In October we had a date night to attend the American Women’s Club of the Philippines annual Hoedown. There we won a free two-night stay at the resort Eskaya. Since we knew that we were relocating the beginning of January, we only had one weekend when we could use this vacation. Our kids skipped the last day of school, which was just a half day, so we could catch a flight to head to the island of Bohol and use our voucher at the resort. The shuttle ride from the airport was about 20 minutes and the resort was nice. Each villa had it’s own private pool, plus the main pool and the beach front. This was the third time that we were at Bohol, so we didn’t do the normal tourist sight-seeing things. Instead we hung out at the resort one day and went scuba diving the second day. On the third day we went to Church and then flew home. We don’t have many photos of this vacation since we were using our GoPro…and on our last dive the GoPro broke off the stick and fell to the bottom of the ocean. Good times.
For the past three years we have employed Helen & Marliyn as our live-in household kasambahay and would like to now advertise a very strong recommendation for their services.
Why should you hire them?
- 100% Trustworthy – in 38 months we have never once experienced an issue with honesty. After the first year we were comfortable leaving our kids with them overnight. You could even say they’ve played a large role in raising our 18 month old baby.
- Safety – they have always kept our kids safe and exhibit a strong sense of safety.
- Work Ethic – both H&M have a very strong work ethic and do not shy away from hard labor; they’ve kept our condo spotless. When we wakeup Monday morning after they’ve been off over the weekend, the condo is already clean. They’re also very willing to go above and beyond their job description with miscellaneous tasks we delegate their way.
- Temperament – we’ve often heard of “maids with mood-swings”, but can honestly say we’ve never seen anything but a steady positive attitude from these two.
- Local Knowledge – if you’re new to the Philippines, they know the ropes so you don’t have to. One has handymen brothers who can help out as well.
- Stability – I haven’t met any other expats who have kept the same house help for 38 consecutive months. That says a lot about H&M.
- Self-Starters – We never have to tell either one of them what to do around the house.
Why should you hire Marilyn specifically?
- Marilyn’s primary responsibility is cooking and cleaning. She backs up Helen in regards to taking care of the kids as a secondary responsibility.
- Her cooking is amazing. See photos below. We’re often disappointed when we eat out because the food isn’t as good as what Marilyn cooks at home.
- She is 100% self-led in the kitchen: we never tell her what to make or how to make it. We’re just treated to a delightfully surprising variety of dishes every time we sit down to eat.
- She teaches herself new dishes on a regular basis. She watches YouTube videos and gets recipes on the internet and tries them out. Nine times out of ten they turn out great.
- Parties parties parties. We’re fond of hosting dinner parties with 10..15..20..+ guests of varying nationalities and tastes. All we have to do is give Marilyn a headcount and she does the rest. Photos of some of the spreads she’s put on are below. With Helen’s help, the two of them can facilitate an entire dinner party and we don’t lift a finger or manage anything.
- Weekly grocery shopping is done with little supervision from my wife. Marilyn finds the ingredients we need, and my wife just meets her at the cash register to pay the bill. (Warning: having a restaurant-quality chef in your kitchen can lead to restaurant-level food bills, but it’s worth it)
- Again, Marilyn is a very hard worker and does a great job cleaning and doing laundry in addition to cooking.
Why should you hire Helen specifically?
- Helen’s primary responsibility is childcare and cleaning. She will backup Marilyn in the kitchen as a secondary responsibility.
- Helen takes excellent care of our three children. Catering to the needs of an 11 year old, 6 year old, and 18 month old.
- She is familiar with the International School of Manila and helps make sure the kids are prepared each day and get to / from school.
- She takes great care of the baby, and has done so since he was born. Her level of safety and rigor is so high we do not worry in the least bit when she’s out with him. And as mentioned earlier, we’ve left all three kids with them for 2-3 consecutive nights.
- She is always present when workers are in our condo, and because of that we have never had any issues of damage goods or money stolen.
- Like Marilyn, Helen keeps the condo clean and tidy when the kids don’t need her. Zero hesitation when it comes to hard chores.
- Their preference is to stay together at their next job, they work really well with one another.
- They both live with us, and probably prefer live-in jobs, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker. Marilyn lives in Cavite, Helen in Pasig.
- Their schedule with us is Monday morning through Saturday afternoon.
- We started them at 12,000 PHP each / month, and have increased it 1000 each year. So 2016 would have been to 15,000 (includes SSS, Pag-Ibig, Phil-Health for their portion and our portion).
- We give them the standard Filipino non-working holidays.
- English skills are adequate, but not above average
We will be out of town Dec 23-Dec 27, so they will both be available for interviews during that window. Otherwise, we leave Jan 8 and they’ll be available to work full-time after that.
Helen can be reached at: 0905 678 1494
and Marilyn: 0915 670 4453
After spending two solid days in Abu Dhabi with our friends Kym and Will, we drove the 90 minutes or so to see our other friends in Dubai for three and a half days. We first met Carey and her family at church in the Philippines where they lived near us for a year and we became fast friends. Our kids were very excited to visit with them again and play with their toys and dog. Carey acted as our tour guide and babysitter when we needed one. It was wonderful to be able to reminisce about friends and the Philippines with their family. After spending a week in the UAE during the cool season I would be willing to move there.
More photos of Dubai here.
We have now lived in Asia for three years. Two years ago a good friend from Texas moved to Abu Dhabi and I wanted to go visit her. Then, when another family that we met in the Philippines moved to Dubai, I knew we couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit them both by taking advantage of Manila’s direct flights to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I had been telling Matt for nearly 18 months that I wanted to spend our fall break visiting these friends and exploring that part of the world. We had never been to the Middle East and were told that in October the weather would be cooler. So off we went, and the weather cooperated and we all had a wonderful time being with friends and exploring the UAE. Many thanks to our fabulous host in Abu Dhabi, Kym, for taking such good care of us and being our tour guide.
More photos of Abu Dhabi here.
In late September we had a couple’s get-away to Malapascua in the Philippines to do some scuba diving. We had obtained regular certification about six weeks previous to this trip and are trying to cram in as much diving as we can while still in the Philippines since the diving is so great here. Matt really wanted to go to Malapascua to see the thresher shark. Not only did we see the threshers, but we also saw some white tip reef sharks, sea snakes, eagle ray, octopus, cuttlefish, lion fish, nudibranch, eels, etc. We completed our Advanced Open Water and Nitrox Air certification and did seven dives in two days. (It was our first time to use a GoPro while diving and now have bought a red filter so our future photos should look better)
More photos of Malapascua here.