THIRD WORLD CHAOS AND WHY WE LOVE IT

There are a lot of trade-offs in the third world when it comes to third world chaos that the author describes as freedom. If you have never been to the Philippines, the drivers can be insane. Because of there is little law enforcement in many areas, the law of the jungle does exist. To describe this, you would have to see the way that folks drive here which is absurd, but there is rhyme and reason to their driving habits, and it is just a part of the learning curve.

When driving and you are trying to change lanes or make a turn in traffic you will have to take a directive which is usually by using hand signals. Since there is so much third world craziness in the Philippines, it may take some time to adjust. Other examples of chaos are people throwing their trash on the street, smoking on the street, vehicles belching smoke, among others. Does a long term resident like myself enjoy these things? Well, of course not. I as many other expats have learned to adjust, yet again, it is a trade-off. The last time I visited my family in the States and was driving through a residential area, I was warned not to go even one mile over 25 miles per hour. There were signs on the streets saying that there was photo radar. My father explained to me how his car that I was driving would be billed for speeding and it would be sent through the mail.

There are so many rules and regulations in the first world unlike the Philippines which is the complete opposite to that and therefore something that I call freedom. Obviously, many will disagree, but who likes liter on the street, vehicles belching smoke, and crazy drivers? but from another perspective, freedom lovers as myself hate rules and regulations. In sum, there are pros and cons to living in the Philippines when it comes to the third world chaos, but for many like myself, this is an acceptance for what we describe as our freedom.

– Bruce Silverman

Steve & Eve Go to Laoag!

Steve and Eve, a delightful couple from the United Kingdom, decided to leave their home in the land of misty moors, cricket pitches, and fish & chip shops and head to the tropical environs of Laoag, Ilocos Norte in the Philippines to make it their retirement home. They made the move to the Philippines a little over a year ago, and I had the pleasure of catching up with them just recently to find out how it has all been going.

 

Steve hails from foggy, soggy England, where Eve, a Filipina originally from Laoag, went to carry out her career as a nurse. They met and married, and then raised a family. Their children, now grown, jumped the coop and when the couple found themselves emptily nesting, thoughts turned to relocating to the Philippines where the climate was more hospitable and the cost of living significantly lower than in the U.K.

 

When asked specifically, “Why the Philippines?” Steve’s reply was, “Well, I’d been here (to the Philippines, the country of Eve’s birth) about three times, and we’d been married for about thirty odd years, and I thought, well, if it comes to a point where we couldn’t do anything for ourselvesalone, and we could make our money last a bit longer, we could do it in the Philippines…”

 

Good point, Steve. But then we asked the question on many retiree’s minds: what about medical issues? Unlike in the U.K., the Philippines hasn’t any National Health to speak of. So for Steve and Eve, although it’s all free in England, in Laoag, doctor visits, medicines, surgeries and the like are all on them. But this didn’t seem to bother them. Steve pointed out that there were two hospitals nearby, including Batac General Hospital, should they ever need a doctor, and if anything big should happen, they always have the option of hopping a plane back to the UK for treatment. On top of that, Laoag City Hospital is being upgraded and modernized drastically over the next year or two. And the cherry on the cake, Eve pointed out, as she is a Filipino senior citizen, she can get senior citizen discounts on her hospital bills, pharmacies, and doctors’ offices. Unfortunately, senior citizen discount cards are limited to Filipino senior citizens, but the fact is that the cost of medical treatment is significantly lower in the Philippines than it is in the First World, so in most cases, medical care is affordable. There also exist several medical insurance policies that can be purchased in order to cover expenses in the Philippines—go to the Retireology section of this website and click on Medical Insurance and Health Care Information to read the policies and contact the brokers directly with any questions you may have.

 

Moving on…

 

But what about friends? Eve’s family all live in Laoag, so they’re walking on sunshine as far as family dinners go. But sometimes, siblings and in-laws just don’t cut it. Occasionally you want to chat with someone who won’t comment on the fact that you’re balding or the fact that: “Hoy! You’re getting fat.” Both Steve and Eve reassured us that this wasn’t a problem. In fact, Laoag has a growing international community: Americans, Germans, Dutch…even a few other Brits – people from all over—have made their homes here alongside Steve and Eve. Many of them live within a thirty minute radius of their home by bike, their chosen mode of transportation.

 

Day to day life is just as easy going. As Steve so wonderfully put it, they “just get out there in the morning and see what comes.” When they don’t feel like spending the day with friends and family, they listen to music, read books, or visit the beaches nearby—coincidentally, these are some of the most beautiful beaches in the country—and hardly any people on them. Ex-groundskeeper Steve tends his garden. “Tropical farming is a big kick for me!” They eat out. We asked if any of this got boring over time, considering the two have lived in Laoag for a year at this point, and the answer was a resounding ‘no!’ There’s always something to keep you busy – or not busy, if that’s what you prefer.

 

Next, we asked about the inconveniences of living in a provincial town. There had to be downsides. Food came to mind here. In a big, sophisticated city like Metro Manila or Cebu, you can get practically anything by way of food. In Laoag? We assumed not. So did they find themselves trekking down to the big city every few months, packing supplies into boxes and dragging them home like refugees? The answer again was ‘no’. According to them, they’ve got everything they need! The freshest fruits, fish right out of the ocean, and it’s cheaper here by half than it is in Manila. On the contrary actually; their friends visit them and stock up on goodies! They hit the nail on the head when they said: “You’ll never starve here!”

 

Life isn’t all sugar sweet and sunshine in the province though. Steve and Eve do have a list of complaints. Mosquitos, red ants, and toads. Necessary evils when you live on the equator! But overall, life is pretty good!!

Gulliver’s Travels From San Francisco to Manila

We were in Makati for the day, in from the Great Republic of Alabang, and my husband turned to me and said, “I’m inviting you to lunch at the best prime rib place in town.”

 

Okay then.

 

“It’s DELICIOUS, and I guarantee you we will be one of only two or three tables there.”

 

Uh oh.

 

We are both Makati-bred, and as far as I knew, the only really good prime rib in town since, well, forever, was at the Prince Albert Rotisserie at the Intercontinental Hotel.

 

“You’re going to LOVE this place!” he tells me as we pull off Makati Ave. into the driveway of a Chinese discount hotel on the seedy side of the street.

 

 

We went through the hotel’s front door and headed to the elevator. Up. Stop. Get off the elevator…and get on a different elevator. Apparently the first elevator only takes you so high, in order to get to this steak, you have to undergo a journey.

 

We stepped out of the elevator and…what can I say? We stepped into the 70’s. It was amazing! Gulliver’s of San Francisco is a classic, tacky-down-to-the-psuedo-eighteenth-century captain’s chairs around each dining table, and the waiters-and-waitresses-dressed-in-period- costume American steak house! The placed oooooozed oh-so-Olde-Worlde charm! It was liked being sucked back through the Time Tunnel to the steak houses of my Midwestern youth, and I LOVED it from the moment I stepped through the doors!

 

Sure enough, we were one of only two tables in the restaurant, and we claimed our table at the window with a spectacular view of Makati in all its grimy splendor. The menu was perfect—chicken parmesan, lobster tail, but we came for prime rib, and prime rib we would have.

 

The meat came in three sizes. I took the biggest one. So did my husband. I was salivating as I ordered, and so was he. The wait staff were efficient, spreading a huge, crisp, white linen napkin on each of our laps and bringing us a basket of fresh, hot bread and sweet butter. They smiled as they took our orders, repeated them correctly, and went off to advise the kitchen of our choices, returning but moments later with an icy, frothy brew.

 

Moments later, the BEST, bar none (sorry Prince Albert Rotisserie!) prime rib I have ever sunk my teeth into on this side of the puddle, thick, amazingly large, beautifully marbled with just the right ratio of fat to meat, crispy on the outer edge and soft, juicy, red, and delicious all the way to the bone, appeared before each of us. On the plate were a baked potato with ALL the fixings—butter, chives (yes REAL fresh chives), bacon, and sour cream; a delightfully stodgy Yorkshire pudding, spinach soufflé right out of Graham Kerr’s Galloping Gourmet cooking show, and the best home-made creamed corn ever! The waiter then appeared with what was essentially a decanter of hot meat juice that he poured over each slab of beef.

 

I ate everything. EVERYTHING.

 

The Master Chef at Gulliver’s trained in their San Francisco kitchen, and he has everything down to perfection. The whole experience—the meal, the restaurant itself—was delightful because not only was the food so good, it evoked memories of a bygone era that made the meal taste even better.

 

Gulliver’s has been there for years, but nobody knows about it. My husband, a Makati native, found out about it because a friend dragged him there on the promise of the best and cheapest prime rib in town…and he was right! Each of our prime rib lunches, with all of the fixings, cost P1200.00, or roughly US$27.00. The restaurant has two branches, one in Makati, and the other in Quezon City, both at the Great Eastern Hotel. You can find out more by going to their web site, www.gulliverssf.com , but if you are a carnivore from the 70’s, Gulliver’s is an experience you won’t want to miss!