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Columns And Padugo Ceremony: A House In The Philippines

This is another installment of the series on designing and building a house in the Philippines. An index to all of the posts in this series can be found here: House Build Philippines: Index.

We also built a concrete hollow block perimeter fence. The index to all of the posts in that series can be found here: Perimeter Fence Philippines: Index

We finally had all of the holes and trenches dug and it was time for some serious progress on the house! But…there was one more thing we had to do before the concreting began.

Bless This Build

The last time we had to bless construction was when we started our wall. That didn’t go well because the permit was delayed.

This time we had the permit in hand and a much larger offering for the padugo ceremony: a goat. Yep, you read that right. Offering. Although, I’m not sure that’s the right word for how they view it here.

You might be thinking that the Philippines is a Christian and Muslim nation and that the people believe in a God, not superstitions. That’s true but some old beliefs are still with the people here (as they are with people everywhere).

One of them is the sprinkling of animal blood in the post holes of a house under construction to “bless” it, to appease the spirits of whoever might have lived on this land over generations past, and to ensure a safe work environment.

Now, I’m going to include a rather gruesome photo here but only because it depicts the stark reality of the padugo. I’m only publishing this photo here because I think that those who might be building in the Philippines in the future should know what they’re getting into as far as working with Filipinos. Here on this page, the gruesome part of the photo will be blurred so it can’t be seen. But when the blurred photo is clicked on, the large unblurred photo will showWARNING: If you don’t want to see a shocking photo, do not click on the photo at right.

A Word About Tools

I couldn’t believe the tools that the crew had to work with. Rusted pliers, hammers that had lost their handles long ago and had been replaced with metal pipes, rusted and dull wood saws and hack saws. Somehow, they got the deformed bar (Rebar) cut and wired together and the coco lumber cut and nailed up to hold the column “bones” in place with their beat-up and homemade tools.

If I had known these 10-piece Stanley Starter Hand Tool Kits were so affordable, I’d have bought three or four of them for the crew to use. 

This is what setting up the columns looked like:






Anti-Termite Treatment

We used a commercial anti-termite treatment in each column hole and all along the trench. It’s mixed with water on site and poured in by hand.

You might be thinking that if the house is made of concrete, we didn’t need to worry about termites. But the treatment isn’t to prevent termites from eating the house, it’s to prevent them from making nests in the soil and undermining the columns and foundation.

I can tell you that ants and their termite cousins love freshly turned soil for their nests. We had a pile of soil near where we sat to watch the crew work and in just a few days after it was put there, red biting ants had created a city in it. So, I recommend the treatment.

Engine Trouble

The contractor rented what’s known as a “one-bagger” concrete mixer. It’s meant to be used to mixe one bag of cement with gravel and water. You can rent mixers that are turned by hand and others that have motors to do the work. We had one with a motor.

It wasn’t really better for half of that day, though because the motor wouldn’t start! 

The rental company sent a couple of their ace mechanics over to try and repair the motor and get the mixing running for us. They worked and worked, took parts off and put them back on, primed the carburetor and did everything they could think of. Like I said, it took them half a day to get is going but they finally did! 

In the next installment, we’ll look at some more concreting and also getting the plumbing and electrical paths started.


One Response to Columns And Padugo Ceremony: A House In The Philippines

  1. Queenie December 20, 2017 at 6:36 PM #

    Hi JD,

    We experienced a lot of what you folks did during our house build too. A lot of rudimentary tools, and some borrowed from my husband’s collection, but minus the cement mixer.:) All that work was done by hand. Here in Cebu we had a similar but different ceremony, called a Pangpang. Because we live along the sea with a lot of caves and wild trees, as a bow to the many workers on the house build, we hired a hilot to perform the ritual. In this instance it was a pig that was slaughtered in a particular way, and the blood was scattered around the house foundation. It was felt to appease the many spirits that dwell in our land/house area, and to let them know that we will live in peaceful harmony with them. It seems to have had a positive affect so far. We’re very pleased and amazed in how the house was made so beautifully, but I wouldn’t want to ever have to start over again! It was a lot to accomplish!

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