Expat In Bacolod

Stephen Bentley - Writer

Four Year Review of Life in the Philippines

It’s exactly four years to the day I arrived in the Philippines so I guess now is as good as time as any to post my four review of life in the Philippines.

Before I do, I have noticed recently that some WordPress followers have signed up to follow this blog and not my author website. I don’t believe that was intended. I no longer have a newsletter for this blog but if you want to keep up to date with my author stuff then you may sign up over on my author site here.

The first question I have is where did the time go? Tempus certainly fugit πŸ™‚

I wrote this on my Facebook timeline today and every word is true:

Four years ago this day I flew into Manila from the UK embarking on the final adventure of my colourful life πŸ™‚

Zab Rina was there to meet me by arrangement. I was blown away by how beautiful she was in real life as opposed to our online relationship – she still looked great in her pictures πŸ™‚

But the thing is, she isn’t just beautiful to look at. She possesses a beauty of thought, of deed, of duty, of what is right and what is wrong.

She is also a good mother to both Macky and Botsy. I’m just pleased she allowed me into her life and her family, and by family, I mean the whole extended family.

Zab knew all about me by the time we got married. No secrets!

Before I decided to fly here and meet her, I prayed that she would be the one. The Lord heard me. You ARE the one Zab Rina and I <3 you so much.

Thank you for everything πŸ™‚ <3

And thanks to everyone else in the Philippines whether friends or family of Zab’s for accepting me and treating me as a friend or part of the family.

God Bless all of you <3

 

I do feel fortunate. It’s quite an upheaval to pack the bags and effectively start all over again thousands of miles away from what I considered “home.”

Also fortunate to meet and marry such a wonderful person as Zab.

Home is now here. Okay, my heart is still in the UK to a degree as I still follow events there including the horrific Brexit mess and still closely follow my beloved football team, Liverpool FC.

I repeat, home is now here. I have applied for permanent residency and cannot foresee me ever wishing to go back to live in England.

So, what has happened over the last four years?Β  Well, I got married to Zab for a start.

My writing career got started and is doing fine. I have never been happier in my life.

Of course, this country is still a source of frustration to a foreigner like me. Customer service sucks most of the time but I’ve learned to go with the flow, mostly.Β  The traffic is worse not better.

Trying to get live English football on the TV is still a bit of a nightmare especially since Sky Cable stopped showing it.

But the worst nightmare of all is online transactions using a debit or credit card.Β  I made the big mistake of being honest with my bank. I gave them my Philippines address and a local cell phone/mobile number.

That has caused havoc with the Verified By Visa security system so much so I have had my card declined on numerous occasions. That has eaten into my free Skype minutes as I have needed to call my bank in the UK to confirm it was me making the transaction. Stressful!

The problem lead me to posting in a local Facebook group for retired expats living in the Bacolod area. This is what I wrote:

Any Brits here experienced this or maybe it also applies to retirees here from other countries.

I was happily using my UK bank-issued debit card here online to transfer money and also to pay some bills or for goods and services.

Then recently I was issued with a new card. Since then, I have had nothing but declined payments though my account is in funds.

I naturally contacted my bank and the problem lays with Verified By Visa in the UK. This is due to my card registered to a Phils address (my home) and VBV will not send security text messages to my Globe cell phone.

So, now I am going to change my billing address to my sister’s UK address and also get a UK SIM card so VBV can send me texts.

I’d be interested to know if anyone else had had similar issues and if so, how did they resolve the mighty headache?

Yes, I have a Philippines bank account but I only use it for living expenses. I do not like the idea of paying my pension and other money into a Phils account.

Thanks in advance for any helpful comments πŸ™‚

All the answers were helpful and some educational. In the latter category, one guy wrote:

I have the same problem with PayPal, they only send security sms to my previous SIM-card that’s been lost for more than one year and they refuse to change it to a Philippines number.

In Sweden we use a mobile app called bank-id, it works as long as you have internet, no matter where you are or what cellphone number you are using, all our banks use the same app.

I wish all banks used a similar app. It would make life much simpler.

Anyway, I found the solution:

  1. Use my sister’s address in the UK with her permission
  2. Buy a UK +44 SIM card to use in my phone to receive VBV security text message or OTP’s.
  3. Start using TransferWise to transfer my money from the UK to my Philippines bank account

I recently wrote about TransferWise on my author website to assist other authors who receive royalty payments in more than one currency [it is also a great company for expats to use in switching money from one country to another] and I reproduce it below:

The company is called TransferWise. As for Payoneer, the company I used before, I have now ditched them. There were too many restrictions and their customer service sucks.

Before I explain who TransferWise are and how it works, please take a look at the image below.

KDP royalties in foreign currencies

That’s grabbed from my KDP dashboard. As you can see, I’m now set up to receive separate payments to three different bank accounts in three separate currencies: GBP, USD, and EUR.

That’s great as I now do not suffer at the hands of currency conversion for those currencies. The only currencies that are omitted are the Japanese Yen, and the Australian and Canadian dollar. That’s no big deal as I sell few books in those marketplaces.

I do sell most of my books in the UK market followed by the US in second place. I also have my Audible audiobook royalties (always in USD) paid into my TransferWise US account.

This way of receiving my money is painless, safe, and costs me next to nothing. TransferWise (TW) make it simple to transfer from any one of my TW accounts into another one or any of my other accounts with banks either in the UK or in the Philippines where I now live.

So, I now only pay the market rate currency conversion once when I transfer money from one of my TW accounts into an account with a different currency, as opposed to at least twice: (a) when foreign currency royalties are paid in to an account with a different currency and (b) subsequent transfers out of one currency into another currency account.

Opening a TW account is simple. If you decide it’s for you, may I ask you to use this link when opening the account. I’m not an affiliate but I will receive a small bonus if you use it to open an account and make a first deposit of Β£200 (or the equivalent, I guess).

This is what they say about the referral scheme on their website:

Get money when you refer a friend!

Every friend that you invite to TransferWise will receive a discount on their first transfer. We’ll reward you for inviting a bunch of friends, too.

We have lots of different rewards for spreading the word about TransferWise. For example, with one program in the UK, you’ll get Β£50 once 3 invited friends make a qualifying payment of at least Β£200 each.

That’s it! Start inviting your friends now!

My advice – try it and you will be delighted. Then you will start making your own referrals.

If you would like to know more about the company, her is a video explaining how it all works.

Alternatively, here is a link to their website if you wish to read more.

They already have more than 4 Million customers worldwide and it’s one hundred percent safe as it’s regulated by the FCA.

I almost forgot – they also offer a MasterCard in many countries they operate in.

I hope you enjoyed my four-year review. Salamat!

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. I’ll be passing this on!

  2. GP passed this on to me. Glad you like my home country. I read so many articles about the Philippines lately that at times, I thought of retiring there but can’t make up my mind. My brother owns a place in Cebu and is thinking of retiring there after his wife (a Cebuana) retires next year. Transferring money there can be a nightmare. Glad you finally solve your problem.

    • Transferring money from one country to another presents all kinds of problems mainly because of money laundering regulations.
      But once you set up the TransferWise account it’s easy to use and low cost.
      I love your country despite some of the different attitudes to things like customer service and the driving indiscipline.
      But I have learned how to chill and enjoy life.

I would love to hear from you

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