My time in the PH (What OFWs/Foreigners must know)

Foreigner? Long time OFW? Planning a vacation in the Philippines? Have no idea what to do there? You’re in luck! I’ve just had my month-long vacation in the Philippines! And I know exactly what to do!

But first… a back story.

I finally got my well-deserved, month-long vacation in the Philippines. And God… it’s been so long.


A lot has changed. The Philippines looks so different from the last time I was here.

I was born here (let’s get that out of the way). I migrated to the US when I was young. Because most of my family and relatives are already there. I only have one set of family left in Manila and another set each in Bacolod and Iloilo. That’s it. And they are all ready to pack their things and migrate too once the kids finish college. So basically, I will have no more family left here in the next couple of years.


Anyway, first thing’s first. It feels so NICE to see family and relatives again. It feels nostalgic to see the Philippines again.


The Philippines have changed. And my time here was spent “relearning” the culture from what I “used” to remember it.


Here are the things I learned and what any foreigner or long time OFWs (who haven’t gone back here in a long time) should know.

And there’s a day-to-day activities to do down below too. Highly recommended!

Here are the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. But first, let’s start with the bad.


1. The Heat.

God, I hate the heat. It’s excruciating. My skin is melting, my brain is turning squishy and my mood is going sour.

I sweat like a pig –let’s get that out of the way.

If you’re a naturally petite Filipina with slow metabolism, then don’t judge me! I am a grown ass man who eats MEAT. I sweat like a pig!


Solution? Find damn AC. Do whatever you can. You haven’t adjusted to the heat yet (it took me two weeks to adjust), and your relatives should understand that. If they don’t have AC in their guest rooms, then get a hotel…


 Which leads us to the good…

2. Hotels are cheaper.

Oh, pish posh, don’t indulge yourself in three to five star hotels. They are ridiculously expensive and not worth your money. Your better blowing off your money on the beach than in an expensive-so-not-worth-it-hotel.


If you’re curious, the decent prices I’ve gotten for hotels and rooms are:

P1,500 to 3,000 in Manila

Visayas are P700-1,500

Boracay, Cebu, Bohol beach rooms are P1,500- 3,000

(I have a local negotiating for me in Boracay)

Find cheap hotels. They all come with AC (and/or TV), so you’ll be all good. If you’re lucky, they throw in a cheap-but-free DSL.

Which leads us to…


3. Internet connection.

This is not important. Please don’t think your country is under attack and get over these next few statements as fast as you can.

Adjusting from a cable Internet to DSL made me go through a withdrawal syndrome (Yeah, I’m that addicted to Internet). But it should’nt concern non-addicts like you. So from spending 8-10 hours of fast surfing and fast streaming, getting choppy connection speed can be annoying.


Anyway, get over it and let’s get over to…


4. Labor is damn cheap.

Don’t fight it, just hire somebody.

I’m an introvert. And I’m used to doing things on my own. I live in my own cave, wash my own clothes, hunt my own food, and (sometimes) cook my own food.

And like all introverts, I prefer to work alone. But as any web entrepreneur knows… you can’t do it alone! So hire somebody!

That’s why outsourcing have become so popular theses days. And that’s true with vacations in the PH too!

Wifey and I were pretty much useless the first two weeks. We were barely trying to adjust to the heat. We were weak and helpless — so we hired a nanny!

The nanny helped with the baby, cooking, cleaning, laundry (and pedicure :) ).

Boy, that is a lot of help! We couldn’t have survived without her.


At the end of the month, I asked the nanny how much I owed her.

She said, “three thousand, sir.”

“Crap! Really? It’s that expensive?!”

“But sir…”

“Oh wait! You’re talking about peso aren’t you?”

We both realized how stupid I was and I gave her a hundred dollars. She was happy.


5. Driver.

We were lucky, my relatives provided us with a car and a driver. The driver will drive us anywhere and all we need is to fill it up with gas and buy the driver food.

And yes, gas is freaking more expensive here! 


Bonus tip: Food.

People here eat three to five times a day! Wow! By golly geez! Culture shock!

Hectic American schedule only let’s us eat once or twice a day.

We were flabbergasted when we first learned this. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, (and midnight snack)… But wait! People don’t get fat!

How so?

I think part of this is because food here is more expensive, and is so damn tiny. BUT! It’s not as bad as I first thought it was…

Confusing? (more on this in a while. I promise.)


First, let’s get to the “must do” for foreigners and long time OFWs.


6. Professional labor.

- Go to a damn dentist! It’s freaking cheap! 600 pesos (around 15 bucks) for cleaning? If you don’t have full dental (like me), then by God, this is your chance.

- Go to a Massage parlor. For the love of God, go to a massage parlor!

A full-body massage is heaven on Earth. My aching back, hips, shoulders were cured. The first time I had a full-body massage, I was surprised how cheap it was!

“300 pesos, sir.” The masseuse said.

“Really?!? Wow!” (That’s normally 80 bucks in the US… plus tip.)

I gave her 500 pesos, and went back there everyday.

Massages are 300 pesos in the Visayas and 800-1,000 in Manila.

Around 500-1000 pesos in Boracay and other beaches during peak season (which is now).


So after massages, I go for an exercise…

7. Gyms.

I’m not athletic nor do I care how I look. But one boring day (with crappy Internet connection), I got so bored out of my mind. So I decided to go for an exercise (And that rarely happens).

Seeing as how I can’t jog, since the scorching heat is pissing me off all the time — the driver took me to the nearest gym. So what the hell, I signed up for it (1,000 a month).

First off, the weather acts as a natural sauna. Just a little movement here and there, and you sweat like a pig. Just hit the treadmill and pretend to lift weights, perspire a few gallons of sweat (eww!) and yeah! I lost 20 lbs in three weeks! I’m serious.

Don’t believe me? Then let’s talk about…


8. Food.

Ok, I promised to explain more about food. Here it goes.

Food is more expensive. Yep, you heard me right. It might be slightly expensive or the same price as in the US, but! It’s so damn tiny! Spend $3 on a whole chicken or $7 on a piece of pork or beef. And you get a fatty, juicy, MONSTROUS sized meat.

Spend the same amount here and you get a tiny piece. You know what I’m talking about. Bacolod is supposed to be famous for cheap-but-awesome chicken, but… it’s still tiny and more expensive, if you think about it.

BUT! Good news! Your country is NOt under attack. So chill…

Let me explain this as best as I can.


A week into PH, my wife and I were eating at mang inasal. She innocently muttered, “so nice we don’t have to separate the fats from the meat.”

“I hear ya, super thin, malnourished chicken… — wait!”

And it all came tumbling down on me. So this is the big secret! I thought it was all on me doing exercises and all (finally). But no, exercise is just a part of it. Tiny food, plus extreme heat, plus natural sauna (gym) — equals the secret to losing weight!


We eat once or twice a day in the US, but damn! The food sizes are humongous!

So yeah, eating small servings three to five times a day is better than eating a “full meal” once or twice a day.


So here’s how my typical day goes:

Since we can’t stand Manila traffic, we decided to settle in the Visayas instead. So here’s how my typical day in Visayas goes.

- I wake up

- Have breakfast prepared by the helper (how cool is that? Somebody preparing meal for us. I could get used to this)

- Have the driver take me to the massage parlor. (again, somebody driving for me? I could get used to this)

- For 300 pesos, I get a massage. (Full body massage… is heaven on earth. It’s a must!)

And yes, I get a massage everyday. I don’t care what you say.

- Then lunch (tiny chicken)

- Then I go to the gym and pretend to work out. I don’t care about my body or how I look but this “healthy living” thing makes me sleep better at night! It feels good!

  • I hop (walk) on the treadmill.
  • The weather works as a natural sauna.
  • I sweat like a Pig.
  • Then pretend to lift weights.
  • Sweat a few more gallons and done! And it all takes is (drumroll) 15 minutes.

- I go home, take a bath, play with the baby and nap.

- The night caps off with a few beers with friends and relatives — aahhh, this is the life.

And this is just in the city. The beach vacation routine is a different heaven (but that deserves a whole new post).



And now for the darker side of my visit.

I will expand this later on a whole new post, but I’ll enumerate it for now.

- You CANNOT and I absolutely mean CANNOT get sick! As I’ve previously written, hospitals will kill you!

- I cannot, absolutely cannot get past traffic in manila. That’s why we settled here in the visayas province.

- Buy a crapload of ‘hanes’ or ‘fruit of the looms’ from walmart. Buy a whole lots of it. The shirts you’ve packed aren’t enough. You take a bath twice or thrice a day, ergo, you change shirts two to three times a day.

- Assholes will slam doors at you. If you’re used to holding doors for people and people holding doors for you in return (in the US), then  assholes slamming doors at you (in PH) will ruin your vacation.

- And oh, people will cut lines. God, do people cut lines. There’s nothing more annoying than ‘you’ patiently waiting in line, then somebody cutting you off. (This bit deserves a whole article, so until next time)

- Same as driving. Cars don’t follow lanes, they cut each other all the time. And therefore, traffic gets worse (because of bad drivers).


Anyway, to my last and (probably) best point.

- Stripclubs are cheaper. (So they say)

I’ve heard stories of stripclubs, but never been to one! I have no idea what goes on over those places. Period. End of story.

And yes, my wife will read this.





About Dave

You've been had. You've been blind. You've been asleep. You've been bound. You are a prisoner. Now wake up! Smell freedom! Engulf yourself in the beauty of nature! Be free! For the first time, stop listening to others and DO WHAT YOU WANT! Be free, my friend. Soar and be free.

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  • ^_^

    haha.. I like how you write. It’s very entertaining.

    • Dave