What to do Once You Land in The Philippines

Posted on July 17, 2012. Filed under: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

We Have Arrived

Once you are on the ground in the Philippines you will have several things you will need to do just to get through the airport.

First you will walk up the ramp into a very large international airport. After going through security you will be greeted to “Duty Free” shops where you can purchase various items.

Chocolate is the biggest one that they push. I don’t understand the Filipino love for Chocolate but if you are meeting family or friends Chocolate will always be a welcome gift.

You will then need to collect your checked bags and go through customs. They will check your passport. You will have one more check before you go outside.

Make sure and keep the baggage tickets close at hand because you will need them to match up with your luggage as you exit the facility. 

There will be numerous taxis outside after you go down the ramp.

See this link on some extensive advise on how to grab a taxi.   After reading that post you will be schooled enough to handle any situation. 

I would highly suggest that you plan on getting a hotel room. Secure this before you leave your home country if you can.

It will be more expensive than the hotels you stay at in the rest of the Philippines but it will be worth the price.

If you come from America it will take up to 30 hours sometimes just to get to the Philippines so you will definitely need the rest.

You will be able to regroup and refresh yourself, you will need a clear head especially if this is your first time in the Philippines.

I’m sure you will have made some travel plans before you arrive in Manila.   There is not a lot more you will need to know at this point.

My advice would just be to take it easy and soak in the sights and sounds of the Philippines.  Enjoy your trip!

If you need more specific info please visit me at The Philippines Project.

Don’t forget to subscribe below for new updates at Dreaming Philippines


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Philippine Travel Through The Eye Of A White Guy!

Posted on September 12, 2010. Filed under: lifestyle | Tags: , , , |

Travel TO the Philippines is Boring…

Travel IN the Philippines can be an Adventure!

Five Exiting Ways To Travel!

  • Airplane

  • Bus

  • Jeepney

  • Tricycle

  • Sikad

Travel by Airplane:RP-C3244 A320-214 "Cebu Pacific"

Traveling by airplane in the Philippines is a very pleasant experience. Cebu Pacific is my choice for traveling in the country. You can hop on a plane and travel to almost any major city and be there in an hour or so. Cebu Pacific has beautiful aircraft and the staff are beautiful, helpful and friendly. The only thing you have to accept is the fact that they probably will not be on time. Remember you are in the Philippines and not America. Things run on Filipino Time! I have always said that if your aircraft is 30 minutes late, you are exactly on time! Talk about cheap, they are very inexpensive. Flights from Manila to Iloilo (where we travel to regularly) is about 70-90 dollars per person. You travel from the newly remodeled Manila airport to the beautiful, state of the art Iloilo International Airport. Overall, traveling by plane is a very pleasant experience.

Travel by Bus:CIMG4291

There are many reliable bus lines that can help you negotiate your travel plans on the ground there. I have found that it is better to ask the locals about the locations and the best options when it comes to bus travel. They all travel that way and know the ropes! Isn’t it curious that the locals always know best? I Have not traveled extensively by bus but the times I have it was a pleasurable experience. Filipinos are very friendly and courteous and they have a television in most of them. They are usually playing some obnoxious game show like WowWowWee or something! Sorry Filipinos! Not my favorite! I just try to enjoy it in keeping with the entire experience of being in their culture. BTW, I just found out that the show has been cancelled as of the end of July.

Most of the lines are air conditioned (aircon) in Filipino. Many Filipinos prefer the ones without aircon.


Aaahhhh…. the Philippines Flagship! The Magic Bushref=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeepney”>”The Jeepney”. Where do I start? They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Their design is only limited by the owner’s imagination.

They are colorful, beautiful, noisy, and fun! For Americans they will seem small. I stand 5′ 10″ and and it is somewhat a challenge to get in, walk back and find your seat. Jeepnees are a little like a school bus on the inside except for the fact that you enter through the back and the seating is just a small padded bench that runs the length of the vehicle. Everything is about the community in the Philippines and the Jeepney is no exception. When you enter, everyone seated defers to you and moves their feet so you can walk the narrow pathway bending in a crouched position the whole time. There is a rail mounted to the top that you can grab hold so you won’t fall onto seated passengers! Once seated you are crammed together with fellow travelers to your destination.

As an American or any Westerner, you will receive curious smiles and be treated well. Conversation is easy albeit a little bit broken sometimes. It is always interesting to see the way money is exchanged to the driver. If a passenger gets on the back, his money is passed by the other riders through the vehicle from hand to hand all the way to the front (the change back as well). You will see young and old, poor and educated. Yes, maybe even a chicken sometimes on your Jeepney ride! Enjoy!

The Tricycle:daily overload..

The tricycle is a very popular mode of travel while on the ground in the PH. It is for a quick, exciting, cheap ride for short distances. You will be amazed at how inexpensive it is for one ride. 10-15 peso (maybe 20 cents) is a good rule of thumb. A tricycle is simply a motorcycle with a covered side car. Two to three people can ride for almost nothing. They are available everywhere you go and are very convenient.

I remember one time in Antipolo (outside Manila) I needed to go to a friend’s house a few miles away when we (three of us) decided to take a tricylce. My wife and her friend went in the side car and I was elected to ride behind the driver. What an experience! I had to ride sort if side saddle because of the side car and my body had to stay in a constant “C shape” due to the fact that I was too tall. As I travelled, hanging on for dear life we would encounter bumps in the road that would cause my head to bounce sharply against the top of the vehicle! With much focus I quickly learned to avoid looking around too much and to keep my head down!

There is nothing like the experience. It is true “Street Level Living in the Philippines”

The Sikad!


The Sikad is nothing more than a bicycle with a side car. You would really be amazed at how many Filipino men help support their family by taking people here and there in their Sikad. It is actually a little more relaxing to ride in one than to ride on the Tricycle. It is also very cheap and can be used instead of walking during rainy or extremely sunny hot days. Don’t forget you are supporting the local economy! I have tried to drive on with a few kids and found out it takes a special talent.

I have had interesting experiences on all of these methods of travel. Bundled all in one Travel in the Philippines is an exciting adventure!

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Street Level Living Philippines

Posted on June 21, 2010. Filed under: Stories from the Philippines! | Tags: , , , |

Street Level Living

Reality is something we Westerners dodge.

We fight reality for the illusion that is comfort, that is distraction. We are addicted to comfort and distraction to the point that we are shocked when reality comes up to rear it’s “ugly” head.

You may wonder what I am talking about when I mention illusion and distraction but we are sorrounded by it and have been so accustomed to it that we don’t even realize we are blind to the reality of life.

I go back into the magic screen in my mind and re-live some memories of “street level” living in the Philippines.

I find myself on the side of a crowded highway having just stepped off the Jeepney. Waiting with countless poor and yet smiling faces that I have bonded with in this short stream of consciousness that is, and will ever be a part of my life. I travel with the locals on their most popular mode of transportation. The Jeepney is a Filipino Icon in that it efficiently transports people day in and day out to their desired destinations for such a small amount of Pesos. You see in most parts of the Philippines it is unnecessary to even have a car. To the American it is a forein concept indeed to be without one!

The excitement of being on literally the “other side of the world” in a strange land riding in this tin can on wheels with people you don’t know is a thrill and gritty slice of realness that can only be experienced first hand. We waited on the dirty shoulder of the road near a clumsily put together Jeepney stand. Small thin brown skinned people will stare at you, when you catch their glance they will smile sweetly and acknowledge you as if you were “somebody” just because you are a westerner. The Filipino people are so accepting and accommodating that you never feel like you are away from home. You might actually, like me, feel like you are truly home for the very first time.

It is a beautiful contrast (the Philippine experience). Waiting at the side of the road amidst a sea of traffic that is seemingly reckless but somehow perfectly in harmony at the same time. The smell of diesel smoke and the noise of the street will assault you while the grace and peacefulness of the Filipino people make you feel totally at ease.

We waited for a little while for another Jeepney to safely take us to the other side of the six lanes of traffic so we could do some shopping in one of the most modern malls that you will ever see!
We finally boarded hunched over entering through the back, ever clinging to the small handrail that is firmly bolted to the roof of the vehicle. Walking gently so as to not step on the feet of fellow travellers as we endeavor to find a seat on the narrow benches on either side. When seated it is a nice visual to behold. Mothers and daughters going to the store. Young women donning immaculately kept nurses’s uniforms going home from training for the day. Smiling children on their Father’s laps and those who can sleep sitting up are all along for the ride. Happy teenagers riding with their friends having an innocent good time.

When we arrive at the Mall (SM) as they call it. We get off the Jeepney and hurry to the comfort of the Mall.

I don’t know why I wrote this. Sometimes I just sit down at my laptop and want to translate memory to page. I want to convey the experience, the color, sites sounds and smells that are all a part of the experience.
I love the Philippines and miss it so much. There are so many stories, so many experiences and memories that always make me drift back. They always make me homesick for the Philippines.
I go back into the magic screen in my mind and re-live some memories of “street level” living in the Philippines.

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Eight Hours to Live

Posted on May 21, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Eight Hours to Live

Live Life!

The news hit me hard today. Eight hours to live rang hard in my ears and echoed like an eagles cry in a deep rock canyon. OK! Maybe that was a little to dramatic…..sorry..

Could this be true? Could this be happening to me? Why me?

Ok, it’s not true, I’m not dying, at least not yet

Did you ever feel like your life was set on a course that you were powerless to change? Does it seem like your work week starts on Monday and ends on Friday, and then you get a twenty-minute break called “The Weekend”?

Do you work hard to pay for things you bought with money you didn’t have, to impress people you don’t like?

The title of this post reads “Eight Hours To Live” Ok Randall quit beating around the bush.
I have never considered myself a person with strong time management skills. Related to that I had an idea that I can’t shake from my head.

We all have been given the gift of time. Some more, some less. We all have 24 hours every day to live our lives. I like to break things down to the simplest form.

We basically have three blocks of time within that 24 hour period. If we can focus just for a second I think we can break the cycle of wage slavery without it being too complicated.

Eight hours to work (if you are a “normal” person). Eight hours to sleep (it’s plenty). Eight hours (To do what ever your little heart desires).

Eight hours to Sleep.
Dedicate yourself to eight good, healthy, relaxing, refreshing, healthy sleep. This is so important. You need it, you deserve it. Read about getting great sleep time on Annabel Candy’s Blog This is one-third of your day and one-third of your life It is essential to get this sleep to accomplish all that you have to do and to be sharp while you are doing it!

Eight Hours To Work

Wherever you find yourself working now has been totally your choice. You one day walked into that place and eagerly begged for the job that you now have. I get sick and tired of people who complain and blame the place they work at for all of their problems. You are there by choice. If you’re not happy, do something about it. In the meantime you have to “gut it out”. Work like you actually want to be there. I know it’s difficult, I’m doing it right now! Well not technically right now, I’m actually at home (can’t blog from my work computer), that would be cheating!

If you hate your job, that is what this post is all about!

Eight Hours To Live

We have a choice with the time that we have at the end of the day

What did you do last night after work? How did you spend your time? Was it spent in front of the television watching mindless “entertainment” (What passes for entertainment these days is shocking) while being marketed to? Did you know that you are not focusing on anything when you watch t.v.? Watch someone watch tv sometime. It’s like someone momentarily distracted at a bird they see out the window, only with tv they are in a total state of distraction for hours.

I would suggest we don’t do that anymore

Eight hours to live is all about your life Begin to log in to your life. Begin taking control of your life by documenting where and when you spend your time. Make a word document or just a small notebook to record your time. Begin to be accountable for your time, it will reveal those areas of weakness and or opportunities that you have concerning your time.

When you know where all of our time went you will start to make different decisions about how you spend it. You may call it “Designing the Perfect Day” What would your perfect day look like? If you only had eight hours to live how would you spend it?

Design your perfect day and begin to mold your time to it. Remember, you are the gatekeeper of you own lives. Life’s stresses come when you don’t take control and try to distract yourself to escape from your problems.

Now is the time for action. Chris Guillebeau Tweeted an interesting quote the other day, it stated that “Every Action is a Revolution” Take action to follow your dreams. They may be large or small but they are yours! Begin to take action today!

There is Power In Taking Action

Please! Please! Comment at the end of the post! I am excited to hear what you think!

You can also receive regular updates and future posts by clicking the “subscribe vie RSS” button. It gives you a choice of ways to keep up with what’s going on at Live to Experience Life.

Become a subscriber and I will send you a Million Dollars! Well, maybe not but I’ll be glad you subscribed! Thanks Randall

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Manny the Man Pacquiao

Posted on May 2, 2010. Filed under: Stories from the Philippines! | Tags: , , , |

1000 of My Closest Filipino Friends

1000 of My Closest Filipino Friends

Filipinos love their boxing, and with good reason, Manny Pacquiao. I have watched him on PPV a few times. Whenever he is fighting we have many friends get together here in Missouri and watch the fights. We have a great small community of Filipino friends here and they love to have a good time!

This is a little story about one time I got to see Manny fight under different circumstances!

The fight is today! Manny Pacquiao vs Ricky Hatton!

Sunday morning, warm and humid. Sun is shining, breakfast is ready. Fresh whole fish frying in the skillet, rice and eggs cooking in the kitchen. Steaming Pandesal waiting to be enjoyed on the table. It is 7:00 a.m. A wonderful start to an exciting day! The family is gathered in the kitchen, Nanay (Mother) is attending to the meal while neighbor children, friends and family are eating and eagerly awaiting the day’s event. The Manny Pacquiao fight!

It is definitely not just another day. Everyone is poised to go to the town square basketball court where they will be showing the event. Churches will be showing the match. In the Philippines this is no ordinary day! Manny Pacquiao is the country’s hero! The pride of the Philippines! He will go up against Ricky Hatton from Las Vegas today! Almost every town has a basketball court in the Philippines and Pavia is no exception. It is an arena free of charge where the locals come and play everyday to enjoy the most popular sport. Clad in shorts, shirts optional and flip-flops local groups compete for glory on the concrete arena to secure immortality among friends and relatives.

We arrive at about 9:00 a.m. to the arena and take our place on the concrete bleachers. It is Fiesta week in Pavia so there are still the local floats from the town sitting idle from the previous days festivities. The court is completely covered with full metal roof and chain link fencing surrounds the place. I notice a small projection machine in the center to broadcast the fight. A large screen has been procured by the town to watch the fight. As we are watching the pre-fight commentaries I notice that the picture is not very clear due to the sunlight. Soon young men begin to take woven mats and secure them to the fence areas to darken the small stadium. What great ingenuity! By the time they get done the picture is very clear!

The bleachers fill, and plastic chairs are placed on the floor, you know the kind you would by at Wal-Mart that you might set out for company in the back yard. These stackable chairs are a staple in the Philippines. Soon I am the only Caucasian in the place with 1000 of my closest Filipino friends! The expectant mood was palpable, the crowd was excited. Various vendors were making their way through the crowd selling items from small towels to wipe the sweat from your face to peanuts and snack food items. It was definitely a community event!

We all watched the preliminary fights with some interest. The real electricity was being reserved for the main event! When Manny was announced and made his march to the ring, sonic waves of emotion ricocheted through the gathering that could only be described as Filipino National hopes and dreams mixed with a little Pentecostal revival! Filipinos are very proud of their country, but they don’t get the lime light the way other countries do. This fight and Manny himself are one way to get a little respect from the rest of the world.

I won’t giver you the color commentary on the fight (you just had to be there). Suffice to say he won with typical Manny style! At one point he punched so hard that Ricky Hatton slid about 6 feet on the ground after being knocked down.

What I took away from this is the richness of the cultural fiber of the Philippines! It’s difficult to put into words, but here in America we don’t have the sense of community that they do there. I know we are a great nation but there is something missing. We have become the great melting pot of the world it’s true, however in the process we have lost our cultural roots! The memory of that day will live with me forever. Just to witness the smiles on the faces and the fists in the air! The collective shouts of victory filled the air and I was indeed blessed to be a part of it. Oh, Yeah! The fresh Mango shakes were not too bad either!

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Passion streaming

Posted on April 26, 2010. Filed under: Philosophy | Tags: , , |

Passion is one of the most used words when it comes to reading blogs. Zeal, fervor, and religious meanings are tied to this word.

Passion is something that gives you feelings and emotions strong enough to animate you to do extraordinary things!

Passion is the nitro in your fuel tank.

Passion Streaming is what you experience when you find something to write about that makes it effortless. It is the feeling when the link between brain, heart and keyboard become one. When what you are writing about overmasters the mundane in your life and begins flowing like pure freedom from your fingertips!

I feel that way about the Philippines. The sights, the smells, the real raw life that one experiences when we travel to somewhere so far away from your existence to a place where for the first time in your life you feel at home!

Can I give you some advice? Find that one thing in your sphere that will ignite the fervor that holds the key to your very existence. It may be writing, it may be helping people. It could be something you wanted to be or do from your earliest memories.

Start now. Make a list. Make a list of all the things that turned you on that you could never make a living at.

Begin to think about and dream about it. Begin to believe that it can come true. Please don’t give up on yourself and use your imagination to make your dreams come true.

I do believe in Passion. Even if you’re not a writer begin to write your dreams and you will begin to see them come true.

If you could see where I am and where I started from you would know that dreams really do come true. I am just a typical Midwestern guy. I don’t have any special talents. I do know what I love and have identified it. That is the first step toward progress.

If no one believes in you, don’t despair, I do. Please leave a comment to this post and we can begin to work on your dreams together. Don’t think that I don’t have the time or I’m too busy. One of my greatest joys is to help people! You don’t know how much I would love to help!

Please remember to just make a little comment at the end of this post and we will start our journey together!

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Living in Poverty! Yeah!

Posted on February 28, 2010. Filed under: lifestyle, Philosophy | Tags: |

  • The Kitchen

    POVERTY.  Just the word brings up certain emotions.  Is it fear?  Do you always have the urge to look away?  I’m not talking about here in the U.S.  I’m talking about real poverty.   The kind where there is no hope of making any money and no food for the day!

This post is not about living in poverty but CLOSE!  This is about interacting with people half a world away who live like most of the folk in the world.  I was walking with one of my daughters one day back in the summer.  It was morning, steamy Missouri conditions as we walked.  She said “Dad, it’s really hot this morning”.  I agreed with her, it was uncomfortable.   I replied to her by saying “You know, it is hot, but do you realize that most people in the world live out in it everyday?”

It was April 25, 2009 when I finally got home to the Philippines for the second time.  I call it home because I love being there.  After all, home is where you love to be.  We arrived in a taxi 20 minutes from the airport to the place we were to stay for the next 3 weeks.  We frantically searched for the right roads that would take us to the place where we would meet my wife’s family at their house in Pavia.  The language barrier was a bit of a problem and just remembering the right house was a bit of a problem as well. 

We arrived and exited the taxi to an environment that would make most people cringe!  The heat was a little oppressive, the humidity was uncomfortable but the image of my little niece coming from the door of the house was a welcome and long overdue sight!  She reached us before her grandmother (my wife’s Mom) .  Her long silky black hair was shining in the sun and her little forehead showed the effect of the climate  with little sweat beads on her tan little Filipino face!  Her beauty is apparent and her welcoming smile was all the relief I needed from the heat!  I grabbed her with a one arm embrace, the suitcase being in the other.  She was a little tentative with me because it had been two and a half years since we had met for the first time in 2007.  Mae Mae, (her name) was glad to see her Tito and Tita after a long absence! 

We were going to be here for a while.   Pavia is a tiny village settled outside of the larger town of Iloilo,  a much larger and more modern town in the central part of the Philippines.  It is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else.  Everyone knows your business and helps you take care of it too!  There is a security knowing that my wife is related to almost everyone in this little subdivision.  My wife’s grandmother is considered a local “Faith Healer”, not the kind you see on American t.v. but a sought after talent in those parts just the same.  I believe my wife probably has thirty cousins, all with families of their own in this little town.  

Our accommodations were quite simple by western standards.  As we entered the home it is secured by only a wooden gate that locks with a padlock.  The floors are rough concrete, the walls and ceilings as well.  I invited my mother in law to give me a tour of our new digs.  There is no formal kitchen, but a kerosene one burner stove set on concrete blocks and a hand pump well served the family’s needs.  They also had something I had never seen before.  A charcoal burning stove complimented the other cooking tools.  I am always amazed how resourceful these people are.  We spend big bucks to grill out and they enjoy it anytime they want for a fraction of the cost!  I was pleased when Nanay (Filipino word for Mother)  showed me the bathroom.  It was this little concrete room in the back of the house.  It actually had a flushable toilet!  You don’t know what a luxury it is among the poor to have this!  There was a pipe coming out of the wall with a shower head on it as well.  Sorry, no hot water!   So here it was, a small concrete room with nothing but a toilet and a shower head probably in a 6’x6′ space.  She led me to the place where we were to sleep, it was a 12×12 bedroom with two windows, you know the kind, they look like venetian blinds only made out of glass with a small crank to open up the small horizontal glass panes.  In the middle was a Papog.  A Papog is a handmade bed frame, fashioned entirely of bamboo.  Four big supports on the corners and the bed surface was made out of split slats of bamboo are used as a sleeping surface.  This creation was actually quite comfortable due to the fact that air is able to move freely through the sleeping surface and keep you somewhat cooler on those steamy tropical nights. 

We stayed three weeks with our family.  What I noticed most was there was a different kind of peacefulness there.  You really can’t put your finger on it but time seems to slow down, there is a politeness that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.  People always ask me “Aren’t you afraid to go to the Philippines?”.  I am always amazed at the way people are fearful of the unknown.  It seems we are spoon-fed stories about the world around us in order to make us fearful and distrustful of other countries and people.  There are troubles in the Philippines, mostly in the southern provinces of Mindanao.  There are Muslim anti government rebels that are wanting to self-rule.  I don’t go there any more than I would go and travel in South Central L.A.  or Washington D.C.  for that matter.   Did you know statistically speaking that you are more likely to be killed in D.C. than if you were to live in Israel?  If you follow all the news stories you would think that Israel is one of the most dangerous places in the world.

I absolutely love travelling and staying in the Philippines!  The people are warm, and friendly.  The local food is incredible, especially if you dare to be a little adventurous!  You will never be cold, and the living is very affordable!  Of all the nations of Asia, the Philippines is the most Western friendly nation.    It is the only Asian nation where Christianity is the majority religion.  If anyone ever wants to go, just get with me and we will plan a trip.  I am going in January of next year!  Can’t WAIT!

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Enough with the Lifestyle Design Posts!

Posted on February 23, 2010. Filed under: On Blogging | Tags: |

     It seems like everyone is writing about Lifestyle Design these last few days.  Is it dead?  Has it’s time in the sun vanished like a vapour in the warm summer air?  I think probably it is the post that is getting the most hits and everyone wants to be on the cutting edge to set the new adgenda in this ever changing media.   I like Zen Habits.  WoW, that was a minimalist sentence!  What I like about it is that Leo has chosen.  He does what he does.  He is not chasing some elusive Holy Grail of Blogging.   He is the Holy Grail. 

Why is that?  Did he search and find the latest trend and zero in on it?  Did he consult the powers that be and try to emulate them?  No!  He reached into the core of his being, to the truth that is on the inside of all of us and had the courage to implement it in his life. 

He did not chase after lifestyle design.   He manifested his truth into his own life.  

Enough about him, what about you?

There is a truth inside you.   It is that nagging feeling.  You know the one.  Don’t lie.  You know what I’m talking about.  It’s that little spark of intuition that tells you what you need to be doing, what you need to be saying it’s that little reminder in your gut that never really lets you off the hook when your not following the path you know you should be on.

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Lean in to the Fear!

Posted on January 24, 2010. Filed under: Philosophy | Tags: |

  What do you fear?  Ask yourself this question.     Life is all about perception.  You often think things are one way and they really turn out to be something different than you thought.  How many times has this happened to you?  Fear is over rated!  How many times have you feared something just to find out that what you feared never came to pass and all that negative emotion was misplaced?

Fear takes on basically two forms:

Real Fear: the kind that is born from reality.  The kind of trouble we could get into by crossing the street without looking both ways.  The kind of fear if we didn’t pay our bills we would lose our credit or home.  Keeping an eye on our children so that they are safe from harm. 

Imagined Fear:  This is 95 percent of all fears.  These little demons are pre-programmed in your mind that keep telling you that you can’t succeed or that it’s not time to do that project now, or that you will do it later.  It is a paralyzing force that keeps you in your present state. 

  I remember being in Iloilo City Philippines last time, we were about to leave for Manila the next day when we tried to get some Pesos for our trip back.  You see you need to live by one concrete precept when travelling in the third world.  A.B.C.   That little acronym is vitally important!  A.B.C. stands for always bring CASH!!!.  So there we were, standing in line at the A.T.M. waiting not so patiently for our beloved turn in line.   This has to be experienced to be believed!  The pace of life in the big P.I. , well, sometimes a snail has a sporting chance to win the race!   We arrived at the magic money machine only to find that our card information was “not valid”.   Our card was fine but this is where the fear part comes in.  Our card didn’t work so we had to try to go into the bank, insert here Mr. military man with loaded automatic weapon at the door!   The line at the A.T.M. paled in comparison to the sea of exasperated would be patrons of the Banco de Oro.   We languished for approximately 35 minutes in line once again  only to find that if we didn’t have an acct. with them they could not help us!   OK!  Back in line again in the futile hope that our card would magically appear to be in working order this time!  

What if we couldn’t get the money?  We have no accts in the Philippines!  We don’t know anyone with enough money to lend us here!  If the card doesn’t work this time what will we do?  We had approx. 10 hours to get cash or miss our flight to Manila to catch another one to go home to the land of milk and honey (America)!   Yes, Americans, we do have it pretty cake here!  The tension was palpable, the panic was building!  Frustration was the rule of the hour!  The long lines will hasten for no man.   We decided to try a different A.T.M. this time so we crowded into this 40 ft. line that not so happily was adjacent at the end of a hallway next to the crowded women’s C.R. (Bathroom).   In the big P.I. they refer to bathrooms as “Comfort Rooms”.   Another 30 minutes of aching feet and fragrant air later we were determined to take full advantage of our turn at the roulette wheel that is the Filipino cash machine!  All my midwestern polite upbringing was tabled because you see we were at an impasse!  We had to get cash or become illegal citizens of this country that I have come to love.   Our turn came only to find that once again we were turned down.  We dug for cards and tried to remember obscure pin numbers until at last one last attempt was made.   It was like the pressure you feel when you have applied for your first home loan!  Push the enter button and wait for that seemingly endless moment of time between when you hit enter and the dreaded/blessed moment arrives when you see your results!  Yes, I am writing this from the comfort of my home in America on my fabulous Toshiba laptop in the lap of luxury I enjoy everyday here.   So obviously we got the cash!

Was this a real or imagined fear?  It could have went either way.   We would have made it somehow even if the machine had not worked.  Believe me, the names and phone numbers of some expats I had recently met living in the Philippines were coming up as a possible resource to my dilemma!  

Lean into the fear!  When you feel inadequate or merely apathetic Lean into the fear!  What do I mean? 

Ask yourself this question:

What is keeping me from achieving all my dreams?

I bet if you really analyzed it you will find that fear is at the root of your paralysis.   Did you ever see the long ski jump competition when the athlete takes off and is suspended in the air?  His or her head is almost touching the front of the skis!   Imagine yourself there looking down.  Who knows how high you are!  Are you going to land correctly or wind up in the hospital?  He/she is leaning into fear knowing they have prepared themselves for the outcome!   In life we face daily challenges both large and small. 

     I have found that progress and victory only appear coming out of the struggle!   We must grapple with life.  Life appears to be unwilling to grant us wishes like a good Fairy God Mother!  So my friends we must put our hand to the plow, shake off our fears and steer straight ahead.  Life may not be like that Fairy God Mother but you can attest to victories in your life when you accomplished something.   Why did this happen?  Think of those times now!  Stop and remember  two or three.  Remember the process you went through?  Remember the fear?  Remember the struggle?  This is your own key to success!   Take the process you went through and repeat!  Maybe refine the method a little but get another goal and repeat!

Please leave a comment at the bottom and share some things that you have been through.  I don’t want you to do that just to have comments on my blog, I want you to do that so you can see what a great person you are and when you put it down in writing you make it more real to yourself.  You don’t know how your story might inspire someone else!  Don’t be selfish with your story, please share to inspire others!  Thanks!

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Live like the Third World and Earn in the First!

Posted on January 14, 2010. Filed under: lifestyle | Tags: |

What if we could live like the third world and earn money in the first? Do you realize that most of the worlds families are poor by our standards but in other ways they have some tremendous advantages!

  1. First they as a rule have almost no debt! Wrap your mind around that concept! If they have no money then they are “broke”. If they earn a little money then they actually have a net worth! Most Americans don’t have a positive net worth.
  2. Second they spend more time with their families! They are not always in a mad rush to go here and to get there! They may be poor but I know for a fact that they enjoy life more than the average westerner.
  3. They live in reality: When it is cold outside, they feel it. When it is hot they experience it. If it rains for three to five months they have to deal with it. My experience in the third world is mainly from visiting the Philippines. Every time I go I am always home sick to go back. Since the 60’s and 70’s we have “progressed” to the point that we no longer feel things like hunger, the elements.

If we could cut our lifestyle and expenses back so that we were not financing everything we have we would be much less stressed. If you have a house in the Philippines, you own it. People around the world believe we are rich because we live in large houses and drive nice cars. If they only knew the load of debt that the average American carries they would pass out!

I’m just saying that we could live a completely different life if we chose to! Can you imagine living without debt and your paycheck was your own? What a liberating feeling that would be! If you owned everything you possessed and had been collecting paychecks for even a short time and then suffered a job loss, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal!

I have been pondering this possibility for several months now and am coming up with a plan to implement it in my personal life. I will let you know of my progress.

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    To Breath and to Smile

    Posted on December 14, 2009. Filed under: Philosophy | Tags: , |

    To breathe and to smile? Why would I make such a ridiculous title for a post?

    Look at the children. Examine their faces. My favorite smile is of course in the middle! I actually know these small children. I wish you could have could experienced meeting them like I did. These little expressions of joy I met while on my first trip to San Matias, a little Barangay (village) that was devastated by the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption years before in the Philippines. Despite their circumstances these children and their community have grace and hospitality, I have only observed first hand once in my life!

    My wife and I walked the dirty street that led to her Grandmother’s small concrete home. We approached the gateway to the little dwelling when it seemed like 10 – 15 beautiful tiny figures gathered around in front of us. I did not know it but my wife was related to all of them and was greeting them for the first time! She had been away from her native country for 10 years so she had not seen these children. There is a custom in her country that the young are to always show respect to their elders. I had heard of this ritual but never participated first hand. The children formed a line in front of us. The first one grabbed my hand gently, bowed, placed the back of my and to his forehead. Each child repeated the same until they were done. I cannot accurately describe the feeling that came over me!

    These children one by one paid respect to me and my wife as was their custom. You could see the fact that they were in poverty, a way of life that they were quite accustomed to.

    I guess what I am trying to convey is when you strip life down to the very basics, all you really need in life is to breathe and to smile! You cannot tell me that these children are not living happy lives! I know they live on much less than we do, however they are happy in whatever circumstance they find themselves in!

    We in the Western world are governed by our appetites, our addictions and to pop culture. We live our lives to varying degrees according to what our world view tells us is right. We are marketed to at every turn, overwhelmed with ads in print, television and on our smart phones! We are so engrossed in the virtual world that we miss out on reality!

    I want you to try an exercise that I learned from a book by Thich Nhat Hanh. He is a Buddhist and Zen Master from Vietnam. He has published many books and is known the world over for his wisdom. This particular book is entitled “The Miracle of Mindfulness“.

    This simple exercise will help bring you back into focus so you can, like the little children, once again learn to smile and enjoy the little things. This is a breathing exercise, so find a quiet place the first time you do this. Soon you will be able to practice this wherever you are.
    • As you breathe in, say to yourself in your thoughts “I am breathing in a calming breath“.
    • As you breathe out, say to yourself in your thoughts “ I am breathing out a smile“. Put a smile on your face! It will amaze you how much better you will feel with a smile rather than a frown. The physical act of smiling will bring a happier emotion to you shortly if you will keep it up!
    • Next, as you breathe in again, say to yourself “ I am breathing in this present moment“. Take take time to be in that moment you are currently in and experience it.
    • Next, as you breathe out, say to yourself “ Wonderful moment“. We should be thankful for every moment we live.

    By repeating this process you can achieve much comfort and stress relief! By counting our breath and making the most of each moment we can live a much richer and more fulfilling life!

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    Kape Anyone?

    Posted on December 11, 2009. Filed under: Stories from the Philippines! | Tags: , , , |

    I was stirred to consciousness at 5:30 a.m. You know that fog you wake up sometimes when you are mildly confused as to what day it is? Maybe you thought it was a workday and it just happened to be Saturday. I was in a small concrete room, on the floor, on a thin foam rubber mat. A fan whined nearby giving some comfort from the humid air. There were bars on the window from my second story confines.
    I could hear strange voices and the sound of footsteps outside my door! Was I in prison? Heck no! It was my first morning visiting my wife’s family in the Philippines.

    When I stepped out the door I was greeted by her uncle Augusto. He is a morning person and a happy Filipino having his first American guest. He said “Good Morning, would you like some Kape?”. I said sure not really knowing what it was but hoping it was just coffee. I went outside on the porch and quickly got ready for the day, a quick shave, washed my face from a small sink they have outside all the while being greeted by stares from various rooters who were on the job waking their owners! In a short while her uncle returned with a cup in his hand.
    I can remember negotiating the stairs that led to the ground floor sipping on this hot beverage thinking to myself “this isn’t coffee, it’s more like hot chocolate”. He led me to the dining room, a small area about 6’x6′ with a handmade table with an oilcloth table cloth. He offered me a small bread or roll called “Pandesal” and we went to the street.
    The Kape was sweet and warm, the bread was hot with melted margarine. The street was filling up in this sleepy little village as people stirred out of their homes. I had stumbled on one of this towns local traditions or routines. It seems at least for a little while in the morning people will come out early and chat with their neighbors in the street. They have polite conversation with each other collectively greeting the new day. One can see the small uniformed children rushing around, laughing and boarding their transportation on their way to school.
    We tarried outside for maybe 15 minutes. I met smiling neighbors petted a small dog, and waved at cheerful children as they made their way to school! All in all, not a bad way to start the day!

    What can I take away from this experience? Hmmm, maybe it’s cool to slow down a little and enjoy people and the time we have here. I think we, as Americans live our lives at twice the sound of Stupid!! Hey, we grew up here, this is what we know. I would offer that we should take a little time to examine our daily routine. Is this how you really want to live? As I get older the weeks fly past faster than ever. I remember like 5 minutes ago it was Sunday night and I was dreading Monday! It is now Friday and the week was spent like a Black Friday outing!
    If you were to plan the perfect day what would it look like? It is time we live life on purpose instead of drifting downstream without a rudder hoping against hope that someone will throw us a lifeline. I hate to break it to you but your the captain here, it’s up to you to do something! I often think of planning the perfect day. How would it appear? Just list some things you want to get done everyday, not at to do list but a priority list. What is important to you? What are the things you know you should take time to do but are putting off?

    Make your list, do your list and repeat! Just take time to live on purpose!

    Kape ingredients: Don’t laugh when you read this, just try it once. One tablespoon Nescafe Clasico, two tablespoons brown sugar, two tablespoons CoffeeMate! There you have it.

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    I love the smell of Pollution in the morning!

    Posted on December 5, 2009. Filed under: Stories from the Philippines! | Tags: , , , , , |

    I cannot explain the way you feel when you get off of an airplane after you have travelled for 30 hours. I do know how I felt the last time I visited the Philippines. Standing in line at 4 different international airports, being hassled from the time you arrive at your first to when you get to your destination! Then you realize, “Hey I paid good money for this!”

    This was my second trip. When you are beyond tired sometimes I believe you find yourself in a different state of consciousness. The feeling I had after I knew all the security checks were over, baggage collected and customs had cleared us was one of relief and expectation! We were to meet a friend of ours, a first time face to face with a woman we had met online (another story for another day!) Ninoy Aquino, the Philippines largest airport. We were about to make our exit.
    We made our toward the doors leading out with luggage in tow. Leaving the comfort of the airport we felt the first blast of our new uniquely Filipino environment!
    The smell of the city hit us like an unfortunate fall, the kind that happens so fast by the time that you are on the ground you have to ask yourself “What just happened?”. The realization quickened our minds and senses to the reality that we were finally back in the Philippines! We labored down the ramp through the hoping to see the woman that was to meet us. This time when I breathed my first of the Philippine air I knew I was once again home in a strange country that I have learned to love! We gazed for a few moments across the road where all the people gathered to welcome visitors and family members. We searched for the new friend we were about to meet, at once she appeared from the crowd in typical filipina fashion, with a big smile and a welcoming wave! This was the beginning of my second adventure to this strange but fascinating homeland of my wife.
    Why did I post this? I’m not even quite sure at the moment. The title suggests a silly premise. The point is not the smell of an emerging nation but memory that it invoked. I guess what I am trying to convey is that all that is known, learned, and experienced by a person is not the sum total of reality. Whoever you are, wherever you are, however your grew up shaped the person you became. Your environment, your parents, your peers, shaped how you view the world and what you consider to be the truth about the world you live in.
    My greatest desire is to help people. Truth is one of life’s greatest gifts. Look around at your very familiar surroundings. I want to enable folks just like you to uncover the fact that your personal reality, your personal flavor of the truth is not the final authority. There is a vast sea of humanity located in different countries, cities and neighborhoods. They wake up everyday just like you and have hope for a better existence just like you. Beautiful cultures with different points of view and experiences that have the right to not only exist but to thrive just as we do!

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