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1st Time Traveling to Philippines


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#1 Fingers

Posted 05 February 2010 - 03:56 AM

I am planning on traveling to the Philippines for the first time with my Girlfriend to meet her family. I will be going to Manila, Cebu, Leyte, and Bohol while I am there. Can anybody give me some advice on things I should be aware of when I go.

Just some FYI incase it is brought up... My Girlfriend is living in the United States already and does not need me for citizenship. She has her own job and money. lol

I am new to this site so please don't be to hard on me. hehe

Thanks for any help you might be able to offer.

#2 Dagnabbit

Posted 05 February 2010 - 09:51 PM

Things to be aware of.... well, I cannot guarantee these things will happen to you, but it is possible that:
Every one of her relatives will ask money from her. Not from you, but from her.
If you take the family out to eat or a short trip or something, expect 20 to 30 'extended family' to show up for the festivities.
You will be an instant hit, like a rock star, most likely.

Things to expect:
elaborate signs made and hung on the house for your arrival.
75 people waiting for you at the airport.
if they ask if you drink wine, they mean whiskey, or tanduay rum (rotgut stuff)
if they motion with their arm, like go away, this means come here. go figure.
if they have outdoor shower, and they say they won't watch you, the entire neighborhood will be watching.
if your gf wants to bring a balakbayan box (or ten) tell her it's cheaper to give them money rather than bring all that stuff.
unless you know your way around, take the hotel van to and from the airport, it's free. The cabbies will rip you off.
if you make it through customs and are appoached by official looking guy wanting to ask even more questions about your baggage, even though one glass door is all that stands between you and the diesel smelling air outside, give him 50 pesos and tell him to get out of your way. He only wants to get your money, he is NOT official, but somehow he is tolerated, so give him a pittance and head for the door, it's easier that way.
Use "kuya" or "manong" or "ate" (or whatever in the local dialect) to elders. they will warm up to you if you do. They will likely warm up to you even if you don't, but it's the custom and it will not hurt you to go with the flow.
you take an old woman's hand and touch it to your forehead while slightly bowing (heck, just to get it to your forehead will probably require the bow unless you are a midget)

Watch yourself, especially down south. Lots of assholes that kidnap Americans. Don't display wealth in public, lots of assholes to follow you home. You probably will be fine, but be aware of who is around you. You have money and lots of it compared to them.

Enjoy the ride on the jeepney built to seat 11, but loaded with 25, bags of rice, tied up chickens, maybe a pig, they might even stop and pick up a soldier and give him a free ride, hanging off the back. If so, that's good, he has an M-16.

that's enough for now. let me know if you have questions

#3 Fingers

Posted 06 February 2010 - 12:36 AM

Thanks for the useful info...

You told me a bunch of stuff I have not heard before, I really appreciate it.

LOL... you have me worried about the shower cause my GF said they have an outdoor shower that they use buckets to wash them selves with.

When I am there it will be her mothers birthday and I have been told that there will be a big party planned for her. All of her relatives and friends will be there so it should be intresting.

Also I am going to go to a "sabong" not sure if i spelled it correctly or not, but I mean a cockfight. I am pretty excited about that.

How far south do you have to go before you have to start worrying about the people that kidnap americans? I have heard to stay away from Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelego. Are there other areas to stay away from or is it pretty much common sense?

Thanks again for all your advice.

#4 (Member banned)

Posted 06 February 2010 - 05:41 AM

Dagnabbit's reply is spot on.

All what I can say is about Cebu, where I take care since many years financially for a fostergirl and also for her sister, who is almost blind. - You will see some threads here in this Philippine section about my trips to Cebu.

About myself, I always stay in Cebu City in a hotel, where I am sure, it is safe. And going out, I am almost never alone and keep on moving until I am again in a safe place, like a shopping mall, hotel, restaurant, church or other guarded area.

I am not out during late night, and I do not stay overnight in any village or slum area.

There are other reasons for doing that, it's about MY vacation.

I like to have a comfortable bed, and shower/toilet, clean food, functioning Citibank-ATM, away from mosquitos (dengue fever, malaria) and rats,  a strong roof in case of heavy rain and no flood in my room, and sometimes it is nice to stay a few days in a resort with a swimming pool, not so far outside of the city etc.
It's not only because of possible criminality. -
It's about my own comfort.

Why should my trip to Philippines be uncomfortable for me?

Southern rural Mindanao and all these islands, but also Eastern Mindanao region (east of the city of Tagum) is known as especially unsafe, and best do not go there. Overseas Filipinos are also a target, not only foreigners.

Stay in Davao City or other big city and family members should come to you and not you to them.


And also about our Philippine staff here in Tokyo. Some of them are refusing to go home for vacation and save their money, especially in case there is a special reason to celebrate something, like the 60th birthday of one of our staff, as you might be ripped off by local people in village for celebrations and every relative wants to have something from them. - They just send some money home and some pictures of them etc.

Most Filipinos in Japan are now going from Tokyo to Manila or Cebu with very little luggage, as there is a shipping line, taking cargo for pick-up and delivery from door-to-door, a big box - no weigth limit - is about USD 100,-.

Many Filipino contract workers have already a home or land-plot within a secured compound in a city in Philippines. Others prefer to stay in a hotel in the cities of Cebu or Ormoc and ask some family members to visit them in the city for dinner and some shopping.

Edited by yohan, 06 February 2010 - 05:51 AM.


#5 Dagnabbit

Posted 09 February 2010 - 11:07 PM

Hi fingers,

You too Yohan.

I have stayed in rural Mindanao and there was some fighting about 5 miles away from the village one night but I didn't know it until the next day. I have never felt unsafe, but I also have not been there since 1997. Things have taken a turn for the worse since then. People I know here that are from there say they will not go back unless they have too. They are worried about being robbed, etc.

somewhere someone commented that it was better under Marcos. I always hated Marcos when he was in power, hated the constant appearances on TV and his constant decrees. but now, in retrospect, it was better under Marcos. Sad, really sad.

My first trip there in 1981 was the best. Everywhere folks were friendly and just wanted to meet me and drink with me, etc. now I am not so sure I want to be there.

When I went the first time, my wife's family had the outdoor 'shower' with the buckets to pour water on yourself. I think they just assumed I would leave my underwear on out there, but I didn't. Half way through I looked up and saw nothing but heads in windows of all the neighbors!! I might have been the first blond tall whitey they ever saw. Well, they saw it all. :-) No harm done. I sort of pretended that I didn't know they were there.

I advise putting your wallet in your front pocket and walk with your thumbs in your pockets if you are in a crowded place. I have felt fingers go in my back pocket on three different occasions, all in Manila. Also it is good to not have all of you money in one place. distribute it amongst your pockets. Keep the big bills separate and don't ever pull them out when someone can see them. Too much temptation for them. They can follow you and you won't even know they are tracking your movements.

So, is your girl from Bohol? I love to listen to the Bohol girls talk.

#6 (Member banned)

Posted 10 February 2010 - 05:59 PM

View PostDagnabbit, on 09 February 2010 - 11:07 PM, said:

I also have not been there since 1997. Things have taken a turn for the worse since then. People I know here that are from there say they will not go back unless they have too. They are worried about being robbed, etc.
Same with all the Filipino contract workers here in Tokyo.

Last year I made the trip to Cebu to my fostergirl, Easter, Holy Friday and I could not believe that the airplane was not even half full...and this is the only direct flight to Cebu from Tokyo.

Under Marcos the flight was daily, and now only 5 times a week, and there were other airlines to Manila from Tokyo, most airlines suspended their flights due to not enough passengers.

Quote

somewhere someone commented that it was better under Marcos. I always hated Marcos when he was in power, hated the constant appearances on TV and his constant decrees. but now, in retrospect, it was better under Marcos. Sad, really sad.

My first trip there in 1981 was the best. Everywhere folks were friendly and just wanted to meet me and drink with me, etc. now I am not so sure I want to be there.

Also my first trip to Philippines was about 1980 under Marcos and the first trip was my best one.

I was in Manila+Quezon City, Naga, Legaspi (Mayon Volcano) Samar Leyte and Cebu.

And next trip was also Manila and Baguio and other places in the North, and later on Cebu, Negros and Panay... and all was exactly as you said, friendly, no danger for foreigners.

Today, going to some places, I would not go alone, and only by day, and never stay overnight.

Do not play the hero! Even locals recommend foreigners to stay not too far away from guarded areas, like churches, shopping malls, hotels, department stores, or not to leave the resort when being outside the cities...etc.

Near to Cebu City poverty is widespread, especially near the hills and near the harbour area. Wide areas with slums and nothing there. Do not go there alone! Always stay on the wide main street, never enter the narrow lanes except if some people you know and trust are going with you. Plenty of drug addicts, alcoholics, aggressive beggars, fraternity youth groups... any form of crime and violence you can find there.

It's really pity, but Philippines is really an impoverished nation and some places are considerably overpopulated, children suffering of malnutrition, diseases like dengue fever etc. etc. Plenty of problems.

The only I found in Cebu which was always OK, was the water supply. Due to heavy rains, reservoirs are always full it seems. Water quality is not bad.

I am careful now, and I like to have a comfortable time, so I stay in hotels, eat in good restaurants, go shopping only in secure shopping malls, swimming in resort hotel pools. Not a bad time and my Filipina fostergirl likes to come with me and enjoys that all very much. Totally different from her daily life. End of April I will be in Cebu again for 14 days.

#7 Dagnabbit

Posted 10 February 2010 - 07:08 PM

I will look forward to reading what you have to say after your next visit Yohan.

So where did you go Fingers? :-)

#8 (Member banned)

Posted 11 February 2010 - 05:44 AM

Me too.

When will you go again to Philippines?

Which places will you visit?

#9 DaivdT

Posted 14 February 2010 - 11:32 AM

View PostFingers, on 05 February 2010 - 03:56 AM, said:

I am planning on traveling to the Philippines for the first time with my Girlfriend to meet her family. I will be going to Manila, Cebu, Leyte, and Bohol while I am there. Can anybody give me some advice on things I should be aware of when I go.

Just some FYI incase it is brought up... My Girlfriend is living in the United States already and does not need me for citizenship. She has her own job and money. lol

I am new to this site so please don't be to hard on me. hehe

Thanks for any help you might be able to offer.

Have a great trip.  I been to Leyte 3 times and lived there for 10 months on my 3rd visit.  

As far as your Safety in Leyte is you are safe for the most part.  You will have your Criminals like any where, but they have Terrorist there also.  The NPA is in Leyte  They will not bother you as much as the Muslim groups.  While I was there they attacked a Police Station south of Ormoc City, which they have several times.

Ormoc, Taclacbon, and Baybay are nice places to visit there.  If you go Shopping in Ormoc at Gasinos be ready to be searched, it nothing new, nor something to get all upset about.  I seen many Kanos get all bent out of shape and make the rest of us look bad.

Be kind and respectful and you will be fine.  Do not be surprised if you are referred to as "Hey Joe", for you will have Trike Drivers call you wanting you to ride their Trike.  I seen some kick filpinas off so he could take me and my GF.  

Some of the Older people will stop you just to talk with you. I have had that happen many times.    

Let your Girl Friend do more of the negation of price and stay out of sight. They see a Kano the price goes up.  

Be ready to hear a lot of Chickens, see Pigs being hauled on a bike, or an entire family of 5 on one Motorcycle.

#10 Fingers

Posted 25 February 2010 - 12:21 AM

Thanks for all the useful tips and information, I really appreciate it.

I just bought my tickets a couple of hours ago and will be flying to the Philippines for the first 2 weeks of April. I am very excited to go but also a bit nervous as I have never traveled to other countries before except for when I was deployed in the military. I am sure I will have a blast there and will take all of your tips and advice with me and put it to good use.

Feel free to keep the replies coming. I will be checking more often now that I am officially going.

I can't wait!!!

Thanks again

Ryan


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