Day 151 of retirement

Hi All

Thursday 8th July:

Sleep in and then Vilma made us our usual banana & mango pancake (we get one and share it as it is huge). Very yummy. Then we assumed the usual position under our shady tree to watch the world go by and admire the view.

Went for my last snorkel before lunch. Got quite adventurous and swam out to the where the coral reef drops into the channel a few hundred metres off shore. Lots of fish life and saw two nice big crayfish lurking in their lairs. Pity it’s a marine park. Also had this little bright orange clown fish, the ones that live in the sea anemone, come right up and give me the once over. Such fluorescent colours.

Nice fresh fish for lunch with rice and veggies being our one big meal for the day. Couple of strolls along the beach and watched the sunset before retiring. Dinner was 2 bananas each, washed down with Ice Green Tea (Apple flavor).

Time to pack as we are heading back to Manila tomorrow to attend to some more paperwork.

A leisurely day really.

Friday 9th July:

Well we sadly have to leave this beautiful piece of paradise. The Bangka took us back to the dock at Romblon to catch the “big” Ro-Ro (this is the biggest Ro-Ro we have traveled on so far) to Batangas then a bus trip to Manila.

The Ro-Ro left at 1:30pm on the 13-hour trip (yea a long one) with one stop on the way. About 4 hours into the trip the air-conditioning “broke” and couldn’t be fixed. So the crew came round opening all the windows that “would open”. We were lucky as we were sitting by a window that opened so had nice sea breeze on us for the whole trip. We did actually manage to get some sleep, which was good. Others sitting in the middle of the boat were not so lucky. A lot of passengers finished up on the top open-air deck. One resourceful guy even broke out a hammock and rigged it up out on the top deck.

Saturday 10th July:

The Ro-Ro arrived at Batangas at 2:30am and we hustled straight onto the bus. Not much sleep with the bus stop and starts (dropping off and pickup passengers) and a bus driver who seem insistent on beeping his horn at every other vehicle on the road. Good run though as there wasn’t much other traffic at this time of the morning. Arrived back in Manila at 5:00am. Short two block walk and we were back at Beth’s house (Guy’s sister where we stay).

Grabbed 4 hours sleep and then off to the Mall. We have a bit of list of “luxuries” to get for when we return to the provinces so have started the buy up. And of course Guy had to get her Zagu (hasn’t had one for ages).

Have also started checking out prices of “house” fixtures here in Manila. Will use this as a guide if / when we build our bungalow. Hopefully we should have the property purchase on Marinduque sorted within the week. Fingers and toes crossed.

Sunday 11th July:

Bit of a sleep in this morning. Late breakfast and off to a huge local market just 3 blocks away. They have the market divided into sections (meat & fish, veggies, clothes & shoes and other knick knacks) which are all housed under this huge corrugated iron roof complex.

Hard to tell but I recon it would easily cover more than one city block. Now there is no air-conditioning, no fridges and no freezers here so if you want to keep anything cool you have to use ice. They wheel in these huge man size blocks of ice, break them up and feed the bits into a huge ice crusher which produces the ice for the merchants.

It appears that the meat market is most active first thing in the morning and pretty much over by early afternoon (to avoid the heat).

We were after a small transistor radio to take with us on the nights when we had no TV. Couldn’t find one at the mall (only had TVs, laptops & iPods) so the local market was the go. Found exactly what we wanted. No iPods here. They even still sold cassette players. Like a step back in time seeing all this ancient technology. See the pics.

Quick lunch and back to the mall for a few other bits we needed. Stop off at our favorite café for a Coke and catch up on emails.

This evening was spent digging out all our documentation (Passports, Birth Certificates, Divorce papers, Marriage papers, etc.) ready for a trip to immigration tomorrow and start the dual citizenship process for Guy and myself. Let the fun begin………

Monday 12th July:

So off to the NSO (National Statistics Office) for Guy to get a certified copy of her birth certificate for her application for Philippines citizenship. Now there are thousands of people each day go through this “office”. They actually have a bit of a system to keep it all orderly. You progress through three sections, completing a bit of your paperwork in each section. Guy’s number was 3220 and it only took us two hours from start too finish so not so bad.

Had to come back between 3–4:00pm to pickup the final copies.

So off to the LTO (Land Transport Office) to get Philippines drivers license.  A much simpler process as our Australian license only need conversion, otherwise, we need to do written and physical exams on top.  The process is:

  1. LTO to get the relevant paper work to be filled out.
  2. Off to a private “medical centre” where they test / gather the following:
    1. You pee into a jar and they test for drugs. No bags in the room and you have to pee with the door open so then can see you not substituting another bottle.
    2. They take your photo electronically.
    3. They take all your fingerprints electronically (both hands).
    4. They test your eyes with the good old eye chart on the wall.
    5. They test a few leg exercises just to make sure you legs work.
    6. They test your blood pressure.
    7. They measure your height.
    8. They measure your weight. Been a couple of months since I have been on scales and I have lost 7kg in the last two months (since leaving AUS) and it feels great, Guy no change.
    9. They give you hard copies of all the above tests to take back to the LTO. Ooohhhh and you have to sign the final documents in two places and then next to each signature you have to dip your thumb into ink and leave a thumb print. Just to be sure to be sure.
    10. Get photocopies of your AUS license, passport main page and the VISA page. You do this on the sidewalk on some doggy old Xerox photocopier that should have been retired when they build the ark.
    11. Back to the LTO with all the relevant documentation.
    12. Have your photo taken again and signature recorded, both electronically. Had to do this twice for some unknown reason.
    13. Pay your money.
    14. Then you get your new shiny Philippines license.
    15. Total cost including the “medical” is P1020 ($25.00 AUS). And takes about two hours all up.

Back to the NSO and once again Guy was put in the 3:00pm queue to get her documents. 45 minutes later she emerged with her certified birth certificates. Tomorrow we start the immigration process for dual citizenship for Guy and myself. Yep I am going to look at being an Aussie and Filipino citizen. This will allow us to own land and live here permanently, which is what we want to do.

Looking at the weather tonight there is a huge tropical storm building out east of Manila in the Pacific Ocean. Just a storm at present but if it builds up could be my first Typhoon. They predict that Manila will only get the edge of it if at all. We shall see.

Guy’s mum cooked Sinigang for dinner tonight. One of my favorites.

Tuesday 13th July:

Off to the Philippines Immigration office this morning via the MRT (rapid train) and Jeepney ride. Three hours later and Guy is now once again a Filipino citizen. She now holds dual citizenship with the Philippines and Australia.

It was quite a painless process. She had all required documents and with the addition of a few more, which we were able to organize at the office, it was a smooth process. You have to get lots of signatures and stamps from various “officials” but the good thing is that they all reside in the one building.

Then she had to take the oath before a “JP”, who is in the building, then pay the required Pesos and all done.

While there we completed all of the paper work we could for my Filipino citizenship as well. I have to wait till Guy’s official citizen certificate comes through in about 4 weeks, then I can continue with my Filipino citizenship processing.

I must admit that over the last two days we have achieved twice as much as I thought we would. Although there is lots of paper shuffling and waiting, it is a pretty efficient process and just works.

Manila is now on “Signal 1” Typhoon “Basyang” alert.

The signals range from 1 to 4 (summary below):

  1. Winds of 30-60 kph may be expected in at least 36 hours or intermittent rains may be expected within 36 hours.
    Means get ready.
  2. Winds of greater than 60 kph and up to 100 kph may be expected in at least 24 hours with lots of rain, signal no.1
    Some schools and businesses start closing
  3. Winds of greater than 100 kph up to 185 kph may be expected in at least 18 hours with lots of rain, signal no. 2
    Primary schools and some businesses close.
  4. Very strong winds of more than 185 kph may be expected in at least 12 hours with lots and lots of rain,signal no. 3
    The Typhoon is here good and proper.  All school levels are cancelled and most offices/businesses as well.

Marinduque in on Signal 2 so lucky we are not there at the moment. Been raining all day here in Manila. Mostly steady rain but with the occasional thunderstorm. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

Here is the Philippines weather bureau web site where you can track Typhoon Basyang”.  http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/

Jerry’s birthday (Guy’s brother) today so a nice big chocolate / rocky road cake is in order. A little bit of luxury after my 7kg weight loss since we arrived.

Take care all.

Trevor & Guy

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