Tigbauan Real Estate, Tigbauan property and Tigbauan retirement. We’ve learned a whole new meaning for “small town” and “rural”.
The lot we bought is not far from the Tigbauan, Iloilo village center, maybe about 1.5 km. It’s walking distance to the market and the ocean. The road we are on is short but really rough, almost impassible after heavy rains. The road peters out beyond our property, but dozens more families live nearby, often without road access We see the families walking out though the fields, fresh-scrubbed and neatly dressed as Filipinos almost always are, even if they live in a native-style house with no running water. Perhaps they’re going to the market in Tigbauan or they might even be riding a jeepney to the big malls in Iloilo City. Some might be going to work or to school, hoping for a nursing or merchant marine job overseas We just never see cars on our road or on the municipal road it connects to. They’re filled with people walking. On a school day, you’ll see school kids everywhere, lining every road to and from the many schools. They’re adorable in their uniforms, but by the hundreds and thousands — laughing, smiling well-behaved.
So, I’m slowly adjusting to a new meaning for rural. My kids grew up in small towns in Upstate New York. Perhaps we liked Tigbauan because it reminded us of home – a pretty small town, a stone church, a cluster of old buildings downtown surrounded by farming countryside. While Tigbauan looks a little like Westport, New York there’s one big difference. My kids went to the only K-12 school there was. The total K-12 student population was about 300. Tigbauan, with about 50% less land area has eight high schools, five primary schools and sixteen elementary schools. The population of Tigbauan is over 50,000. Westport NY has a population of 1362. So, Tigbauan may have reminded us of home but it’s not. Perhaps this is emblematic of the foreigner’s experience of the Philippines. We see big shopping malls filled with the usual chains, we see Pizza Hut and MacDonalds and theaters showing Hollywood blockbusters, people speaking English and we feel right at home — but we’re not at home.
Property Taxes — a welcome contrast. When we lived on a farm in Upstate New York, our local real estate taxes were about $4,000 per year. The annual property taxes of our Tigbauan property are about $100. Low property taxes are a big benefit to life in the Philippines.
Foreigners can mostly shield themselves from the foreignness, the good and the bad, by living in a Western-style house in an upscale subdivision and hanging out at the big malls. That’s not going to be possible in Tigbauan. The only shopping is in the public market. It’s open every day, but market day is Sunday and on Sunday it’s packed with shoppers and vendors, many of which come in from remote farms to sell their farm products. The older ladies like to smoke cigars which they roll of locally grown tobacco. There’s a tobacco section, in fact just about everything is sold there. But this is not a farmer’s market that’s a colorful adjunct to regular shopping. It’s the only shopping there is. If you’ve ever wished the mall and supermarkets would go away and things could be like in the old days, this is it — the near-medieval market! I don’t want to overdo the image of hardship. Much of what’s on sale is wonderfully fresh and inexpensive; tropical fruits especially mangos, papaya, jackfruit, bananas. Fresh vegetables — eggplant, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, peppers, green beans, okra, squash, onions, garlic, tomatoes.
The rice fields around us are mostly owed by a big landowner. We have seen a tractor adapted for work in wet, muddy rice fields. We have seen walk-behind tractors, similar to roto-tillers. But mostly we see Filipinos in conical straw hats, plowing with carabao – water buffalo, planting rice by hand, just like one of those grainy old movies about China. One of reasons we bought the particular plot of land we bought is because wireless Internet access was available. We’ll build our house, sit on our porch surfing, watching the carabao plowing the rice fields around us. We’ll walk to that public market to shop. For sure, it’s going to be a seismic change. Stay tuned!
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