I left the last post as we were setting off to help out at the bakery. They had been working on this for a few days and it seemed time to finally pull it down. It was a relatively big/awkward structure which needed quite a few people. The house was part wood/bamboo and part concrete. We would be pulling down the bamboo part because the concrete part had already fallen. So we arrived at the site, which was this scene.
I was put on one of three ropes which, as you can see from the picture, meant I was standing in the jungle amongst the trees. While i was standing in the trees, all i could think about was that i should probably have brushed up on the flora and fauna of Bohol to know what things want to bite and poison me. However, I decided I was probably better off not knowing at that moment in time. I would eventually learn all about the things wanting to hurt us in the area, but I will write about that at a later date.
So there I was, standing in a jungle, holding a rope, not fully knowing what was going to happen. I was eventually joined by 2 other volunteers and it came time to pull. The volunteer in charge was excellently organised on who to pull and when. So initially the props were pulled out and we were told to pull. We pulled with all of our strength and, well, not much happened. One of the props had gotten stuck as it fell and jammed in behind some bamboo. So we had only really succeeded in making it slightly less stable. A quick re-adjustment of the angle of the ropes and a big stick to push out the trapped prop and we had finally brought down the bakery.
At this stage I will give you some background behind this structure. The property was called “The Bakery” because that is what it was. It was not one of our more imaginative names. It was both the business and home of the lady who was living there. It was also the home she was born in. She was in her 60s or 70s so this will give you an indication of how long this home and business had been in the family. Therefore we were bringing down both her home and business. This might seem like a bad thing to do but bringing down the house was the only option. It was, unfortunately, along a fault line and the house had toppled over as the land has moved. There was simply no way to fix it without complete removing it and rebuilding. The owner of the home was able to live next door in her relatives house while she was rebuilding, but when that would be was unclear.
In the last post, I talked about my opinionated nature coming out, which is what i will cover now. When the home finally came down, the owner was in tears. She thanked everyone because she knew the home had to be brought down and it was definitely the right decision, so this is in no way what I had an issue with. The first thing that irked me was one volunteer using the expression “this was really the house from hell” in reference to the house. Obviously they did not intend it in a bad way and they were referring simply to how difficult it was to bring the house down but I think that making a joke with a less than sensitive analogy for this ladies birth home, while she was standing 5 feet away was just careless.
The thing I had an issue and got opinionated with was that once the house came down, it was decided we should take a photograph together with the home owner, in front of the house. Photographing these moments is not uncommon and most owners are very happy about it coming down and therefore want to capture the moment, but I felt that in this circumstance it was in poor taste to pose the lady just after she wiped away tears a few minutes before it. So I refused to pose or be a part of the picture and when asked why i explained that I think we should have put common sense and sensitivity ahead of a photo opportunity. I should point out at this stage that the leader and the people involved are all absolutely lovely people and the team leader especially genuinely cares about each home he works on and is meticulous in ensuring no materials are damaged if it is possible not to, more so than any other leader i worked with in fact. I just think this was a lapse in judgement and the point of this piece was not to vilify anyone, it is just the experience from my perspective.
I have always been very opinionated in all facets of my life, from when i worked in the music industry to politics in Ireland and into the corporate world, and I have long known that opinions are not always a welcome addition to some people’s world. I did appreciate the fact my opinion was respected on this, so I was happy to see that All Hands had such a welcome view on expressing opinions. Along the way, my opinionated nature will pop up a few more times(ie. often).
After lunch, the team I was on was tasked with hammering down the remaining parts of the house. As you can see from the pictures, that involved removing the metal panelling from the roof, taking apart the frame and sledgehammering out the concrete walls. While we were doing this, I got to walk around and photograph reminders of what this place was before the earthquake.
The most interesting developed during the take down was the arrival of a very helpful but VERY drunk local man who was absolutely insistent on helping us. He was not the most coordinated man but he made up for this in persistence to help out. He also ended up being fantastic at removing the nails and rivets holding on the metal roof, although his approach of climbing onto the roof were nail biting to watch. The other northworthy aspect was the bizarre situation of the member of our team who understands Visayan( the language spoken in Bohol) refusing to interact with the drunken man and us instead relying on my very limited Tagalog(the national language in Philippines) to communicate with him, which failed pretty miserably.
When we eventually got back to base, I was literally sweatier than i had ever been in my life and my hair was so greasy it looked gelled back(beautiful image from a glamourous day). Without going into too much details, I did finally have my bucket shower, and I ended up using a bucket and a half because I simply could not figure out how it was possible to shower with only one bucket of water.
I would soon learn and will write a post specifically on how to shower with only one bucket of water.