From the Central Illinois redneck author of "The Rooster Crows at 4am!," "Lizard Poop!," and "The Philippines Expat Advisor"
New Frog in the Pond in Iloilo! Canadian Expat in the Philippines.
There's a new expat in Iloilo City, and he's one of the most organized people I have ever communicated with since starting this website, PhilippinesPlus.com. He's a Canadian married to a Filipina, and wants to be known as "Señor Frog." Mr. Frog first contacted me a few months ago after purchasing my eBook, "The Philippines: A Guide to Moving & Living in Paradise!" which he graciously said was helpful in his move. He wanted some advice on what type of visa to obtain before moving to the Philippines (I'm currently working on a new eBook that is focusing solely on the visa issue), and by the sound of his "Philippines Adventure" it sounds like the "Balikbayan Privilege"worked out for him. "Señor Frog" already has a joint bank account set up in the Philippines that he arranged while still in Canada. I'm very impressed. Here's an account of his arrival in Iloilo, and he promises to send more episodes of his "Philippines Adventure" that I can post. I think he has a lot of useful information that can help other aspiring future expats to the Philippines.
Our Philippines Adventure. Episode 1 – We’ve finally arrived. By: Señor Frog March 5th, 2011 We left home on Thursday, February 24th, 2011, flying with Air Canada on a 5:00pm flight to Vancouver connecting there with Philippines Airlines for a direct, non-stop to Manila arriving at 4:30am on Saturday, February 26th, 2011.
We crossed the International Date Line some 6 or 7 hours into our 13 hour flight from Vancouver. Having never crossed the Date Line I thought that the Airline would have had some sort of ceremony for those passengers who were experiencing this for the first time by announcing it when it occurred. That was not the case and we crossed quietly and uneventfully with everyone on board likely unaware that it had happened.
Arriving in Manila, we cleared immigration and customs and ‘She Who Must be Obeyed’ was able to have my Balikbayan Privilege issued by the immigration officer, on the spot and for one year, without having any of the documents we were told would be required requested or checked. Total time for both Immigration and Customs was between 5 and 10 minutes; we spent more time claiming our baggage.
Next, we had to get the pets cleared for entry. Fritzie the dog and Nikkie the cat were claimed at the baggage carousel and we proceeded to the Quarantine Inspection. We had obtained an import permit for them from the Philippines Department of Animal Health prior to departure along with all the required Veterinarian and Health Canada certifications that the animals had received all the needed shots, were healthy, fit to travel and posed no threat to the health of other animals in the Philippines.
After paying the permit fee of $7.00 the entire ‘family’ was officially admitted into the Philippines and was free to continue our journey. Total time spent for animal quarantine and inspection was less than 5 minutes. [If you are planning to travel these kinds of distances with your pets, make sure that you book well in advance and make arrangements for their transportation with the Airlines’ Cargo Departments which will save you a huge sum as opposed to shipping those ‘little dears’ as excess baggage as we did.]
We had booked our on-going flight to Iloilo for 12:30pm to give us ample time to get through all the arrival formalities – we could have saved ourselves at least a half day by booking onto the earlier 9:30am flight. In any event, we arrived in Iloilo on schedule at 1:35pm and were met by 5 of ‘She Who Must be Obeyed’s’ family members, who had rented a van and driver to meet and get us home.
Over the several months before departure, I had read extensively about the country and people and I thought that I understood that we were leaving our comfortable existence in a developed country and coming to a third world country with all that that implies. After only my first week in country, I can confirm that everything I have read is completely accurate – the poverty, which is evident almost everywhere, is truly a shock, at least to my North American sensitivities. I’ve never, ever seen anything quite like it.
But I must admit that the people, despite the poverty and all the other challenges they have to face every day are the truly the treasure of this nation. I have been so very well received and welcomed here, by absolutely everyone I have come into contact with.