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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? PhilPad.com 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.

10 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,

  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.

  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.

  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? 🙂

  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.

  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.”

  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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