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John Mogusar

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John Mogusar last won the day on October 6 2014

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  1. I lived in a rural-ish area (5 km outside of a fairly large city) north of Cebu City for nearly three years. I knew most of the people in the barangay and developed good friendships. I never once felt threatened, and felt especially safe because everyone in the barangay knew everyone else and would know if anything suspicious was going on. I often brought a friend or two with me when I visited Cebu City and they would give me good advice on staying safe. For example...closely guard all your valuables, as there are many professional pick-pockets who are extremely good at what they do. One thing I saw MANY expats doing was yelling at Filipinos when things weren't done to their liking. A common scenario was that the Jollibee (a McDonald's facsimile) cashier didn't completely understand an order. (The way some of them talked, *I* could barely understand their order!) Aside from being completely embarrassed to be seen with them, this type of behavior can potentially get you into trouble in the Philippines.
  2. I spent nearly 3 years in the Philippines and came back to the States in 2012. Ever since, it's been my intention to "return as soon as possible." I need to get things in order (make sure I can indefinitely sustain myself), and I'm perpetually optimistic on timetables...but I will get there and stay there for good. In the Philippines, I am happy with whatever I have. Just being there is like a permanent vacation (even though I spent--and will spend--time working while there). Life is just so different there, and it's impossible to describe so that someone else understands. You need to experience it first-hand. Living in the Philippines for a year (or longer) is very different from visiting for a month. When you first arrive in the country, everything is new and interesting. You don't know what to expect, but have a blast anticipating. As you begin to understand the people and the culture (this takes a *long* time to even start to understand!), then you really appreciate the country. It does take a certain mindset to enjoy your life there, though. The culture is extremely deceptive. So many Filipinos speak English and everyday life appears in many ways to be very similar to home (America for me...). But if you keep your mind open, you will discover many differences. I've seen so many foreigners who can only see life through their own experiences and who expect the Philippines to mold to their beliefs and expectations. This is perhaps the biggest shock for many foreigners: they cannot change the way things are! BIG shock, right? Yet, time and again foreigners try their hardest to "fix" how Filipinos think. Ain't happening. If these are your expectations, you're in for a life of stress and distress. You may say, "I wouldn't do that!" But I've seen more foreigners than not with that attitude. Fortunately, those that frequent this forum understand this concept. Here at home, if I had to wait 20 minutes in a line to buy my groceries, I would probably put my groceries down and leave. In the Philippines? Somehow, my whole attitude is completely changed and I'm patient. Life is soooo laid back, and it's wonderful--most of the time. Yes, sometimes I get a bit frustrated, but not to the point of being stressed out about it. Continuing my rambling...(the Philippines can do that to me!) people don't expect you to be someone you are not. For example, here at home, I hate parties. I am awkward around a lot of people who are drinking and making small talk. I don't drink or make much small talk. But I am perfectly comfortable with attending a barangay party or fiesta. It helps if I have some friends at the party, but it is unbelievably easy to make new friends. They will often keep the questions coming and listen intently to my answers. I really miss the Philippines! No worries, though, I'll get back there soon.
  3. Wow! That's exciting! Congrats on the awards and that news segment was awesome.
  4. I'm a little late to this conversation, but this is exactly what I was going to say. Rosetta Stone is amazing...way easier to learn than through a classroom course (if such a thing even exists in Tagalog). I will add one thing about "Cebuano vs. Tagalog". I lived near Cebu City for three years and learned a smidgeon of Cebuano. The locals were often surprised to hear a smattering of Cebuano words from a foreigner, and even though I didn't know enough to say much meaningful, they still were entertained by the words I did know. I accompanied two of my Filipino friends to visit their father two islands away in Iloilo. I honestly don't recall if they spoke Cebuano in Iloilo, but they DID speak Cebuano on the island in between (Negros Occidental). However, my friends could not communicate in Cebuano because the dialect was radically different. They reverted to speaking Tagalog in order to be understood. I guess that differences in dialects of Tagalog are not as pronounced as those in Cebuano.
  5. Damn, what's wrong with you? That means no bagoong??? :hystery:
  6. please explain how someone who doesn't live there knows more than someone who does? My fiance lives in Davao and tells me it is safeI would pray that she wouldn't jeopardize.my safety. I think that Robert was quite clear that Davao has been up to this point very safe. However, he brings up some legitimate points. MNLF, I'm sure you know, is flourishing in Mindanao. There have been a number of serious incidents involving MNLF. It is my understanding that Davao is a low crime area due to strict, often covert enforcement against violent criminals. Granted, this is second-hand information from a Filipino that used to live there and sometimes Filipinos have a skewed view of what is actually going on. An expat who lived in Davao also expressed this point, but I'm sure he heard it as "chica-chica" (gossip). If the mayor is actually entertaining talks with the MNLF, this may keep Davao safe from the group (until MNLF chooses otherwise...). Your fiancé certainly wants to protect you. Aside from her relationship with you, it is definitely in her (and her family's) interest that you remain safe. I stayed near Cebu City and had a family that was extremely protective of me. I always felt perfectly safe, but they would still often send an escort with me. We were good friends and I always got the sense that they were genuinely concerned for my welfare. In her experience, from her perception, Davao has been safe. By extension, she probably assumes that it will remain safe. Based on what I've seen, most Filipinos believe that what has been true in the past continues to be true in the future. I'm another person, of course, that does not live in Davao that is attempting to give perspective. Though I've had two or three expats from personal experience tell me that Davao is safe, I personally will never visit any portion of Mindanao. There are just too many other regions in the Philippines for me to enjoy. Yes, I understand that you are in a different situation since your fiancé lives there. In your situation, I would assume (hope) that Davao is currently safe, but keep close tabs on developments. Robert means no disrespect and he only wants to help and give you more input. More information is always good. What you do with it is your business, of course, and he's not preaching to you.
  7. I stayed (for three years) 45 minutes north of Cebu City. I was befriended by a very protective family. A member of the family often escorted me when I travelled to Cebu City. I was happy to have the company. I paid their way, of course, and bought them lunch and sometimes treated them to a movie. They weren't overly familiar with Cebu City, but of course could advise me on the "best" course of action depending on what I wanted to do. I *always* felt perfectly safe, whether accompanied or not. In fact, I felt MUCH safer than some areas around Kansas City (near where I live)--areas where I would never consider going unless absolutely necessary. I didn't expect that my escort would be able to diffuse any situation that I couldn't do so myself. I also don't believe I would have ever gotten into a precarious situation without being accompanied by an escort. I wouldn't walk down unfamiliar streets (outside the well-travelled areas) at night, but did so frequently during the day. The biggest concern is pick-pockets. Always make sure your valuables are extremely well-protected as there are some very adept pick-pockets. In summary, as a foreigner, Cebu City (with reasonable precautions) is probably one of the safer cities in the world.
  8. Though the overall culture of the Philippines is the same throughout the Philippines, each region has a dramatically different feel. Different benefits and drawbacks exist in each of those regions. I spent my three years one hour north of Cebu City. I felt safe 100% of the time. The people were all extremely friendly and it was easy for me to make friends. This is, of course, true to a good extent in all of the Philippines. Cost of living was great and I had easy access to various goods and services (i.e. medical) in Cebu City. Two drawbacks stood out for me: I was extremely disappointed in the local foods and trash was strewn about everywhere. I just figured every Filipino threw their trash everywhere, but was surprised upon visiting four different adjacent islands that this was not the case. Those islands were clean to very clean. Ilo Ilo (ilo ilo) was practically spotless. My impressions of the other places I visited: 1. Ilo Ilo - clean but boring. Food was better. 2. Bacolod - Average, plenty of stuff going on. Stayed at Mambukal Resort for a couple nights, the most beautiful place I've ever been. 3. Bohol - The most beautiful area as a whole. Good food, very clean, an outdoors-type could easily occupy themselves. Tagbilaran City had plenty of stuff to do. I stayed at a resort on Dumaluan Beach and it was totally peaceful. My taxi driver recommended it over Panglao, as it was not as touristy. 4. The other island was a small nearby island with two or three resorts. Pacijan island, though that's not what the locals called it. (Don't remember what they called it). It was clean, the resort food was good, and again totally peaceful. I haven't been to Davao and have little desire to visit, so I can't comment on that. My perception is that it is overall a dangerous area, even though Davao itself is safe. Plenty of other regions of the Philippines to consider, so I just rule this one out. I am planning on heading back to the Philippines (permanently) next year. Though the cooler temperatures of Baguio are alluring, I don't like what I hear about so many foreigners living there. It's also becoming quite crowded. After extensive research, I am planning to give Lipa City a try. It is an hour south of Manila. It sits against a lake containing an active volcano which in turn contains a lake. It's a safe distance, though. Mountains protect the city from the brunt of Typhoons and the elevation is higher, eliminating flooding problems and causing slightly cooler temperatures. The city itself is quite large but far enough away from Manila to be laid back and very peaceful. Prices are slightly higher than the Cebu area, but not as high as Manila. I'm going to give Lipa City a try and occasionally visit other areas of the Philippines to see if there is somewhere else I'd like to live. Lipa City looks like my paradise, though.
  9. Hey Mike, Extremely excited to see that you've started to settle in and things are going well for you! Great that you found a cheaper condo that (I assume) you enjoy. I'm sending you a PM regarding the tournies. If you're coming in at a $3500 budget per month right now, I'm certain you can get that down to $2500 over time with relatively the same comfort level. When you say "...you can live here fairly well on just over $2500 a month," you are talking about YOU. LOL, I don't spend $2500 in the U.S. and I will be *perfectly* comfortable with $1200 a month and could easily live with under $1000 with no regrets. Of course, that is emergency monies aside and I am single. Keep us updated on how you're getting along!
  10. Thanks for all your replies. Dan was kind enough to split this question off from another topic. I really want to experience all the foods around me, but I'm leery about many of them. I'm always extremely careful about the water, but I wonder if the "purified water" is actually always purified. I would guess that some of the shops that sell it use their filters for too long and they lose effectiveness. I don't know what process they use, though.
  11. Slightly hijacking the thread... For those of you that have been in the Philippines for a number of years, does your body eventually adjust to lower sanitation standards? I wasn't sure how to ask the question, but I mean, for example, foods (particularly meats) that have been sitting out in the tropical heat unrefrigerated. I was extremely careful at first about those types of foods, as well as eating at parties, etc. I started easing myself into eating more of that type of food, but got an amoeba infection shortly thereafter and went back to my stricter food intake. This includes all market restaurants (excluding some soups, which are usually kept hot) and the street BBQ (which I really like but I'm afraid to eat it). Perhaps I'm a bit over-paranoid and I really would like to be more able to eat that type of food.
  12. Yes, I am heading to the Batangas. I liked the goat dish I had just fine. It was more the idea of eating goat--not quite my normal fair. But I'm certainly not against eating it again and of course I'd get used to the idea. (Still won't go for the dog, though!) Also, I had it in Cebu SM Food Court and although I don't remember specifically, I think it was probably from one of those restaurants that prepares everything all at once in the morning and then the food sits out all day, getting cold in the process. There were several of those types of restaurants at the food court and everything always looked so delicious, but for obvious reasons, I try to avoid that type of food.
  13. Goat was the first meal I had upon arrival in the Philippines. The driver that picked me up told me I to try it. Didn't have it a second time while I was there, but It wasn't half bad. Something I wouldn't try in the States. LOL. I wasn't quite adventurous enough when my neighbors cooked Fido one day, though. They told me, "Black dog is the best!"
  14. If anyone here is a good writer, you can do freelance writing for Internet websites. I have researched a ton of "work from home" opportunities and this was the only sure-fire, viable business model that I've really run across. (...as far as easy to setup and low investment.) It can be a tedious job at times...you write about whatever your client wants. If anyone is interested in the details, I can point them in the right direction. I experimented with it for about five months, but found it more work than my brain could handle, as I was doing it ten hours a day. Once I was rolling, I was making about $9 an hour. I was gaining a great reputation among the community I worked within and would have been able to start charging more per article, but I like said...too much like real work. There are two ways to freelance. The best (but requiring more time investment to build your business) is to advertise your writing services in a specific "Internet Marketing" forum. There is a very small fee associated with the advertising. (Message me if you want more details...I'm not associated with the forum in any way other than that I used to do this and I do not profit in any way.) Secondly, there are websites where people advertise specific articles that they would like written. You can browse the topics and terms and how much they will pay you and accept specific jobs. The jobs you would be qualified for at first will pay relatively little. You build your reputation and gain access to higher-paying jobs as you write more (assuming the quality is high enough). To be really successful doing this, you will need to study guidelines specifically on how to write for the Internet. The businesses that hire you will want their pages more likely to rank higher in search engines. There are also certain style guidelines you should follow. Basic guidelines are available for free with a slight bit of searching. Anyway, like I said, it's work. It's not a scam. That's not to say the people you are writing for won't be what you might consider "scam artists." Most of them are not, but some of them deal specifically in selling ways to strike it rich in your own Internet business. Those are nearly all borderline to outright scams. Some examples of sites I've written for include a travel site dedicated to obtaining passports (basic overviews of various countries), a heating and cooling business (touting the products they sold and installed), one of the popular diet programs (that one was painful), and liposuction (God, THAT one was torture! I had to come up with topics for TEN liposuction articles.) Oh...that reminds me, in the first method, sometimes your clients will have the ideas for topics pre-generated, and sometimes they will expect you to come up with them. And I also forgot...you will be doing all the research. That takes at least as long as writing the articles.
  15. I saw some pretty bad bands while I was in the Philippines. I went to the Waterfront Casino one night in Cebu and they had a pretty poor band playing in the lobby. Later, I went to a nearby café and a duo was playing...a guy and a girl. The guy did all the singing. He had the most incredible voice I ever heard. I've seen some of my favorites in concert...Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Ray Charles...His voice was as unique as any of them, as was his style. I wish I could have signed him to a record label.
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