Continuing my “Living in the Philippines: Five Year Review: Part Two” looks at what my pet peeves about the Philippines were during my 3rd Year Review. Some of the items mentioned in Part One, which dealt with my first year in paradise, popped up in Year Three, namely Filipinos who butt in line and brownouts. By the third year of my retirement in this archipelago, I have evidently adjusted enough to only have two issues that irritate me from two years ago. Truth be told, my asawa can probably give you a whole list of stuff I gripe about, but that’s a whole different post.
Hanging out with my MetroBank peeps in Iloilo City during year one
If I were to reflect on what ticks me off the most about my living here now, number one would be the “the kano skin tax.” As I explained in part one, I’ve pretty much dealt with the brownout and butting in line irritations, but a recent incident in Iloilo City with a crooked cabbie from GDR reminded me that I should have listed this issue during my previous looks at the past.
What is “the kano skin tax?” It’s when a Filipino charges a “rich foreigner” like myself, extra, above the going rate, for commodities or services. I’ve lived in the Philippines for five years and for the most part, my wife and I have not had that many problems with the taxi drivers that ply the streets of Iloilo, the self-proclaimed “City of Love.” But as my asawa and I were heading home from a day’s shopping trip, we hailed a cab from GDR since they’re a big taxi and are usually located at the SM Hypermarket where we do the bulk of our grocery shopping.
But after several minutes we realized that the cabbie was going a different, longer route than we ever experienced. The driver was also allowing other vehicles to pull off side streets in front of him and was even letting pedicabs cut in. My wife noticed the long route the driver was taking first and I realized she was correct.
Our ride from the Hypermaket to the Ortiz Dock in Iloilo City is always under 100 pesos, but now we were approaching Robinsons Mall, a good distance from the wharf yet, and we were already at 100 pesos on the meter. ” Why are you taking us the long way?” I asked our crooked cabbie. “I’ve been here five years and no one has ever taken us this route. It always costs us under100 pesos every time!” No reply.
We got bogged down in heavy traffic, though it was only 2:30 in the afternoon. I was getting more and more irritated. I heard the driver say the word “traffic” to my wife. “We wouldn’t be stuck in heavy traffic,” I said, “if you wouldn’t have taken the long way!” Again, no reply, but this time the driver covered his shaved head with a sweat towel and drove on. Finally we reached Oritiz, and though the meter read 130 pesos, over 30 pesos the usual charge, you might wonder why I would be so upset. It’s not about the 30 pesos, it’s all about the principle.
Getting off the pump boat at Ortiz Dock in Iloilo City
Our usual porter, Lang Lang, greeted us to haul away our groceries to the pump boat and I loudly asked him: “Do you know this driver? He took us the long way from the Hypermarket! I’ve never had one take us the long way from there before!” Lang Lang said he did. I walked over to the driver’s side of the taxi and checked out his cab number and loudly said it aloud so the cabbie knew I was taking note.
My asawa went over to buy our pump boat tickets back to Guimaras as I complained to Lang Lang and shouted my disgust with this driver so all the other porters could hear. I’m afraid I used language that can’t be repeated here. But I calmed down by the time I reached our pump boat as we began our way home to our island province. But the good things about living in the Philippines, such as the cheaper cost of living and the friendly Filipinos (minus the occasional person who tries to take advantage of you) far outweigh the bad. I wouldn’t have stuck around for five years if I didn’t enjoy living here and have no plans to ever move back to the States.
Fiesta time with all the relatives at “The Compound”‘
It takes time adjusting to living in the Philippines. It won’t happen overnight. I’m thankful that we have less brownouts now in Guimaras than when we first moved here. It makes life much more pleasant, especially during the hot summer months of April and May.
How long does it take to adjust? That really depends on the individual and how willing they are to adapt. You’re going to need to embrace the culture if you’re going to survive in the Philippines. Have I adjusted? No, not completely, but I’m getting more used to life in the Philippines with each passing year. I wouldn’t trade my experiences here for one minute.