My last post dealt with a personal list of my "Top Ten Tips" on moving to the Philippines and advice on what to do once you arrive. I covered the first five points previously. Here's my take on the next five tips. Remember, if you have any tips of your own, please feel free to drop a comment.
6. USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: JEEPNEYS, TRICYCLES, AND PEDICABS.
Again, keep in mind that this is my own personal bit of advice, but I feel there is absolutely no need for my asawa and I to own a vehicle in the Philippines. I don't have to pay for gas, maintenance, insurance or deal with the stress of driving here because of the abundant sources of cheap public transportation available.
I have no problem at all with using the jeepneys to travel around our new home outside of Iloilo City. My asawa and I can go to any shopping mall or area on a jeepney. The usual fare is 7.5 pesos (17 cents) and 15 pesos each for our longest trip (a single jeepney ride to SM City; usually takes two jeepney rides otherwise for the same total cost for two, 30 pesos.)
I have traveled in these vehicles on a solo basis many times and have never had any issues with personal safety whatsoever. The drivers are usually helpful and can tell you what PUJ to take, and the passengers, too, are always eager to help with any questions you might have.
A tricycle, a motorcycle with a sidecar attached and a third wheel, are useful for short trips that are too far to walk on a hot or rainy day. We took a lot of tricycle rides when we lived in Guimaras where the going rate for places around town were seven pesos each if you had two passengers. Don't use them at our present location even though it is a 30-minute walk to our main subdivision gate from our home. We occasionally use a shuttle, a small multi-cab type vehicle which operates in our subdivision, and also costs only seven pesos each for a ride.
Pedicabs, a people-powered bicycle contraption similar to a tricycle, are prevalent in our area, but we don't use them. They seem to slow down when they have a large kano like me in the back.
We occasionally, have to to take a taxi cab once a month when we do our main grocery shopping (I don't see the need to make several smaller visits for groceries) and pay 300 pesos (6.91 US Dollars) since our home is located quite a distance from the big shopping malls.
7. IF YOU'RE MARRIED TO A FILIPINA, GET A PERMANENT RESIDENT VISA.
I personally don't want to travel out of the country once a year on the Balikbayan privilege or renew my visa at the local Bureau of Immigration Office in Iloilo City every one or two months. For the cost of around 7,000 pesos, 161 US Dollars, I obtained what is called a 13 (a) Permanent Visa Resident Visa which means I will never have to go to my local B.I. office to renew my stay in the Philippines (I do have to report to our local office for my Annual Report as a foreigner, but that's relatively painless and only costs P310, around seven USD.)
My Alien Certificate of Registration, ACR card, was also included in that above-quoted cost of 7,000 pesos and is good for five years before I have to renew it, versus the usual annual renewal.
Since a monthly or two month renewal of your visa can cost from P3,000 to P6,000 each trip, why would I want to hassle with going to Immigration or paying a certified agent to go for me, when I can take care of it by obtaining a Permanent Resident Visa? My asawa and I don't live in the Metro Manila area where it might be cheaper and more convenient to get a cheap flight out of the Philippines and return using the Balikbayan, but even if we did live in Manila, I still would have opted for the Permanent Visa and not worry about having to get my visa renewed any longer. That's my personal preference. Just have to be married to a Filipina who will be the one that sponsors you for it.
In my eBook, "The Philippines" A Guide to Moving & Living in Paradise!," I've written in great detail the process we went through this past May in obtaining the Permanent Visa.
8. PLAN ON YOUR BUDGET BEING BIGGER THAN WHAT YOU ORIGINALLY THOUGHT.
We've personally lost about 100 US dollars in monthly income since moving to the Philippines in July 2009 due to the weakening dollar versus the propped-up Philippine Peso. When you're on a fixed income, that's a big hit on your budget. I'm in the process of putting together a budget that I will post that will reflect our new living expenses since moving to a subdivision outside of Iloilo City. But I can tell you that even with the generally lower cost of living in the Philippines versus the States, be prepared to pay out more money for monthly expenses than what you might have expected.
It really all comes down to location and lifestyle.You could probably expect to have a higher cost of living in the Metro Manila area versus the provinces, such as where our asawa and I reside. Just make sure you have an adequate source of monthly income.
9. BE PREPARED TO SWEAT PROFUSELY.
Keep that sweat towel handy, brother, you're going to need it. You can take a shower and be sweating like a pig that is getting ready for a fiesta five minutes later. I hated the summers, the heat and humidity in Central Illinois, but it can't compare to the constant humidity and temperatures I encounter in the Philippines. It takes some time to get acclimated, but I have.
That said, I need an air con in our bedroom to sleep at night. Didn't have one the first ten months we lived here, and I was miserable. Our high temperatures for December, our coolest month in Iloilo, averages 87.5 Fahrenheit for the high with an average low of 73.9 degrees Fahrenheit. High temperatures in April and May, our hottest months, will average 93.0 degrees Fahrenheit (33.89 C) and 92.1 degrees Fahrenheit (33.33 C) respectively. The lows for those months average 76.1 F (24.5 C) and 76.8 F (24.89 C.) Humidity for December averages 87.3 % and 92.1 % in May.
10. GET RID OF YOUR WATCH.
Don't need a watch in the Philippines or a clock really. That may be an exaggeration, but you'll be on "Filipino Time." What exactly is "Filipino Time?" "Wiki Answers" has some interesting theories. One theory is that they inherited this from the Spaniards when they were colonized for more than 300 years. It was told that whenever Spanish royalty would go to a gathering, they would always enter last. Thus, Filipinos followed suit to get a feeling of importance.
Another theory would be that traffic and travel times are invariable. The number one excuse a Filipino would give you if he/she arrives late would be "traffic". Traffic is really bad in urban cities like Manila.
Not having a standard time is also another possible cause behind "Filipino time". It is quite rare to find three clocks with the same time in the Philippines — there's usually a 5-10 minute difference. That's the truth. I've been in some doctor's offices in the Philippines with three clocks on the wall, all with significantly different times, 15 or 30 minutes difference.
The last theory given by Wiki is that Filipinos are quite shy; so when going to gatherings they don't want to be seen as overly eager; or their easygoing nature which switches off their sense of time and give them the mentality that their friends will understand and accept.