Dumaguete, Philippines Report of what it's like to live there
Personal Experiences from Dumaguete, Philippines
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Yes, except I have also travelled for extended periods to Mexico.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
USA -Arizona 24 hour trip.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Retired and to be with girlfriend.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
2 bedroom; half a house, furnished, nice. Dumaguete in Negros Oriental.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Most produce is available but of low quality and often not fresh.
Many local household supplies are hard to come by and usually double the price.
American products are double or triple the price-extorted due to import and customs fees.
Outlets frequently out of stock, no reliable supply.
Produce on average cheaper, fish 1/2 to 1/10 price of U.S.
Meat about same as U.S., maybe slightly cheaper, depending on U.S. city.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Vitamins-expensive and not available in Dumaguete.
Many over the counter medicines-expensive or not available.
Clothing, more expensive and large sizes are not available.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
No government health inspection of restaurants. Expect multiple cases of food poisoning, usually not serious, bring antibiotics. Food at many venues served cold after sitting out all day long. Limited selection of cuisine. Lots of oil fried foods. Hard to eat healthy even at home. Everything is laced with sugar, salt, fat.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Terrible problem with ants, ants EVERYWHERE, almost impossible to get rid of them. Lots of other bugs too, but not as bothersome. Lots of lizards that do no harm.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Forget it. Only mail that is reliable is registered return receipt requested. FedEx is outrageous and also not reliable. Packages often tied up in customs - you have to pay exorbitant fees to get your goods delivered.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Cheap and unreliable. $100/month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
No first-class health clubs, even in most major cities. No sauna, no jacuzzi. Weights only. Massage is cheap though.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Would not use them as too much corruption and fraud is a real possibility. But you can if you're sure you can trust the vendor. Keep complete records of any transactions, especially internet transactions.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes, but not widespread.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Many cannot understand simple English, but pretend they do, which leads to a lot of minor troubles.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Definitely. No equal rights for disabled here. Very few barrier accomodations.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Tricycles-motorized, buses, jeepneys. Cheap. But often discriminatory-they sometimes will not pick up foreigners. Dangerous-drivers are often reckless-they would not be allowed to drive in U.S.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Don't drive here. Especially do not drive motorcycles, the most popular form of transport. WAY TOO risky.
Not worth all the hassles: insurance, cops, licensing, mechanics, crazy drivers, emissions (yes emissions), stress of traffic, just not worth it UNLESS you are in an area where there is no public transport.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Slowest internet in Asia and frequently unreliable. You must sign a long contract and then they do not deliver the services they promise. WiFi available at many restaurants but often does not work.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Smart, Sun, Tm networks all unreliable. Txt Messages delivered hours later or lost. Lots of hacking of cell phones, fake load cards, etc. Customer service non-existent mostly. Rates are high for third world country.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Animals need to be quarantined, unless you have the proper documents showing animal is healthy (rabies, etc).
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Illegal for foreigners to work or own a business. Has to be owned by a Filipino.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Don't walk around alone at night. Generally safe during the daytime. If you get into serious conflict with anyone of any power, you are subject to drive-by assassination, a frequent occurrence in the Philippines. There is no really functional police force here, they are paid next to nothing and often corrupt.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care here is poor. Only cities with standards approaching USA is Manila and only certain hospitals-St. Lukes Medical Center. Doctors often take personal offense from patients who question them or do not automatically accept everything they say/prescribe.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Very poor air quality, but not on the level with China. Many wear masks here. Respiratory disease is the 3rd leading cause of death in the Philippines.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
You are at risk for developing asthma, even if you've never had it or other respiratory problems.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot and humid, but not as hot as Arizona and not as humid as Houston. Rains a lot.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Varies by city/region. In Dumaguete, large. Morale is not that good, lots of drinking and complaining.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Educated Filipinos are hard to socialize with, they tend to look down on foreigners in my experience.
They don't really accept you unless you speak their language, are married to a Filipino and make a large effort to integrate. Even then it is unlikely you will be fully accepted. The laws are discriminatory against foreigners, there is no equal protection under the law and no real functional justice system.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
For single men, yes.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
"Lady boys" are widely accepted here.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Super religious in Dumaguete, so many churches.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Cheap servants. Low cost housing, but quality is lacking. Weather is ok, if you don't mind humidity. Lots of beaches but low quality and polluted. People are friendly on the surface. Peaceful, not much crime except in major cities.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Leave behind your long-legged bluejeans-too hot (for most places). Leave behind anything that customs might tax as they are frequently corrupt.
4. But don't forget your:
Vitamins. Money/income-very hard to make money here. Some medicines. Clothes if you're big sized. Laptop-electronics much more expensive here.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
"Culture Shock Philippines. "