Living in Paradise

Wow, now this is a tropical paradise. For the last month the temperatures have been around 4 degrees C lower than what they are for most of the year.  I’m pretty hot natured so the unrelenting heat and the lack of air conditioning is probably the biggest negative of the Philippines for me. I’m not a sun worshiper, I joke about being a vampire.  Then what do I do?  Move to the equator.  Okay, so technically I’ve moved to the tropics and not the equator.  Its more than close enough for me. :)

I wrote a couple of articles regarding the weather we have right now.  If you’d like to read them, check out Frozen Filipino.

I’ve been a bit amused the last few days though, the winds are pretty high over most of the country and in Bogo City, with temperatures of about 77F (25 to 24C)  the Filipino are bundled up like its a blizzard.  Even the pinoy are often seen with arms crossed or  wearing jackets with the hood pulled up over their heads.

In my last article I spoke of how to present a IP address causing it to appear that you are in the US.  I will cover that and a few other services that may be of use to anyone living in the Philippines, not just expats.

Services The Expat May Find of Use

Strong VPN:  This is a service that will make it look like your computer is in the USA.  The service claims it may speed up your Internet connection as well.  There may be some improvement but you still are connecting to their service through your Internet service provider (ISP).  I have not used their service.  I have used services like them in the past for security but they were based in shady overseas companies and the last one just turned off my service and claimed I was sending spam.  I wasn’t but I had a super fast Internet connection and I think I was using too much of their bandwidth.  I know the owner of this service.  We use to have a competing interest on the Internet.  He also played a huge role in my moving to the Philippines.  He suggest  back in 2002 that I might find living in Asia the perfect place to live.  Then I started running into Filipina and realized he was right!  :)

I don’t want to get too technical on how this works, that would confuse many.  If you have questions on that, ask away or visit the site.  In short, you may have heard of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) this is what you will be purchasing.

There are a lot of sites on the Internet that will not allow you to use their services, some video sites and some financial institutions.  It also prevents your ISP from knowing what you do online and provides additional security.  I don’t use the service because when it comes to money I think much more Filipino now and the price of about $15.00 a month is significant money to me.

Earth Class Mail:  Now I’ll start off with saying it irks me to give these guys my money.  But I need them.  I have a business account with them and that’s more expensive than you may need.

What this does for me is gives me a USA address.  More important is that they scan my mail for me.  This means I can get important information as fast as I would if I were in the US.  I’ve had issues with PhilPost.  Others may not but I have.   I’ve had to pay custom fees when there should have been none.  It has taken three months to get things delivered.   There fees start at $9.95 a month.

Once they have the mail, you can elect to have it scanned and/or mailed to anyone of your choice.  You can also have it shredded or shredded and recycled or stored at the facilities.

I don’t like paying for it but for me, it has proved to be something I really need.  For example, I have my medical insurance reimbursement checks sent there.  I can see what they paid for and how much for each item.  I could have this sent to a relative but that might be more information than I want them to have.  Then I have to call them and ask them what the mail says which is can be a long tedious process at times and not endear me to my relatives either.  I do have the checks forwarded to a relative who deposits them in the bank for me.  I could have them sent here if I decided too but if I did that, I’d just have them sent to the Philippines in the first place.  I look forward to not needing this service but I need it and it has been very helpful to me.  For more information visit Earth Class Mail.

Johnny Air Cargo (JAC):  I’ve spoke of this firm in an earlier post.   When there are things I must have from the US, I order them and have them shipped to this firm which then forwards them to me here in the Philippines.  This is another service I avoid, but when I need it, I need it badly.

I had to have a credit card replaced not long ago and the bank would only send to my address on record.  My address on record is my Earth Class Mail address.  I had Earth Class Mail send it to Johnny Air Cargo who will forward  to me.  Visiting their site will get you contact information but if you would like to contact the people I have used there, let me know and I’ll give you their contact information.  I have sent several packages and never had a problem.

If you don’t have a credit card to buy things online with, you can even have JAC purchase and deliver them to you in the Philippines.  In many cases they will deliver direct to your door for no additional fee.

Sending Money Within The Philippines

In my last article, I wrote about how to get money into the Philippines.   I thought I’d mention what I think is the best way to send money once you are here.  Some of the pawn shops have a low cost way of doing this.  I have used MLhuillier their service to both send and receive money and it went without any issues.  Sending money was very low cost, receiving money cost me nothing but some of these firms may charge for both receiving and sending so check the fine print before you use them.

While this may not be the most exciting topic about living in the Philippines these issues are common to just about everyone that does live in the Philippines.

Post Author: Rusty Ferguson (42 Posts)

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

How to Move to the Philippines Manual


  1. Randall Jessup says

    Hi Rusty,

    I can take 75 degrees F year round ! I won’t complain!!!
    However the 90 F with the humidity definitely calls for a little air-con.

    It’s down to Minus 20 Celsius here in Toronto, Canada. I wish they still used Fahrenheit but I’m guessing it’s about 2 Fahrenheit. I had a mound of wet snow at the end of my driveway which has now turned rock-hard. I found that out the hard way when I whipped the car into the driveway and damn near cracked an axle.

    I told my Mindanao-born wife it’s time to move to the Philippines!

  2. says

    Hi Rusty,
    I’m still planning that boat!
    The story about seasons is a weird one in the tropics.
    In Australia the common mainstream attitude is baloney; that is there being only 2 seaons/ wet or dry.
    The aboriginals of northern Australia (16th/18th parallel) divide the year into eight seasons. This is far more accurate than 2. The whities who actually live and work outdoors in the tropics usually divide it up like this:
    (invert hemisphericly for the Philippines)
    January/ wet season proper/ lots of rain/ not much sun/ not very hot but super humid.
    Febuary/ still wet.
    March/ start of shoulder season/ still wet but more sun and getting hotter.
    April/ shoulder/ tail end of wet/ rain most days/ lots of sun/ quite hot.
    May/ tail end/ a little rain/ lots of sun/ starting to cool down.
    June/ start dry/ almost no rain/ still green from the wet/ paradise weather.
    July/ die off/ no rain/ vegetation turning brown esp. grasses/ creeks dry up.
    August/ start of ‘build up’/ some very hot days/ still no rain.
    September/ build up/ humidy goes way up/ consistently hot/ no rain.
    October/ November/ full build up/ silly season/ suicides, murder and violence go through the roof with beer supply. This is make it or break it time.
    December/ wet kick in/ people stop work and dance in the rain. Flaming heat interspersed with intense showers.
    The Philippines differs from Australia of course, there is no massive desert behind the hills here. Wherever the wind comes from it’s across water, hence less deliniated seaons, more sporadic rain. Also being so close to the equator with monsoonal effects from both hemispheres.
    I would bet the ancients here had many words for seasons. I would bet that the simplification into 2 seasons came from the Spanish here; who were used to a temperate lattitudinal seasonal variation. Just the variation in length of days/ nights alone makes seasons obvious and easy to follow. Not so in the tropics where at the 16th parallel there is only an hour and a half daylength difference from equinox to solstice. Less when you get close to the equator.
    Still Confused? I think we are supposed to be!

  3. says

    Hi Randall,

    It’s -4F. I would have trouble converting that myself as I don’t usually have any need to convert in those ranges. LOL

    Baguio and a few other cities do provide 75F temps most of the time. I too could get into that.

    Yea humidity near 65% at 90 to 92F is hard on me and that’s what we usually see in Cebu. So I’m loving this.

  4. says


    What has been happening here is not the normal pattern, at least that’s what the Filipino tell me. Though one did tell me it was like this last year in Bogo.

    I prefer to go by what the Filipino tell me and they tell me two seasons. The official websites of the Philippines also speak of only two seasons.

    However, I do see lots of talk about summer. So there is kind of a quasi summer here even if it not official. They have Summer Festivals though they don’t use English names of course. Jessie translates it for me, telling me it means summer. She speaks of summer but states there is no winter season here.

    Not all of Australia is in the Tropic Of Cancer while the Philippines is and very close to the equator itself. The seasons are made up of the tilt of the earth’s axies and the closer one gets to the equator, the less tilt there is.

    The different monsoonal winds also affect the Philippines weather. I guess I’m trying to become as Filipino as i can, though I’ll never be able to tan. I’m still white as a ghost. :( My face falls just dies and falls off if I get any sun. I forgot to put sun screen on when I walked yesterday and now my face burns, not a sunburn, just raw skin. :) Grrrr, I want to be darker. That’s another amusing thing to me….

    Most Filipino are trying to be whiter and most kano want to be darker. We humans have a serious problem the grass being greener syndrome. :)

    I hope I get to visit Australia some time. I have a long time friend that lives in New Zealand. He’s quite ill, wish I could go there too. Hey can you guys totally wreck your currency for me so I can move myself and my girl there? LOL I would love the tropical birds. The Philippines has such a shortage of birds. :( Well, I should say, the part of the Philippines I have seen. I know there is a bird sanctuary here that involves the migratory path of some birds. I guess they have birds, seems like there would be some here too. Very few large birds.

  5. Justin says


    I think the Humidity makes it feel hotter hotter than it really is but looking at your profile I saw your one of my fellow native Mississippians so would seem you’d be pretty used to the humidity.


  6. rebelson says

    Enjoy that cool warm weather, my friend. At 6 am in Tupelo, the wind chill was bumping about 9 degrees. Give me the heat and humidity any day, and the sooner, the better.

    On another note, is anyone up to snuff on the flooding going on around Gingoog, CDO, and that area of Northern Mindanao? My wife’s family is in Gingoog, but they seem to be out of power, and water is 3-4 feet deep.

    As soon as I get back there, I’ll build a boat.

  7. Chris says

    More birds = less cats.
    Without necessarily suggesting a particular fom of genocide;
    My brother trapped feral cats in Oz for the National Parks Service; they are virulent predators and breeders, as well as killers of pretty much everything that moves which is smaller than them.
    Less cats = more birds.

  8. says

    It was -24 F here this morning. Was on the plane to go to the Philippines and the flaps on the plane were to cold to work properly so they canceled the flight. Hope that cool weather in the RP holds out until I get there. 77F will still feel like a heat wave for me.

  9. says

    Bob, how often do you see that bird? I am aware of it though, I stayed glued to the Animal Planet when I can pry Jessie away from her cartoons.

    The Philippines is also home to Cockatoo, one of the most beautiful birds ever, one I really want as a pet but as you probably know, its critically endangered. When I was in Cebu City, I think I saw two birds the entire time I was there, about three months. We have more here, but they are small except for two white “doves” we see from time to time. They look more like big white pigeons but then doves are pigeons.

    I’ve been told it is possible to own Cockatoo’s but no one has been able to tell me how to make that happen. They said it was a lot of paper work, that’s not an issue but I’ve not found anyone with them. I gave up looking some time ago.

  10. says

    LOL Larry, geesh.. Hope I get to see you I don’t think I can get down there again this month. :( I know what I shouldn’t go but my wants may get the best of me. LOL

  11. says

    Rebelson, I read that and started to post about it on my Cebu site but I decided it was too easy to beat up on Mindanao so I posted about the Kidnapping instead. :)

    Wow, to be honest the report I saw was so limited in what it reported, I couldn’t get a clear idea on what was going on there. It seemed to be a limited area but if you have three feet of water in your home, it wont seem all that limited at all.

    The article did say they had opened schools in the area to give people a place to stay. The winds are down a lot here today so the flood may have left. It never rained in Bogo City, not a drop. The article said it was due tot storm surge but I don’t think there was any rain nor was their a low pressure. Usually need low pressure to create a storm surge. Just a cold front passing through.

    The winds have been high enough to meet Signal 1 in the Pi but no low so no Signal 1 that I know of.

  12. says

    Chris, I’m still planning to ride that boat. LOL

    Even if I pay for it.

    Chris II, birds are lacking in Cebu probably because the high degree of pollution. I hear Mindanao has much less of a problem with that.

    One of the odder way to tell the wildlife is depleted here is that there is no road kill, except for the occasional frog. :) Kind of an odd way to tell but i noticed that right away. Living in the southern USA most of my life and an abundance of wildlife there is a lot of that. The way buses zoom around the country, anything animal or human that has a habit of playing in the road will probably find itself smushed pretty quickly. :)

    From what my limited contact with Filipino, they are not taught a great deal about their wildlife. I asked a couple if there were deer in the Philippines and was told no. There are indeed deer in the Philippines. I saw it either on the web or on Animal planet.

    There is a web site on Geocities devoted to Philippine wildlife but I need to search for it again as I lost the link when a hard drive crashed.

  13. JR Tingson (a.k.a. ProudPinoy, Jr.) says

    Hello, Rusty!

    Philippine “winter” when the temperature ranges from -4 degrees C (in the mountainous north) to an average of 19 degrees C elsewhere runs from November to February. So enjoy it while it lasts before the season gradually shifts to the warm and then hot summer! Cheers!

  14. JR Tingson (a.k.a. ProudPinoy, Jr.) says

    Hi, Bob!

    Indeed the Philippine eagle is one of the most majestic birds in the world! Ms. Olivia Newton John even once featured this rare bird in her TV program Human Nature (aka Wildlife) shown here in the Discovery Channel back in 1996. I, too am happy that our conservationists and biologists successfully bred these birds in captivity given their status as endagered species. The first one was called “Pagasa” which means Hope. And I hope these heroes of nature remain relentless in their efforts in saving what’s left of our vastly diverse wildlife. And, unfortunately for a foolish young local hunter, he got a 16(?) years sentence in prison for shooting a recently released bird from the eagle sanctuary. He was never aware that a tracking device was put on the bird to help the scientists from the sanctuary monitor its progress in the wild.

  15. Phil n Jess R. says

    landslides and floods or freezing wind and blowing snow …I think I want to be in paradise ..,. Phil N Jess

  16. Ian S says

    Rusty I think you will find Australia is the home of the cockatoo there are thousands of them here, and many varieties, also some are found in New Guinea.

  17. Chris says

    Hey Rusty
    Ian’s right and you can buy them from licensed breeders for export. I have a friend working in Australian Quarantine Services, I will ask about it for you tomorrow, might take a few days to get a proper answer but I think you are looking at about $1000USD

  18. says

    I wont buy buying one at that rate. I’d love to have one and planned to buy one when I was working but until i find a money maker, I wont be paying $2000 for bird and cage. The cages ran around $500 to $2000 in the US.

    There are websites out there that claim the Cockatoo is from the Philippines. Maybe its a sub species. I’ll see what I can find.

    I know you guys have a lot of tropical bird flying around there. I had a friend there and I was so jealous when she took pictures of the birds flying around her balcony. I was disappointed that I didn’t find the same thing here. I love exotic birds.

    I once owned a couple of boas, Their names? Alice and Cooper. :)

  19. says

    Phil, just don’t live under a mountain but up a hill. :) It does rain so hard that we sometimes get water in our lowest floor but not a flood. :) It warmed back up today but I think it is going to cool off again. now that I’ve become use to these milder temps I’m having a hard time dealing with hotter and hotter is just around the corner. ::)

  20. says

    Bob, that was my point.

    There are no big birds flying wild in the Philippines. in Cebu City there were almost no birds. I think I saw two in three months.

    I did see bats hanging from the ceiling of that huge cathedral in Cebu City. Some of them were having sex and Jessie thought it was sin. :) She is the least religious Filipina I know but that church is still a very holy place. Probably an article there.

  21. Chris says

    Hi Rusty,
    white cockatoo are native throughout the South East Asian archipelago, They are capable of a couple of hundred kilometers flight over water.
    In Australia they became a pest due to massive grain farming.

  22. Phil n Jess R. says

    I’ve seen a lot of little birds around my house but nothing exotic ..You know what amazes me is ,no Sea Gulls anywhere ? Did they eat them too ??? I did see a eagle in the manila zoo ..lots of exotic birds there too .I haven’t traveled far enuf in the forest of Mindanao to see any exotic birds yet .But I will someday this year …?? .. Phil n Jess

  23. says

    I grew up hunting and love wildlife. Odd how we wildlife killers love wildlife. Maybe it comes from years of sitting in a forest trying to become one with my surroundings, until the right animal came along to blow it away. :)

    There are exotic birds to the north, China I know and Indonesia has freaking Orangutans and even a tiger or two. I would love to go see that. My camera is fine, as opposed to a gun. I stopped hunting a long time ago because of my health it was just too hard. But I miss it.

    There are some gulls in Bogo, there are some small birds and the occasional pigeon or dove. Two large white doves can be seen from time to time. The other day we saw a gull doing all it can to fly east but the wind was out of the east and blowing had. That poor bird never go any place. For my entire walk (half mile) down the wharf, it kept trying and just got pushed further and further back.

    There were not many birds in Memphis but I lived in a suburb, known as Bartlett and we had lots of birds there. I guess being a southerner, I’m more use to having lots of animals around.

    I really wish we had more exotic birds. I’ve seen pockets of birds here in Bogo. Just nothing like I grew up with, I spent several years living in the country when I could grab a shotgun and go hunting whenever I liked (got my first gun in the th grade) or grab a pole and go fishing and if the fish didn’t bite, we stripped and jumped in. :)

    Phil, I think he problem is habitat destruction and pollution. When people are struggling to eat, makes it harder to poor resources into that kind of thing or under Macros, wasn’t enough left over. :) Democracy and sound government takes time to set in.

  24. says

    If you had colorful “tropical type” birds down there, I might have to move to Davao. :) But if they have them in Sulu I think I’d have to skip that. :)

    I’ve got my eye on a town in the mountains near IloIlo. Can’t remember the name but it starts with a V. Cooler but only 15 minutes to IloIlo. Might be a good place for me. Oh well, I’m not going any place any time soon.

  25. Joe says

    The main difference between living in an islands like the Philippines versus living in a big, continental country is that, during the summer months, the temperature in the continet is like walking near an open fire, so very hot that it will really burn your skin. The heat is dry; that even during the night, you can’t go to sleep. Winter is wet and cold. It sometimes makes you feel depressed. In an islands, the weather is humid that you perspire. Your muscles are more relaxed. No issues of wildfires. I think I’ll go for a tropical weather.

  26. says

    Hi Rusty – The Davao area is home to the Philippine Eagle, formerly called the Monkey Eating Eagle. It is huge, one of the largest of the eagle family.

  27. says

    Hi Rusty – Mostly, you don’t see the Philippine Eagle in the wild, because there are not many of them. I think there are like only 20 or 25 alive. There is a Philippine Eagle reserve in Davao where they have successfully bred the bird in captivity. You can visit the reserve and see eagles there (I have been there several times) and the bird is huge. Much bigger than a bald eagle.

    I hope that someday the population of the Philippine Eagle can be restored, because it is really a beautiful bird.

  28. says

    Hi Rusty – We do have a lot of beautiful birds flying around in Davao, the Philippine Eagle just happens to be one that is endangered, so it is not.

  29. says

    Hi Rusty – Well, since they live in the tropics, I would call them tropical! 😆

    But, no, you don’t see a bunch of colorful birds flying around. There are a lot of birds, but they look a lot like what you would have seen back in the States.

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