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  1. Thanks all. We were only going to stay for a month or so at first. Going to keep our home here in Texas. We were wondering about the balikbayan time limits. Haven't found much on how long to stay away. We are also looking into a place in guam and maybe going back and forth from there to Philippines. Still not sure just exactly what we are going to do yet. Thanks for all the information.
  2. We were thinking about sometime next year possibly around June or July. We figure that the pandemic thing should be over with by then. I just couldn't remember how long we would have to leave the philippines after we had stayed there for 1 year on the Balikbayan stamp. If I remember correctly 7 or 8 years ago ya had the choice of requesting an extention or leaving for a few days, with your wife, then you could come back together and get the stamp again. But it was a long time ago. Thanks
  3. How long does one have to stay out of the philippines after the one year expiration of the Balikbayan? Thanks. We left the philippines in 2013 and 2014. Me first and she followed with a fiancee visa. We are now married and she is a USA citizen. Thinking of moving back.
  4. In the last 2 1/2 years it has been my experience that getting or even having internet service can be difficult. Perhaps the word difficult is not the correct word, but its close enough. I am not complaining, I am actually very happy. Happy that they have or even know about the internet. For me finding internet service providers in the larger cities such as Davao, Cebu City, Tacloban, Manila, was very easy. Getting the service hooked up, well thats another story all together. Out in the more rural areas it can be much more difficult to locate an ISP. In Davao I had PLDT at my place there. It took 6 weeks to finally be able to get online. 2 weeks after filling out application form. 2 more weeks for the installer to arrive to then inform me that they did not bring the correct wires to intsall, another 2 weeks for them to finally come back and hook up the internet. All with a 1 year commitment. When I moved to Cebu and attempted to have the service transfered I was informed that I would have to pay off the 1 year contract in Davao and start a new contract after filling out the application and again waiting for 4 to 6 weeks. So PLDT lost my money at that point. Next I turned to Globe. I went to the SM Mall in Cebu City to request service and pay the installation fee as well as the first month. Everything went ok, as well as could be expected here. 3 hour wait in line. Yes we have service in your area, please fill out application and pay us then we will send an installer to your place. Then as we were leaving.... OH, by the way. When the installer arrives they will check to see if we have service in your area. If they do not have service in your area please bring your passport and acr-I card into our office and fill out a refund application. Your money will be returned to you in 1 week. An ominous sighn. Long story short. after 4 weeks and many trips to Globe. NO SERVICE. Then another 3 weeks to get my money back. In the meantime I turned to Smart. Again same set up, application form and deposit, with no garauntee that they actually have service in our area. However with smart they have the Smartbro Canopy. After waiting for 3 more weeks an installer finally showed up at our house. Thats when the difficulty started. It seems they could not put the pole with the canopy on top the house. Intead they had to put it over 150 meters away on top of an old shed that was about ready to fall down and I was afraid it would with the next strong wind. Then I was informed that Smart only pays for the first 30 meters of Lan. I had to pay for the remaining 120 meters and the connectors to connect all the 30 meter Lan cables. 30 meters being the longest length they had. So 3 hours later, and 1500 pesos extra on top of the 1500 pesos installation fee I had internet. Until they left that is. For the next 4 months the same installer was back out to the house about once a week. Never did get the thing to work right. Then one day a new installer arrived. This installer actaully told me way I had no internet and told me they would pay for the repairs. WOW. What is wrong I asked. Seems the first installer put the Lan cable and the connector boxes in the Rain Gutter. Every time it rained the connectors shorted out. NO more Internet. Also found out they were easily hacked into so I was providing internet to half the area, free for my neighbors with me paying of course. So they new installer replaced all the connections and Lan cables and upgraded the canopy to make it more secure in order to slow down the hackers. Not stop them, Just slow them down in accessing my account is all. Finally we had internet. Then a month later. My lease expired and I had to move. And by the way, its a 2 year commitment on the contract. To cancel one must pay the entire remaining balance of the 2 years. Before moving into our new house here in Sand and Smoke in the Lungs Liloan I contacted smart to make sure I would have service. Sure enough they said Yes of course we do. With a smile. Ha Ha. Finally they show up, 3 weeks after moving in. And guess what. NO SERVICE in my area. So then I had a smart bro canopy, 150 meters of Lan, 4 connection boxes, a PLDT modem, an Encore router, a smartbro internet stick, an 8 foot metal pole, more than 12 months left on a 24 month contract at 1000 pesos a month and still NO SERVICE. So this is what I did. I went to SM Mall, talked to the same customer service rep, showed her the papers from the installer that I demanded from them saying they could not get a good enough signal, showed her the smertbro speed stick, asked if there were any other types of service I could get using the stick. Yes was her answer. I could get a 6 month contract with unlimited ( AKA whatever we have available ) service for the same amount and it would cancel out my canopy contract as long as I continued to pay for the stick service for 1 year. OK. Done. Then back to the house. Plug in the stick and WHAM no service inside the house. Ok. setback. So I sat for a few moments and looked at the mess on the floor of past and present assorted internet devices. Within a few minutes I had an idea. Finally those many many years and thousands upon thousands of dollars I spent in college would pay off. This is what I did. My PC has no modem. I had it built without one for a reason. So I pluged one of the Lan cables to the PC then ran the cable under the front door ( we don't use that door and I am not going to drill a hole in the wall ) then I ran the cable up under the eve of the roof, from there along the side of the house to the one place where there is a somewhat clear view in the direction of the closest smart tower I then tried to plug the Lan cable into the Router, unfortunatly the 30 meter cable was too short, so I used 1 of the Lan cable connectors and another 30 meter Lan cable and it was finally long enough to plug the Lan into the Router, I then plugged the power chord into an extension chord and plugged that into an outside light ourtlet using a light outlet socket adaptor. Then I plugged the USB plug it stick into the router. And we got a SIGNAL. Faint but a signal. Then I went to the mall, purchased a USB male to female cable. Using the USB cable I plugged that into the router and then the USB plug it stick to the other end. Now to fine tune our mess. While Alda was on a ladder she carefully taped the USB cable to the underside of the roof about 1 foot in as to avoid getting it wet in the rain. I went into the house, redid the settings on the router to prevent others from using our router as their personal free wifi, and waited. As she would turn the plug it stick oh so slightly each time I would reset the router, waiting for the signal to climb. As the signal would go up or down I would yell out to Rowena who would then yell to Alda to either stop, or move the plug it. After 2 hours we finally got a good enough signal at 56 %. So now we have internet. Except when the smoke is too thick and we loose signal, that happens about 3 times a day. Sometimes a Tin Can and String Can equal Internet.
  5. At our new Condo Unit they have Cablelink and Pldt available. I had PLDT when we lived in Davao. It was pretty good. That is unless it was raining in Manila. Then we had no internet. Ha Ha. At least that is what the people at PLDT told us was the reason the internet would go out on occasion. The bad part about PLDT is that it takes a very very long time to get it hooked up. I am thinking about trying Cablelink. I have no information about them. I was wondering if anyone here had Cablelink or knew of anyone who has this service. Thanks
  6. That is very true. I think it also depends on who you talk to at the bank. We have gone to the same bank here in Cebu 4 times and talked to 4 different people and gotten 4 different answers. What I have decided to do for now is to NOT open a pesos checking account. Instead I am opening a USD account and will deposit checks into it from my US bank account. I am going to also open a pesos savings account with ATM and online access with BPI and just do the online transfer thing.
  7. During our recent trip to Manila we stopped at a BPI bank to find out about opening a checking account. What I asked them was. 1. Can I as an American open a pesos Checking account? 2. What are the requirements? 3. What documents are required to do so? This was the reply. 1. Yes. 2. Copy of Passport. Copy of ACR-I Card Original Authentic Certified Letter from Bank in America where I have a checking account showing I am in good standings with their bank. NO COPIES. NO EMAILED COPIES. MUST BE ORIGINAL. That is with a US Government check deposited via direct deposit. They answered questions 2 and 3 together. Problem with getting Original Authentic Certified Letter. 1. Mail arrives when it wants to and if it wants to. 2. Alternative to mailing letter is to return to America. Go to my bank. Request Certified Bank Letter. Fly back to Philippines with letter. Total Cost is around 2500.00 USD for that. Not worth it for me. The direct deposit of US Government checks requires me to go to the embassy then to the VA then to the bank with all documents signed and approved then it takes at least a month for the change over from my bank there to their bank here. They said the funds should be available sometime during the first week of each month after the deposit due to the back and forth thing from their bank here to the Bank of New York to the US Embassy then back to the Bank of New York then back to the BPI bank. We all know thats done electronically however I do believe that in the beginning it will take a week and then after that it will work its way down to only a few days. The deposits would have to be made in a USD account. Then the funds could be transferred into the Philippine pesos checking account.
  8. Cypress Towers was too busy for us. Too many people coming and going all the time. Living in a high rise is not my idea of a good time. There are many there who obviously do like it. The Pool was very small. We did not get a chance to see the gym. The so called bar did not exist. Good thing in my opinion. They did have an excellent sky lounge restaurant tho. Cost for food was very reasonable. I will post the pictures today or tomorrow that we took while up there. The unit we rented was fully furnished. The balcony door didn't lock which was a bit of a concern for me, since we were only on the second floor. But using American ingenuity I managed to keep the door from being opened when we were not out there, ( used 2 of my belts and wrapped them around the door handle then tied the other end to the bed). It worked good. The microwave didn't work so the owner brought us another one. Found banquet microwave dinners at market market for 200 pesos each. Bought a couple thousand pesos worth. The elevators were good sized. The stairways were a bit small tho. The storage/drying/laundry area on the roof deck was rather cramped and small. There was only 1 sink working up there on our building. As to the DMCI person you talked about. Hmmm. Doesn't sound right. Perhaps they were not really a DMCI Leasing Specialist. There were some there who claimed to be but were not. We only found 1 unit available at each of the 5 DMCI Condo places in the Metro Manila area online in the classified ads. All were not what we wanted. The Specialist then made a call to the main leasing office and showed us at least 3 to 4 more empty units at each place. DMCI has a rule about entering a unit that is occupied. They must contact the tenant first before they can show the unit. Supposed to be a 24 hour notice. But not always. We looked at one unit with a woman that claimed to be a DMCI Specialist who didn't notify the tenants and just walked us up to the unit and knocked on the door. I felt badly for the tenants as they were an elderly couple who had no idea they were moving out. We met the real DMCI Specialist at the clubhouses at each place. There were a lot of others there trying to sell or rent units to others. Those who were legit would come up and sit with us and talk to the specialist we were with. Those who were not avoided us like we had some kind of disease. The way it works with DMCI leasing a unit is like this. According to the Specialist that is. The owner contacts the management office at the condo building. The Management office contacts the main leasing office in Makati. The Leasing office then contacts their own licensed realtors to advertise the unit. Once a sucker er um I mean a client or potential tenant contacts the Realtor. the realtor then asks when the client would like to see the unit. The Realtor then sets up a Tripping appointment with the licensed leasing specialist and then informs the client what time and where to meet the specialist. The specialist will then contact the security at the selected condo and inform them of their arrival. Unless they forget that part. As ours did with East Reyes Gardens. Or maybe she didn't forget and they really are just a bunch of overly aggressive assholes. Anyway. The specialist will then meet the client at the appointed time ( Filipino/Filipina time ) different from real time so you have to add 1/2 an hour at least. Ours was on time each time. NO delay. The specialist then checks with the management office and gets the key if the owner has not already gave them the key. The specialist then shows the unit. if empty no calls, if occupied they call first before showing the unit. They are paid a salary and have a quota of 80 months a year to fill. Thats 80 month of rent. Such as ours was 12 months. So she had 80 minus 12. Now she is down to needing 68 more months to fill within the next year. The DMCI rental agreement is very long. Not in words. It uses large lettering so even I could read it without my glasses. The contract is very straight forward with no tiny paragraphs at the end. There are no hidden fees, no illegal statements of any kind. It was the best contract we have seen in the 2 1/2 years I have been here. The Specialist acts as a mediator of sorts between the owner and the prospective client. Ours helped us reduce the monthly rental 1000 pesos and found us a parking space at a reasonable rate. The specialist will then arrange a meeting between the prospective tenants and the owner for signing the contract and getting to know one another. The only documents required is a copy of your passport and acr-I card if you have that. There is an application form to fill out in order to rent from them. The specialist can fill that out as ours did. basically it wanted to know where we were living is all. and how much money I make a month. Nothing more than they would ask in the U.S. You can verify whether or not the specialist is actually from DMCI leasing office by contacting the main DMCI office in Makati as I did. The number can be found by googling DMCI and looking on their website. Anyhow. Thats what I did and we are very happy about it.
  9. On the LTO website I found where I could text and find out about our registration. It was not too hard so even I could do it. Instructions were pretty simple. LTO VEHICLE ( PLATE NUMBER ) Text to 2600 Received a text message a few minutes later saying, ( PLATE NUMBER ) Make Suzuki Model - Year 2002 / Color Blue / Registered Last 5/15/3013 / No LTO Apprehensions / has no LTO alarms. So I guess that means it has been registered. The only problem is the copy of the O.R. is still crap and no Stickers. We have the old O.R. and C.R. with the current stickers that are still good until the end of June so we are good to go with shipping the thing to Manila. Since the Condo place provides a shuttle bus to market market next to Global City where most everything we need is at I am just going to leave the car in the parking area and not drive it until we get the stickers. Could be 6 months or a year.. Could be tomorrow. Ya just never know here. We went to 2go Travel Cargo today and showed them the copy of the O.R. and C.R. we have from before. They said it was still valid and good enough to ship the POS for us. The cost to ship rolling cargo is based upon the Cubic Meter measurement of the unit. Our POS is less than 9 cubic meters so the cost just a little less than 12,000 pesos. Its now 11 days and counting.
  10. Ok. Recieved O.R. back from Rusco this afternoon. Not just 1 copy. 4 copies of the O.R. all on 1 piece of paper. 2 on one side that are readable with the NO STICKERS stamp. 2 on other side that are basically blank. None of them have a signature by the cashier or anyone else. Is this legal? What the heck do we do now? Anyone work at the LTO office? HELP!!!! We are going to call the Distirct office here in Cebu again and find out if this is legal. Maybe even go to their office and show them the O.R. Only 13 days left till the boat sails to manila.
  11. Our O.R. is completely unreadable. The printer must have been nearly out of ink. Rusco re copied the O.R. for us from the original and is trying to get the Lapu Lapu LTO to stamp that one. We should know about that in a few days. We called the LTO main office in Quezon City. They said they would send the stickers down to the LTO office in Lapu Lapu for us. We have to go there every morning for the next 2 weeks to see if they have arrived. Looks like Rusco gets to earn that extra bit they charged us for the renewal. 2 weeks to go until we ship the So Sucky Mono Cab to Manila. 2Go Travel requires O.R. and C.R. in our name for transporting.
  12. I have had problems connecting to my hotmail account in the past as well. It would take several tries to get it to load. I read recently that hotmail is no more. It has been taken over by Outlook express now. I think with the takeover plus all the changes to the looks it was most likely the problem for me.
  13. On the 15th of May we had the registration on our car renewed. At least we thought we were going to do that. After filling out the forms and then paying the cashier and getting the O.R. ( Official Receipt ) then waiting for the name to be called they took the O.R. and gave back a copy saying they are out of Stickers. The stickers that go on the license plates and the window. The clerk at the LTO office in Lapu Lapu said they would keep the original until the stickers arrive. We were to keep the certified copy with the car. When I first heard about this I thought we were being scammed. I called our attorney and she said she would make some calls to find out what is going on. In the meantime she suggested I call the District office in Cebu City and ask them. So I did. And guess what they said. They really are completely out of Stickers. About an hour later my attorney called back and said the same thing. No idea why or how but they really are out of Stickers. Unbelievable
  14. I have read many posts on this website and other sites debating on weather one should buy or rent here in the Philippines. I believe it to be a personal preferance. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. To be honest both have their problems. For me, its rent. In my opinion its the lesser of the two evils. Now the problem is where, what, how, when to rent. What I have done is this. Decide what I want in available foods, medical care and medicine availability, security, shopping, law enforcement, air quality, water quality and availability, electical availability and cost, minimal noise pollution, as a US citizen how close is the embassy or consolate, available banking institutions, transportation availability and costs, available living conditions of housing, cleanliness of the area, how freindly are the locals. With all these things in mind I realize that finding such a place will take a while here. So the first thing I did was read a lot about the current philippines, before coming back here. Then explore the differant areas I hoped would be best. After 2 1/2 years of miserable failures in Davao, Cebu, and Letye. I dicided to look in the metro manila area. The reason : Availability of nearly all the things on my list. Next comes the type of housing and the cost that I can afford. House, apartment, or condo? I decided on a condo with ammenites. Not to buy but to rent. I then began searching every classified advertisement website I could find. Then I read the ad's very very carefully. For every 10 I read I eventually found that 4 were fake. However there were many real ad's. There were 2 types of advertizers, home owner and realtor. I also investigated in depth the Condo's. The developer, the management company, the condo association, the security company, the city, the political aspect of the area, and the people, Not an easy task. It has taken months. After months and months of research going with the idea of taking the lesser of two evils, I decided that DMCI was about the best. Some were easy to dismiss from my list, such as, Fly by Night developers and Travel Agency, or We build to suit ourselves Inc. or We didn't biuld this so don't blame us if it falls down development agency. The list goes on and on. The next step was to contact the Realtor or Home Owner about their condo's and ask the following questions.Since I don't speak the language here well enough I had my cousin and girlfreind do the calling. 1. What are your contract terms ? ie. Payments, Deposit, Length of contract. 2. What are your requirements for renting? ie, ID requirements, application forms, Fees for filing out forms. ( yes some wanted a form fee ) 3. Can I see a copy of your contract prior to signing? 4. What is the location of the Condo Unit? Most didn't get passed these simple questions. The biggest proplem was the Post Dated Checks. Second was the refusal to show me a copy of the contract prior to signing, Third was Fees for filing out the application form. After narrowing it down to 15 differant Resort Condo places with DMCI we then made our appointments to look at the Units they had available. We were able to convince some to allow me to make monthly cash deposits into their bank accounts instead of the PDC's. I then purchased tickets on Cebu Air and made hotel reservations via Booking.com. Purchasing the Airline tickets a month in advance allowed us to travel with the promo fares. Finding a hotel was a lot harder. We finally rented a condo unit at Cypress Towers. A DMCI Condo. It is a 2 bedroom unit which gave us an idea of what it would be like to live in a similar size condo unit. The cost for 5 days was 11,000 pesos. Upon arrival and after a good nights sleep we then went and looked at the Condo units we had made appointments to see. Of all the ones we had made appointments to see none worked out for us. However with the help of the DMCI Leasing Specialist and the Realtor we were able to find a nice unit at Rosewood Pointe at a price I could afford. Everything I wanted is very close by, shopping, foods, medical, and the air quality is fair. Better then where we live now at least. And we got to meet the Owners represntatives before signing. Everything was done by licensed DMCI representatives. Prior to signing the contract we were allowed to have a copy and take it to an attorney of our choosing to find out weather it was legal or not. IT WAS LEGAL. I also spoke with other foreigners who lived there to find out about the place. The total cost of the condo unit was 18,000 a month including condo dues. The parking space was an extra 4000 month. I opted for the free offsite parking area owned by DMCI for now. The Contract terms are 1 year rental, 1 month advance, 2 months deposit in cash. Monthly payments to be deposited in Owners account. The contract, while lengthy, was direct, legal, and easy to understand. The unit was cleaned and all maintenance requirements were completed prior to our signing. Paid for by the owner. Now we are getting ready to take all our belongings to 2go travel to be put into a cargo container and drop off our car then its tourist class on the same boat to manila. I left some things out. As I have a splitting headache from our current neighbors. Its sunday morning here in CEBU and they have been outside breaking up concrete since 5 am. Any questions please feel free to ask.
  15. We are back in Cebu now. Manila was Fantastic !!!! We loved every minute of being there. We found a wonderful Condo Unit at a price well within our budget. We could not be happier with our choice. What we rented. We found a 2 bedroom Condo Unit above the second floor and below the top floor (building is 5 stories tall ), in a Mid Rise Condo building facing away from the pool and basketball court with a balcony that gets the morning sunshine for just a couple of hours and NO DIRECT SUNSHINE in the afternoon. The Condo buildings are built in such a way that the entrance to the unit is on the inside of the building and yet the inside of the building is open on the sides to the open air for better air ciculation. Both bedrooms have a place for Airconditioners. There is a water and drain connection for our washing machine. There are enough cabinets and cupboards in kitchen area to provide ample space for all our dishes and pots and pans. One of the bedrooms is large enough for our King Sized bed. The Living Room and Dining area is large enough to accomidate our oversized dual recliner couch and recliner as well as our entertainment system and table and chairs set. The unit also has double pane sliding insulated windows which does include sliding doors to the balcony. The unit is also close to the elevator, stairs and fire extinguisher hose. The stairways are wide with a gradual slope so they are not very steep. The steps are deep enough to fit even my big feet. The door to the unit is sturdy strong and has good locks on it along with a screen door. The designer of the buildings in my opinion did a good job in their design of the building. As for the Ammenities. Swiming Pool, Basketball Court, Badminton Court, Childrens Playground, Clubhouse, Convinence Store, Skylounge Resteraunt, Gym, Internet Cafe, Koi Pond, Audio Video Room, Billiard Hall, PIcnic Area, Gate and Roving Security, Constant presence of Employee's from the Development Company as Security monitors so to speak. As well as maintanence personel for the Units and grounds keepers. They also have Electrivied perimeter fence at the top of the regular hollowblock wall fence. They also have a shuttle bus to and from the supermarket area. The security was very strict and yet not overly aggressive. The monthly rental included the Condo Association Dues. The Monthly rent was well within our budget plan so it worked out very well for us. I will write more later.
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