Does BDO Belong in the Philippines’ Top Ten Bank List?

September 1 Philippines Christmas Season Begins

Does BDO belong in the Philippines’ Top Ten Banks List? That’s a question I asked myself repeatedly this past Friday as I inquired on a transfer of funds we have been waiting on since late November. Our local SM Shopping Mall, where our Banco de Oro branch is located,  was filled to the gills with Filipinos fishing for last minute Christmas bargains. I like Christmas but I hate the crowds it brings. Yes, even in the Philippines, which is over 80% Catholic and virtually shuts down on Christmas week for Baby Jesus’ birthday, is becoming increasingly commercialized. More and more people are buying gifts, much to the delight of SM and all other merchants, and potbellied Santa’s litter the landscape everywhere you go. 

When my asawa and I arrived at our local BDO branch at 9 am, I had no idea that this visit would turn into a day long event.

An extremely helpful teller, with the assistance of a junior manager, informed me that the head cashier was trying to contact the individual (in another office) that would be doing the actual dollar to peso transfer. After waiting nearly a month for our money, I thought the process would only take an hour or two, but of course, as usual, I was mistaken.

After our teller, the junior manager and cashier got together, the cashier informed me that the person she was trying to reach was not available so in order for us to not waste our time waiting, she would contact my wife via cell phone when everything was ready. I was OK with that. After all, as I mentioned, we had already been waiting a month.

My spouse and I headed over to Shakey’s Pizza. Now Shakey’s is not my favorite pizza joint in the Philippines but it is light years ahead of what is available on our island province home of Guimaras, Pit Stop, the home of overpriced, under cooked pizza dough.

After our early lunch, I checked out the travel agency to inquire about a return trip to Las Vegas in January or February while my wife headed for the 2nd floor of the SM Department Store to finish her Christmas shopping.

Christmas at SM City in Iloilo
There were more SM employees in Santa hats than shabu dealers in downtown Iloilo.

Two hours went by. No message from BDO. My wife was still shopping so I headed for the bank and sat in front of the teller that was helping us. I have no problem making people uncomfortable when I need to, in fact, I excel at it. Ask my asawa.

The cashier came over to me. Apprised me that the transfer would be done once they received a fax from the department authorizing it but the fax was not expected to come over until later that afternoon. It was now 11:30 pm. I thanked her and returned to the spot where my wife had left me. She was still shopping. Hope that transfer goes through fast; we’re going to need it at this rate.

So I waited. And waited some more. Hours passed. I felt I was in my own private hell, much like Rocky Valentine in the Twilight Zone classic episode, “A Nice Place to Visit.”

My wife could not stand idly by and watch Christmas shoppers, so she went out on another expedition while my limited patience had finally reached its limit. I ventured out to BDO one more time. It was around 3:15 pm and my wife had still not heard from the cashier.

I walked in. Sat down in front of the junior manager that had been assisting us.

“Still waiting,” I said, master of the understatement.

She smiled and nodded and continued to help the Filipino couple ahead of me. 15 minutes passed. The cashier aiding us walked by and announced to me that the fax had arrived. I felt like it was The Second Coming of Christ.

“Just a little while, sir,” the junior manager informed me. Uh, oh, Jesus’ return had been put on hold.

Ahhh, the magic phrase “just a little while.” Words you never want to hear in the Philippines as “just a little while” can translate into hours or even days and weeks.

By now my spouse, who had finally tired of shopping (for the moment) had joined me. I clued her in on the latest update. Amazingly, she, too, had reached the end of her patience.

15 more minutes pass but miraculously, with only a few strokes of the pen on a withdrawal slip to transfer our now available dollars to our peso account, the deed is done. Joy spreads throughout Whoville! Angels are trumpeting their horns! All is right with the world again.

BDO tellers

Photo Source: BDO website


So that begs the question, after our long wait, does BDO really belong in the Philippines’s Top Ten Banks List? claims that Banco de Oro is Number One in Assets, Deposits, Loans and Capital. The report does not list which bank in the Philippines is Number One in Customer Service. I found a dated article from 2004 that listed BPI as a customer service favorite, and I would probably be safe to assume that some of my readers, Rease, for example, would agree with that assessment.

In terms of friendliness and trying to help, the tellers at our local BDO branch in Iloilo excel. I have never met any teller or supervisor there that was not cordial and helpful. Perhaps it my winning charm and good looks, but I doubt it, being a crusty old expat, and all. So, yeah, it’s Christmastime, I’m in a benevolent mood, BDO does belong in the  Philippines’ Top Ten Bank List.

And herein lies the rub. After the transaction is finally completed the cashier informs me that if our Peso Account was opened at their location and not another branch, future fund transfers would go much smoother and quicker. Our Dollar Account was opened at this SM Mall in Iloilo but our Peso Account, opened two years ago, was opened at another BDO location in Iloilo City. They had been waiting all day for the fax from the branch where our Peso Account was established.

Note to self: Expect the unexpected in the Philippines and be prepared to be confused, frustrated and exasperated occasionally. When that happens, pour yourself a cold adult beverage, and consume it with friends. It can’t hurt.

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

20 thoughts on “Does BDO Belong in the Philippines’ Top Ten Bank List?

  1. Hi Dave , we had an account at bdo my wife closed it after she got pissed of waiting hours just to
    Deposit a cheque, she’s got a bad temper when she has to wait to long while the bank teller is
    Chatting about Her holidays with her co workers,

    1. Derek, I can’t blame your wife, the lines at BDO are five to six deep at our local branch. I, the restless Kano, go over to a group of customer service reps and make my request and fill out my deposit slip. My money is brought over to me by a cashier. Yes, I know I am being accorded special treatment but truth be told, Derek, I don’t mind.

  2. one of my expat friends her in roxas city had a problem with his direct deposit of his va disability checks to his hometown bank in the us…he decided to have them mail checks to him here and opened a dollar account at bpi….even though we all know philippine banks take 21 working days to clear checks deposited from the us…bpi has taken 36 business days to clear his first three checks…go figure.

    1. Thanks for that info, RoxasRon. Yeah, I guess we will stick with BDO now and transfer our existing Peso Account to the branch the Dollar Account is located. Since they don’t make me wait in line and we did eventually get our funds transferred in 21 working days.

  3. Dave,
    I’m glad you finally got your money transferred just in time for Christmas. Went to the mall yesterday. It was chaos. I was glad to get home.

    1. Thanks, Papa Duck. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY we will even get close to a pump boat that can take us to the big malls in Iloilo. If the crowds are huge in Iloilo I can imagine how much worse they are in your neck of the woods.

  4. If you were with BPI the funds would have transferred a week earlier and you could have checked on the internet and saved yourself hours and hours of hassle. Did I mention I despise BDO yet? 🙂

    1. Well, I checked online every day, Rease. I failed to mention in the story that when I spoke to the teller that helped us, she asked the junior manager that assisted us a question. I heard the term “letter of credit” from the branch we had our peso account in and if I would not have gone in person I don’t think the funds would have been transferred yet.

      But as I remarked to RoxasRon the staff doesn’t make me wait in line and was extremely helpful. The money was eventually transferred in 21 banking days so I really don’t want to go with another bank at this point. BDO is close to Ortiz where we get off the pump boat.

      Btw, I knew there is no way I would be able to guarantee what time I could meet you this Friday to do a pickle pick-up. We also were supposed to get our new truck. I know your schedule is busy. Once the Christmas crowds clear out we’ll come back to Iloilo and I’ll let you know ahead of time, thanks.

  5. BDO is probably in the top 10 because it has been around a long time ;). Here in the Metro you can’t spit with out hitting a bank. About customer service here; I know that during our visits here prior to our move, I was very impressed by the polite and numerous employees in the stores. Once we moved here I have come to realize that there is a huge difference between customer service and “servicing” the customer. IMHO Filipinos over all are very, very convenience based. They don’t mind long lines or poor service as long as the store or facility is easy to access, close to home and “usually” has what they need in stock. Again I don’t live in the province so I might be speaking out of my hat, but here in Manila everyone whines about traffic and how the Jeepny’s clog up the road, but tell them that they have to walk 100 meters to a jeepny pick up point instead of stepping out their front door and having one stop there, boy, you think you had just debauched their Aunt Tillie :).

    But,,,,,,,,,,having said all that, retiring and living here still beats working till I drop dead back home lolol.

    1. Scott H, I was simply amazed when we lived in Savannah Subdivision in Iloilo. The locals that lived there (many of them supported by family working as OFWs) wouldn’t even make a short walk in good weather, 15 minutes or less, to reach the front gate where they could hop on a jeepney. And I’m talking about young kids, elementary age and high school and college. They would rather pay the 8 pesos to take the subdivision’s shuttle service.

      But it’s not only the people in Savannah. I’ve been on jeepneys in Iloilo where a passenger will board and one or two blocks down the road, get off. They were too frickin’ lazy to walk. That’s perhaps why I have noticed a huge amount of overweight Filipinos in my five+ plus years in paradise. Of course, we all know America is far worse and has a skyrocketing obesity rate. Any one from the Midwest near my age, early 60’s, know we all had to walk to school in winter through 20 ft. snow drifts and usually barefooted, at that. And don’t forget that we, the kids, were the remote control, and got extra exercise by walking to the TV and manually changing one of our three channels.Times have changed.

      That be said, skinny, fat, tall or short(usually) people, I’ll stick with the Philippines, too. Sure beats working.

  6. You are so right, when we built our house, the foreman would hand me the list of materials he needed, I would don my hat and flip flops, hump the whole 500 meters down to our supplier, place the order then walk back. One day the foreman forgot something and sent a worker after me. I saw him get out of a jeepney with a slip of paper. Boy did I rage lololol. Industrious, innovative, tireless workers but wont walk 500 meters> (FACEPALM!!!!)

  7. Yep it is like they have not heard of a little invention called the computer here, or the associated thingy called the internet. It amazes me that some specific person has to be called upon to approve this or that. As for the check clearing nonsense, that is what it is nonsense. I have deposited checks to banks here and been told they will take 30 days to clear, lo and behold I get my online statement from my US bank a week later and see that the check has cleared. What they should really tell you is “Sir, we will allow you to have your money in one month. The check will clear in a week but we want to play around with your dollars for a few weeks interest free. Have a nice day.”

    1. Tony, you are correct. Our check cleared our bank in America in one week, five business days, while the banks here, as you stated, collect interest before we can access our funds. Frustrating, but not much I can do about it unless I stuff my money belt with cash the next time I return to the States. But since I’m a crusty old expat, probably will be the first time I get robbed since moving to the Philippines.

  8. It only takes 1 business day for a check to clear at my bank(NFCU) in the States. No more waiting a week for a paper check to clear. The process is all done online by the banks by scanning each check as it is deposited. The Philippine banks have been scamming their foreign customers for years with their 21-30 day hold on checks. BPI Bank in the Philippines has good online access for a bank in PI. I would choose BPI over BDO. It is best to get a Peso and Dollar account at BPI and you can transfer from your dollars to Peso online at your convenience.

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