Monthly Archives: March 2008

Angeles City Tidbits

Well, it is that time once again to unload a bunch of pictures I’ve taken over the last few months or so that just didn’t seem to belong in their own news item but were of interest enough (at least to me) to be put somewhere.

So, that is why we are here. To play that age old game of show and tell. Pretend we are back in school and it is my turn to stand up in front of the class and ramble on a bit about nothing really important.

Ok, enough snickering… I know most of you think that is business as usual for me, right? LOL

First up is yet another Western Union has opened up in Angeles City. This one is located between Margarita and 7-11 and by location should be pretty popular with the local bar girl population.

I find this amusing as I did a quick search on the Internet on Western Union locations by using their Site Locator and this is what I found:

Los Angeles, California, a city with a population of more than 4 million people, has 5 Western Union Official offices.

Angeles City which has a population of about 300,000 has 32 locations.

Just amazing…

Was in 7-11 the other day and saw something that just made me laugh out loud.

Take a close look at what is for sale here.7-11 is actually selling bola bola!

Now you know when your girl’s lies seem to be getting weak and she disappears somewhere and when she comes back her story’s ring more true. Well she probably went to 7-11 and got a refill on her bola bola!

And if she is buying the premium bola bola, you might want to lower her allowance!

You gotta love this! Only in the Philippines.

Don’t see it? Take a closer look…

Netguard and I were at the bank using the ATM and the guard there got up to take a break. When he left he actually handcuffed his chair to the pole!

Heheheh So hard to believe. You think the gun alone would be deterrent enough, but I guess there is a chair napper in town and plastic chairs are a hot commodity!

Ok, part two of only in the Philippines!

Maybe you don’t read Tagalog but the sign basically says that dancers are not allowed (bawal: A word everyone should know) to wipe their lipstick on the CR bath towels. If they get caught they will be required to pay a fine.

LOL

Well, take a look at the towel! Just goes to show that a sign is about as valuable as the ink it’s printed with.

Here is an interesting item. On most club doors now there are posted signs stating that minors are not permitted into the clubs.

The weird thing about this is that there is no posted age and I have heard many different stories on what it means. I have even heard that the age difference is different for girls and guys where a girl who is 18 is not considered a minor but a guy needs to reach 21 for this same honor. Then there is the question of drinking age and smoking age, etc.

However, whatever the meaning all the clubs now sport this sign. I am sure that it was mandated from the Mayor’s office, of course. There is no way that all the clubs would come together on something so trivial as a posted sign. So the real question is, is this actually doing anything or just for show?

You be the judge…

Preparing For Your Trip

“There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.” – Bertrand Russell

Research, Research, Research!

I do not think that one can be too prepared for a trip. As this is the case this will be one of the longest sections to this guide as I will try to cover as much as I can to get you familiar with everything you will need to know and if it is not here in this section you will have a ton of links to find the answer to the question I don’t cover.

I suggest doing all you can and plan for as much as you possibly can before you make your visit so that once you get here no surprises will spoil your holiday. Of course emergencies and situations come up but with the right kind of planning you can minimize the chances of something happening to spoil your vacation.

You are already doing one of the best things you can do to prepare for your trip and that is reading this guide. There is also a ton of information out there on many web sites all devoted to helping you get the most out of your money and time in Angeles City.Always good to know about any weather problems coming along that might affect your travel or time whilst in the Philippines. There are many sites on the web which track major storms but one of the best is Typhoon2000.They will follow all major storms in the area and have excellent graphics as you can see from this sample to the left.There literally thousands of sites to help you research your trip. Some of these sites are, but not limited to:

Asian-Escapades: A pay site with a board, photos, reviews, and more devoted to Asian travel.

Gotophil: Another pay site that has pictures, a board and occasional news items from Angeles City.

Angeles2 Board: A message board where many questions can be answered. But beware, a lot of false information is here to and there are a lot of people who post there that are not so pleasant.

TSM: A pay site devoted to the Travel of the Single Male.

Wow Philippines: The official Philippine tourism site.

Philippine Travel – Travel advisory and tips on the Philippines.
Travel Information of the Philippines – Self titled, travel info for the Philippines.
Lonely Planet Guide to the Philippines – Very nice travel guide.
Local Time in the Philippines – 8 hours ahead of GMT
Journeys to the Philippines – One man’s views on his travels.
Philippine Consulate – Tourism/Business/Travel/Information Pages.

Immigration Law Net – A site with information on most immigration questions.
US State Department – Consular affairs, passport and visas.

Here are some links to Philippine online newspapers:

The Manila Times

Filipino Reporter

The Filipino Express

Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Manila Bulletin

And many more! Simply put the words Philippines and Tourism into any search engine and you will find thousands of sites to get information from.

The best thing to do is read everything you can and then make your own decisions. I also suggest you get on the various message boards and lurk for a while and learn which posters information you can trust and then use these to get any unanswered questions resolved. You can’t have too much information and be over prepared. Now don’t think I’m being paranoid as there is obviously a point that you will get overwhelmed with all the information, but take all advice just don’t feel obligated to follow it. Once you get to Angeles and experience you will discover how much was bola bola (false) and how much was truth. You then in turn can help the next newbie with information and together we will all make Angeles a better place and more enjoyable for all.

I will go into hotels, restaurants, and club options in later sections of this guide but realize that those opinions are just that: opinions. Read all you can about the different options then decide on what is best for you.

But first let’s discuss a few things you should do and think about well before your trip.

Passport and visa requirements.

Passport: Yours must be valid for at least six months beyond the last day of intended stay.

Visa: There is no visa required for a stay of up to 21 days. If you plan to stay longer, you will have to apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, if staying in Manila or on 7th street in Dau if staying in Angeles City.

Visas are required for business travelers. (If holding passport stamped “Executive Order Number 226,” a visa not required.) Children 15 years old and younger must obtain a visa, regardless of length of stay, if not accompanied by at least one parent; youths must also have a consent document issued by a Philippines Consulate. Visas may be obtained through the Embassy of the Philippines, 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. Their phone number is (202)467-9300. Visas may also be obtained from the Philippines Consulates General in Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco.

Many times a visitor extends his trip once getting here as he discovers that 21 days just isn’t long enough. Well don’t worry; there are many ways to extend your trip once here. You can do it yourself at the immigration branch office here in Angeles City or have one of the local travel agents do it for you. Action Travel located in Kokomo’s, Beeline Travel, or the Swagman offices can process the paperwork for you although handling it yourself is no hassle and also cheaper.

The local office is on 7th Street in Dau which is just a quick trike or taxi ride from Field’s Ave. If you do decide to go to the office yourself make sure you wear pants as they do insist on this. I have heard stories of the guard not even letting people in the door unless dressed conservatively so do yourself a favor and wear something nice but casual. The same outfit you wore on the airplane over will do nicely, but more on clothes in a bit. Back to your visa…

In about 20 minutes and for about 2000 pesos you can get a visa waiver which will allow you to stay for 38 days. If you are past your 21 days you will get assessed a 500 peso fine so make sure you get this waiver before your 21 days are up. The phone number to this office is (045)892-6110 and is a local call from Angeles City.

The following items are also required by law but on my many trips I have never been asked for them but better to be safe than sorry.

Documents for onward travel: This includes onward or return plane tickets; it also includes all documents required for entry to next destination. (If holding passport stamped “Executive Order Number 226,” no return/onward ticket is required.)

Adequate funds for stay: Not sure what they consider “adequate funds” but it is required by law so I thought I would mention it here.

International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever: Required if arriving within five days of having been in an infected area.

Other: Unaccompanied minors age 16 or 17 years or minors under 18 accompanied by one parent must carry a notarized letter of consent to travel. It must be signed by the absent parent.

While on the topic of airports and travel through them a departure tax is charged for domestic and international departures in the Philippines. The departure tax for international flights is 550 pesos; for domestic flights it is 100 pesos. Children under age two are exempt. Transit passengers are exempt as long as they remain in the transit area and do not leave the airport between flights.

Also while talking of airports let’s take a moment and go over entry and export restrictions.

Philippines detailed customs guidelines include limits on the duty-free import of tobacco and alcohol.

For tobacco you are allowed up to 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of pipe tobacco (passengers 18 and older only). For alcohol you can bring two bottles of alcoholic beverages of not more than one liter each (passengers 18 and older only). I have personally brought more than this with no problems before I knew the regulations but best to know what the legal limits are. Visitors carrying more than $3,000 US dollars are requested to declare the amount at the Central Bank of the Philippines counter located at the customs area.

Prohibited items:

  • Firearms and firearm parts, firearm replicas, ammunition and explosives
  • Printed subversive, obscene and pornographic materials
  • Drugs or substances for abortion
  • Gambling machines and articles, jackpot or pinball machines, lottery sweepstakes tickets, coin-operated video machines
  • Articles of gold, silver and precious metals without indications of quality
  • Misbranded and/or adulterated drugs or foodstuffs
  • Marijuana, poppy, coca leaves, heroin, opium or any other prohibited drugs; opium pipes and parts of opium pipes.

The Philippines takes its fight against illicit drug use very seriously so don’t even think of trafficking any illegal substances into the country.

Free export (by passengers 18 and older) of:

  • One quart of alcoholic beverages
  • 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 500 grams of tobacco.

Currency: Export of local currency is prohibited. Foreign currencies may be exported up to the amount declared upon arrival.

Antiques: may not be exported without a certificate from the National Museum.

Health Concerns:

“I consider myself an expert on love, sex, and health. Without health you can have very little of the other two.” – Barbara Cartland

Now is as good a time as any to talk about some health concerns while traveling in the Philippines. I do not share this information to try and scare you or dissuade you from making a trip here but feel that this information should be known so you can make your own decisions.

Food/Water Safety:

Bottom line on water: Drink bottled water when in the Philippines!

Unlike in other countries, the Philippines’ water problem is not due to its shortage but to its uneven distribution. This inequity is worsened by mismanagement of water catchments, deforestation and pollution of water sources by factories and households. In 1992, the delivery of water supply and sanitation services in the Philippines became the responsibility of local government units (LGUs) instead of the national government. The intention was to place responsibility for the sector closer to the population. However, several years later, there has been little improvement in the water situation in rural areas. This is because as long as they remain financially and technically ill prepared for the task, the LGUs will never be able to adopt an integrated resources management approach. National government agencies face similar problems, caused by insufficient budgets and lack of personnel with expertise. In many cases, and particularly in rural areas, the private sector is in no position to offer a viable alternative. This problem is serious, because one of the principal social development prerequisites for the majority of the Philippines’ population (the poor) is access to reliable and safe water supplies, adequate sanitation facilities and efficiently operating distribution systems.

According to Dr. Peter H. Gleick of the Pacific Institute for Environment (PIE), the country happens to have 323 km3 per year of total renewable freshwater supply, third most bountiful in Southeast Asia after Indonesia and Malaysia. But think again. Of that amount, the country can only withdraw a total of 29.5 percent yearly.

Dr. Gleick, in his January 2000 edition of The World’s Water says, the Philippines will need some 393 percent of total water withdrawal starting this year 2000 until the next ten years. For the moment, only 18 percent can be withdrawn from the renewable freshwater supply for domestic use, 21 percent for industrial use and 61 percent for agricultural use.

Nationwide, the government’s National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimates that only 67 percent of the total population of 75 million have access to clean drinking water and almost 35 percent have access to water for sanitation.

So while here only drink recognized brands of sealed bottled water that have a license to produce. Raw sewage, industrial and agricultural wastes contaminate Philippine water supplies. For example there are reported high levels of heavy metals contaminating the Boac and Makulapnit Rivers. In March of 1996 an unused drainage tunnel at the bottom of a mine tailings disposal pit on Marinduque Island collapsed, flooding the 26 km. Boac and Makulapnit rivers and nearby coastal waters with some 4 million tones of mine tailings, effectively killing the rivers, covering corals in the sea and severely affecting at least 20,700 villagers. Public Works Secretary Gregorio Vigilar said safe drinking water may be scarce in Manila in five years unless more homes are linked to sewage treatment systems. Only 10 percent of 800,000 households are connected to the sewer system. The rest use tanks that dump waste into canals and contaminate underground water. If left unchecked, the contamination could severely limit the supply of safe drinking water, Vigilar said. A recent cholera outbreak in Manila killed seven people and sickened 310.

It is best not to even take the chance and stick to bottled water.

There are also dangers of drinking liquids with ice that has been made with tap water and also eating food that has been washed using local water sources. This is a real danger especially if you are susceptible to these problems. But even if you have traveled widely without catching a bit of traveler’s diarrhea, you might meet your match here in the Philippines. Make sure you bring some Imodium with you or some other medicine to combat this.

Many doctors also recommend you avoid eating local seafood; local marine waters are polluted as well. For example mercury has been reported in shellfish in Honda Bay, Palawan. If you are going to eat seafood (which many do with no reported problems) make sure you eat thoroughly cooked foods served hot.

In 2001, the Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines issued an urgent warning to the public against eating large carnivorous predator fish in response to 50 cases of food poisoning from eating ciguatoxic barracuda. I would avoid eating barracuda and other carnivorous reef fish while traveling in the Philippines.

Hazardous Plants & Animals:

There are also some animal hazards in the Philippines to be aware of. Especially beware of free roaming dogs which there are many in Angeles City. The Philippines has the third highest rate of rabies cases in the world. Approximately 400 to 500 cases of human rabies are reported each year. Some other animal hazards to be wary of include cobras, centipedes, scorpions and black widow spiders. Philippine coastal waters are home to stingrays, jellyfish, nettles, sea cucumbers, sea wasps, sea urchins, anemones and the Indo-Pacific man-of-war. If you have allergies to any of these animals make sure you have appropriate medicines available or advise people with you during times you could be at high risk (like when scuba diving for example) of your condition so they will know how to help you best should you require it.

Travel health risks in the Philippines:

This information was gathered from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Traveler’s diarrhea: This is commonly caused by bacteria. Diarrhea in travelers can also be caused by parasites and, to a lesser extent, viruses. Contaminated food and water pose the greatest risk. This is the most common illness in travelers.

Typhoid fever: This is transmitted by contaminated milk, water and food. Food can be infected directly by water that is used in washing and preparation and by human carriers. Raw shellfish from contaminated waters are likely to be infected. This can cause acute gastrointestinal symptoms.

Cholera: This is transmitted directly through food or water contaminated with fecal material from an infected person. Can cause acute gastrointestinal infection (a recurring theme?). Outbreaks have been reported (November 2001) in the communities of Kagbanaba, Jipapad and Eastern Samar.

Hepatitis A: This causative virus is commonly transmitted through food, water or milk contaminated by fecal material. Known as infectious hepatitis, it is an acute inflammation of the liver.

Malaria: Malaria is caught through mosquito bites. Sadly this is a preventable infection characterized by high fevers and chills. It can cause rapid death through shock and multiple organ failure if not treated promptly. Malaria is present in rural areas at low elevations (below 600 meters). There is no risk in metropolitan Manila or urban areas. The risk exists year- round, but is greater May through November.

Malaria information for the Philippines:

Area of Risk: Rural only. No risk in provinces of Bohol, Catanduanes, Cebu and metropolitan Manila. Malaria transmission in the Philippines is largely confined to rural areas not visited by most travelers; most travel to rural areas in the Philippines is during daytime hours when the risk of exposure is minimal.

Chloroquine resistance: Confirmed in Islands of Basilian, Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Palawan and Sulu Archipelago.

Prophylaxis: chloroquine, mefloquine, malarone or doxycycline.

Dengue fever: This is also transmitted through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are active in daylight hours in both urban and rural areas. Present throughout the country. Dengue outbreaks are common in densely populated areas: Quezon City; Manila; Bacolod; Bulacan; Nueva Ecija; and Benguet. Risk of outbreak is higher during the wet months, May through November. In 2001, 15,600 cases and 118 fatalities were reported.

Japanese encephalitis: Again this is caught through mosquito bites. Risk is greatest if living for prolonged periods in rural, endemic areas. There have been outbreaks reported in Nueva Ecija, Luzon and Manila. Japanese encephalitis occurs year round and is also more prevalent during the rainy season May through November. There may be an elevated risk in January through March because of rice crop irrigation.

Schistosomiasis: This is a parasitic infection spread by free-swimming larvae that penetrate the skin though only found only in fresh water. Avoid swimming and wading except in well-chlorinated swimming pools. Swimming and wading should be avoided in Leyte, Samar, Mindanao, southern Luzon and the east coast of Mindoro and Bohol Islands.

Rabies: This disease is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually by a bite. The degree of risk to the traveler is largely dependent on activities and level of exposure to infected animals. Avoid petting or touching wild or stray animals. The Philippines ranks third in the world on a per population basis for incidence of rabies; believe it or not there is an average of 10 dogs for every human in the Philippines. Approximately 98% of the rabies cases come from dogs; 2% from cats. An estimated one-third of rabies cases are treated at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila. San Lazaro also functions as an animal bite treatment center.

Air Quality: Excessive air pollution, caused by industrial and transportation emissions, is reported in and around Manila, Philippines. According to latest World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, total suspended particulates were assessed at 200 micrograms per cubic meter. WHO annual mean guidelines for air quality standards are 90 micrograms per cubic meter for total suspended particulates. If you have asthma or other respiratory illnesses, consult with a health care provider prior to travel and carry sufficient medications.

Immunizations:

Required:

Yellow fever: This vaccine is required if traveling from an infected area and older than one year of age.

Recommended:

When possible, see your health care provider at least four weeks prior to your trip. All routine vaccinations should be current, including: polio, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps and rubella. Influenza (flu) vaccine may also be advisable.

Hepatitis A: This is a two-dose series. This is generally recommended by doctors for all travelers regardless of destination. Hepatitis A /Hepatitis B are also available in a combined vaccine.

Hepatitis B: This is a three-dose series. Again this is generally recommended by doctors for all travelers regardless of destination. Hepatitis A /Hepatitis B are also available in a combined vaccine.

Typhoid: This is particularly important because of the presence of S. typhi strains resistant to multiple antibiotics. There is a one-dose vaccine or oral four-tablet sequence.

Japanese encephalitis: This is a three-dose series. This is needed for stays in rural, agricultural areas.

Rabies: This is recommended if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals. These three-dose treatments are pre-exposure. Post-exposure treatment is still required for animal bite or contact.

Again let me state that this information was not meant to overwhelm you or scare you into not coming. Most of this is general advice and I admit to not being fully immunized before any of my trips and have not had any problems. But you can’t say you are ignorant of the risks now, how you proceed is your decision.

Medical attention once in the Philippines:

Pharmacy service in the Philippines:

There are literally hundreds of pharmacies peppered all around Angeles City. You can get some prescription drugs by simply walking up and asking for them by name. I have seen many a foreign tourist walk up to one of these places and get everything from serious pain medication to Viagra. Also be aware that international brands of medications are available in major pharmacies. You won’t have to go for some knock off brand. Mercury is the largest chain of pharmacies in the Philippines though many are available from the larger chains surrounding hospitals to mom and pop places everywhere.

Some of the smaller pharmacies may not have what you are looking for so you may have to try the larger ones located towards AU hospital or elsewhere. The pharmacy located on McArthur next to Johnny’s Supermarket is pretty well stocked and I have had little problem getting what I need there

Hospitals:

Unfortunately there are some times we need medical attention when traveling. Here is a list of hospitals and contact information for some major cities in the Philippines.

St. Louis University Hospital of the Sacred Heart

Assumption Rd.

Baguio

Phone: 63-442-5701

Cebu Doctors Hospital

Osmena Blvd.

Cebu City

Phone: 63-32-253-7511

Davao Doctors Hospital

188 E Quirino Ave.

Davao City

Phone: 63-82-78411

Capitol Medical Center

Scout Magbanua

Quezon City

Phone: 372-3831

Makati Medical Center

#2 Amorsolo Street

Makati City

Phone: 632-815-99-11

Manila Doctor’s Hospital

667 UN Avenue

Ermita, Manila

Phone: 632-524-3011

St. Luke’s Medical Center

279 E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue

Cathedral Heights

Quezon City

Phone: 632-723-0301; 632-722-6161

When in Angeles I recommend that you use:

Angeles University Foundation Medical Center (AU)

McArthur Hi-Way

Angeles City

Phone: 045-322-8876; 045-322-8877 to 80

or

Philippine International Hospital (PIH)

654 Malabanas Road

Plaridel 1 Subdivision

Angeles City

Phone: 045-322-1911; 045-892-1911

Contact information for some other important places in the Philippines:

The Philippines country code is (63). Please remember the Philippines are 8 hours ahead of GMT.

If you are dialing a number in the Philippines from over seas you will need to drop the leading zero in the area code. For example a landline phone number in Angeles is something like 045-555-5555 and a cell phone number would be something like 0919-555-5555. If you were dialing these from the states it would be 63-45-555-5555 or for the cell 63-919-555-5555. If dialing within country you would need to add the zero back in and not use the country code, or in other words 045-555-5555 and for the cell 0919-555-5555.

The Philippine National Red Cross

PO Box 280

Manila 2803

Phone: 63-2-527-0866; 63-2-527-0856; 63-2-527-8384 97 (main line)

Fax: 63-2-527-0857

Telex: 27846 PNRC PH

Telegram: PHILCROSS MANILA

Email: secgen_pnrc@email.com

Philippine Department of Tourism

Department of Tourism Building

T M Kalaw Street

Rizal Park

Ermita, Manila

Phone: 63-2-5238411-30

Fax: 63-2-5217374

Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation

4th Floor Legaspi Towers

300 Roxas Boulevard

Metro Manila

Phone: 63-2-5259318-32

Fax: 63-2-5216165; 63-2-5253314

Embassy of the United States of America

1201 Roxas Boulevard

Ermita 1000

Manila, The Philippines

Phone: 63-2-523-1001

Fax: 63-2-522-4361

Marine Security Guard (after hours), ext. 2311 or 2688

U.S. Consular Agency

Third floor, PCI Bank

Gorordo Ave

Lahug, Cebu City

Phone: 63-32-231-1261

Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines

1600 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20036

Phone: 202-467-9300

Fax: 202-467-9417

Emergency phone numbers:

POLICE EMERGENCY – 166

FIRE EMERGENCY – 166

AMBULANCE EMERGENCY – 166

Ok, I guess now is as good a time as any to discuss a little about terrorism in the Philippines. I know this is a topic that weighs heavy on a lot of minds especially those from the east coast in the states and in particular New Your City.

While it is true that there is a splinter group of nationalistic terrorists in the Philippines and it is also true that there have been some kidnappings here, the activity is mostly concentrated in the southern islands and even then around places that most tourists wouldn’t consider going anyway. There were some isolated events around the Palawan area but security has been beefed up tremendously in this region of the Philippines and reportedly the faction group leader that was preying on this location has been caught and is out of the terrorism business.

Ok, now that we have all that boring stuff out of the way, let’s talk a little more down to earth and some practical advice. You have your passport ready with any visas you might need, you have your plane ticket, you’ve reserved your taxi for airport pick up, (more on airlines and taxis in the next section), and you are a few days or a night away from your trip. It’s time to pack that bag!

What to pack and what to leave at home:

It is almost impossible to under pack. One can get by in Angeles on the bare minimum and buy everything you forgot to bring. For any trip of any length I suggest the same airplane wear. Wear a nice pair of slacks (Dockers or something like that) a nice shirt (I suggest something long sleeve that you can roll up your arms when you get a little warm) your heaviest pair of shoes you plan on bringing with you on the trip, with socks. These should be the heaviest clothes you will need for the entire trip. Often times I don’t wear these again (except the shoes) until the return trip. The reason for this is will be less you have to carry. This is a great way of bringing only a carry on. For a normal trip of around two weeks you shouldn’t have to check in any luggage. Given all that the following is a list I would suggest at a minimum.

For a two week vacation I suggest the following (not including what you wear on the plane):

3 changes of underwear. With what you’re wearing that will be four pair. This is plenty as laundry is available everywhere and not very expensive.

One pair of socks. This will be two with the pair you wear on the plane.

Pair of thongs. Not cheap shower shoes, a nice pair of flip-flops.

Sandals. Again, a nice pair like Tevo or something like that.

1 pair of pants. Some Dockers or some blue jeans.

4 pair of shorts. The kind with deep pockets.

4 to 5 shirts. Combination of T-shirts and Polo type shirts.

Shower items. Lot of options her that I will go into later.

Swim Suit: A must if you are planning on swimming.

Misc. Books, CD Player, Tape Player, Camera, etc.

…and of course cash, credit cards, ATM card, passport, etc.

That’s it! That is plenty for you to have a great trip. Anything else is a luxury and while nice to have, you won’t need it to have a great time. For a longer trip add minimum amounts of each item. Laundry services are so cheap it is easy to over pack clothes and have way more than you need. If you can avoid checking luggage do it as this will save you up to an hour or more upon arrival. The luggage retrieval in Manila is infamously slow. Often I have carry-on only and through immigration, customs, and in a cab headed towards Angeles in 15 minutes. Would have been faster but sometimes I was deep in the plane and got stuck behind some people in the immigration line. Conversely, once when I checked some luggage as I was brining a bunch of Christmas gifts, it took me 2 hours to get out of the airport.

Sometimes however it just isn’t practical to have only a carry-on. If you do check in luggage be patient on the other end as you will see more big boxes coming off the plane and traveling on the conveyor belt than you could ever imagine. Bring a book or listen to some music to pass the time.

What not to bring:

Laptop. It is not necessary to bring your own laptop. That is of course assuming you won’t need it for business, but on a pleasure seeking vacation there are a ton of Internet cafes with exceptional equipment available with many hotels even having their own for use that you won’t need to bring your own.

Clock. All hotels have wake up calls and services that are very reliable and you won’t have to pack this item. Of course the small travel alarms are so tiny that it won’t make much difference, but I am speaking of the large radio desk clocks I have seen some people bring with them when they travel.

Expensive jewelry. There is no need to have any of this as it will get in the way and affluence is not measured by opulence. You will get more attention and affection from women having a pleasant personality and showing some respect and acting nice than trying to impress with jewelry.

Expensive clothes. The same as jewelry. Wearing shorts and t-shirts is not considered rude or impolite. I’m not saying that you should wear clothes that are old and full of holes, but you won’t have to wear a tie or slacks every night to the clubs. But if there is a night you want to dress up a little and go to a better restaurant you’ll have the slacks you wore on the plane. There are some who wear nothing but pants so this wont apply, but if you do wear shorts, do yourself a favor and don’t pack but maybe one more pair.

Pagers and cell phones. These work on a different system then in the states and elsewhere and your coverage will not work. Unless it’s a tri-band cell that is, then go ahead and bring it and buy a SIM card for it here. Cell phones are cheap and if you need one you can get one for less than a hundred dollars. More on cell phones later.

The point of all this is you will not need all these gadgets and toys while you are here. This is a simple country with a simple people and there is plenty to keep you occupied during your trip. The basic packing list I presented is a starting point. Add or subtract to your particular needs, I just provide this to show you that not much is needed to have a great trip.

Other advice for you to plan and prepare for before your trip:

Personal Grooming:

The Filipina is a very clean person. They spend literally hours a day cleaning or taking care of them selves. The same grooming habits in the men they like to meet are highly coveted. Get used to washing thoroughly. I mean thoroughly! The Philippines is a very humid place and you will probably end up taking 2 or 3 showers a day. A clean person is much more attractive than an unkempt one. So start that scrubbing now. Get all those nooks and crannies that you usually just glance over in your daily showers. I suggest start using one of those scrubbers or other good cleaning device. The girls will also enjoy using them if they are in your shower.

Speaking of that, here is some great advice on types of shower items to bring. Before your trip take some time and go to a bath and shower place. Instead of just bringing regular soap like Ivory or something, buy some colorful scented soap. Not perfume scented or anything like that, but a lilac or vanilla, or something like that. The girls love it and you will notice the difference. On that same note buy large bottles of a good shampoo. Again something colorful and looking out of the ordinary. A good red or purple works great for this. You can do the same for your hair brush and other toilet items as well. Get a nice salon brush for example, or bring a small make-up mirror. It’s these small touches that will make the girl enjoy herself with you when she spends time with you in your hotel and the rewards are numerous. Again I must stress that the Filipina is an immaculate creature and enjoys being around a man who takes care of himself.

That goes for facial hair too. If you aren’t too attached to that mustache, beard, or sideburns down to your chin, shave them off. For the most part (and this is a big generality) the Filipina likes a smooth face. I had a friend come over once with me and he had a goatee. After the first night he was down to a mustache and by the third he was clean shaven. I know this is a hard area for some, but it’s true. To tell the truth I miss my goatee as well, but better to be more attractive than less to the Filipina.

Also get used to wearing a strong deodorant and a nice smelling after shave or cologne. The Filipina really appreciates a nice clean and good smelling man. They will forgive a little extra weight, a lack of hair on the head, and even some social graces, but they do not forgive an unkempt man.

Study the language:

I am not saying become fluent or anything, but take the time to learn some basic words and phrases. While it is true that English is very prevalent here, even considered the second official language, there are words in English that are not the same as in your home country. I will go into this more in the section on Communicating Effectively, but for example it is called a CR and not a bathroom, it is a tissue and not a napkin (you say napkin and it means the female hygiene type), spread the butter is a must at breakfast, and so many more. So just study a little so you won’t be lost when you get here. This is also a great ice breaker with the girls. Show them you are trying to learn their language and their culture and you’ll hit a home run every time.

Get on the boards:

The various message boards out there have some of the best up-to-date information available. While it is true that there is a bunch of crap to wade through, there is also a ton of good information as well to be found. You can read about what events are upcoming and happening during your trip and get a good sense of which clubs are hot and which are not. You can read about which hotels and restaurants are worth frequenting and which to avoid. As always it is best to form your own opinion as most of what you read, even this guide, is tainted by the author’s experiences and background. However, you can quickly determine which posters are posting from their heart and which are posting from their ass.

Some of the boards to visit are:

AC2: The Angeles City 2 board is one of the oldest and most frequented boards out there. There have been good times and bad times, but over all you can get a lot of current events and news off this board with a lot of trip reports, pictures, with a good dose of spam. It is best to stay on as a lurker for a while before diving into the deep end of the pool. Sometimes you need a thick skin to be on this board as there are a ton of flamers that enjoy nothing more than tearing up new guys. Just realize that nothing is personal on there and don’t give too much personal information. If you have the right attitude and demeanor the AC2 can be a lot of fun.

Asian-Escapades: Obviously you’re reading this guide and I highly recommend joining this site as it has a ton of information and news on Angeles City and one of the friendliest boards with onsite people answering questions for newbies and even seasoned visitors. There are news letters and reports from Angeles and tens of thousands of pictures and many many videos to wet your appetite.

Gotophil: This is a board on another pay site run locally here in Angeles City. Although they have trip reports and people posting from other places such as Thailand, the main focus still seems to be on the Philippines and in particular Angeles City. 99% of the news items and about 70% of the posts are about this town. The good thing about this board is that it is only accessible by paying members. It is amazing what that does to filter out the trouble makers. While the traffic isn’t as strong as the AC2, you are more likely to get honest answers to your questions.

TSM: This board is a hit and miss. While it is on a pay site and that generally means that you weed out all the trolls and flamers, many times wars break out on this board between the Asian crowd and the Latin American crowd. They have tried to segregate the boards and still these seem to happen. However the board still has some unique posters you won’t see on the other boards while the first listed have a lot of the same guys posting to all of them. The TSM site also has many trip reports so a historical view can be seen however when I read through these when I was a member I always seem to ask myself, “Where was this guy?“ as even though he is writing about Angeles City, it seems completely foreign to me and totally opposite of my viewpoints. However saying all that if you have the money and want to join, there is some valuable information here.

Some boards and Internet sites to stay away from:

The Wild West Board, AD2T, Gossip board, and Angeles City News are all boards that are for the most part just spill over of the main AC2 board and full of repressed men who are sitting around their house bored to tears and just want to start some flames. There is more bad information and pure gossip on these boards then anywhere else. Another bad thing about these boards is that you can post as anyone you want. I have never posted on any of these boards but posts from my name are constantly being posted. If want some irreverent humor and no serious information by all means visit and have fun. Just realize that it is a sewer and nothing really there to help you.

Jade Cool, Filipina Spice, Adult Club, Tri Cams, and other Filipina chat sites: While these sites are a lot of fun and you can meet and talk with some lovely Filipinas, they are full of deceit, games, and cons. The whole point of these sites is for you to be hooked on the Filipina charm. While this is true, the other stuff they spout out at you is not true. You can quickly become jaded with the Filipinas promising the moon and delivering nothing. But, if you realize this going in and visit these sites just for pure pleasure, no problem, knock your self out and have fun. But if you are planning your first trip I would suggest waiting until you got back home and have spoken to these beautiful Filipinas in person before getting some incorrect preconceived notions by visiting these chat sites on speaking to the Filipina for the first time online.

Summary:

The last thing I can suggest you do before you make the trip is to convince a friend to go with you. As much of a great time you will have on your vacation in Angeles City, you will have more if there is someone there to share it with. But the bottom line is being prepared and taking the time to research where you’re going. This section is a great start and will get you here fully briefed but test out those links and get on those boards and you will know as much as a seasoned visitor well before you make your cherry trip.

The People

“Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.”
-Yiddish Proverb

I will go into the specific characteristics of the Filipina, the male (both expats and tourists) as well as the local population later, but as a general overview of the Filipino race consider the following:

The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish and Arab blood. The Philippines has a population of 60 million, and it is sometimes hard to distinguish accurately the lines between stocks. From a long history of Western colonial rule interspersed with the visit of merchants and traders evolved a people of a unique blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture.

I truly believe it is because of these multiple races and cultures mixing and mashing together for a millennia that there is a gentler tolerance to ethnic diversity here than elsewhere in Asia. Ethnocentricity is a danger to the common good and that is against the Filipino character. (See more of this Pride factor in Profile: The Filipina.)

I always had the distinct feeling in my time in Korea that no matter how hard I tried to learn their language and no matter how immersed I was in their culture and way of life, I was always an outsider and would never measure up. Once I heard from a good friend of mine in Korea after knowing him off and on for 6 years say to a friend of his when introducing us, “For a foreigner he’s all right. Can’t help he wasn’t born a Korean.”

He was serious. After sharing so much with this man, the first thing he said about me to describe me to his friends was that I was foreign and not a Korean. You won’t get this attitude in the Philippines. While there is still a distinct difference on the way tourists and locals are treated than a native Filipino, I believe it is for other reasons and misconceptions and not because of any feeling of superiority or Social Darwinist tendencies.

The Filipino character is actually a little bit of all the cultures put together. The bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie that Filipinos are famous for is said to be taken from Malay forefathers. The close family relations are said to have been inherited from the Chinese. The piousness comes, from the Spaniards who introduced Christianity in the 16th century. Hospitality is a common denominator in the Filipino character and this is what distinguishes the Filipino. Filipinos are probably one of the few, if not the only, English-proficient Oriental people today. Tagalog is the official national language, with English considered as the country’s unofficial one. (See the section Communicating Effectively for more on Tagalog)

The Filipinos are divided geographically and culturally into regions, and each regional group is recognizable by distinct traits and dialects – the sturdy and frugal Ilocanos of the north, the industrious Tagalogs of the central plains, the carefree Visayans from the central islands and the colorful tribesmen and religious Moslems of Mindanao. Tribal communities can be found scattered across the archipelago.

Some 80 percent of the population is Catholic, Spain’s lasting legacy. About 15 percent is Moslem and these people can be found basically in Mindanao. The rest of the population is made up mostly of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhists.

All in all there are more than 160 languages used in the Philippines, owing to the subdivisions of these basic regional and cultural groups. Of these 160 languages 87 are tribal languages with 111 dialects. The most common dialects are Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Sama, Tboli, Tausug, Tagalog, Romblomanon, Pangasinan, Magindanaon and Ilocano. Other languages include Japanese, Chinese and Spanish.

But with all that most Filipinos are bilingual to our advantage. English is the standard language used in business, government, schools and everyday communication. The national language in the Philippines is Filipino, based on the Tagalog dialect. Tagalog is the language spoken in Luzon and thus Angeles City.

One of the best books I have read about some of the cultural differences you will experience while traveling through the Philippines is the book Culture Shock!: Philippines by by Alfredo Roces, Grace Roces. This book can be bought in most book stores that have a travel section or simply click the lick below and order it from Amazon.com and get it delivered right to your door.

I read this a while after my first couple of trips to the Philippines and wished that I had read it before my first one. They really do a great job of describing the differences yet similar traits you will find in this strange but wonderful culture.

Editorial Review on the book Culture Shock!: Philippines by Alfredo Roces, Grace Roces (Taken from Amazon.com review) Book Description
You’ll never feel intimidated and awkward about the customs and etiquette of another country again. With the insights provided in this CULTURE SHOCK! Guide, you’ll learn to see beyond the stereotypes and misinformation that often precede a visit to a foreign land. Whether you plan to stay for a week or for a year, you’ll benefit from such topics as understanding the rules of driving and monetary systems, religious practices and making friends. There are tips on political traditions, building business relationships, and the particular intricacies of setting up a home or office. Great for the business traveler, the foreign exchange student, or the tourist who makes a sincere attempt to cross the bridge into a new and exciting culture.

Now that we know where and who, let’s get to the meat of your trip: How to get there, where to stay, where to eat, and entertainment

Blueberry Hill


Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino sang that they found their thrill on Blueberry Hill. The bar of the same name, here in Balibago, is not entirely without its thrills, either.

This bar is not everyone’s “cup of tea”, since it features live singers out in front of the dancers, mainly long-time Angeles entertainer Jhun Longhair. A lot of couples and mixed groups frequent this club, and Jhun has developed a strong following through his years in town.

“Yours truly” likes to belt out a few tunes on a Sunday night, as well, just to check to see if I can still do it, after all these years. The ownership of The Club is a pleasant English chap named Dave. He has also opened up a Fish & Chips shop connected to the bar, which he has taken great pains to make as authentic and high-quality as possible. The chips are peeled and sliced from fresh potatoes, right on the premises, and the fish is a large portion of John Dory Filet, breaded with their own beer batter recipe, and all deep-fried in beef drippings. Fattening as hell, delicious, and filling. Homemade mushy peas are also available. I’d recommend giving it a try sometime.

This bar is not without it’s own pretty dancers, if one wanders in alone, Lookin’ ‘Round…


That’s it for this look around AC, until next time…

Acrobat Internet Providers


When I woke up this morning I had no idea the circus had come to town. But sure enough as I walked outside I was greeted by some amazing acrobats. I mean, these guys made the Flying Melinda Brothers I saw as a kid in a Ringling Brother’s show many years ago look like rank amateurs.

But the thing was, these guys weren’t performing high risk stunts for the amusement of pre-adolescent cotton-candy eating wide-eyed children, no these guys were risking their lives putting up a 120 foot mast so that we could have Internet access at the new house.

For you see, some things need to be sacrificed out here in the boonies. With the great beach front property comes the wonderful world of wireless service.

While the electricity is hard wired in and there is good running water (from a deep well) everything else is through the air.

Phones are no problem. As we are in the mobile phone capitol of the free world we all had one or two cells each and were all well versed in the workings of cellular communication. In fact just at the house alone there are 7 full time cells running 24/7 and the familiar chimes signaling an incoming text can be heard throughout the day and well into the night.

Television is also not a problem. ‘Cable’ TV will be through Dream Satellite. The dish is already installed on the roof although we haven’t yet filled it with load or ran the cables to the various rooms. We each have an Xbox in our room hooked up to large screen TVs and with over 400 movies and 3000 TV series all networked and available on demand through the Xbox media center, as well as over 2000 DVDs in the house, Dream TV has not been a priority.

So the big problem, the major end-mission, fold up and go home, deal breaker, don’t pass Go and don’t collect 200 dollars catastrophic problem, would be Internet. For if there was no Internet access here in our new estate on the beach it was time to pack up and move again.

DSL or Cable was out of the question. No service reached out this far into the provincial jungle we now live in. Sure you can get ice, fish, milk, vegetables, as well as other items delivered fresher than you’ve ever had it right to your front door, but there was no land line Internet access yet available.

Dial-up would be a joke. For emergencies and before the mast was put up we got online with our cell phones, but that wasn’t fast enough and only a temporary solution. No way in hell could we ever do what we need to do using our cells or by having a land line installed.

So that left wireless…

No biggie, we thought. We can’t be the first people to do this. I mean is it really possible that we were the first people who want our cake and Internet too?

Of course not. A quick search on the web and sure enough we found the right company to come out and put up a mast so that we could survive. And I don’t use the term “survive” lightly. No Internet for a Web company means death so this was set up even before we got to the island.

The appointment was made even before we had made flight reservations from Manila to Dumaguete. We knew that as soon as possible after getting to the new house we would need Internet so after we got an appointment for the mast erection (ok, stop giggling…) we then booked our flight for the day prior.

Weather though would have a hand in the logistics. Simply Mother Nature letting us know that we are not in charge and she will let us have Internet when she wants and no sooner. So even the best laid plans sometimes go awry and also this one. We would have to wait for the storm to pass.

So after a two day delay due to the typhoon, the boys were out early in the morning to put up the mast.

The entire process was actually quite fascinating. They simply drove up in a trike loaded up with all the equipment they would need and got to work. Not one of those wimpy AC trikes, no this was a province trike, the kind you can fit 5 to 6 people in…comfortably! And it was packed. Pole segments, antenna pieces, cable, wire, nuts, bolts, testing gear… the works.

The crew consisted of 5 guys and the salesperson/supervisor who we were dealing with over the phone thus far. One guy was the technician so that left four grunts to assemble and erect the mast.

First a hole was dug and the first section of ten was sunk in, buried and anchored into place. This first section was about 12 feet high and longer than the other 9 sections that were added later.

Each pole segment is about eight inches around and has a small metal foot/hand rest welded to the outside every two feet. By the time each segment was put in place there are 30 guide wires attached to the mast keeping it relatively straight and secure.

When finished the ten segments along with the antenna section itself stands about 2 flagpoles tall or around 120 feet straight up out of the jungle virtually reaching back to civilization bringing us the life blood of the Internet.

The only thing is, there were no cranes and the 10 sections were not telescopic so that a pulley system or something could be used to fully erect the mast. No, each segment had to be placed in manually and then guide wires attached one at a time.

So you would think a harness or some climbing hooks or some carabineers would be used, right? Nope, you’re dead wrong. This maniac of a crew climbed up and did all of this without any safety gear what so ever.

120 feet up in the air with their feet locked on to some small little strip of steel welded to a thin pole, all about 8 hours after a typhoon had blown through the area. I say feet because they were not holding on with their hands as those were needed to run wires and fit together pole segments.

So like antenna monkeys grasping onto poles they scurried up and down the mast like it was nothing at all. Each time making our hearts skip a beat as we just prayed there would be no accidents or miss-steps.

“At least you know they are doing a good job as their life depends on how secure the previous pole is put in place.” I say looking straight up into the madness.

Before the last piece with the antenna components was put in place I gave the guy who was climbing up a quick lesson on digital camera operation and and he took a couple pictures of the property from way above.

These are probably the only ones that will ever be taken of this property from that angle. I promise you that any more pictures taken from that high will not taken by me as I am NOT going up that pole just for some panoramic shots of the beach!

Watching him up there I almost felt guilty hoping he didn’t drop the camera. Very little thought was given to if he himself could hang on and manage to snap a couple of pictures for me.

Oh well, karma is a bitch and I’m sure I’ll pay for that. 🙂

So down he came with the last piece of the mast in place. All that was needed was one more trip up the mast to cart the antenna and wire up there and we would be in business.

And quick as that he was up and down and all finished. Now that the antenna was in place and the wire was run down and connected to a router it was time for the technician to take over. In no time at all we were up and running and now had Internet at the house.

Ironically we were worried about connection speed and usability issues as well as down times due to the wireless connection however the only down times we have experienced so far are from a loss of connection from the main hub in Dumaguete to Manila. So even though we are off the main island of the Philippines, Luzon is still the cause of our Internet problems!

I am sure that Comclark is somehow involved and is actually the ones who have the switch and are fucking with us. “Oh yeah?” I can hear them say, “Leave Angeles City will you? And you think you are out of reach of our Internet hand?” Then with an evil chuckle they unplug us.

God I do not miss Comclark at all!

Anyway, when the circuit is good here in Dumaguete our connection is somewhere around 350 to 450 Kbps. We do get bursts of up to 600 to 800 Kbps and besides the Manila problems (which there have been a few as they are still recovering from the typhoon) service has been very good.

In fact, so good that it is sometimes shocking.

One night we were all down by the viewing deck having a cold beer watching the surf and got a text message from the Internet tech informing us of another outage due to a cut fiber line in Manila.

What a shock! The guy was proactive and texted us about the outage even before we noticed it ourselves! After all the battles with Comclark and the ineptitude of their staff, this was a pleasant change and a type of service I could definitely get used to!

Our collective and proverbial hats off to the acrobatic Internet boys who brought service to the beach house.

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…

Peace,

An Angry Sea

AE Staff Note:

Life in the province…

It will be different. There are of course monger opportunities here and we will report on them, but this section of AE will be used mostly for discussion about living away from all the glitz and glamour that is Angeles City and the strange and bizarre life which living on a beach affords.

We love AC and will never abandon her, no matter what. But the grand experiment of our move to Dumaguete is underway and we want to share it with you.

Read on and join in the roller-coaster ride that is province life.


The ocean is angry this morning…

It’s as if the last week of typhoons and tropical depressions has finally pushed the sea into fighting back in the only way it knows how. What is usually serene and tranquil is now violent and chaotic. Deep blue surf gently kissing the sand has been replaced with chocolate waves of power pounding the shore.

I look out at the local fishermen who have no choice but to sail out into these tempestuous waters searching for food and thank some higher power that life has afforded me a position where I can just watch in awe at the dedication of these poor souls as I retreat into the comfort of my dry home. I am once again thankful my life and my family’s do not depend on me facing the violent sea as an only means of survival.

Lately out here in the province along the shore the rain is also different somehow. Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind as the cadence of the downpours seems to be very disordered. In one moment the rain hits you hard and strong coming straight down then 10 seconds later there is a fine mist as if walking through a fog and then the fine mist is replaced 10 seconds later with a sideways shower hitting you in the face.

It’s as if someone is playing with a huge shower massager in the sky trying to find the right setting yet never finding comfort. And this has been going on for 3 days now. In the 15 minutes or so that I have been writing this essay I have seen 3 downpours with a few respites with it now sprinkling. Then, as I finished that sentence the sky just opened up and emptied a swimming pool on top of my roof.

What is most troublesome is the small river in the back of our house which is masquerading as the only access road to our small neighborhood. This group of houses at the end of this small muddy trail stand all alone and all depend on this path like a bunch of coconuts all grasping onto one lone palm tree for survival. Our van has 4 wheel drive and it has been tested these past few days driving out of this cull de sac for supplies.

So we hunker down in our respective rooms not going out much. The daily swims in the ocean have been put on hold for a while and as yet another black out hits we start up our generator and think of back in Angeles we would be hitting Roadhouse or somewhere to ride out the storm.

Here’s to all those that have been affected by the rains in the Philippines. May we all bask in the Sun and dry out soon…

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…

Peace,

Dumaguete Death Lizzard

Switching over to province life has been a major internal time shift change. Like some bizarre inner-body day light savings time clock turn back, 20 years of being a night owl has turned into waking up at the crack of dawn and sleeping when it gets dark.

But I have not gone down gently.

Old habits die very hard and I still find that while I don’t lay down when the sun sets, I still find myself sleeping much sooner than usual. Morning wake ups are different here too. While in Angeles one is woken up by yelling street vendors trying to sell you something you don’t need or by trikes plowing by your bedroom window like it was the only bypass to downtown available, here in Dumaguete the waking up process is much gentler.

One might be woken form a wet dog nose poking you to take her for a walk down on the beach, or maybe the sound of the girls playing in the hammock. These are good days…

But this morning was alarming. I jumped out of bed from the screaming of girls yelling out, “TOOKO! TOOKO!

What the… Why is everyone screaming and what in the hell is Tooko?

My house here in Dumaguete is actually separate from the main house. It has its own private kitchen and is far enough away to provide some privacy when needed. I staggered out of bed, threw on some shorts and wandered over, still wiping the sleep out of my eyes, into the main house to see what all the yelling was about.

Inside looked like a scene from a Mad Max movie. Everyone was holding some homemade weapon running around screaming “TOOKO!” and poking at things. Two girls were standing up on furniture while my psycho girl with baseball bat in hand was poking under a table.

The Marine and the Dane looked on guard but quite amused at this whole process. Our driver was nowhere to be seen as he wanted nothing to do with this mayhem now ensuing in the house and was standing outside looking quite nervous. I later learned that because of this lizard he had actually spent the night in the van as he had seen one wall walking in his room.

Suddenly a blurry flash of reptile flesh scurried out from under a bench and ran up behind a painting which was on the wall on the staircase leading up into the master bedroom. I didn’t get a good look at it but I could hear it scurrying around behind the picture.

Being the stupid one without any of the information needed for battling a mini-Godzilla, I stepped forward to try and flush out the monster. I was trying to balance myself on the stairs and still have enough leverage to lift the large glass framed portrait all the while thinking to myself, ‘How bad can it be? It’s just a lizard,’ and grabbed the large portrait off the wall and pulled it back to reveal the beast.

And there it was, the Dreaded Dumaguete Death Lizard.

And boy, was it was horrific!

Note: This picture really doesn’t do it justice. Plus this is another one taken outside on the wall and not the one that invaded our house. But you can get a sense of it.

I was only expecting a slightly large misshapen gecko or something like that. But this eight to nine inch long thing had quite a large head on it with florescent blue and purple scales in a stripe from the back of its head down to the tip of its tail. Its eyes seemed to move independently like an iguana but the look on its face was not cute like some beer commercial spokes-lizard, no, this reptile meant business.

He seemed to stare at me with one eye while surveying the rest of the scene with the other. I stood there like an idiot holding the large framed picture off balance staring into the one eye of the death lizard. Looking at his mouth I saw that this indeed was not a gecko and could easily fit some of my flesh into its mouth with little effort. The head was quite large compared to its body and it looked to be 75% mouth!

And then he jumped…

Screaming girls to the left and screaming girls to the right made me jump straight up to a height Michael Jordan would have been proud of. Landing was not quite so graceful though. I came down awkward trying to dodge the now pissed off Death Lizard and maneuvering away from the jumping and screaming girls all the while trying not to drop the huge portrait still in my hands.

*Clang* *Smack* *Clang* *Crash*

I look to my left and see the bats and poles striking the ground chasing the fiend back underneath the bench which surrounds the dining room table. Placing the portrait back on the wall I join the hunt and we flush the creature out from there and towards the hallway.

Now my girl is getting brave. She’s walking around with one slipper off and the other using it like some sort of Dreaded Dumaguete Death Lizard Reptile Swatter and I can hear a *Swat* *Swat* *Swat* as she chases it across the wall.

Ador, our driver, is still outside and I finally ask, “What’s the deal with this mutant lizard and why is everyone afraid of it?” They explain that ‘Tooko’ is the sound it makes when howling, presumably before a kill. Also, legend has it, the thing has a pit-bull like jaw action so that when it bites into your flesh it will not let go until you or it dies.

Well, that would have been some nice information to have BEFORE I got close enough for it to see my jugular was well within leaping distance!

I got it!” I hear the honey-ko scream, “I got it with my slipper!

Is it dead?” I ask as I was now looking for some sort of pole like weapon myself.

No, it’s in the CR.

Does it need some toilet paper?” I ask.

She had somehow chased it out of the living room, down the hallway and corralled the monster into the CR and was looking to go in for the kill.

Ok, time out… Let me take some time and re-set the scene.

Tooko the Death Lizard is now in the CR while three grown men are well behind my girlfriend who is now charging into the CR armed only with a single flip-flop while another guy is outside hiding. The other two Filipinas are still back in the living room wondering how they can stack up furniture to get even higher off the ground and wait for a reported killing of the Venomous Lounge Lizard.

Our nemesis has now somehow crawled behind the toilet and is sitting just out of reach of any tool we can find to stick back there and poke him out or pierce his hide. It was then that our Danish friend recalls some of his Viking ancestry and comes up with a plan.

He goes and gets a big pot of water and places it on the stove to boil it. The plan is to cook the thing out of there letting technology accomplish what three guys with random blunt weapons and a Filipina with a shoe couldn’t do.

*SPLASH* the boiling water hits the back wall and we can hear the thing flailing about.

He is not happy.

He has now slipped far enough down that his tail is fully visible and my girl takes a large pole and stabs at the tail. Like its cousin the gecko, the tail comes off and is wiggling on the ground as if it was still attached.

That was enough for my girl. Being scared of snakes she thinks that is enough wild kingdom fun for the day and retreats back to the living room. Meanwhile Netguard hands me a long spoon and I’m stabbing at the thing trying to kill it or drag it out.

Finally the thing drops to the floor and tries half-dead to scurry away. Down came a pole from the hands of the Dane and the lizard is brought down.

I think its still moving! You don’t think it’s a Dreaded Dumaguete Zombie Death Lizard, do you?” I say but as quickly as I can get those words out another strike across the lizard’s head and Netguard finishes off the beast.

*Whew* Victory at last! The Dreaded Dumaguete Death Lizard is vanquished and no longer a threat.

I can only hope that there was only one of them on this island! If not I think we need to stock up on hot water and flip-flops!

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…

Peace,

Why

Life in the province…It will be different. There are of course monger opportunities here and we will report on them, but this section of AE will be used mostly for discussion about living away from all the glitz and glamour that is Angeles City and the strange and bizarre life which living on a beach affords.

We love AC and will never abandon her, no matter what. But the grand experiment of our move to Dumaguete is underway and we want to share it with you.

Read on and join in the roller-coaster ride that is province life.


Life on a beach…

Sounds good, right? The imagery running through your head right now is worth more than I could ever write here. So just take a moment and picture what you think life on a beach is and multiply it by 100. That is life here in Dumaguete.

But just what makes that possible and the events to actually get that dream beach front property is not a bed of roses, let me tell you. There were trials and tribulations aplenty which led up to finally sitting down on the beach with the wind blowing through your hair staring out at the playing turtles in your front yard.

But the question remains. Why leave Angeles City, a permanent vacation, to an isolated area like Dumaguete?

First of all, let’s face it. Life in AC’s not too shabby. I mean, what’s not to love? There are a ton of bars, great places to eat, good Expat support, great friends and of course we can’t forget the thousands of willing and able Filipinas just waiting there all seemingly for you. If you can’t find happiness in AC, you just aren’t looking hard enough.

So what makes a man want to leave?

Yup, it’s that ‘life on a beach’ thing again. That dream house right on the beach so close to the ocean that the pounding of the waves can be heard as you drift off into an island slumber. Hell, back in the real world I paid about a hundred bucks for one of those sleep machines which simulated all sorts of white noise sounds in an attempt to put the listener in a comatose like state to get some much needed rest.

While it had the ‘babbling brook’ and ‘forest rain’ setting, inevitably the switch always found its way to ‘pounding surf’ as this insomniac tried to catch 40 winks before heading back into the rat race early the next morning.

Yes, leaving the states was a no-brainer and done with little thought. AC was easy. It was a rescuing of a tired soul. I often tell people that although I am only 40 years old, it is not the years it is indeed the mileage. I needed AC and it probably saved my sanity.

Here on the beach that calming ocean sound is constant. Even now as I write this I can hear the waves pounding into the shore in a relentless battle between surf and sand.

Things slow down here and a pace of life is visibly slower even after only 3 to 4 days of being here. Yeah, I think I’m going to like it here. Sure I will miss the AC life, but it will be nice to visit there as a tourist and forget all those things that annoy there.

Drummer and I always joked that we would like to invent a pill that one could take every night before a bar hop which would make each night feel like the first night. You know, give that ‘deer in the headlight’ look that all cherry boys have. You forget about the vendors on the streets. You ignore the bad service. You forgive the constant ‘white face’ price gouging. You simply have a great time and appreciate all the great things Angeles City has to offer.

Well, I found the pill. It’s called province life.

Past the death lizards and snakes, past the 3 hour pizza runs and the wet salty dog running into the house, past the bug convention at dusk and the muddy foot trails posing as major roads, there is a charm to Dumaguete that makes it all worth while.

At least for now…

Because, let’s not forget. This is just a trial. I might go island crazy and start to look like Dustin Hoffman in Papillon trying to judge those ocean waves for escape routes. Just maybe friends in Angeles will hear a pounding on their doors some night from a runaway island boy looking for a place to crash in AC. I just don’t know yet what life in the province is going to be like.

But oh what a fun ride it will be…

Stay tuned for stories and reports on all aspects of province life. For better or for worse I won’t sugar coat anything about this grand experiment. You’ll get both the bad and the good about living here in Dumaguete.

Living the dream; life on a beach.

Until next time, that was a slice of province life…

Peace,

What Brings Us Back

What brings us back to the Philippines again and again????

A question we probably all have struggled with before. It has taken me about 4 or 5 visits to come up with my list of reasons. Maybe some of you will agree and maybe some of you will not, or some of you may even have more personal reasons. Aside from the obvious; puki, pek pek, nookie, pussy, gash, trim even pwet if you prefer…….there are many more deeper and and meaningful reasons.

I fall under the spell of the filipinas for many reasons, not the least of which is the following:

1. I love the way they eat. The way the hold the fork and spoon (never a knife) reminds me of a small child eating with utensils for the first time. They way they mix any sauces of meat juices with their food always makes me giggle and wonder why……they dip their over sized spoon into the sauce and dribble it on a spoonful of rice and eat it, then they repeat. Why oh why cant they just pour it all over their rice is not a question they can answer or even understand. They are expert and pulling apart a steak or ribs or chicken with a spoon and fork (something I have neither the patience nor dexterity to master). Always at the end of the meal they will hoard a little bit of leftovers for their friends back at work, even though they may still be hungry. They are true eating machines if you just let them go, but they do it so gracefully.

2. I love the way they sleep. I think next time I will try an experiment, I will bf a girl at 6 pm and then let her go to sleep right away and see just how long she will sleep. She will wake up, with no alarm, always about 1 1/2 hours before she has to be back to work, allowing time for a shower and a shit (even they wont admit to that). The way they hold you close, as if to make sure you don’t leave them in the middle of the night. The little noises (I guess you could call it snoring) that come from them as they enter deep REM sleep. Sometimes they wake in the night just to stroke your head and cheeks as if to make sure your comfortable, and then they drift off again. In my opinion the are the very definition of CUDDLE.

3. The way they act in public when they are with their man. Always holding your hand, or putting their arm around your waist when your walking…..as if to say to the whole neighborhood “I’m with him, don’t even try to get between us”. If you give them an umbrella in the rain, they will make sure you fit under it as well. If you go shopping they like to hear your opinion, and they try their best to make sure you don’t get cheated and are treated with respect from salespeople. They like to stop and say Hi to their friends at the internet cafes or clothes stalls or beauty shops all the while pulling you along to “show off”, and encouraging their friends to say how “guapo” you are.

4. I love the way they worry. If you don’t feel well, they don’t feel well. If you are sick they want to take care of you. If you are injured they want to heal you. If you are sad they want to make you happy (they can at times tell the funniest jokes and stories). A side note here: One day I caught a cold or some bug from a dancer at ROADHOUSE, I told her I would not be in that night. Several hours later a knock on my door found her standing there with some BIOFLU and some liquid medicine and a guilty look on her face. How can you turn that away, we went back to the bar and I barfined her for the night, she took care of me.

5. I love the way they say goodbye. When it was time for me to leave, they made it so hard I started trying to work out a plan in my head of how I could stay just one more day. They hold on tight and bury their head in your chest, when you pull up their chin, the tears won’t stop. I assured her I would be back, as I have been back for the past 5 years. She smiled and seemed to understand I was not bullshitting her. I wiped her tears and sent her on her way, always turning to wave just one more time.

6. Last but not least. SEX. I don’t believe the term LBFM does these girls justice. When they get “passionate”, there is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING they will not do to please you…..if they like you. They don’t just fuck you then roll over to sleep, they enjoy to the fullest the whole experience, and try to make sure you do also. When the act is complete, you couldn’t pry them away from your arms with a crowbar, once again, the very definition of CUDDLE. This is a tricky one for some people cause I said before “if they like you”. If the girl(s) really like you, then it becomes their mission to make sure you enjoy the sex, and they expect the same from you. If you bf a girl, and you both don’t really enjoy each others company, then don’t bother taking her to bed, your better off grabbing a freelancer for that.

All my reasons are true for me, maybe also for some of you. Some guys just want to have fun, in my opinion they will miss out on the little things that make the trip so much worth repeating year after year. Some things I didn’t bother to list, the food, the people you meet, the different events (CIA – SOB – LOCKINS – POOL PARTY). They all contribute to the ultimate experience for sure, but what I have stated above can be all rolled into one acronym GFE (Girl Friend Experience). I have had girlfriends here in the states, but never the TRUE GFE. It’s a gift native to the Philippines (maybe Thailand also). Some times I think these girls are born with the need to please encoded in their DNA. Whatever the reasons, I’m glad I have met the girls I have met, I’m glad I have been coming here for 5 years and will continue, I’m glad I have met some of the board members and administrators and bar owners and restaurant owners and mamasans and papasans and Expats and foreigners (you ARL guys crack me up all the time).

As a famous general said one time “I will return”, so it is true for me again, and again, and again, until the day I move here or die whichever comes first.

– Kregg

Deep Thoughts

The other day I was sitting in my den playing TIGER WOODS (2006) as I have done many times, and I noticed that on the 9th hole at St. Andrews my score was abissmal….how can that be, I consistantly score in the mid 40’s (per 18 holes) on this course. First I thought my controller was sticking, then I thought my swing was off, then I checked the wind gauge…….all to no avail. I remember thinking “what the hell are you doing wrong, you need to get your head in the game”, as it was a Tournament and of some importance. Then it struck me, my head WASN’T in the game.

I caught myself thinking about DADDY JERRY’S B-DAY BASH at the Alaska Club, what kinda games for the girls did he have planned. I was thinking about the CIA event at Roadhouse, and how much would they raise this year. I was thinking about the SOB at Confettis, what kind of bacchanalian events would they be holding. I was thinking if the Flamingo has gotten any better since the last time I was there last, as I am staying at the Orchid (as usual). I was trying to remember where exactly ACTION TRAVEL is so I can get my new AE Membership card when Im there. I was wandering if I would actually meet any boardmembers during my barhops. I was wandering if I can still get a bananaque mmmmmmmm.

The common theme is, I was thinking about my upcoming trip to AC (10 days and counting down). Normally I would be unwinding in my den after another drone like day at work (grocery manager). Playing a few rounds of golf on the good old PS2 keeps me from despair in the work-a-day world. For the past several days it has become increasingly difficult to concentrate on anything but “THE TRIP”.

It almost feels like my “cherry trip” all over again. The anticipation is almost unbearable. I actually look forward to boarding that plane and the 4 hour flight to LAX….the 2 hour layover….the 17 hour flight to GUAM….the 1 hour layover….the 5 hour flight to MANILA…..the 2 hour layover (waiting for luggage)….the 2-3 hour drive to Orchid Inn. OMG Im drooling now just thinking about it.

For those of you who live there (in paradise), you may not understand (or maybe you would). How can a trip to the Philippines make a middle aged man feel like a kid again???? Could it be that for a week (in my case 2) he can get away from everything for awhile and relax and do absolutly nothing, no thinking, no decissions, no problems, no nagging, etsc…. Could it be that he will have a chance to experience new culture and see new places and people, try exotic food, etc… I SAY NO. Its because he can go somewhere in the world, other than where he’s at now, spend time with beautiful young girls, drink to his hearts content, meet new friends (hopefully) that have some things in common, eat the same food he gets at home (for the most part). In short my friends, what draws him to the phils is LBFM’s….noone can deny.

I think I’ll go to bed now and have LBFMs dancing in my head. I will try to dream up some new position they have never tried before. I will go over my travel itinerary again. I will wash my clothes I am going to bring and iron my shirts and pants….again. I will make sure all things fit to 2 bags, because there is an extra charge for 3. I must remember to mail the Orchind Inn and make sure I get my AE 10% discount.

Happy mongering all………

Kregg