Alejandro builds a house

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Alejandro starts early in the morning, February 20th, 2009

Alejandro used to work as a security guard in a wellknown company in the city until his youngest daughter was weaned. Then his wife left for Abu Dhabi to work in domestic service and, in a way, so did Alejandro, choosing to stay home to look after their three little ones. Two are in elementary school and the youngest is two. These days – considered the 'summer' or dry season, until the rains arrive in April or May – Janjan, as he is called, is finishing the rest of his bamboo house. When I arrived on the 20th of Feb, he had just one main room whose roof extended enough to give support to what seemed to me to be the beginnings of a wrap around porch. There was a bamboo strip wall about 4 feet or so in width, the rest was open to the air.

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February 20th, 2009

"Yes, I'm making this all out of bamboo (referring to the fact that his sister's house next door was made of concrete blocks) I don't have much money you see, in fact even this hammer is borrowed. I bought the bamboo raw material, some wire and nails. I'm also paying Ed the carpenter, but he's given me a discount on his daily rate since he's my wife's uncle and he brings his tools. He's even got an electric drill."

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Edgar the professional (discounting for friends and relatives is the norm)

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Friends helping out with the windows

Other friends come over to keep company for a few days and volunteer their help no payment except for the nightly bottle of rum and good food. Anecdotes from other regions in The Philippines tell us about volunteerism as social behaviour – a way to earn 'capital' one could say – for example, in one region, funerals are completely voluntary organizations since communities have little cash. One will offer food for those who pray for the required 9 days, others make coffee or the coffin itself. Very quickly the communities get to know who is to be 'trusted' and who isn't. Whom can you turn to in times of need?

Community as credit or insurance can be said to be the norm at the BoP.

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February 28th, just over a week later, Alejandro's house has a door, a narrow hall/living room, kitchen space and now, a front door.  Now, he wants to start up his barbecue business again. Alejandro has a touch with cooking, in fact, he did most of the cooking every night and wants to set up a social location outside his mother's sari sari shop where he can offer tidbits for sale even as she stocks drinks the locals prefer. Soon, it will be planting season and people working in the rice fields on daily wages will have not only money to spend but less time to cook for themselves.

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