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While many dream of having their own homes with white picket fences, they often forget that this also entails having a next door neighbor. Unless you live in one of those uber-secluded posh villages with grandiose mansions and sprawling lots where the nearest domicile is practically half a kilometer away, chances are you will bump into your neighbor quite often. You meet them in the street as you leave for work, you bump into them at the sari-sari store, or maybe y'all sweep the typhoon debris off your street simultaneously after a storm.
There are neighbors you like, and those whom you'd love to take instagram photos of as they fall off a cliff. Bob of our childhood Sesame Street sang, "who are the people in your neighborhood?" — and here are a few of them:
Sugar, spice, everything nice. Most of my neighbors are nice. We have this sort of thing going where we look after each other's houses when someone has to go out of town, or hand each other that clichéd cup of sugar (or a few cloves of garlic) from time to time. At Christmas, the people in our block exchange paper plates filled with whatever we are having for Noche Buena. I can even leave my youngest with Ate Siony next door if I have to pop into the supermarket for a few things. When her youngest was smaller, he used to come over for snacks. With this kind of neighbor, everything is easy-peasy.
The party people. Every little thing offers them an occasion to celebrate — and to haul out that blasted videoke machine. Over countless rounds of beer, the drinking buddies and their gals regale the whole village with their earsplitting renditions of that Bon Jovi classic — "Bead op Ruses", with a bit of "Jaz Ones" by James Ingram. This auditory torture continues well into the wee hours of the morning. Not only do you cringe at the vocal quality of the "singers" you also get the bonus of wincing every time they flub the lyrics. Oh, and since they'll drink the whole night away, you might want to check your rosebushes in the morning for traces of barf.
The noisemakers. Often, these are the same neighbors as number two. Since they just love getting attention for their singing prowess, they probably think, "why stop there?" So, what do they do? They make as much noise as possible in the morning! They modify their car or motorbike's engine, for example, to sound like helicopters. The can-affords kit out their car stereo so it would have the bass going tugs-tugs-tugs as they cruise to their parking spot; the have-nots have their bikes with those tinny radios that blare Renz Verano songs as they zip by your house. One of our neighbors doesn't even need tech to announce her presence. Her annoying braying voice can be heard well into our living room as she scolds her children or her house help. That says volumes about her sound quality, since she lives across the street.
The litterbugs. One Facebook friend complains that her neighbor, probably wanting to save on garbage bags, throws the dead leaves swept from their backyard into hers! In our case, our neighbor's yaya and her wards like to sit under our shady tree in the afternoons, and they leave the trash from their merienda as litter for us to clean. And, oh, they don't make it easy for us to clean up, because they are probably shy about leaving trash behind. So they leave the junk food wrappers and soft drink plastic bags and matching straws in the crevices of the tree or under the bushes.
The buzz. If you try to live your life as quietly as possible, chances are, one of your neighbors is bound to get curious. My nosy neighbor went for the indirect route: she started questioning my house help. Nosy would wait for yaya to step out on an errand and try to chat her up outside. A translation of one of her remarks reads: "none of her yayas stay with them very long. How come you are still there?" I told yaya to ask neighbor a few things in return — 1. what is her husband's job? (answer: none) 2. what is her job? (answer: none). She confides that they get their food from her mom's house a couple of blocks away. So, yeah, chances are these poky people are just looking for ways to feel better about themselves — at your expense.
The freeloaders. I was puzzled for several days as a gaggle of teenagers started hanging out outside our gate. Turns out they were using my wi-fi connection to send their jeje posts on Facebook. The solution consisted of one word, eight letters: PASSWORD. And then there are those who feel entitled to use your neck of the woods as their parking lot. Or mix their garbage bags with yours so when the trash truck comes and the collector demands a "donation" for doing their job, you are the one who has to shell out.
As one of my friends point out, complain, and you are the one who comes out as the bad guy in the end. (in Tagalog, as she so aptly put it, "pag nag reklamo ka, ikaw pa ang lalabas na masama"). So what can you do? Well, for the most part, nothing. But you do have to remember that you have your rights too. And if these neighbors overstep their literal and figurative boundaries, there's always the barangay office that should be able to handle your complaints.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HerWord or BusinessWorld.
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update on my neck of the woods: one of our neighbors having a wake at their house for their relative. i can't figure out, though, if it is to honor their loved one, or a bingo social.
Posted by maan on Wednesday, 10.24.12 @ 20:25pm
Ugh. I hate our neighbors.
They park their motorcycles in our driveway. They feed the street cats in front of our house. They leave their trash in front of our house as well.
Before, I'd smile at them but now, I treat them like they don't exist. However, my mother still gives them a cake roll during new year.
My mother tells me to be civil with them (which I do) because we might need their help in the future.
Things went really bad that my mother posted a handwritten message to our neighbors that she stuck on our gate. One of them approached my mother and said things, which already shows that his family is guilty of things my mother pointed out in her message.