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.

Jeepney:

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!

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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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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Dreaming Philippines

Posted on April 4, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Traffic

It seems that it is all I do lately. Have you ever been to an exotic place? Does the memory of it haunt you from time to time?

I don’t know what it is about the Philippines that keeps calling me back like some reoccurring dream that you have had all your life.

Maybe it’s the people. Maybe it’s the pace of life. Maybe it’s the fact that I have worked all my freaking life and I just want to go somewhere WARM!

I never will forget my first landing in “the land of a thousand smiles!” I was on my first trip to see my relatives (whom I had never met). Not knowing what to expect and being too tired to care, I found myself exhausted, dead on my feet and curious about what would happen next.

We descended into Manila, one of the largest cities in Asia, soon to partake of a land which would become my obsession! My first greeting was not all that pleasant. We made our way off the plane and to the gate, into surroundings that I will never forget! It seemed like the 60’s had come and went but no one had told Manila that “we have air conditioning now”. The carpets were well-worn and the color (what was left) was a lifeless green that had borne the feet of many travelers for many years. This was my first experience in a “Third World County”.

There were people everywhere. People who had traveled a long way to get there. Literally throngs of humanity frantically searching for their luggage and loved ones they had been longing to see. We arrived in the terminal. Humidity permeated the air. The sound of the duty-free agents calling us to buy everything from cigarettes to liquor for the family that we would eventually meet. Then there were the Customs lines. It was like a game of sorts trying as best we could to find the shortest or the fastest moving line! Long que’s of desperate folk were lining up to go through the clinical “Nurse Cratchets” who donned Government uniforms doing business for the customs dept. of the Philippines. Mostly all female, they without emotion or efficiency they did their jobs as they stood all day in “Phone Booth like” confines working through a 3×5 opening in the glass.

We got past customs and collected our baggage. A Policeman was waiting at the door for us to “help”. He informed us that he had been in contact with my mother in law and that he would be kind enough to take us to see her. You see, this is a very large place, and it would be easy to get lost or worske get accosted. My wife knew what he meant by “helping” , he wanted a tip! Tipping is a very common practice in the Philippines.

There is a kind of tradition in the Philippines. It is like this. If you are a Filipino and you are “coming back” you will be greeted by friends and family. That does not seem strange at first glance but you have to see this “Filipino” thing in action just one time! My wife had not been to the PH in 10 years. Whenever someone “comes back” as they say in the PH, there is always a party to meet them. When I say a party I mean uncles, aunts, brothers, anyone who can come will show up! I don’t really know how to explain it, but Filipinos know how to have a good time, everything is a celebration with them! It was a big deal when we got there and they made us feel that way!

When we arrived at the van I met a her uncle Augusto. He is a particularly serious looking fellow with dark sunglasses. He was shorter than me but his stature did not tell the story of his presence. He was about 5’6″ with salty black hair hid mostly by a white ball cap. He kind of looked like you might see a celebrity in a private moment trying not to be discovered while on personal business or out shopping. One would know right away who was in charge of this expedition by his take charge attitude. I later learned that he is a black belt in Karate!

We boarded and off we were! The traffic in Manila was something to behold! There were at least six “lanes” none of which were marked. It was a literal sea of vehicles moving in chaotic harmony through the city! The poverty you see is striking! The shacks people live in unbelievable. This culture shock is something everyone in the West needs to see!

This was my introduction to the Philippines. It may not sound like anywhere you want to go. I understand that. The Philippines is complex and beautiful place. The people are the friendliest in Asia. There are problems with all countries. Yes, there is poverty there, but there is a dignity and grace to the people of the Philippines that you will never discover until you visit! This is just one story of many I have to tell about this wonderful place. When you get there, and I hope you will, this place will weave its way into your heart and make you feel like you never want to leave!

Let’s go!

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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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