Fifteen

Copyright © 2019 by VeryWellAged

Back to The final count...3

Author's note: These chapters are NOT stand-alones...The story starts here.

The final count...4

Once we get our house finished, there will be plenty of room for all. And though we are not yet done, I am pretty sure that late this year we will be able to move in, even if the place is not completely finished.  And late this year is approaching fast.

But the sense of time and urgency is gone. The exacting detail I pushed for in this house will not be as required in the other structures. The bedrooms are just that. Rooms with lights, electrical and an aircon1. The guards’ structure is actually four stories, though the top two floors have stub walls and a there is a large roof to provide shade throughout the day. It will look out over the front gate and enable a clear view of anyone approaching. I will have installed CCTV camera equipment that feeds back to a room in the house.

There will also be a ‘commlink’ between the guards’ building and the house.  We need that for announcing visitors and informing the guards if they can allow someone through the gate. At the moment we are using walkie-talkies. It works but I want something better.

Oh! I failed to mention the generator. Mine is not trailer-mounted but, in all other regards, I have exactly what George has and, no, it is not overkill. Brownouts here are common.

There remain a few bumps on the horizon. One of them seems to require me to return, briefly, to the USA. I need to sell some of the Cisco shares. The value per share is getting better and the bank account here needs replenishment.

To my amazement, the Apple stock is gaining value almost every week. I had not considered selling it before because it wasn’t worth enough, and now I want to see how high it will go. Today the stock is trading for 10.78! That makes my shares worth over six hundred thousand dollars.

My Cisco investment is worth far more, but it is not close to the high it had been in January of 2004 when it reached 29.13. Today it is trading at 24.64. Since 2004, for the longest time, the stock was not even at 20 per share.  The current price is a real surprise. So, while it has been higher, this is the stock I need to sell at least some of.

I email my broker to find out what I have to do to authorize the sale of fifty thousand shares of Cisco. I receive an email back from him asking for my current US address. I email back saying I don’t have one, and then he freaks out. He is not authorized to handle my account! It is being transferred to an agent licensed to handle foreign customer accounts. I email back, saying I am not a foreigner. But, he tells me, for the purpose of buying and selling stock, I am a foreigner now!

There are two separate issues related to this. The first appears to be that I don’t actually have a broker at the moment and therefore can’t sell anything. The second is that I won’t have to travel to the US, when and if I do get a broker.

I try contacting the old broker again, but receive a form email back from some other office in the brokerage, informing me that domestic brokers are prohibited by law from contacting overseas clients in any manner. I am directed to contact a different office in a different city. Fuck.

I contact the new office and they leave me hanging for two weeks. I call, I email. Nothing. I contact corporate and ask them for help. I am promised someone will contact me. I get the name of the person to whom I am speaking, while I am on the phone with corporate. These folks are not brokers, and since they can’t buy or sell stock, I gather they are allowed to talk to me. They just can’t help, other than to pass messages.

Another week passes and I have heard nothing! I call the guy I spoke with at corporate. I tell him, if I don’t get a call from a broker in twenty-four hours, I will fly back to the USA for the sole purpose of moving my accounts to a different company. He promises I will receive a call.

I do get a call. It is from a very unhappy guy who is pissed off that he has to waste his time with some clown he can’t make any real commissions on.

Look buddy, what is the big damn urgent hurry?

I need to sell a small amount of stock.

OK, that’s what I figured … and what are you wanting to sell?

Fifty thousand of my Cisco.

Say again?

Fifty thousand of Cisco. What’s so hard? I have five hundred and forty-thousand shares. I just want to sell a small amount.

Just a sec… what is your account number with us?

I give him the account number.

No that can’t be, that’s a domestic number.

Yes, and when I opened the account in the 1990s, I lived in Boston.

I can’t use that account number.

Well, I am not allowed to contact the agent I had who handled the account because I am no longer domestic.

Shit, OK, let me get this sorted out… You say you have over 500K of Cisco?

Yes, and fifty-six thousand of Apple.

OK, OK, I promise, I will get back to you. Give me all your contact info.

I do, and, before he gets off the line, he sends me an email to make sure I get it. I do, and the call ends.

Two days later, I get an email from him. I have a new account number and some forms that need a US notary. He specifically warns me, I cannot use a Philippine notary.

I know there is a US notary in the US consulate in Cebu, so I will need to go there. He cannot sell the stock for me until he receives my forms back, signed and notarized. The forms are in PDF format. I print them out.

This will be the first time I am not at the lot since we started. Only the finish work is left. Lyn has access to enough money for house paint and supplies that will most certainly be needed. The painters only tell me how much they need for a day or two. No matter how many times I tell them that they need to give me a more complete order, I just can’t get them to do it!

These days we have an SUV and a pickup, as well as the van. Lyn drives me to the airport and I get on a PAL flight to Cebu.

The consulate functions on a first come, first serve basis starting at seven-thirty in the morning. I will be there early tomorrow morning.

It is located on the ground floor of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino. I have already booked a room there. I splurge and pay what works out to be about one hundred bucks for an upscale suite, just for me, and just for one night. Whatever. The difference between a regular room and a suite is marginal.

At seven in the morning, I am in line and before eleven I am done. Now I just need to send these documents as fast as possible. The hotel concierge informs me that they can facilitate DHL services directly from the hotel’s business support office.

It costs me a bit more than if I had tracked down DHL on my own, but, fuck it. It is done. The documents are on their way to their final destinations, and so am I, back to GenSan.

We are not done with building on the lot, but the house is done… well and truly done. It is also only five days before Thanksgiving. There are five Thursdays this month and the fourth one falls on the twenty-third.

The lease on our current house runs out in two months, but we will be vacating now. I enlist the help of fifteen workmen from the lot and borrow a couple of ‘Bongos’ in an effort to get us moved, in one day, Monday the twentieth.

With fifteen females and fifteen guys plus the Bongos, the pickup, and the van with the seats folded down, it works.  We will return to that place next week and give it a thorough cleaning. But we spend the very first night in our own home!

George and Ara are invited over for Thanksgiving.

I don’t want to give the specs on this place. It is far too big and it will sound like bragging. I am pleased, beyond any way to express, how happy I am with my new home. There would have been no way to build this place in the USA. The cost would have been prohibitive and the property taxes alone would have probably been staggering.

But, here, with the able and incalculably important help of Rena, she says that she expects my annual taxes on this place will be only what amounts to six hundred bucks a year. That’s all, and Rena tells me, if I pay by December of the preceding year, I can get a twenty percent reduction. Yes, Sir, that means I only really have to pay the equivalent of four hundred and eighty dollars. Of course, Rena is only speculating. It takes a while before all palms are greased and the tax amount is officially established.

But the house has some nice features. There are no ground floor bedrooms in the main part of the house, though there are in the other parts that create the courtyard.

The courtyard, enclosing a square with open space, is made up of three sides that connect to the back of the house proper. Each of those sides has eight bedrooms and CR’s. On each side, there are four bedrooms on the first floor and four on the second.

A courtyard-facing balcony both, provides entrance to the second floor rooms and, joins a balcony on the second floor of the main house. In the main part of the house, there are ten bedrooms with CR’s on the second floor and my suite is on the smaller third floor.

With deep eaves and a roof that extends far beyond the walls of my third floor rooms, I get direct light only at daybreak and sunset. All other times of the day, I am in shade. Window glass surrounds me up here, only broken by the structural posts which rise up to the roof. My CR and dressing room are interior rooms and so do not affect the glass as it surrounds the floor.

The deep setback from the dimensions of the second floor and the deeply tinted glass provide me with privacy at all times during the day, as well as a walk-around balcony. At night, sheers on the bedroom window glass suffice for purposes of modesty.

The only things I had to give up in the move are my DSL connection and landline phone. There are no communications supporting copper loops out this far from town. There is rumor of fiber cable at some time in the future, but it sure isn’t here now. I arrange for a 3G Home Internet connection from Globe Telecom. It sucks, but I have no choice. Once again, 4G wireless is coming, but not here yet.

Still, the 3G connection is important. I need it for email at a minimum! I have word that the broker has processed everything I sent him. I have a couple of emails promising it is in the works. But it is not done.

Thanksgiving is a lot of fun. Ara has not seen the place before and George has not been out for over half a year; he asks for a count of the number of bedrooms.

Currently? Or when we are done?

You mean there will be more?

Maybe four more. Right now there are thirty-five bedrooms here and four more in out buildings.

My God, Craig, that’s a hotel! And why three more?

There are two bungalows with two bedrooms apiece. I am probably going to add a bedroom on to each. We currently have two huts for guards there. I will build a small place with one or two bedrooms and remove the huts.

So the guards are permanent?

Yes.  Don’t want to go into all of it, but the cautions you impressed upon me last year have had an impact on my thinking.

Craig, you can’t need even thirty-five bedrooms now and if you will have forty-one with the bungalows… well why?

Ara slaps George and that gets the guy a little peeved. But she gives him an ‘are you that dumb’ look before shaking her head and explaining, for he who may well be mathematically impaired, Fifteen girls here, see, George? OK, so almost all has a child. Two have extra children, right Lyn? … So right away there are maybe thirty! You think there not be more? George, can’t you count? Do you know about Mica? Her?

Dear Ara, there are times I prefer not to know. And, no I didn’t know there were so many children. Men don’t gossip like that! I don’t want to know about Mica. How do you know?

Mel, Lyn and me, we chat.

Well, dear, please don’t feel the need to share. I think I am better off not knowing. But speaking of something I did see, and in light of your claim of concern, Craig, why do I see what must be six motorcycles out here under the carport?

I’m not sure I follow. What’s your point?

Kidnapping! Being on a motorcycle is not safe.

I hadn’t given that any thought.

Well, you might want to.

Gotcha.

After the meal, George and I stretch our legs and I give him a complete tour. As we enter the master suite, George takes a good look around, gives me an odd smile before…

Craig, I knew you weren’t one of the Social Security and Vet benefit guys. That was clear pretty much right from the beginning. But this, my friend, well this is a whole ’nother thing entirely.

Just lucky, George. That’s all. I am just lucky.

Yes, well, Craig, get rid of those fucking bikes. You need more guards. You need bodyguards. Your girls need bodyguards. There are too many who will know about this place.

George is not being overly dramatic, but I am not sure I want to go that far. To do what he suggests requires having my own army. There are folks here with their own private armies. It happens. But at some point such things can backfire on you.

Eight days after Thanksgiving for me, seven days after Thanksgiving, the thirtieth, in the USA, the Cisco stock is sold. The good news is that the value is higher than it was when I wanted to sell it. It sold for 27.02!

Before taxes, it comes to over one million and three hundred thousand dollars. US taxes are pulled out right away and the balance is wired directly to my account here in GenSan.

I am told that I should see the cash in about ten days. I ask for proof of tax payment right away. I will bring that to the bank and inform them of the impending deposit.

Maybe you think that is a little over the top. It isn’t. I have to prove taxes are paid in the USA. Otherwise there can be questions raised about money laundering and tax evasion. Of the money I make on the sale, my tax bite in the USA is fifteen percent. That leaves about one million and one hundred-forty thousand dollars to transfer.

It will come into my dollar account. I won’t convert it to pesos. But, as a way to understand accounts in banks here, deposits are only insured in pesos and only to five hundred thousand pesos. Maybe 0.02% of the population ever reaches that point. That I will have this coming in as dollars amounts to over fifty-five million pesos. And that will set off alarms through the bank here. It is better if I prepare them before they start shitting bricks.

I get the tax declaration document via a PDF and bring it with me to my bank branch office. BPI is one of the largest and most stable national banks. But GenSan is not where the big hitters tend to reside. I guess if I was in Makati or Cebu, they would have been more sanguine, but not here. No, they were anything but sanguine. I have a feeling that they wished I would move my account somewhere else.

It takes some phone calls on their end with their parent offices, before things calm down and I am told that there will be no problems. They thank me for bringing in the tax declaration and take photocopies of it. I gather that they are keeping one copy and three copies have to be sent to their parent office.

When the money does come, I withdraw what amounts to two million pesos and open up an account at Metrobank. I take another two million pesos worth and put it in a BDO branch bank. And I do the same thing with RCBC bank.

The bottom line is that we have plenty of cash to live on and there are multiple debit cards for a variety of banks. If one bank’s ATM is offline, there are no worries. Plus, I start getting offers of credit cards from all these banks. None care about my credit score in the USA. I figure I might as well have some of these cards, too.

I establish a monthly spend of three hundred thousand pesos.  The girls think it is way too much. I am not sure, but it should carry us about fifteen years before needing replenishing. That is a budget of a little over six thousand dollars a month.

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1 - This requires an explanation. In the USA, when there was inadequate power, (less than 110V) we referred to it as a brownout. A blackout meant no power. Here, inadequate power is a common and everyday fact of life for most Filipinos who are connected to over-utilized transformers. Blackouts are unscheduled large area (maybe island-wide in some cases) loss of all power. Brownouts are regional and many times scheduled (though you have no idea that they were scheduled) losses of power.

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The final count...5

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