Another Australian man in his mid-fifties has been murdered in the Philippines. This time the victim was shot in the chest when armed intruders broke into his home in Negros. His Filipina girlfriend fled via a window. I have to say that this spate of three in less than three months is a new phenomena in my experience.
While I don’t think there is any kind of organised cleansing of Aussie expats in train, I do warn all readers once again to give their personal security a bit of serious thought. There are plenty of guns in the waistbands of Flipinos and it often doesn’t take much to make an enemy. Even laughing about something else while a Filipino sings Karaoke has been enough to get you killed.
Take care and take precautions. Check out my ‘Philippines Survival Handbook‘ and ‘SWITCH ON!” to personal safety!
I love Puerto Galera! PG is on the island of Mindoro which even today is a pretty rugged and inhospitable place despite being relatively close to Manila. PG is a great dive area with some top drift dives. One drift dive I did years ago had me hurtling towards ‘Hole in the Wall’ at 2-3 knots. You have to decide if you are going to abort the drift or shoot for the hole in the wall! Exciting stuff. On the other side there is an abyss that can suck a diver down 50m or more in seconds. The trick is to not venture out too far over the abyss and avoid the down draft. I was holding onto the rocks for grim death when I dived the bowl.
There is another great drift dive where you drift along in one direction for a while then ascend a few metres and you catch a counter current going the other way! Awesome stuff! The currents are strong at times and it pays to eitehr be in good shape or just go with the flow and have the dive boat follow your bubbles!
There are a couple of purpose sunk wrecks in Sabang Bay on the sand where you can feed the fish. Tame by most wreck dive standards but still good fun and a great dive if you have been dry for a while and need a gentle refresher and re-introduction to scuba diving.
The place has plenty of PADI approved schools to choose from right along the waterfront. Most are tied up with affordable accommodation and cold beer and unless it is Chinese New Year you should be able to get a bed without too much trouble.
Getting there from Manila is easy enough with the new South Luzon Expressway cutting quite a bit off the drive time. You can rent a car, hire a taxi or FX or grab the bus from the City State Hotel in Ermita. There are public buses to Batangas, the jumping off point but for first time travellers that might be a tad confusing. At the port there is a major ferry that goes over, tied in with the bus service and you can also take local bancas, or pump boats.
I hired one late one night with two mates and a Filipina and we nearly had a pirate fight in the middle of the channel with the crew when the captain wanted more money. Stick with the main bus and ferry providers and do it in daylight and you won;t have any trouble.
If you don’t scuba dive, then you can learn or, just enjoy the resort atmosphere and the two or three girlie bars and the plethora of restaurants. Venturing further afield and exploring Mindoro is doable, but be prepared for real adventure travelling! Whatever you do, Puerto Galera is a must-visit destination.
The poorer countries of the world are attractive to many looking for an affordable place to call home. Somewhere that their retirement dollar will stretch to provide them with a decent standard of living, close to what they were used to back home when they were making a regular living. Sadly the burgeoning baby boomer retiree population is finding life in the First World a tad too expensive on what is left of their 401Ks, superannuation, pensions and what not.
So their attention turns to the third world where they can get more bang for their buck. The cost of living has risen in the Philippines just as it has everywhere else in the world. Risen sharply in many ways. I wonder how the average Filipino family manages, but then they have managed for generation after generation, so why should the current fiscal situation be any different?
If you want to live like a white rajah, then expect to pay for it! If you are happy living on a basic diet of dried fish and rice then you can get by on very little indeed. For most of us, though, we need to tread he middle path. You can live on US$500 a month in the provinces but it will be like camping in many respects. Forget airconditioning, driving your own car and going out to dinner all the time. This is you and the Filipina of your choice living in a small, rented house or apartment, shopping mostly at the local market and rarely buying supermarket items. You don’t travel around, you might have cable TV or internet access but not both and you don’t call home very often.
For US$1000 a month you get to enjoy some imported foods, turn on the airconditioning, drive a small, used car and go out a few times every month. For US$1500 you can live pretty much wherever you want to and live well and for US$2000 a month I’d say you can live in Manila and live well. Nice apartment, domestic helper, good food, lots of entertainment, everything you want.
How much do you live on now? How well do you live on that? How would you like to live in the Philippines?