Mistakes I have made in the Philippines (part two of what should be a much longer list….)

Continuing on with my list of the Top Ten Mistakes I have made since coming to the Philippines:
6.  Smoking cigarettes and other vices:  Being a Libertarians dreamscape, the Philippines is very conducive to a number of vices. The price of alcohol is very low here as are the financial costs of cigarettes. Please note that I said “financial” costs – the physical health costs – unfortuneatly – are all still there. The price of a pack of cigarettes in Boston, Massachusetts was approximately $12.00 when I left towards the end of 2013. Here, at pack of smokes will set you back about $1.20.  Beer and liquor are also very inexpensive, which may come as great news for the casual drinkers amongst us, but if you are an alcoholic, this serene, sultry island nation can quickly turn into a nightmare. Please make no mistake about it:  The Philippines is a very bad place to be if you suffer from substance abuse issues. This is further exacerbated if you don’t have anything to do with the long hours of the day, as the lure of the many roadside bars here can be quite alluring. Please don’t come here and become “that guy” I  see cracking his first beer at nine clock in the morning…But back to me:  I had quit smoking for almost a year but started up again about two months before coming to the Philippines, my excuse being (oh, us addicts are sooooo good at excuses) that I was stressed out and would only resume smoking short-term. Here in the Philippines, however it is very inexpensive to continue this disgusting habit, and I suddenly had no financial impetus to curtail my use. So I am smoking.  And coughing.  Oh, and the pollution doesn’t help –  built-up city areas suffer from increased pollution due to two-stroke gas engines, burning trash, diesel exhausts, and no real emission laws, so it all adds up. So, on the short list of my things to do is quitting smoking.
7.  Not getting diving certification: This might seem petty to some, but I have been here nearly 8 months and I still don’t have open water diving certification. With all of the world-class diving locations in the Philippines, this is simply unacceptable. Although I enjoy snorkeling immensely, not getting scuba certification is a recurrent regret and one that I intend to redress shortly.  (Update 7-23-14:  Just talked to a guy at Bongo-Bongo Dive Shop in Dauin.  Will be getting certified in next few weeks.)
8.  Buying cheap furniture:  I recently spent a good chunk of change purchasing cheap particleboard furniture. Shortly thereafter, I discovered that there are a good number of custom furniture shops in the area that can supply good quality goods for about the same price as “fallaparticleboard.”  As long as you can supply them with a plan or sketch of what you want, they can make it; often times out of good quality wood such as mahogany.  I have since ceased purchasing any more
particleboard furniture and have been looking at plans for getting customized mahogany furnishings.
9.  Buying a truck:  I purchased a nice little diesel Pajero about four five months ago. Since then it has pretty much been sitting in the driveway.  In getting about town, it is simply much easier and economical to use a motorcycle or scooter.  It’s nice having the truck for rainy days or big shopping expeditions, but actually getting through the traffic here can be quite an ordeal in a large vehicle (car or truck).  If you are stuck behind a line of slow-moving tricycles, you can only go as fast as the tricycle in front of you.  With a motorcycle, you at least have the option to pass the slower moving traffic.  Plus, with the cost of diesel about four dollars a gallon here (gas is about $5), it just doesn’t make much financial sense to use it all that much.

10.  Mistakes in my relationship:  Like many before me – and probably many after – I made a number of mistakes when it came to relationships in the Philippines.  It took me a little while to realize that it really didn’t make a whole lot of sense trying to apply a Western approach to dating to an Eastern culture.  In short, things are done VERY differently here:  There is no real “casual” dating – what it basically comes down to is you are either uyab (term for either boyfriend or girlfriend) or you are not.  Filipinas – like many women all around the world – are looking for committed long term relationships from men they can trust and count on.  And, since they have a certain way of doing things – ways that have been in place for hundreds of years- you’re not going to make a whole lot of headway trying to rationally convince them otherwise.  As to the particular details of what mistakes I made along the way, I will save that for a future post. Well, there it is – the conclusion of my Ten Top Mistakes that I have made since coming to the Philippines.  I hope you have gotten something out of it!


  1. I’ve noticed my comments aren’t posting like on your other sites. Do they have to be approved first? See I miss lots of typos when I post comments and I like to correct them but here you cant do that. Why is that? Bear with me.

  2. I’ve read that even used cars and trucks are crazy expensive in the Philippines. Your 4X4 looks very well maintained. What would be a typical price for a vehicle like that converted to US dollars?

  3. Kamusta ka…
    I’m learning Tagalog prior to arriving.
    Anyway…I plan on coming and retiring in the Phillipines, I’m pretty well financially and I have a fiancē. I enjoy your blogs, very helpful, I already have identified several mistakes that I would of made, bit thanks to your site, I corrected them. I have traveled around the world in the work I was doing, unfortunately Afghanistan was very ugly for me and forced me into an early retirement or as my fiance says lovingly, she happy because as soon as the doctors are finished I’m there with her. Could I give you my e-mail address for specific questions that I may have in the future as so not to crowd your site, my name is Paul originally from Ohio. I will get my Paddi cerification before I come..lol.
    Once again salamat for the great information.

    1. Thanks a lot for that, Paul. Learning Tagalog is great. Just be aware that there are a bunch of regional languages that they speak in the Philippines and Tagalog is only used all of the time if you live on or around Luzon. And you will love the diving here!

  4. Hi please could you tell me how much would a 125cc motobike cost in the Philippines and new keep the blogs going keep up the good work and also your girlfriend great stuff thanks

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