Adjustments For An American Living In The Philippines {12}

Adjustments For An American Living In The Philippines

I’ve often been told it takes at least five years to fully adjust to life in the Philippines for a foreigner such as myself. If true, I’m about 23% of the way there. At times it seems I’m doing just fine, others not as well. But if I’m being honest, that was true before I moved here.

In regards to adjustment, “I have Good Days, Bad Days” as one of my guitar heroes, Coco Montoya, likes to say.

Crosstown Traffic {2}

Crosstown Traffic

I first visited Davao in 2006, if my memory serves me correctly. I’ve been told I’m wrong, but I honestly don’t remember any traffic lights at that time. There must have been very few if, as I’ve been told, there were. Traffic flowed very easily, as what I recall. It wasn’t even that hard to cross the street then.

I moved here just over a year ago. Things had changed a lot in that time in regards to traffic. The proliferation of vehicles and intersections with traffic lights had increased drastically from what I had seen six years early. That pales compared to what I’ve seen in the last year though.

The Balikbayan Box {16}

The Balikbayan Box

This one was different. Sure I’d sent many balikbayan boxes before, in fact that is how I sent all my stuff when I moved, but this one I awaited with much more anticipation. Watching the tracking on LBC’s site, though it seemed not to change.

My first experience with balikbayan boxes came after my previous filipina wife finally got her fiancee visa and arrived in the United States. One of the first tasks we undertook, after the marriage and government requirements, was to start shopping for the contents of BOX that we would send every few months. That was really pretty simple, as anything was needed back in the Philippines, and there were always plenty of used clothing to forward. It was easy to fill that box.

Davao City Overland Transport Terminal Fares {3}

Davao City Overland Transport Terminal Fares

I looked everywhere for a fare schedule for the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (Ecoland Bus Terminal) with no success. I even started the project of going down there and taking notes/photos from each of the bus companies with the intent of putting one together. I gave up on that, as it was too much work and there was not enough cooperation.

Just recently, when I was researching for a post on my other site – Where To Find It – Davao, I stumbled across a spreadsheet with fare listings. I couldn’t find an owner of this document, and to be honest I’m not sure the fares are up to date. In fact, they seem just a little higher than what I’ve paid on my last two trips. Possibly this is a fare increase proposal, or a fare increase that was just implemented? Whatever it is, it is close enough to give an idea of what you can expect to pay when traveling by bus from Davao to other locations in Mindanao.

Checking Out GenSan {8}

Checking Out GenSan

I got to take another short trip this month. This time I went to a city I’d passed through before but not had time to stop and visit. General Santos City, or GenSan as it is most commonly called, is in the Soccsksargen region of central Mindanao. It is the southernmost city in the Philippines, with a population of 538,086 according to 2010 census.

On my previous pass through, I had noticed that the streets were mostly occupied by tricycles and jeepneys, not so many taxis and cars. That appealed to me, as Davao is getting more congested by the week. I’m not sure what it’s going to be like in a few years, but I’ve gotten glimpses of what I suspect, and that doesn’t appeal to me. So I’m looking to see if there might be an option down the road that would be more appealing.

Taking the Bus From Davao to Cagayan de Oro {17}

Taking the Bus From Davao to Cagayan de Oro

One of the things I wanted to do when I retired and moved to the Philippines was to travel and visit more of the country. I had been to the Philippines many times before moving here, but my trips had been limited to just a few areas. I had seen the Manila area, Davao/Samal and a few small towns outside of those. My intention was to spend some of my free time exploring other parts of Mindanao, in particular, since that is where I live.

Since moving I have had the opportunity to go to Cebu on a few occasions. That was nice, in that Cebu is a very busy and modern city. There are plenty of foreigners there, in particular Koreans. As much as I enjoyed those visits, I still had the urge to explore more of the areas around me. I had targeted Cagayan de Oro (CDO) as likely first trip to make on my own, as there are nice buses headed that way on a regular basis going right through the heart of Bukidnon. That’s an area I have a lot of interest in.

Lost Wallet In Cebu {8}

Lost Wallet In Cebu

What are the odds of getting your wallet back if it’s lost or stolen in the Philippines? That’s one of the first thoughts that went through my head as I realized, while on a business trip in Cebu, that I had left my wallet in the taxi. Of course it would depend on the circumstances, but I figured my odds somewhere between 0-5%.

I didn’t have any information on the taxi or the driver. In my hurry to leave the hotel, I didn’t wait for them to help me either. With their help I know they notate the vehicle number and taxi company. No, I had no information other than I knew where I was picked up, dropped off and the approximate time. The term needle in a haystack comes to mind.

Busted! {3}


A guest article from Jack Emery. Jack splits his time between Davao and Samal Island, having moved here a couple of years ago from Arizona. He also has his own website at Jack In Davao.

This week I got a dose of reality about driving in the Philippines.

Just to be clear, I’m not one of those foreigners who complains about the local driving customs. I actually like driving here, better than in the obsessive-compulsive rules-intensive systems prevailing in many ‘advanced’ countries.