This is sort of a follow-on to my recent What’s in Your Wallet in the Philippines? post, along with a few random recommendations and some shoutouts to friends who make my living here in the Philippines a lot more royal than it would be otherwise.
Retire Like a King in the Philippines
First, I want to mention a few pointers toward what every man wants to think about when contemplating a move to the Philippines … Retire Like a King. This is a book review I did of an eBook a good friend of mine, Bob Martin wrote several years back. It’s still very current today … but it won’t fit in your wallet. Recommended.
A Guide to Living in the Philippines
Next I thought I’d point out that another blogging friend, Dave Dewall also wrote a very good book Do You Want To Know More About Real Philippine Living?, highlighting ways you can live in the Philippines … also like a king … albeit in a much smaller neighborhood (Dave lives on a semi-remote island, far from the bean path and the madding crowd … exactly the way many foreigners tell me they want to live … but can you actually live that way? read Dave’s detailed reports and find out for yourself. Again, won’t fit in your wallet, but I recommend it.
Who You Should Know in the Philippines
Some folks are going to give this more weight than others. That’s all fine, because each person should make his.her own way, not do things because “Philly” or any other supposed on-line expert tells them to do things.
But after noticing I am now well into my fifth year of ling in the Philippines, I can certainly recommend you don’t keep strictly to yourself.
Even more than in the US, the Philippines is a country based on “Who you Know”, not nearly so much on “What you Know”.
And I mean Philippine friends and acquaintances … as well as casual meetings that would ‘mean’ something.
Examples where you should keep your mind open for opportunities of meeting people ..
Is there a Home Owners Association where you live? Who’s the president, executive secretary, when do they meet … do they welcome foreigners at their meetings? (Hint, just attend one meeting and you’ll likely be surprised at your ‘celebrity status”. Won’t fit in your wallet, but then again, what can being sociable hurt?
Your Barangay Captain. Years ago the decision was made to decentralize a lot of Philippine government functions. Each city, town, and even really rural districts are divided up into political subdivisions known as barangays. In some ways these are equivalent to the ‘wards’ that some US cities have.
Your barangay captain has a LOT to say about what goes on in your little corner of the Philippines. I’ve met mine several times, but we certainly aren’t “buddies”. None-the-less, he knows me, I know him and if there’s anything I need, I know who I could go to.
Even more than the captain, Mr. Luto himself, would be Jim, the barangay Chief Clerk, who works in the captain’s office and is the ‘go to’ man for barangay projects.
If for no other reason than the fact that most local police work is done by the tanod (or Barangay Police), who work directly for the captain, s/he would be a valuable person to know in the Philippines.
Your Bank Manager. I was just reminded of this earlier today when i was answering a comment here on PhilFAQS. My dear wife, the Unofficial Cook had an account with BPI Family Bank for years before we got married. When we arrived here in Marilao, Bulacan, Philippines to live permanently, we went to the bank and met with the branch manager. A nice enough lady, but she was totally uncooperative regarding several changes we wanted to make … so we voted with our feet.
Our local BDO (Banco de Oro) (part of the SM family of corporations) is very conveniently located for us, being right in the corner of our local SM City shopping mall … aircon, acres of free parking, open 10 hours a day almost 365 days a year, at least 6 or 8 ATM machines right there in the mall … including some outside ones accessible at all hours … what’s not to like?
Instead of fumbling around with whoever we chanced to meet at the counter, we asked the security guard if we could meet with the brank=h manager. (I think I need another whole article about security guards … they virtually run business in the Philippines).
Soon the manager appeared, Mr. ‘Dards’ Favro (hope you read this Mr. Favro, you’re one of the good people here in the Philippines, thanks for all that you and your staff do.)
We had a nice chat with Mr. Favro, who, after explaining what the bank offered called over a teller to bring us the necessary forms, help us while we filled them up, and took them and our initial deposit (P5000 minimum for a peso passbook account, $500USD minimum for a Dollar account) and then gave us a lot of tips about dealing with the bank, local gossip and who’s who around our town and mostly a long discussion about our experiences banking and buying and selling homes in the USA … he loves talking banking and economics, and(like me), can’t believe how loosely managed the US banks have become … no bank in the Philippines could ever operate the shoddy way US banks have in the past couple years, they’s be closed in a heartbeat.
Anyway, I’ve stopped and talked with Mr. Favro dozens of times now that we live full-time in the Philippines. He’s always been a big help and I value his counsel and advice. If you don’t know your Philippine bank manager, maybe you should think about voting with your feet and finding one that you do get along with … it’ll make your life here in the Philippines a lot easier.
Hey, Dave, can Mr. Favro fit in your wallet? No, he certainly can’t. I did start out to write an article about things you should have in your wallet in the Philippines, didn’t I? (I also note I’m up to 1,000 words yet again, so better wind this Philippine advice up fast)
Philippine Driver’s License. Maybe you plan to drive here in the Philippines, or maybe Philippine road traffic (or your remote choice of Philippine residence) just makes driving ‘not for you’. Doesn’t matter. If you already have a US driver;’s license I suggest you take yourself to you local Philippine LTO (Land Transportation Office) and get a Philippine driver’s license. It’s easy, no road test, very little ‘res tape’ and you don’t lose your US license in the process. See A Visit To The LTO for more info. Why do I think you should have one, even if you don’t intend to drive?
- It’s a Philippines government-issued official picture ID. Many foreigners get upset when businesses or government office don’t seem to understand US ID documents. Well, think it through … would your US bank, for example, not look a bit critically if you presented them with a Philippine ID? It’s human nature, folks, and legalities as well. There are many times you may need a Philippines government ID and the driver;s license is cheap, easy to get and recognized everywhere in the Philippines.
- You Might Want or Need to Drive in the Philippines: Someday. Just that once. If you don’t have the document in your wallet, you are very much more at risk if an accident happens or if some cop just decides to pull you over. Maybe you’ll never drive here … but what if someone had to go to the hospital and a neighbor’s car was the only way to get them there? You don’t have to drive because you hold a license, but it enables you for situations you can’t predict accurately before you even rally start your life in the Philippines.
- You Might Not Be Able to Renew Your US License: Different states have different rules, but my former state, Colorado for example, doesn’t allow driver’s license renewal by mail. So if I am here past the expiration date of my Colorado license, I suddenly am not legal to drive anywhere in the USA. Except, of course, I have my Philippine ace in the hole. A Philippine license is valid for 90 days in the USA … more than enough time to visit your local DMV and get back a ‘real’ US license. Trust me, you don’t want to be in your 60’s or 70’s and having to sit in the waiting room with high school students wait to take a driver’s test .. do you?
Lats Thing Your Wallet Needs in the Philippines: A business card, or as they are normally known in the Philippines, a ‘calling card”. If you have a blog or other website, so much the better. You’re a celebrity in many people’s eyes. Doesn’t matter if your Philippine web endeavors are making you rich, or if you aren’t making a dime .. just stop at a print shop … even a little kiosk in the mall and have a hundred or so calling cards made. Very cheap, perhaps 100 pesos for a hundred cards.
That card will open doors for you. I once was at a hotel I wanted to write about. went to the front desk and asked to see the manager. “She’s away at lunch, sir” I was told.
OK, I relied, just give her my card and tell her I called.
The clerk took one look ast my simple business card, just my name, blog title and email address and it was like she’d grabbed a hot poker.
“For a while” she told me and disappeared into the back room like it was quitting time at the Ford factory.
Moments later, out came Ms. Belle, the manager. apparently, Belle was ‘away’ to anyone who asked for her, except perhaps an online publisher.
Belle spent a long time with me, answering all my questions, offering up a tour of the grounds and everything else she could think of to make me feel comfortable about her hotel. All from a couple of cents worth of cardstock. A calling card can be a ‘big thing’ in the Philippines … it opens doors.
And last but not least, don’t forget that in my miraculous Philippine good luck lost wallet story, I never would have gotten my wallet back if my benefactor, Jun, hadn’t noticed my calling card with email address.
Best 100 peso investment I have mad yet in the Philippines.