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It took a few days, dear readers, but I’ve finally recovered from a recent trek to Metro Manila. “The Dimple Star Road Trip from Hell: Guimaras to Manila” beat the living snot out of this crusty old expat. By the beard of Zeus! Why would an American expat living in the Philippines subject himself to such torture in the first place? I retired to the Philippines over seven years ago. I knew there were other travel options such as flying via Cebu Pacific.dimple star bus guimaras stop

The Dimple Star Bus Stop located at the “New Site Market” in Guimaras

We also could have taken to the seas. That’s what we did on our return trip, though one of the passengers jumped ship en route (more on that in a later post.)

Common sense flew out out the window when I agreed to an almost 24-hour trip on a NON-AIR CON Dimple Star Bus.

My apologies to Dimple Star. They did their best. It’s not their fault I’m so cheap and stupid.

And as savvy geographically-minded readers already know, part of the trip had to be done on a RORO ferry. In fact, three different ferries. There’s no Guimaras (our home province) to Manila super highway and there never will be.

There has been talk for decades about an Iloilo to Guimaras highway. Politicians like Grace Poe always promise to build that highway every time an election comes around.

Iloilo is a short 15-minute pump boat ride away. But like Chicago Cubs fans who dream of a World Series victories for their beloved Cubbies, that road to Iloilo will never be realized, either. Put it right up there with the proverbial snowball’s chances in hell.


The main reason we took Dimple Star, aside from cost, 1200 pesos each, 25 US Dollars,  for our Guimaras to Manila ride, was my sister-in-law Marjorie.

Marjorie had been staying at our new home in the Philippines for a couple of months but had to catch a flight in Manila. The OFW, Overseas Foreign Worker, needed to return to her domestic helper job in Kuwait. She told her sister, my asawa, that she needed to take Dimple Star.

Why? Dimple Star would stop at a bus terminal in Metro Manila she needed.

At the bus terminal Marjorie would be able to take another bus to Novaliches. In Novaliches she would be staying with her oldest sister before leaving for the airport a few days later.

Now I’m sure that with a little research I could have found a bus terminal near Pier 4. Pier 4 is the port our 2GO ship departed from on our return trip from Manila. We could have gone by boat.

But I felt adventurous that day and advised my asawa to purchase our Dimple Star tickets in advance. The tickets could be obtained from our “New Site” Wet Market in Guimaras.

The “New Site” is just down the road from the “Old Site”. This wet market has vendors offering the freshest fish, meats, fruits and vegetables on our island province.


I was in the headquarters of Philippines Plus slaving away on an antiquated world wide web internet system courtesy of Globe which operates mostly on “Filipino Time” Our helper suddenly popped into my office and informed me that my asawa was trying to reach me.

I had been in the CR, Comfort Room, and never have my wife’s Globe Samsung mobile near me. She carries our Sun Samsung when she goes anywhere.

Our maid handed me the phone. The signal was breaking up as usual and my wife, irritated that she couldn’t reach me, was at the Dimple Star office, an eatery at the “New Site.”

She advised me that an air con bus was going to leave on July 12th. We were supposed to leave on the 13th but that bus did not have any air conditioning.

“Take the air con bus on the 12th!” I exclaimed.

“What?” came my spouse’s anxious reply.

“Take the air con bus on the 12th. I don’t want to travel that far with air con. We’ll just leave a day earlier.” I said.

“What? Take the bus on the 13?” she asked.

“OK, sure, I’ll just sweat all the way over and raise my blood pressure,” came my sarcastic reply, with the cell phone signal from Globe still cracking up.

“OK, I’ll get tickets for the 13.” my aswaa informed me, oblivious to my remarks about the lack of air con.

[Editor’s note: In the Philippines it’s common practice to pronounce only the number of a date. Even on Filipino television the broadcasters never use the th, nd, rd” andst” when pronouncing a date.]


So that’s how I ended up on a Tuesday morning in Guimaras waiting for our Dimple Star bus to arrive.

We arrived at 6am in front of an eatery which served as the local Dimple Star outlet. The restaurant’s owner offered me two plastic chairs, one stacked on top of another, to sit my fat kano butt on. He set out a single seat for my wife and sister-in-law.

The proprietor obviously knew I had already dispatched three of the pale turquoise plastic chairs commonly found in the Philippines.

We started boarding the bus around 7:30 am. The owner’s wife graciously seated my wife and I first. There are perks to being a celebrity in the Philippines.

Finally, after calling out the name of one passenger several times, who never boarded to my knowledge, we began our adventure: “The Dimple Star Road Trip from Hell: Guimaras to Manila.” It was a journey I will never forget.

(To be continued)

12 thoughts on “The Dimple Star Road Trip from Hell: Guimaras to Manila

  1. After 21 years of wedded bliss I have learned the following. Confucius say, never try the sarcasm thing if your asawa is from these beautiful islands unless you are together to explain the sarcasm bit to her!

    1. I use sarcasm with my wife. She is a quick learner and has started to be sarcastic with me sometimes. I think she is also not yet capable of utilizing it as it often comes off as plain mean, but them’s the breaks.

      I recall leaving the northern tip of Cebu and a local girl (in a bathing towel) asked where I was going. I told her Manila. She asked if I was walking there. I wasn’t sure at what point I should have stopped because obviously an American has fun with that kind of conversation, but not all Filipinos do. We were in the middle of the main dirt path and plenty of locals were around for the amusement.

      Sometimes I have to reign in my wife with something obvious with “gosh this is just the WORST day ever!” after getting an amazing deal or eating delicious food. Sometimes she still has to verify…

  2. Some days it just feels good to laugh. I promise I am laughing with you and not at you! I can really get a good sense of your trip from this post. Look forward to hear the rest of it. At Christmas time we road an air con bus from Butuan to Cagayan. Air con only in name not in reality. My wife was bitching the whole way. The only thing I had going for me was I know if I keep breathing we will get there at some point. One never fully knows what to expect in the PI. Hope the rest of the trip was an improvement over the bus.

  3. Have to give you credit for even getting on the bus don’t think I would have gotten on the bus knowing it was going to be a 24 hrs ride with no AC.
    I personally don’t believe my wife would have been willing to take that bus ride. That being said how did your asawa enjoy the ride?
    And by the way the Cubs have a pretty good shot at making it to the series this year…..

  4. I’ve done a 3 hour bus ride in the Philippines without aircon, but that’s about as long as I would go. In fact the last time we did it without aircon, everyone’s windows were of course open. The bus clipped a truck’s outside mirror, shattering the mirror and the glass flew threw the windows, actually cutting a couple of passengers.

  5. Hello to the Guimaras family. This posting is not attached to this article. My Ilonga wife and i have been married for 34 years. We met in Weslaco, Texas and still live nearby in Edinburg at the bottom tip of Texas only a few miles from the Mexican border. We are looking at moving to Iloilo and or buying some property on Guimaras Island. We will be in your territory for approx two weeks the last part of August two months from now. I would appreciate meeting with you at your convenience at a location you feel comfortable with. Need anything from the states or Mexico?

  6. Dave,
    I also have taken a bus ride without aircon, but it was only about 8hrs. We were up in the mountains quite a bit of the time, so it was not so terribly hot, but will from now on just wait a day if we have to, for an aircon bus. My wife NEVER complains in public about anything, I am quite the opposite and am also quite sarcastic at times, which she picks up on instantly. I kinda like other forms of travel besides flying all the time, I can see so much more on the ground, plus I am not a big fan of Cebu Pacific and all there add-on expenses.

  7. Good day from Communist Canada.Believe it or not,my brother-in-law worked for the famous Dimple Star company.I was not that interested at the time,so I did not ask any questions,but I do remember that he said that Dimples’ diesels receive no maintenance at all,which is quite bad,even by Philippine standards.I think he said they break down often for that reason,and because of fuel made from plant fibres.Glad you did not have any problems.Joe.PS I don’t know anything about diesel fuel,but the plant fibre story may be true

    1. The thing that always gets me is how nobody ever shuts off the engine when refueling is taking place and the nozzle doesn’t have the automatic shut off.

      I guess that’s why self-service isn’t a thing.

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