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Our Personal Paradise in the Philippines

The birds are chirping (what few there are.)  The tukos are croaking.  I’m surrounded by beautiful, exotic Filipinas (including my own asawa, of course) and I’m treated like a celebrity everywhere I go. It’s my own personal personal “paradise” in the Philippines. 

Case in point. Yesterday I’m off to pay our water bill at SM City and buy a wedding anniversary card. From there I was off across town to meet my American expat friend, Scott B.,  at the Robinson’s KFC.  My spouse stayed at home but asked if I could do her a favor.Island Cove Resort in Cavite

Since she was already miffed at me for allegedly getting our CR, Comfort Room, water bucket muddy, I’m eager to grant her request. ( I rarely have to go outside to fill our water buckets, the staff at our home in Iloilo, namely my nieces and nephew,  usually take care of that chore.  For the record, I did NOT set the bucket down on the ground and get it muddy knowing how much that irritates my asawa in the first place.)

But back to my wife’s favor. She wanted to know that since I was going to Robinson’s would I mind going to the local LTO, Land Transportation Office, there and ask if they could renew her driver’s license from the States. I knew this would probably require a huge chunk out of my day because I’ve seen the lines of people waiting at the local LTO before. But as I mentioned, my spouse was already annoyed with me (who can blame her) and I gladly agreed to go there and check out her request. 

After a brief visit to SM City, I’m off to Robinson’s. I take the escalator to the 2nd floor where the Land Transportation Office is located. I look inside. People sitting down waiting to be helped. People standing. It doesn’t look good. I ask one older gentleman if I have to get a number for my turn in line. He looks at me and I know he’s not understanding one bit of my English. He has one of those facial expressions I often have, a “dumber than dumb look.”LTO in Iloilo

I go up to the front where about six or seven employees are standing behind glass partitions waiting on people. I don’t see any numbers to take for my turn. I ask one of the female questions if I have to take a number and informed her that my asawa sent me her to ask a question.

  • “What is your question, sir?” she politely asked.


  • “My asawa wants to know if she can renew her driver’s license from the United States here? She is a Filipino citizen but we retired to the Philippines over three years ago. An American friend of ours told us we could get our licenses renewed at the LTO.”


  • “Yes, sir,” she replies, “you can get your license converted at LTO, but you need to go to our main office in Jaro (Iloilo.) “

I thank her and go on my way. Must have taken me all of three or four minutes. I have no doubt that I received preferential treatment because I’m a foreigner. Though regular readers of this website know how I have complained about rude Filipinos that butt in line here, I have no difficulty whatsoever taking advantage of the celebrity status I often enjoy in my own personal pocket of paradise in the Philippines.Guimaras sunset

Double standard? Sure, but at least the helpful lady at LTO didn’t have any customers already in line. There was no one at her station. But maybe my asawa already figured out that I would probably be able to find an answer to her question quicker than if she had gone there alone. She’s not as dumb as I look. 

10 thoughts on “Our Personal Paradise in the Philippines”

  1. I remember getting my Philippines Lic when I was 19 and bought a 1969 Mustang on Naval Base at Navy Exchange for $1800.00 new and they shipped it from Detroit to Subic. First car I ever owned. I drove it for a couple of years while station there and sold it to one of the mayors body guards for $2700.00 before leaving. Driving back then and now is still same when going through check points, still have to give pesos for snacks. Last time I was there in May, took my veh to LTO and register same. The guy at LTO tried to tell me I need Philippines lic to drive and I told him I don’t think so as long as my state lic are still current and I am not there longer then 90 days. I ask the guy if I could just renew my lic I had in 1969 and he just gave me a funny look. HaHa.

  2. Dave,
    Glad you can just basically get your license exchanged instead of taking a test. When i get there we want to get a small SUV like a Honda Crv. Anne is getting her license renewed and i’m going to attempt to drive. She may end up driving or we may get a driver if i don’t like driving. But will be interesting to drive there. Take care

  3. I had Boss Mustang many moons ago. Very fast! Shook like crazy at full speed. The 455 Chevy pickup was faster. It was the only thing I would not race.

  4. I went to our local LTO not long after moving here,,,Paid for a Pee test, Paid for processing, sat in line for a couple of hours, showed my California Licience, Got my picture taken and signed and electronic pad (both twice for some reason) Paid for the Licience fee and was on my way. Pain free process, Really no different than the DMV in the states except for the loudspeaker calling names constantly. Whole experience cost maybe 800 pesos and 4 hours (oh, had to show my Passport and the balikbayan visa stamp)

  5. Driving yourself to the hospital is a death wish. Here in Tagum City you just call one of the hospitals and they will send out their ambulance. In Davao City just call 911. The ambulance will look just like the ones in the States.

  6. It’s more fun driving in the Philippines now then it was in 69. Now no one knows what the rules of the road are. You just have to learn to drive like the locals and ignore rules and signs. Its almost like driving bumper cars at circus.

  7. Hello All,

    This is my first visit to this site. Apologies if this isn’t the place to ask my questions. I’ve visited the Philippines recently, and am seriously considering a permanent move. I have only visited Cebu (with a brief side trip to Bohol). I have been noticing a lot of positive talk on a number of sites about Iloilo. Is it as good as everyone says? What are the advantages/disadvantages of living in Iloilo vs Cebu, or some of the other locations in the islands?

    Again, please forgive the uninformed newbie questions 🙂

  8. Ron,

    Most guys live where their wife or girlfriend lives. No wife or GF? Go to the National Capital Region. Lots of night life there. The cost is much higher.

    Try Davao City in Mindanao. Everything you want is there. They even have water 24/7. They even have 911 service. Brown outs are unknown there too.

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