Recently a lot of thing are appearing both negative and positive regarding the Philippines and you need to decide if its the right place for you if you are moving here.
Firstly if your looking at a view of tropical paradise you shouldn’t look at city life as it may not be what you expected. Don’t get me wrong it can be positive depending on your age group and what your looking at in life. But if you want the nice beaches and tranquil life you need to look more into the quiet towns and provinces. Not only because you get a quieter life but also its cheaper living.
If poverty affects you then I would also have to say the province life is a lot easier on the eyes. Because if people have land there is a good chance they can support themselves. In the cities you come across street beggars who are mainly children and large shanty towns. On the positive side you could get involved with a good charity and make a difference. It all depends what you want to do. I’m more into promotion and introducing others to charities such as mercy in action. Not because I don’t want to get too involved but I think my use on the internet is better served than standing giving out food although either would be appreciated.
Robberies and murders.. this is becoming a big thing but I don’t think its realistic.. I doubt there has been an increase in activities but more the fact that people use the internet more so stories spread faster than they did before.. have you ever heard a news story telling you someone didn’t get murdered today? You have to take media with a pinch of salt aswell as people complaining about life. Older expats are more likely to complain its part of life and with a lot of time and a computer near at hand where do you think it all goes? I don’t write too much on my personal information but I had money stolen from a table before which resulted in the thieves’ drug dealer giving me my money back. The in and out of the story I’m not publishing but the truth is you can do more here than you would do in most countries. A foreigner is treated with a lot more respect than a lot of them deserve so be aware that although you are a foreign national there is more people likely to be taking care of you than likely to rob you. Last year near my home there was a British subject murdered by his wife’s boyfriend after that event I always was escorted (without request) because people worry about my safety. I have metal bars on my windows I have to admit but the reason they are there is because we have Louvre type windows which are easy to take out. Not the fact that I think I need high security. The majority of things that happen come down to common sense and the fact a lot of people don’t use it but I feel a lot safer here than I do in Central London.
Expats have all the answers.. this is a misconception like most things there are good and bad.. A good expat talks about the things they DO know about but a bad expat will talk about anything and likely to give you poor advice and with a negative spin. Business IS possible and IS very viable here if you do your homework. Girlie bars are not seen in a good light with Filipino relatives as no doubt if you told your relatives you spend your spare time with girls you pay for sex with wouldn’t go down well. Not every Filipino is out to rob you infact you will do better in finding some good contacts locally who know the way businesses operate to get a better understanding because I have a lot of friends for example who want to work for me because they know if things develop they will get a slice of the pie. Panay’s don’t like being called “My Filipina” this is something that does bother a lot of people and I hear it mainly from the older expats with very young girlfriends its all to do with respect and no I’m not a feminist.. but you are unlikely to say this is my English Woman or American Woman in your own country so why do it?
Best way to buy goods is to find out what is good and what isn’t.. for household pots and pans I import mine the same with a lot of the kitchen appliances. Why? Because if you have read other posts you will have found I have had more than my fair share of faulty goods in the Philippines. Not sure of the reason why so much of the electronics are so poor but I’m not buying them that’s one thing for sure. Its cheaper to buy quality in the UK and import something that will last 10 years than buy an item every 6 months. I struggle a bit with good sausages,cured bacons etc. which is why we have our own grinder etc. to make our own its all about adapting. We get spoilt in the West to the microwave meal mentality most food here is either eat out or you have to get the pots and pans out. Good thing to buy is cheap clothing the reason I say cheap is because its throw away. A lot of goods do shrink so better to just buy cheap shirts etc that you can have plenty of rather than expensive new goods which are likely to be poor copies unless you get good overruns. I do like the Hammerhead stock though which is more of a cheap brand but they don’t seem to shrink, unlike the Bench clothing that I have.
Don’t buy a house straight away.. this is something I have seen several times but be aware its easy to buy a house but isn’t always as easy to sell one especially in Cebu lately seems prices are starting to go stagnant over development on condos and houses above the P3m mark allows you to take your pick. But the other thing is travel around you may find a better alternative such as Argao which is a lot quieter and a lot more property for your money.
Rebels are everywhere.. there are a lot of rebel activities which is something that cant be ignored but they are mainly in certain parts of the Philippines not sure why things aren’t wide spread but the truth is Cebu is pretty safe as is many other locations you only have to do a search on Google for an area your thinking of moving to and get a quick idea from news headlines on criminal and terrorist activity. The recent big story is Aid workers in Mindanao in a specific region. But to be honest I don’t think Aid workers should be in an area that doesn’t offer guaranteed safety. Ok its good to help people but if a ransom gets paid the money is going to be spent on arms and has only increased the problem.
What if a Tsunami hits? To be honest you need to look into the areas that “can” be affected. Cebu is protected by other islands but I have a friend on Iloilo who did have a property damaged last year. Its all to do with location the most we get here seems to be the odd earthquake. But others are hit with typhoons, tsunami, land slides etc. The Philippines is a big place and its scattered so don’t think one area gets the same as the next.
Corruption is bad.. to be honest with you its a pain sometimes but its become part of the system. If you want something done quickly there is always “Express” available and a few hundred pesos can get you from a traffic violation in most cases but its all down to personal choice. I could get express on certain things such as visa extensions or if stopped by the Police ask the officer to look the other way for a donation but personally I don’t because it encourages the problem. You cant complain about it if at the same time your using it.
Good furniture is hard to find.. that’s wrong although for good quality furniture you will either pay a lot more than locations such as Gaisano sell their cheap chipboard stuff for or have to get it made by local craftsmen (or make it yourself). We have a rocking chair and crib made from local rattan which are pretty good quality and for less than P1,400 for the pair. But I have come across a surplus store that is selling export quality goods although even there with a rattan queen sized bed it was over P30,000 although you could tell the quality difference and the fact the same bed would no doubt be around P120k in Europe. So shopping around is the most important thing in getting things like furniture.
Using the local network.. a lot of things get done in the Phi
lippines by word of mouth and generally you get things cheaper although what I do is ask my wife who then asks her mother who then asks a friend,relative,neighbour and it heads out for a few days then comes back with availability and a price. Why do this? Because for example a spring for my gun is around P1,500 but I am picking up the same unit (identical) from the same location for P300 because its a friend of a friend of my wife. There is a long nose tax (overcharging) done by a lot of people but I find the more local you become the less likely they will try and charge you (especially if you start learning the language). I will tell people directly if am buying in the market something is Mahal (expensive) if I know the usual price and will just walk away and buy somewhere else. Next time you shop there they will be aware if they want you as a customer your more of a local than a tourist. But before someone calls racists.. Its also done region to region.. e.g. speaking Tagalog in a market in Cebu is likely to get you a few extra pesos added to the costs because you aren’t a local your more likely a tourist from Manila.
I welcome any feedback on this or any other of the subjects.