IF at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. . . . So goes a familiar line of a favorite childhood song. Words well remembered that they have forever left a mark in my brain!
Life, indeed, is a continuous struggle and one fall should not discourage us to stand up and try again. But how many falls or setbacks, do you think, a person may take in a lifetime, before he or she finds success?
I once heard that a man’s success is measured by his failures. The more failures he gets the greater and sweeter his success will be! Are these wise sayings true? Allow me, please, to continue with my story and you may find the answer to this question.
After having been drained in one go of all the savings and resources I ever mustered in my first four years of working abroad, I felt ready to venture into more unforeseen “failures” in the year 1995. It was three years since my dream of building a house turned into nightmare. After that showdown with the contractor, I didn’t attempt at all to re-start the construction of my unfinished house. I just left the building untouched and it was quite strange because I felt that the edifice itself had betrayed me. I did not even want to see it at all!
In June 1994, I was forced to transfer the guardianship over my two young boys from my mother to my sister. My mother, early that year, developed a fatal heart ailment and she almost died. So, from the province, off went my children and their nanny to my sister’s place in Marikina, Metro Manila.
When I went for my yearly December holiday that year, I talked to my sister and her husband about my plan of buying a house and lot near the rented apartment they were occupying. I thought then to avail of a housing loan from Pag-IBIG Fund, of which I initially became an overseas member in February 1994. The plan finally took form only in April 1995. With all Pag-IBIG Fund paper requirements ready from my side, I sent the full amount of money to my brother-in-law, being my Attorney-In-Fact, to be paid to V.V. Soliven for the required down payment of a single, detached 2-bedroom bungalow. Confident that all was well at my brother-in-law’s end, I sent the first equity payment by end-May.
In early July, I needed to go to Manila for a very important personal matter. It was my good chance, as well, to see the house I recently bought. Well, nearly bought, as the Realty company was then in the process of getting the P500,000.00 from the Pag-IBIG Fund. And with the down payment plus the first equity payment already received and acknowledged by the company, I was assured of a more comfortable dwelling place for my children and my sister and her family. Oh, how excited I was then and I even included in my hectic itinerary a visit to the manager to personally hand over at the same time my second and third equity payments!
The bad thing about the whole frustrating scenario was that I was not prepared at all of what was coming. My brother-in-law, sad to say, turned out neglectful of his duties I legally and trustfully delegated to him. I found out later on that he was misinformed, himself, by the agent, of what to expect from the company after meeting the down payment and the first equity payment.
Oh yes, I went to the site first thing in the morning following my late afternoon arrival in Manila. And what did I see? A vacant lot full of tall weeds (talahib)! From there I went straight to the manager and demanded an explanation for the company’s failure to construct the house as per signed contract’s specifications. I was informed that a problem with the developers ensued but was nearly resolved. Your house, they said, will immediately be constructed as soon as the problem is sorted out!
Somehow feeling that something really messy was going on in the company, I verbally announced my intention to withdraw from buying the house and lot. I was then played around by three positioned personnel – cajoled, conjured, consoled, you name it – and in the end, poor, innocent me, was finally convinced to give them a little more time and the house will soon be finished!
From Zamboanga City, where my original purpose of travel that July was meant to be accomplished, I passed by Antique, en route back to Manila, to see my recuperating mother. I then saw my unfinished house and seeing its near-dilapidated condition, coupled with a strong desire to provide a more comfortable place for my mother and my old nanny, I decided, then and there, to resume construction of the building. A relative contractor, who was previously frequenting my mother, was right away contacted. As I am a naturally trusting person, I again entered into another contract, this time, in black and white form. On the day I was to leave, I left the guy cash covering 20% of the first 50% of the total amount needed to finish the house. I also issued two checks and handed them over to him in exchange of official receipts. The first check, which covered 80% payment of the first 50% was postdated 10 days from the day I left – just enough time for me, I thought then, to deposit money in my PNB account. The other check, which covered the full 50% of the total, was undated. He can only encash the check upon completion of the house and on confirmation by my younger sister that the house was indeed completely finished as specified in the contract.
By mid-October, I received a fax message from my sister confirming that the house was finished. Immediately, I sent the money to my account to fund the second check issued and personally given two months earlier to the contractor.
You may ask me then: was the house completely finished? You guessed it right, my dear readers. NO, it wasn’t!
Why, oh, why? This was what and why it happened: the new contractor, who was supposed to help me, he, being a cousin of mine, swindled me instead. He managed to convince my sister to give her confirmation reasoning out that he recently lost in his business and had no cash in hand to use in buying the needed materials to finish the construction of my house. Without the money, how then can he finish my house? Another trusting and stupid person as I am, my sister was even easier to convince! After the bad guy encashed the check, he never showed his face in our vicinity.
What did I do then? Contract and receipts in hand, I verbally attacked the guy and demanded that he might as well finish the house or he’ll end up in jail! This happened during my scheduled holiday in mid-December of 1996. I intended then to have the house blessed and at the same time offer thanksgiving for my mother’s complete recovery from her heart ailment. Sans the balcony’s fine-finishing, which, believe me, until now the contractor never completed, my house was finally blessed, two days before I went back to Kuwait!
At long last, my long-cherished dream of keeping my mother, my children and my old nanny together living comfortably in a modest house, was finally fulfilled!
But let me just ask you one last time: will I ever get back the money I paid to V.V. Soliven? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Author’s Note: I did receive a refund in the total amount of P24,000 only, which, was paid by installments at P2,500 a month commencing in December 2004.
Author: Freda Editha O. Contreras
Published on: December 7, 1999