Americans Living Illegally in the Philippines

How many Americans are living in the Philippines illegally? After posting a recent article about illegal Filipino aliens in the United States, I thought it would be only fair to explore the issue of Americans residing in the Philippines with current or expired visas. Now in my opinion, if you’re a foreigner staying in  this archipelago of 7,107 islands, and your visa has expired or you have stayed past your original 21 day grace period allowed when first entering this country  and have not filed for a temporary extension,  you are an illegal alien. Photo from Flickr What’s the penalty for visa expiration? According to the Philippine Bureau of Immigration website: “if expired, additional fees for the following: Fine for overstaying per month P500, Motion for Reconsideration P510.” So if you want to leave the Philippines, you could be paying a substantial fine depending on how long you have been here. In the past it was possible to pay the fine right at the Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, but violators are now being directed to the main Bureau of Immigration Office in Intramuros, Manila, where I am headed  this coming Tuesday to convert my Temporary 13(a) Visa to a 13(a) Permanent Visa.

I have no idea on how many American expats are living in the Philippines illegally.  However, the Philippine Bureau of Immigration website reported that 142 illegal aliens were deported from the Philippines in 2008, and nine of those were Americans. And a recent March 25, 2011 report from the Immigration website noted that two U.S. fugitives were recently sent back to the United States. Destor Cabasada Gatchalian and Alan Brian Carillo,  were deported  aboard a Philippine Airlines flight to San Francisco, California. Gatchalian, 39, is a wanted child rapist, while Carillo, 29, was charged with multiple counts of mail fraud. It was determined  that the deportees were both undocumented aliens at the time of their arrest as their passports were already revoked by the US State Department. They are now banned from re-entering the Philippines as a result of their inclusion in the immigration blacklist.

I only have met one American, “Mickey,” not his real name, that I encountered at the SM Hypermarket in Iloilo, who told me his visa had expired quite a long time ago. Since “Mickey” evidently has no plans to return to the United States soon, and is engaged to a Filipina while still married to one, I guess he isn’t too concerned about staying in the Philippines illegally.

Frankly, though the law requires a person to always carry their passport, I never carry mine with me unless I’m going on a flight to Manila or Cebu or, of course, going to the Immigration Office. I do, however, carry my Alien Certificate of Registration card with me, though I just obtained that last June. Before that if I ever needed to show any ID, I just offered my Illinois Driver’s license. No one, absolutely no one, has ever stopped me and asked for my passport. I doubt that anyone will ever stop “Mickey,” either. So if you entered the Philippines and decided to stay without having any visa, my guess is that you probably could do that without ever being detected. But why in the world would you want to do that?

More than 65,000 foreign nationals  did travel to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for their annual report this year (I was one of those 65,000) , according to statistics from the immigration bureau’s alien registration division. That’s 5,123 more than registered last year. That figure does not include those who take advantage of the Balikbayan Privilege (those foreigners who have a Filipina spouses are the only ones who can use this type of visa and do not have to register for the annual report.) Those who do not comply with the annual report may be subjected to criminal sanctions and deportation for violating the Alien Registration Act of 1950 as amended.

Any American expats out there know of any fellow American living in the Philippines illegally? Of course I wouldn’t want any real names used, just curious if “Mickey” is an isolated case or not. I certainly don’t promote such activity, and I don’t condone illegal aliens back in the States, either, and I absolutely intend to follow the immigration laws in my new home country. It just makes sense to me.

(Visited 51 time, 51 visit today)

160 Comments on Americans Living Illegally in the Philippines

  1. Christine // 05/08/2011 at 5:02 am //

    About time we start deporting child sex predators. We have enough home grown ones as it is. We don’t need to import them as well! Interesting how they always come to Asia to prey and then to hide. Gives the rest of you good guys a bad name.

    • Christine, I wish they would round up all the child sex predators in the Philippines and let the families of the victims mete out some justice to them. Then deport whatever is left of them back to their home country, preferably in a wooden box.

      • Amen!

      • John Thompson // 05/08/2011 at 10:17 pm //

        The box would be a waste of wood. Just do a same day burial at sea in a sheet. I suspect that, like any where else, you would never be asked for a visa unless you were drawing negative attention to yourself.

        • I agree John Thompson, that drawing negative attention to yourself would probably be the only time you would be asked to present a passport. Even when my wife and I went to the police station in Iloilo last year and filed a complaint about the female army major that assaulted my asawa at SM City, no one asked me for my passport (I did have my Alien Certificate of Registration card in my wallet, ready to present it if asked.)

    • Papa Duck // 05/08/2011 at 11:56 am //

      Christine

      I think alot of these child predators come to Asia because of the Lax enforcement of child exploitation. Countries like Thailand and Cambodia come to mind. Take care.

      • Yes,Papa Duck, How about Laos & Vietnam? Vietnam has cleaned up on this sort of thing awhile ago. Laos is still digging up land mines from the war that never existed there! It’s going to take a great regional effort to stop the abuse of “PEOPLE”!

      • I’ve heard that enforcement is lax in those countries, Papa Duck. Unfortunately in the Philippines, I think there are some officials who will gladly look the other way for a few pesos.

    • hi, i am going to the philippines next april to get married and hopefully stay there, i want to get a permanent visa but unfortunately i dont have $10,000, but my feance is working at a call centre and i am gonna be breeding highbreed pigs, is there any other way i can get to stay without becoming an ilegal imigrant, i am from the uk, any help would be apreciated, cause i have just sold my house and furniture and my job finishes in january, so i have nothing to come back for and my fiance doesnt want to go to the uk either, i just want to be with her, i dont want to get married then have to leave her to go back to the uk to nothing, i just hope and pray i can stay, so if anyone can help with any advice great, thanks steve.

      • Steven, here’s my advice. Since you mention $10,000 I suspect you are referring to the Special Retiree’s Resident Visa (SRRV.) From the Philippine Bureau of Immigration Website: Who may apply for Special Retiree’s Resident Visa (SRRV)?

        A retiree who applies for a Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV) has the option to enroll to the program based from his retirement status.

        Retirement Option and their Required Time Deposit

        With Pension – 50 years old and above – the required time deposit is US$10,000.00 plus a monthly pension of US$800.00 for a single applicant and US$1,000 for couple.
        Without Pension
        35 to 49 years old – US$50,000.00 time deposit
        50 years old and above – US$20,000.00 time deposit

        OK, YOU DON’T NEED THAT. Keep in mind I’m NOT an immigration lawyer or a lawyer of any kind. However, you have stated that you are going to get married in the Philippines when you arrive in April. Here’s my suggestion and what I did. Once you get married and get the necessary documents from the National Statistic Office in the Philippines, Marriage Certificate, your wife’s birth certificate, your wife can sponsor you for a 13(a) Permanent Resident Visa. My wife did, and I obtained it this past May. It does not cost 10,000 USD, around 7,000 pesos. 102 GBP or 158 US Dollars.

        Now the process to obtain a Permanent Visa is way too long and detailed to put in this comment. I’ve detailed my process in obtaining this Permanent Visa in my eBook, “The Philippines: A Guide to Moving & Living in Paradise!” You could also briefly leave the country for a few days and re-enter the Philippines after you are married by taking advantage of the Balikbayan Visa, Privilege. Doesn’t cost a thing and you can up to a year or longer. Check out my article on the balikbayan. Or you could renew your visa every two months or so and shell out 3,000 to 6,000 pesos each month. Whatever you do, DON’T STAY HERE ILLEGALLY.

        I tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to send you a link to get a free copy of my eBook. I’ll send it to the email you have listed on this comment. I want to try and help you. I have over 75 pages of my book which specifically deals with obtaining a visa to the Philippines and as mentioned before, has a detailed section on how to obtain a permanent visa. Good luck and congratulations on your upcoming marriage. Let us know how things work out.

  2. Christine, yes, these guys give us all a bad reputation. When I go out walking with my 13 year old niece, I sometimes get dirty looks from women and we both can get comments from Filipino guys. It’s really upsetting to both of us. Bob

    • Christine // 05/08/2011 at 1:09 pm //

      That’s just what I mean Bob. It is sad that the ones who genuinely love the Philippines are suspected of child abuse even in company of their own families.

      And I agree with you Dave. They need to get rounded up and deported. But as Papa Duck pointed out, there is lax enforcement of child protection laws. or perhaps it is correct to say that enforcement is haphazard. Also very poor parents look in the short term and just accept payment so they will keep quiet. There is no easy answer really.

      • Yep, it would be hard to round up all of the predators, Christine, as you pointed out. There are laws on the books, but like you say the enforcement is haphazard, and unfortunately some of the very poor parents are selling their own children. Very sad.

    • It’s a shame, Bob, that you get those kind of reactions from the locals. I understand how you feel. I would get looks sometimes in Guimaras from the locals when I would just walk to the local pan del shop with my 16-year-old twin nieces that used to live with us. Too bad some people misjudge us because of the actions of some morons.

  3. Murray // 05/08/2011 at 8:52 am //

    I know of one pommy (english) guy who has been here eight years and has never extended his visa. He is soon to leave the Philippines in a pine box, eight years of drinking a large bottle of emperador daily has finally caught up with him.

    • I’m sure there are quite a lot of foreigners doing what the “pommy” did, Murray (btw, never heard that term before.) Well, the poor guy won’t have to worry about paying any fine for overextending his stay.

      • Pommy is what New Zealanders and Australians call English people. It is derived from the fact that when the convicts were shipped from England to Australia they wore shirts with POM stenciled on the back. It means property of mother england.

        • Thanks for that info, Murray. ;-)

          By the way, I’m leaving in just a few short hours for Manila, and since I plan to be in the Immigration Bureau in Manila all day tomorrow, will not have the opportunity to respond to comments in a timely fashion. Any posts you see published in the next few days have already been written and scheduled to automatically post. Thanks for your patience!

          • Christine // 05/09/2011 at 11:01 pm //

            Oh, I always thought POM meant “Prisoners of Mother England”, Murray.
            but thanks for the clarification.

          • Papa Duck // 05/10/2011 at 7:23 pm //

            Dave

            Be safe on your trip to Manila!

          • Thanks, Papa Duck. Looks like we’ll be here sometime past May 20th. I’m sitting in front of a fan in my brother-and-sister-in-law’s 2nd story bedroom trying to catch up on all my comments. Pretty warm in Manila, but they’re letting us sleep in an extra bedroom with air con. About 36 degrees Celcius, 97 F and humid.

  4. Murray // 05/08/2011 at 9:49 am //

    Dave how do you know when you have to turn up for the annual report.

  5. But we also have to keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of customers for paid sex, including underage girls, are Filipinos, not foreigners.

    • Christine // 05/08/2011 at 4:04 pm //

      I heard that the Koreans pays big money for virgins, Bob. And guess at what age would you likely find virgins??

      • Hi Christine, There are very sick people in this world,that know exactly what they are doing. Find them & Prosecute them,whether local or from abroad,to the FULLEST PHILIPPINES LAW.

        • Or,Christine. How about exposing the people in POWER,to enforce what they preach? Maybe some danger whith this? What do you think? Peace

          • Hi Christine,Would there be trouble if you exposed some one in Power,that did not take care of the people that they represent? Like the so many Children that have no access to a “free” education in the Provinces(Leyte,for example)? Poverty is Rampant! Keep the dialoge going,please. The more that some people are in denial about what’s going on is absurd! Thanks.

        • Papa Duck // 05/10/2011 at 7:40 pm //

          Being in Law Enforement, convicted Sex offenders have to register everytime they get released from jail or change there address. It’s a good way of keeping track of them. You will be put right back in jail for not registering or not notifying of change of address. Would be nice of he Philippines had a system like that.

          • It would be great if the Philippines also had such a policy, Papa Duck, though I doubt that it would be enforced to any degree here. Many good laws on the books, but not that much enforcement of some of them.

    • Didn’t know that Bob. I guess when the customer turns out to be a foreigner, it makes the news more often.

  6. I know one fellow, US-type, who has been in the Philippines 27 or 28 years now with no visa. No need to renew your passport, either, if you aren’t going to bother keeping things up to date … save a few bucks that way.

    I’m sure there are plenty others with no visa. It’s really not much different than the USA … one could live for many years there with no visa, a couple hundred thousand Filipinos do.

    RE the annual report/head tax …from January first until the end of February, each and every year. Balikbayan Privilege holders are exempt as well as SRRV holders.

    • 28 years? Wow! That’s a long time, Dave, but it’s very possible to do here. Or in the States, too, as you mention. I’m just a bonehead that wants to stay out of trouble, so that’s why I’m going to apply for my Permanent Visa and make my life in the Philippines even more worry and stress free. ;-)

      • John Thompson // 05/09/2011 at 10:01 am //

        Have to remember that a lot of the natives there have no documentation. Melyn’s parents and siblings have none. Melyn’s birth certificate was not spelled correctly. We worried about that a little when we were working on her immigration. I guess everybody saw how lovable she is and didn’t notice the error.

        • That’s true, John, a lot of the natives do not have any documentation. My mother and father-in-law do not have any birth certificates. The family just estimate their ages to be around 77. You are very fortunate that Melyn is so loveable. I’ve heard some horror stories of slighter errors that you mention, and paperwork being delayed.

          • Monty Man // 05/10/2011 at 4:30 am //

            My wife and daughter’s birth certificates both have errors. Data entry is terrible in the Phils. Also, tried to open bank accounts for my brother- and sister-in-law, but they don’t have documentation. So, no bank accounts. We are working on that, but, as you say, many natives just don’t have any.

          • Good luck on getting those accounts opened, Monty Man. Maybe you can make friends with the bank manager like that gregarious and charming Dave Starr. Good luck.

  7. Dave,
    For sure there must be many more foreigners staying illegal in the Philippines. This Micky isn’t the only one.
    But do yo know how many Filipinos are illegal in the rest of the world? There must be thousands.
    I know of a few cases that they have come to Europe as a tourist, and just dissapear but never go back to the Philippines. Many are living in Italy but also in other countries in Europe. It must be the same in the US and Canada.

    Jan

    • Yes, Jan, I did a recent article about illegal Filipinos in the United States, and the figure of illegal Pinoys is estimated to be about 270,000. I think a lot of Filipinos that do go to another country on a tourist visa and do not leave might be desperate to find a job and help support their family back in the Philippines. I’m not saying that is the right thing to do, but I suspect that might be the reasoning behind it.

  8. I don’t even know any other Americans around here. I know their are some here, but none on a permanent basis that I’m associated with. That’s fine with me by the way. I know some people that visit here and plan to move here someday, but not yet.

    • I’ve recently met a great new friend, John, an American expat by the name of “Brother Tom.” He’s invited my wife and I to go mountain biking in Guimaras, but we have to wait until we finish our business in Manila.

  9. Paul Agey // 06/12/2011 at 1:33 pm //

    I moved with myasawa to Iloilo in January 2002. The only time I was asked to present a residency visa or ACR was when I opened my bank account. I am sure there are a few guys like Mikey around. But as long as they maintain a low profile and stay away from the sex tourism places, most likely they would never be discovered. I just don’t think Immigration is a big issue here in the Philippines.

    • Wow, you’re a veteran expat, Paul! Thanks for all of the info you’ve already shared in your other comments. Yep, only time I was asked about an ACR was when my asawa and I went to a bank to inquire about opening an account. You’re probably right, as long as a person maintains a low profile and stays out of trouble, like Mikey, they’ll probably be OK. I just got my Permanent Visa, though, I just don’t want to have to worry about such stuff and want to stay legal.

  10. Great blog,

    I am a writer/entrepreneur who lives in Los Angeles (and part time in PH).

    Wow…I must admit, I have met a few Americans that either have or are currently living in PH -illegally. In thier defense, they had awkward circumstances and the Philippines isn’t the type of place that one would WANT to leave. Plus, many expats (flee the stress-filled, 60-hours a week, working-class, hustle til-you-die life in the States) tend to fall in love with the hospitality and village-style life in places like Bohol.

    Though, I am a fan of Manila and Wack Wack Country Club, I too am in the process of making the PH home -or at least dual-residency of sorts.

    I will also add, most Filipinos living in America talk-down on the PH. I had very mixed emotions prior to my 1st PH Tour…many Pinoy friends in LA actually crticized me for investing in business in the Philippines and denied me even the slightest moral support.

    Truth is, the more of us Americans that expand to the PH to live OR spend the holiday, the more people out there talking-up the PH. I have never met an American -in the US or PH- that doesn’t love it! And, whom doesn’t tell everyone about it…just look at all of the blogs, articles and how-to books. The haters actually inspired me to launch The Philippines Magazine earlier this year (www.ThePhilippinesMagazine.com).

    Cheers!
    Kareem
    kareem@KareemAntonio.com

    • Thanks for your insight, Kareem. I sadly also have heard some negative comments from Filipinos living in the United States critical of the Philippines and wondering why in the world we would even move here. Many Filipinos living here are always expressing their wish to visit the United States or live there someday. I honestly don’t think they know how great the Philippines really is. Sure, it has its share of problems, and its tough for a lot of folks to even survive, but I’m glad we made the move. I surely don’t hate the United States, never will, but I appreciate my new home and all the friendly, helpful people. Good for you for not listening to the haters and good luck on your magazine.

  11. There are many foreigners living in the PH without visas. They are mostly retired men from countries like Germany & USA, but found their pension too low to continually pay for visas. They have no intention of returning to their country of origin. Most are living/married to local women. The ones that have been caught end up paying bribes to the local immigration officer. Sometimes it’s cheaper to do that, other times not.
    If you overstay because of expired visa, you are treated as a criminal, nothing to do with rape, just money!
    As far as i know, if your visa runs out, no one comes looking for you. just remember that the visas are there to make extra income for guv officials. Seeing as there is so much corruption anyway, so long you have no desire to leave, why not!
    I last paid for an extension on my visa this year, 3100ophp +, I only needed 6 days…Mahal!!!

    • You make some good points and offer some valuable insight, Mindorogold. Being married to a Filipina who sponsored my 13a Permanent Visa this past May, I don’t have to get my visa renewed anymore. Just have to get a new Alien Certificate Registration card every five years instead of renewing it annually and report to my local immigration office at the first of each year and pay P310 for my annual report as a foreigner.

      You’re right about no one coming after you, but like you stated, as long as you don’t have to leave the Philippines. No one will be knocking at your door at 2 am asking for your passport. I just wanted to make sure I was in my new homeland legally and intend to follow the rules. Thanks for your input.

  12. will the u.s. embassy turn one of its own citizens over to philippine immigration for an expired visa?

    • Interesting question, Bob. I wonder how the U.S Embassy would even know that a person had an expired Philippine visa. I’m researching your question now, but if anyone has any answers for Bob’s question please feel free to jump in. Thanks.

  13. i need to file for s.s. benifits,so they will know im here illegally.long story but no money to keep my visa up to date.rather be poor though than sit in a philippine jail awaiting deportation for an immigration crime.

    • OK. Bob, I understand. Well, for the benefit of our readers out there, going to jail is a possibility if you do not follow the immigration laws of the Philippines. Here’s what the U.S. Department of State’s website states: “Persons who overstay their visas are subject to fines and detention by Philippine immigration authorities. U.S. citizens are urged to remain aware of their visa status while in the Philippines and to strictly follow immigration laws and regulations. ”

      I have no experience with filing for Social Security benefits though hopefully it will be still available when I do file in about two years from now. But I understand that I would have to go to Manila six months in advance to apply for those benefits where I’m sure I would have to present proof of a valid updated visa to stay in the Philippines. I have a 13 Permanent Visa sponsored by my Filipina wife so I don’t have to worry about renewing my visa any more, because like yourself, I, and I suspect most of my readers, do not want to spend any time in a Philippine jail awaiting deportation. That said, I have no way to determine what the U.S. Embassy would do. I know that the fine could also be imposed for your overstay instead of detention, but I know the amount of the fine is in correlation to how long your visa has expired. Bob, you’re in a situation, that’s for sure. I would encourage you to find a way somehow to update that visa and take care of the problem, but I suspect with the risk of jail time and the lack of funds, that is not an option you would probably pursue. Anyone else got any thoughts out there? I know I haven’t been of any help, but frankly, I’m at a loss as to what to tell you.

  14. hahaha,a situation?if you only knew.i am a diabetic with a debilitating back condition,no money for insulin or blood pressure medicine and unable to work…not to mention my wife is a bipolar filipina and i have a daughter that was born in the states who really gets poor nutrition.

  15. yes sir,damn near out of options.

  16. what would be the cost for a one year overstay?

    • Bob, here’s what I found on the Philippines Bureau of Immigration website:

      MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
      PARTICULARS
      AMOUNT
      Motion for Reconsideration (MR Fee)
      P 500.00
      Administrative Fine (for every year of overstay)
      (18 months overstay considered two years)
      5,000.00

      Certification Fee (For every transaction) 500.00
      Express fee (Certification) 500.00
      Express fee (For every month extension) 500.00
      Legal Research Fee (LRF) for each item P 10.00
      Total Ρ 7,010.00

      Requirements:

      Passport
      Photocopy of passport, (bio-page, latest arrival and latest extension)
      Application form for extension of stay
      Special Power of Attorney duly notarized if applied by a representative
      Motion for Reconsideration (MR) and payment of MR fee
      If overstaying for more than six (6) months, letter request for extension of stay addressed to the Commissioner

  17. Felicia // 02/03/2012 at 3:41 pm //

    The immigration process and visa updating in the Philippines is an absolute joke and legal crime against foreigners to steal their money. It’s actually taking away from those who could have been paid the money at their restaurant or store or wherever the foreigner would have spent it.
    I was in an empty visa office a few weeks ago and all of the foreign records, books with data in them and stacks and stacks of papers of so many persons’ identities and private information in there unattended and exposed for anyone to grab.
    Visa in other countries are necessary as the officials keep track of their presence but in the Philippines you could die here and no one would come looking for you. They wouldn’t even know. They would just spend your precious expensive fees. What a shame. 21 days visit only. No wonder so many tourists decide to go elsewhere for vacations. It’s really too crowded here anyway and noisily polluted not to mention almost every vehicle smoking badly. Dirty, filthy and unpainted places. What’s so good to warrant so much visa fees? Funds coming from other countries are stolen and kept from intended purposes by not only government but by corrupted persons.
    When the visa crap steps in between my fiance and me I think it’s time to re consider our final retirement home.

    • Well, Felicia, it might be safe to assume you may have had a recent bad experience in your local immigration office. I can relate. I have a 13(a) Permanent Visa to stay in the Philippines, sponsored by my Filipina wife, which enables me to stay in the Philippines indefinitely. It wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences, but it’s over with, and I’m glad. Only have to report to my local Immigration office at the beginning of the year to register as a foreigner and plunk down 310 pesos for that. I am extremely happy that I do not have to go back to the Manila office, or any other office for that matter, to extend my visa. Just get my ACR, Alien Certificate Registration Card renewed every five years aside from the annual report.

      That said, it took over nine months and tons more of paperwork along with much greater expensives to obtain a “Permanent Visa” (good for 14 years, the “green card,” but already absolete since my wife has been in the Philippines for two straight years without going back to the States.) Of course, my Filipina wife could not join me in the United States when we got married in January of 2000 until that paperwork was finished. Didn’t have that issue in the Philippines. Arrived in July 2009 with my wife and used the Balikbayan privilege. Haven’t been back to the States since. There is absolutely no comparison between the United States Immigration Office in Chicago versus the much friendlier folks I encountered at the Main Bureau of Immigration office in Intramuros in Manila. But I also wasn’t approached by “fixers” at the Chicago office, however.

      We’re here to stay. Crowded? You need to visit the province. I couldn’t live in the Metro Manila area, that is way too crowded and polluted for me. But I like our area, Iloilo, and I’m enjoying our retirement. But thanks for your input and your insight. Paradise? Nope, but we’re comfortable, and I’m happy to give up the rat race. Take care.

  18. Anthony // 03/08/2012 at 10:28 pm //

    I arrived in the Philippines, June 2011. I got married on July 2. My wife is a Filipino. I recently accepted a position in China. My wife and I are leaving on March 18. The problem is my visa expires on March 14. My question is, do I have to renew my visa before I can leave or is there a grace period. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Anthony

    • Anthony, there is no grace period at Immigration. I assume you are returning to the Philippines at some point? If your wife is gone over a year, she can avail of the Balikbayan Privilege (visa) and as long as you both return to the PH together, can enter the Philippines without any problems. Just have a NSO copy of your marriage contract with you.

  19. luke short // 03/14/2012 at 10:45 pm //

    i’m an american on social security and i’ve been married to a great fillipina since 1989 (married in manila). she works to hard in america for the little that she gets paid. we want to sell our house and move to the philippines. i have two questions. #1. i used marijuana for back problems long ago and as a result i have marijuana felony convictions on my record…..will this prevent me from living in the philippines? what does NSO copy of marriage contract mean? i have found copies of our marriage contract from the courth house in manila. Question #2 is about the american silver eagles that we have, is there anyway to safely bring them into the philippines?
    How do we bring our money into the philippines when we go? and are banks safe there in the philippines?

    thanks for any help,
    lj

    • Well, Luke, first of all, I congratulate you on having the smarts to marry a Filipina. I have to honestly say, however, I’ve never had anyone pose your question before. Anyone have any thoughts on Luke’s situation? I think you might be able to obtain a passport, depending on how long ago your convictions were, but will the Philippines admit you? That’s a whole different ballgame.

      NSO copy of marriage contract? The NSO, or National Statistic Office of the Philippines keeps records of births, marriages, etc. An NSO-certified copy of your marriage contract is necessary (though they did not ask me for one) when entering the Philippines and your spouse wants to “avail” of the Balikbayan privilege (visa.) Such NSO copies are needed for 13a Permanent Visas and other purposes. Since you have found copies of your marriage contract from the courthouse in Manila, you should be obtain the official copies of the contract from NSO. Here’s a LINK to NSO online services.

      The carrying of foreign currency in excess of US$10,000.00 or its equivalent in other foreign currencies must be declared to a Customs Officer or the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. VIolation of this rule may lead to seizure and sanctions, fines and / or penalties. How can you safely bring in your cash? I carried mine, less than 10,000 USD, in a money belt. No problems.

      Are banks in the Philippines safe? The maximum deposit insurance is P500,000. Note that’s PESOS, not dollars. At today’s exchange rate that’s about 11,661 USD. I would go with a more established bank like BDO or BPI, but every expat has their own personal favorite.

  20. luke short // 03/16/2012 at 1:18 am //

    thanks alot dave:
    we can use the balikbayans visa when we get to manila. maria has to go in person to chicago to renew her expired philippine passport (before the phoney “war on terror”, she could do it through the mail).
    her brother is a good mechanic and i’m planning on sending him the money to buy a good sized jeepney. i’m getting $1187 a month in social security dissability and can get a few hundred dollars more each month from a small pension from a tool and die job that i had. i expect the american dollar to collapse this year (2012). i should be able to go to the va hospital in manila (i do go the one here because our joint income is low enough that we’re considered “destitute”. but the VA “lost” all of my medical records and this makes me unable to use the VA in manila. i should have been getting a dissability check from my injuries for the past 40+ years, but that’s how america treats most of us here. i have to deal with alot of pain but i’ll have to do without pain medication once i get there
    i’m thinking about heading north of manila into higher altitudes and cooler weather when we get there….or is that a bad idea?……….where would you head if you were me? i will not live in manila and prefere a roural set up like you have there. is it possible to transport a jeepney from island to island?

    thanks alot
    luke short

    • We were supporting a total five people on about what your disability pension is Luke. But that was in the rural province of Guimaras. We pay 138 USD a month for our rental home outside of Iloilo City in a nice modern subdivision. Would I recommend going to higher altitudes to try and escape the heat? Not personally. My wife always worries about landslides in those regions with higher elevations plus chances are you’re not going have easy access to healthcare and major shopping areas.

      Every expat out there has their own opinion where to live. I would recommend our area, Iloilo, on Panay Island in Western Visayas. Iloilo City is close by and has excellent medical facilities and great shopping areas. Iloilo City has around 400,000 people or so and for a big city has a small town flavor. Lots of friendly people. It’s always good to check out different areas and see how you like them.

      Can you transport a jeepney? I believe so, if you use the RORO, roll on roll off, ferries found throughout the Philippines. Good luck to you.

  21. Hey Luke. Remember when you head to cooler temps, the cost of living usually increases, and not because of amenities. Dave is right. Also, at these tropical latitudes, the farther north you go, the higher the frequency of typhoons. The central Visayas has a lower typhoon frequency, or fewer storm tracks per se, and in some areas can experience micro climates, both in and out of the dry winter northeast monsoonal wind pattern. I used to forecast weather for this region years ago and the climates can vary somewhat from area to area. “Go south young man, go south!”

    • Thanks for the weather advice, Randy, I appreciate that. Didn’t know you were a weather forecaster. And to be honest, in our region of the Visayas, Western Visayas, we have not suffered any typhoon damage in nearby Guimaras, where my asawa’s house is located, since our arrival in July 2009. However, in 2008 Typhoon Frank caused a massive amount of flooding in Iloilo. The city has put some flood control measures in since Frank hit, but in general, we have not had any storms and severe flooding problems to speak of. Good advice, Randy.

  22. luke short // 03/18/2012 at 6:18 am //

    dave….i ‘m really glad to have run across your website and to have the input of some very interesting folks here….my LUCKY DAY! my new destination is south of manila….and to randys words “go south young man, go south” are stuck in my mind.
    i’m not a “drug addict”, don’t smoke or drink. i just happenned to have experienced a terrible youth and i have no memory before 3 weeks past my 5th birthday. i don’t want to get into it, but it involved the horrible death by fire of my 3 year old younger half brother and a nightmare of a life untell i went into the navy at 17. the people of the philippines were the finnest people that i met durring all the time that i spent on the uss saratoga (an aircraft carrier). i had 4 birthdays on that ship…19th to my 22nd. i didn’t smoke pot untell i was aboard that ship for two years and it helped, (what i learnned was complex PTSD, from watching my brother burn to death and the abuse that my old man done to me after ). 5 months after i got out of the navy, i was driving my motorcycle and was hit head-on by a 1964 dodge coupe. broke my neck, messed up my limbs and it messed up my back. lots of people have had worse things happen to then then me.
    i would never have brought maria to america if i wasn’t what i concidered “normal”. i had an associate degree in mechanical technology and had worked over 5 years as a tool and die machinist in a machinning factory, owned this little house and had a pension, pluss two beautifull harleys, one a 1947 knucklehead.
    well things went real bad after they brought a rat into our company of 250-300 after he testified against 65 some odd people at a federal grand jury hearring involving this meth, crack, whatever you call it. i’ve never done any of this stuff…..i only smoked pot for pain and what i learnned was this PTSD. and i haven’t messed with pot since i got out of prison. some states in america prescribe medical marijuana for both of my conditions……but not iowa.
    maria and i married in 1989 and she couldn’t come here untell march of 1990. durring that time, her mother took her to message school and she has a diploma from this school and “fingers from god”. her mother taught her how to cook filipina style and she is famous for it here.
    she “works my back and neck out daily”. and with her cooking skills and her excelence in english and tagalog language………i’m thinking that she could bring in some income from these talents? the only family members that i would allow , do not drink, smoke or take any drugs……most are children. they would be an asset to any community.i’m thinking about a “compound in daves’ area in the guimaras”. does this sound feasible to you folks?
    i have one half sister in iowa who i can trust…..she’s married to a very wealthy farmer and i can trust giving “power of attorney” to my sister , without any loss of sleep.
    i would like for my wife (she’s only 42) to own some land, for a compound type of set up. she has three younger hard working brothers, one is a good mechanic, pluss 7 children aged 10 down to 3. anyone would love to have them as freinds and good neighbors.
    america is on it’s last leg. i am against the united nations who the american military works for…..going from country to country, killing innocent families who are like me and hopefully you folks, just wanting to live a peacefull existance.
    i have not alot of money…..and the day is near when the american dollar is no longer wanted by the rest of the world.
    but what i do have and whatever we get for our small home, i want to set my wife up in the best way possible.
    i’m going to post this now and get back to cleanning the yard. i hope to maybe meet some of you folks one day…….but we’re bound for llilo city straight off and maybe meet dave (if he’s willing) somewhere in those guimaras islands

    good health to you all
    lj
    psycholj@hotmail.com

    • Well, Luke, you’ve had a hard life and that’s putting it mildly. I’m glad you found my website, and I think you’ll find a lot of good people that read it and make some interesting and helpful remarks. Those of those that are fortunate to have married Filipinas, like myself, or have Filipina girlfriends, know how blessed we really are.

      Be glad to meet you in Iloilo or Guimaras any time. It doesn’t take as much money to live here as it does in the States, but since you do have a regular pension that you mentioned in a previous comment, I think you’ll be fine. Just depends on your location and your lifestyle. Of course I highly recommend the Iloilo area I live in. Only 138 US Dollars a month to rent this modern two-bedroom home. Great subdivision. I’m not recommending Guimaras itself as a place to settle down and life because of the lack of medical facilities and shopping outlets. We spent over two years in Guimaras, and it was getting to be too big of a chore to haul our groceries back and forth. Not much to do there, either. We find Iloilo to be just right for us.

      Again, I would recommend visiting several places to see how you like them, but I would be glad to help you out in any way I could. Lots of expats in the area, with tons of good advice AND connections. That always helps. Thanks for sharing your story and take care.

  23. jeffrey // 03/27/2012 at 2:50 pm //

    Hi im moving to manila in june or shortly after(plane tickets so costly)..im gonna marry my girlfriend who is philipino and lives in manila but from another province…what all do i need visa wise to live there with her before and after we marry…please any help would be great..i really want to be there for her and our daughter…thank you

    • Jeffrey, before your 21-day entrance visa expires you’ll need to get it extended. Once you are married, your wife can sponsor you for a 13a Permanent Resident Visa. That’s what my wife did. I never have to go back to Immigration to get my visa extended, just get my Alien Cerificate Registration card renewed every five years and report once a year to my local immigration office for my annual report as an alien. If you choose not to get the 13a visa I mentioned, you’ll have to continually report to Immigration to get your visa extended. Here’s a LINK for the Immigration website. Good luck.

  24. Ben Arnold // 03/27/2012 at 8:40 pm //

    The last government report I read says there’s over 10,000 deserters hiding from the U.S.Government, some of them are even rich business owners who felt patriotic after 9/11 but changed their minds after being a part of what’s going on in the middle east. I sure wish there was a place American could go to get away from America even if they’re in hot water without documents. These are not immoral people, these are heroes who have decided to leave instead of start a civil war against a nation that has become too big of something else. I’ve contemplated contacting enemy nations to see if they’d like the idea of slapping America in the face by accepting and patriating 10,000 noble God fearing men and women who were proud to wear the uniform until it began resembling a swazstica instead of a stars and striped flag. I have more battle buddies in the military Kansas prison than in Afghanistan now. It’s rediculous. And most of them came forward before hand to say that they had a problem and were losing their mental function due to radiation or collision or being shot or killing other human beings who were women and children and so on. And nobody listened, nobody cared, and they slipped up and now are in prison, or else fled to another nation. I know the Americans living in the paradise of the Philippines don’t want anybody spoiling their paradise, I wish there was somewhere that people who don’t want to be Nazi’s can find a home. Guess they’re Gypsies now. At least the Pope loves Gypsies and pleads with European nations to accept them and be kind to them. But even that’s not enough, the European people so far have been touched in their hearts but then went back to kicking Gypsies into the mud about a hour after the Pope’s pleadings. I don’t think America deserters even get an hour of respect or moment of silence from Americans who just switch the channel. Sorry to be negative. It’s a shame that countries like Australia where our most decorated ex-patriots went to carry on their lobbying, such as Colonel Hackworth, only accepts about 10% of visa applicants each year. I’m always shocked that only 50 Million people are on that huge island. I’m sure they’re not counting indigenous natives and foreigners. It’s only 10,000 deserters. I’ll stop worrying about it, I’m sure they’ll be given amnesty soon enough. Especially if Ron Paul is elected. Thanks again. Not all illegals are immoral. The immoral people are usually very easy to recognize, they’re absolutely not normal. Only police can’t recognize them. And loved ones like their parents. But everybody else can recognize when somebody is a freak. But it’s human nature to look the other way and not get involved. One thing I love about salty seasoned veterans is they’re not scared to call it like it is, and say to a man’s face what they’re thinking about that person. And to beat him down when they realize he is a freak. Asians and Filipinos don’t have that luxury, they try not to hurt Westerners just out of common courtesy unless for criminal activity reasons and to get money, but rarely to injure or kill or even beat up. Americans have the right to beat down Americans. In fact China hired Americans to track down and kill human traffickers. Kudos for China. I actually like them. America is something else, it’s not the nation I learned about in the history books. Except where I read about Hitler and Stalin, that sounds a little more like the America I see today. The American people don’t see it yet, but they will, all too clearly, and soon. Stay over-seas, stay away from the western world. That’s my recommendation to the whole world. If not the Philippines, I’d love to find an Island where we could create a nation like what America was supposed to be where people would be free to love peace instead of persecuted for rejecting war. -Ben Arnold

    • Interesting remark, Ben. I have nothing but the utmost respect for our men and women in uniform and for all of our veterans. The treatment some of them receive is absolutely shameful. I’ve been in the Philippines for close to three years now, without any intention now of ever going back to live in the United States. I do not hate America, but I’m extremely disappointed with the way things have been going there for years. All I can see is a further erosion of our rights including what used to be our freedom of speech. I have more rights in the Philippines than I ever had in America. While the Philippines is not a paradise, it is a place that I would recommend for anyone looking for a new start in life and for adventure. It’s rarely dull here, and I don’t regret my move one bit. Thanks for your insight.

  25. Thom Roper // 04/22/2012 at 7:16 pm //

    I am a completely disabled American Vet. I came to the Philippines to marry a filipino and raise a family. I have been here for 20 months, but with the expenses of living and putting my wife through nursing school, we have never had anything left for the visa charges.
    Now I have had a second stroke (March 29) and need to return to the Utah VA hospital for rehab and open heart surgury. I am unable to sit up or walk.
    I have a son that can provide a ticket for me, but none of my friends or my son have the money for the visa extensions.
    My VA pension was suspended on the 1st of April because I did not complete an eligibility report allegedly sent in January. I never received it and have never had to do this before. On the sixteenth of this month I received a letter dated MARCH 16, and according to the postage meter, mailed on the 28th, I was notified of the pending action scheduled for two days later, if I didnt file by the first. The Cebu post office received that on the 10th and delivered it to me on the 16th…I think you can see the pattern.
    I am out of money…COMPLETELY. It most likely will take the VA six months to correct the problem, (based on their historical record). By that time I will have starved to death. I have no money for food, rent, utilities, or medicine. In addition, my wife is about 3 months pregnant.
    What can be done? I would be HAPPY to be deported!

    • Well, Thom, first of all, let me say I’m extremely sorry to hear about your situation. I realize that circumstances sometimes happen where someone finds themselves unable to keep their visa in the Philippines current. Have you contacted the US Embassy in Manila for possible help? Do you have a Congressman or Senator back in the States that you can contact for assistance with the VA? I cannot honestly suggest for you what to do. If anyone reading this has some suggestions for Thom, please feel free to leave a reply.

  26. Thom Roper // 04/24/2012 at 9:21 pm //

    Thanks forthe reply. I did contact the embassy and received an obnoxious letter about how some people think they are destitute but they are not. They suggested that family and friends can bail me out and that before the govt would help I must exhaust the family and friends option, and then apply to the government and list those, with addresses and phone numbers.I will be dead by the time all this is done. As to the senator, they won’t do anything until I first send them a signed letter authorizing them to do so. Aside from the lengthy time that would take, I dont even have money for postage. When the rent and this internet connection run out in six days I will be up the proverbial creek…Im already out of food.
    I’m sooooo proud of my government. Good bye to all, and thanks anyway Dave.

    • I was afraid that was going to be the embassy’s reply, Thom. What you’ve said is pretty much the standard info they have on their website. If you’re a foreigner from the States living in the Philippines, it appears that you’re on your own. It sounds like you’ve exhausted all of your options. If anyone has any suggestions for Thom, please feel free to respond.

      • Doug Pitman // 06/07/2012 at 5:55 am //

        Hello Dave, my name is Doug and I will be moving there hopefully this Sept. to live after I retire here in California. I have a lady that I have been talking to for quiet a while now and we will be finding a place to life and she will be finishing Nursing school but not quiet sure what town to live in yet and hoping to find someone there that knows there way around as a friend. I work here now as a Postmaster so my retirement will be just fine plus I get a little disability from the military. I hope that we can talk and become friends.

        • Hi Doug. Good to hear from you. Glad you’ve met a fine Filipina and are moving to the Philippines. Be glad to chat with you and would recommend a visit to Iloilo City where we live. Would be glad to show you around. Just contact me HERE. Take care.

  27. Thom Roper // 04/24/2012 at 9:24 pm //

    PS. The FIRST thing I did was to contact family and friends but the economy has taken its toll and no one has any extra money.

  28. Hello Dave,

    Your website is amazing, filled with helpful information.

    I can see that you feature Guimaras and Iloilo. Do you live in either place? If you do, I would love to speak with you, as I needed more information for my write ups.

    Ken

    • Hi Kenneth, thanks for the kinds words. I live in Iloilo now, my asawa and I moved to Guimaras, her home place, in July 2009 for 2 1/2 years. Just contact me HERE. Take care.

      • Thank for your reply Dave.

        Wow! good for you. I love Guimaras, one of a kind.

        Your website is a treasure trove of true information.

        Give my best to your asawa.

        Ken

  29. Johnny // 01/26/2013 at 4:13 pm //

    Hey Dave, hope I’m not too late to post here. I will keep it short as I can. I’m in the PH and had my passport and money stolen almost soon as I arrived in Aug 2011 wasn’t able to renew my visa or ACR card which I had from my first visit here. Finally a few months ago had enough money to get a new passport but wondering if they have payment plans to pay for updating the visa and Acr card so I can get work here and get out this hole. have job offer just need to fix my acr and visa. i neva wantd expired stuff

    • Johnny, I doubt that Immigration has any sort of payment plans to help you out in your unfortunate situation. Have you tried contacting the U.S. Embassy in Manila? I’m sure you’re not the first one that this has happened to.

  30. Johnny // 01/26/2013 at 4:18 pm //

    i mean i notice it seems a lot of foreigners here are cool with having things expired and that’s fine for them but im more like you that I desire to be in the position where im not having to worry on such things at ALL. since my things were stolen i have found a great filipina who loves me regardless of being broke which is also how i got the job offer from a mutual friend. guess im jus wonderin also if having the acr card is the same as the visa or do u still pay that separately. my filipina called

    • Johnny, the ACR card is not the same as the visa. If you’re not married to a Filipina and have a Permanent Resident Visa as I, and many others do, you’ll still have to renew your visa. I hope you can work something out. I encourage everyone staying here to keep their visa current. If anyone out there has any advice for Johnny please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks.

  31. Johnny // 01/26/2013 at 4:23 pm //

    immigration on my behalf and was told p500 and then 500 for each month the card been expired. when she asked what about the visa she said they told her i have to speak with someone at the place for that part. that makes me feel weird because im not trying to be arrested when im actually one of the few tryin to do the right thing. i neva find anyone wit my same or similar situation so i tend to feel quite alone n a corner having the fight sucked out of me, yet i still wanna fight for my freedom back..

  32. Johnny // 01/27/2013 at 7:01 pm //

    Thanks so much Dave for the reply. I want to say, I had posted my story some months ago on somebody else blog about these type of things and was shocked they deleted my post. Anyway, when I got my new passport at the US Embassy I asked right away on what would be the deal with whether I renew my card or whatever needs to be done because I have a totally new passport number as well. They just kept telling me they couldn’t advise anything other than I have to take that up with the Philippine Embassy on my own

    • OK, Johnny. Looks like you’ve already covered base with the U.S. Embassy. Sorry to hear they couldn’t offer any help. I’m sure your situation isn’t unique. I don’t know why your post was deleted on a different website. All my comments are moderated whenever a new person makes a remark. Sometimes, remarks that I deem inappropriate for this site are deleted. You’ve been totally respectful in the remarks you have left and I’m hopeful that the friend who has an uncle in Immigration can offer you some assistance. I have no doubt you’re trying to do the right thing.

  33. Johnny // 01/27/2013 at 7:15 pm //

    and yea I too doubt they have such thing as a payment plan. I’m just still at tourist visa level at this point. would have been on work visa a couple years now if not for the situation as at the time everything happened I was due to travel to Manila and scout out a small place to live and accept a job offer which all went away due to the fact I was reduced to nothing in a matter of a day noticing it all too late when I woke up one morning. Like I mention though, my biggest fear is going up to Immigration to

    • I can understand your fear about going to Immigration, Johnny, but I’m sure you’re not going to have peace of mind until you get the matter straightened out. While I have only been asked for my passport when setting up our bank account in the Philippines, no one is going to stop you on the street asking for it. So does the job offer stand if you can get your immigration issues straightened out?

  34. Johnny // 01/27/2013 at 7:22 pm //

    inquire and find out EXACTLY what I need in terms of money and documents just to get hauled off because I don’t have cash in hand at the time of asking them. My filipina has a friend whose uncle works for Immigration here in Manila but I’m afraid because his job is actually arresting foreigners for overstaying. But now the friend will try to inquire of their uncle to see if they offer any advice that can keep me out of trouble and get everything cleared up. One thing though I must say is because of the

  35. Johnny // 01/27/2013 at 7:39 pm //

    Filipinos I have really learned how to stay hopeful and search for answers without destroying myself in the process. and to smile even if you may have a situation you are forced to live in and/or deal with that really sucks. I saw someone else post here I can’t remember the name because I read every single comment here but the guy who was wishing to b deported while being faced with possibly starving to death. i wonder if he know about the Repatriation Loan to get him back to the states. hope he’s okay.

    • Despite the overwhelming poverty many Filipinos face, Johnny, the vast majority of locals I have encountered are hopeful, positive people. I didn’t know about the Repatriation Loan program. Thanks for that info. Here’s a LINK to those interested in checking it out. Let us know how your situation works out, Johnny. I’m hoping for the best.

  36. Johnny // 01/28/2013 at 2:31 pm //

    Yes, I thought it was really weird when the other site did that to me but oh well right? I must go on with my quest you know. I am remaining hopeful as well as I am also searching out other work opportunities that I can do to gain more income to get things accomplished one way or another. I’m definitely not a quitter and even though somethings hard I never give up when I know its for the best. I really appreciate your time and advice. I also read some of your other blogs as well. You have a LOT of great wisdom within these blogs that’s for sure. I think your site is becoming a new past time of mine to read and see other American experiences here that are similar to things I have encountered which some things make me laugh when I can see a comment and think to myself “mmmhmm yep that’s right!” LOL…You are right that I really won’t have perfect peace of mind regarding it until this is resolved. And yes the job offer is waiting for me. I spoke with the HR and recruiting managers already and they have already let me know that they will be there waiting for me to come back with my updated ACR and then we will rock and roll with the entire process of getting me to work. I really love that about Filipino people that they are like you said, vast majority are a very hopeful and even encouraging people which in turn has brought out those qualities in myself more to also share my wisdom more with other when I can. I didn’t know about the Repatriation Loan either, but like I say, in my quest for knowledge and answers I am always draining every minute I’m online to search out whatever I possibly can from whatever possible angle I can think to attack it from. That’s how I stumbled upon the word Repatriation Loan and when I read what it was all about I thought about that guy I mentioned who posted in this topic a while back. I will definitely let you know how things are going and if I find other gems of information that I haven’t already saw someone share here I will do my best to share with the class LOL. Thanks for hoping with me, I do appreciate it. Good vibes are always awesome to have coming my way. And I do hope you and your wife have many many more years of marital bliss here in the Philippines and wherever else you two may go.

    • Johnny, I appreciate your support of this website. I’m always glad to hear from new readers. Your experiences, along with my other readers, helps others out there, which primarily is the goal of my site. I don’t know how much actual “wisdom” I impart as my asawa of 13 years might disagree with that assessment, but thanks.

      I’m confident that you’ll work things out with your visa. You don’t sound like a quitter and the fact that you have a job waiting for you once you get your ACR back and things straightened out is good news. Moving here without any regular monthly means of support like a pension, can be very difficult. Good luck and thanks for keeping us posted. I’m interested to see how this works out for you. Take care.

  37. jenalyn // 01/28/2013 at 3:22 pm //

    Hello I have bf from america and we are planing to get married.. but the problem is that his visa expired and he overstayed here in the philippines. So what we going to do so that he can stay here legally..?

    • Jenalyn, I’m not qualified to give out any legal help but can only offer my opinion. Your boyfriend will have to contact Immigration and work this out, but I would advise NOT going to any fixer. I believe the fine is P500 for each month your boyfriend overstayed. When he gets everything with immigration cared for I would recommend that you sponsor him for the 13a Permanent Visa once you get married. He won’t have to worry about getting his visa renewed every 59 days and the ACR, Alien Certificate Card he receives will be good for five years and renewable after that. Good luck to you both. Hope it works out.

  38. Johnny // 01/29/2013 at 8:39 am //

    yea first I have to say that whoever Jenalyn is she’s definitely not mine. no offense to Jenalyn whoever you are, I just don’t want any trouble from my girl.. but u are right about if someone come here without a regular stream of income as well as savings. I had both but as my ex would have it the accounts and all they contained were ruined. trying to open a new account without a passport and also needing that new account so that your pay direct deposits don’t bounce is like mission impossible, lucky i have

    • Sorry, Johnny. I’m going to delete any reference to you on my response. Just seemed like a coincidence since you have been leaving remarks on the same topic. Ahh, the infamous -ex. Yeah, I had one in the States that booted me out after nine months of marriage. She wanted my pension and alimony. I was fortunate to settle for 400 dollars. She did me the biggest favor of my life. Without her divorcing me, I would have never met my beautiful and loyal asawa of 13 years and be living in the Philippines.

  39. Johnny // 01/29/2013 at 9:10 am //

    a credit union where at that time i was able to get approved for a checking account online, my family back in the states is just holding the card for me. i would never ever risk giving my card or card info to any clerk anywhere in the philippines or the world now for that matter. after having a first hand knowledge of knowing many call center agents here i have become much more on the side of not wanting to pay anything over the phone where the agent can b also writing down your info for their own use later

    • You’re probably wise to do that, Johnny. I don’t have any credit cards and pay everything with cash. I do have an ATM with our local bank in the Philippines but also have an account in the States which I manage online. I’ve found that we can live without the credit cards just fine but in your situation it will come in handy.

  40. Johnny // 01/29/2013 at 9:54 am //

    to go get whatever things online or whatever they fancy. seems every married guy i know makes the same type of statements regarding their wisdom and what their wives think of it. i think its funny. so i guess it happens over time the wife showing those feelings regarding the husbands wisdom? cus as of now seems that with us about to celebrate 1 yr together next month she still looks to me for my wisdom and instruction for our life as a couple and stuff. i guess i will b like u guys later on hahaha.

    • Yeah, you’re still in the courting stage, Johnny. Wait until you get a few more years under your belt in your relationship. My asawa spent nine years in the States and became somewhat “Americanized.” But after over three years of living in the Philippines, she’s adjusting to the ways things are in the Philippines again. She sometimes states she isn’t smart. My answer “Yes, you are dear, you married me, right?” That always gets a groan and a roll of the eyes from her.

  41. Johnny // 01/29/2013 at 6:25 pm //

    it was weird to me too when i saw that comment. but u are soo right about them ex’s i dunno what was wrong with her man i swear by the time i figured out it was her and we was still together yet struggling i still tried to work things out and neva even told her i knew. then she started trying to poison me, that was the last straw along wit the fact she was also cheating on me and she always had an excuse why i couldn’t meet her family so i just stopped all communications with her and was settled wit being

    • Whew! You had a much more stressful break up than I did, Johnny. At least my ex didn’t cheat on me or try to poison me. I haven’t spoken to my ex-wive since our divorce which was over 16 years ago. Her brother-in-law, however, sold one of our houses for us and we bought our last home back in the States from him. I only wish her well.

  42. Johnny // 01/29/2013 at 6:34 pm //

    single then i met my girl and we was just friends and always talking about life, the world around us, family just everything other than the two of us. then our bond happened, among other things lol then now a year since that serious bond we are together almost always. i would neva risk my card being mailed here specially not after all i have been thru, i can’t risk it..i fear her going in the states long enough to become too americanized. i don’t want her to become like american women at ALL. i love all her

    • Nope, I wouldn’t risk mailing your card here either, Johnny. I’ve had mail from the States delivered almost a year later to the Philippines. In one instance, my mail ended up at a business in Manila. Thankfully, the nice people at the company paid the postage out of their own pocket to send it to me.

      Fortunately my wife retained her good heart, sense of humor and strong work ethic while in the States, Johnny. Most of her Filipina friends married to Americans were great people and good friends and pure pinay in heart, also. There were a couple of the younger girls who turned out to be scammers and thankfully one got a knock on the door from ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one morning and got sent back to the Philippines.

  43. Johnny // 01/29/2013 at 6:46 pm //

    little ways she show me she listen to me and is thoughtful and takes care of me jus as im taking care of her. i do wish for her to experience america though because i think it will help her understand where im coming from on so many different things a lot better. whats funny is how my girl already responds like your wife if i were to say a similar statement like u said to your wife LOL

    • I’m not surprised your girlfriend responds the same way as my asawa, Johnny. I think most Filipinas are on the same wavelength.

  44. yea Dave it was crazy. That was in 2011 and to this day I have no real clue why she would go as far as trying to poison me on more than one occasion might I add. All I did was love her but maybe she was just used to being used and treated badly before I came along. who knows..However, even though I haven’t seen or talked with her since then, unfortunately, I wish her many things but well is not one of them. u have received mail here almost a year later? wow! I thought mine was bad with being almost 3 mths.

    • No what you mean, Johnny. My girlfriend before I met Melinda, my asawa, had a drug-dealing ex-husband who used to beat her. Her boyfriend after the ex held a .45 to her head. He was a big coke head. She finally dumped him. She died at the age of 44 due to cirrhosis of the liver. Sad life. Fortunately my asawa appreciates a guy that treats her good as I suspect most women, and not just Filipinas, do, also.

  45. I always tell anyone in the states who will try to mail me something to not even bother with any next day or 3 day service fees. just go to the usps and put it in regular old snail mail. It doesn’t make any difference other than higher costs when it come to mailing something to the Philippines. all the packages travel the same way and same amount of days. last year a friend didn’t listen and paid over 30 bucks just to send a small camera here and it still took 3 months. well im proud to hear my girl having

    • Johnny, I mail everything from a PhilPost office at SM City in Iloilo. The folks there are much friendlier than the clerks at the main post office. I’ve never had any problems with my mail reaching anyone in the States. Sometimes they get my mail a week later and that’s without paying any express fees. The usual time is around two weeks.

  46. the same mindset as your wife. it makes me feel good to believe even more that i am finally on the right track at least in that area of my life.

    • Yep, sounds like you are on the right track, Johnny. Good luck to you and yours. Let me know how everything works out with immigration. Your experiences could help someone else who finds themselves in the same situation. Thanks.

  47. Halfblood // 02/12/2013 at 1:51 am //

    There are illegal aliens in all parts of the world.
    However, between illegal aliens in the US and in the Philippines, illegals in the United states have it far better than their counterparts in the Philippines. Just consider the perks of being a US passport holder once the illegals in the US are granted an amnesty. It’s the citizenship and everything nice that go along with it.

    • That’s true, Halfblood. Not only do illegals in the United States get free medical care at emergency rooms along with free education in our public schools, Obama’s proposed new immigration legislation is going to give them even more of those perks you mention. And all on the taxpayer’s dime. God bless America.

  48. Hi, I have a question and I’m so glad I found ur blog! My dad is currently in Philippines and has overstayed. He hasn’t payed his visa extension in about 6 years. He is barely surviving and I guess my question is how much would it cost someone who has overstayed that long? In US dollars? I don’t understand the peso thing.. and my dad will not go anywhere near the government offices in Philippines because of fear of being thrown in prison for overstay. Also he has a son who is 3. What can be done to bring him to the US along with my dad? I just need to know where to start to help my dad come home.

    • P, from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration this notice from August 27, 2007:

      “The Bureau of Immigration (BI) urged yesterday all overstaying aliens in the country to come out now and legalize their status in the country as he assured them that they will not be arrested if they volunteer to update their stay in the country.

      Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan urged the overstaying aliens to avail of the BI’s new policy liberalizing its rules on visa extension for all foreign tourists regardless of their nationality. He assured the aliens that they will not be arrested so long as they update their stay, pay the necessary fees, and, if they have been living here for more than two years, voluntarily leave the country.

      Libanan said he is giving all overstaying aliens a chance to legalize their stay here and avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of being arrested, jailed and deported if they are caught when the BI launches its big crackdown against illegal aliens.”

      I do not know if this policy still applies. The information is dated. I would suggest that your father call the Immigration office or write them since he wants to steer clear of their facilities.

      The fine for overstaying is P500 a month. At 72 months, six years, that would amount to 36,000 pesos, or about 884.00 US Dollars at current exchange rates. He may also be liable for a delayed annual report fine at P200 a month for a total of 14,400 pesos, 353 USD, for a total, thus far, of 1, 237 US dollars. He may have other penalties and fees such as failure to register annual report fees at P310 a year. That’s up to the Immigration office to determine.

      As far as his three year old son is concerned, since he’s been in the Philippines almost six years, it’s probably safe to assume that the boy’s mother is Filipina. Whether your Dad and the mother were legally married in the Philippines with a legal capacity to marriage from the U.S. Embassy figures into the equation. That’s a matter he needs to take up with a lawyer. He should probably focus on getting his situation cleared up with Immigration first. And good luck to him. I’ve seen online accounts of guys overstaying up to 20 years without getting jailed. But every case is treated differently.

  49. First of all im surprised that nobody (Americans) seems to be able to get an help at all from your embassy – the place is huge and must have a budget of tens of millions .
    Anyway im a kiwi and have been living here in the phils since 2007 – no intention of ever going home,i must say i was delighted to find a forum for once that was devoid of Americas slamming the Philippines – like i say to foreigners here -you are a guest -no one is forseing you to stay – nothing you say or do here will make the slightest difference .If you can not adapt to life here best you leave .
    I live in manila and also have a house in tagayaty -the temp there is way cooler then manila but still with all amenities you may need -itas a little on the expensive side for many but i can reccomend it highly .
    Good luck to all those who venture to the Philippines most of you will love it here .

    • Thanks for the comment, Kenny. Always glad to hear from a Kiwi. Murray the Kiwi paid us a visit some time back. Very nice bloke. Sounds like you’ve got a good plan in place with two different residences to live in. While we don’t try to slam the Philippines, I do attempt to provide a balanced view of life in “paradise.” The good far outweighs the bad here, however, in my opinion, and like my friend Gary Wigle is fond of saying “it’s more fun in the Philippines.” No doubt about that.

  50. Thanks for your reply dave – you are correct the good here far outweighs the bad – this is no Paradise the Philippines has many problems most of which us foreigners can do little about -while i have been here i have seen many good things start to happen -i just hope the the long and differcult task started prez Aquino will be continue by the leader of the Philippines.

    • You’re welcome, Kenny. In light of the present difficulties back in the States; the Philippines, with all of it’s faults, does look like a paradise at times.

  51. Halfblood // 03/07/2013 at 10:29 pm //

    I beg to disagree with the phrase ” americans slamming the Philippines”.

    Why are actual observations considered “slamming”?
    I am a product of a biracial union, have lived in the Philippines for a long time and no intentions of going back. Unless it’s a very short visit. I can write a book as to what’s wrong with its culture. Why some foreigners who reside there think people like me are threading along the lines of discrimination and racism, it’s because they haven’t lived there long enough and seen how life is conducted in every neighborhood on a day to day basis. At least, I am not (racist) I encountered really rude filipinos who have no shame hollering right at your face that foreigners(americans) should go back to where they belong. Hypocrites! They love coming to America. Don’t they? Don’t be fooled. The whole world is riddled with bad people and filipinos are no exemption. You can not put them all in one pink bow tied basket and say oh, aren’t they sweet?! No, they are not.

    • I’ve also had Filipinos yelling at me to go back to America, Halfblood. I don’t have a problem with any one making observations about living in the Philippines, whether good or bad. I received flak from a Filipino co-worker back in the States who criticized me for running a story about an employee at SM City that tried to scam me for a new laptop computer. The co-worker said she thought my website was supposed to be promoting the Philippines. That’s NOT my job. That’s the Tourism Dept.’s job. My only goal is to present an unvarnished look at the Philippines from MY viewpoint. If someone else wants to chip in and make their own remarks, that’s fine with me. Since the Philippine Supreme Court has issued a TRO on the Cyber Martial Law which tried to muzzle freedom of speech on the Internet in the Philippines, I’ll keep allowing comments.

  52. For those of you that think im being harsh describing some as ‘slamming the Philippines’ and Filipinos -you only need to go to the TOPIX philippines forum to see this on an everyday basis .It would appear that some foreigners expect to live in a third world country cheaply while enjoying first world services sorry but you are deluded – i see on a daily basis the good and the bad side of the Philippines -i just choose to focus on the positives in life (thats why im a happy chap) i dont see the world through rosecoloured , Americans that is really how colour is spelled lol, you do need to be prepared that many will try to take advantage of you -in their eyes you are rich – this is not something Filipino -it is simply a third world trait.
    I travel through life seeking the good while not being blind to the bad – you can be successful here -i have a successful bussiness and pay my taxes – never had a problem with Govt depts -touchwood.

    • Nope, didn’t think you were being too harsh, Kenny. As I’ve written numerous times on this website the past few years, the good FAR outweighs the bad in the Philippines in my opinion. And as I’ve also noted countless times, it’s not paradise, but I’ll repeat the Department of Tourism’s latest slogan that my friend Gary Wigle is fond of quoting: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Brother, I’m having the time of my life in the PH.

      Kenny, I probably won’t check out that other forum you noted. I occasionally look at Bob Martin’s site and have the utmost respect for Bob’s fair and balanced look at the Philippines. Not that there’s other good sites out there, I barely read my own crap I write. :)

  53. Halfblood // 03/08/2013 at 2:59 pm //

    “The co-worker said she thought my website was supposed to be promoting the Philippines.”

    I just love how their minds work. Your reply was perfect.

    “Since the Philippine Supreme Court has issued a TRO on the Cyber Martial Law which tried to muzzle freedom of speech on the Internet in the Philippines, I’ll keep allowing comments.”

    Yeah, that one, when the senators wasted so much time and money on this when it is clearly stipulated in their constitution that freedom of speech must not be infringed. And the the guy Celdran who was got convicted for “offending” religious feelings. LOL!

    Yes, it’s more fun in the Philippines because ignorance is bliss.
    While it’s a tragedy for very, very few decent filipinos to be holed up in their country, surrounded by those who don’t and can’t think beyond, it is pitiful for the rest who are continually being exploited.

    • Yep, total waste of time, Halfblood, all because Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto got pissed at social media remarks. Sotto allegedly copied parts of a blog post by United States blogger Sarah Pope in his speech during debates on the RH Bill. Sotto was also accused of copying from a speech of the late US Senator Robert Kennedy which he translated into Tagalog. Sotto faced a backlash from Filipinos on Facebook and Twitter but refused to apologize for either incident. At the last moment he inserted the unconstitutional sections of the Cyber Martial Law which the majority of the Senate passed and President Aquino signed and supported.

  54. Johnny // 03/08/2013 at 6:46 pm //

    Well I, an American, think that as American culture we are taught to work super hard and never settle for less than what you want in life. Not to say every American does it but I believe most do. So even if they don’t have what they want they still become outspoken people when it comes to something they don’t like, whatever it may be. That being said, Americans even “slam” America, since the word slam is being used. Therefore I am not suprised at Americans continue to speak no matter where they reside.

    • I agree, Johnny. I have no problem criticizing or “slamming” America and there’s been plenty to slam for the past several years. But I still love America. And if I feel I have a legitimate beef about something in the Philippines, I’ll continue to vocalize it, many times to my asawa’s chagrin. But I still love the Philippines.

  55. Johnny // 03/08/2013 at 7:15 pm //

    Also just want to add a few things. I agree that nobody should expect to live cheaply and first class at the same time in ANY part of the world. BUT even if you live first class and money is no object there is still a way you will see things in a REAL way that maybe others don’t like or agree with but its still a real view for that person. I know many working class Filipinos who “slam” the Philippines OFTEN. Yet if I agree they clean up their statements to bepositive, I guess they go put on those “glasses”?

    • I certainly do live more cheaply in the Philippines than I did in the States, Johnny. That was one of the major factors in making the move here. First class? Nope. Didn’t expect first class. Comfortable? Yep. Happy? Yep.

      Despite extreme poverty and harsh conditions for many Filipinos, I’m amazed by the positive attitudes that many of them have. I could learn a lesson from them in that respect, but probably will continue to be the “grumpy” American. Thanks for the input, Johnny. It’s appreciated.

  56. Johnny – thats working superhard and not settling for less does not appear to be helping the US at this point in time buddy (tic) Hard to have full employment and a growing economy when you cant compete with Countries that pay MUCH lower Salaries -i think the US has at the moment priced its self out of the market – as for me i made mine and now i work coz i want to (farmer for 30 years)i have a wonderful wife (filipina of course) she has a great job and a great education ,has traveled the world -its great to be with someone that wants you for you -and not what you have or can give .Now to convince her to get the hell out of Manila !!!!!!

    • Kenny, good luck in getting out of Manila. Though I certainly love the Western Visayas region of the Philippines that we live in, there is no way I could ever be comfortable living in Manila. No offense to any readers living there. Just too crowded and too big for this small town redneck from Central Illinois.

  57. hehe Dave if you think Manila is big just think what its like for me – my countries entire population is just 1/3 of Manilas lol.Moving from my farm of 245 hectres to my home in manila of just 130sqm was a total shock to the system.
    Just another point to touch on how many of you are totally sick of hears these three words -OUT OF STOCK !!! how they stay in business with no stock is beyond me, went to ACE hardware here in Manila a week ago to buy some rivets -out of stock “ok when will you have stock?” Sir we dont sell rivets -a hardware store that does not sell rivets?? -but has a huge supply of plastic clothes hangers and bread toasters lol.

    • I was quite surprised, myself, Kenny, by the small lot sizes available in the Philippines. Our subdivision in Iloilo also sells 130sqm lots. My asawa’s mother and father back in nearby Guimaras have large tracts of farmland. But “the boss” wants to stay put in Iloilo thus our latest plan to buy a bank repo that has a couple of lots to go with it.

      In over three years of living in the Philippines, I’ve also encountered the “Out of Stock” reply numerous times. If I do get a answer as to when the stock will arrive, I’ve learned it never does. We have an Ace Hardware at our local SM City Mall in Iloilo. I occasionally shop there but walked out with taking much of a look around last time. All the clerks were hovering around me and following me everywhere I went. From past experience, that tells me they have to make a certain daily quota of sales or work mandatory overtime. I’m a grumpy 61-year-old kano that likes to be left alone when I’m shopping. :)

  58. I agree Dave there’s so much to “slam” America on but there’s a lot of good too even in some of the horrible laws and things there can seem to be a good motive behind it that just gets ruined. I am the same way here in Manila, living cheap, not 1st class by far but am I finally happy? YEP! am I comfortable? well, it could be a lil better but I’m working on that but for the most part YEP I’m good! :D They say out of stockS when they don’t know what you are talking about or are feeling lazy.

    • Good point, Johnny, regarding the “out of stock” reply. I didn’t consider that when I replied to Kenny on the topic, but what you say is also the case sometimes. I’ve gone to our local SM Department Store and have been given “the out of stock” reply. But I’ve gone to another clerk in the same department and they make the effort to go back to the stock room and find the item that was “out of stock.” In fairness, the customer service at SM is way above any “customer service” I ever received at our Walmarts back home. Plus, the female sales associates here are far cuter.

  59. I have learned as a foreigner here its better that you just take a look around the store for yourself even if it means you have to comb through the entire store to see what they have for yourself. Most times they do have what you look for or at least something you could use instead. I think what happens though is a lot of times they carry things foreigners will buy but they don’t sell them too often so the people there usually have no clue what we are asking for.

    • Well, that’s true, Johnny. There is a language barrier at times. I, myself, do try to look around the store first before I ask if a certain item is in stock. I asked three different clerks one time if they had what I would call a “napkin holder.” Something we put place paper napkins in and put them on our kitchen table. Of course, expats that live in the Philippines know the current terminology is usually “tissue” and not napkins. Napkins refer to feminine hygiene products. But I was fortunate to find the napkin holder on my own by just looking around. By the way, I always refer to napkins as “tissues” now and always request extra ones at any fast food outlets. The napkins offered are barely big enough to wipe a duwende’s butt.

  60. Johnny -lol – you would think a HARDWARE store would carry Rivets hehe -or know what they are -and in that case i had looked myself -BTW if you want to buy nails they have them -in little bags of ten lol.

  61. Still dreaming of steak and cheese pies lol

  62. LOL its funny sometimes to see how you can find such smal packages of things here where you can even tell someone just really opened up a larger package, made baggies of 10 and put a price on it LOL. I notice a lot of times people here just either won’t fix things or they “fix” them unconventionally such as using that green string whatever that is that seems to be used for everything here LOL. So not much need for nails, glue, rivets, racks or whatever because someone will make things using scraps.

    • Green string is the handyman’s secret weapon in the Philippines, Johnny. I prefer duct tape, however, my mentor Red Green’s favorite weapon in his toolbox arsenal.

  63. Johnny // 03/10/2013 at 8:57 am //

    LOL @ the green string. I hate being followed too, one time a female guard at an Ace asked if I wanted a wife. I was like wow I just came to buy some stuff for the house LOL. When I asked for a napkin at McDonalds they directed me to security LOL. That’s how I learned about the napkin/tissue thing. For them to work in malls here they only hire certain ages and looks. notice they pretty much all have a bleached skin look in every major store here.

    • Asked you if you wanted a wife, Johnny? Hope you told her you were just looking for rivets.

      Several SM employees and managers have verified those requirements for me, Johnny, that a certain age, whiteness of skin and appearance is required. You won’t see some old geezer my age working at any SM Department Store, no doubt about that.

  64. They way they are allowed to advertise for staff here shocked me -ie – wanted store clerk must be female 18-25yr 5’4″ 5’6″ single attractive with pleaseing personality willing to work overtime .lol – God why dont they just say -WILL SLEEP WITH THE BOSS ON DEMAND- to save any confusion.
    Try placing an ad like that in the west lol.

    • It’s quite amusing, Kenny, to read the Sunday “Help Wanted” ads in the Philippines. The age and gender discrimination here just boggles the Western mind.

  65. Johnny // 03/10/2013 at 2:48 pm //

    Before I ever came here I searched their employment ads and saw even some requiring certain religious beliefs as well. Some that even were as blunt as to say “nice skin tone” and all manner of things that had nothing to do with having customer service or even ability to count LOL.I thought it was a joke until I got here and saw most retail jobs specially require those things. Its sad for the filipino who may have great personality but has darker skin naturally because they won’t be hired there.

    • The darker skin Filipino will probably not be hired in the SM Department Store section of any SM Mall, Johnny, or Robinson Malls, either, that I’ve noticed. Unfortunately, such discrimination is tolerated and allowed.

  66. Johnny // 03/10/2013 at 3:07 pm //

    And with all the marketing happening all over tv, radio, etc here it seems to me that its really put a hidden idea out there to filipinos who don’t have beautiful hair and pale white skin then they are not good enough. so many i know here are all over seeming every whitening product on the market yet they don’t realizing its doing more harm than good. OR perhaps they don’t care because they want a better job, a lover, a better seeming life than they have already. its weird and a lil hard to explain.

  67. Johnny // 03/11/2013 at 7:46 am //

    Yes Dave asked me if I wanted a wife. It was a couple years ago and I wasn’t looking for rivets but I think I just laughed and walked away to continue my shopping. Then I got the all too famous question of “Do you have any friends you can introduce me to?” All I could do was shake my head and just grabbed my items and went ahead to buy and leave. But yes those help wanted ads really do boggle a westerners’ mind. Even my friends back in the states still think I’m kidding that its really that serious here.

    • Johnny, if I had a peso for every time I was asked “Do you have any friends you can introduce me to?” since we moved here in July 2009, I’d be one richer kano. :)

  68. hello!goodday my bf visa is expired,he stay here for almost 36 months,he planning to go back home.my question is before he buy a ticket going back to his country he needs to settle first all the penalties in his visa?or he buy his air ticket before he pay his visas penalties?after he going home he want to comeback here is there any problem to him to take another visa?im not married to him but in 36 months i stayed with him and he settle all the things that we need.he want to go back to his country so that he can married me if he go back here bacause he need that his divorced paper will translate it to english anf of course his overstaying here in philippines.i also live here in iloilo.

    • Jane, your bf definitely has to report to Immigration to settle this matter. I’m not sure what the total fine he will have to pay, but I believe at least 500 pesos for each month overstayed used to be the standard charge. Is there going to be a problem with him obtaining another visa? That’s strictly up to immigration officials.

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