Termites are pervasive in the Philippines. Called anay, they chomp away 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.
They’re a problem everywhere, but termites are more 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. Don’t ask me why insects don’t like cedar because I’ve never done the research.
As residents in an impoverished country, the average Filipino family cannot afford to buy the best lumber to use in construction. I’ve seen a lot of furnishings ruined by termites simply 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 hard woods like oak or pine. 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 kitchen cupboards and cabinets used to be made of wood. Termite damage forced us to replace it all with aluminum and other materials in early 2019. As far as I know, the only wood remaining in the house is the wood used to fasten the ceiling panels on the second floor, the wardroom cabinets in the bedrooms and the staircase banister.
The first roof for the dirty kitchen and laundry room extension was made of untreated lumber, covered by corrugated iron (yero). Termites reached it from a nearby tree branch that grew to rest on it. It didn’t take long for the termites to infest all the roofing, including the quarter round trim inside the house.
We replaced the extension roofing with steel and aluminum, the same materials used for the original roofing but not the same style. The main roof is tegula style, similar in appearance to ceramic roof tiles.
We seem to have problems with all kind of insects wanting to live in our house. I’ve had to deal with ants that burrow into food wrappers, 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 (it’s not like we can stop them) inside the house. They eat the smaller ones and the large ones rarely get in. Although I’ve had issues with spiders in the past, I try to leave them alone these days.