The last two weeks have been a heady time here on the mountain where I live in Bataan. It all revolves around 1500 square meters of land beside my house. For 15 years we’ve never known who owned it or who the caretaker really is.
It all started a few months ago when a person from the purok built a Sari-sari on the land. I have no idea if they had permission to build it, nor do I care, as in the grand scheme of life if has no bearing on me or mine. It’s like other things in the Philippines, it just is.
Years ago the local kids leveled the land and with some old wood I had given them they built a basketball backboard and hoop, and nailed it to a tree. 7 or 8 years it was used, until the last Barangay election, where it was removed and one with a metal stand was erected in its stead. This lasted 3 years and last week a new and improved one appeared. A new group of kids re-leveled the land and installed this new piece of equipment. Funny that no elections are on the schedule for this year as that would be the normal time for something like that to happen here in our purok.
Then a guy who lives up the street bought a new old L-300 Van, his house lot is too small to park it on, so he asked me if he could attach his carport to my carports outside wall so he would have a covered parking area, and of course he said that he had permission from the landowner. I declined his request as there was no way on this planet that I wanted to be involved in the upcoming crap storm that I knew was about to take place. He moved the construction away from my wall and started building a freestanding carport.
All was moving along smoothly, as I calmly awaited the forthcoming hell-a-baloo that I mentioned earlier. Saturday 3 November a car arrives and a man and woman emerge and the crap storm commenced. I slid out to my roof patio to observe yet keep a distance from the missile hazard area that the flying crap was causing. The man was silent, but oh my, could his lady talk, 10 to 20 decibels above normal speech levels. Which was fine with me as I have a slight hearing loss caused by 30 years on ships.
The carport had to go, the basketball hoop had to go, and the Sari-sari could stay if they agreed to pay rent. I was feeling very safe away from all of this, until I was pointed to by the wife from hell.”I want to talk to you.” she demanded. So into the blizzard I walked, but of course being well armed with my firebrand wife named Mayang.
“Sir what happened to the four mango trees that lined your wall? No one gave you permission to cut them down.” she loudly proclaimed. I smiled and told her they came down during a typhoon and so it was an “Act of God.” “Sir, you had no right to trim them and I’ve been told that you did.” She shouted.
“Madame; is this your land? “ I asked to which she said it was. Thank you as I’ve been looking for you to pay the 32,000.00 pesos damage your trees caused to my house before I trimmed them. I have the pictures and I’ve filed a report to the Barangay Captain four years ago, but we never knew who you were. But I am most pleased to meet you, and I wrote down the tag number of their car. Because when I requested their names they both went mute.
A new story as told by the lady with no name, she does not own the land; a relative of her husband who is living in the United States is the lawful owner. So I smiled once more and said; “If you are collecting the rent for the Sari-sari store than you should be the one to pay me, my lawyer will contact you next week.” Now I’m hoping she is not a regular reader of LiP or she would find out I was running a major-major bluff.
All was calming down, now I was once more out of the fray as the subject of money hath raised its ugly head, but I think I had empowered the people of the purok with my bluff, and this is how it worked out for them. The carport had to go as it was a permanent structure which made sense to me at least. The sari-sari store was again rent free since it was bamboo and movable. The basketball court will remain there until a house is built on the land as she didn’t want to go head to head with our Barangay Captain. Mango trees became a forgotten subject as money and the law was involved. The husband collected his wife and departed the mountain as quickly as they had arrived. Many brown eyes were looking at me in awe, and our quite little purok returned to normal once more.
It all goes back to a tried and true Navy expression; “If you can’t dazzle them with fancy footwork, baffle them with pure Bulls**t.” As long as no one calls your bluff, as I was only holding a ten high.