Moving to the Philippines: 28 Days Later

28 Days Later
Hail, loyal readers!
I just wanted to re-post a topic thread I started on a Philippines expat forum after I had been in the Republic for a grand total of 28 days.  Re-reading it two months later, all of the points still apply, especially the ones about the burning trash, the sun, and things I should have brought in my balikbayan boxes (little shipping containers), and it being cooler in the provinces.  The heat part is applying less, as I seem to be adjusting to it better. Part of this has been slowing my frenetic Western walking pace down and adopting the slower and more steady Filipino pace.  
Here is the original post I made after my first 28 days:
OK, after a grand total of 28 whole days in the Philippines, here is my one month update of how things are going:
I am still having a hard time with the heat.  Expect to take a lot of quick bird bath showers during the day.  Bird baths in conjunction with a fan are a wonder in combating the humidity that tends to build a layer of slime on your skin quite quickly. And yes, the layer of slime is frikken disgusting.  A short hop in the shower makes you feel like a new man.
The burning trash might be catching up with me.   Woke up these last two morning with a lovely wet cough.  Either it’s the trash or the cigarettes that are costing me about a buck a pack.  I have my electronic cigarettes and patches in my BB boxes, so I am using the wait for my boxes as an excuse to keep smoking.  Yuck!
Last night I learned to keep a good distance from your Filipina while she is shopping.  Mine was cross with me as there were a few times I was too close to her and she was unable to haggle due to my presence.
Riding a motorcycle/scooter continues to be an education here.  Every single day has been sunny here, so I have learned to have my long sleeve t-shirt, hat, bandana, gloves, and sunglasses with me at all times.  I use sunscreen on shorter trips, but any long excursion calls for all the sun proof clothing you can muster.  That sun is BRUTAL on our poor, melanin-challenged white skins.  Despite these precautions, I am turning an interesting shade of reddish-brown. Riding a bike in the provinces and along the coast is amazing fun.  Riding a bike in through the city center during rush hour, not so much.  But it does hone your short space skills with a quickness.   I have also realized that here in Dumaguete, it’s not that Filipinos that are bad drivers, it’s me that is the bad driver as I have not yet fully grasped the driving patterns here. Due to the lack of stop signs or traffic lights, Filipinos drive with a certain flow, and figuring out that flow makes driving here a lot easier.  If you hesitate at an intersection, you disturb the flow, and mess up the whole process.
Old Honda – looks like an old Indian.
Speaking of the sun, I am starting to regard it as my number one enemy in the Philippines.  When it is up in force with no cloud cover (from about 8 ish in the morning to about 4:30 PM), the heat becomes pretty bad.  Even if you are under an awning, if it is under the direct sun, you are still gonna cook. After around 430, the temperature is just about perfect.  A bit humid, but not bad at all.
My first sunrise in Dumaguete – sun is nice in the morning.
Filipino food isn’t great, but freshly made kinilaw (fresh caught yellow fin tuna) is one of the best things I have EVER had.  And the roadside BBQ chickens for 150 P are the still the most delicious chickens in the (Third) world.
I regret not bringing another BB box for my kitchen stuff, ziplock bags,  a good supply of vitamins and fish oil and some other things that are hard to find here.  The Filipino diet doesn’t seem to include many fresh veggies, so I think the multi vitamins are a necessity.  I should have also made arrangements for LBC to ship my 47 inch LCD TV.  The TV prices here are crazy and it would have only been a hundred dollars USD to send my TV.    🙁  Anyone thinking of moving here should put up a thread asking what they should include in their BB boxes.
The ocean water is a lot cooler than I thought it was going to be.  When I last swam near the equator, the water was actually quite warm and not refreshing at all.  Here, you actually got to do the quick duck under as sauntering out puts your teeth on edge. Once in, it’s incredibly nice.  Update:  Dauin’s water was much cooler than Sipalay’s for some reason.
Speaking of the ocean, you guys were right. I hadn’t been out snorkeling for five minutes before I got zapped by a jellyfish right behind the knee.  As I noted in another post, I had waited so long to get to the Philippines, that it was the best jellyfish sting I had ever had.  🙂  I also slipped on a rock while wading in Sipalay and set my hand down on a black sea urchin, getting  an even dozen spine punctures.  Yee-ha!
The province areas are much cooler than the cities.  Common sense, I suppose, but the difference is amazing.  I was in Dauin – on the beach – and the temperature in the shade was perfect.  Valencia  is a town up the hill from Dumaguete, and coming down from there, you can feel it warm up.  It’s only about 2 or 3 degrees difference, but it is still quite noticeable.
The ants I was warned about are here in force.  They are little black guys that don’t seem to bite, but do have a preternatural sixth sense when it comes to finding left out food, crumbs, grease, or even empty food containers.   One has to wipe every surface down with soapy water and make sure there is nothing left to lure them in.  They also seem to like toothpaste quite a bit.  It keeps their whites pearly, I suppose.
I heard a guy who had been here for a few weeks complain that he hadn’t had any dates since arriving.  Come to find out, he had not put any effort into getting phone numbers as he stated that he was shy.  If you are new to RP, being “shy” won’t do it, and you will find that the woman are very  approachable.  Being new is good as it gives you a great conversation starter – “I’m new  and you are going to be my tour guide.”  Don’t ask – just notify them of their new role.  🙂
A rather cute Filipina.
Beach resorts are a real bargain here.  A friend from the Living in Cebu forum, Shadow, had recommended a place in Sipalay and it was an incredible bargain.  The views and snorkeling were out of this world and the weather was very pleasant (it was the first time I had been here without aircon, and it was quite nice).  The food was also quite good and a great price compared to some of the other resorts on the isolated beach.  (You can’t drive into it – a boat has to bring you across).  The place we stayed at was called Sulu Sunset Resort – highly recommended if you are looking for some very quiet time on a white sand beach….
Beach resort area near Siplalay
Renewing my visa in Dumaguete took ten minutes.  They basically just liberated some pesos from me and said to come back for my Passport later in the week.  EZ-PZ.
So, after 28 days, I am still TOTALLY loving this place.  The “rose tinted glasses” are stuck firmly in place and being single – and as I had heard from multiple sources – it is a very inexpensive place to live.  As others are noting in another thread, it is most definitely more of a challenge if you are married and have kids. 
Christmas tree in Dumaguete.
++ Thinking about packing it all in and moving to the Philippines?  Possessed of a small pension or retirement plan and looking to get the most bang for your buck?  Subscribe to to get the pro’s and con’s of making such a move! ++


  1. Hello Dream Teamers.
    I know this is an old thread, but I think it would be great if you could do an updated list of recommended items you would add to your BB boxes, based on experiences from your first year living there. (I did see your vid about unpacking your clothing BB box with your comments about things like long pants and socks.) This info would be a great addition to your forthcoming e-book. Other helpful information might include necessary coordination, such as where the BB boxes are supposed to be delivered – especially for someone going there without a “permanent mailing address” yet. I don’t think that when mailing them initially that “Somewhere in the Philippines” would be a very good address – AHAHA!
    Really enjoy all of the great info and vids.

    I just saw your post from March 12, 2014 on Balikbayan Boxes.
    But again, this is a very important topic for anyone contemplating defecting to a tropical island on the other side of the earth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *