Really gross post ahead.

Okay. We live in Manila. As in Paco, Malate area Manila. Old Manila. Manila City. Near markets. And esteros. Etc.

We sort of live near a squatters' area given that our 'barangay' is located between a railroad and an estero. Although the people in our street actually own their homes, and these homes have titles, just a stone's throw away from us all are the squatters.

And have I said that we live in the Old Manila area?

I have? Okay.

And what's one of the common problems of living in an old city? Aside from the noise and pollution?

Pests, of course.

Our homes are apartment-style homes. And though we're not Bree van de Camp OC about cleanliness, I like to believe that our homes are 'kept' homes. But these homes are old homes (our walls overlap and all that sh!t) that my parents bought over two decades ago. We've renovated some but the structure's generally what it's always been.

Thus, we had to contend with our share of cockroaches and mice. They're gross but we're used to them and have learned to live with them. We make sure we still dispose of our trash properly, and don't leave food and spills for them to feast on etc. There isn't a day that I didn't wish for them to evaporate from the face of the earth but I know that between their species and ours, they are made of hardier stuff.

So, although they are a nuisance, I can live with them. I've learned to live with them. Bug sprays and sticky paper catchers are part of our grocery list.

But what of rats that are as big as cats?

Have I said anything about my morbid fear of rats? I'm scared of mice too (all rodents in fact, and rodent-looking thingies like rabbits and tarsiers) but they're generally too small to actually threaten me. But rats? They're not only scary-looking, the implications of all the germs and disease they bring along with them is just mind-boggling. Plus, they actually destroy properties.

My childhood is rich with stories of me squealing while standing on a chair as I watched my parents/our helper de-rat the house. But then we had a cat for a while... and didn't have to deal with rats in our home for a long time.

But I guess times are hard, even for rats. So they're now extra vigilant about making homes for themselves in people's homes. And no matter how much we clean our home, if neighbors don't do the same, rats can still propagate. Plus, they have the canals running through all homes as their designated subway to people's scraps (and laundry, and pictures, and toys, etc.)

Rats managed to gnaw away the cement in our kitchen cabinets (those above the canal) and thus managed to access our home. They were having a field day in the kitchen when I was pregnant (this is at the other house, where we still eat and cook, and not in our home, where we sleep and watch TV and go online) and I really thought i'd miscarry because of them. I stopped going there.

Then suddenly the rats stopped coming. So all's well again in our old homes.

Then they returned. The house beside my parents' underwent major renovations, which seemed to drive the rats crazy. It's funny in a bad way but it seems the houses in our compound shared the rats so when this one house got repaired, we got its share. Or maybe they were all nesting there and were just driven to the neighbors. I dunno.

And for the life of me, they got to a chair where my son's sketches were kept in an envelope. Imagine how violated and threatened I felt, having my son's sketches all gnawed up. Grr.

So enough was enough. We had a cousin of mine clean the canal, close up all holes he could find, install steel bars in the CR, etc.

Just three days after we've 'dealt' with them... there was a big rat again. We thought that maybe it was wise enough to lie low during the repair, nesting behind my father's old component. My cousin managed to trap it and kill it. (hurrah for her)

But the following day, there were more! Ugh.

My cousin killed them all again. Which is good really but for the fact that the rats couldn't then tell the others to stop going to our home for they will be killed. Sigh. How are they getting inside?

Through the pipe of our kitchen sink, we discovered.

Talk about tenacious. Stubborn. Etc.

So we started leaving a big pot of water there so they couldn't get through.

This morning, we found a hole gnawed on the woodwork of the screened window that also acts as exhaust window in the kitchen.

I am going crazy here.

My Mother insists that we use poison but my cousin is scared of using any because she says she's easily affected by them. I can't handle the poison since i'm breastfeeding and am scared too. My husband has offered to do it... but we're scared of one other thing.

What if the rats die trapped somewhere they shouldn't be? And what if they also spread the poison and it affects people (I did say we are connected via canals to those living in slums right?).

People abroad might suggest that we hire exterminators... which we can do, but won't really solve our problem.

Because the real issue here is that Manila is infested with pests. And unless there is a city-wide program to clean up surroundings, I doubt this will be remedied by rat traps and poison.

So yes, it's the biggest incentive for me to get out of here. I am just having problems with coming up with the money for that too.


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