Visiting the Philippines – Be Careful (Part Two) – Money Risks
If you are in an Australian Filipina relationship, inevitably you will visit Philippines at least once. It’s all part of the deal, as it were. Apart from the fact that you need to meet in person to get a visa (not just partner visas, but you won’t have any success in getting a tourist visa from Philippines to Australia if you haven’t met in person yet), you also need to see how she lives if you want to understand her. Filipinas and Philippines culture are intertwined. She’s not just a short Aussie girl with a great suntan. She is most definitely Filipina, and that means to understand her properly you need to try to understand the Philippines.
So yes, you need to visit. And you need to make sure you’re safe by being aware of some of the dangers. This time we’ll look at money risks, dangers and sources of scams.
Money Risks – Rich man in poor country
We’ve discussed this indepth in other BLOG posts, but it never hurts to revisit. Even if you just work as a clerk in the bank in Australia, in the Philippines you are a rich man. So you will always be a target for scams and for theft. Someone will want what you have! And you will not blend in! In Australia, you can walk down the road anywhere and nobody takes any notice of you. You are not in Australia, mate! You stick out like dogs proverbials here!
Issue is that you need to look at yourself differently, and know that you are a target. You are a bag of money on spotty white legs! Whilst the majority of people here are extremely kind, caring and giving….there are plenty of those in whom desperation has replaced morality and they will scam you or rob you in a heartbeat. Be aware, and be on your guard!
Guard your valuables and guard your passport
If you lose your passport, you won’t get on a plane out of here. You will need to get to the Australian Embassy and organise an emergency one. Couldn’t tell you how long this will take, as I’ve never had to do it. But you may be stuck for a bit. Don’t hand it over to anybody for anything! Hotels will want to see it for ID purposes, but don’t let it out of your sight!
Cash Money? Don’t count it in plain sight of anyone. And never bring everything you have with you when you go out. Only take what you think you will spend on that day. The rest, leave in the hotel room safe. Or better still, leave it in the bank! Withdraw from the ATM what you need! Unless you’re seriously in the boondocks, you will find ATMs around which are on the Maestro or Cirrus in most places.
On ATM’s? Two things! 1. Card scanners! These things will read your card number and PIN number. Stick to major banks and ATM machines that are in plain sight! Avoid any independent machines or anything that looks dodgy, as it may have been “modified”. 2. Watch who is watching you. Don’t count your money where anyone can see, and don’t walk back from the ATM to the hotel down a dark street. Exercise some caution.
And on ATM cards and credit cards? I always left them with my passport in the hotel safe. If someone steals your ATM card or credit card and you can’t get money, you have a problem on your hands.
With any money issue, be aware of the limitations of Embassy support. They will NOT loan you money. They will NOT get you a plane ticket! You run out of money, and you are on your own!
Being too trusting
I’ve learned a few things over the years. I used to be as trusting here as I always was in Australia, now I’m more careful. There are three areas where you need to be cautious.
As above, you are a rich man in a poor country. This makes you a target. Are Filipinos terrible people? Most definitely not! Most are the kindest and most caring people you could find anywhere. However there are those whom, mostly driven by desperation, will happily rob or scam you. These could be strangers, such as hotel staff who will go through your suitcase in your room, to taxi drivers who will overcharge you, to someone in a bar who will slip something nasty into your drink, or even down to the relatives of your Filipina lady who will try to scam you in some way.
It’s perfectly acceptable to say NO, especially if you do so gently with relatives. Beggars in the street, you should be blunter with. We see some very well-fed beggars sometimes, and wonder why they would have fashionable hairdos if they are so hungry. Our preference with kids in particular is to buy them food instead. At least you know it will fill a belly and not go to some scumbag who is using the kids.
This is one none of us expect, and it’s a shock when it first happens. There are down-and-out Westerners here, including Australians. There are those who live week to week because (a) they underestimated living costs here and overestimated their own money-making ability, and/or (b) they lost their fortune to Number Three in my list here. There are Aussies (or yanks, poms, etc) here who are really struggling, and some have no way of getting back home. They can be pretty dangerous actually, especially because you won’t see it coming.
Trusting your Filipina lady
I would say about 15% of our clients make mistakes in their choice of Filipina wife or fiancée. Nothing we can say or do, obviously. Sometimes we can see it from the start, and other times it surprises us too. Some settle here and lose their life savings. House is purchased in her name. Bank account is in her name. Then suddenly she tosses him out, and he ends up with nothing. It happens! Other times the same thing happens in Australia. Or other times, he sends the girl P100,000.00 Pesos a month so she can live in luxury and she has no intentions of going to Australia. She often hits him up with the “sick carabao” stories too, to get a bit extra. Life is great when you have money, and if it means entertaining a trusting bloke for a couple of weeks a few times a year, then so be it.
Once again, be aware of who and what you are here. And be aware that money makes people do bad things. Try to keep it out of the equation as much as you can, and you are more likely to get some sincerity. We have friends and relatives here, both white and not-so-white, and money has never changed hands even once. And Mila never asked for a cent when we were still getting to know each other. It can be done!