Author: KennyG

Employment

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Having lived in the Philippines for the past four months or so I have come discover some very interesting things with regards to Employment.  Being just recently in the heart of the Scuba Diving world as a PADI Course Director, everyone at some point or other has said they would love to work in the Philippines at a Dive Center.  I personaly found employment in the Scuba Diving industry in British Columbia, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia over the past 7 – 9 years.  I have seen first hand the differences in pays for virtually the same jobs.  So for example, a Western Diving Instructor in Cambodia where I worked made $1000.00 USD a month, the boat Captain $150.00 USD and a Dive Guide maybe $90.00 USD. The pay was grossly skued for the Westerners, as many of my friends would be pissed and refused to work if they did not make at least what we did and of course they expected to make more.

Employment

Since I am not working here in the Philippines nor am I allowed to since I am on a Toursit visa, I have have been asking questions of different people about pay in their current employment.  Many of the Westerners I know, have said how cheap and inexpensive the Philippines is, and now that I live here full time, I am waiting for that cheap and inexpensive living arrangements to kick in and it’s been four months now and I have yet to see what they are talking about.

My big question is how do the locals do it.  I mean seriously, a local can expect to be paid minimum wages for their work which is about PhP 285, or $8.63 CDN a day.  Now, they work hard, long hours with little time off, but seriously they get paid peanuts.  So you can expect a monthly pay about PhP 7000/$209.58 CDN.

I know there will be someone who is reading this and they will say in the back of their heads, “Should have paid attention in School”  we, I hate to tell you they did!  Most of the jobs I see advertised you must meet the following criteria!

4 Yr University Degree Ages 18 – 24 Single

Now this criteria is required form many if not most of the jobs I have seen advertised.  If you want to work at SM (Super Malls) in the department store, the requirement has need listed as a 4 year University Degree, you must be between the ages 18 – 24 and single otherwise they will not even look at your resume.  Now, I laugh as I see many commercials that are put out from SM, indicating they are giving back to the community in forms of employment opportunities, well if you are between the ages 18 – 24, single and have a 4 year degree.  So if you fit in the criteria you can possibly get the minimum wage job, how you pay back the schooling, or afford to live is still a big question.

I am living here in Bacolod City, and I looked around until I found a reasonable housing cost, I pay PhP 5,500 monthly for rent, plus approximately PhP 1,000 for electricity and Php 204 for water, and an additional Php699 for internet.  My basic living conditions are more then the average University Degree work makes in a month.  My big question is if these hard working people who make it in the criteria to apply for work can barely afford to live based on simple math, how do the food cart peeps or the little mom and papa stores do it selling smokes as singles and chewing gum or candies.  A smoke is 5 pesos and a candy is 1 peso.  I mean seriously.

Street Food
Street Food

Cost of Living

Now I know for a westerner rent is pretty darn cheap, but that is where it stops.  I still pay about $80 – $100 a week for food the same as I do back home, and no I did not shop for the more expensive Western products.  The cost of a simple coffee is $3.00 or more, shoes come with North American prices, electronics are even more expensive then back in your country mostly, and if you buy it at home you have a warranty that will stand behind you and clothes in SM have the same prices as North America.

Phone service I am rather surprised is actually behind here in the Philippines then what it was like living in Cambodia, and it’s more expensive compared to Cambodia and the prices are in line with what you would pay in Canada.

Employers

Interesting thing I have seen happening here as well is the Employer will not cover the cost of things for the employee.  For example, in order to get their business licence their employees must have a Green Card, this is health card saying they the employee is healthy to work, no infectious disease.   Now one would thing this is a great idea, but having seen someone go through it first hand, it’s a joke.  They employee most go and have a chest x-Ray, and once that is completed they will go to the Healthy Department and present the xRay findings.  Then they need to take an anti-worming pill in front of the Healthy Department Official.  Once that is completed they will get a Green card with their picture on it, deeming they are heathy to work.  The x-Ray costs Php 180, De-worming pill 5 pesos and and the Green Card an additional 40 pesos.  If the company can not produce proof of all their employees are Carded then there is no Business Licence given.  The cost of this is solely the responsibility of the employee, who once again can barely afford to live as it is.

Overseas Filipino Workers

I now can totally understand the OFW’s all around the world for their employment opportunities.  I feel badly for many as they have to leave family and kids in order to find a job that will pay reasonable wages so they can help support their families back home.  I think these amazing people here are some of the hardest working people in the world.  I take my hat off and wish everyone the best in their future endeavours.

Western Union

Western Union
Western Union

I have been in the Philippines virtually since August of 2014 when I first arrived here on a scouting mission so to speak.  Originally I arrived here with about $1200.00 CDN funds which at the time with exchange was PhP47,500 which I figured would be more than enough for the 15 – 20 days I was planning on staying here.  One thing that I always notice is the big Western Union billboards and signs on almost every corner here in the Philippines.  It was kind of like this in Cambodia but not as many, Thailand there were a large number of Western Union places as well, though I never ever thought of using one.  That was then, this is now for sure.

Western Banks (TD Canada Trust)

Nightmares returned very quickly when I had to withdraw some money to help cover off my stay in Bacolod.  One of the reasons I went through so much money so quickly was needing to make three months rent payment in order to get my lease, not to mention the Php2,000 I had to give for utilities incase I take off and leave the landlord hanging.   So I approached the ATM, knowing this was going to be painful.  I was planning on withdrawing about PhP20,000, so I inserted my bank card, and did what was needed to have it denied….knowing this had to do with the amount I was asking for, I started reducing the amount I was asking for, and much to my horror, I was only aloud to take PhP10,000 out at one time.  This was something to do with the ATM’s here in the Philippines and not with TD Canada Trust.  However, each and every withdrawal I was charged $5.00 CDN for accessing my money, plus the most horrible exchange rate you can find.  I compared to what I was getting at TD Canada Trust to what the exchange rate was at Western Union and there is about a 3 or 4 peso difference per CDN dollar, and certainly not to the advantage of the customer.  Disgusted, I turned to my sister who works for a bank, and she said she could send money through Western Union right from her online banking access.  What??  How can this be, if I wanted to transfer money to myself in Bacolod, I had to pay about $30 – $45 at TD Canada Trust, and the best part is the customer service people tell me I need to be there in order to do it.  But I am in the Philippines, well sir I am sorry.  Yes you are sorry for sure!!

Western Union

Fees with Western Union out of Canada works something like this.  Money in minutes $9.50, and I have sent up to PhP35,000 where if I were to do that through the ATM and TD Canada Trust I would have to pay $5.00 per Php10,000 or in this example almost $20.00 CDN.  When you are living on a fixed income this is a lot of money.  With Bank of Montreal which is where my sister works she sinds me whatever amount I ask her too, at any hour of the day or night, directly through her Online Banking accounts and I pay about $11.00 Cdn per $1000.00 dollars.  Plus, the exchange rate is fantastic.  I will see it advertised at a certain rate and Western Union seems to offer it about 1 – 1.5 pesos more than what you will find at the bank.

Now I know why there are so many Western Union centers here in the Philippines.  The vast number of Overseas Filipino Workers and the amount of money sent back to the family, and with the way banking laws and banks operate so much money would be lost to big business.  I think it’s time the banks are regulated in the amount of services fees they are allowed to levy on their customers, especially since now a days its pretty much a given you need to have a bank account.

Circle Inn

To be honest I was tired of the heat, and need to find a place to stay for a couple of days that had aircon so I could get some sleep.  I was thinking of returning to the Bacolod Pension House, and though the place was ok…I wanted a little more.  So I thought I would give the Circle Inn and try, and I was very pleased with the two days I spent there.

Front Desk
Front Desk

Aircon and the Circle Inn

My main purpose behind finding a place to say was needing a couple of cool evening so I could catch up with some very much needed sleep.  I was exhausted from not sleeping in the heat, and with how hot it was during the day, I found it even more difficult to deal with the days with the loss of sleep.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the heat.  But since I am kind of land locked here in Bacolod City, and not teaching diving every day and missing being in the water every day, I find the heat of all the concrete in the city very difficult to deal with everyday.

The Circle Inn was chosen on a simple Google Search and a list of about 10 hotels came up.  When I checked out the website on my phone, that room cost was listed for the deluxe room as PhP1480, and of course Expedia had it listed as less expensive,  which was not true, since Expedia listed the room before taxes and once you added those in it was the same price that was being offered through the hotel itself.  I find it interesting how misleading the cheap websites are, and I know now in Canada, its against the law when you do not advertise the real price.  Just a thought.

Part of Town

Pool
Pool

I have just recently ventured into the part of town where the Circle Inn is located.  It took me a few minutes to work out the Jeepneys needed in order to get downtown which by the way Shopping La Salle Libertad will do it, and it was very easy to make it to Lacson street so I could do my daily coffee at Starbucks.  I would certainly decide to stay at the Circle Inn again since the rooms were very clean, the Front Desk staff polite and very helpful.  The Restaurant on site had good food and not too badly priced compared to other places I have stayed.  The pool though cool, very clean and refreshing.  There are rooms that open directly onto the pool which would have been very very cool, though all of those were booked.

Circle Inn

If you are in town, and in need of a place to stay, I would select this hotel in a heart beat.  I really have nothing negative to say about the place.

Have a Great day!!

 

Bacolod City

Jeepney
Jeepney

Over the past two months or so I have been working on my first Time-lapse video and I decided I wanted to do one of Bacolod City, on Negros Occidental.  Bacolod City is a pretty busy place.  Not any where as busy as Manila or as large but it’s busy compared to what I know back in Vancouver BC, Canada.  Though I find it interesting how friendly everyone is here in Bacolod City.  I am one who will say good morning to strangers on the street as I walk it always amazes me how everyone here that I speak too will speak back, no matter what language barrier there is, young and old, woman or male, if you attempt to speak they will respond, or even vice versa.  In the morning when I walk to the Jeepney many will say Good Morning Joe to me, I love
it.

Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines from Ken Dunlop on Vimeo.

Having lived in Vancouver BC the past three years, I slowly stopped speaking to people on the street, as most people look at you as if you are a leper, scowl on their face, they will clutch their bag that much tighter because obviously you are going to attack them.  I was always left with my mouth hanging open at peoples cold responses.  I have to laugh, so many post on Facebook about the warm temperatures so early in the winter though the city especially Vancouver is easily one of the coldest places on earth. The scenery is beautiful but the people have a lot left to be desired.  I was always told it was because it was a big city, but why is it only in Vancouver that I find this to be the case.  I have been to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Toronto, Halifax, and Montreal but it is nothing as crazy and cold as Vancouver.

So here is a Time-lapse Video shot in Bacolod City, see the hustle and bustle of this place, the number of people on the streets, in the stores and coffee shops.  Bacolod City the city of smiles!!

Buenos Aires

Drying Rice
Drying Rice

On Monday, Michelle and I traveled to mountains above Buenos Aires, to see what was described as beautiful waterfalls.  I have been wanting to shoot as many waterfalls pictures as possible so bang I am in.  We travelled on a bus to Mao Mao, and then grabbed a tricycle for the afternoon which Michelle was able to talk down to PhP700, which is bargin.  The driver we had was a really nice guy, so much so, I took his name and number and I plan on using him again very soon.

Buenos Aires is a beautiful resort area right on the river which is cascading down from the mountains. Though, other than stopping there for lunch, I never really had an opportunity to see as I was far more keen on traveling up the mountain.  The area was breath taking, very clean and everyone seemed very helpful and friendly.  Some of the road is rocky and gravel and other areas is paved, it depends on where you are planning on heading.  We turned back earlier than I had planned, but I had a mishap when I slide into the river with camera and all, which ended up being a pretty expensive day trip, but I was able to save some pictures.

Rice Fields in the Mountains
Rice Fields in the Mountains

I forget the name of the one village we travelled through, but I was very impressed with a bunch of signs that had been placed on the side of the road, asking locals as well as tourists to help preserve the planet, to recycle, don’t smoke, save nature, it was very refreshing to see.  I plan on returning again to the Buenos Aires area to explore more of the countryside, more waterfalls, and villages as well as nature.  If you are in the area and have a day, I would definitely recommend you going to the Buenos Aires area, it’s about 1 hour or so from Bacolod City.

 

 

Selfies

Selfies
Selfies

Having lived in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and now The Philippines, I have seen a huge increase in the “Selfies” fenomenum and it is way way our of control here in the Philippines.  It does not matter where I am, sitting in Starbucks, walking on the beach, shopping in SM (Super mall) climbing the Pope towers, people are taking selfies.  I don’t mean simply looking into the phone, but they are using this thing called the selfies pole, they can put their phone on the clip and walk around and shoot videos of themselves walking around shopping in the mall, or going up and down the stairs where ever they may be.

What is the interest in the Selfies picture? I have always had a camera so I was never in the photo’s?  I mean seriously who wants to see my ugly mug…I do everything in my power to stay behind the camera and not get in front of the camera.

Lets here from the readers, talk the poll…are you or are you not caught up in the Selfies fenomenum??

 

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