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Philippine Sun Part 1

About Me
The storm has almost passed. Almost. The past five years had been an emotional labyrinth, with many ups and downs, twists and turns. Ive never been good at talking. I become overly emotional when agitated, causing people to misinterpret my distress for anger. Because of this, I kept my troubles to myself for many years. Sometimes, though, I wonder if things would have been differentespecially with my family if I had been able to communicate well. This is why I write now. I want you to know my side of the story.

Ive always been the kind of person who doesnt ask for much. When luck smiles at me, I smile back with gratitude. When she becomes scarce, I bear the difficulties in silence, still grateful that I am alive and well, that I can bounce back.

In 2005, the business I had going on for a while fell apart. It was the lowest point of my life. I was not only in a zero state. I was in a negative state with debts but with no source of income. Having no money had always been easier because I could always scrimp on luxuries but having debts to pay was difficult indeed.

I was looking for a reset button to start my life over. I also thought it would be better to just vanish. Suicide at the time of financial slump seemed attractive but I turned to religion instead.

It was the first time in my life that I attended all nine masses of the Simbang Gabi. I did not do it because I was asking for anything. It was like my subconscious was guiding me to walk to church and attend mass. It was very unusual for me because Im not used to waking up early, attending mass was never part of my routine, especially attending mass alone. Several days later, I got a call from my youngest sister Grace. Grace and I come after each other in the order of five children in the family but its safe to say that she has always been more, uh, privileged. Maybe later on I will devote a whole chapter on Grace in this series of outpourings, but for now, let me tell you about the purpose of that phone call. She wanted her condominium unit in Eastwood City sold to pay off a loan in the US. Having nothing else to do, I decided to help my sister. Looking back, I was proud of myself for helping her despite my situation. Appreciation was the very least I was expecting from her. I was wrong.

My First Clients In Eastwood City
But before that, let me tell you about how I was led to think that the turn of events would be fine. Grace had a 73-square-meter condo unit in a very nice building in Eastwood City. It had two bedrooms and a maids room. I started to entertain calls from interested tenants. I later received a call from Michael and Gina, a young couple who had just arrived from Europe to marry and settle in the Philippines. Michael and Gina were my first clients in Eastwood City. They were an interesting pair. Michael was a tall, white man with a pleasant disposition, while Gina was a short, brown beauty with a lively temperament. My impression of her was a supportive wife who loves her husband very much. I wasnt wrong about that. Maybe later on, I will also devote a chapter about them and the nice things they did for me.

When they saw the condominium unit, they decided to take it without asking too many questions, unlike other clients would. Michael, to me, seemed like a kind man who was also straightforward about what he liked and disliked. He agreed to rent it for two years and then purchase it at the end of the lease. Whatever amount paid for the two-year lease would not be deducted from the sale price. He would also introduce improvements to the condo as guarantee that he would buy it eventually. He also agreed that should he back out of the sale agreement, the cost of the improvement would not be reimbursed. Michael paid two years rent in advance, totaling to almost P700,000. He also signed the lease and sale contract on the same day he made the full payment. These two, I thought, were clients that you stumble upon rarely so I decided not to let them go.

Now, Grace promised to send me a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) to make the contracts with my signature valid. From that transaction, I earned P50, 000 for my efforts. The rest I sent to Grace in the US. Graces condo did not have a single light bulb. Being accustomed to first class comforts, Michael spent millions on fixture and furniture. This was generous spending on his part because if he backs out of the sale contract, all permanent fixtures he installed in the condo unit would become Graces property. The situation becomes even better for Grace because the market value of her condo would jump because of the improvements.

The Messy Start
The construction started several days after the agreements were finalized. Michael brought in narra floorboards, hand-painted wall pattern, and expensive furniture. He had always been casual about money. A month passed and Grace still did not send the SPA. I called her up to ask for it. She claimed to have already sent it but would send it again if I had not received it. After another month, she told me she was not sending the SPA anymore because she had changed her mind about the selling price. She wanted more for it because of the improvements made, but if Michael still wants to buy the unit, he would have to agree to a new contract price. Otherwise, Grace would not sell it to him.

I was shocked. I got mad. I told her what she could and could not do. The price was already agreed upon, the contract signed, a lot of money spent on renovations. But according to her, it was me who signed the contract and it was now my problem. It later came to me that she must have been waiting for the renovations to be done for the condo to appreciate in value. She was determined to cheat Michael, I could not believe it.

In a fit of anger, I told Grace to handle the transactions with Michael herself. I emailed her the lease contract and the sale contract but she only signed the lease contract. She also wrote a letter to Michael offering to sell the condo to him but at a higher price. This was when I things became ugly.