Freaking Brown Outs!

A while back I remember Bob wrote a story about how Manila pretty much thinks of anything outside of Manila as the province.  In Cebu City, its different.  For those living in Cebu, they don’t think of themselves as living in the province.  They live in the city but everyone outside of Metro Cebu is  lives in the province.

Living in the Province

I live in Bogo, the supreme court removed its City status sometime back but its still the province.  I think even those of us that live here think of it as living in the province.  I know I do.

There are some down sides to that.  If  Metro Cebu City needs more power, they cut the power to the province!  For me, that just stinks to high heaven!

There was an article in one of the papers back a few months ago that promised no more brownouts in Northern Cebu.  Some manufacturer had worked out an agreement with the power providers.   The manufacturer would generate its own power at times to avoid the brownouts.   The electric company would reimburse the manufacturer for the additional cost they incurred for producing their own energy.

Since that agreement, we’ve seen fewer brownouts but we saw one today.  I was hacked off when I found out my power was being cut so some plant could keep operating.  I was glad it wouldn’t happen any more.  I think that was about four months ago.  Well, all of Northern Cebu had its power cut twice since then.

When the lights go off early in the morning, usually about 8am on a Sunday, we know that means a very hot day with no Internet, TV or even a fan.  I can take the heat if I have a fan, I can’t handle it without a fan.

I woke up for good about 10am with my head soaking wet.   I thought I’d try to tough it out and just stay home but I soon tossed that and said lets go to Jollibee’s.

Making The Most of  it.

In a rare moment of Jessie feeling like exploring, she suggested we go check out a beach resort near Bogo.  I’ve wanted go to out there but I was waiting until I had the money to spare to join the club.  When we got there, we found it was closed to the public.  A group of Korean’s had rented the entire place out.

There was a new resort just up the road so we checked it out.  Its not fully operational yet but the grounds and the view was more impressive than I expected.

Bogo City Resort
Bogo City Resort

So what’s my point in all this?  I think to be a successful expat, that is one that is happy living in the Philippines, you need to be able to go with the flow.  Parking that control freak side of you at the exit port from your home country can go a long way to being happy here or for that matter, happy where ever you are.

I’m convinced that being happy here is 90% your attitude.  I know a guy that just loves it here.  He’s so poor that he’s had to sleep on a boat and at times had no place at all.  He still loves it here and he’s slowly getting himself established here.  He’s working here now.  Not making a lot of money but enough.  I doubt I could have been as open minded as he did.  He’s kind of a free spirit, too much attitude, got kicked out of the marines because of that attitude kind of guy.

If you want to live here, you can.  If you can’t let go of the way of your home, I don’t think its going to go well.  If you can look around and say all these other people are able to live like this and decide you can too, you’re gonna love the Philippines.  You’ll also likely get a lesson about what is important in life.

You might find it a bit easier to live in the larger cities than the province though.  You know yourself better than I do.  There’s far less crime and pollution in the province.  There are a few less conveniences too.  The story of the City basically shutting of the power to the province so it has all the power it needs, might give you a bit of an idea on that.  :)

The Philippines is a place where the electricity might not be as stable.  When the line man shows up to work on the lines, he may have his ladder on the back of his motorcycle.  It is a place where water heaters hang on the wall, if you have one at all.  Its also the place of some of the best people you’ll ever meet and the most loving women probably in the world.

Post Author: Rusty Ferguson (42 Posts)

Rusty Ferguson is an American Expat living in Bogo, Cebu.

49 Ways to Make a Living without a Job


  1. John Rodgers says

    Have you ever thought of buying a small generator? We carry one on the boat as a backup. We run off of solar panels, and a wind generator. There are times, not often, where we fire up the Honda 2k, and charge batteries.

    Even at the dock during summer squalls passing through. There are times when we lose juice. The generator will run a/c. Not so much to cool us, but to keep the huge mosquitoes from carrying us away by being able to keep the boat closed up during the night……i2f

  2. Paul says

    Hi Rusty – I agree: brown-outs are a part of provincial life. Up here in I.N., we do have the windmill power generators that, supposedly, benefit the entire province. Well, being members of the province’s electricity co-op, we don’t directly benefit. Our benefit is indirect – some barangays of the capital city were taken off the co-op grid and placed on the wind power grid. The benefit? Less drag and wear & tear on the co-op’s infrastructure because there are fewer connected. READ: Fewer people experience brown-outs now. :)

    Then, there are the “tree trimmers” who will “trim” century trees near power lines into little stubs! 😀

  3. queeniebee says

    Hi Rusty, I think Bogo gets more brownouts than us and other nearby towns to you. Maybe a small generator would be a good way to go, as John Rodgers suggested. How about getting a membership to Virgin Beach Club, as you had considered in the past? How about hooking up a garden hose and spraying everybody down? ha ha
    For the most part you seem do pretty well with your positive attitude, even though you have some extra health issues to deal with.
    Stay cool friend…

  4. Jason says

    Morning Rusty!

    I remember Christmas 2007 at my wifes place on Mactan island…30mins before midnight the power goes off O_o

    If I were in Canada at the time and the power went out before that time I would have freaked, but it reall didn’t bother anyone and to my surprise I was enjoying myself without electricity.

    If you can’t take the heat without a fan….don’t go to Santo Nino island in Samar province. no electricity until 5h30pm and it lasts till 11h30pm!!!! Great times though :)

  5. Jun Trinidad says

    Hi Rusty,
    Summer heat can be unbearable sometimes specially if you have brown-outs but lucky for you, you live close to the beach. A co-worker sent me this email about a guy who moved to Fresno, California and wrote in diary this. You can delete this comment if you think it’s out of line or inappropriate

    Dear Diary
    June 1st: Just moved to Fresno! Now this is a city that knows how to live! Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings.. What a place! It is beautiful. I’ve finally found my home. I love it here.

    June 14th: Really heating up. Got to 99 today. Not a problem. Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to see the sun everyday like this. I’m turning into a sun worshipper.

    June 30th: Had the backyard landscaped with western plants today. Lots of cactus and rocks. What a breeze to maintain. No more mowing the lawn for me. Another scorcher today, but I love it here.

    July 10th: The temperature hasn’t been below 100 all we ek. How do people get used to this kind of heat? At least, it’s kind of windy though. But getting used to the heat is taking longer than I expected. Can’t drink a beer without the bottom half getting too warm …. tastes like cat pee.

    July 15th: Fell asleep by the community pool. Got second degree burns over 60% of my body; missed three days of work. What a dumb thing to do. I learned my lesson though. Got to respect the ol’ sun in a climate like this.

    July 20th: I missed the fact that Lomita (my cat) snuck into the car when I left this morning. By the time I got to the hot car at noon, Lomita had died and swollen up to the size of a shopping bag… then popped like a water balloon. The car now smells like Kibbles and Shits. I learned my lesson though. No more pets in this heat. Good ol’ Mr. Sun strikes again.

    July 25th: The wind sucks. It feels like a giant freaking blow dryer! And it’s hot as hell. The home air-conditioner is on the fritz and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive by and tell me he needed to order parts.

    July 30th: Been sleeping outside on the patio for three nights now. A $425,000 house and I can’t even go inside. Lomita is the lucky one. Why did I ever move here?

    August 4th: It’s 115 degrees. Finally got the air-conditioner fixed today. It cost $1500 and gets the temperature down to 85. I hate this stupid city.

    August 8th: If another wise ass cracks, “Hot enough for you today?” I’m going to strangle him. Damn heat. By the time I get to work, the radiator is boiling over, my clothes are soaking wet and I smell like baked cat!

    August 9th: Tried to run some errands after work. Wore shorts, and when I sat on the seats in the car, I thought my ass was on fire. My skin melted to the seat. I lost two layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs and ass… Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried ass and baked cat.

    August 10th: The weather report might as well be a damn recording: Hot and sunny, hot and sunny, hot and sunny. It’s been too hot to do Shit for two damn months, and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week. Doesn’t it ever rain here? Water rationing will be next, so my $1,700 worth of cactus will just dry up and blow over.. Even the cactus can’t live in this damn heat.

    August 14th: Welcome to HELL! Temperature got to 115 again today. Cacti are dead. Forgot to crack the window and blew the damn windshield out of the car. The installer came to fix it, and guess what he asked me??? “Hot enough for you today?”

    My sister had to spend $3,500 to bail me out of jail. Freaking Fresno . What kind of a sick demented idiot would want to live here? I will write later to let you know how the trial goes.

    I think most of it is BS but it can be really hot in Fresno. It is funny though.


  6. says

    Hi Rusty, In lieu of a generator, just get a 12v battery and an RV or car fan to use when power is off. You can charge the battery when power is running and have a fan when it isn’t.

    Lovely photo of Bogo City Resort – the water is so clear!

  7. Bacolod Barry says

    Hi Rusty
    I was wondering why solar power is not used more in places like the Philippines. Is it just a cost issue? Surely it would pay for itself in the longer term especially when electric prices keep raising, not to mention being greener.

  8. Bill Matters says

    You hit is squarely on the head 90% attitude. After more years than I care to say I have finally come to terms and acceptance of
    not getting bent completely out of shape by many things here that can make you a killer if you let it. Now I just go with the flow and wearing music all the times helps block things out…..What’s a brownout from time to time. Better to get off the stupid computer anyway and YES GO TO JOLIBEEE or a new Beach Resort!!! And by the way the guy that’s loaded and living in the 450sqm house well he has no power either so you will find him at Starbucks. OK maybe he does have a generator LOL

  9. JAMES DUNCAN says

    Hello,Living on Samal island for nine months with district water supply has convinced me i do with out a doubt need a back up generator and a storage tank with pressure jet pump.No electric no water so i will bite the bullet and install the system this year.Also having outside lighting is a good idea.All the expats i know have this back up system and are living a little easier because of it.

  10. John Rodgers says


    We quit cruising 3 years ago when I stupidly went back to work. We in Florida living on boats seek refuge from the hurricanes. Mine is 42 miles inland from the sea on a freshwater river, sometimes brackish, of course that depends on the rain, or lack of it.

    My plan was to move to Mt. Apo. Get above the humidity, and below the cold. There the tradewinds blows consistantly. Put solar panels, and a couple of wind generators on a very small house. With a small deisel generator for back up. The boat can survive a couple of weeks at a time in less than desirable conditions without using the motors. We have refridgeration, freezer, running water, and tv on board. We would liveon a 12v system like an rv, or boat……..i2f

  11. says

    a generator will be on my list of things to purchase when i move there! i am pretty sure you can purchase a generator at ace hardware in Cebu city at sm mall!

  12. chasdv says

    Hi Rusty,
    There was a brownout in Bukidnon,Mindanao, last week.
    A 2 metre snake had fallen onto a power cable,power workers found the fried remains of the snake.
    Some had their power restored within 4hrs,others had to wait 24hrs.
    I can only assume that the snake was high up in a tree when it fell.

    regards Chas.

  13. says

    I grew up in the rural area and as a kid I remember many time the power went out. So when the power went out we just made due using candles, lanterns and a gas stove to keep warm in the winter. A couple years ago there was an accident in the city I live in now. A car hit a transformer knocking down power to the mall. I was amazed to see all the business shut down because they could not open there cash registers and could not figure out the 7% sales tax. In the city Cebu they had a brownout one night while I was there. It reminded me of my childhood since the filipinos just got out the candles and it was business as usual. Guess us Americans are getting a little spoiled with having dependable electricity.

  14. says

    Wow Chasdv,

    Do you have something like Social Security on top of that or is it included in the 20%

    US tax is bad enough but that’s insane! I wonder how much of it is tied to “free” medical coverage. “Nothing’s Free.”

    Property tax too?

  15. Les says

    Hi Rusty
    if you end up going the generator way in the long term be careful what you purchase particularly if you intend to run a computer of one, they are not all created equal my basic understanding i understand its something to do with the power fluctuations the output needs to be very pure we run a small Honda unit for some of our work very light very quiet but expensive item and it will boil an electric kettle no problems. let me know if you want further details i will email you. the biggest problem with solar power is the cost of deep cycle storage battery’s

  16. says

    Hi Rusty, Reading your post on brown-out just made me smile. This is the same topic that bloggers from Marinduque and I had been discussing in our blogs for the last 4 weeks. Dave Caruana from Malta,Italy, is now building a home in Marinduque. He informed us that he just purchased a small generator at a reasonable price from a local hardware store in Lucena. The specifications and picture of the generator is in his blog.
    He seemed to be happy with his purchase. In my case, I have an industrial generator, because of my beach resort. It was very expensive when I purchased it 4 years ago, but is is worth every pesos that I spent. Keep cool, Rusty!

  17. says

    Hey David,

    Thanks for that link. I took a quick look but looked complicated. Will look more. If you have any more help to offer that wont take to much of your time, please do.

    No cell phones generally work during a power outage. Cell phones are prone to being overloaded during peak times. Power failure probably increases usage as people don’t have TV to watch so they start texting. :) On Friday nights, sometimes its hard get a message through early in the night.

  18. says

    I have recently retired to the Philippines, and my fiancee and I would like to find a house to rent in the Bogo area. We saw a nice house advertised but upon inquiry learned that it had been rented. If possible we would like a 3 or more bedroom house with at least 2 T&B. We would prefer enough lot size so that we could at least have some vegetables growing in pots such as tomatoes, etc.. The house we had seen advertised for rent had been in what is known as A & B subdivision. If anyone could suggest possible houses which could be rented, please let us know. My email is filipinafan2011@yahoo,com. Again, many thanks for any suggestions!

  19. Bill Matters says

    Jun, that has to be one of the funniest things I have ever read. Thanks for the laugh and tears running down my face

  20. says

    Hi Jun,

    Yeah I’m pretty sure that’s made up but amusing. Hey its a dry heat. :)

    Often before it rains in Cebu the air becomes hot. I call it dragon breath. It feels like a dragon has been heating up the air. :)

    Its not summer here though. I think what they call summer here ends in June. The rains start to return then. Its the wet season now. And it is cooler than a couple of months ago. Different in Mindanao.

    I’m use to much warmer temperatures in the States actually but the humidity makes it seem hotter. That’s what I’ve found to be true in Cebu. I hear Mindanao is cooler than Cebu. Odd cause its even closer to the equator.

  21. says

    A generator is defiantly on my wish list. They are hard to find in Bogo City. I think I can find one on Bantayan Island, I know I can in Cebu. I don’t know much about them. What do I need to know? Can you help?

    You get mosquitoes in the ocean? Or is your boat some place inland? Near salt water I have found few mosquitoes but that’s near the shoreline. I’m curious.

  22. says

    I have not seen anything like that in Cebu. No Solar, no wind generation. I did read something about Bantayan Island recycling “something” but my memories fails me. Nothing unusual about that, my memory is more unreliable than our electricity.

    We’ve had fewer brownouts than before the “big deal” to prevent them but we’ve had them now about 1 every two months on the planned brownouts. Of course, when they work on the lines which happens too often for my liking we loose power. Though it has been a while since that happened too.

    One time I had been away for a couple of days and the lights had been out most of that time. No one had even reported it! We had a hard time getting someone to pay attention to us at the electric company, I guess they were surprised no one had reported it as well.

    There is probably some “green” projects for power generation in Cebu but I’ve not seen them.

    So you’re in IN. :) Where is I.N? :)

  23. says

    Hey John!

    I might look into that! I’m not very mechanically inclined but my refloxogist is very handy, maybe I’ll look into him fixing something up for me. I never would have thought of that. Thanks for the tip!

  24. says

    Berry, I don’t know why wend and solar power is not tapped into more in the Philippines. Sounds like an awesome way for power companies that buy there power from another power company to lower cost and provide more reliable service.

    It is likely to be that initial cost. I suspect we’ll see more of that in the future. As the technology comes of age, the price will fall too.

  25. says

    Yeah, its good to get away from the computer at times. Seems to always happen when I most need to be on it.

    The guy next door to me, a Filipino, always has power when we loose lights but they don’t have aircon. I saw his TV on when the rest of us had no power at all. Sure would be nice to have a fan!

    I’ve only been here for a year and a half, I’m basically starting over from scratch so it will take a little while to build up to luxuries.

    “Its expensive to be me.” LOL I can’t get all the spoiled American out of me.

    You spoke about what the article was really about. I’m so glad I came here and learned what makes life good.

  26. says

    Probably island life changes the things most needed. I don’t have enough bullets to bite on. LOL I’ll probably try to get a used generator, had a chance for one a year ago but that deal feel through. Was going to get a lot of stuff but that generator is the thing I miss the most.

    When I went to one of our appliance store, the guys there were like “why do you even want a generator?” Even when a stronger than normal typhoon came through they said their lights were out for only a day. Ours was out for three days.

    It would be much nicer if I just had my own transportation so I could get out and explore more. It will all come into place eventually.

  27. says

    Hey Queenie!

    No when power is out in Bogo from a scheduled brownout, its often, if not always off for the entire area to the north. Or maybe I didn’t go far enough north.

    I asked the guy that owns Virgin Beech Resort if their lights go out when Bogo does and they do.

    Two months back when I went to Bantayan Island, all the towns in route to Hagnaya also had lost power. Bantayan Island still had power though. There were some short brownouts on Bantayan last time I went and power was out all night the day I left. That would have made for an uncomfortable night for me. Bantayan has been having problems with power lately. There were short brownouts the night I was there, not a complete failure but lower power and the aircon wouldn’t run.

    I was going to join Virgin Beech Resort but they got a bit huffy with me when I asked questions so I didn’t join. We plan to join Nailon Beech Resort here in Bogo and San Remigio Beech Club too later. I want to take diving lesson from San Remigio and have a pool close by when its too hot to walk or for brownouts and go jump in the pool.

  28. says

    Hi Jason, power outages are just a fact of life here so the locals are use to it but they don’t like it either.

    Lights going out can certainly make for some improved family time though. We have to pay attention to each other as there is not much else to do then!

  29. roy says

    Hi Rusty, if you get a generator, you will have to deal w/ the noise too. Or at least, your neighbor will. Are these brown outs going to stay for good?

  30. queeniebee says

    I’ve been to both of those resorts Rusty, and I think they’re both nice, and if they’re close enough to you and you’re a member, it ‘s just a short trip to the pool or beach any time you feel like it. Rusty, I wasn’t trying to tease you about the hose though–that’s one of my favorite ways to cool off but that’s just me I guess–not very practical during the rainy season though, and you did just get the water heater to eliminate the cold showers…

  31. Jun Trinidad says

    Hi Bill, It cracks me up everytime I think about it. I just had to share it and put a little smile in their face.

  32. says

    We have a dirty kitchen that is already wired for a generator. That will muffle it a bit. Its enclosed but is well vented so the noise will get out. Oh well, I put up with their karaoke. :)

    Also have to deal with cost of fuel.

    They use to happen once a month during high use months but not in Nov. through Feb. I think.

    It has happened twice since they said it wouldn’t happen again. I would guess that it will continue.

  33. David S. says

    Sound proofing a generator is a relatively easy task. If you do a google search on the topic you’ll find several helpful suggestions.

  34. says

    Ouch, poor snake. :)

    Ours are scheduled brownouts. :(

    We have the other problems from time to time as well. My neighbors just came over to borrow our phone as their lights are out!

  35. says

    Rusty, If you can find a solar panel (probably Manila)it will charge the 12 volt battery when the power is off (use a battery charger when power is working)and you will still have a fan. When camping in the summer I used a solar panel to charge a spare battery to run the water pump in my trailer. No difference with a fan – even less load on the battery. Do you lose your water when the power goes off or is it something different?

  36. says

    I spent a lot of time in rural Ms! No brownouts, especially not scheduled ones. :) Of course we’d have an outage from time to time. I spent most of my youth in Jackson, Ms though.

    When I went to Bantayan Island last week I noticed a lot of candles around in stand by mode. :)

    I worked at a convenience store in college and we lost power at lunch time. We kept it open, I could do the sales take on my head for any amount as our registers didn’t add in tax, they helped us but over time I learned the tax on any amount. :) Fun job, but the pay was really bad! More pretty girls than a Philippine disco. :)

    Hmmm, maybe I need to open a C store in the Philippines. See if lots of pretty Filipina come in…..

  37. chasdv says

    Hi Larry,

    Wow 7% sales tax,i wish it was that low in the UK.
    Its 17.5% here and forecasts are it may go to 19% in the future.
    Because of the recession it was temporarily reduced to 15% for 12 months,but will go back to 17.5% this December.

    regards Chas.

  38. says

    Yeah haven’t seen too many solar panels lying around Cebu. :) I was thinking of getting a car batter to power a house fan. LOL Probably not a good idea as they can explode. :)

    Solar panel does sound good though.

    Our water still works when the power is off. Our water goes up to a big tank, I guess about 20 feet high to create pressure.

  39. says


    Cool website. I really like those generators they have. Probably a fortune to ship. Those that don’t use combustible fuel and produce almost no noise.

  40. chasdv says

    Hi Rusty,
    Yeah income tax as well,starting rate at 20% graduating upwards to 40% for big earners.
    regards Chas.

  41. says

    I have yet to find a resort in Northern Cebu that has a generator. If I find one, that’s where you’ll find me if the power goes out. :)

  42. says

    Les, Ii could use lots of help but I wont be able to purchase anything in the near future so I’ll just forget. Maybe I can find you when I get in a position where I can add such a luxury.

    The ones I’ve looked at start at about $1000 and go up fast. :)

  43. says

    Any idea of the price on that? It looks a lot smaller than what I’ve been seeing. Maybe its a lot cheaper. Well, I can wish but probably not. :)

  44. says

    that genny (650w rated 2 stroke) cost me 4500 pesos, but you can get a decent 2kVA 4 stroke for 12k here in Marinduque – which i’d say is a much better buy. The 2 stroke engine on mine needs oil mixed with the petrol, and consumes more than an equivalent 4 stroke.

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