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8 - Day with Sir F

Journey 7


We meet Sir Francis after our breakfast - breakfast is a strange affair - "Korean or American?" we are asked, "Coffee or juice?"
Korean is - rice, an assortment of fishy things, a salad - I tended to go for American, which was - rice, a sausage or leg of cold chicken on alternating days, a salad, a fried egg. But the staff at the hotel [part of a Korean chain of hotels] are so respectful - bowing to us upon our appearance - always a cheerful smile.
We meet at the homebase - I meet his colleague George Mendoza - [responsible for the edited photograph of Mayen - which appeared on her profile at DIA] - a big time broker and we all discuss the possibility of me setting up a website in the UK as an outlet for Tierra Maria Estates - strangely echoing thoughts I had much earlier when contemplating Mayen coming to the UK.

After a couple of hours drive in Sir Francis's 4 x 4 we arrive at Lipa City, the town just outside which is the housing project.
It took me a while to understand all this project business - and it was kindly explained to me on the journey as we listened to a double CD of Cliff Richard - the simple lyrics tugging at my heart strings. I was missing being close to Mayen - she was only on the back seat - and occasionally I would reach around behind my seat to give her a gentle foot massage - often turning round and blowing kisses.
The Americans redistributed the land after Spanish colonisation. It was broken up into subdivisions of titled property lots - mostly farm or agricultural land. Roads were built and houses, shops, churches, motor repairs etc. sprang up alongside these roads, mainly in a single line, behind which is agricultural land or forest.
The Islands are split up into Provinces, regions, Cities & Municipalities, which in turn are split up into Barangays or Barrios and houses are built upon subdivisions of land within these areas. Housing projects are springing up all over the place as the Philippines undergoes a rapid transformation and development. They consist of lots of land - cleared or uncleared of forest - laid out with roads and utilities such as water, electricity and telephone.
The purchasers usually make their own arrangements to have a house built to their specification upon the land, conforming to the guidlines of that particular project. The newer projects are often very pronounced affairs, enclosed behind perimeter walls with grand entrance gates, security, sometimes with a clubhouse and communal pool.

The Tierra Maria Estate is slightly different in that it is designed to appeal to those who are interested in residential or backyard farming - fruit, vegetables or aquaculture and as such it is a stipulation that each individual house may only occupy up to 25% of the total lot area. The land is thick with coconut palms, some very old trees and coffee trees producing a special coffee only grown there.

As we drove around to a commentary from Sir Francis - I fired off many questions - and sat with a board on my lap - a large map of the whole site, with coloured pins marking the sold or unsold lots.
The site's developer, a cousin of Sir Francis, is a very religious man - hence the name of the project - Ground of Maria - Mary's Ground - and statues of the Virgin Mary are erected in the grounds. There is a meditation park - it's all very lush, fresh and peaceful. Marketed towards retiring people, or as second homes or investment.

tierra maria website

After the tour we go into the town for lunch. Sir Francis thinks I will enjoy Crispy Pata - he was right - masarap! - a delicious meal of a large, deep fried knuckle of pork with crispy skin - with rice - a buko shake - followed by a coffee. Lots of good conversation - so good in fact - we go outside for a smoke and then climb in the car preparing to drive off - until Mayen shouts from the back, seeing the waiter come running after us waving the bill.

Should destiny thus intertwine
To rise as one, like tree and vine,
So tightly coiled in life's embrace
That even death may not efface,
Willingly I, at heaven's door,
Would surrender my fear,
Seeing clear once more
That fate and my heart,
For many a year
Held too far apart,
Now, at last, may keep apace,
And seek together the sky above,
Seeing forever through eyes of love.

We drive off to a rather exclusive and secluded beach resort -

Sir Francis with Mayen at the Virgin Beach Resort.

virgin beach resort website

We arrive at the resort after driving for about an hour - security let us through the makeshift barrier and park up. Wow - photographs - what a scene - tranquil - idylic - white sand, sea, mountains in the background behind us.

Tasteful but simple constructions - a bar - parasols along the beach [wooden hutches, roofs of coconut matting, mosquito netting for the walls - to spend a peaceful night in.] The entrance fee is waived - we only want to sit and relax and refresh for a couple of hours. Paradise just gets better and better - the generosity of Sir Francis, to spend the whole day with us - so kind - he is a good man.

Driving back to Manila, we are both tired - I am not so talkative and we both manage to doze off at some point or other. It's Saturday so the traffic is not at all bad - but it's already dark by the time we arrive.

We visit Mayen's home base, say a farewell to Sir Francis, thanking him for his splendid generosity and meet up with Marivien, Alberto and later on Miss Ann joins us for a giant pizza -

followed by the pineapples purchased on the way back from Taal lake - which I was taught by Alberto how to prepare.

You may be wondering, like I did, why we seem to spend so much time at their place of work - the home base. The answer is quite simple.
To enjoy the comfort of air-conditioning.

Suddenly it occurs to us that we really should start thinking about booking our flight to Tacloban, the capital city of Leyte - another Island. [Mayen's province, Pintuyan, lies on Panaon island at the very southern tip of Southern Leyte. Actually, Pintuyan is a Municipality within the Province of Southern Leyte - but the word province is also used to mean - in the countryside - outside of the big metropolitan areas like Manila.]

Good job we do - thanks to Miss Ann who mans the telephone and makes enquiries at Cebu Pacific Airlines - we learn that the only flight not fully booked for the entire week is tomorrow [Sunday.] Miss Ann books us onto the Sunday afternoon flight - she is very organised and competent - and we start to discuss all the preparations we need to make. We return to the hotel and start to pack our bags - only what we will need in the province.

After missing each other the whole day - not being physically close - our reunion in the hotel room is warm and passionate. We sleep early - ahead of a busy day.

Click the flags to read about all the alarm bells.


Tim Cumperhttp://www.bebo.com/Ellumbra

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