Nice Beach

Sorry, We Don’t Want Your Kind – No Philippines For You!

Manila Standard titled “Don’t be Rude, BI Tells Foreigners”, where the Bureau of Immigration (BI) had advised foreign visitors to respect Philippine laws and not to be rude towards immigration officers. It goes on to say that 74 foreigners were barred entry into the Philipines last year for being discourteous and offensive. 

Well… bring in the New Year and that number for 2018 becomes even higher. I guess some people just refuse to be informed (or be polite).

Here is the most recent Press Release from the BI concerning the past year, 2018.

Date: 13 Jan 2019 (Sun)

BI Barred 133 Rude Aliens from Entering RP in 2018

PASAY, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it barred 133 foreign nationals from entering the country last year for being rude and disrespectful to immigration officers.

In a report to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the number of rude aliens who were turned back in 2018 was slightly higher than the 129 excluded in 2017.

Medina thus advised foreigners visiting the country not to be discourteous and avoid using foul and indecent language when talking to immigration officers whom they encounter in the ports of entry.

“The entry and stay of foreigners in the country is only a privilege, not a right,” Medina said. “Aliens are not allowed to verbally abuse or disrespect our immigration officers.”

Statistics show that 37 Chinese nationals topped the list, followed by 25 Americans, and 23 Koreans.

“They were also placed in our immigration blacklist of undesirable aliens, thus they are banned from re-entering the country,” Medina added.

According to BI Spokesperson Dana Sandoval, the BI has been strictly implementing a policy to disallow the entry of foreigners who exhibit arrogance or make offensive utterances against immigration officers, the latter being symbols of Philippine authority.

She said such policy is grounded under a memorandum order that then BI chief Andrea Domingo issued on March 29, 2001 which provides not only for the exclusion of a disrespectful foreign passenger but also his inclusion in the immigration blacklist.

“While we have been instructed to observe maximum tolerance, arrogant and discourteous foreigners are sent back and blacklisted. Symbols of the country, such as authorities, should be respected,” Sandoval said.

Put ‘Em On The Bus!


As far as I am concerned (and many will likely agree with me on this), these bad players simply need not come back… the Philippines don’t want them… and us Expats surely don’t need them here making us all look bad.  Actually most of them become blacklisted by the BI and find it difficult to return. The BI is getting tougher. I call this progress… wouldn’t you?

Gaisano Grand Mall, Calbayog City, Samar, Philippines [Video]

For over two years we watched the progress of our new mall being constructed. The compiled video was a culmination of nearly two years of videos. I’m surprised with myself that I actually organized them all in one place for future use. Finally the mall opens and we get to take a look around on the inside. Handyman will obviously be my favorite store while Greenwich Pizza might become a favorite lunch spot. McDonalds has opened since this video was taken.

Philippines and Anti-Begging Laws

Addressing Mendicancy

In a country that boasts a population of over 101 million people, of which over 25% of the population lives below the poverty line (based upon a monthly per capita income of P10,534), it is not a big surprise to see beggars in the streets of nearly all cities and villages throughout the Philippines. Actually, it should be expected. While there is an existing national law that prohibits the public from giving alms to beggars, these outstretched hands continue to exist because there are still people who support their illegal activities.

I see it everyday here in Calbayog City. While I do see some people give foodstuffs to some beggars, others still give money to these mendicants. I sat at a local eatery one day and observed an older man (in his early 60’s) take everything that was given to him and, like a vacuum cleaner, he sucked up coins, paper notes, bakery goods, and leftovers from the eating establishment. I noticed that as he sat there looking decrepit, he would take the most recent deposit from his cup, leaving one or two pesos in the bottom, and secure rest in his “bulging” pocket. His pocket was not bulging from coins, but from a bankroll I seen him extract to wrap a recent P20 note that was given to him. My guess is that he could be making double the average daily wage, maybe more! I also seen a well-kept young woman approach him with a package full of baked goods, like bread rolls. When she handed it to him, he waited for her to walk away then immediately hid the entire package under his shirt and continued with his outstretched paper cup. I can remember giving this enterprising gentleman a few pesos in the past, but not any more! The more I observed this guy, the more I am convinced that he is healthy enough to be working an honest job – doing something.

Exploited childrenI remember my wife telling me of a middle-aged Asian woman panhandler regularly located on the corner of our Wal-Mart parking lot back home in Mississippi. She was seen in the Subway sandwich shop one day ordering a sub sandwich and she tipped the cashier Two Dollars! I’m guessing there must be good money in the begging profession if you find the right corner to set upon!

Here in the Philippines, the Anti-Mendicancy Law or Presidential Decree No.1563, was issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos in June 11, 1978. This law was designed to control and eventually eradicate widespread street begging in the Philippines. According to the provisions of the statute, minors under 15 years old caught begging are deemed neglected children and can be apprehended by the Department of Social Services. Those under 8 years old who are found begging or being used by a mendicant for purposes of begging shall be “rescued” as a neglected child under the Child and Youth Welfare Code. Adults are subject to heavy fines and can be imprisoned for up to four years. While I always knew it was wrong to give these people money, I assumed it was okay to give them food. WRONG! People found giving money or gifts to mendicants are also liable to be fined.

Giving Alms
Since its implementation, the law has been controversial because for the most part, it was ineffective and not only addressed professional beggars, but also religious organizations, Christmas caroler’s, and the genuine poor who were unable to find work. Missionaries were also affected in that they were unable to request donations while preaching, even though these donations were passed on to the church and were not depended upon for their livelihoods. Villagers and poor provincial people moving to cities looking for work claimed that the statute criminalized poverty.And since settling here, we recently became aware that in December 2014, the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) upheld the statute and further forbade the public from offering donations to Christmas caroler’s under the terms of Presidential Order No. 1563. The DSWD has been tasked by the law to conduct an intensified information campaign to educate the public that they only contribute to lawful fund-raising projects and prevent the community in giving alms, except if it will be done through organized and legitimate agencies.

I’m still waiting for someone to knock on my door and include me in the education campaign… that we shouldn’t be handing money over to the needy. And while I am waiting, and since I have apparently been in violation of anti-mendicancy laws since my arrival, I wonder if it is possible to clear the slate and file for a government rebate for the last two Christmas caroling seasons? Just because we were not properly informed.

Next thing you know, the Philippines will pass an Anti-Mail-Order-Bride Law. Oh, wait… they already did that (RA 6955). Sorry guys!

Source: Original blog post –

Expat Focus Interview

A while back, I was interviewed by Expat Focus, an online magazine for “Anyone Moving or Living Abroad.” That published interview follows:

Randy – Retired in Samar

Randy Landis

Who are you?

My name is Randy and I was born and raised in Illinios but, our family roots have long since been transplanted in Texas. I spent over 20 years with the U.S. Navy, some time thereafter with the National Weather Service, and eventually wound up my second career as a real estate broker. My wife and I lived and worked our last 20 years while residing in Tupelo, Mississippi. I retired to the Philiippines at the age of 58.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

We settled in Western Samar, the home of my wife’s relatives. Because of the economic climate in the U.S. at the time, we made the decision to close our two businesses, sell the house and our vehicles, liquidate all the stuff we didn’t want, and moved to the Philippines in July of 2013.

What challenges did you face during the move?

The biggest challenge was detaching ourselves from all the “stuff” we had accumulated in the last 30 years. We eventually decided to keep our furniture and all sentimental things, and liquidate everything else. That which we kept we shipped to our new home in two containers. One other challenge was bringing our two loving pets and the documentation process that was required. Travelling half way around the world with two felines is not an easy chore but, it was worth it in the end. One thing we managed to accomplish before we made our move was to get a good start on building a home here. We purchased property here several years before and over time, did our construction in managed stages. Once we arrived, all we had to do was finish up in time for our household goods shipment. 6 weeks after arriving, we moved in.

Are there many other expats in your area?

Yes, there are expats from the US, UK, Australia, along with some from several European locations.

What do you like about life where you are?

Although we did choose to settle here because of family, Samar turned out to be a good choice. It’s provincial, with a slower pace of life, lower cost of living, no traffic issues, little crime, and very friendly people. We have a nice home on a large lot with all the amenities possible (especially air conditioning). Samar also offers uncrowded beaches and an abundance of natural beauty you will not find on some other islands or in the larger metropolitan areas. Now that we have arrived, a new mall and major grocery chain is building here.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Generally speaking, life is good. Communicating can be a real challenge as English is not widely spoken among the majority crowd here. Sanitation and environmental neglect is always a concern that requires turing a blind eye to most times. Overall, my biggest issue here are the inconveniences brought on by untimely power interruptions and the generally poor internet service.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

The biggest difference has to be food variety. My menu liking is quite expansive so I don’t have a big problem with food choices, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I miss a good steak, pizza, cheeseburger, or some good Mexican food at times. My wife has learned to do very well with the availabiliity of ingredients and has learned to do some hybrid cooking.

One of the more obvious differences here is the loss of space and privacy as families tend to live in much smaller houses and under more cramped conditions. This leads to an under appreciation of overall privacy issues with the population (they do not understand the concept of privacy). Living in a non-secular and predominately christian society has its advantages also as everybody seems to be living on the same wavelength, much unlike where we came from.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Simply, I will say this. Know what you want, where you want to go, and what you are jumping into. Take your time, and never get in a big hurry to get where you are going. If you have never lived or visited extensively to the area where you plan to settle, then “Research” and “Plan” should be the two most prevalent words in your vocabulary. And if you have never been there, visit often before you make the move. Also, anybody moving to the Philippines should be aware that they will be hard pressed to make a living here so arriving with an established income is real necessity. Did I mention having a plan? My Blog documents much of our personal planning, decision making, and the actual moving process that we encountered in making our move abroad.

What are your plans for the future?

Aside from relaxing, maintaining good health and growing older, our plans include some international travel and definitely some local island hopping to visit with other friends and relatives scattered about. I may be Retired in Samar, but that doesn’t mean I buried my bucket list.

Keep up to date with Randy’s adventures on his personal blog, Retired In Samar.

Filipino Time and Poor Communications – Unplugged!

Filipino Time – Unplugged!

I am thoroughly convinced that there are a complete set of Murphy’s Laws… Filipino version, that are in play. Just as sure as the world turns, Murphy could just as well been of Irish-Filipino descent, because the perceived perversity of the universe will just as easily catch up with you here in the Philippines as it will anywhere. In the Philippines, “timing” is everything and is also nothing. It is a phenomenon all its own. It seems to work well and in conjunction with Mr. Murphy’s “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” theory. Timeliness in the Philippines is mainly dependent on a system of timekeeping that is historically unique to the Philippines. And yes, the Philippines is measured by the same 24 hour-long day as anywhere else. There are no shortages of clocks or cellphones, and many people sport watches, but it is the phenomenon of “Filipino Time” that distorts time which is the blame for everything that is good and bad about timeliness. What really needs to be understood about Filipino Time is that there are many underlying factors that dictate all outcomes, much of which can be better explained as being related to timing factors’. In another “Filipino Time” article, The Origin of Filipino Time, I describe the origin of “Filipino Indios Time” and its historical significance. I further confirm that Filipino Time is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “The official timing of the Philippines” and in summary simply means things get done whenever they get done.

Contributing Causes

In my real-time example below, I use transportation as the primary contributing factor which indicates that “Filipino Timing” can never be calculated nor can it be predicted. And because the majority of the population in the Philippines is heavily reliant on public transportation, any single factor alone is only as critical as all the passengers, driver, traffic, and external factors allow it to be. When you take a Jeepney for example, you essentially depend on the ‘timeliness of an entire nation’, and it alone can be one of the single most contributing factors to the variables of punctuality. In addition to transportation, there are a myriad of other reasons that can affect whether anyone ever shows up anywhere on time, and I have included a few additional factors that drive how and why this particular scenario plays out as it does.

1. Transportation
2. Weather
3. Power outages
4. Traffic
5. Communications

Everyone is Waiting For a Jeepney!

Everyone is Waiting For a Jeepney!

The Scenario”

Imagine yourself and 3 friends all agree to meet for some conversation over a few evening cocktails and you all agreed to meet at a pre-determined place at the scheduled time of 4:00 pm. With just the five variables listed above, it can equate to hundreds of possible scenarios as to why this planned get together simply will not happen. Your spouse has gone to the market and knows to be home in time (a unique variable all its own) so you can promptly leave for your 4pm meeting. You must wait until she returns because there is nobody else available to stay at the house to keep an eye on things.

A crowded Jeepney

She leaves the market on time to head home, but her tricycle driver has trouble with his motor. After a few minutes, she unloads herself and quickly jumps into another tricycle and is then taken to her Jeepney pick-up spot. There, she waits through 4 Jeepneys until one comes along that can accommodate her with space for her and two large packages. But, all of a sudden, cousin Jamille (who she has not seen in months) just shows up out of no where, and for nearly ten minutes they swap chizmiz (gossip)with each other (yes, she missed that Jeepney!) until they eventually part ways. It’s another 5 minutes before another Jeepney with a vacancy arrives. Now on board, the Jeepney heads out and just then a large thunderstorm breaks loose with a heavy downpour and frequent lightning. With nervous and frightened passengers, the driver pulls alongside the road for 10 minutes until Mother Nature lets up. While sitting idly by waiting for the storm to pass, the driver realizes that when the rain stops, it would be good time to re-fuel the Jeepney. So he pulls into a station that has a rather long queue of patrons. After sitting in line for over 5 minutes, it becomes known that the pumps are not working due to a power outage likely caused by a lightning strike. So off the beaten path he goes thru traffic, four blocks over to another station where it takes another 10 minutes to complete the re-fuel and get back on the road.



By this time, traffic after the storm has become congested due to some minor flooding and it’s slow going heading towards the Barrio. All’s going well until the Jeepney loaded with passengers comes upon a large flatbed truck carrying coco lumber (that was overloaded to begin with) that has overturned, dumping its cargo all over the road. After nearly a 20 minute clean-up, traffic once again begins to move. Your wife finally reaches her drop and now spends several more minutes hailing a final tricycle ride for the trip to the house. She arrives home precisely at 3:55pm. When you give her that look and ask “Where have you been? You know I have a meeting!” she responds with “But your meeting is not until 4:00 and it’s not even 4:00 yet!” (Filipino logic.) This is where your most emphatic Bart Simpson impression will most likely be used, as you head out the door.

Helmuts Bar, Alona Beach, Bohol

                 Helmuts Bar, Alona Beach, Bohol

The relatively short trip to your chosen meeting place takes you 25 minutes and upon arriving you think to yourself, not bad, it’s only 4:20pm and I’m the first one here. You are feeling good because you consider yourself “on time” (regardless of how late you may be, in the Philippines, if you arrive first, you are “on time”). You order a beer and relax while waiting on your friends. You order another beer….and another….then your phone rings. It’s one of your buddies who you were supposed to meet up with and now it’s 5:10pm. He inquires of youre whereabouts and you state “I’m here at the Emerald Bar waiting on you. Heck, I’ve been here over 40 minutes and have had three beers already.” Your now confused friend curiously responds “The Emerald?” And you say, “That’s right, The Emerald!”  to which your friend then replies “but my wife said John’s wife learned from your wife that you wanted to meet at the Imelda! By the way, is John and Larry with you?”

Timing and Communications…. It’s More Fun in the Philippines!

*footnote: As a blood pressure reduction and control method (as related to Filipino Timing), it is highly recommended never to wear a watch in the Philippines. I don’t.

We Need More Stipner’s?

I’m having A Mango Moment, and I’m not talking smoothie!

Stipners or Rengs.

Stipners or “Rengs”

Prior to beginning a new construction project I had designed, I met up with a local contractor to discuss the building of a retaining wall on our new lot which adjoins our current lot. A deep footing and retaining wall needs to be constructed so we can elevate the lot with about4 to 5 feet of fill dirt to be able to bring the porperty to grade and then join that property with our existing property.

The Retaining Wall

One of the key features of this construction is the use of horizontal and vertical rebar for strengthening the footing and the upright columns that will eventually be the backbone of the retaining wall. While we were estimating the amount of rebar needed, the contractor said “oh, we need to add more for the stipner.” Curious as to what “sitpner” was or meant, I just had to ask. “Stipner is to stipen the rebar,” he replied. Now, being that I have heard much Tagalog and the local dialect language spoken, and not remembering hearing many words ending in R, I simply had to dig a little deeper. I asked him to pronounce it again and I then asked how to say it in English and he came up empty. Then, with some excitement, he offered up the Tagalog version “Reng!” So I then asked him how to spell it and of course it was with an “E.” So I then asked him what language is “stipner” and he replied “Waray” (local dialect). And then I suddenly realized – after further analyzing how he pronounced the word “stipner”, that the long pronunciation becomes “stip-en-er.” Knowing that many filipinos usually always pronounce their F’s like P’s, the proper enunciation would be “Stiff-en-er”. Now I was getting somewhere. And then I immediately realized that reng should be “Rings” that helped form (stiffen) the 4-piece rebar column, so then I got the whole picture. He may have not known the English version of the word but, bilingual as he well is, he knew both “stiffener” and “ring,” or his version thereof anyway.

CommunicationsIt’s More Fun in the Philippines!  Sometimes you just have to ask….20 questions!

Lot after retaining wall and fill.


Flip-Flop Blowout! Whatcha Gonna Do? (Video)


Living in the tropics, my choice of footwear is always flip-flops. I can walk in the rain, swim in the ocean, ride my motorcycle, go shopping for groceries… you get the point. It gets a bit awkward though when you show up for a wedding or at the Bureau of Immigration wearing them. There is almost nothing that can’t be done wearing flip-flops. Ask any filipino. I see people in the Philippines everyday doing all sorts of things wearing what I like to call shower shoes (slippers). They play soccer, basketball, they do commercial fishing, construction and  even perform welding services while standing on flimsy scaffolding three stories high. Probably not the safest way to live. Ouch!

However, my choice of slippers is the more comfortable and upscale footwear different from just simple shower shoes. I wear nothing but “Islanders” but the fact that I can even go snorkeling with them is a plus with me. They dry out, eventually. The following video is one that I did on a spur of the moment when I had a flip-flop blowout while walking around Calbayog City in Samar.


Did you know there are flip flop gods above? Enjoy.

#retiredinsamar #philippines #tropical #guam


My Very Own Beachfront Golf Driving Range…

My Very Own Personal Beachfront Golf Driving Range… that I cannot use. ?

As many of my Blog readers know, we shipped our entire household to the Philippines when we retired. Golf clubs included. Because we live on the island of Samar, and the closest golf course to us would be in Tacloban, Leyte, some 3 1/2 hours away, I have not had much of any opportunity to do any golfing. None!
The Golf Course Clubhouse at Tacloban, Leyte, PhilippinesAlong with my clubs, I also brought along a couple dozen golf balls. One day when the wife went to town and I had nothing to do, I thought I would take the opportunity to get my golf swing back in shape. So I grabbed a few clubs and took my bag of balls down to the seawall. The seawall in our village is just about 100 meters from my doorstep so I thought I could just sneak down there and whack a few balls out onto the sands during the low tide. One thing is for certain in the Philippines – you cannot sneak around anywhere without somebody noticing you, especially kids. A foreigner with several golf clubs in hand carrying a bag of golf balls down any street is going to garner many curious onlookers.

Anyway, in the time it took me to walk down to the seawall (about 60 seconds), I had about 5 curious kids following me. Not one of them speaks English so I didn’t even bother to discuss my intent with them. I reached the seawall at low tide and the exposed sands were visible for at least several hundred yards. Perfect! I could simply hit a couple dozen balls and then walk out and retrieve them. And I had my own built-in gallery of spectators!

Hermit Crab.JPG

The beach sands at our village extend for many meters at low tide.As I prepared to hit my first ball, I could hear the kids concocting something. I figured they were going to “fetch” my balls after I hit them. As it turned out, the challeng was on to see who could collect the most balls. At least that is what I surmised. I know just enough of the local dialect to understand when some friendly wagering is going on! I approached my first ball on the tee (golf lingo), but not before warning the kids repeatedly to stay well clear of me and my swing, and to just stay put until I was finished. I proceeded to drive my first shot (8 iron) about 150 yards. Not before my shot even hit the sand were the kids off and running to snag that first ball. After all 5 of the kids reached the site of the my first drive, they just stood there and waited. I repeatedly motioned for them to clear out but they just sorta camped out there waiting for me to hit another ball! They had already sprinted over 100 yards once, they were certainly not going to do that again. It was much easier to just wait for the balls to come to them. Urghhh. I realized at that moment that this entire idea was a big waste of my time, so I gathered up my balls and clubs and walked back to the house. I just couldn’t dangerously be launching golf balls into a group of young kids waiting to pick them up for me. It was just not safe.

I mean… could you see me screaming “FORE” after each stroke? It would have done absolutely no good when they don’t understand English!

headslap.jpegAnd would someone please shoot me for thinking that I could get away with this on a “school day!”


Retired in Samar 1.gif

Have You Ever Been to Manila? – There is so much to explore.

Have You Ever Been to Manila? – There is so much to explore.


Visit Manila.

Manila may be one of the more easily misunderstood capitals in the world where ultra modern meets nostalgia. Some might learn that it’s in close proximity to the gorgeous island getaways of the Philippines, and be surprised to learn that it’s a big city. Others might be aware of its reputation for casino resorts and be surprised to learn that there are plenty of attractions that have nothing to do with casinos at all. And perhaps most surprising of all to a lot of prospective visitors is this fascinating bit of trivia: Manila is the most densely populated city in the world, with the population per square mile dwarfing that of say, New York or Tokyo.

All in all it makes for a unique destination and a place you’ll remember long after you visit. More specifically however, these are some of the things you may want to see and do there.

See Fort Santiago.

FortSantiago_1.jpgYou need not research Manila long before you’ll come across recommendations that you visit Intramuros. This is essentially an old walled city within the city, left over from Spanish colonization. The whole area is worth exploring if you have a morning or an afternoon free, but if you have to limit your sightseeing, Fort Santiago is the main attraction. With its own walls, gardens, statues, and well-preserved spaces, the fort is something like an indoor/outdoor monument to a previous age.

Try The Street Food.

Manila has legendary street food! It’s a little bit of an adventurous selection for a lot of foreigners (you’ll eat some things you never dreamed of trying before), but it’s all part of the culture. Be sure to try the fish balls, the palabok noodle dishes, and the halo-halo (which is actually just ice cream!).
Play At City Of Dreams

The City Of Dreams resort is a nice reminder that there’s still value in brick-and-mortar casinos. At this point, dozens if not hundreds of brand new casinos launch to the internet each and every year, and now reach mobile platforms as well. There’s no need to visit a real life casino. But at City Of Dreams you’ll find out just how far atmosphere can go. It’s a stunning complex with all kinds of attractions, and the casino floor is as inviting as any could be. Move over Las Vegas!

Visit Long Bar.

LongBar_1.jpgManila may be better known for nightlife, but this more casual bar is well worth your attention. It’s a classy, well-stocked cocktail bar in the lobby of the Raffles Makati, and certainly among the best places in town to grab a drink, meet up with a friend, etc. Cocktails are the main draw but you’ll find high-end comfort food as well.

Dine in Binondo.

Binondo is the name of Manila’s Chinatown, and once you learn about its history you won’t be able to resist going. This Chinatown was established at the end of the 16th century, making it the oldest in the world. It’s an incredible place to explore and, naturally, to find great food.

Visit The National Museum.

The National Museum of the Philippines is a major draw in Manila, particularly for tourists passing through. It’s a very large museum with sections for archaeology, natural history, and fine art (much of which has Spanish or East Asian influence). However, the biggest reason to visit might be the reopened National Planetarium, which has been updated with new technology and is now capable of putting on a dazzling display for visitors.Then when you are done in Manila, you will need a couple more months to explore the rest of the Philippines and its 7,106 other islands. And then it will be time to hit the beaches!

Check out my BLOG.

Check out my YouTube Channel.

Photos courtesy of Google Images

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Realities and Perceptions – Are They Synonymous?

I just finished reading a post on sub/reddit titled What is exactly wrong with locals here?” and I must admit, based upon the thread comments, the OP of this article really struck a chord – with some readers that agreed with him and others who adamantly defended against everything he said. Below I have inserted his reddit post verbatim as a testament that all expats do not see living in the Philippines in the same light.

For many expats here, it has become like….

I’ll be the first to agree that much of the online propaganda which one finds about the Philippines has been sensationalized to the point that makes living in the Philippines very appealing.”  But everyone must realize that this country is still “third-world-ish” in many ways. Those who wish to paint the Philippines in the brightest of colors will be more politically correct and tend to use the description “Developing Country.”

Check out the post:

“Ever since I moved here about a year ago, I thought it’d be a blast. I thought I would make new friends, hit up some beaches, and have an all around great time. The stuff I hear about the Philippines is usually legendary, but now that I have lived and experienced what it is like to be an expat here, I have to say this place is overrated. My gripes are mostly regarding the people…

People here don’t mind their business. I’m an introvert so when I leave my building, the stares and gossiping start getting to me. These people don’t even know me and little do they know that I can actually understand some of what they are saying. I can understand being a relatively new resident, but if I have lived at the same spot for a few months or longer, I still don’t understand why these idiots continue to stare or harass me. Or if I am passing through a security checkpoint, guards shit talking and cackling. Too many people ask me how much I make or how much my rent is or whether I am here for business. It’s none of their fucking business…

Fake friendliness People constantly trying to be your friend and working some angle in order to get information and shake you down for money and then acting standoff-ish when you decline. It’s a scamming culture so they use the women or they try to turn on the charm waaay up to get to your pocket

Weird about social norms I have to mind what I say and what I do here bc with the amount of foreigners getting killed lately. People here don’t really respect human life. You need to coax them and smooth their brittle egos and ingratiate yourself bc of their inferiority complex.

I really don’t know what else I can say. The people here are fake as fuck and not hospitable. I wish they’d leave me the fuck alone. TBH, it’s my fault for not doing more research on this country. I just get a bad vibe from them overall. The reason you don’t hear too much about it is bc most people are out working long hours or chasing pinays…which might be the only redeeming thing about PH (the girls).

I can deal with the rundown 3rd world drab surroundings, but the people really make living here hell on earth.”

———————————————– End of Post ————————————————————

There are certain points within his post that I can agree with, especially from his introverted perspective;

  • Privacy – There is very little privacy in the Philippines. Most people and families live a somewhat communal lifestyle, and in very cramped conditions as compared to more western-styled accommodations. The only real privacy one will enjoy here is to remain locked-up in a cave somewhere (and close the curtains!). More outgoing people tend not to feel this way. Personally, I am not an introvert but I do cherish my privacy, and it does come at a premium. Outdoors, I am always shooing children (and the occasional adult) away from peering through our gate into our compound. Yes, it happens more often than you think and it is more out of curiosity (and maybe boredom) than anything else.
  • Minding One’s Own Business – There is a lot of truth to this. I am constantly asked about things that normal folks would be considered personal. For example, most expats experience the same questions over and over and over… “Where are you from? Are you married? Do you have a gf? How many children do you have?” And sometimes the questions ca be even more prying such as “Where do you live” or “How much money do you make?” In all honesty, the routine does get old after a while. And then there is the “tsismis” or gossip. The rumor mill runs 24/7 in this country and never shuts down. When you think about it, when people have nothing better to do (unemployment is high), they surmise, they assume, and they talk… allot!
  • Staring – This comes with the territory. Most all western expats are NOT brown-skinned and we stick out like a rotten mango. Of course we are going to generate stares, mostly out of curiosity. Whenever I do anything outside my home’s compound, onlookers will gather. Even when I might be trimming the grass with my electric string trimmer, folks will occasionally stand around just to watch the  “foreigner” work. It can be annoying at times. And if I ever decide to walk down to the beach or into the jungle, there will always be kids following me, just because they have nothing better to do I suppose. We are the main attraction (the Rock Star) when living there.
  • Fake Friendliness – I’m not sure how to comment on this. While the Filipino people are generally warm and friendly natured people, there are some that can appear to be overly friendly and that should raise some flags. Those few people who seem to be overly friendly usually possess an ulterior motive… which equates to money. I’ll leave the rest of this alone as it is a very subjective observation.
  • Social Norms – As a westerner, I do acknowledge huge cultural differences, with some Filipino norms bordering on weird. As a devoutly religious society, there seems to be conflicting understandings of faith and fear. On one hand, superstition is based on the ignorant faith of an object having magical powers. Another word for superstition is “idolatry.”  The Bible does not support the idea of things occurring by chance, but nothing is done outside of God’s sovereign control. Either He causes or allows everything in keeping with His divine plan (Acts 4:28; Ephesians 1:10).  In summary, Filipinos tend to allow their fear of myths and the supernatural to override their faith. As a raised (non-practicing) Catholic myself, I find it all rather ignorant.
    Another social norm is one that can be considered a hinderance to Filipino progress: That is the tendency to NOT speak out about civil injustices or something that might be wrong. Filipinos live by the mantra of “bahala na” which translates to “Whatever will be will be” or “It is what it is.” It doesn’t seem to bother anyone when someone cuts in line, or cuts them off when driving. Filipinos are experts in the self-administration of “fatalism” and “crab mentality,” both strong negative traits that are hugely responsible for the lack of social and economic progress which continues to plague the country. From destruction of natural resources and environmental negligence and pollution of the very ocean that feeds the masses, to non-education and alcoholism and drug abuse. And let’s not forget noise pollution! The Filipino people have this propensity to surrender their future to a perceived fate.  There is also much discrimination and separation of the classes that permeate societal behavior here.
    These norms are way out of kilter with accepted norms of the western world, and it is hard for many expats to accept without a whisper of a complaint. Some expats simply escape it all by hiding behind the “When in Rome…” catchphrase while others complain way too much.
  • Respect for Others – Discussion on this topic can go from one extreme to the next. Typically speaking though, there seems to be a general disregard for safety and security of others. Assassinations and killings of people for such simple justifications (could be simple revenge or assassin for hire) can build a strong argument for such uncaring traits among Filipino people. When you disrespect, offend or publicly embarrass someone here, they will have the last word… so to speak. From pissing people off to seriously disrupting someone’s financial situation… it can all be cause for termination, unfortunately. What goes around here comes around here… especially if one acts like a jerk. Life here can be cheap as they say.

Barangay Rubbish Collection – Sometimes!

The Philippines definitely has some good things going. Beautiful lush tropical island scenery, great beaches, good food (a much disputed topic for later), and in general… a party atmosphere. The people are warm and friendly and family closeness is one of their greatest attributes. The cost of living is low and the weather is… well, warm (at least there is no snow and ice). People are very helpful, even if a few would expect something in return. Many of the good things we enjoy here can be somewhat overshadowed by the negative, or the other way around, depending on where one hails from. After living here for some time, my personal concerns have been identified, in level of importance to me, as:

  1. Health Care
  2. Healthy Living including air quality/contaminants
  3. Safety & Security
  4. Infrastructure (emergency services, reliable power, etc.)
  5. Human Rights
  6. Privacy

… all of which many westerners take for granted anywhere else. I’m definitely no different. To those individuals who protest living in such perceived squalor, they should simply end their complaining and move away. To those who are happy living in their chosen paradise, good on them. For anyone else contemplating living in the Philippines, you mus learn to focus more on all the stuff in-between the lines when reading everything that is “legendary” about the Philippines. For me and my wife, after spending nearly 5 years here, health care has become our number one concern and we have acted accordingly (now part-timing it between Philippines and Guam). In summary (and my wife agrees with me), I like to say that the Filipino people are the most considerate-inconsiderate people in the world… only because they have not learned any better. And we will more strategically enjoy the best of both worlds from now on.

The Paradox of Pollution

Disclaimer: One should note there are more than subtle differences in all of the above claims based upon where one chooses to live in the Philippines, keeping in mind that Manila and Cebu tend to be more progressive minded and Provincial living is a far reach from being modern.

Readers thoughts and comments are welcome as we all tend to have our own unique perspectives based upon where ye came from and where ye currently live.

If you enjoy this blog, please help me to keep it going with a small donation which helps me cover website and hosting fees. You can support me with Stish credits or regular donations on my blog Retired in Samar. This blogger thanks you!


A Traditional Filipino Wedding

     The Veil and the Cord.

Every now and again, we get invited to a local wedding. Over the years, we’ve attended weddings that range from really simple to the really lavish. One thing I have learned is that even a poor family can throw a lavish wedding, so be fooled not.  There are an assortment of Filipino wedding traditions but a majority of them are drawn from the Catholic religion. And because approximately 80% of Filipinos are Catholic, it is customary for weddings to be held in a Catholic Church where many rituals and readings take place. Every simple Catholic ritual signifies the important values of marriage and the union of two individuals and makes the ceremony the most intriguing and sentimental part of a Filipino wedding.  Even though I was raised Catholic growing up, the rituals performed in my wedding in the Philippines some 32 years ago seemed foreign to me.

Beyond the common appearance of the wedding party such as the bridesmaids and groomsmen, the Filipino wedding includes other significant members that have been a part of the couple’s life. Filipino couples often honor these important guests with the title of “Principal Sponsor” or “Secondary Sponsor.” The number of sponsors can vary from a single couple to multiple couples. During the ceremony, sponsors customarily join the bride and groom in the prayers of blessing.

In the Filipino culture, weddings are seen as very festive events, where the entire community can come together in celebration of the couple.

Because marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic church, it is taken seriously. The couple has the support of an entire community of friends and family to help promote and keep their marriage strong.  And although the ceremony is serious business, the reception is all about having fun, with drinks flowing, food for everyone, and just a party atmosphere with plenty of dancing. After the customary “First Dance,” one of the main dances is where the bride and groom are pinned with money. If you plan on having a good time when attending a wedding reception, you will not come away disappointed. We always go to weddings prepared to have a good time and while some will celebrate into the early morning hours, these days, I usually throw in the towel long before the serious partying begins.

The Coin Ceremony (Arras).

Exactly 13 Arras, or coins, (in most cases, pesos) are presented to the altar by the coin sponsors. The Arras are then blessed for the groom to gift his bride as he promises the welfare of her and their future family. Traditionally, the promise was always made by the groom however, today’s couples are more mutually supportive than ever before. The coins are a symbol of their future children and the church becomes the witness of their vows of promise to care and love for each other. We still have our coins.

The 13 Coins (in our case, pesos!)

Catholic Veil Ceremony

Through the Catholic veil ceremony, two individuals are bonded and recognized as one. During the ceremony, the veil sponsors are called upon to drape one side of a white veil over the bride’s head and the other side over the groom’s shoulder as a symbol of unity. This also represents a wish for good health and protection during their life as husband and wife.

Catholic Cord Ceremony

Similar to The Veil Ceremony, the Yugal or infinity shaped cord is incorporated and symbolizes the couple’s bond and union. Sponsors place the Yugal on top of the veil as the couple receives their blessing.

Bride and Groom Attire

Traditional Filipino wedding dresses are quite unique, usually a two-piece dress with large butterfly sleeves made with fine quality fabrics, impeccable embroidery, and vibrant colors. Modern Filipino wedding dresses have evolved over time into the elegant white gowns you often see, but with a slight resemblance to the more traditional Filipiniana. Today, the majority of more contemporary Filipino brides choose white gowns with elaborate embroidery and smaller butterfly sleeves. Most Filipina brides do not purchase their wedding dress as in more western culture, but rather they will rent one.

The Groom sports the traditional Barong Tagalog, a traditional Filipino shirt that is expected to be worn by the male family members at formal events. Barongs are commonly lightweight, embroidered along the front in a U-shape pattern and often handmade. The Barong is casually worn un-tucked and over an undershirt.

Wedding Reception Traditions

Just like many other cultures, Filipino wedding receptions are fairly consistent in their dedication to celebrating the new Mr. and Mrs. It usually begins with the first dance, followed by the Father and Bride and the Mother and Groom dance. Then it’s on to feeding the guests before the other celebratory dances take place, including the money dance, and the receiving of gifts. Intertwined in the celebration will be emotional speeches by family and friends, more food, photo ops, and memories (followed by the traditional hangover, I know).

The Food

What is a Filipino wedding without Filipino food? The delicious ethnic food is a must on your wedding day. Although there is no set menu for Filipino weddings, selecting a Filipino caterer would be a treat for wedding guests. Lechon, Longanisa, Pancit Bihon, and Beef Caldereta are just a few options for a tasty dinner. And don’t forget the rice!

Filipino Money Dance

The Money Dance is also known as The Dollar Dance or The Apron Dance. No matter what you choose to call it, this tradition is a fun one that many cultures choose to include during their reception. The announcer or DJ will ask the men and women to line up in separate lines, grab a pin and wait their turn to dance with the bride and/or groom. Many times though, the money is pinned onto the bride (and sometimes the groom) while the bride and groom dance. The money received during the dances is perceived as a sign of good fortune, while also provides financial assistance to begin their journey as husband and wife.

Filipino Folk Dances

Depending on which part of the Philippines you might be attending a wedding, one aspect of rich Filipino heritage includes a unique collection of classic dances that pay tribute to Filipino history. It used to be common to include these traditional dance performances during dinner or at some point throughout the reception but seem to be losing some flavor with the more contemporary society. Some of the folk dances include the “Itik-Itik,” the “Sayaw sa Bangko” and the “Pantomina.”

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a traditional Filipino wedding, there will be no shortage of having fun with lots of memories of your own. And especially watch out for that hangover the next morning.

Oh, and that couple in the featured photo… that’s us (1986).

Our own Veil and Cord

My Introduction Post… Better Late Than Never!

Let Me Introduce Myself  To Stishit.

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I found my Philippines paradise!
I always wanted to live on a tropical island. I’m not sure why but it could have all began while growing up watching the well-known American television series “Gilligan’s Island” which was a comedy about 7 people who took a small boat cruise out of California, becoming shipwrecked on a small deserted island in the Pacific. This show captured my imagination as a boy with all the beautiful beaches and the coconut trees, and the turquoise blue lagoons. It was every episode and re-run that Gilligan threw at me that drove my fascination with discovering and living in my own tropical paradise, wherever it may be. I knew early on that I needed to get one of those sailor caps that Gilligan wore.


The cast of Gilligan’s Island (Gilligan in red)

After graduating high school, me and my best friend immediately migrated southward from Illinois until we found our first palm tree… it was in Orlando, Florida. After pitching a tent there (metaphorically speaking), it wasn’t long before I ventued out even further and found myself in Key West, where I discovered the famous “Cheeseburger in Paradise” culture of relaxation and peacefulness, all the while listening to the sounds of Jimmy Buffet. Ah, the life in “Margaritaville” and the tropics. I quickly learned however, that without money and some form of sustenance, I was destined to return home to reality – the now even more dreaded snow-belt of North-central Illinois, where I just knew I would live the rest of my life growing up living between a bean field and a corn-stalk. I needed a plan and it wasn’t long before I placed my bet…I would take my chances and join the U.S. Navy. At least I knew that is where I could start with the Gilligan hat!

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After returning home to Illinois, it wasn’t long until I was on the bus heading for Navy Boot Camp in Chicago. The Navy guaranteed me an assignment to “Weather Observing” school (Lakehurst N.J.) after boot camp and I was going to become an Aerographer! How prophetic this was, as I can remember during my late teen years, my father quite regularly accused me of walking around with my head in the clouds. And this was the result of my armed forces aptitude test??? Okay I thought, it was a good fit. Whether it was prophecy or irony, I was resigned to a career of watching the clouds AND getting paid to do it. It was more than a good fit, it was perfect! I can remember the strangest looks on my friends faces when I told them I was going to get paid for staring at the sky. And, it just kept getting better as my living-in-the-tropics destiny would have it – my first set of orders after graduating from “Weather” school took me to Guam, U.S.A., where “America’s Day Begins!” Not only was it lush and tropical, but It was also in the Domain of the Golden Dragon.

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Guam – My alternate paradise!

Nice beaches, coral reefs, coconut trees, and the Asian fiesta. Many, many fiestas! Did I mention the tropics? I figured life couldn’t get any better than that. Once I landed there (at the ripe old age of 19) I found myself working a great job in the the largest computer center in the Eastern Hemisphere at the Navy’s Fleet Weather Center, all the while getting paid to live in paradise. Eight of the next twelve years found me living, working, or visiting somewhere between the 180th meridian and the Indian Ocean, mostly under the tropical sun. It seemed to always follow me…from Guam to the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong, to Diego Garcia, and back to the Philippines, where I met my match… and my Filipina bride, in 1984.

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I spent over 20 years with the U.S. Navy (staring at the sky) and, after returning to the mainland, went to work for the National Weather Service for several years. When I retired from the business of Weather, I landed myself in the Real Estate community for the next 13 years. After spending nearly 30 years of our working life on the U.S. mainland, we decided on an early retirement and decided to liquidate our assets and move to the Philippines (where we ultimately setttled into our retirement home, on the island of Samar). This was not an arduous decision. As a matter of fact, once we gave ourselves the green light, it didn’t take me long to pack my complete wardrobe of shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops and like a true sailor, I was ready to get underway on a moment’s notice. And… believe it or not, I still had my Gilligan hat!

After living in the Philippines for just over 4 years full-time, we decided to move to Guam in 2017. We now use our home in Samar as our “retreat” home and travel back and forth as we feel the need. These days we just enjoy life as we take living “One Day at a Time.”

For anyone who may be interested, I’ve been publishing a blog Retired in Samar since 2012 about much of our transition to and living in paradise experiences.  I also have a YouTube Channel, Retired in Samar and am always looking for new subscribers. And now, I can further share my “One Day at a Time” experience with the Stishit community!

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Living Life Between Two Islands

I Got Burned Out Doing Nothing… So I Moved to Another Tropical Island!


Life in the Tropics – It’s All Good.

More than a year has passed since my wife and I re-established a new homestead in Guam. And you know what they say… “How time flies when you’re having fun!” It must be true because it only seems like we just arrived a few weeks ago.

This last December 2017 we went back home to Samar and spent a couple of months there. We enjoyed Christmas and the New Years festivities, a couple birthday celebrations, and a fiesta or three, including our own barangay fiesta. We enjoyed some companionship with some friends during a few get-togethers. I tended to some maintenance issues around the house that needed attention, but mostly I just relaxed and took life one day at a time. I managed to get some video footage while there and hope to get to work on some editing and uploading to my YouTube channel soon. Mostly we just enjoyed the holidays, the pets, the family, and the comforts of our newly designated “retreat” home. I also done a little fishing and caught nothing! You know what they say about fishing: “Your worst day fishing is better than your best day at work!” We returned to Guam around the 3rd week of February and slid right back into our routine of more tropical living!

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First to arrive at a friends house for Fiesta in Matabato, Calbayog City, Samar.One thing I realized when we returned to the house in the Philippines was that the heat and humidity had begun creeping into the house. Our caretaker runs the aircon for about 4 hours per day to help maintain lower humidity levels inside, but now we know about 6 hours per day (minimum) is needed. I also noticed the mildew starting to form on many of my books and my stamp collection was looking neglected. Aside from all the stamps I have already cataloged and in albums, I still have this accumulation of stamps which completely fills two cigar boxes. I discovered that several (too many) stamps were increasingly beginning to adhere to each other. Once I got them back to Guam, I had to carefully separate them, mostly by soaking them apart. The one thing I will share here is that when living in the Philippines, the heat and humidity can cause many things to deteriorate. And if you are close to the ocean like we are, the salt-laden air will assist in that process… inevitably!

Even though we keep our home climate controlled while we live there, and unless we run the air conditioning sufficiently, moisture will creep in and mildew will begin to appear – because inside the house, with all windows closed, there is no natural air flow. This is our biggest problem. Because we imported all our furniture and household goods, we are careful to keep the house closed up and attempt to manage the dryness with our three air conditioners. Another reason for keeping the house closed up is to keep out unwanted mosquitos and wood destroying insects like termites. Once wooden furniture becomes infested with termites, you might as well call it quits because you will lose that battle. Open windows allow every critter in the Philippines universe to enter the house. And we choose to live in a ‘mosquito free zone’ and to not to live with bugs… or humidity! Period. If youy have ever been anywhere along the southern U.S. coast from Houston, Texas to Naples, Florida, could you imaging spending a summer there without air conditioning? Nope! Even aside from all the protections we put in place, we discovered that we had a septic tank mosquito infestation shortly after our return. My wife was struck down with Dengue Fever from a mosquito bite the second week back in the Philippines. She was down hard for about 5 days with every symptom imaginable. It took two weeks to remedy the septic infestation.

Back to the stamp collection… I was able to save almost all the stamps that were stuck to one another with only loosing a few low-value stamps to actual damage. Anyway, back here on Guam, life goes on with central air conditioning and that is what makes things so comfortable here. Comparing Guam to the Philippines, most everyplace is air-conditioned here… and it is welcomed by all, as opposed to the Philippines where most people (in the province anyway) prefer NOT to live in the colder air. Systems here are also well maintained and some places are downright frigid! In contrast, in the Philippines, I share the joke: “How do you get unwanted guests to leave your house? You just you just turn the air conditioner to “Artic Blast!” That will eliminate all occupants faster than you can open a cold bottle of San Miguel on a hot day!

Passing the Time.

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When we first arrived, there was much to do!When I first arrived in the Philippines, I had plenty to do. I had a house to finish building. Then landscaping filled much of my time. I also brought along my fishing kayak but it became a burden to launch and recover (in our barangay). Due to the low tides, I would need to carry the 65lb Yak (and all fishing gear) nearly two hundred meters to get to water deep enough to paddle and that was just too much work. Along our coast, nearly half of the year experiences higher tides but much rougher waters during the Habagat (SW monsoon). I tried fishing with and without the kayak there but there are so few fish to be caught along the shoreline, I gave up fishing altogether. Then all my gear began to rust badly. I used to take long afternoon motorcycle rides along the coast until I transferred the bike to my brother-in-law. Then we were left with only the car for transportation, which the asawa takes most days. I had my bicycle, which by now had rusted to the point (remember the salt air) where it was not in great shape. I now had my newly finished man-cave where I could spend much of my day in privacy, but that got old real fast… I became too isolated from everyone and everything. Even the dog decided the cool and refreshing aircon was not worth being cooped up and she abandoned me. I stopped making videos when YouTube began their censorship campaign, in addition to all the unjustified copyrite claims I had to deal with on almost every video I produced. Then there were the daily brownouts and piss-poor internet upload speeds that Globe was providing me for my money. I quit playing tennis because it was taking its toll on my knee and shoulder. I even had someone doing all the yard work and washing the car. The bottom line – I had run out of things to do – except for lounging around, eating (in or out) and drinking beer! Doing nothing is not a good rut to be in… for most people. And I definitely got into a rut.

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All finished! Now what?

Meanwhile, Back on Guam

I am back in a place where there are plenty of things to keep me occupied. I returned to playing racquetball and I have been invited by the U.S. Navy’s gym director to submit a proposal to offer racquetball lessons, so that process is in the works. When I’m not playing racquetball, there is snorkeling, diving, fishing, beach combing, golfing (I also retrieved my clubs from the Philippines), and hiking to help me and shopping to help the Mrs. occupy time. We also returned to bowling and are enjoying our second season of the Thursday night league (ironically the league is composed mostly of Filipinos). We have re-discovered shuffleboard (indoor table variety), enjoy attending Guam fiestas, visiting local attractions, and taking morning and evening walks on the mostly litter-free beaches (there is no perfect beach anywhere, some are just cleaner than others). In a nutshell, we are still enjoying the Asian culture, only Guam style! And on rainy days, I can play with my stamps.

Engrossed in Stamps!With all these added activities, I’m surprised I find enough time leftover for blogging! It will be hard to run out of things to do here on this island and we can now look forward to visiting our retreat in the Philippines and enjoy some pure rest and relaxation. Because Guam can wear you out… if you allow it to happen!

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Did I fail to mention there is always a cold beer to be had in between all there is to do?
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Calbayog City… It’s Where We Live

This is my first attempt at posting a video to Stishit. This is a YouTube video I did to show fellow expats, who either live in the Philippines or who may be planning on moving to the Philippines, a little bit about our chosen paradise. It is the place where we live… Calbayog City, on the Island of Samar.


Investors Want Philippines Government to Allow Freedom

Investors in the Philippines want the government to ease concerns on cryptocurrencies

The exponential growth of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency space, in general, have struck a chord amongst Philippine investors that they are asking the government monetary policymakers to address the concern about the blockchain technology.

Francis Arjonillo, the President of the First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) has asked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the government’s central bank, to have a policy that address’ the surge in cryptocurrency investing.

Pushing for more assurance of cryptocurrency, Francis Arjonillo has said that it is a huge threat to the money system and the ability for banks to control money. He is also concerned about security and hacking of crypto wallets and woants these issues addressed before banks start to embrace the technology.

The BSP said it is working with the Securities and Exchange Commission to draft a new rule on cryptocurrencies like when used to investment. So far the BSP has approved two currency exchanges to operate in the country, Rebittance and Betur, also known as