Termites are pervasive in the Philippines. Called anay, they chomp down on the cheap, untreated lumber most Filipinos use in and around their homes. It’s not as bad as it used to be and that’s only because more people are building their homes with cement and buying non-wood furniture these days. Of course, termites are a problem everywhere, but they’re pervasive in tropical climates like the Philippines. The people of Hawaii figured out how to deal with them long ago, by building with cedar instead of other kinds of wood. Termites and other pests don’t like cedar – don’t ask me why because I’ve never bothered to do the research.
As residents in an impoverished country, the average Filipino family simply cannot afford to buy the best lumber to use in construction. I’ve seen a lot of furnishings ruined by termites because the furnishings were made of untreated lumber.
Treating lumber isn’t something I’m familiar with, but I know something as simple as varnish will cause most pests to leave the wood alone. Obviously, the hard woods are better than the soft woods and that’s why I prefer wood furnishings made of narra or teak.
A lot of people seem to be buying more furnishings made of other materials these days, like glass, plastic and stainless steel. While these furnishings will last a lot longer, nothing matches the beauty of real wood.
We have two kitchens, a kitchen inside the house and a dirty kitchen outside the house. The exit door of the inside kitchen is an entrance door to the dirty kitchen, though it didn’t start out that way. That door started out as one of two back doors to the outside.
All of our cupboards and cabinets, including the wardrobe cabinets in the bedrooms, are made of wood. The counter tops are cement, covered in ceramic tile. I’ve had to replace one of the cabinet doors under the inside kitchen sink, but the damage wasn’t caused by termites. I know what termite damage looks like.
This damage was caused by ants. Yes, ants. I don’t know what kind of ants they are, but they’re the same kind that like to build nests near water supplies. I only know this because we found a nest near a leak in the downstairs ceiling. Someone told me they were carpenter ants and I looked it up. The description fits, but I never saw what the ants looked like.
We don’t seem to have a problem with termites, but we seem to have problems with all kind of other insects wanting to be in our house. I’ve had to deal with ants that burrow into food wrappings, moths coming in after it rains and even the Philippine version of the praying mantis paying us a visit from time to time.
We haven’t had many issues with cockroaches because we let geckos roam free inside the house. They eat the smaller ones and rarely do any of the huge ones get in.