Move to the Philippines … next installment in the Keeping it Simple series.
(Last updated 12 March, 2017)
- 0.1 It’s Hard To Live In The Philippines If You Can’t Speak Metric
- 0.2 Well Let Me Simplify A Few Things
- 0.3 Linear, Length, Distance
- 0.4 Don’t Try To Be Too Precise
- 0.5 Area, Square Footage, Land Measure and Such:
- 0.6 Again, a Rule of Thumb Will Work Fine.
- 0.7 Hectares Directly Relate To Meters
- 0.8 Weight:
- 0.9 Liquid and Volume:
- 0.10 You Can’t Buy a Gallon Of Gas Here
- 0.11 Wow! over 2000 words already, and I was trying to keep it simple?
- 0.12 Summary:
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:
- 3 Share this Article:
Yesterday I published an article that urged people to stop making it so complicated. I want to publish some more along the same line, but I just realized I need to deal with a pesky little problem for most of my American cousins … the Metric system.
It’s Hard To Live In The Philippines If You Can’t Speak Metric
Why has America, almost alone in the world, refused to use even the basics of this system? Why do our educators, politicians and business CEO’s enjoy acting ignorant to the rest of the world?
Beats me. I think for many Americans it’s some sort of political statement … loosely along the lines of “F … the rest of the world, we’re the richest and smartest country and we don’t HAVE to cooperate.”
Maybe that’s the reason, or maybe it’s something else, I don’t know. But I do know this:
You can’t do much here in the Philippines without at least a nodding acquaintance with the Metric system.
Well Let Me Simplify A Few Things
So let me see if I can apply a little of my favorite KISS principle here so you can get by on a day-to-day basis without making your head hurt.
As reader John kindly pointed out, I forgot to talk about temperature.
In the US everyone uses the Fahrenheit scale, in the Philippines temps are almost always given in Celsius (Centigrade). There are formulas to convert, but they would make people’s head ache.
You can, of course, just type a Celsius temperature into Google and ask for it in Fahrenheit. Or you can use my really, really easy method.
Just memorize one fact. 82F is equal to 28C.
In most cities in the Philippines it’s always close to 28C. And you know from US experience that 82F is pretty warm for some, but not really hot.
If it’s goes above 28C, it’s getting hot.
If it goes below 28C, it’s getting nice and comfortable.
No math (and no sweater, either) are really ever needed. 28=82, easy-peasy.
Linear, Length, Distance
Everything you would normally measure with a ruler, a long tape measure, or your car’s speedometer or odometer is in metric units virtually 100% here in the Philippines.
Since the Philippines was once under the USA for some years, there are still cases in the hardware store and such where you might see something dimensioned in feet and inches, but it’s only in special cases.
The basic unit of distance in the Metric system is the Meter. A meter is 39.37 inches, slightly more than a yard.
The “Longest Yard” is close enough to the “Longest Meter”
For many everyday “guesstimates” you can think of a meter as a yard. You’ll be off, of course … a standard US football field is 100 yards long, (without the end zones) so if it were 100 meters it would be 109 something yards, or off by almost a whole 10 yard line, but for small distances, thinking meters to yards will be fine.
Common measurements, such a s a man’s height is often expressed in centimeters, one one/hundredth of a meter. A moderately tall man, a six footer, or two yard tall person is 188 cm, or 1.88 meters. your ideal “sweetheart”, 5 foot 2, eyes not of blue, is about 155 cm tall and ideally weighs right around 40 kilograms (we cover weight later).
Here’s your best tip … go to Google (where you are probably searching for things on the Internet most of the time anyway), and just type in (the number of meters you want converted) in yards (or feet or inches or any other linear measurement you like) and Google will return the result directly … no need for a separate conversion program, or going to a conversion website … Google does it for you quick as a wink.
Logically we should probably look at the kilometer next … 1000 meters. This takes the place of miles on the roads. It’s not as easy to ‘rule of thumb’, since ia kilometer is substantially less than a mile (.62137 of a mile to be exact) and it doesn’t divide easily in your head.
Don’t Try To Be Too Precise
I find I can get everything I need from a few pretty simple concepts. 100 kilometers is 62 miles.
In the US, 62 miles is a roughly an hour on the road … more out west where speed limits are higher, less in congested eastern states, but over a long period of time you;re going to find, with stops, etc., that 60-something miles is going to take you an hour.
Well, so will 100 kilometers on good roads here in the Philippines.
So if you see a road sign that says 240 kilometers to Baguio, it’s easy to divide 6o into the 240 and plan on a 4 hour trip. Close enough for government work, at least. Again, Google is your friend.
Area, Square Footage, Land Measure and Such:
Basic measurement of area defaults to the square meter here in the Philippines.
Even more important to many foreigners, is that land area figures much more importantly in real estate transactions than it does in the USA.
If you are buying a house in the USA, you typically know the square footage of the candidate homes you are looking at, but seldom do the prices depend directly on the floor area.
Likewise, a condo you are considering buying, or even an apartment or house rental here in the Philippines.
Here in the Philippines, floor area is often tracked down to 2 or even 3 decimal places and the price will be a direct multiplier of that area.
Building lots and other small tracts of land will be specified in square meters.
A whole row of lots along a street in a new subdivision will often have different prices because the individual lots all have slightly different sizes.
A condo development with several hundred units will have many different prices because the individual units all vary in floor area because of issues like building support columns that impinge on one unit but don’t intrude into another.
It can become very time-consuming to figure prices.
Few of you reading this have any idea right off the top of your head how big your house or your lot is in square meters. But you are going to think in square meters if you move to the Philippines, so better apply the KISS principle again.
Again, a Rule of Thumb Will Work Fine.
A square meter, that is a square 1 meter by 1 meter is about 10 square feet. (it’s actually a bit more than 10 square feet … remember Google is you friend yet again) but 10 to one is easy to remember and is close enough for rough ideas and comparisons.
Example, is a 64.93 square meter condo big or small? Well, 64.93 is almost 65, and 10 times 65 is 650 square feet, and most Americans have a pretty good concept of what a 650 square foot apartment looks like. (It’s actually 698.9 square feet, so the inaccuracy is a bonus, if you buy the place based on your rule of thumb estimate), it’ll turn out to be bigger than you thought. 😉
I live on a 180 square meter lot in a low-cost subdivision. Roughly 1800 square feet, actually 1900 plus, so you can see that the rule of thumb starts to slip away as sizes get bigger … better Google it instead. (and yes, you read that right. Lot sizes in the Philippines tend to be WAY less than in the USA)
Land, especially larger parcels is legally advertised and sold with another area factor which totally confuses Americans .. the hectare. (pronounced “heck-tare”). What the heck is a hectare I can hear a few asking.
Hectares Directly Relate To Meters
Well, the hectare is 10,000 square meters. Remembering that our times 10 rule of thumb started to get more and more inaccurate the larger the land area was, and being that 100,000 square feet or 107,639 square feet are both meaningless to many people, we better figure a better rule of thumb, hadn’t we?
Most Americans are pretty familiar with the acre. In fact the acre is often used for smaller properties … many of you live on ‘quarter acre” lots, have a “3/4 acre” lot, etc.
At the root of everything, the square foot is still in play, because I am sure you all know that an acre is 43,560 square feet, right?
Who cares, you say? Indeed, a half-acre is good enough for those of use who aren’t land surveyors.
And, have you ever noticed the term “more or less” in real estate transactions? Legally, that means plus or minus 10%, so we don’t measure or covet our land quite the same in the US than in the land-poor Philippines.
A hectare is 2.47 something acres. Again, round it off to 2 and a half and you have a useful rule of thumb.
Most weights here in the Philippines will be specified in kilograms .. often just “kilos” or “kg”. This is pretty foreign to most people from non-metric countries because it is way more than the pound you are used to, and it also doesn’t divide equally.
A kilogram is 2.20 pounds. A half-kilo, which is a commonly seen supermarket pricing metric (since a kilo is a LOT compared with what many Filipinos buy for a meal) is 500 grams, or a little over a pound.
So you’ll be close enough on many small quantities if you just cut kilos in half mentally and then think pounds.
a 100 kg man weighs 220 pounds (or almost 16 stones for the real antique measurement fanatics among us).
Again, Google is your friend, and if you read the fine print on cans and packages in your local supermarket you’ll see that the metric system is “invading” the food market significantly. Good place to “weigh” items in your hand and see what 440 grams really feels like. A pound is actually 440 grams (.44 of a meter). When I shop at the butchers I often ask for “400 grams”of ground meat instead of the “pound” I’d usually buy in the USA, so I’m automatically on a diet.
Liquid and Volume:
Last but not last, lest’s talk liquid. The unit of measure in the Philippines most Americans will be already moderately familiar with is the liter.
(incidentally, for my Philippine friends, it is pronounced “leeter” in every civilized country in the world, except for many Philippine “Valley Speak” folk who seem to want to pronounce it as “litter”. It just ain’t right, folks).
A liter is similar to a quart.
You see 1 liter, 1.5 liter, 2 liter bottles commonly on US shelves these days. Mostly that is because it isn’t cost-effective for the poisonous sugar-water (Oh, excuse me, the world-famous bottlers of delicious soda pop) to have different sizes of containers in different countries.
Again for a fast rule of thumb you can think of a liter as a quart. There are 4 quarts to a gallon, but only 3.785 liters, so a liter is kind of a ‘big’ quart’.
Even more popular than poisonous sugar-water drinks to most Americans is a gallon of gas.
You Can’t Buy a Gallon Of Gas Here
You can’t buy that here in the Philippines. Gasoline and diesel are sold strictly by the liter.
A typical American twenty gallon gas tank is about 75 liters. On my little (2.5 liter displacement) diesel car, a typical fill-up would be 35 or 40 liters, I think the tank holds about 55 liters from empty.
Do I have an easy rule of thumb for that? No, not off the top of my head.
IIRC the last tank of diesel I bought (I seldom buy more than once a month) was about 36 liters at PhP
43 32 per liter. So, the only real shortcut I can offer, again, is Google.
That was 11.3 gallons and the price that day was equivalent to about $0.80 US dollar per liter, so in dollar terms, about $
36 28 US bucks or about $ 3.18 3.02 a gallon. Of, course as we like to say on the Internet, YMMV. (Look it up on Google if you don’t know).
The only simplifying salvation here is, gas (or diesel)prices in the Philippines are way, way less important than in the USA.
You may not even have a car, and even if you do have one, you are going to drive and use much less gas than in the USA.
Wow! over 2000 words already, and I was trying to keep it simple?
A meter is a yard
100 kilometers is 62 miles.
A square meter is 10 square feet.
A hectare is 2.4 acres.
A kilo is 2.2 pounds, half a kilo is a “fat” pound.
A liter is a “big quart”.
A tall man is 2 meters tall.
And if you weigh 100 kilos, you should lose probably weight.
(and if you missed the first article in this series, it’s here http://philfaqs.com/move-to-the-philippines-kiss-1/ )
So how can I help you in your quest to Move to the Philippines?