.

So like Motel “6”, until next Monday: “We’ll leave the light on for you”, or at least a candle.
Oh now it is a rain soaked Friday morning, yes the power went off again, but with the power of the Honda I sent this to Sir Bob.

Posted in

Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson; has resided in the Philippines since 1993, living close to Subic Bay. I’m married to a wonderful girl named Maria (AKA Mayang).Who is from Gordon Heights in Olongapo where she grew up with her Mom & Dad and seven siblings Our two daughters are both grown up and have left the nest, the eldest married to a wonderful guy named Chris, and they have blessed us with our granddaughter Heather Colleen Our youngest daughter and her husband Cecil have blessed us with a grandson named. Jayden Logan. I’m a retired U.S. NAVY Senior Chief after 22 years of active duty. After retirement from the Navy I lived for 7 years in Puerto Rico as a Night Club owner. Then Hurricane Hugo told me to find a new line of work, I was hired by Military Sealift Command and went back to sea in Asia as a Merchant Seaman for 10 years. After 30 plus years at sea I buried my anchor on a mountain in the Philippines and am now residing in Dinalupihan (or DinBat for short), Roosevelt, Bataan where we built our home. And last but not least, anything I writes will be pure "Tongue in Cheek "If anybody is offended, I'll lose no sleep over it, but here's a quick Mea Culpa in advance!

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José
José
4 years ago

Good morning to you there.. 🙂 good read for Monday ( as every Monday) ..the title sounds like Alan Jackson’s song (or was it by George Strait?)

José

Pinoy Urban Farmer
Pinoy Urban Farmer
4 years ago

Here in Davao del Norte province (a 2-hour bus ride from Bob’s) we seldom have power outages. If it does, it is due to a schedule maintenance (8 hours tops, like once or twice a year) or some sort of emergency (less than an hour, at least once or none every quarter). Well, Mindanao isn’t Luzon where power demand exceeds supply. However, extreme drought calls for power rationing but this has not happened for quite a long time. There’s are solar power installations which only the few can afford but many are thinking about having one (even just to run… Read more »

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago

Farmer; As I said, there is always the person that lives in that perfect section of the Philippines where all is right and the power without fail. But alas not so in my neck of the woods…(LOL) There pluses to every section, of the archapelogious and even if the power goes off without rhyme nor reason, you could not get me to move away from here. We should all be content in the area we built our houses. I am! The power was off this morning, but we were in town shopping anyway, and it was restored prior to our… Read more »

Dennis Glass
Dennis Glass
4 years ago

Paul,
If you have to stay in Manila; you are welcome to stay with us here in Tagaytay.
Dennis

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Glass

Dennis
My granddaughter was just up in Tagaytay, She has been there many times and loves it there. (I guess she didn’t run into that snob that wrote in to LiP that time! (LOL)

Bob New York
Bob New York
4 years ago

On my visits to Iligan City in Northern Mindanao I have experienced brownouts from time to time and in the more recent visits have noticed more commercial generators in front of stores, restaurants etc. The hotel where I stay used to have only one generator and now they have 3 of them that automatically switch over when there is a brownout to keep the entire place running including the room air cons. I sometimes comment to some of the students at MSU-IIT that the commercial generator business might be something for them to look into after graduation. After all, some… Read more »

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Bob New York

Bob (NY)
Wow both New York and Mindanao absolutely shocking! Or maybe non-shocking without power. But it just something you never know, I’ll keep my generator tuned-up and full of fuel just incase a Typhoon might appear here in the tropics. (LOL) New York, one week black out, who would have thunk it?

Don
Don
4 years ago

We just did a ride up to Pundaquit, San Antonio, place called the Car Wash. about 40 minutes north of Olangapo. Seems to be a retiree expat hang out cold beer and nice food. Then rode back to Angeles. Had a huge windstorm during the afternoon. Lot of damage and all the generators were working overtime.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Don

Don;
Saw the place on Facebook recommended by some friends, not heard a bad word about it, and the fact you can tell the wife, “I’ll be back soon, I’m gonna get the car washed.” Shear genius, like my favorite bare on Imperial Beach CA. called “The Office” I will get up there soon.

Jack
4 years ago

Hi Paul Here in Mis. Occ. it seems that the brownouts are getting more frequent nowadays, I’m never sure if “they” are watching me (not going to mention who “they” are) so that when the brownout comes and I start the genny “they” turn the power back on and so this may happen 2 to 3 times until I just leave the genny running. The brownouts seems to happen especially when it starts to rain, and my goodness have we had some rain in the past few months. But yes Paul you are correct in that the cost dosn’t seem… Read more »

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Jack

Jack;
Like you there are times I’ll leave the Honda running instead of shutting the computer and A/C off over and over. I’m glad I’m not the only one paying for the power we generate. Hmmm there just might be someone watching! (LOL)

Luke Tynan
Luke Tynan
4 years ago

Hi Paul, I am down in Mis.Orient. and I am seeing blackouts a lot lately. But like u I just go out and fire up the generator. And I am fine up til 10PM then I turn it off so that the noise does not bother our neighbours. Plus if needed I get a room at the Local Hotel that also has a generator that runs at night too. That way I can sleep using my CPAP and have A/C. And my neighbours still have a quiet nights sleep. But I am curious as to why more blackouts here and… Read more »

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Luke Tynan

Luke
Because I keep the Honda in a building the sound is muffled. But mostly I do not let it run all night. My roof patio is over 12 feet high and has a steady breeze I’ll take a folding bed and netting and sleep out there. (Rain will prevent that), but then I open all the four sliding windows and turn on the rechargeable fans and sleep like a baby. My doctors won’t let me drink anymore! (LOL)

Martyn
Martyn
4 years ago

We used have a postcard with a candle on it ‘welcome to Zamboanga, brownout capital of the World’. Check your electric bill, you are paying the connectivity charge (to receive power when it’s available and distribution system) but will not be paying for power not consumed. Still a PITA anyway.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Martyn

Martyn;
Zamboanga must also supply Manila with power like Bataan, but it is nice to know who the brownout leader really is, it does bring me comfort! (LOL)

Al
Al
4 years ago

Paul, I have a (gas) generator here in Angeles City but the gas lines/carburator get clogged if I don’t start it frequently. Since we leave the area for weeks or months at a time, I can’t start it up regularly…so it gets clogged. I stopped getting the carburator cleaned because it was a hassle and will just get it ready if a typhoon heads our way. How often do you start your generator?

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Al

Al; Since I’m always here in the area, I have my guy come in twice a year and service it.. When not in use,it is covered (The same stuff you use on a car.) And in the picture you can see it stays within my drinking house. Otherwise I start it when I need it, in 19 years it only failed twice once the rope broke and I called the guy, and a few years ago I had to rewind the generator part ($100.00) It’s a honda and it is a good one. At my friends house we were sitting… Read more »

PapaDuck
PapaDuck
4 years ago

Paul,
When we have a brownout here in Batangas we just tough it out or if it’s too hot, we’ll head to the mall or somewhere else with a/c. As far as the bill’s i believe they may be just looking at the last months bill and assuming it’s probably about the same amount. We were gone for a week to Vietnam in April, yet our bill was about the same as March’s. Figure that one out.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  PapaDuck

PapaDuck;
I think you might have figured out the billing system. The generator allows us to live in the house that we built and leave when we want to go out. It is the same reason I have a deep well incasr they shut off my water. (LOL)

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