By David Haldane
Aug. 30, 2018
The house is far from finished. There are loose wires everywhere, piles of wet cement, floors that need tiling and walls that need painting. But two small rooms and a CR on the bottom floor are more-or-less complete. So, we have claimed them as our own while, above and around us, the directed chaos of construction continues.
The tiny organic accouterments placed in a strategically located bowl, Ivy tells me, are to make our existence here, respectively, soft, sweet, cool and abundant. The purpose of the lechon, of course, is more obvious; to celebrate the beginnings of a new life in a very different place.
Last night’s party was sweet. People with paper plates lined up at makeshift tables, laughing as the hot evening wind blew in from the sea. It was as if the ocean was breathing on them, smiling kindly on the small efforts of the awestruck human-sat its side. Elsewhere and higher up, visitors toured the house taking care not to step in its cracks. And as I sat on the upstairs veranda drinking Tanduay while staring into the gaping abyss below, it occurred to me that I had arrived.
I recall a time long ago when, in my early twenties, I spent a summer camping out on the pristine beach of a Greek island with a bunch of naked hippies. An older man lived there, an American I believe, who had a big house overlooking the Mediterranean. One night he invited us up for dinner, and I remember thinking ‘how did he create a life like this; how did he ever get here?’
Now I’m him.hi
I don’t know how these things happen. I don’t know why one person ends up starving to death while another no more deserving spends his later years living in a big house overlooking Surigao Strait. Perhaps such things are not for us to know, but simply enjoy, be grateful for and, whenever possible, share.
We hope that last night’s gathering was the first of many in this big, bright, shiny new house by the sea. We hope that it will be a place of joy and happiness, not only for us but for all those who come to visit. God knows, there are still lots to do. Among other things, we will have to learn to sleep smelling sawdust and awaken to the sound of hammers. I can see already that dust will be a problem, and the Internet is, well, nonexistent.
All of these problems will be solved in time. Meanwhile, I woke up this morning to breakfast on a veranda next to a lighthouse with the sound of the Eagles’ Hotel California tickling my ears. And I knew then, as I did the first time I came here and many times since, that this is exactly the place I belong.
A former Los Angeles Times staff writer and winner of a 2018 Golden Mike award in radio broadcast journalism, David Haldane fell in love with the Philippines on his first visit there in 2003. A few visits later, he also fell in love with the beautiful young Filipina to whom he is now married and, with whom, he has returned many times. David has written extensively about his experiences in the Philippines for several publications including Orange Coast and Islands Magazine. Today he and Ivy, along with their eight-year-old son, Isaac, divide their time between homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Surigao City, Philippines. His award-winning memoir, Nazis & Nudists, recounts, among other things, the courtship of Ivy and finding a place to call home. For David that turned out to be at the tip of a peninsula marking the gateway to Mindanao where he and Ivy are building their dream home next to a lighthouse overlooking the sea. This blog is the ongoing chronicle of that adventure.