2.10.2020

Roasting Peanuts In The Philippines

Roasting Peanuts In The Philippines




My wife knows a lot of secrets when it comes to preparing simple yet delicious treats.

It does not get any simpler than roasted peanuts, but there are a few secrets that it helps to know when it comes to roasting them.

My wife gathered the black sand from the beach near our home. She hand-picked each piece of sand to get the perfect size. It must be small enough to slip through the strainer that separates it from the peanuts, but not so small that any of it gets lodged within cracks in the peanuts themselves. Once she finds the perfect sand she washes it thoroughly.

So why do you need sand at all? 




The sand is heated in a pan. Before the sand reaches it's maximum temperature the peanuts are added:




The sand helps to ensure that the entire peanut is roasted uniformly. You must continually stir the mixture for about ten minutes. At about the halfway point you will hear the peanuts begin to snap and pop. It is like popcorn, but not as loud. At about this time you remove the pan from the fire and continue to stir for another ten minutes. You can sample the peanuts to see if they are done and keep stirring until they reach the perfect roast.

Once the peanuts are roasted to perfection simply strain and enjoy:




As we learned from the Market Day article, a ganta is about three liters. We buy a ganta of fresh shelled peanuts from the local market for 150PHP for one ganta. It works out to about $.60 per pound. Not bad.

Peanuts are as near to being a perfect food as you can get and their nutritional value is impressive:
source of data

If you have insomnia or restless leg syndrome it could be due to magnesium deficiency. Peanuts contain a hefty quantify of the trace element magnesium, among many others, and I have found that adding peanuts to my diet does seem to help me in getting to sleep.

One bad thing about peanuts (and corn and many other crops) is that they can sometimes be contaminated with mold. How they are grown, harvested and stored makes a big difference. The mold Aspergillus flavus will grow on peanuts if they are not handled properly i.e. allowed to become and remain wet until they begin to rot. We try to limit our peanut buying to the dry season. 

Aspergillus produces a toxin called aflatoxin and it is a known liver carcinogen.  Many studies have determined that roasting peanuts significantly reduces the amount of aflatoxin in them.

If you like peanut butter, then make sure that you buy the right kind. In the US, manufacturers used to add partially hydrogenated oils to peanut butter to prevent the peanut oil from separating and rising to the top. A few years ago they replaced partially hydrogenated oils with fully hydrogenated oils, which produce no trans-fats and are thought to be somewhat healthier. Even so, I prefer natural peanut butter with no added oils. The peanut oil does rise to the top, so you have to stir it. You should only have to do that once if you store the peanut butter in the fridge. The best thing is reading the ingredients and seeing only peanuts, cane sugar and salt - as opposed to a long list of terms from an advanced chemistry exam. 

The peanut butter brand that we love is Lily's. We usually buy the 504g  plastic container that is priced at about 180PHP. We probably have a hundred of those plastic containers and use them for all sorts of things.


2.03.2020

Transferring Money To The Philippines From US Banks

Transferring Money To The Philippines From US Banks






For years and with only a couple of exceptions we have used one method to transfer cash from the US to the Philippines. It takes 4-6 weeks for a check from our US bank to clear in our PNB dollar account. The cost is 200PHP per deposit and there is a limit of $2,000 per check. Sometimes they wave the 200PHP fee.

A PNB Dollar Account requires a $500 opening deposit and $500 is also the minimum maintaining balance. When we opened our account they gave my wife the OFW dollar account, which has a $0 minimum maintaining deposit.

The long wait for the checks to clear is ok with us. We plan ahead. But in the event that there is a rush we have some options. One option that I am considering now is Wells Fargo ExpressSend

ExpressSend Single transfer limits:
M Lhuillier, Cebuana Lhuillier: $1,000 (cash pickup only)
Bank of the Philippine Islands, BDO, Unibank, Metrobank, Philippine National Bank: $3,000
Additional ExpressSend transfer limits:
The minimum amount you can send is $25.
The maximum daily amount that you can send to all beneficiaries using multiple Wells Fargo ExpressSend Service Agreements is $5,000. The maximum total amount that you can send during any consecutive 30-day period using the Wells Fargo ExpressSend service is $12,500. You cannot name the same beneficiary on more than one service agreement.
PNB Customer Care informs me that the fees for international transfer are as follows:
USD 8.00 - for credit to a PNB Dollar account
Php 450.00 - for credit to a PNB Peso account
Php 500.00 - for credit to a Peso account with other banks
note: 

Wells Fargo ExpressSend cannot send money to a USD account. ExpressSend can only remit to a peso account. To approximate the exchange rate WF will give you google "USD to PHP" and knock about one peso off of that.

It is odd that no one at Wells Fargo could tell me this at the time they set up the transfer agreement. And it is also very odd that WF Customer Care specifically quotes an $8.00 fee for ExpressSend to a US Dollar account at PNB.

Transfer Cost & Clearing Time Examples


Example #1:

A $3000 transfer by check requires 400PHP in fees (two checks x two 200PHP deposit fees) and a 4-6 week wait for the checks to clear in your PNB account.

For the same $3000 transfer by ExpressSend, Wells Fargo will charge $4.00 and PNB will charge $8.00, the total of which is roughly 600PHP. Your cash will be clear in about three business days.

Example #2:

A $20,000 transfer by check requires a 2000PHP in fees (ten checks x ten 200PHP deposit fees) and a 4-6 week wait for the check to clear in your PNB account.

For the same $20,000 transfer by ExpressSend, presuming $3,000 transfers ($2000 for the last one), seven separate transfers will be required. Each transfer will cost about 600PHP for a total of approximately 4200PHP. You can have the first $12,000 within a few days, but you will have to wait 30 days to transfer the remainder.

Setting Up ExpressSend With Wells Fargo


Wells Fargo recommends that you should allow up to five (5) Business Days for the Beneficiary account details to be established before you make a Remittance to be credited to an account.

If you do not already have a Wells Fargo account, then you may have problems setting up ExpressSend according to the FAQs:
The first remittance sent under each service agreement must be completed in person at a Wells Fargo branch. Customers with an existing checking or savings account may be able to complete their first remittance by calling the Wells Fargo Phone BankSM, subject to caller authentication requirements and additional fraud prevention controls. Subsequent remittances may be completed at a Wells Fargo branch, calling the Wells Fargo Phone Bank, or through Wells Fargo Online® at wellsfargo.com.
If you are in the Philippines and you do not already have an account, then it may not be possible for you to enroll in ExpressSend. Wells fargo does have a presence in Manila. If you Google it you can find several Wells Fargo hits:
Wells Fargo Bank N.A.Makati, Metro ManilaOpen now · (02) 884 8426
Wells Fargo ExpressSend Quezon City, Metro Manila(02) 8712 4774

I have not contacted either of those above. If you click on the ExpressSend link in Google locations it shows this location info:
Banco de Oro, 202-204 Banawe Avenue, corner Agno Street, Quezon City, 1103 Metro Manila
Also, from the ExpressSend FAQ above, part of what is meant above by, "caller authentication requirements and additional fraud prevention controls" is using your credit file to verify you are who you say you are. This is why it is important to maintain a US credit card and a US address. Without doing so, there may not be enough information in your credit file for your identity to be verified by asking you questions about this data.

The Bottom Line


The bottom line for me on this issue is that ExpressSend will never save money on fees, but if you need money fast and within certain limits, then ExpressSend might be a good option to take.

I will attempt to set up an ExpressSend transfer sometime this month and post back the results.

UPDATE 2-10-20


I contacted Wells Fargo at 1-800-556-0605. The automated system requests your account # & last four of SS#. When it asks what you need say "other options" and then specify "Express Send."

The account rep will verify your ID through various questions and you account will be set up. You will see the option for international transfers in your online account, but you will only be able to do the first transaction by calling Wells Fargo again and initiating it that way.

The rep told me that it may or may not work and we will not know if it is allowed until we try it that first time. If it does not work, then I would have to go into a branch for that first transfer. That's not an option and I did confirm with the rep and her supervisor that the Wells Fargo presence in Manila is NOT able to help out with this.

Service reps are live 24/7 at the 800 number I gave above for Wells Fargo. However, to execute the first ExpressSend transfer you need to call when the sales dept. is open so you must call from 8 AM to 10 PM Monday-Friday.

So we will know in a few days if it works when I attempt the initial transfer.




2.01.2020

Morning Hike In The Philippines

Morning Hike



The above is the hill area that we set out to walk earlier this morning.

The power was shut off at 0430 for routine maintenance. It was no good lying in bed and sweating, so we decided to take a walk into the foothills to check the land of my wife's family.



I used to go walking (jogging really) up here by myself everyday, until it started to become dangerous. A man was killed last year and to this day the perpetrator has not been caught. A few years ago a group of people came down out of the mountains and knocked on the door of our neighbor (an older lady). They asked her to pay the revolutionary tax. She told them to get lost. She told them that she worked very hard for her money and they have no right to just take it. They left without incident. They have never knocked on our door.



The walk is beautiful and there are a lot of cows grazing along the way. The smell of cow manure is not a bad smell to someone who grew up among farms and ranches. It is the smell of home and the soil.


We pass many terraces and small farms and gardens, as the sun is just beginning to peek out from behind the hills.



We started our walk at sea level and looking back at the ocean you can get a sense of how far we have come.



The mountains beyond the river rise to heights grater than 6,000 feet. My wife tells me I cannot go there.



On the journey back home we pass a sleepy guardian of the path, a kitten belonging to a cat that was a hunting buddy of my Butterscotch.



I included the good with the bad. I don't like to lie about how things really are. We love living in the Philippines, but bad things do happen. It is not right to withhold the whole truth. The place is beautiful and most of the people are wonderful, but like everywhere there is a dark side.