Hard to Find in the Philippines!! – My Amazing 2017 US Shopping Adventure

Shopping Goodness

Ah, Amazon and Ebay, I did miss you so….

Yearly trips back to the US are an opportunity to stock up on some things that you can’t get (or are prohibitively expensive) in the Philippines.  I didn’t go TOO crazy this year as I am not sending a balikbayan box, and here’s a run-down on some of my 2017 acquisitions. 

FYI:  I just signed up for the Amazon Associate program.  If you purchase any items through the Amazon banners, I will get a small kickback.  Woo-hoo – the bucks are going to be pouring in!!  (Actually, if I wanted to make money on this, I probably shouldn’t have put the prices I “sniped” them for on Ebay…..)

GoPro Hero 3+ silver:  Ebay. Used.  $121. After years of using the Hero 2, I have FINALLY updated our (rarely used) action cam.  The 3+ is MUCH smaller and lighter has better low-light capability and sharpness than the old 2 and is possessed of much better audio.  It also has some sweet features such as remote viewing and control and wi-fi file transfers.  To defray the cost of this, I will be selling the two Hero 2’s that we have.

Lenovo Thinkpad T440s:  Ebay. Used.  $285.  I love Thinkpads – they are rugged and like me, ain’t too pretty but get the job done.  They are tough, resistant to heat, dust, humidity and shock and return solid performance.  In short, they are pretty much designed for the  corrosive atmosphere of the Philippines.  Mine has a nice 14 inch IPS FHD screen, a 256 GB SSD and an I7 processor.  I actually bought one of these on Michell sister’s behalf last year and was impressed by how nice it was.  As with the Hero 3+, to comp some of this cost, I will be selling the Thinkpad X220 with the SSD that I picked up last year.

Samsung S7
:  Ebay.  Used.  $238.  I am not exactly a hi-tech vlogger, and the Samsung phones have become my preferred mode of shooting videos.  The best camera you can have is the one that’s with you.  My phone is always in my pocket and the S7 has some pretty great video capabilities.  I likey! 

CONSUMER TIP:  “Blacklisted” cell phones are a good opportunity to pick up cell phones on the cheap! All the phones I purchase on Ebay have “bad esn’s or imei’s.”  That means they cannot be used in the United States but they work perfectly in the Philippines (or anywhere else outside of the United States). 

Nikon D5100:  Ebay. Used.  $227.  I have wanted to explore DSLR photography for a few years now. (Everyone knows how great the “dynamic range” is in the Philippines!) Last year I got a bum deal on Ebay and had to return it (not as described – thing was beat to hell).  This year I lucked out and sniped a D5100 with only 455 actuations, a battery pack and a Tamron 18-200 mm lens.  I have NO idea how to use the dang thing, but if I never get into it, I can always resell it in the Philippines.  Filipinos LOVE DSLR’s, so selling it shouldn’t be an issue. 


Skylab Three-Axis GoPro Gimbal:  Picked this up used on Ebay as well ($99).  I don’t use the GoPro a lot, but if the gimbal works out, I might be leaning on it a bit more.  And as with the Nikon, if I don’t use it, I won’t have a problem selling it there.  I hope.  UPDATE:  I just tested it out, and it is pretty amazing.  Updating the firmware was a PITA, but once done and calibrated, the thing works flawlessly.  I was actually running (err…. Jogging fast) at one point, and the footage came out buttery smooth.  Now I just have to figure out if lugging it around is worth it…

Sneakers: $50 – New on Amazon. I FINALLY got rid of my five year old sneaks and picked up a pair of ASICS Trail Runners on Amazon for 50 clams.  My old sneakers were literally falling apart, so it was time for a replacement.  And before you get into how often one should replace their running shoes, remember that I don’t go running – they’re just used for wandering aimlessly around the gym.  And hopefully, the heavier build of these Trail Runners will deal better with the damp conditions in the Philippines.

East-West SlingPack : $28 – New on Amazon. I purchased this same exact model over five years ago, and it was starting to show its age.  In layman’s terms, it was falling apart – to the point where Michell at one point had to re-stitch on the carry strap.  The water bottle pocket had also blown out and one of the zippers went AWOL.  In my humble opinion, this is the PERFECT sling pack and I literally use it every day.  It is one of the this foreigner’s top ten things to have in the Philippines.  As a bonus, it also fits perfectly in the top box of my Honda Click.  On flights, it is counted as my “personal item,” and it sits at my feet, providing me with room for my tablet, Kindle, travel documents and the like.  If you are going to buy anything from this list, it should be this sling pack.
NOTE:  The one caveat is the fit.  My old one slung over my right shoulder.  This one – although identical to the first model – has its strap on the opposite side and therefore slings over the left shoulder.  It’s an odd feeling, but I might still yet be young enough to adapt to the change.


Kindle Paperwhite
: $43 – Used on Ebay.  I picked up a Kobo reader for Michell last year, but it died about three months back.  This year, I picked her up a Kindle Paperwhite that is identical to the one I have.  I absolutely LOVE my Paperwhite and it’s my favorite material possession in the Philippines.  Brownouts, insomnia and occasional downtime ensure that our strong relationship will continue.  I think I actually did a video on how much I appreciate it at one point….


JBidwatcher Sniping
Most of the purchases noted above were used items purchased on Ebay.  To get some of these good deals (laptop, S7, D5100 and gimbal), I used JBidwatcher.  It’s a FREE program that “snipes” the very end of an auction.  You simply input what your maximum bid is and JBidwatcher takes over from there!  Just make sure to go to the Advanced tab and decrease the Sniping time period to 5 seconds or so.

So, that’s about it.  I will probably be putting a video together on this, but right now I’ve got things to do – my time in ‘Murica is running down (10 days left!), and my To Do list is beckoning me to git ‘er done!!






  1. Hope the S7 is one that has been modified so it doesn’t spontaneously combust.
    Suppose the S8 which has just been released in Oz in the last couple of months was a bit too expensive?
    Suggest if you haven’t got it already that you invest in a stand alone memory of a few tera-bytes to back up all your data to with the recent ransom-ware hacks and the amount of data you obviously already have backing it up would be a good idea.
    Go-Pro 3 instead of the Go-Pro 4? Price or are there problems with the 4?

  2. The S7 is a rocking phone. Its water proofing is awesome. The camera is so good that I left my Fuji SLR at home last time i was in the Philippines. The S8 is just weird! I would love to see the gimbal you bought in action.

    Looks like you got some good stuff on your trip.

    1. I will do a video on the gimbal at some point. The stabilization is amazing but it’s a big and heavy accessory to have to lug around. And yes – the S7 is simply the bomb. You can actually shoot in RAW format with it, import the images to Lightroom and manipulate to your heart’s content. I saw a S8 at the store and it looks pretty impressive. Mebbe I’ll get one next year…. Thanks, Lior.

  3. S7 wasn’t the phone self combusting. That’s the note 7.
    I got my s7 from Costco. Unlocked. Took me a while to buy it. It’s a lot to spend on a phone. But it is a great phone. And the camera is surprisingly good.
    Good choice Ned.

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