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THINGS EXPATS IN PHILIPPINES NEED TO KNOW

ALCOHOL USE

Filipinos and many Filipinas enjoy their spirits.  Often, if not drinking for a week or more, they blackout.The beer the Philippines is famous for is San Miguel.  The beer Filipinos usually drink is Red Horse.  Red Horse is a high alcohol content beer that gives you a buzz right away.  It is a little bitter, but I prefer it over San Miguel, which to me is sweet and doesn't give the kick a Red Horse does.  I think you can buy San Miguel in a few places in the US, but I know you cannot get Red Horse.  Red Horse and San Miguel are the same price.  A 500ml bottle is P25.  1000ml bottle is P65.  Asia Brewery has started making Beer Na Beer and Colt 45 now (2008).

2005  The hard liquors I see Filipinos drinking are Tanduay Rum, Fundadoor Brandy and London Dry/Gilbeys Gin.  A pint size of Tanduay Dark is P25.  The stores do sell many other brands including US made products such as Baileys, Chivas Regal and Absolute Vodka. A liter of Baileys sells for P700, about $14 USD.  More and more less known brand names of vodka, bourbon, whiskey and flavored/cream based liquors are appearing every week.  You can get American style mixed drinks such as a margarita and bourbon and coke (usually Jim Beam), but don't be surprised that the bartender either doesn't know what he is doing or don't have the right ingredients.  Also, a shot in the Philippines is .5 oz. That makes prepared cocktails expensive.  Many restaurants have their own concoctions.  Usually these are very sweet.

In other words alcohol in the Philippines is very cheap and available everywhere. US brands are about half the price in the states. There are many drunkards here and most Filipinos will admit this.

Filipinos also have a coconut wine they call Tuba. It has quite a kick. I see them drinking this in the early mornings at Sari Sari stores and canteens. It is not unusual to see drunkards at 7AM and hear them laughing or fighting.

 

APPLIANCES

This is a statement about the quality of appliances available in the Philippines:  The quality here is not what you are used to if you are from the US, Australia, Europe and probably most well developed industrial nations.  Buy name brands you know like GE, Samsung, Panasonic, Mitsubishi etc.  Fan quality is especially bad.  I buy Panasonic, which replaced Standard.

The washers/dryers, refrigerators and cooking stoves are mostly smaller. Washer/dryers are made of a heavy plastic and are very simple. All the washer does is agitate the clothes back and forth and pump soapy water around. The dryer part of this device is a little misleading. It spins clothes, but leaves them damp. Filipinas like to hang their laundry outside, which is ok with me as long as it gets done. Often rain will sneak up and ruin your day.  I use my fans to dry clothes in the house when it is rainy.

The cooking stoves are small two and four burner units (sometimes with oven) that burn propane (here called Shellane and Gasul). Gasul is P525 for 11 kilograms. I won't try to convert this. Suffice it to say that is about $10.00 USD that lasts 60+ days.  Get the more expensive direct in line gas line connector.  They don't leak and they regulate.   

You can buy full sized appliances. I bought a GE refrigerator freezer for about $425 USD. If you want to save money on meat, buy a ref with a large freezer or get a separate freezer. You can buy a whole pig and often the family will butcher it for you for some of the meat. We plan to buy two and have my wifes aunt feed them for 6 months. When our birthdays come around we will have them butcher one pig for each of our birthdays and they get half of the meat. You can get roughly 30 to 40 kilos of meat out of one 200lb pig. You can also buy baby chickens and have family members raise them. These people are very frugal and live very efficiently.

BABIES FATHERED

BY US CITIZEN

Claiming Babies American Citizenship

You may also apply at the consulate in Cebu.    

BALIK BAYAN

Balik Bayan is a Tagalog term which in English means returning Filipino.  An expat can obtain a Balik Bayan stamp in his passport when entering the Philippines with his Filipina wife.  It is good for one year of visa fee free living.  The new written rule states that no matter how long you left the country you can be given this status upon your return with your wife.  It used to stipulate a one year absence was required.  This term is defined and explained on the Philippine Government website.

You can go from Balik Bayan back to extending your Tourist Visa again to avoid that trip out of the country with your wife for another year.  Just visit your local Immigration Officer just before your Balik Bayan status expires.

Always carry your marriage contract with you coming back into the country just in case.  I have heard that some expats had problems getting this status at the Manila airport in the recent past.  I passed through Cebu and received this status with no problems.  Hopefully the Immigration Authorities at Manila Airport now follow the new wording issued by the Philippine Government.

BATHROOMS

The bathroom (or toilet) here in the Philippines is called the Comfort Room (CR). Here only the upscale houses and apartments have flush toilets. The older ones with poorer tenants either have a stool and water source where you poor in a bucket of water yourself to flush or they might just have only a hole in the ground. These are not necessarily unsanitary, just inconvenient.  Most places do not have showers and only use buckets.  You can buy shower heaters.

CABLE TELEVISION

There are usually two cable companies in most areas.  Both are about 400p/month. They both carry the same channels like Fox News, CNN, Disney, HBO, Cinemax, Star Movies, USA Network, Philippine Channels, ESPN, Star Sports and many others. It is a very good deal. Picture quality is good. I haven't figured out how to tell what movies are playing except to watch the advertisements.  Fox News is no longer available in Dipolog.  It is available with Fil Products in Dumaguete.

Many expats who live where there isn't cable buy their own satelite system. I think the cost is around 3500p for the equipment and 800p/month. Dream Satelite System is the common one.

CFO (COUNSELOR FOR FILIPINOS OVERSEAS)

Expats run into this organization when their Filipina gets a passport or when they try to amend one. It is required that Filipinas marrying foreigners attend a CFO seminar and obtain a CFO certification document before they can get or amend a passport. CALL A WEEK OR MORE AHEAD TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT. DON'T JUST SHOW UP 'CAUSE YOU MIGHT NOT GET IN. Have somone living in Cebu, or where ever your CFO is, call for you. There are many expats in Yahoo Groups who will do this for you.

Contrary to rumors, the CFO provides information about immigration visas in a closed room and in a handout. They also interview and question each Filipina searching for those that might not be sure what they are doing or that are not sincere in their relationship. They require you bring the following documents:

1. Certified true copy of the Marriage Contract (Available at an NSO.. National Statistics Office)

2. Certified true copy of Filipina Birth Certificate (" ")

3. Passport or NSO ID with picture.

4. Certified true copy of expat divorce. (Available at the Court House where divorce was granted. Get several copies before you leave for the Philippines. You will need them for this, for the Consulate and for when you get married in the Philippines.)

The CFO office in Cebu is right next to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Taxi drivers know where the DFA is. The DFA is where you go to get a Filipino passport. They line up at the DFA at 4AM, so set aside an extra day for that because the CFO experience will last until about 1PM.  

To get a passport you must bring items 1, 2 and 3 and the CFO Certificate.

COFFEE

Finding good old ground coffee was a real hassle.  I didn't find any until I moved to Dumaguete after living in Dipolog for almost three years.  I found Puro and Yuban and bags of beans to be ground. Where you get them ground I don't know yet.  I also looked for a regular stove perking coffee pot, but was not willing to pay $40 for one.  The same thing costs $10 in the states. If you live away from bigger city malls and away from where foreigners frequent, you may find only the powdered kinds of coffee.

COLLEGE COSTS

In the Philippines there are several higher learning centers.  Your Filipina may want to go to college now that she has you.  Also, some of her relatives may have children who will work in your home as a Helper for only the college tuition.

I payed P1360 ($28) per semester for my wife's niece who was our helper.

I payed a total of P18,600 over 6 months for Care Giver classes.  I believe Cebu is higher and Manila is higher than Cebu.  Cebu has many good universities.

College is very affordable here, but all schooling is going up.

CORRECT CHANGE PLEASE

When you shop at the Mall and other big stores they usually have change for P500 bills, which is what comes out of the ATMs.  But other places like the post office are always asking for correct change.  Some places even do high volume business and still can't break P500 bills.  P500 is about $10 USD.  Here that is a lot of money.

If you have something delivered, like your purified water or Gasul, you better have correct change or tell the owner to send change.  The young Filipino boys who make deliveries will never have change.  Often the motor cab  drivers will tell you 'No Change' hoping you will just give up the P20 bill.  We have collected and keep a jar of change full.  You never know when you will need it.

COST OF LIVING

There are several sources of  'Cost of Living' estimates.  I have listed below the URL where other information can be obtained.  My cost of living is a comparison to the cost of living and conditions of living in the US.  In some cases I  have no comparative information and listed actual costs:

Rent:  20%

Food:  40%

Electric:  70%

Gasoline:  75% (It was P26 per liter in May 2004.  Today, April 2007, it is P39.

Cooking Gas:  Comparable

Heat:  None required

Transportation (Motorcab):  2%  (Taxi in Cebu):  30%  (Bus-aircon-long distance):  $11/300 miles to Zamboanga City from Dipolog City.

Transportation (Owned):  20%  (Depends on how much you spend on a vehicle)  (Jan 4, 2006 regular gasoline is P35/liter)  (Many use motorcycles with 50KM per liter mileage)

The overall cost of living reduction I enjoyed when coming to the Philippines is around 65% less than in the US with comparable things.  Please understand the houses here are not insulated and not built like they are in the US.  I don't own a new car and wouldn't have one here.  I like to keep a low profile.   Jan 4, 2006 I pay P8000/month rent for a brand new 3 bed, 2 bath apartment with gated and walled parking and backyard.

I got rid of my car and now enjoy the bigger motorcabls in Dumaguete to get around.

Please visit livingincebu.com/cost.htm to see other cost of living estimates.

CULTURE SHOCK

If you haven't lived here before, then you are in for a few disturbing discoveries.  The people are mostly very nice, but it is common to see men urinating along the road.  Very young children  run around naked and urinate where ever they happen to be standing.  There are many people with no job and no place to live.  They walk the streets begging and looking for odd jobs.  When you shop you will be followed around by beggars.  These are mostly children.

The air in congested areas is often filled with fire smoke, exhaust fumes, the stench of rotting food or animal, drying fish, human urine and other things.  You can move away from it as I have by getting more into a country setting.  I still smell some smoke from cooking fires from time to time, but seldom is it very thick like before.  There are plenty of fair breezes clearing the other fumes.

Even with all the poverty most people are very congenial and respond to a smile of recognition.  Many wear a frown, but when you throw them a smile their faces light up.  Crime here is mostly in poorer areas.  There are a few drug users who steal to feed their habits.  The good news is you can isolate yourself with smart habits and fenced/gated living arrangements.

There are many fiestas.  Birthdays usually are celebrated with the killing of a pig to serve roasted.  This is called Lechon.  There are many holidays where feasting and drinking and dancing and singing karaoke go on into the night.  Here in Dipolog there are several celebrations (one or two for each Barangay) and  they celebrate many holidays.  Twice per year there is dancing in the street in the middle of town with band playing.  They sell beer and everyone has a blast.  My wife and I attended one of these.  To my amazement I was taller than almost everyone there.  I am 5'9" and could see over the crowd.  This is a new feeling for me. 

Filipinos have their own ways of doing things.  For example they like to show up at a friends house  with just an announcement at the window where they stick their face to let you know are outside.  It is traditional to serve some drink and snack to visitors.  We have had some old friends of my wife show up at dinner time.  I feel sorry for this particular friend of hers because her husband died and she has six kids.  There are many stories like that around here.  We fed her and her daughter once, but then realized they would come back all the time if we kept providing dinner.  So, we decided to be going somewhere when they arrived.  That worked.

When you have money you will be asked for loans.  Be your own judge on this.  I have figured out who I can trust and who I can't in the family.  The amounts are small, but there are many family members and most never pay back.  I don't loan anymore.

DENGUE FEVER

Warning signs

Abdominal pain

 

 

 

 

Ongoing vomiting

 

 

 

 

Liver enlargement

 

 

 

 

Mucosal bleeding

 

 

 

 

High hematocrit with low platelets

 

 

 

 

Lethargic

 

 

 

 

The diagnosis of dengue is typically made clinically, on the basis of reported symptoms and physical examination; this applies especially in endemic areas.[1] Early disease can however be difficult to differentiate from other viral infections.[3] A probable diagnosis is based on the findings of fever plus two of the following: nausea and vomiting, rash, generalized pains, low white blood cell count, positive tourniquet test, or any warning sign (see table) in someone who lives in an endemic area.[2] Warning signs typically occur before the onset of severe dengue.[5] The tourniquet test, which is particularly useful in settings where no laboratory investigations are readily available, involves the application of a blood pressure cuff for five minutes, followed by the counting of any petechial hemorrhages; a higher number makes a diagnosis of dengue more likely.[5] Often, investigations are performed to exclude other conditions that cause similar symptoms, such as malaria, leptospirosis, typhoid fever, and meningococcal disease.[3]

The earliest laboratory change is a low white blood cell count, which may then be followed by low platelets and metabolic acidosis.[3] Plasma leakage may result in hemoconcentration (as indicated by a rising hematocrit), hypoalbuminemia, pleural effusions, or ascites.[3] The demonstration of fluid on ultrasound may assist in the early identification of dengue shock syndrome,[1][3] but is not widely available.[1]

 

DENTAL

You will be happy to learn that Dentists are very cheap here.  My wife had two teeth extracted and bridges manufactured for about $30 USD.  Her friend had two bridges manufactured and installed for about $20.  The Dentist has an office and is very good.

DRIVING IN PHILIPPINES

Oh what fun it is to drive a car here in the Philippines.  There are supposed to be some driving rules, but few drivers pay much attention to them in small towns.  Here, if you want to turn left, you have to watch for people passing you on the left.  Put your arm out the window and point because motorcycle and motorcab drivers pass on the left, the right and pull out in front of you.  There are few stop signs.  You cross intersections by pulling out into the lanes making people stop.  One lane will have two vehicles in it.  When you drive you will encounter people, bicycles, cows, chickens, dogs, cats, motorcycles, motor cabs, trucks, cars, buses, semi sized trucks on the roads and even rice drying in the street on mats.  People walk on the road and not on the side.  People park their vehicles half on the road.  Motor cab drivers wonder all over the place looking for riders.  They can turn on a dime and will turn around right in front of you.  When turning left people cross into the left lane entering the lane of oncoming traffic while they look for a spot to barge in.  It is comical to say the least.  

Lucky for everybody that only motorcycles can get up much speed.  They pass and weave in and out of traffic at a fast pace.  Many of them have had one or more accidents.  Mostly you travel about 20 Kilometers per hour in your car along with the motor cabs.  People are always in a hurry and will pass you anywhere they can.  I own a big car.  It is easy for me to barge in.  

The cost of a license and car liability insurance for one year is about P4000.

 

DRUGS (PRESCRIPTION AND OTC)

Buying drugs in the Philippines is a whole new experience.  If you remember the name of the drug you want, then you can usually buy it.  Where penicillin is controlled in the US, I have had no problem buying pills here.  You can buy one dose or as many as you want.  If you get a prescription, it is usually just scrawled on a piece of paper with a signature.  But, as I said above, I haven't had to show a prescription if I can show the pharmacy the package or repeat the name and dose size.

ELECTRICITY (BROWNOUTS)

Much of the AC power systems in the Philippines are in need of repair and update. Often you will see a tangled mess on an electric pole where new user wire has been added for many years as needed. Often wind and rain will develop a break or direct short killing the power source. The other reality is that the electric companies are busy replacing parts of the system as best they can. Often scheduled brownouts will occur on Saturday or Sunday and will last for announced period from about 7AM to 5PM. If your refrigerator is full of frozen meats, sometimes you end up just cooking all of it. Also the electric company will shut down the power for several minutes unannounced to do short term repairs.

Cost of electricity is rising. In 2005 we paid P1.5 per KWH. It is April 2007 now and we pay P2.25 per KWH. If you have aircon and run it in a bedroom only at night, your bill will be in the P2000 range.  I guess I've acclimated now because, in Dumaguete where we are now, we don't have aircon at all.  We have 4 fans.

ENGLISH SPEAKING

For the last 20 years Filipinos have had written and spoken English required in every school year.  They go to school 10 years and graduate from high school.  Most Filipinos know some English.  The ones working in the malls and stores and those working for companies that deal with the public speak English fairly well.  I was amazed at how well the Filipina at the cable company spoke the language.  I am sometimes angered, however, when a Filipino who has had 10 years of formal English training and still can't speak half good English tells me I should know Visaya already in the short time I've been here.  Incidently, Visaya is not found in any training books or on any talking CD's I've found yet.  The older Filipinos understand some street English and maybe some Spanish as well as their own language.  Here in Dipolog they speak Visaya.  I am learning it slowly but surely.

Learning Tagalog will give you a much needed edge if you are alone over here very much.  Even those Filipinos who have 14 years of using English in school are to timid to take the chance of losing face if they make a mistake in front of you.  Visit my main page and do the Amazon search for some cheap books that will help you learn some Tagalog.  Tagalog is the other mandatory language taught to Filipinos.  They hear it every day on TV, so it is much more familiar to them.  A trick to use when you go into the city or somewhere looking for something specific is to find out how to say it in Tagalog or Cebuano or Visaya as the case may be and also find out how to make a sentence.  Now you have something to show Filipinos who don't know what you are looking for.  You'll get a smile as you put the burden on yourself and prevent them from losing face.

 

FAMILY TIES AND EXPECTATIONS

If you get get married to a Filipina and live very close to her family, you probably will be asked for loans, starting businesses, pay medical bills, pay for school... and on and on!  During the process of getting all the documents ready for a Catholic wedding you will be forced to attend seminars and interviews with church and city paid personnel.  In my case it was the Priest who warned me that when you marry a Filipina you become one of the family who contributes to the family just like Brothers and Sisters.  What the Priest said was true.  This is what they want you to think.  However, if you stand your ground, they will eventually leave you alone most of the time.  

Filipinos are different from each other just like everyone else.  Some take advantage.  Others are very honest.  You have to figure out who you can trust and be very careful to have your Filipina wife Manage your relationship with her relatives.  If you trust her, then let her do the talking.  Tell her that money you give to the family is money that won't be spent on her.  This has worked for me.

I think a prominent problem with Filipinos is a somewhat lackadaisical attitude towards money and not a very good sense for business.  Big money (to a Filipino) will be spent on a birthday party even though they can't pay a bill coming due.  And, if you pay, then you will always pay.  When you put your foot down it is amazing how they somehow find the money somewhere else!

 

FIXERS

A Fixer is a person who can get you documents and other things difficult for a non language speaking expat to get.  There is a subculture of Fixers in Dipolog.  I hear they are everywhere else too.  My first experience with a Fixer was when I needed to buy my car and get licensed.  My wife's sister is the one who took me to the lawyer, took my money and came back with what I needed.  She got a cut of course.  BE CAREFUL USING FIXERS!  If the document is not right, you will just have to pay again.

There is the Land Transportation Office here.  Outside of that office there are several Fixer's offices where this stuff goes on.  This is where she took us.  My wife was not even aware this was going on and was visibly pissed off at her sister for charging me a fee just like anyone else.

I cannot verify that there are Fixers that can get any document you need, but I know someone who says that.  He says they can get any visa or anything else for a price.  I, on the other hand, will trust a lawyer here or even a travel agency to help me.  

So, now you know!!!  UPDATE:  Fixers are becoming a thing of the past now (2009).

HOUSE CONSTRUCTION

Houses here are not insulated.  Mostly they are made from wood/bamboo or wood with concrete blocks.  Wood is getting very expensive, so the principal construction material is block and mortar and pressed wood.  If you want insulation, many are using styrofoam sheets between paneling and blocks and in ceilings. 

Often kitchen sinks are installed with no elbow.  They stink.  Put yourself in an elbow.

HEALTH CARE

It is widely thought among expats that the available health care insurance for them in the Philippines doesn't pay enough to be worth getting.  The fees charged for hospital, Doctor and clinic procedures are still fairly low and can be paid out of pocket.  Here is a link that will provide many of the health care options available to expats:  Expat Health Care There are hospitals that accept Tri Care for retired veterans. There is talk of Medicare being extended to some locations in the Philippines as well. 

medicare

HOME OWNERS

Dealing with home and condo association scams: http://djsumaylo.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/camella-homes-vs-home-owners/

INTERNET ACCESS

When I arrived in Dipolog in May 2004 there was only prepaid 56K modem cards and internet cafes for internet access.  Only one internet cafe had DSL.  Now, April 2007, there is Smart WiFi for those fortunate enough to live close to the Camila Hotel.  Otherwise, not much has changed.  The local phone company rarely installs new lines, so even getting a phone is almost impossible.  

In Dumaguete I now have Globe Broadband.  It is great at P995/month 24 X 7.  Cebu, Manila and Davao have plenty of fast internet services.  

If you want internet access, you have to research the area you want to live in and specifically ask about a particular location or house.  If there is no existing wire, you will have to pay to put it in.  I paid P3500 for the extra wire required to give me Globe Broadband.  Once you buy it, it is yours and you can sell it to the next person living in your house.

MAIDS

You can afford a maid here. Maids

MARRIAGE

You will receive instructions about your marriage responsibilities during seminars required by the city and the church, if you get married in a Catholic Church.  In order to get married to a Filipina you have to go to a US Consulate and obtain permission to marry.  We went to Cebu.  I think the fee was P1340 for the documet.  You must bring a certified copy of any divorce you have been through.  The Filipina has to bring a birth certificate both for her and any children she has.  Please visit http://www.weddingsatwork.com/culture_laws.shtml and read about the requirements to marry a Filipina.

A great majority of Filipinas are Catholic, so expect a Catholic church wedding.  Marriage ceremonies in the Philippines are based on the tradition the family has practiced.  I've been to three weddings and all three were conducted differently.  The ceremony, the pictures and all that goes with it is VERY VERY important to Filipinas.  The groom doesn't have much to say about it.  All he does is pay the bill.

If you are Catholic, then you must present your Baptismal records.  If you don't have them, you can pay to have it done there.  If you are not Catholic, you will be asked what religion you are.  I was never baptized, so they took out the Catholic Mass part of the ceremony.  I was also instructed and signed a document stating that I would not hinder my wife going to Catholic Church and would allow any children we had to be Catholic.  My advice is, 'Don't argue the point!"

My experience was that I was pushed by my wife and her family to buy the best of everything.  One friend of ours suggested a P30,000 wedding dress.  I knew you could get a very nice dress made in this country for a lot less, so we went shopping around town and found one for P13,000.  I also would have settled for a Court official marrying us, but that was rejected.  I ended up buying a wedding package at a local hotel for P33,000.  It included everything and it was nice.  We also fed 100 people in that package.

They use what they call Sponsors here.  Sponsors help pay for the church.  The Sponsors are picked by the Filipina.  Usually they have some money.  The Sponsors help perform parts of the wedding and get a special place at the wedding feast for their trouble.  They often get up and say a few words during the reception/dinner.

I was glad when the wedding day was over.  It was a long day, but I have been glad ever since that day that I married a wonderful lady.

 

MEDICAL

Most medical procedures, medicines and hospital stays are fairly cheap.  Here the money comes first.  If you can't afford the drugs, then whatever the usual outcome of a disease or wound is will happen.  Even death!  For major surgery you must come up with a minimum cash advance before they will start.  My Niece broke her arm completely in two.  She had to have surgery.  I had to give them P10,000 up front so they would perform the operation immediately.  The total cost was P68,000 including the Doctor.

If your problem requires a CT Scanner or other special type equipment/Doctors, you will have to go to Siliman in Dumaguete or a hospital in Cebu.  There is medical coverage you can buy here, but it doesn't pay much.  Military retirees can get special attention.  If you are on US Medicare/Medicade, you still will have to fly to Guam or Saipan which are Protectorates.  It is said that Medicare is looking to expand to some hospitals in the Philippines.  Some veterans are sent here from Guam for certain procedures already.

I would investigate thoroughly any problems you will need treatment for here.

OWNING PROPERTY

By yourself you can own a condo or townhouse, but no property.  With a Filipina wife you can have property, but inheritance provisions go to the Filipinas children.  No foreigner is allowed to own property in the Philippines, but there are exceptions: 

Foreigners are allowed to own property, especially land, by hereditary succession. This simply means, when your Filipina wife dies, you, as the natural heir, will become the legal owner of her property. However, you cannot sell the property to anyone without permission from the Filipinas children.  If you die, the property passes to the closest living heir of your Filipina spouse.

Every natural child (legitimate or illegitimate) can inherit the property from his/her Filipina mother, even when the child does not have Philippine citizenship.

OVERPAYING

Until you learn the prices of everything, depend on your Filipina to tell you what the price is and to go with you shopping.  They WILL take advantage of you.  When we were buying the Bridal Bouquet I waited outside until my wife got the price.  Then she motioned me to come in.  You should have seen the shop owner's face.  Even with her there the shop owner tried to slip in something else at a high price.  I just listened for the final bill amount, which I already knew.  When I heard the higher amount I just said, "No!"    

Your Filipina may try explaining something about herself or a family member and try to get you to agree before money is mentioned.  I've learned to catch her at these times and I always say, "How much?"  Then either say no or this is all I have.

PET IMPORTS

There are several requirements. One is an Import Permit.  Contact for dogs & cats for permit details is BAI-NVQS at (632)925-4343 or email at quarantine_bai@yahoo.com.  BAI is Bureau of Animal Industry.  Pet relocate can help you with all of the requirements for paperwork, clearances, safety, etc.  The cost to relocate, tickets, excess baggage fees, boarding etc was approximately $1250 in 2008. 

SHOPPING PLACES

If you want a variety of products including some things you easily got in your home country, then you will need to live close to a mall.  Dipolog has 120,000 people and has two grocery stores.  Dumaguete now has two big grocery stores..  Lee Plaza, where I finally found ground coffee and Robinsons. 

Here hardware stores carry some automotive parts.  You just have to ask someone.  Also, Filipinos call things by their brand name.  For example, instead of bleach, they say Zonrox.  You will get used to this finally.

Depend on your Filipina to go shopping for you and pay the bills.  She knows where these places are and when they are open.  She can also get the best price if no one sees your non-Filipino face.

TIME, FILIPINO STYLE

When you get here you will discover that people in the Philippines don't use the same exact time as everyone else in the world.  They either advance or delay their clocks to suit some purpose, the reason I don't know yet.  

An example is my wife's school.  They publish that the first class starts at 8AM and all the others start on the hour during the day.  After she got there she noticed all the clocks were set 20 minutes ahead.  This annoyed both of us for two reasons.  1.  She has a son to get off to school etc.  2.  They published the wrong time.

The internet cafes do this same thing.  I think everyone does here.  The local TV channels don't practice on time programming either.  

TRANSPORTATION

Small towns have mostly motorcabs.  These are motorcycles with a cab mounted.  Some places these are to small for a foreigner to be comfortable in.  In Dipolog a foreigner can't even see out of one.  In Dumaguete they are much bigger and more comfortable.  Motorcab prices are running about P6 from anywhere in the city to anywhere in the city.  I live a long way out in Dumaguete.  It cost me and the wife P30 one way.  Big cities like Cebu don't allow motorcabs on many streets.

Small towns don't have taxi cabs, but do have Jeepneys (converted jeep).  Dipolog has a van rental for P2500/day which includes driver.  No rentals without driver.  Dumaguete has a rental service with no driver.  Cebu has several rentals.  Cebu, Manila, Davao and some others have aircon taxis.  It costs about P150 from the airport or pier to about anywhere in Cebu.

There are bus services most everywhere.  Some of these are big nice aircon tourist buses.  Always see how big the seats are before you buy a ticket.  Some are not very good for a big person.

Air transportation is improving.  Dipolog has PAL and Cebu Pacific to Manila every day.  Dumaguete has several flights per day to Manila.  There are now turboprop flights from either place direct to Cebu.

There are big slow boats and some fast boats that travel between islands.  If you are willing to stay in an open bay, then the cost is about P300.  With aircon the cost is P500 for a closed bay and P1200 for a berth room for two.  This room has aircon and its own CR.

Ferry Schedules:  http://www.philippines-travel-guide.com/philippines-ferry.html

http://www.schedule.ph/ 

VETS

http://www.raosubic.com  Veterans Activity Office helps vets with all veterans questions

WATER IN PHILIPPINES

I don't drink the city water.  Not enough chlorine is used to kill bacteria in the old pipes and it can be very dingy looking.  Even Filipino children sometimes get sick from it.  They all eat what is called ice candy here which is made using city water and sometimes well water which has been found contaminated around here.

Purified water is readily available and cheap.  I get three 5 gallon containers about every 4 to 5 days for P105 delivered. You will pay  P300 for the plastic bottles.  There are hot and cold dispenser which costs around P3000.  I turn the hot side off.  To expensive and it isn't that hot.

Water pressure is unpredictable depending on where you are.  Often 200 and 500 gal. tanks are used during the morning hours when everyone is bathing etc.  In Dipolog we had this problem, but in Dumaguete the pressure is fine all the time.

WEATHER HERE

I hope you like hot and humid.  If you can get yourself close to the sea, then do so.  Manila was 37 deg. C the other day.  That is about 98 deg. F.  You'll find Dumaguete to be cooler in the afternoons as the sea to land breezes kick up.  Also, living at higher elevations will get you into steady breezes as well as above the smoke.

Typhoons occur mainly across upper Luzon where Manila is.  They sometimes affect as far south as Leyte.  Seldom do typhoons strike or affect Dipolog area of Northern Mindanao or Dumaguete except they may cause a few storms and heavy rains.  The rainy season was from late July to early November, but now that the climate is changing Dumaguete has heavy rain from November through January so far .  For weather anywhere in the Philippines Click Here

WOMEN OF THE PHILIPPINES

Filipinas generally work hard, play hard and love one man at a time.  If you marry one, usually you will have three hot cooked meals, a clean house, a fun person to be with and an excellent sex life.  Filipinas usually are taught how to please a man and keep a husband.  Many of them are excellent cooks.

Foreign men are in demand among Filpinas.  I get winks and stares even when my wife is with me in the stores.  It makes a guy feel good, especially after the way he was treated in the states.  Most Filipinas are looking for a better life and would like to guarantee some financial security.  They look at men much differently than most expats are used to.  They don't care much if you are old and fat.  They can get a young solidly built good looking Filipino if they want one.  Problem is most Filipinos are poor and don't treat their wives very well.  Sure Filipinas want what other women want, but they get those things by treating their husband the way he wants to be treated.  That's a better deal than most guys say they get married to an American or European women.  Men always pay.  That's a fact, but in the Philippines women give back a whole lot more.  Not all are good, but most.  Take your time and find a good religious woman.

Filipinas are not perfect.  If they get mad, you will just have to wait them out.  When the monthly cycle comes around with my wife, I stay away from her for three days.  She can be hell if I open my big mouth.  Also Filipinas will want you to make decisions about many things she should be taking care of herself.  For example my soon to be wife was asking my permission for her son to collect money as part of a school project.  I hadn't even met her or her son face to face yet.  I'm always asked about spending money.  ADVICE:  When you give your Filipina money, expect her to spend all of it!  Most Filipinas I've known since I've been here couldn't save a peso if it was embedded in their living room floor.  Filipinos seem to think Americans especially have an endless supply of money that never runs out.  Since many have 'Don't Worry About Tomorrow' attitudes, they don't have savings accounts.

Filipinas are extremely loyal to their family.  They are under a lot of pressure try to get things for the family that you can provide.  Having been married and lived here for 4.5 years I can give the following advice:  Don't loan money or go into business with family members. Give what you want to and can give.  I donate to birthdays, but I don't sponsor big dinners.  I try to make sure no one dies because of the lack of medicine or treatment they can't afford.  I take care of toothaches too. 

There are a few bad Filipinas who only want to rip you off.  Take your time and don't let anyone rush you into anything until you know for sure. If one doesn't work out, there are literally thousands more.