Monthly Archives: April 2010

Helpful Cellphone Tips in the Philippines

Since most of the population and immigrant locals use Text Messaging as their main form of "talking", one should get used to this method of communication. It’s cost effective, and it keeps a written record of what was said, which can be handy later.

Network…any GSM phone that operates on 900/1800 mhz will work. This includes many models by Nokia, Sony/Ericsson, Motorola, and HTC and even Chinese models. If your phone simply has the name of your carrier on it, such as Cingular, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile,Vodaphone, O2, etc…check the actual model number of the unit first to verify coverage. CDMA only phones will not work here.

Providers….Smart, Globe, and Sun. Each company has certain benefits and drawbacks so just pick the one you like. Both Smart and Globe support data services so you can access the internet, email, video calling and more, using GPRS, EDGE, 3G, UTMS, HSDPA. This guide will answer most of your questions about using a cellphone with Smart or Globe. As I have never used SUN, I will simply post a link here for you to read about their services: SUN Cellular

Can you use your phone from your own country here?

if it is already network unlocked, meaning you have verified that it can be used on a telcom provider, other than the one you bought it from, YES
if not, one can usually get it unlocked in one of the many cellphone shops along Fields Ave, or at Savers Mall, SM Mall, or Nepo Mall.

Should I bring my phone with me or just buy one here?
Well, that depends. If you think you need to have all of your foreign contacts with you while here, then yes. If you just need a basic phone for calling and texting, one can be purchased for as little as p1500 brand new. That being said, your phone might have lots of bells and whistles that a cheap local phone won’t. But, many use a dedicated phone, just for the Philippines, so they reduce the risk of getting their foreign, expensive phone lost or stolen.

Basically, you buy a pre-paid SIM card, which costs anywhere from 80 pesos to 150 pesos and add load balance to it. This will now be your local Phils number. You will place it (usually underneath the battery) in your new phone, or the phone you brought over with you. Load can be added by buying a reload card and following the instructions on the card, which consists of scratching off a hidden pin number and sending a text message or making a free call to reload, or by purchasing Eload (electronic load) from one of many roadside shops or going into the telcom provider’s business office.

Texting Messaging and Predictive Texting

Get ready though, as filipinos have an interesting way of abbreviating their words, and sometimes use phonetic spelling, or "TAG-lish" so you’ll have to ask a buddy to read and decifer your incoming messages.

English speaking persons have the option of using their phone’s built in dictionary while composing text messages. Sometimes called T9, it can be activated in the phone menu, and it can really save a lot of time. Words, next letter and even next sentence choices are spelled out in advance of the word being completed, and can be chosen while typing. So instead of typing the word HELLO with 13 key presses, it can be done in 5 key presses. Be careful when spelling new words when in T9 dictionary mode, as if you mis-spell a word, it will be offered as a word choice every time until you enter so many new words as to overwrite your custom words.

To Check your balance with SMART
CALL 1515, you will hear some beeps then be disconnected. You will then receive a text message with the balance.
TEXT 1515 and send to 214
You will then receive a text message with the balance.
Use the SMART menu and select Buddy Balance.

To Check your balance with Globe

CALL 222 You will then receive a text message with the balance. This costs 1 peso.
TEXT bal and send to 222 You will then receive a text message with the balance. This is free up to 8 times a day.

To Reload Smart using a reload card by calling
CALL 1510fourteendigitpinnumber
using the pin number you have revealed by scratching off the hidden section

Reloading Instructions for Globe Call & Text Card
For GLOBE Handyphone local [Philippine] subscribers
1. Dial 223 and press Send
2. Follow the voice prompts
3. Enter the first 10 digits [Call Card Number] then press #
4. Enter the last 6 digits [Call Card PIN] then press #
5. A voice prompt will then confirm if the load attempt is successful

For GLOBE Handyphone US Roaming subscribers
1. Dial *123* + call card number + PIN + # sign. Do not put spaces in between this sequence.
Ex. *123* 1234567890123456#
2. Press SEND.
3. Wait for this confirmation message to flash on the screen. “Please wait while we process your request.”
4. You will receive a message shortly after. “Reload successful new balance is Pxxx”

International Text Roaming is really great, as you can keep in touch with persons in the Philippines and it costs them one peso to send a text message to you, as if you were still in the country. Many persons use two phones when back in their home countries, one with the SIM on roaming to receive messages, and their local foreign phone for replying. Roaming can also be used to deny incoming calls while here in the Philippines, to ensure your privacy, location, and/or help you get some needed sleep or continue with your business meeting, uninterrupted. In this case, although you can send and receive text messages, you will be unable to make or receive calls.

Roaming with SMART…

Activating International Text Roaming
Simply text "ROAM ON" and send to 333. Roaming activation will occur within one (1) hour, usually instantly. (Important: Remember to activate pre-paid roaming before leaving the Philippines.)

When your Buddy Roaming service is activated you will be able to send and receive text messages in over 100 countries in the world, anytime for only P20 per send; enjoy zero-charging for receiving text messages while roaming; and disallow all outgoing and incoming calls (even while you’re in the Philippines).

To deactivate the roaming feature upon your return, simply key in "ROAM OFF" and send to 333. De-activation will occur within one (1) hour, usually instantly. (Remember to deactivate upon arrival in the Philippines to restore voice calls.)

Once overseas it is free to receive texts as long as you maintain a 100 peso balance.

Checking your pre-paid peso balance while roaming
To check your PESO balance while roaming:
Type in ?1515 and send to 214
You will receive a text message stating your latest available balance.

To check your FREE text balance:
Type ?1516 and send to 214
You will receive a text message stating your latest available balance.

To Reload using a reload card thru text:

Through text, you can also reload SMART Buddy with a few simple commands:
a. Lightly scratch off the protective ink on your Call and Text Card* to reveal the 14-digit PIN.
b. Type in "RELOAD <’14 digit PIN’>" and send to 1510. NOTE, there is a space between reload and the pin number.
c. If you wish to load another phone number than the one you are texting the reload command from, type in "RELOAD <’14 digit PIN’> <‘phone number’>".
d. You will receive a text message confirming that the reload attempt is successful

Roaming with Globe
Just text GROAM ON [Start Date] [No. of Days] and send to 2884.

For example, if you want to activate your roaming on September 26, 2009 for ten days, just text GROAM ON 09/26/2009 10 send to 2884.

Make sure that you have P500 balance before activating your International Roaming. You also need to maintain P500 daily load while abroad to ensure continuity of your roaming service. You may request for roaming activation 7 days before departure or at least an hour before departure. Maximum number of days for activation is 180 days.

P100 maintaining balance while roaming is permanent.

Required Activation Balance Php 100
Required Maintaining Balance Php 100

The following grace periods will apply after completing your requested roaming days.

No. of Requested Days and Grace Period*

1 – 7 roaming days
8 – 90 roaming days
91 – 120 roaming days
121 – 180 roaming days
0 days grace period
3 days grace period
14 days grace period
30 days grace period

* Roaming service will remain inactive while under the grace period.

Reminder: You can only request for activation while you’re in the Philippines. If you go below the required maintaining balance, Globe Telecom will give you a text notification to reload within 24 hours, otherwise your Roaming service will be deactivated.

How to apply for extension of the Prepaid International Roaming Service:
To request for extension of your Prepaid International Roaming, just text GROAM EXTEND [no. of days] and send to 2884 before your roaming request ends. Maximum number of days for extension is 90 days.

You can extend as many times until you reach the 180 days maximum allowable roaming days.

Regular roaming text charges apply. Make sure that you have P 500 balance before making a request. You also need to maintain P 500 daily load while abroad to ensure continuity of your roaming service.

Reminder: You must request for extension at least a day before your roaming service ends.

How to make calls while roaming with Globe:
1. Dial *131* + country code + area code (or operator code) + called party’s number + #sign. Do not put spaces in between this number sequence. (e.g. *131*6327301000# ). Press SEND.

2. A confirmation message will flash on your screen.

"Please wait while we process your request."

3.Then wait for your phone to ring and you’re automatically connected.

Reminder: Maintain P80 in prepaid credits to avoid getting your call cut off due to insufficient balance.

Maintain P95 in prepaid credits to receive calls.

How to check your balance while roaming with Globe

1. CALL *122#

2.You will receive a confirmation message "Your balance is Pxxx", stating your current balance.

Checking your balance while roaming in CANADA, just by text BAL send to 2215

*Balance inquiry is free of charge and is available to you 8 times daily. On the 9th try, you will no longer receive a balance update.

For HELP while roaming, you can call Globe’s 24/7 Customer Service Hotline * Prepaid clients can call *131*6327301212# from your mobile (toll-free)

You can also email Globe at "" for help on your roaming. You can even request to reactivate your SIM’s roaming feature thru this email.

The world’s first service that allows your friends and relatives in the Philippines to send load for as low as P2.00 from their SMART cellphones.

To send load to your roaming SIM, they just have to text < your roaming sim#> space < amount> and send to 808.

Ex: Text 09182211333 2 send to 808
Available PASALOAD denominations: P2, P5, P10, P15, P20, P30, P60

SMART Ask 4 load
With Ask4Load, you can now ask for load and pasaload from anyone subscribed to the SMART Network.

How to Ask 4 load with your Smart account:

dial *808 followed by the 11-digit mobile phone number of the person you are asking.

Example: if your friend’s mobile phone number is 0917 123 4567, just call *80809171234567

They will receive a text message asking them if they want to send YOU 5 pesos load, by replying with YES or NO before midnight. If one does not wish to, the request can simply be ignored as well. You can request askforload twice a day.

GLOBE ask-a-load
Globe Prepaid subscribers can Ask-A-load from another Globe Prepaid or Globe postpaid subscriber.This service is NOT available for Touch Mobile subscribers.

How can I Ask-A-Load?
Ask-A-Load by simply texting the (amount) to (26+10 digit handyphone number). NO need to register.

Example, to ask P25 pesos from 09176660353:

Step 1: Text in the amount, say 25

Step 2: Send to 269176660353

The person you are asking load from will receive a text advise asking for load. If the person who received the request agrees, he/she simply reply by texting his Share-A-Load PIN. If the person you are asking from doesn’t have a Share-A-Load PIN (first time users of Share-A-Load service), he/she can simply text YES and the P25 load request will be transferred. To accept succeeding requests the Share-A-Load PIN is required. To register, go here: Globe Share a Load

SMART Person Finder
Ok, so you have children or a wife girlfriend that you wish to be able to locate their general location. If you were told someone is in the province, you can do this search and if it shows Balibago, Angeles City, well, you’ll know something is amiss…

This only works with SMART so both phones must have a SMART sim card.

First make sure you have access to the cellphone of the person you wish to trace. Then using YOUR cellphone, type WIS

For example WIS Karl 09181111111 and send to 386

This costs 2.50 pesos per text

The person you want to locate will receive a text message asking for your permission to locate him/her on THEIR cellphone. Using THEIR cellphone, you can authorize yourself as someone allowed to trace them. You can also password protect this feature so it cant be turned off without the password.

Once you’re authorized, you can locate the cellphone by sending either WIS (name) or WIS (registered number) to 386. This costs you 5 pesos.

Then you will receive a text message with their general whereabouts. Make sure you delete all the sent and received texts, during this process, on the person’s phone you are trying to authorize to trace. This way there willl be zero evidence. It’s not very specific, but can be useful to see what city barangay, or province someone is in. Go here for more info: Smart Person Finder

Social Hygiene in Angeles City

Anybody who has had exposure to the bars and the girls who work there will have seen the ID’s they all wear and will also have probably gone through the ‘I have to leave by six because I have smear’, scenario.

I don’t know about you guys but the social hygiene department is an aspect of the bar life that I have always taken for granted and never really looked into. In fact whilst researching this article I was forced to realize just how little I knew about the whole system. Writing this article and doing the associated research was in many ways an eye opening experience for me, as I hope it will be for you the reader. Whilst on the subject of research I would like to send a massive thank you to Mark Hollywood for his undying support, patience and of course his willingness to give me the vast amounts of information he has accrued over his many years of living in the PI. Without his help and guidance this article would never have been possible.

Social Hygiene is located on the corner of A. Santos street and C. Surla street.

So what exactly is this organization referred to as Social Hygiene? Basically this is a local government run organization that employs doctors and nurses to conduct weekly and monthly medical checkups on the girls working in the Angeles bars. The primary check up is for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) in particular Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This procedure will take the form of a visual examination and a vaginal swab which is then placed on a culture slide and examined under the microscope. When conducting the visual examination they are looking for rashes or other signs indicative of infections such as the fungal infection Candida. With the swab they are examining, solely for gonorrhea. According to my sources they do not conduct specific checks for Chlamydia, Syphilis, UTI’s or any other sexually transmitted diseases but rather they tend to rely on observation of the physical signs associated with these diseases.

The testing for and treatment of gonorrhoeae is as follows. “A urine test & a swab test – collecting fluid from the penis or vagina by placing a swab in the opening of the urethra; this causes brief discomfort. Early treatment of Neisseria gonorrhoeae is simple & effective, & involves a single dose of antibiotics. In addition, the treatment of Chlamydia is also advocated. (It is common to have these two STD infections together – 50% have both)”.
In terms of the medicines used to treat gonorrhoeae the most common are as follows

Treatment of Gonorrhea:
“Cipro® XR 500 mg a single dose, or
Levaquin® 500 mg a single dose, or
Tequin® 400 mg a single dose;”

Treatment of Chlamydia:
“Doxycycline 100 mg 2-3 times a day for 10-14 days, or
Zithromax® (azithromycin) 1.0 gm a single dose, or
Zithromax® Z-pak® (azithromycin) – 500mg on day 1, followed by 1 tab (250mg) once a day for 4 more days
To avoid re-infection, any sexual partners should be treated too”.

The girls can get the treatment from a private medical doctor or from Social Hygiene doctors but either way in order to get their health card back and to work in the bar again they must be treated and proven to be negative at a smear conducted by at Social Hygiene.

The Social Hygiene Department works closely with City Hall to control and regulate the bar industry in Angeles. Basically there are 3 important documents issued by Social Hygiene and/or City Hall and these are The Pro Book,

The Pro Book,

The License Card

The Health Card

The Social Hygiene building is basically what is referred to by people involved in the industry as the “one stop shop”, so called because all the various procedures that need to be completed to be able to work in the bar can be conducted here. The initial card that is issued is the Blue Card also referred to as the LACEM card. LACEM is the League of Angeles City Entertainers and Managers and has its own office in the Social Hygiene Building. LACEM is an organization composed of Mamasans, Managers and Floor Managers that works hand in hand with city health officials. Once the girls true identity and legal age has been verified by use of official documents such as the (NSO) National Statistics Office approved birth certificate, and she has passed the interview conducted by City Hall officials working in Social Hygiene, she is issued a Blue Card. The Blue Card serves as a type of license card issued by city hall officials working in social hygiene, which says the bearer is licensed by city hall to work in an establishment as a dancer or waitress or manager or DJ or utility person etc.

The blue Card costs 300 piso and represents a one off payment to city hall. This money is normally given by the bar and then deducted from the girls salary which contrary to popular opinion becomes the property of the girl not the bar. This means that should a girl wish to transfer bars she is legally entitled to her license as it is not owned by the bar. On many occasions I have seen mamasans extremely reticent to hand the girl’s license over but the fact is the girl has paid for it and it is legally speaking her property. This is an important fact because many times a girl wants to change bars and the mamasans realizing how important to the bar a productive girl is, will often try to hold her by holding the blue card license.

The Blue Card basically provides official recognition that a girl’s identity is recognized as is her age and as such she is now registered in the system. It also serves as a type of official ID verified by the official system. The Blue Card is issued on a yearly basis and as the next year commences it is automatically renewed without the girl having to undergo the interview process again. Once the Blue Card has been issued the girl can now apply to get the white health card.

The Blue License card serves several important purposes. First and foremost it is a form of ID which states that the local authorities to the best of their knowledge recognize this girl as being of legal age to work in the bar. Secondly it serves as proof that she is registered within the official system governing the bars operations. Thirdly it is a means of keeping track of the girls as they work in the bars. Fourthly it acts as a sort of official ID. Fifthly it represents a sort of go between for the LACEM association and city hall officials working in Social Hygiene. Lastly it is a handy revenue raiser for city hall and the bureaucracy.

The next important card is the White Health License. Each week on a specified day the girls from all the individual bars must go to Social Hygiene for a smear which is examined then and there by a social hygiene recognized doctor. Upon completion, the girls attendance and the fact that they have undergone the smear is recorded on the white health care card and in their Pro-Book.

The entire procedure is conducted in conjunction with a Mamasan or other senior personnel from the bar together with the girls. The process of a physical observation and the actual smear is done at the Social Hygiene building and the girls will wait while her swab is examined. This is normally a fairly quick process and if she is negative for any STD’s she will be given her health card and Pro-Book back appropriately marked and will then be free to leave. The actual results are not recorded on the Pro-Book or White Health Card as this is considered private information between the girl and the doctor only. The Pro-Book and the Health card merely indicate that she has attended smear and since they are kept by City Health Officials if she fails smear then the fact that she has them on her person implies that she was negative when tested.

If a girl tests positive for gonorrhoeae or is observed to have physical symptoms of another STD her White Health Care card is confiscated by Social Hygiene and she is not allowed to work until she has another smear and tests negative. The girl is then prescribed the appropriate medicine which is sold at a reduced price within social hygiene. The girl is allowed to work but not allowed to go EWR once she has undergone smear again and it is negative she is given back her White Card and Pro-Book.

The white card and pro book are very important documents to official doom and Social Hygiene together with City Hall employs teams of personnel to periodically check the health cards of the girls in the bar making sure that every girl has a card and every girl has undergone the smear and physical observation check at Social Hygiene. The White Card and Pro-Book are numbered and this becomes the girls official number within the system.

The smear costs around 120 piso per time per girl which in turn pays for the Social Hygiene service and contributes to city hall coffers. The majority of bars will incur the expense and this will then be deducted from the girls salary however some bars pay for the smear and do not deduct it. These bars are very much in the minority and most owners consider this a cost that should be passed onto the workers. Given the quantity of girls now working in the Angeles bars and given that the common practice is to get numerous bars to attend at the same time, the smear process can be time consuming and often they will commence proceedings at 7am untill 3pm Monday-Thursday and until noon on Fridays.

The smear is not conducted when the girl has menstruation. When menstruation occurs, the girls is given a waiver coupon and she is instructed to return in a week’s time for the smear. The girl is also allowed to work during this period even though she has not undergone the smear. In the case of virgins they must go to social hygiene every 90 days and there the vagina is inspected to make sure the hymen is still intact.

There is currently a sort of splinter group circulating the bars offering to conduct the smear in a quicker time for the price of around 120 piso. There are also a number of private doctors that will conduct the smear but these are not recognized by social hygiene as firstly the private doctors can be bribed to issue a false report and secondly if it became a common practice this would represent a significant loss of income for the social hygiene office and for the mayor.

The smear and physical observation system are designed to minimize the spread of gonorrhoeae and other Sexually Transmitted Disease. On a slightly different level they also serve as a means for the city health officials to control people and regulate the bar business as a whole. For example if the girl is working in a bar and fails to attend smear the mamsan is supposed to surrender the health care card to Hygiene and the girl is not allowed to work. Often the social hygiene will send their personnel round to the bars to check this procedure is being followed. The card also serves as a sort of unofficial recognition that the girl is of legal age (18) to work in the bar because in order to get the card in the first place she must have a license card which means the documents showing her age have been presented to and inspected by the Licensing Department of the Mayor’s Office. Last but not least the smear process and physical observation serves as a revenue raiser for city hall and the mayor’s office.

Both the blue and white license cards are in many ways like a work permit and if you don’t have it you can’t work. The no license no work rule is enforced by City Hall and Social Hygiene personnel conducting random spot checks on the bars. The licenses creation will invariably necessitate direct co-ordination between LACSUM the official mamasans association and City Hall Licensing Department. For example in the case of a girl new to the system her mamsan will present the birth certificates and other forms of ID which are necessary to prove a new girls age and get her a license.

To get a girl who is already in the system her license her previous blue card, white health card and Pro-Book are presented to City Hall licensing Department who have an office inside the Social Hygiene building where they are inspected by officials and new license cards are then created and signed by the licensing officer or sometimes even by the mayor himself and counter signed by the President of LACSUM the Mamasans Association.

For the new girls the mamasans must bring an NSO certified birth certificate and other forms of ID to prove exactly how old the girl is. As in the case of the health card the license is a must have for any girl working in the bar and going out with customers.

The license is an important document but must be presented when requested by a City Hall Official and must be surrendered upon request.

With so many girls working in the bars in Angeles the granting of the licenses can often be a time consuming and arduous business with no set time period before the license is granted. The government bureaucracy in just about any country is slow and inefficient and in this respect the Philippines is no different. The creation of the license may take anywhere from one day to one week depending on how busy the licensing department is and depending on what influence the mamasan has within the department. Because of the time delay City Hall will often issue a temporary license or at least a piece of paper saying a particular girls license is “under processing”.

The rule is no license, no work and there is a group of personnel from the mayor’s office who periodically visit the bars and inspect the licenses. If a girl is working in the bar and has no license or at least a temporary license or a note verifying that her license is being processed, then the penalties can be quite severe and may even result in closure of the bar.
In today’s modern society the major disease associated with sexual activity is HIV-AIDS. As far as I can ascertain every six months as the girls go to smear a number of them are selected on a random basis and blood samples are taken and examined for HIV-AIDS. The mamasans will normally be notified that on a prescribed day whilst at smear random blood samples will be taken from the girls to test for HIV/AIDS. If a girl is found to be HIV positive her license, health card and pro book are revoked and she is turned over to the Health Care Department for treatment. The Government does supply some minimal funds for HIV sufferers but as a friend of mine wryly stated “if you contract HIV in this country you won’t last long”.

The prevention of HIV/AIDS is paramount amongst everyone working in the bar industry and as such there are a number of AIDS awareness programs running continuously and a concerted effort to promote safe sex practices throughout all levels of the industry. One very common sight you will see in most of the bars is the poster showing a white or red ribbon. This poster serves to remind people of the existence of HIV/AIDS and at the same time reminds them that the risk of catching HIV/AIDS is considerably lessened when practicing safe sex. The poster does not represent any specific organization but is merely a reminder of the diseases existence and to practice safe sex.

There are also regular seminars conducted at social hygiene and sometimes within the bars themselves (find out from cel how often seminars are conducted). These seminars are conducted by social hygiene officials along with the mamasans from various bars and the main subject discussed is practicing safe sex. Often the seminars will involve physical demonstrations where the girls are shown how to put the condom on using an egg plant or a vibrator.

Other subjects discussed in the seminar are general health issues, pregnancy how to avoid an unwanted pregnancy and how to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy.

The social hygiene and healthcare topic literally represents a vast ocean of information which in this article I have merely scratched the surface of. However my purpose was not to thoroughly examine all the issues but rather to just give a general overview thus increasing readers understanding of the current system that is designed to protect both the working girls and their partners. Writing this article has given me a better understanding of the system and the regulations that govern the bar industry and it is my sincere hope that by reading it you will gain useful knowledge and a better understanding of the system as a whole.