What would I have done the same the last 6 yrs. living in the Philippines? One of my faithful readers asked me that question several months ago and due to our recent move, I haven’t taken the time to respond to that query until now.
But since my retirement to this archipelago over six years ago, I find myself using the following item to excuse my delays in doing things which, quite honestly, also fits in very well with the concept of “Filipino Time.”
A round tuit, as in, “I’ll get around to it”
Photo Source: Quantam Enterprises
1. I still would not have purchased a vehicle.
I firmly believe that it is not an absolute necessity to own your own vehicle in the Philippines. We didn’t own a vehicle here for over five years. With public transportation so plentiful and cheap, why go through all the headaches?
There’s plenty of jeepneys and tricycles to take you around. A tricycle, used primarily for short hauls, costs 5-10 pesos, 11-21¢, depending on the length of your trip. A jeepney ride from our local jeepney loading stations to the wharf where we catch a pump boat to Iloilo City costs 13 pesos, 28¢, per passenger.
When we do our monthly grocery shopping trip in Iloilo City, we do take a taxi back to the wharf to catch our pump boat back home, but the charge for the cab is usually around 100 pesos or so, about two bucks.
We had no fuel costs. No maintenance. No insurance premiums. No stress driving around in traffic. It worked for me.
That said, my wife and I cashed in part of our traditional IRA last year and purchased a new Ford Ranger XLT Crew Cab truck. The new truck has been invaluable in hauling supplies to the construction site of our new house in Guimaras.
Also, since we are about a 20-minute drive from the nearest hospital and don’t have close access to any public utility vehicles, having a reliable means of transportation makes more sense to us now.
However, in most cases, again, owning a vehicle in the Philippines is not a necessity by any means. Most expats I know on our island have their own vehicles but this is more out of convenience than anything else, in my opinion.
But my stress levels do rise, even when I drive around on our small island province. Tricycles buzz around us like a dog in heat. Jeepneys do not follow even the bare minimum of the rules of the road, stopping without notice in the middle of the street wherever they please without any notice whatsoever. The first thing I’m going to wear out in our new truck is the horn.
2. I still would have not bought anything on credit
We have not used any credit cards since moving to the Philippines over six years. I didn’t want to be burdened with any additional payments or debts and stuck to this rule hard and fast.
We went without some “luxury items, ” such as the aforementioned truck, but it was well worth it to me. Our house, financed solely by our retirement IRA, and all the furniture in our new digs, have been paid for in cash.
We were on a fixed income and having any kind of credit card debt would have been a huge drain on our budget at the time. I know of expats that found themselves strapped for cash because they had a 30,000 peso payment for that big SUV they were driving around in. Man, that’s almost 640 U.S. Dollars just so you could tool around town impressing the locals!
3. I still would not have had any immunizations or shots.
The Centers for Disease Control, CDC, recommends having routine vaccines before traveling to the Philippines, such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and a yearly flu shot.
The CDC also advises travelers to get the vaccines for hepatitis A and typhoid, because of the risk of contaminated food and water in the Philippines. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.
For some travelers, such as a single guy heading to the Philippines and planning to have sex with a new partner, the CDC recommends getting the Hepatitis B vaccine because it can be transmitted through sexual contact.
If you are a married guy going to the Philippines and have sex with a new partner, not only might you need the Hepatitis B vaccine, you also might need to pack some prison jammies. Adultery is a crime in the Philippines. (You can also get Hepatitis B through contaminated needles, tattoos or piercings or if you have any medical procedures.)
The CDC states on their website that you might need the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine if you plan to stay more than a month in the Philippines.
Malaria is also on the CDC’s list of diseases you might contract in the Philippines. With the tons of mosquitoes found here, malaria, along with dengue fever, for which there is no vaccine at this time, are two diseases you absolutely want to avoid.
Rabies can be found in dogs, bats and other mammals here. The CDC recommends this vaccine for travelers who will involved in outdoor activities or again, for those planning a long stay in the Philippines.
How many shots did my wife and I get before moving to the Philippines?
We did visit our local hospital in America before we left for our new home, and inquired about the different vaccinations. Since our health insurance did not cover the cost of the shots we decided to pass on them. I believe the cost was going to be around 600 US Dollars total for both of us.
Although I commonly preach “common sense” I suppose I could be guilty of not following my own advice by not obtaining any vaccines before our arrival in the Philippines or during the past six years.
I haven’t had any problem with any diseases, thankfully, and have not been bitten by any dogs. It’s your call whether you want to obtain these immunizations or not. Check my “Disclaimer Page.” Follow my advice at your own risk.
4. I still would try to live with “Filipino Time.”
You absolutely, positively, categorically, straight out, sure as hell will NEVER change “Filipino Time.” Carve that in stone. Etch that in your brain forever.
To the uninitiated, “Filipino Time” is a laid back state-of-mind practiced by nearly all Filipinos where being on time for functions, appointments or deadlines means very little. In short, “Filipino Time” can mean always being late and things get done when they get done.
So it’s best, for your own peace of mind, to try and live with this cultural challenge. You’re not going to change it. The Philippine government tried years ago with their “Juan Time” project which was to insist that all Filipinos use the nationwide Philippine Standard Time.
The government wanted all Filipinos to sync their timepieces with the PST. According to DOST Secretary Mario Montejo, “PST, the country’s official time, sets only one common time in the archipelago’s more than 7,100 islands”
5. I will still not learn the local language.
Despite living in the Philippines for over six years now, I have made no attempt to learn the local language, Ilonggo, Hiligaynon. I have made no attempt to learn any more Filipino, Tagalog (and kids, it’s not Tag-a‧log but Taga‧log.)
It’s not because I have some imperialistic attitude; it’s because “I’m too old and too lazy.” That’s it in a nutshell. Plain and simple.
And when anyone, be it Filipino or foreigner, asks me why I don’t learn, the aforementioned excuse is the one I always give them. And to be honest, if they don’t like that answer, it really doesn’t bother me.
There are enough people around that know some English that I can get by. I’ve never had any problem getting directions from anyone, if needed, and if the person I’m trying to communicate with doesn’t understand me, there has always been another Filipino around who steps in and acts as an interpreter.
And I’m OK with that.
I do know several phrases and the locals always smile and are impressed with “the kano” when I spout off a few words. And they also know, “the finger,” which, to know one’s surprise that has met me, I have used on occasion.
What would I have done the same the last 6 yrs. living in the Philippines?