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