Philippinos are the edge of religious fanatism … though i don’t know on which side :). As the only Christian nation in Asia they have developed strong Catholic identity and Chirstmas is the most important hollyday here. But for someone like me used of thitry + years of snow for Christmas something is just wrong here.
And that is not all – there are no pines or spruces in tropics, so there is no Xmas tree … they just hang lights on any tree available. And – Lord is great – there are no pathetic over-commercialized Santas on every corner. Only shop staff have santa caps.
Anyway Xmas starts here in September! In December everything slows down and at about 15th most things stop, governement office close and traffic runs even slower as usual because of decorators blocking roads and religious processions walking snail-speed on roads – including highways!
Philippinos mostly celebrate Christmas at home, but there are also parties with live bands and fireworks in the cities. Other than some kids throwing firecrackers i must say Christmas was over very quiet and with much less happening as i expected based on months of preparations … maybe they just got enough of it already ;).
First: Merry Christmas everyone.
Second: Sorry for being MIA for so long.
Third: This is the reason – i didn’t have internet access. Did i have no line? NO. Was it dead? NO. Did we suffer another blackout? NO. I could go this way much longer, but i don’t want to bother you with the obvious reasons for the unavailability of internet.
Two weeks ago (Tuesday) i moved to a new house. It had internet installed, but it didn’t work, so called the landlords and they checked it with the operator and found out the bill was not payed, so they payed it and internet should be working the next day (Thursday).
Of course it wasn’t. So i went to the operators office in the Cebu city (what takes about one hour in days before Christmas) on Friday and they told me i can’t claim service on that account because i need written permission of the legal owner (who is in Europe now). So all i can do is to open a new account with minimum 2 years contract. I wanted to tell them what they could do with such a contract, but i restrained myself and called the landlords again if they can do something about it. They called and since they are Philippinos they didn’t have any problem extending the contract and claiming service.
But internet still didn’t work, so i supposed there must be a technical problem. I went there again on Sunday and waited for 45 minutes to move three places in nine people queue and then decided to quit. I returned on Monday and waited over one hour in four people queue and then it took them another 20 minutes to record that my internet doesn’t work and to schedule a telephone intervention for the next day 10 to 12 am, because they believed i should configure my computer.
I waited entire Tuesday and Wednesdays mornig and noone called. So i went back to the office at 1 pm and was fairly aggravated by that time. Luckly i was second in the queue so i only waited about 20 minutes. I explained the problem and they checked in their computer (which took them about ten minutes and a trip to the back of the office) to find out that – noone called me! And they scheduled a new service call for 8am next morning.
I got up at 6am on Thursday, prepared everything and waited by the phone – i didn’t even go to the toiled not to miss their call. And then it was 8am. An – as you can expect – noone called. But phone rang at about 9:10am and in a quarter of an hour they figoured out that i don’t thave power adapter for the antena! And to get one i would need:
And they refused to tell me the computer settings so i could test it as i get the adapter. Anyway i knew i wont get any letter from the accout owner so i called the landlords again. They said to go and fix the problem and on Friday they texted me that they got the adapter and will bring it over – but as i had to go to town i set the meeting at the mall in Cebu City. And what did they have? An ordinary internet cable! (I was realy angry at this time.) So we went back to the office and waited again. And as we were about to come to srevice the doorman gets some teenagers and moves then to the counter telling the: “You can go here”. Wait minute! why does he give us queue numbers if he then moves people over the line! Afther a week of dealing with this morons i just had about enough of it and told him aloud what i think of him, his attitude and his useless company and then went to the lady that sold cable for power adapter to the landlords. She said that she knows what is power adaptor, but she couldn’t give it to them without mentioned documents so she sold them the cable! (Doesn’t that tell a lot about people?!)
I didn’t even want to deal with them anymore so i told the landlords to just cancel the account and we go to another internet provider. And then the lady said: “Oh, but if you cancel that account (obviously we didn’t need a letter of agreement from the account owner for canceling the account!!!), you can open a new one and we will install new antena and bring the adapter.” I rather don’t comment on this one, because i don’t want to embarrass you. So we canceled the existing account, opened a new one and asked if technitians could only bring new power adapter as all other equipment was already there (of course they said: “NO”) and told us their crew will come in 3 to 5 days to install new internet antena and that tey will call us before.
I treated the landlords with a lunch for their trouble which took us about and hour, and as we finished telephone rang and there were internet technicians waiting in front of the house to install inernet antena! They obviuosly dispatched them right away afther we signed for a new contract and i was still one hour away in the city.
I was affraid they will just leave and it will take another week or more to come back again. Luckily for me Philippinos don’t mind doing nothing so they waited there. And being much more practical then their company they just pluged in the adapter and setup the comp and i had my internet access. (Halellujah!) I wander what happened to that extra antena though :).
I deliberatedly didn’t write the name of the company, because i don’t think that any other is much better, so i would just give you false hope that all will be good if you go somewhere else …
And this is a commercial company! Think about doing admistrative documentation …
Philippines are relatively near to the equator. Therefore night and day last about 12 hours each all year round. Here in Cebu it starts to dawn at about five in the morning and dusk enters the game at five in the evenening. Transitions last one hour.
7am Morning is for me the best part of the day – it is warm yet fresh and almost always sunny and breezy. Plus not so crouded as most people here don’t like to get up early – bad part of it is that not much can be done as everything starts at 9 am here.
9am The sun is already strong (too hot for intensive work or exercise), roads are clogged. Shops and offices open. Take a bottle of water with you.
12am Awoid going out or at least exposing yourself if possible. Everything – roads, buildings, vehicles radiate heat … not to mention the sun :). Offices close for lounch break until 1pm. Min 2 liters of water if you go out.
5am Temperature outside is berable again, but inside houses are hell-hot. Aircon or at least a strong fan and opened window to blow out the heat is necessery. Offices close.
9am Temperature is benign, night life time. Shops close.
12pm Regular night activities stop, general clubs and bars close. Stil there is a lot of late night life activities.
During daytime you are safe everywhere, police and security is omnipresent. Up until 8 pm it is stil safe to walk the streets, but afther that hour it is adwised to take a ride everywhere unles on public places.
I didn’t have any bad experience here, or was even slightly threatened. But it takes only one desperate person in a thousandt to get in trouble. Anayway worst to be affraid of is to get robbed, life is not threatened. That is unless you go to no-go areas; always consult locals about safety and availability of fresh water on your way to avoid dehydration (i drink 5 liters of water per day here).
Never use an outside ATM at night, there is where robbers pray on their victims. I only raise cash in inside bank ATMs at large malls. Also i was warrned about pickpockets on ferry terminals.
Today is a sort of a national hollyday in Philippines. Philippino Emmanuel “Manny” Dapidran Pacquiao, one of the worlds best boxers, named fighter of the decade for 2000s and long time holder of the best pound-per-pound boxer and Mexican Juan Manuel Márquez Méndez are fighting for the title right as i am writing this post.
Fight ended in round 6 by knock-out for Marquez. Sad day for Philippines i suppose.
4th, 11 am I hardly got here and im alredy hit by the typhoon called Bopha (meaning “flower” or girls name)! It is forcasted to be the strongest this year and its center will pass right over Central Visayas where i am. I was adviced not to go out, though today rain is light and winds are moderate, but tomorrow the eye of the cyclon will be right above us.
Today we already had a blackout in the morning and internet connection is falling out all the time. Worst is predicted for tomorrow, even floods, though winds should not exceede 100 km/h. Will keep you informed of the outcomes … hopefuly 🙂
4th, 6:30 pm We are out from another blackout. All is quiet now and the rain has stopped – the calm before the storm. The big one is about to hit us in one hour.
4th, 9 pm Heavy rain struck us at about 7 pm, and ended at about 9 pm. Here at MB’s is always a party while typhoon is raging – so calamities are good for business in Phillies. In fact local westerners were comming here for entire day as if there would be a big soccer match on TV. Lots of food and especialy drinks were served and spirits were high … too high in case of some people – Mike sure helped to it with numerous “rounds on the house” :). In accordance to local laws party ended at midnight and storm enraged again (the later not being decreed by the law).
5th, 2 am Loud noices woke me up; but it was not the storm – two ladies (maybe the term is not used correctly for the case) were quarreling at the volume surpassing by far any of the storm, for the reason unknown to me. Some say it was the effect of the storm and others would argue that it was caused by the booze. This calamity persisted for more then an hour and then all was quiet.
5th, 7 am Bopha was over. Thy sky was overcats but rain and strong winds were over.
5th Though typhoon Bopha cause 40.000 people to fleed in the evacuation shelters in Southern Philippines and also claimed at least 43 unfortunate souls it came easily down on us on Cebu and Mactan – we had many harsher storms in Slovenia, EU this year. But – one of the major reasons for me to come to Cebu is its position, shielded from all sides by other islands, protecting us from most weather disasters. So it was an easy win – Typhoon 0 : Alfred V. 1.
Afther morning clouds day was sunny and very clean – rain cleansed the air and also washed dust from the roads, so todays walk to the mall was much less dustfull. Also the temperatures were lover.
7th Death toll rose to more than 400 with several hundred still missing! Flash floods and landslides destroyed entire emergency shelters and even a military camp.
Yesterday i went looking for a house in the area near Cebu City. I also got my first direct experience of the traffic here, having a local motor bike driver. Chaos of the traffic here actually looks manageable, but i will write about it some other time.
Like in any country rents fall quick with the distance from the city. Still Cebu being the capital of the Visayas (central part of Philippines; besides Luzon in the North and Mindanao in the South), keeps the prices high in entire area. See the approximate trip on the map (map is interactive, you can move and zoom it).
See some photos of three best dwellings i found (from seven i checked), gallery is below descriptions.
Beach house (first 3 photos) few kilometers further from Compostela – 20 meters from the sea, entrance to the beach is 30 meters away. Starting rent: 25.000 PHP (500 EUR / 650 USD).
Mini villa (photos 4-10) between Liloan and Compostela. In fully protected area of about 200 mini villas, with 2 security guards at the entrance, checking any unknown person or vehicle. Inside is pool and recreational area. Starting rent: 30.000 PHP (600 EUR / 750 USD). For comparison small and barely equipped duplex house complex in Lapu-Lapu City rent started at 17.000 PHP.
Mini villa (last 5 photos) in Lapu-Lapu City. Fine house, but in poor area. Starting rent: 30.000 PHP (600 EUR / 750 USD).
I will add some smaller/cheaper locations as i scout them in the next days.
Philippines are a dream land for any IT person – here PHP is hard currency 😛 PHP – Philippine Peso.
Today 1 EUR is 52 PHP; but to understand how this country is progressing think about this – 1 EUR used to be 86 PHP (ok, euro is also dropping, but this country is growing – no global crisis here).
Since division by 50 is hard i help me with a simple math trick – first i multiply price by 2 and then i divide by 100 – it is a cheap trick, but i figured out many westerners i spoke with here didnt think of it even if they stay here for a longer period – im so cool, right 😉
Some prices – for your comparison – i will post more at some later time as i get a better grasp of it:
For two days we had internet problems, but yesterday my computer suffered an electrical shock (electricity supply here is not that stable) and i had to take it to repair shop, so i still cant upload posts i was preparing in last days (offline). Anyway, i went to Cebu City on the other island (im on Mactan island), taxi fares costed 170/195 PHP (3,5 and 4 euros). I was sent to SM mall, only to get scared by the shear size of it – only electronic section (Cyberzone) is bigger than entire malls in Slovenia, and again shops are better equipped and stocked as at home.
Expect posts from the trip soon (hopefully i didnt loose data on my comp) – but i will publish them back-dated to match the time line.
As mentioned in previous post Marlene, the owner, from MB’s picked me with one of their girls at the airport in Mactan. As we were driving down the main road i was astonished – houses and shops looked like in some older suburb of a German or Austrian city – only Philippino style decorated – meaning brightly and contrasty painted and signed. My general perception was: “almost European”. But just a turn to the local road and we came to the hut area – the cross section to the third world. Like the poppies in wheat villas rised above simplest of wood and metal homes, new ones being built all over and empty lots being advertised. I guess in ten to twenty years this place will be high property value district like in any European coastal town, and noone will even remember the huts.
MB’s Garden Inn was at the and of the road inside a decently (in local terms) housed area – a complex of buildings that looks like an organic form of some urban life form, taking shape as it develops around the central point – dining area and bar. But all is cossy and friendly looking in colours and plants used almost as a part of the building itself – a sort of “outdoors inside” – more then less just what the name promisses.
As i have no point of comparisson it is hard to say if my room and bathroom are above or below average, but both are big and clean, and the bed is firm as i like it.
The girls here are nice and friendly, always smiling and laughing, just as expected in this part of the world. Dinner here is almost too european – offering anyting from vienna schnitzel to gulasch – not surprsing though as Michael aka Mike – the owner – is German.