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  1. So...I'm baaack...but it had its moments getting here. Wanted to provide one person's trip experience engaging the COVID entry rules as of the Jan 22 guidance, to wit: the part that Philippine citizens can once again enter with their spouses and dependent children. Near as I can tell, I may one of the first few to pull it off, and, as I'll explain later, might be the very first to enter via Clark. Along the way, some lessons learned dancing around the various COVID restrictions in various touch points and reconciling them with immigration and travel rules. First...wanna mention that my wife and I took a VERY circuitous route getting here, and we did it on fairly short notice. We had gone to the US for the holidays and to ship our balikbayan boxes we had in storage now that we had an address in Angeles City. We had a flight back booked on Jan 8, and it had to be cancelled when the Philippines shut off travel from the US on the 5th. So we sat tight while the restriction was extended to the 31st, and along came the update on the 22nd. We jumped on it and left on the 27th. We went from Seattle to New York to Dubai and finally to Clark Field. We did that weird route because we were using my wife's mileage plan account and we were dead set on flying into Clark, which is about 10 minutes from our house...so both of those really limited our flight choices. I only mention all that because along the way I bumped into some quirks that I might not have otherwise encountered, but someone else in the future might, so wanted to pass those along too. First...New York and Dubai both have similar restrictions requiring proof of a negative COVID test in order to enter, followed by a quarantine period. So we did some checking to make sure, but those do not apply to travelers who are just transiting through the airport. The restrictions pertain to people who actually ENTER New York or Dubai. If you stay in the airport and are just there to catch a plane, you haven't actually "Entered". Problem is, the actual airline ticket agents that check you in and give you a boarding pass don't always know that. We twice had to educate them so they'd issue our ticket - and hung about a bit while they confirmed that subtlety. We started on Alaska Airlines and transferred to Emirates in New York. We had to update the ticket agent for Alaska that the government had changed the blanket US restriction to allow spouses to accompany a Philippine National. Lesson Learned: this stuff bounces around a lot - double check rules before you go so you are aware and can explain the latest version. Handy to print out announcements to show people, just in case. Note you need to book a quarantine hotel room for at least five days - I booked for a week in case testing results take a while to get back (you pay at checkout for actual days used). You can go to the Dept of Health website and get a list of approved hotels for your point of entry. I then go to their individual websites (when they have one - if they don't have one, I stay away from them. It's a red flag that it is likely a low end hotel.) I send them emails asking about rates and food programs and then pick the one I want and get the reservation in place. Last October when I flew in, and again this time, the hotel wanted a deposit up front. That might just be a quirk of the ones I picked...but I wired them the deposit to their bank account. First hotel I contacted insisted I needed two rooms because the government is only allowing one person per room. The second one, and the one I selected, was willing to book a double occupancy, single room. I leaped to the conclusion that the single person room was a requirement for the rooms that the government contracted for OFWs, and being 1200 miles away, it was hard to work details. So I took the simple solution. I then printed out that reservation confirmation as it's a document you are supposed to show upon entry. As I worked through the paperwork screening in Clark, I ended up discussing my hotel with the Health Dept agent in charge. Turns out, no double occupancy allowed even if you're married. Only exceptions are if it is a case of someone caring for an invalid. I showed her the discussion emails I'd had with my hotel, including twice confirming I had a double occupancy room, and she stated they were wrong. She then called them, sorted out reservations, and my hotel bill doubled - 2 rooms instead of one. I don't have any animosity toward her - she helped and was sympathetic but had rules to follow. It was just a weird load to lay on top of sleep deprivation and jet lag. I"m now here in my room and my wife is 5 rooms down from me. We wave at each other when we're both out on our respective balconies. Lesson Learned: 2 rooms needed for your quarantine, regardless of your status. (You may hear some info that the Philippine government pays for the hotel. they do...IF you are an OFW (Overseas Foreign Worker) coming home, If you are traveling privately, you pay your own bill for the hotel and testing.) Next stop: cashier. Have to pay for the testing. When I did this in Manila last October, each test cost 4500 pesos and they took credit cards. This time, each test cost 2000 pesos and they only take cash. If someone has gone through a different point of entry, they can comment on what they paid. I was told it's a government set cost. Anyway...you will be paying for 2 rounds of testing: one there in the airport, and then one more five days into your quarantine. They come to your room on day five and test you again. So, you are paying for two tests per person - 4000 pesos per person. Conveniently, they have a money changer next to the cashier, but I did not see an ATM in that lounge. Lesson Learned: have cash to exchange to cover the testing costs...not sure what happens if you don't. The COVID test itself is more thorough. In October it was a single swab up the nostrils. Now it's a swab down your throat followed by a swab up your nostrils...and repeat both of those one more time. (Not sure why they do it twice - my warped mind concluded the first one was to clean you out so the second one can get to the good stuff). Whatever. Then on to immigration...and the fun began. The immigration agent who screened my passport did not have any knowledge of the Citizen-with-spouse change announced on Jan 22. So she reacted that I was still a traveler from a banned country and couldn't enter. So we told her about the update and what ensued was a lot of back and forth discussion with others in her office. Then suddenly she stamped my passport with an entry indicating I was to stay until March 29...in other words, she used my 9A tourist visa 60 day entry. I asked about the balikbayan stamp, but got nothing back but "March 29" and a direct look - no further explanation or anything- in a manner that said the topic was closed. Took my addled brain a minute to figure out what had happened. It was after hours, and she couldn't contact anyone in authority to confirm the spouse allowance, so she took it on herself to cut me a break and let me in on the basis of my visa...and I would be well served to shut up, and not look a gift horse in the mouth. Once that dawned on me, I smiled, said thank you and got the hell out of there. From all this, I am concluding that I might just be the first one to enter Clark under the changed rules - and BI communication to their agents might be a bit sketchy. Lesson Learned: You don't have to just take the first answer, but you need to plead your case calmly and politely - enter into a discussion, not an argument. I was likely lucky to have a reasonable agent who was willing to try and find a way to help me...can't always count on that. Spooky episode. So...we're one day into our quarantine. Testing is remarkably efficient. We checked in last night, and this morning our airport test results were back. In five days we get the next test and, if it comes back as quickly, we'll have been here for six days. It's my understanding that, if the second one is negative, we can go to our house and finish out the 14 day quarantine there with self-quarantine (though I've also heard 10 days - have to confirm which). Has anyone else tried to travel under the provisions of the Jan 22 guidance update? Am wondering what it was like at different points of entry.
    19 points
  2. When i met my future wife and had the holiday romance , a few pictures taken of us both plus lots taken of her by myself , I had one picture on my mobile phone as a screen saver which I thought was a very nice one , anyway Emma saw it and straight away went quite on me and I had no idea why as I said the picture is lovely . A few hours later I found out the reason why she was a little upset , while the photo was fine on my mobile phone my service provider was written right across her forehead VIRGIN, that’s what she did not like , it took me awhile showing her virgin trains , virgin planes and yes virgin Mobil network .
    18 points
  3. One morning after my wife and I first started living together I kissed her at the door and said "see you later alligator" as I set off for work. When I came home she was upstairs in the bedroom and the door was locked, I had no clue what I had done. Finally she let me in around bedtime but I couldn't get anything out of her so I tried to get some sleep for work the next day, of course just as I'm about to drift off she starts crying, I plead with her to tell me what I did, finally she looks at me and says "you call me alligator" needless to say I didn't get any sleep because she couldn't be convinced it was actually a saying because it makes no sense, too bad there wasn't any google back then.
    18 points
  4. I didn't want to step on Yeochief's topic but I thought it was a great idea. So in my area of Tuy, Batangas here's our monthly budget. We bought our house in middle of November 2020. So this is our averages through Mar 1st from my budget spreadsheet. Water: 200p (water is potable but we boil for consumption) Electric: 1700p. We mostly run fans and only use our A/C at night if it's pretty hot. I wanted to make sure we are acclimated to the climate. Internet: 4999p Globe fiber 500 mbps. Converge and PLDT not in our area. LP gas for cooking: maybe 100p A month Food: 10,000p we eat pretty simply and my garden produces a lot. We don't eat out much and prefer to do our own cooking. We use local brands and shop the palengke's in Nasugbu, Balayan or Tuy mostly. Beer: 1500p. I go through a couple of cases of San Miguel a month.😆😉 Transportation: we don't have a car yet and we aren't sure when we'll get one so 500p for jeepneys or tricycles. Total from my spreadsheet: 18,999p
    16 points
  5. It seems like those of us who are seniors have been spending virtually all of time at home for months now. I am spending more time working in the yard, reading, and working on my painting. The yard is improving especially with the recent rains, and folks say my painting is improving. This is my latest series of still life featuring flowers.
    16 points
  6. Hello Everyone. Whilst I have been stuck in Abu Dhabi with the wife, due to COVID, we have been constructive in getting our pool built. I am so looking forward to getting HOME to have a few cold San Migs whilst floating in the pool. I hope you are all keeping safe and well and getting yourselves vaccinated. Stay Safe and Well. Paul
    15 points
  7. Life can be great being married to a Filipina, yes there is the ups and downs , but ain’t that every marriage, but when it comes down to love , in my eyes you will not find no one that will show and give you so much love as they would do. I am treated like a king , I am well fed, my cloths are washed and ironed and it’s my birthday Presents , lots of food and well sort of balloon things I am told hanging from the wall, I was told she forgot to buy them so she used these.
    15 points
  8. Was explaining to my wife, I thought it would be selfish of me, knowing I had a terminal illness and kept trying to get treated. I also do not want to extend the misery and drain resources for my wife. One of my wife's cousin died of cancer 20 years ago here in the PI, still paying. One fact for sure, we will all die.
    15 points
  9. Woman runs into husband and his mistress at a jab center, proving that there are hidden dangers to vaccines Vaccines are humanity’s best hope at getting out of the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are still a surprising number of people who avoid the jab for any number of fear-based reasons. Some people think the vaccine will tinker with your DNA (they will not), others think the needle will implant a microchip (it will not), and a sector of otherwise normal-looking adults think vaccines will make you magnetic (what). In what is, fittingly, a viral post that’s been going around on social media, a man demonstrates one very real danger of getting a vaccine. According to Twitter user @iamtix95, this all-out, chair-flinging brawl happened this way: “Husband told his wife that he could not accompany her for vaccination. So his wife went with her sister. Lo and behold they saw the husband coming in with a girlfriend at the same vaccination center.” Coconuts Manila Thu, 29 July 2021, 12:52 pm Vaccines are humanity’s best hope at getting out of the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are still a surprising number of people who avoid the jab for any number of fear-based reasons. Some people think the vaccine will tinker with your DNA (they will not), others think the needle will implant a microchip (it will not), and a sector of otherwise normal-looking adults think vaccines will make you magnetic (what). In what is, fittingly, a viral post that’s been going around on social media, a man demonstrates one very real danger of getting a vaccine. According to Twitter user @iamtix95, this all-out, chair-flinging brawl happened this way: “Husband told his wife that he could not accompany her for vaccination. So his wife went with her sister. Lo and behold they saw the husband coming in with a girlfriend at the same vaccination center.” Read: “When did everyone become a vaccine expert?”: Erwan Heussaff gets both praise and flak for IG post Look at this epic action sequence unfolding before our very eyes. There’s the furious wife and her indignant sister breathing angry, potentially Covid-laden droplets with their masks pulled down as they confront the cheating cheater of a (soon-to-be-ex-) husband. There’s the side chick quickly going from defense to WWF-worthy offense, throwing chairs with the same abandon that she apparently has when picking her dates. And lastly, if there’s anything at all to admire about the husband, it’s his commitment to vaccines and to masking protocols—though perhaps the latter might have more to do about hiding his face than to keep safe from Covid-19. On the sidelines, there are the horrified healthcare workers watching their patients go down hard with some unforeseen side effects. And lastly, there is the unseen cameraman who somehow had the presence of mind to keep documenting all this for posterity. What’s the lesson here? Well, first of all, don’t cheat. That’s just lame. Second, get vaccinated. We’re not going to use this platform as a bully pulpit like some celebrities did, but seriously, do get vaccinated. But most of all: don’t cheat and get vaccinated on the same day. https://coconuts.co/manila/news/woman-runs-into-husband-and-his-mistress-at-a-jab-center-proving-that-there-are-hidden-dangers-to-vaccines/
    14 points
  10. I have no problem with people complaining about the way of life here, sometimes a little constructive criticism can work wonders. What I do have a problem is when people who have been here many years dig up the same topic again and again. We have a 12 hour brown out on the 6th of June and the same people are complaining. If you are that bothered by no power( to improve the system) Get a back up power source. Remember you came here because you didn`t want to be there don`t try to make here like there.
    14 points
  11. For certain types of individuals, complaining about things is part of who and what they are. For whatever their reason, they feel better when voicing their dissatisfactions openly to any willingly receptive audience. That's a normal trait, but the level and degree to which they voice their disapprovals run the range. I think a lot of it is culturally learned behaviour. Here in the PI people are not openly rewarded for and encouraged to complain and whine incessantly about things beyond their control. They take action when possible to improve what they can and stoically accept what they cannot. Few people here feel entitled to a perfect, or even a much improved, existence.... to be provided by govenment or other social institutions. They don't expect too much, are pleased with small improvements in their lives, and just soldier on. That life philosophy seems to work for them in terms of maintaining a positive nature and keeping the smiles coming, despite all the problems they encounter in their lives. I enjoy living with that kind of people and prefer dealing with those who aren't always focusing upon and directing the conversation into ongoing grievances of a personal or political nature. My local expat associate/social group, like most, has new arrivals and departures regularly with all meet-ups in flux. Most know why they came here and what they don't want to deal with, so its always interesting to see what happens when a 'toxic' personality type joins in. Constant complainers and 'know-it-alls' usually destroy the groups, so many re-meet in other places with smaller, and more selective groupings. Most guys living in the PI are very careful and selective in their choice of associates, for good reason.
    14 points
  12. My gf often would say things about her mum like she is old and needs looking after etc. She could never remember her age but still old. Anyway the other day was her mother's birthday and she turned 58. One year younger than me. I guess I need looking after
    14 points
  13. I'm fortunate in that I suffer cabin fever. I wake by 5am most mornings and can't lay in bed. If I'm too stiff to train in the morning I still walk a good 5km up the beach just to tick over then I train late in the afternoon. I'm certainly reaping the rewards as my knees are the best they've been in years. From thinking I'd need them replaced to now I hardly feel them when training. My partner has also had a massive improvement. When I met her she suffered from a stomach ulcer and asthma. Her diet was definitely to blame, dried fish, pork fat, plenty of salt and almost no vegetables. I refused to buy any of that and slowly introduced vegetables disguised with spices etc to her diet. She also accompanied me when I jogged the beach. It's about 4.5km long and she would set off with me. The first week or two she went from running about 200m to a km without stopping. By the second month she was about 300m behind me as I hit the 4.5km turn around point. Now she loves vegetables, has no ulcer or asthma and can beat me at times on my runs. I'm very proud of her.
    14 points
  14. Members We thought during this dark time it would be nice to look forward to something so had our pool and bar finished. Now just need to get to the Philippines to use it. Flights and quarantine hotel booked for August so lets see what happens. Need to come back to renew my 13a ACR card as expires in September and need to do in person. Stay Safe.
    13 points
  15. The contractor is putting the finishing touches on our house on Biliran Island which is attached to northern Leyte by a single bridge. Just a little stone work, the driveway and landscaping left to do. The house is 165 sq m 2 story with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths and cost P5.5 million to build. The house is on a 1,700 sq. m lot which costs approximately P1.5 million a few years ago. P100K won't buy much, my workshop will end up costing me almost P500K by the time it's finished.
    13 points
  16. I guess the employee decided they'd had enough and decided to throw in the towel!
    13 points
  17. Having lived in a house and 3 condos for me condos win every time. Again it's down to location. One condo was in Manila, shoe box size and no natural light but deadly quiet and great for restaurants etc if you are into that thing. Rental at 19k per month Next was a house which was huge and had an acre or two of gardens which were maintained by a caretaker. Way too big for what I needed but very cheap rent at 15k per month but you could only sit outside in the early morning and as the sun went down and at night due to the heat. Great if you like basura burning nearby and videoke, cockerels and attempted burglarlies as happened twice in just over a year. Finally I bought my own condo at a bargain price inside a resort on Boracay. Only 3 floors and mine is top floor, built on a hill surrounded by jungle and well maintained tropical gardens with two pools and a jacuzzi. Zero burning, dogs, cockerels or videoke. Hardly use air con as the island is so narrow and the wind blows constantly, bright, airy and ideal size at 64 sqm for two adults and a rug rat. Overheads are only about 5k that includes water, electricity and management fees which cover insurance, security and maintenance. All modern conveniences on my doorstep. You couldn't book one night in the resort for what I pay per month.
    13 points
  18. Hello, Just a post to say that my husband and I got our first jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Cebu province today. Our neighbor this past saturday, told us that the health center said that we could get the vaccine on monday at the local health center I was rather dubious, but excited. I guess that every monday and tuesday the Department of Health would be administering vaccines for as long as stocks last. We were the first ones to arrive this morning at the health center, and we chatted with some local staff waiting to start their shift. I guess that they were offering Sinovac to 60 and above, but they were also giving the second jabs to front liners with the AstraZeneca vaccine. When inside, I asked if it was possible to choose AstraZeneca. Stocks were limited, but they said yes, we could be included if we chose to. We were willing and happy to get either one, but I was glad to receive the Astrazeneca. I think that these new vaccines are coming into the Philippines through the COVAX Facility. For any foreigners worried about not being eligible-- I'd say out of the maybe 150 folks that participated this morning, a third were foreigners. I was again heartened that supplies are making their way in to the Philippines, and I hope that all eligible expats will soon get to share in the various jabs, and that new categories for eligibility will open up soon too. I'm feeling pretty good right now. Queenie
    13 points
  19. Thanks to all for your thoughts and wishes from L and me. We appreciate the emotional support. Just to make the statement: the doctor(s) listed the official cause of death as covid. (As we all know, that may or may not be the real case. L is well aware about the deal with hospitals calling everything covid in order to pad their government funding.) He tested positive twice (one the fast result and one the "normal" or slow result). He was not feeling well for many weeks before finally being checked into the hospital a few days ago. L's sister, who was with him always in the past few weeks tested negative twice... Others in the family (they live about 75 miles from here) have not been tested but virtually all have been sick with something that they are all referring to as "flu." Hmmm... My experience in the islands is that whenever anyone is sick, it is "flu." No one else has been tested and most are afraid to be tested because then they would be quarantined if found positive. I will not make comments about this. Yes, L has many of her Papa's traits - strong, hard-headed, compassionate among others. I did not know him well since he had a stroke a few years back and so could not hear any more. His eyesight was failing and his mind was also becoming weak. However, I feel I had a positive influence on him. He was delighted that I was here and taking care of this precious daughter of his. There were times we would visit and he would ask L who she was (several siblings so confusion was likely), but would always break into a huge smile and say, "TOM!" when he would see me. He would not let go of my hand when we shook them. If I took a drink of beer or wine or Tanduay, he would do the same and always with a clink clink of glasses. When food was served, he always pointed to me and told his kids to take care of me, "your brother!" and give me food first. If he was not eating, he would follow my lead and eat when I did. It is important to say that, even though we did not know each other well, he had a very positive influence on me. He was a simple man but strong in character. And he liked to laugh. Papa had a good run. He worked very hard all his life with the family farm. He and Mama were inseparable. Now we all move on.
    13 points
  20. Five years down the line and having assessed my priorities I can say that for me it is the cost of living 100% followed by quality of life. I'll admit I have had to move 3 times to maintain a fine balance between quality of life and cost though. A good reason why no one should travel half way around the World and set roots in one location for one person until they've experienced life here. Initially the lure of sunshine, pretty women and friendliness of the locals was a major attraction but time and experience has blown a few of my priorities out of the water. I came to realise I like my own company more than a pretty face that just seams to attract drama and I'm smart enough to know the difference between attraction and financial security. The locals on a whole are still pretty friendly but no more so than back home in Scotland and the bureaucracy is 100% worse. As I say it's taken 3 moves to settle having experienced the dramas of relationships and insane Filipino jealousy and chismis. Locals that are friendly as they are after something in return and constant White nose tax. Perks of where I chose I suppose and I'm sure not all areas are the same or locals. So as a bit of a loner who is happy jogging along a great beach and swimming, eating at home most days, pretty self sufficient and so far in good health I've finally found a location where I can be happy, more so than back in the West where I'd still be working myself to the bone. Ask me again if my health takes a turn for the worst.
    13 points
  21. At a different time and a different world, the Filipinos were very friendly and grateful after they were liberated from Japanese occupation. The greeting "Hey Joe" was a term of endearment for the weary US soldiers passing through their village. I must admit that I don't know the current culture or the general street atmosphere, since I haven't been back to PI since 1997. However, there will always be that 10% of bad apples among any group of nationalities. Personally, I am very grateful that I was able to immigrate to US at age 6. There, I learn about respect and work ethics and no Filipino time. At age 12 and still speaking with a heavy accent, I was so proud of myself wearing the uniform of Boy Scouts USA. And of course, that eventually led me into the US military (21 years) and I'm very grateful that I survived all that military chicken shit...he, he. Talk about bad apples, right Dan? Superficial or genuine? I guess it's based on individual experience whether that respect and kindness is mutual. These days, that human attribute of love your fellow man is quickly eroding the fabric of human decency. Just about everyday, the headlines are full of hate. What is this world coming to? Respectfully Jake
    13 points
  22. My wife has been feeding my German sheperd peanuts most nights, she chews some and swallows most of them. I told the wife that when I take the dog out first thing I have been collecting the whole peanuts from the poo, giving them a quick wash and putting them back in the peanut packet, so she gets extra peanuts, she inspected every peanut in the packet. She is convinced that she had eaten the dog ones. she was not a happy bunny. won't give the dog peanuts now.
    12 points
  23. So what has life been like for both my wife and myself, living on a tiny 8-hector private island on the outer-edge of of a mangrove forest? In a nutshell, not boring and amazingly roomy. We are literally the last (only) electric-meter of the last power pole in the line. There is no water-well or freshwater source on the island. But we have adapted to any hardship (been a few) and have come to love living this (not so boring) lifestyle. So how did we come from life living between a 2-story rental in Surigao City proper and our little 6-hector coconut farm, to living tiny island life? Well is a 12 year tale of unforeseeable consequences, circumstances and little nudges by Karma and an angle or two. And if I had a chance to do it all over? Then I would probably still be here on this tiny island, just with better internet and underwater. So where to start? I guess a couple of months before I had ever heard of tiny Tangjanonan Island.
    12 points
  24. So I left my watering hole and at the very same time it began to rain. Thought well maybe wont be too heavy but I was heading to a 7/11 not far. Anyway got across the park and rain got heavier. Same time Filipino guy walking with umbrella meets me and ask if l wanted help with his umbrella. Thank you I say and told him just going over there which is covered once I cross the road. He helped me there which is good of him and he went off. Yes grateful l am from an unknown guy to share his umbrella. Now dont jump to conclusions as I dont think he had other motives but I stayed dry. Just to add, this is IT Park so not someone out to make a peso or 2 to hold an umbrella.
    12 points
  25. Hi All, Just a quick note about getting my 13a Visa from the main Manila BI, in Intramuros. Applied last January. I had a little bit of help from a local lawyer in Ortigas, with a formal petition letter where my wife asked for a spouse Visa for me. We had a pretty long list of paper requirements, which we complied with without much drama. On the day of filing, I went to the BI office on my own, only to be told that my wife had to be there in person, as her signature was needed in quite a few places. All in all, everybody at the various windows and some of the offices upstairs were quite helpful. It took us almost a full day bouncing around people behind a glass, videogame-like, but in the end we got the two full folders in order. One folder was for the Visa proper, the other for the new ACR I-card application. Fast forward a couple of months, we checked the "Agenda" of 13a Visa application status online on the BI website and my name was published on one of these online PDF documents. We were unsure as to what the record on the Agenda was. An expiration date was present, March 26 2022, together with the name of one of their Officers. We didn't know whether the record referred to an already-implemented (i.e. about to be released Visa) or a face-to-face interview was needed. We could have gone there any time but we were stuck in Davao for several months. We only got back to Manila a week ago. As I learned by going there last Friday, the Visa was ready for implementation. All I had to do was go to the Visa release window (window 30-something, one of those in the far corner) and leave my passport. I was given a claim stub and told to pick up the stamped passport on the following Monday, which I did. On my last visit this Monday (yesterday) I picked up my passport and was told that my new ACR I-card would be released this coming Friday. All in all, the whole experience deserves a solid 8. Every visit to a public office, including the NBI and the BI, has been hassle-free and never lasted more than a couple of hours, including the queuing and the waiting. My wife managed to obtain a couple of last-minute requirements on the spot by visiting government satellite offices at the malls (great idea!). For all its shortcomings and inconsistencies, I surely cannot say that the Philippine government is making it hard for foreigners to live and settle in this country. I heard countless horror stories from the Thai, Indonesian and Cambodian governments, so this whole Visa experience was a blessing in comparison. So...I'm in!
    12 points
  26. For most westerners arriving in the Philippines, there can be culture shock. Most travellers would say, however, that their initial experience in the country can be summed up in the words of kindness, politeness and hospitality. Behind that smiling population of good people is a method of interaction that is collectively known as Pakikisama. The ability to adapt your behaviors that allow for successful social interchange. Easily summed up as the ability to get along with people. The word transliterates as a phrase, “please come with or go with.” Once long term foreign residents vacationing or residing in the Philippines grasp this concept life seems to fall into place. That kindness shown to visitors when reciprocated multiplies. That’s why one American living in Laguna says he’s ” treated like a rockstar.” Because he is one of the kindest people ever visiting the island nation. We’ll call him Jack. Jack is well known for his Pakikisama skill set. His neighbors welcomed him and he did the same. His community work around the region just south of Manila is well recognized and he never ACTS like a rockstar. Just the opposite, Jack mingled with his local businesses and residents, but without privilege or arrogance. Instead, meeting all situations with increased understanding, the more he learned to integrate. Where “pakikisama” can be a valuable tool The ability to adapt to circumstances also helps with some of the pet peeves of foreign visitors to the Philippines: long lines, waiting; delays on deadlines; misdirected or incorrect communications; or even illusions of wealth by reason of national origin. The treasure of learning Pakikisama is to assimilate the good with the bad and behave appropriately in all scenarios to ensure the best outcomes. Speaking of bad, there is an expression in the Philippines, ” lahat ng gubat may ahas.” Every jungle has snakes. So there are going to be visitors and long term foreign residents who encounter things like theft, deceit or actual animosity based on the fact that the person they meet has prior biases. Pakikisama is even more important in those circumstances. Keeping one’s cool allows for the kindness of the majority of Filipinos to shine even brighter and overcome the treachery of a few serpents on those random occasions. East vs West, cultural differences It also takes a while for Western travellers, many, from countries where rugged independence is a valued personality characteristic, to understand the community-based, collective decision making as a cultural value in the Philippines, as an Asian people. Learning how to be a part of that social process allows for successful living in a pleasant environment. The other side of the coin On the other hand, Filipinos also have a period of adapting to their guests. Each visitor brings their own filters, experiences, schooling and personality traits. Even within their home country’s cultural values, any single person can be outside of the group norm. And, while many visitors to the Philippines are enthralled by the natural beauty, the warm hospitality and relaxed vacations, others seek out the darkest corners to hide their misdeeds. It’s not only in the Philippines where snakes can be found. Once again, Pakikisama helps to build that understanding of meeting people where they are at, and who they are, that makes life in the Philippines even better. Welcome to the land of smiles.
    12 points
  27. Myself and my wife had our Covid Vaccines today( pre registered last week ) . Many blood pressure tests before and after the Vaccination ! Lots of questions about my health such as am i on medications,and have I had any operations etc. In all 10 different stations to go to but all over in just 90 mins ! Total cost zero !
    12 points
  28. I geuss that makes Mindanao the Philippines Mexico... interesting place with some big cities but not everywhere is safe for westeners
    12 points
  29. Okay... so the world is going to hell in a hand basket...agreed? But we won't be hungry here... The first volunteer tomato and squash... Our garden is growing veggies for us. Too soon for real photos, but beans, radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes are sprouting and growing. Our spring onions and garlic chives are thriving. I finally received some grass (not THAT kind) seeds and planted them yesterday in some walk-way areas... Several corn plants have flowers and corn silk on some ears - in spite of hungry goat munching... This is the herb garden plot - still under construction... Wing beans and "string" beans... more things to the right. And grass seed soon to make the walk-ways neat...
    12 points
  30. Interesting commentaries. I have been happily married for 49 years to the same person. She is my first love and that love has blossomed over the years. We celebrate our 50th anniversary this coming September. On the subject of marriage and relationships, let me plead the 5th (US Constitution right against self-incrimination).
    12 points
  31. Wow, a couple weeks after my 2nd shot, I developed this severe aliment that affects my motor skills. I can't do the dishes, vacuum the house or take out the trash. I'm dying here. Pray for me, OK?
    12 points
  32. Wife and I are quarantine hotel as this is written. Several days prior to our scheduled flight, we checked out various Philippine Airlines recommended quarantine hotels. We chose one in Pasay in the Newport City area. I can see Villamor Airbase outside my window. We left San Francisco February 20. (Flight was rescheduled from original February 17 departure date) Ticket counter wanted to see our marriage certificate. All we have is a certified copy. Plus I had the 9a tourist visa from a few months ago when it was required. All in all, Philippine Airlines was no problem. We even brought two cats with us but that is for another topic. Yes, they arrived safe and sound. No issues or problems with their paperwork or customs. Before arrival, you are given several forms to fill out. Usual arrival card and customs declaration. Then health declaration and past travel history/employment forms. Upon arrival, Philippine Coast Guard will take your temperature while still on the plane and take the health declaration forms. You then depart the plane and are met by Department of Tourism representatives. They are there to coordinate with quarantine hotels and Covid test scheduling. I did not know it at the time but there is an additional online form that needs to be completed. They have QR codes there ready to help. Plus there are representatives through the whole process. I was very impressed. Worst part about the form fill out was trying to see the darn letters without my reading glasses. Face shield and mask do not go well with glasses. Fog up to fast! I had to resubmit the form a second time as my Microsoft email account never came through with the QR code response email (Didn't go to spam either, just never got it). Ended up using my gmail account. Once you finish this step, it is time to pay for your Covid test. They take credit cards. Unfortunately the processing system went down while processing ours. We were prepared with 8,000 Peso on hand. Easy process for the most part. Line to Immigration was shortest I had ever been in! It helped that we were pretty much the first ones off the plane throughout this process. Immigration asked for our marriage certificate. She asked if we had an original but didn't make any fuss about it. We were asked about return flight tickets. We didn't have any. Wife explained we were going to stay 6+ months and possibly process my 13a visa. My passport was stamped with the 12 month Balikbayan stamp, Have a good day and enjoy Philippines! Next step was Customs. Cats were waiting within a few steps of our luggage. A representative from the Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry was on the spot to inspect the cat's importation documentation. P410 import fee. Have a good day! Next we handed the customs declaration form to the representative. It went in a box stacked with many more. Have a good day, enjoy Philippines! We had the hotel provide transportation from Terminal 2 to our hotel. Driver called and text to let us know where he was. All went smooth. Our plan was to have relatives pick up the cats as there is no quarantine requirements for them. We got to the hotel at 6:30am. Sister in Law came and picked them up. Hotel had a no pet policy anyway. I may love the cats but spending 7 days with them in a hotel room would be torture! So now we await the next 6 days till the Covid test. One thing I highly recommend is having a Philippine SIM card and a load onhand. I kept our Globe SIM's active over the past year. Periodically loading them every other month or so. Upon our arrival I switched on the Globe and text 8080 then the message was GOTSAKTO120. Figured it was good enough to get us going. It did come in handy when filling out the online forms. The airport wifi is not the greatest. We did download the Traze app but so far no one has asked for it. Maybe once the Covid test is done it will then be used. All in all, it has not been a bad experience. We always hear horror stories. I wanted to let everyone know there are positives as well.
    12 points
  33. My gardener found a dead monkey in back of our house yesterday. Now this. Cat is missing.
    12 points
  34. Loans are rarely paid back here. Whenever deciding to loan for a good reason, consider it a gift.
    12 points
  35. One of my wife's bridesmaids just was named Miss Olongapo Earth today! She is the daughter of a friend we met through my oldest daughter's school. At 18, she was the youngest contestant. Her younger sister is my daughter's age, 16. When we got married in 2015, we didn't know many people here, so Joanna's mom offered her as a bridesmaid. She was only 13, but looked and talked like an adult. Joanna's dad is British but he is rarely here, working in the middle east. I did not think Joanna would make it far in the pageant, but she made it to the top 5. The top 5 all got a "title". The reason she made it was because she is super smart! I think I met her when she was 12 and she could carry on a conversation, in perfect English, on any topic. Of course, she is very outgoing and friendly. She nailed the question and answer portions, with her perfect, no Filipino accent English.
    12 points
  36. I live Moalboal about two to three hours from the closest "real" hospital. If I have a heart attack my plan is to die. I do have a credit card with a very large credit limit in case of accidents/illness where I have good chance of coming home healthy. If it is cancer or something similar that appears to be terminal I don't think I would choose to be treated. Doing so would only extend the misery and drain resources that my wife would need for her future.
    12 points
  37. A quick look around our garden this morning... .
    11 points
  38. Found this while having my morning coffee.
    11 points
  39. Hi Folks, Not sure if this has been posted before, but thought it was so cool https://econ.st/3hUoYPr
    11 points
  40. I put some weight on when I first arrived here after tearing a few ligaments supporting my right knee. An MRI scan also highlighted general wear and tear after 24 years in the forces. I'm one of those that just has to look at weights and I build muscle. I got to 110kg at 5ft 8 which is technically obese but I was pretty much muscle as all I could do was gym work. I do a lot of distance swimming but could swim all day and it doesn't tire me out or affect my weight. I started gentle jogs up a steep hill where I used to live as going up never hurt my knees and I'd walk down very slowly. Since arriving on Boracay I started walking about 9km daily bare footed on the beach then slowly introduced jogging. I gave up all weight training and just concentrated on walking and jogging. I got to the stage where I'd run pretty fast for 4.5km then jog back or walk slowly. The lifeguards got to know me as they'd see me every day and noticed I did a lot of swimming so invited me to train with them. Up until last month when covid hit Boracay I was training with them 5 days per week and finally got down to about 85.5kg. Running and swimming was banned so I started doing circuit training and running inside the resort I live in as there's only 4 people, one circuit is just over 1km with two decent hills and put 2.5kg back on. I only eat one main meal per day and just eat two small snacks, probably about 2k calories maximum per day, don't drink, smoke or like soft drinks but I've pretty much hit my weight I think as regardless how hard I'm training now I can't get under 87kg. Fitness watch wise I bought a Huawei Band 4 pro with built in GPS so I can track my swimming without it being linked to my phone but it's useless for swimming. I swim say 2km and it records 600m and says I took 21 strokes. It's lnked to Google maps and shows me swimming on the beach. Running, heart rate and steps is very good though and quite accurate.
    11 points
  41. Think I'll "weigh" in on this topic as well.😀 I can relate to the attitude that many Filipinos have about walking as my wife and I take an hour long walk every morning. Seems like she's always explaining that we are doin it for exercise which seems amusing to many of them. Also the Filipino love of sweet foods has a lot to do with the obesity problem here. And too many carbs. Since we started our garden we have a lot of excess produce that we've tried to give to my wife's family. At first they didn't want to accept it. In fact one niece who is pretty portly said "Uncle, only poor people eat vegetables". Which of course blew me away since they ARE poor. But after some convincing and talking about healthy eating we talked some of them into accepting our excess produce. We also have a few nieces we have helped by taking to the dentist. I remember having lived here in the 1980's that I was always struck by most Filipina's beautiful smiles so just from that time to now many things have radically changed and not for the better.
    11 points
  42. Could be worse. Could still be with one from back home. .
    11 points
  43. Exactly right, over 20+ years we have never loaned money only gifting cash and rarely that. Loans simply aren't worth the chance of hard feelings and worse.
    11 points
  44. Many have told stories of bad products and services around the Philippines including myself. However, sometimes we get lucky and find a good one. This time I want to share another good service experience we have had. https://teko.ph/ They are a service company who do installs, service, repair, and cleaning of most all appliances. We had a bad experience with a local guy to clean a aircon and thought we would save a little using and helping out a local guy. While cleaning he damaged and was unable to repair our unit. With Teko you book very easy on line any time and pick the service you need and the time available. Their tech came the next day as scheduled and made the repair with parts he had with him in less than an hour. We have used their service three times now and today was the latest for another aircon cleaning. Neat, knowledgeable, and clean! The company has one of the best websites and easy to fill in blanks. They keep in constant communication through email and or text. I noticed from their site they have techs all over Luzon and also Davao. The prices are very fair and we will continue using them. PS: Just wanted to add that I have no connection with the company. Just was lucky to find them when searching for a repair person for a aircon.
    11 points
  45. Yesterday I was craving a coconut custard pie. The main ingredient came from some coconuts growing on one of our dwarf coconut trees. A traditional way to grate coconut in the Philippines is called a Kudkuran. It's a small bench that has a small grater attached, that grates the dried coconut to a fluffy consistency. You have to identify which coconut by color of the outer shell, and how much water you can hear shaking around inside. There are really three kinds of coconut here that are eaten for different purposes. There's the young coconut, "butong" with the juicy milky water and soft flesh that's so refreshing. There's the in between texture that's called "ungol" that I used, and the Bisaya word "lagas" for the very dried up coconut that can be squeezed into coconut milk. I have to rely on my husband to cut, and tear open the fibrous husk and shell using a machete. Seeing as I'm making the pie, he's a willing partner! We own our own kudkuran for times like these.:) This is my own recipe--you might want to try if you're out in the country, and have someone with coconut experience. I suppose you could use store bought grated coconut if you could find it, but I don't think it would be the same, but still okay. I used a can of Thai coconut cream, but coconut milk would be fine too. Our two dogs were happy for any leftover coconut. Prepare your favorite crust, and pre-bake it in the oven for about fifteen minutes. Assemble all the ingredients in a bowl, and just wisk them all together. ! 9-10 inch pie crust 1 cup milk ( I used whole milk) 1 1/2 cups coconut cream 2 cups grated coconut 3/4 cup sugar 4 large eggs 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract I toasted 1/4 cup extra coconut in a frying pan for topping before baking, but that's optional Pour the ingredients into the pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until still a little wobbly. It will continue to bake a bit more and firm up as it cools. Enjoy! Store leftover pie for a few days in the fridge. Traditional meets modern to make an old favorite pie!
    11 points
  46. That other topic is a jumble of information. How about we just state the facts that will be in effect on December 7th? Here is a list of what is not allowed and what is allowed. This is not about quarantine, testing, etc. Effective December 7th, 2020 1. Visa Waiver - Allows entry of citizens of certain countries, without a visa. Still Suspended 2. Visa On Arrival - Allowed citizens of some countries, such as China, to get a visa on arrival. Still suspended. 3. Foreigner traveling alone with no family ties in the Philippines - Still suspended. 4. Foreigner traveling alone with SRRV visa - Still suspended. 5. Foreigner traveling alone, with spouse or child physically in the Philippines - Allowed to enter with active visa. Tourist (9A) visa must be obtained at a Philippine embassy before travel. 13A visa works too. Must show proof of the relative who is in the Philippines. 6. Foreigners (and related children) travelling with Filipino spouse - Allowed to enter with Balikbayan privilege. 1 year stay. 7. Foreigner who pays a $75,000 investors bribe. Whoops! I mean, visa. Allowed. Did I miss any? Personally, I think the SRRV holders will be allowed back soon, after they sort out the China mess. It is actually easy to sort, but I'm sure they don't want to offend the Chinese.
    11 points
  47. Up until about February of 2020, a common piece of advice was to apply for your 13A Permanent Resident Visa while in the US. Unfortunately, when the COIVD lockdowns and travel restrictions kicked in, applying from the US was not possible. So, the only way to apply was to enter the Philippines, as a spouse of a Filipino, with a formal 9A tourist visa, and apply from within the Philippines. i ended up taking a shot at both: got the entire 13A application done to turn in to the San Francisco Consulate, all the while hoping they would re-open, and then put a whole different package together to apply at the Bureau of Immigration here in the Philippines. You'd think these would be similar processes, and maybe they once were. I can tell from reading old posts, that once upon a time a medical screening was always required - and lo and behold, none was needed when I went to the BI yesterday. And that wasn't the only difference. So...thought I'd lay out a comparison of the two, with the pros and cons of each, in case someone else is straddling the fence on which way to jump. First...some caveats I worked off required document checklists from the San Francisco Consulate visa section provided a year ago. When they reopen, who knows if they will still be the same. Meanwhile, the checklist from the BI website seemed to like the old phrase "well...it's more of a guideline". There were some fundamental differences between what the BI checklist said was required, and what the package finally looked like. I don't know how much of that was due to a lack of BI website updates, and how much was due to local differences between the Angeles City Branch and say, Cebu, or Dumaguete. If others have applied at some different BI office, and see other differences, they might want to speak up. I also don't know how much the differences are due to my starting with San Francisco's guidance, pre-COVID, and ended up with the BI website, post-COVID, and what changes on the BI package were a reaction to changes along the way. I can say, the info seemed to be fairly stable . Regardless...this is kind of a snapshot in time presentation. Having said all that, a comparison: San Francisco (pre-COVID) document requirements: Petition Letter from wife sponsoring my 13A - notarized Typed online application form (says "Foreign Service" in the upper left corner Local government certification of criminal record check Medical Lab report (less than 6 months old} Medical certification form from Family doctor Chest X Ray (less than 6 months old) Financial records showing I can support myself Wife's Philippine Government ID (in her case: Dual Citizenship Certificate) Marriage Certificate - original Wife's passport My Passport Current Bureau of Immigration website requirements Provide 2 10x14 legal file folders - one for the 13A application, and one for the ACR card application Application form printed from website (not the same as Foreign Service version). Need two copies, both filled out by hand, in English, Capital Letters only. One copy goes in the 13A Visa folder, and one in the ACR card folder Petition letter, addressed to local BI administrator, notarized Wife's Philippine Government ID (in her case: Dual Citizenship Certificate) Marriage Certificate - original Wife's passport bio page My Passport bio page, and page with entry stamp Medical clearance certificate (the one issued at immigration after the COVID test) National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) background check For ACR Card: 2 passport photos What the Angles City Office actually required and will accept: Two copies of application form, on 10/14 legal size paper, copied on the local "fixer's" xerox machine Petition letter, Standard prescribed format - not notarized Wife's Philippine Government ID (in her case: Dual Citizenship Certificate) Marriage Certificate - copy PSA copy of Report of Marriage (since we were married in the US) Wife's passport bio page My Passport bio page NBI background check A copy of my birth certificate No passport photos - they'll take your picture when you submit My approach, if you think there's value to following my example: I went to the BI office 100% convinced it would take more than one trip. Despite following the BI website carefully, and coming with a full package, absolutely was sure something would need to be fixed. So my initial trip was intended to find out what's wrong and know what to fix and then come back and feel I had what they REALLY wanted. I also brought along some of the San Francisco package documents, and anything else I could think to bring, just in case - which was good because suddenly I needed my birth certificate. Also...went through an animated discussion over the NBI background check. The BI website says you only need it if your first entry was more than 6 months ago. So I figured...OK...I entered Oct 5, 3 weeks ago...don't need it. That elicited a two phase set of discussions. First, never mind the 6 month rule, need an NBI check even if you've only been here 24 hours...at least you do in Angeles City. Second...the operative words were "first entry"...my first entry wasn't Oct 5, it was February 1987. So I'm now scheduled for my NBI appointment to wrap this up. The second thing that put a lid on it: "Conveniently" next door to the BI office is an "office supply" store. Of course, he's there dealing with BI patrons all day, selling them things like legal folders and doing photo copying and so on. AND...he knows the BI documentation requirements cold. A "fixer" in other words. He put together the above package, did the photo copying, and scheduled my NBI appointment. Best 700 pesos I ever paid. I had gone in with the intent of seeing if I could find one of those guys, and there was one smart enough to set up shop next door. These guys work daily with the BI staff. If they set you up, the BI office takes it, you're done. Very well worth the money, especially since, as you can see, you're never gonna know when you're really dealing with a full deck, regardless of the source. One other thing if you're deciding between waiting out the COVID closures and submitting from the US, versus submitting from in-country: while the packages (however they manifest themselves), are simpler at the BI office, the result is many weeks worth of waiting for the visa and ACR card to show up, and the visa is a probationary visa, only good for one year. Then you have to reapply for permanent residency. There is an expedited process that takes 3 weeks, but it costs nearly $1000. Meanwhile, if you apply in the States, you get a permanent visa up front, in three or four weeks....but no ACR card. If you decide to wait out the COVID intrusion, don't be surprised if anything or everything above changes. The biggest message to carry away. In general, I found the stateside consulates put up more stable websites, keep them up to date, and provide more details on just what they want. Any BI website maybe should be taken with a grain of salt - it will get you started, but you have to go see those guys to really find out how to finish. Something about that scenario is just so typically Filipino, that if it really bothers you, you might wanna reconsider living here. A final observation worth mentioning on my experience vs. my predecessors: if you go to the BI website, you see that the emphasis is on Converting your current visa to a Permanent Non-Quota visa. I know that pre-COVID, the 13A required documentation more like what was requested by the San Francisco Consulate. Previously, you applied for a 13A even if you didn't have any other kind of visa...and most Americans didn't have any other visa when they applied. Now, you have to have a formal 9A visa just to get here to apply. It might be that the current BI requirements reflect that situation - hence "conversion" is the emphasis. I also noted that, to get my 9A, I had to submit full financial info previously required for the 13A. I thought that was weird at the time, since it was for a tourist visa. Regardless, they may have decided that asking for it again was redundant. Don't know. Someone who applied earlier is in a better position to know how today's BI requirements from in-country compare to yester-year's.
    11 points
  48. I have only Phil-health and a credit-card just in case. Anyway St Peters funeral is on route to the hospitals if I don't make it that far.
    11 points
  49. OnMyWay had passed me a URL for an apparent part of the Forum where he had logged contact info for a recommended van service in the Subic area. Unfortunately, when I used it, the system gave me a big shrug. So...thought I'd insert the following here in the hopes it helps someone down the road (pun intended). My wife and I just spent a week in the general Subic area scouting around to see if we wanted to live there and doing some representative house hunting. OnMyWay had steered me to a guy named Dex, and I contacted him to arrange for a few days of driving us around - kind of combination driver and guide. At the end of our time there, I can say, the guy came through with service far exceeding anything I expected. By the end, I had not only accomplished our personal goals, but I came away feeling like I had a gained a friend. Dex tuned in to what we were up to, then exposed us to every bit of location touring we could ever have asked for. He knows the area cold, he knows the pros and cons of everything, he was full of suggestions to help us on our quest. Even after we'd returned to Angeles City, he was still going out of the way to send us pictures of any houses he found that might interest us, and did some personal contact work with a lady in Europe who had an AirBnB she was willing to lease out. I strongly recommend this guy if you need help in the future. You can reach him via WhatsApp or by text at 63 917 718 2436, or by his emails at [email protected] Tell him Dave says hi.
    11 points
  50. We moved in on 1 October 2020. Still some work on our part. Making some improvements to fit our tastes. I'm not a picture person, some may be fuzzy, took them with my lap top. Man cave, watching Monday night football. Man cave, filing cabinet and DVDs. Man cave, blinds. Spare bed room. Master bedroom. Master bedroom, Chester draws and closet. Master CR. Balcony. Coming down stairs, living room/dining room. Living room/dinning room. Dinning room/kitchen. Living room. Dinning room/kitchen. Kitchen. Kitchen. Built in storage under stair case. Down stairs CR. Put washer in shower. Washer was too big (3cm), so I had to knock some of the door frame out, but had it rebuilt, brother in law friend did the rework and it looks like new. Covered garage. Front gate. Plan on attaching something to go from below the lock handle to ground to keep dogs out. Looking from front of the house, right side. Lot is very small. Front part of the lot. Olivia has her plants out there. My TV dish, AFN. Back side of lot. Pressure tank and motor in cage and covered. Back side of lot. Water tank, 500, bigger than we need. Cousin still has some work on the frame. Water tower. Still some work and then paint it. Left side of lot. Stair case. Not a good pic, if you look between the set of trees in the back ground you can see Vista Mall. To the right you can see where they are building two house, like ours.
    11 points
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