West of the Town

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Please to pay taxes

Some of you will know that the residents of a poor town in the Philippines were given eviction notices recently. The terms were 15 days notice and to remove "any improvements they had made on the land". This included the church build there (picture).

Now for most people, not the church, this meant being homeless; men, women, children and babies, young and old. With nowhere to go, it was devastating. As a result, the people were in fighting mood, with one octogenarian vowing to die rather than leave; and she meant it.

The town leader got involved and the history soon started to become clear. There had been 2 hearings where the land had been claimed by an "out of towner". Both failed. But then a third hearing, that no one knew about, had succeeded. The local counsellor was approached and an investigation begun.

Well some weeks later, just a few days ago from this writing, we heard the result. An official from the capital Manila came down. The claim would be contested and it would the the government that contests it. The judge who ordered the evictions was removed from office. The claimant, in view of this has dropped the claim. 

It was good to see the government standing up so strongly for those who were so poor. It is one of the good, but untold stories of the current president, so strongly maligned for being controversial, who has vowed to remove corruption from the country. The country's recent history has rulers who have shown no such concern.

And now the people will be issued with deeds to the properties they "own". It's like buying it free. And there will be, of course, with the official ownership, the appropriate property tax.

I think this time we may find people who are pleased to pay the tax!


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Bank Logic

The bank called me the other day. They were not complaining but it appears I had made life a little difficult for them.

I use the bank to make transfers and there is a small charge for this. Up to X Euro it is €4 and from X+1 Euro it is €6. Because I could not remember what the rates were, last month I had sent X+5 Euro to cover the transfer costs.

Now let's see it from the bank's angle.
  1. I sent X+5 Euro. 
  2. If they charge me €4 then they send on X+1 Euro.
  3. But X+1 Euro is a €6 charge.
  4. So if they charge me €6 they send on X-1 Euro.
  5. But X-1 Euro is a €4 charge.
  6. See 2.

It appears I gave their computer a headache.

The bank solved the problem in a very acceptable way. They manually intervened and clicked the "free transfer" option. It appeared odd at the time because I had noticed they did not charge me and I didn't know why. Now I do, but somehow I don't think it will work twice.

Next time I will send them X+4; although I don't think it is all my fault. I just wanted to be sure to cover the costs. So now I have made a note in several places of the charges.

The other part of the problem is their charging strategy; and some convoluted logic....

Monday, 13 February 2017

Fwd: Brandy? No thanks, not tonight

Brandy? No thanks. 

I decided that tonight a brandy would make it a late night. So I retired to the snug area to finish the chapter of my book, the dregs of the sangria, and my coffee; when shortly after my host appeared with 3 bottles to chose from. 

Somehow "no" had been translated into "only 3". 

Just a little one then. I selected the bottle that was already open. Clearly my host was not satisfied with the selection and opened the boxed version. 

This was made for the coronation of the King, he explained in words and gestures. It is a king's brandy. How did I get it then? I asked. But he just laughed and poured a measure into a second glass. 

It was certainly good and knocked spots off the ordinary one I had selected to be polite. So I settled down and finished my chapter, the sangria, the coffee and at last the brandy. And now it's late. 

Let's hope the brandy promotes a good nights sleep!

Terence Westoby

Fixed   +33(0)1 64 48 33 72
Mobile +33(0)6 75 91 87 71
email     terrywestoby@gmail.com

Friday, 20 January 2017


Not that snow is so exceptional in January, but this is Spain.

And it is true that there is very little on the ground. This picture is about as "thick" as it gets! I did see some small boys collecting as much as they could find. They appeared to be constructing a miniature snowman. 

Unusually the snowfall is midday. It was dry this morning, and later in the day it rained; although I noticed that the rain did have a slight "floaty" appearance as it drifted down. But that could have been the wind. 

This morning there is still a little evidence of this exceptional weather event; mostly on distant hills. And it's cold. Something the Spanish keep remarking on continually. That and "why do you wear only shirtsleeves?"  

Because I feel warm enough despite the snow. 

Ps. As I drive to Malaga the car registered temperatures in double figures. Spain is not used to the cold. "Is it as bad as this in England?" They asked, clearly expecting the answer "no". After all, it couldn't possibly be this cold anywhere else. 

Slight Spanish Snow
They tell me this is "cold!"

The photo was sideways. Sorry. I found out how to change it! 

Saturday, 7 January 2017


Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The queue for checking in is 2 rows of loads of people stretching into the public side of the airport. Not that non-flyers can enter so I have said good bye already. 

Then I noticed the on-line checkin queue. 1 person. That's much better I thought, and having delayed my bedtime to check in I joined the short queue. 

Do you have the printed boarding pass? I was asked. No, the printer isn't working but I have a copy on my phone. 

That was acceptable. 

And now as you can see I am at departure ahead of a plane-full of other people. 

And there is WiFi that works (unlike the bus one that sort of worked). So from here are the blogs as I relax and wait. 

2 hours to boarding, 3 hours to take-off. 

A new arrival, our transport.

Once in Paris, the queues were short for a change. Even so the luggage took over half an hour to arrive. Even the train lacked passengers. Here I am, the only one on this coach. 

A quiet trip home is not to be sniffed at!

Heading Back

A way stop on the 4 hour bus ride to Manila. A chance to move the legs and a little relief.

We have a bus front seat, a "senior" concession and we both qualify!

The bus has WiFi so this is a pass time activity made slower by the bumpy road and the Internet speed. It may yet fail. 

2 bus depot photos. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

The beach Restaurant

Friday. Our last full day together so we visited a favourite restaurant. It is set in a bamboo room overlooking the resort and beach beyond.

Since the food takes 20 mins to cook, we ordered and then went for a stroll along the beach. The was hardly anyone around so this boat owner asked is 3 times if we wanted a boat trip. Another time perhaps. 

The sand is soft and very hot, it's near midday, and if it gets under your feet in your sandals you soon kick it out! Evangeline explains that our local beach used to be the same but ever since the volcano 25 years ago it has had a rough texture.

I recall that is just as hot though!