Going Philippines - Island of Sanity

Island of Sanity


Going Philippines

I have recently moved to the Philippines. There are many challenges with moving to a new country. So I thought I'd make a little blog about challenges I faced and, to the extent that I have solved them, my solutions. Some of what I say here may be applicable to moving from and to other countries, but my perspective is from the United States to the Philippines. And need I say it? I am relating my own personal experiences. Your mileage may vary, use only as directed, should not be construed as legal advice, etc.

In my preparations I read many Internet posts and several books that talked in generalities. Like one book had a section on public transportation. It said that in the Philippines the main forms of public transit are taxis, jeepneys, and tricycles. It gave brief descriptions of what each one was. And ... that was basically it. It gave no explanation of, say, how I get a ride on a jeepney, how I know what their routes are, what they charge, etc. I found this sort of information maddening. If I was just reading about a foreign country for intellectual amusement, I suppose what I would want to know is what is there, what's distinctive about it, the history, maybe how it differs from my own country. But if I am considering moving to a country, I want to know the nuts and bolts practicalities. Whee do I go to do X? How do I go about it? How much does it cost?

Just for example, an article about the Philippines for people who are just interested in learning something about the country might tell you that ATMs are found all over the country, maybe give some statistics on how many there are and how many people use them. Maybe tell you something about the history, or the technology behind them. A practical guide will tell you that ATMs are routinely found in shopping malls, that you are generally limited to withdrawing $200 at a time, but there is nothing to stop you from withdrawing another $200 5 seconds later. The bank that owns the ATM will generally charge a fee of about $5. Your bank will likely charge you a "not our ATM" fee. This varies widely by bank from $0 to $10 or so. You may also be charged a "currency conversion fee" of another several dollars, sometimes a percentage of the amount withdrawn. On my first visit to the Philippines, if I tried to withdraw more than $200 I got a message saying "invalid card", which was very misleading as there was nothing wrong with the card, the problem was the transaction amount. Now the messages say, maximum withdrawal amount is 10,000 pesos (about $200). I don't know if the difference is the bank or if they improved the messages over time. And I found that the ATMs at Manila airport let you withdraw larger amounts, while every other ATM I've used has been limited to 10,000 pesos.

See the difference I'm talking about?

So in these posts, I will concentrate on nuts and bolts practicalities.

© 2023 by Jay Johansen


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