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For Our Parents Who Are Far Away

Random Access Memory Two: My family are all far away from me. I miss them a lot, but I have plenty of memories and creating more everyday by constantly communicating to them. I am grateful for Ash, who’s there to share the burden of life with me. I am grateful for my brother, who allows me to be a kid sometimes. But without my parents, I won’t have Ash or my brother. My parents. This is an open letter for you.

Sundays, I FaceTime you, and you always smile when you see me onscreen, like I am something to behold despite my puffy morning face, unruly hair and grumpy demeanor. You are always there, cheering me on, telling me how you’re so proud of me even when I constantly say this is nothing to be proud of because I think I can do so much more. You remind me of the good things yet to come whenever my resolve fades and tears flow down. You tell me that I’ll see everyone soon enough when I miss you. The script changes. The only constant is that you smile whenever you see my face, rain or shine.

Both of you did this before I even realised how much it affects me as a person. Whenever I tried any endeavour, big or small: drawing at 4, badminton at 10, painting at 15, and passing med school tests at 21. You always smile, even if all these endeavours ended up in failure.

You sheltered me from the pain of failure, yet you pushed me. You let me try everything and anything, because you know I’ll be okay. I have you. I tried everything.

You worked hard, trying to balance our lives. You always put us, me and my brother, first. You were both extremely selfless adults, making sure that the children succeeded as much as possible, getting us all the tools we needed, all the books we wanted to read, all the experiences we craved even if we didn’t have much. You never complained about it all. You smiled and said, we’ll do it.

Actually, I never heard you complain about how expensive we are as your children. Now that I work, I can’t even begin to imagine how much money you invested in us, but I am forever thankful you did it.

You taught me that life is a win some, lose some game, and I can do whatever I want for I have time to learn. You have, time and time again, told me that life is all about learning to be better, that failure is never an option because failure is never there in the first place. It’s always a “price of information”.

Thank you mama and papa for never giving up on me. If I feel successful, you celebrate it with me, and when I feel like a failure, you always remind me that I can do better next time, maybe in a span of 24 hours (tomorrow is a new day, you’d say).

Thank you for listening to me rant. Thank you for letting me borrow your money and credit cards. Thank you for letting me be and trusting me with my own thoughts and life. Thank you for accepting my man as your own son.

Thank you for lovingly bitch slapping me when I needed to be bitch slapped. You provided me with the best possible experiences (good and bad) when I was growing up, which allowed me to dream. Thank you for letting me dream and equipping me to reach my dreams, which I am living now.

My dreams are getting bigger, and I know I will reach it because I know how it feels to live in it, thanks to you.

I can never thank you enough, Mama and Papa, but you mean more to me than you’ll ever know.

Thank you for reading. Please click this link to show some love!

Requirements for a visa (for family members of EU citizen)

freedom of movement in the EU

For a visa to be issued on the basis of Directive 2004/38/EC, only the following requirements need to be satisfied:

  1. The visa applicant is a direct “family member” of an EU citizen and has proof  (marriage or birth certificate or some combination) of the relationship)
  2. The visa applicant will be travelling with, or joining, the EU citizen for a visit or permanent move to an EU member state.  (If they are going to the “home” country of the EU citizen, then there can be a requirement that the EU citizen had previously lived/worked in a different member state)
  3. All travellers require a passport (or a national ID card for the EU citizen)

These are the legal requirements for all of the EU/EEA member states, including all Schengen members, the UK, Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria.  They also apply for Switzerland

If the family member has a “Residence Card for…

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What’s It Like To Be an Introverted Teacher

After our professional development training last Wednesday, one local teacher (Indonesian) asked me why I don’t hang out with my Filipino colleagues. Told her the truth: “I don’t want to, it’s draining sometimes.” It’s not exclusive to Filipinos by the way. I regularly turned down party invites back in Thailand, because, well. I like spending time with my boy and clean the house (I kid you not).

It’s not their fault, nor mine. It’s just I do get drained when I hang out with people, especially those who don’t get it. Sometimes it can even be like “go away”. I’m an introvert and possibly the most boring woman you’ll ever know.

Don’t get me wrong, I love people. I am not shy too. I can razzle dazzle people in presentations. I can host a party. I can party! I hold an interesting, long conversation. My colleagues think I’m funny and bubbly. Hell, I am a teacher, which gives me an opportunity to be in front of the crowd for seven solid hours everyday. However, I have to say, it can tiring. I don’t hang around after school most of the time, by home time, I pack my bag and leave the room to head home because nothing beats the freedom of being able to lounge around in your undies while lying on the couch, eating chocolate coated digestives. Do yoga. Meditate. Work out.

What’s the difference between introversion and shyness? According to Susan Cain, “Introversion is really about having a preference for lower stimulation environments. So it’s just a preference for quiet, for less noise, for less action. Whereas extroverts really crave more stimulation in order to feel at their best. Many people believe that introversion is about being antisocial, and that’s really a misperception. Because actually it’s just that introverts are differently social. So they would prefer to have a glass of wine with a close friend as opposed to going to a loud party full of strangers. Now, shyness, on the other hand, is about a fear of negative social judgment. So you can be introverted without having that particular fear at all, and you can be shy but also be an extrovert”

My brother and I talked recently and he was moaning about how people get to waste his time by “doing them a favor by saying yes when they ask you to hang out with them and end up sacrificing some beliefs or protocol when it comes to social situations” or basically saying “I don’t like what you’re doing, I’ll just go home now to surf the net”. He claims people think that going out with friends and family is a great fun thing but no, not for him (for us). We’d rather be at home with our books, internet and laptop.

I am grateful that my boyfriend is the same. We get each other (I think we are meant to be together because of this!) and we have the same needs. I don’t mind when the house gets quiet too as we need the peace, some alone time, but because a strange twist of fate called love, my alone time has to be punctuated with his presence, or at least, his voice filling up the room when we call each other. He is the extension of myself, my thoughts – he is the icing on the cake of my alone time.

BONUS!

Quiet Quiz: Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?
Excerpted from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

To find out where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, answer each question True or False, choosing the one that applies to you more often than not.

1. ______ I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.

2. ______ I often prefer to express myself in writing.

3. ______ I enjoy solitude.

4. ______ I seem to care about wealth, fame, and status less than my peers.

5. ______ I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.

6. ______ People tell me that I’m a good listener.

7. ______ I’m not a big risk-taker.

8. ______ I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions.

9. ______ I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.

10. ______ People describe me as “soft-spoken” or “mellow.”

11. ______ I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished.

12. ______ I dislike conflict.

13. ______ I do my best work on my own.

14. ______I tend to think before I speak.

15.______ I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.

16. ______I often let calls go through to voice mail.

17. ______If you had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.

18. ______ I don’t enjoy multitasking.

19. ______ I can concentrate easily

20. ______ In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.

The more often you answered True, the more introverted you are. This is an informal quiz, not a scientifically validated personality test. The questions were formulated based on characteristics of introversion often accepted by contemporary researchers.

From Quiet by Susan Cain. Copyright 2012 by Susan Cain.

That Expat Title

According to my handy dictionary, expat is an adjective that means living in a foreign land.

The previous article I posted doesn’t ring true for me. I am a Filipino expat because I’m living in a country other than the Philippines. People around me here call me an expat. My classification in school is an “expat”. I’m no immigrant. I get expat treatment like my American colleagues. If we enjoy the same privileges, I won’t know but I’d like to think so. Although according to my experience, I am wary now.

At which point that article rings true for me now. The title “expat” isn’t the issue here. It’s the indirect racism. The word “expat” is used sparingly with coloured people because it has superiority attached to it, and whether we like it or not, especially in places where it was colonized by Westerners, which are, bluntly speaking, the Third World countries (they colonize us and they won’t let us in their countries via visa restrictions – funny).

The word denotes privilege. When I was a child, I grew up in a place where expats outnumber the locals, so being an expat wasn’t different. I grew up with a consciousness that foreigners are locals though: my neighbors were Germans, Japanese, Canadians, etc. My parents were sort of local expats though, and they were in a tough spot: they were not from the same island as the locals. They didn’t know anyone, and since they came from the capital Manila, they spoke Tagalog which is deemed more superior than the dialect. They do not have the same values as the locals and that made them stand out, and standing out in a sea of similar-looking people sharing the same kind of ethnicity is a breeding ground for jealousy and backbiting. My parents did not want to retire there.

See when you are uprooted from your hometown or home country, the leaders (or at least the smart people) understand that you have no support being an import. No family, no house, no friends. You have to adjust to new cultures, new places, new food; maybe even time zones. It’s not easy. So managers/leaders give out “perks” like housing, settlement allowances, earlier home time and holiday allowances to compensate the lack. You are treated to first class facilities and treated to the best parties because your host is showing off his country. You are most probably in the company of leaders and movers in the industry themselves because, well, leaders have to move places to move people and companies. And locals only see the “perks” because they want it, too.

And in Asia, whether we like to admit it or not, the culture of caste system is very much alive, thanks to having centuries of colonial rule. Colonial rule meant having the white people (colonizers) being superior, and more powerful. The natives don’t have ANYTHING. Now you know why Asians have the penchant for skin whitening products. All if it, even the concept of beauty, boils down to power.

So if an Asian comes over to work on a white country, I would understand the discrepancy of the white-coloured labeling of expat: do you want your slave to have that power? What’s worse is that the Westerners don’t label the Asians like that. It’s the Asians who label their fellow Asians. The Asians, with our very strange non-confrontational, everything-is-okay-but-you’re-treated-like-shit culture, can be very difficult to deal with because of this ingrained racism.

I am lucky because I can speak Engish better than most people here, if not, my dark skin and curly hair would have proved to be a disadvantage, because, hey, I look like a real Asian – not worthy to have “perks”.

Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants?

This article originally appeared in The Guardian

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In the lexicon of human migration there are still hierarchical words, created with the purpose of putting white people above everyone else. One of those remnants is the word “expat”.

What is an expat? And who is an expat? According to Wikipedia, “an expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (‘out of’) and patria (‘country, fatherland’)”.

Defined that way, you should expect that any person going to work outside of his or her country for a period of time would be an expat, regardless of his skin colour or country. But that is not the case in reality; expat is a term reserved exclusively for western white people going to work abroad.

Africans are immigrants. Arabs are immigrants. Asians are immigrants. However, Europeans are expats because they can’t be at the same level as other ethnicities. They are superior. Immigrants is a term set aside for ‘inferior races’.

Don’t take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal, the leading financial information magazine in the world, has a blog dedicated to the life of expats and recently they featured a story ‘Who is an expat, anyway?’. Here are the main conclusions: “Some arrivals are described as expats; others as immigrants; and some simply as migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status. It’s strange to hear some people in Hong Kong described as expats, but not others. Anyone with roots in a western country is considered an expat … Filipino domestic helpers are just guests, even if they’ve been here for decades. Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese are rarely regarded as expats … It’s a double standard woven into official policy.”

The reality is the same in Africa and Europe. Top African professionals going to work in Europe are not considered expats. They are immigrants. Period. “I work for multinational organisations both in the private and public sectors. And being black or coloured doesn’t gain me the term “expat”. I’m a highly qualified immigrant, as they call me, to be politically correct,” says an African migrant worker.

Most white people deny that they enjoy the privileges of a racist system. And why not? But our responsibility is to point out and to deny them these privileges, directly related to an outdated supremacist ideology. If you see those “expats” in Africa, call them immigrants like everyone else. If that hurts their white superiority, they can jump in the air and stay there. The political deconstruction of this outdated worldview must continue.

Mawuna Remarque Koutonin is the editor of SiliconAfrica.com, where this blog was first published. Follow @siliconafrica on Twitter.

Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow@GuardianGDP on Twitter.

McDonald’s Is Home

There is nothing more ubiquitous in the world like McDonald’s. It’s everywhere, it’s everyone’s favourite, and it’s amazing. It may be scoffed upon by “foodists” but I don’t care. McDonald’s is a refuge from all things strange and unwelcome.

Why the sudden love for McDonald’s today, you ask?

Well, I was supposed to post an article about my assessment style but it didn’t feel right. I was preparing to leave this house tonight, cleaning the fridge and whatnot when my boyfriend woke up and I took advantage of it by spending some quality time with him before he got back to sleep. I missed him yesterday. I have this thing where I just have to speak with him daily or else I feel bad, like I didn’t do my duty; I missed out on fun kinda thing. I genuinely miss him, and it’s hard with time zones, especially if you’re both tired from a grueling work week. You may say that it’s too much, the daily dose of him, but it works for us, and that’s how it is.

Anyway, I was lying in bed waking up from a nap and thought how lucky I was to have been served breakfast in bed two years ago, by him. Or how we would have breakfast in the Malaysian border when we went for visa runs. All of them having Egg McMuffins. Or how we would have lunch at the mall over Fillet-O-Fish.  I keep imagining how it would be like when we are together, how we have so many memories together.

There is a McDonald’s here in this neighborhood and if Ash were here I’m pretty sure where we will go during our midnight cravings. I never went once. It kinda feels sacrilegious to go there without him.

But that’s it. I think. You never really go to McDonald’s because you want food, especially delicious food. You go there because it’s convenient and it is home, meaning, it’s familiar and you have had lots of memories in it. It is actually a place where you make memories – from your high school saving up your allowance to buy a CD dinner stops, to medschool McDonald’s midnight cramming, to romantic breakfasts with the love of your life, that fastfood is always there.

It’s always close to you, it’s always fresh, it’s always clean, and it’s always cheap; You go from Naga, Manila, Bangkok to Hatyai, Malaysia to Indonesia, it’s all the same. Like an airport, McDonald’s is a neutral ground. You almost have your own McDonald’s decorum that is different from the rest of the shops (if you’re traveling abroad, you might catch yourself letting your guard down in McD’s). I know it doesn’t, but I can almost say it looks after you.

I like how globalisation works like this: in a way that the world gets really tiny, that my McD’s can be your McD’s. We all have that middle ground and it’s not pretentious at all: just solid, usual, fastfood grub.

I am going back home to the Philippines in a few hours, and trust me, I think I’ll find myself in a McDonald’s later. I am not excited about it, to be honest. I want my man to be with me more than ever but hey, what I’m doing is for us anyway. However, someday, I wish that we will continue our McD’s ritual. It’s fun, down-to-earth and yeah, feels like home.

Job Hunting: How To Make Your CV Stand Out

Job hunting is a tedious task, especially if you are tailoring each application for very specific positions. Whilst you have to present your best in a matter of a single (or two) pieces of paper, there are some things that you have to remember when you submit your CV.

They say it only takes 20 seconds for an employer to decide whether your CV is for the bin or not. Unfortunately, that is true. My mother has been an HR Department Head for an international organization for long time in her career, and she confirmed this.

Lucky for me, I got her to teach me how to stand out from the pile of applicants. Here are some things that mama knows, and trust me, even if some of these points seem to be common sense, you will be surprised on the quality of CVs she received.

Use a single, standard photo

Choose a photo that would be your default one, no matter how you’re tailoring your job hunt is. You don’t need to stand in front of a black board if you’re applying for a teacher, or behind a shop counter if you wanted to participate in sales. Choose an ID picture quality photograph because that’s what it is – identification. Boring white background for the picture? You bet. It’s the first thing that the employer sees so you better make the right impression.

Use a professional-sounding email

If your email is cottontail55@yahoo.com, well, employers will think that you don’t make an effort to be professional, or at least, change from personal to work email, which is worse. You’re definitely not making a good impression here.

Research on the company you’re working for

At this point, you’ll show dedication and resourcefulness to your future employer then. Tailoring your cover letter is a serious task so do some research on the company, on your head of office. Figure out how you can link your skills and experiences so that you know you’re a perfect fit. Be personal and use the name of the person you’re addressing to rather than stick to the usual “Dear Sir/Madam”. It all helps.

Practice brevity

Keep it short and sweet, as employers don’t have time for bullshit – they don’t need to know you’ve won Spelling Bee 2003 in Barangay Santa Cruz. Make sure the information you put in is relevant and job-related. Make it easier for the employer to have a one page CV and letter. My mom says CV is like a trailer of the movie – the interview is the more important part to decide if you’re a perfect fit.

Attach files

And also, name it correctly. I am guilty of this. After spending A LOT OF TIME tailoring my cover letters, I sometimes forget to attach my CV. I am so lucky that gmail has that command to remind you if you forgot to attach something. Helps a lot!

That’s it. Short and sweet so as not to take your time if you’re looking for a job. Good luck!

Acquiring A Schengen Visa: Proof of Financial Capability Part 1, Funds Transfer

Getting a Schengen Visa is not a walk in the park. It involves serious strategic planning for those not coming from US, UK, Canada, NZ/Aus, especially if you don’t have a residence permit in Indonesia (but working) — meaning you can’t have a bank account.

Now Schengen requirements state that I have to have proof of financial capability to show that you can support yourself while in the EU (for Spain you would need €64, 53/day times the total duration of the stay times the total of the applicants. The total is €580, 77 per person for the duration of less than 9 days [data from Spanish embassy]; for Portugal it’s €40.00 per day plus €75.00 per entry into the country [data from Portuguese embassy]). Bank statements must show the name and address of owner(s). Electronic printouts are accepted; proof of regular income, e.g. pay slips of the last three months;. ! That means payslips (check), bank transaction slips (no banking activity here, so nope), OR bank certificates (nope). I’m screwed, but not royally. I have an active bank account in the Philippines so hey, I’ll wire my money there! Ha, but I can’t have a bank certificate because the bank needs my “personal appearance” in order to do it and also logistically, I can’t withdraw my money because my debit card is expired.

What do I do? Go bank to where the banks are: Philippines. I’ll do that next week, hoooray! Progress for my Schengen Visa!

I had 40 million Rupiahs this morning. I don’t want to [physically] carry it to me to the because: a) it’s too risky (what if my bag got lost, what if someone picked my pocket, what if what if what if!), b) it’s too bulky c) I don’t know if Philippine Foreign Exchange Counters would have a favorable exchange rate for the Rupiah; I know we had a hard time exchanging the currency in Thailand. And I’m sure black markets who have a really good rate for these kinds of transactions, won’t have the Rupiah exchange readily available.

I was also thinking of just bringing cash to Sokarno Hatta International Airport and have the Currency Exchange Counter there exchange my bills, but I doubt if they will welcome my Rp 40M transaction. Maybe they will, I don’t know, but I don’t want to risk it because I only have 4 days in the Philippines and I don’t want to waste any time on doubts, second thoughts. and Rupiah-Dollar-Peso hunting in case the airport guy tells me I can only exchange Rp 10M for the day. I want to arrive with all my papers ready to sign and cards waiting to be picked up (heads up to UnionBank for excellent customer service, I have been transacting business with my banker globally via iMessage, I highly recommend it).

So what I thought was to wire money to my account. I went to the bank here, BCA, which was conveniently located in front of my grocery shopping mecca. I messaged my banker in the Philippines. She said she was in a meeting and will get back to me later. So I messaged my mother (second time today, the first time was I told her I was resting because I was having a weird, flu-like attack and she told me to go out and finish this bank business “it would do you well not to think you’re ill”, she said) telling her that I need to know the details of her bank account so that she can be my dummy in this whole affair.

Now I’d like to think I know banking, money and how the commerce works. I have been signing checks, checking SWIFT codes, wiring money and negotiating (impossible rates lol) with banks and tellers for my parents ever since they decided I can do so, and that was when I was 16. So ten years experience with tough Philippine banking under my belt gives me confidence to saunter and make my chaching speeches in banks (given they speak English).

So mother. Dummy. Clearing time for international wiring for the Philippines takes 2-4 days because it’s a “slow country” (Thailand isn’t a slow country so it’s instant, that’s why I love it there) by international banking classification. I timed it, today is actually an opportune time for me to transact the wire, as it can be received on Friday and they can wire it to my name via Western Union on Monday morning when I arrive Manila. I can then withdraw the money from Western Union from China Bank (next door to UnionBank in The Fort), and deposit it to my account; have my banker furnish me my bank certificate, boom. Part one of banking journey done!

My mother denied my request. She told me not to use her account because “it’s from Bank of the Philippine Islands”, meaning it would take 1 week for the bank to clear it because they don’t have any international partners except Wells Fargo, so it would use at least 3 banks to process the wire, meaning it will cost time and money. What a crappy diplomatic system this bank has. So I told my mother “screw it, I’ll Western Union this to myself!” and she replied, “Isn’t that money laundering?!”

Fucking hell, who launders Rp 40M?! Really??

But of course, respect for my mama wins, and she makes sense, I don’t wanna get jailed for money laundering too, over Rp 40M, just play it safe, I told myself.

She suggested to wire it to her, I’m like okay cool, but I have to pay Rp 750,000 so I have to readjust my budget. Wait. So while recomputing my budget (I tend to be very organized with the ins and outs of my money and be pretty strict about it), she messaged, “can’t you just bring in cash? I’m sure the customs won’t look at you, you don’t have $10,000 anyway” and $10, 000 is the maximum hand carry-able cash you can have to enter (I think) ANY country. And I told her my worries about the Rupiah – Peso conversion hunt which I don’t really have time to be concerned about.

Then chaching moment! I thought of a solution that was GLARING. SIMPLE. SMART. EFFICIENT.

It reminded me of A’s story about how the Native Americans didn’t see the ships of Europeans getting near the shore because they are not expecting to see it there.

Me: “Ma, I’ll just buy US dollars.”

Ma: “Yeah, you better, it’s easier hahahahaha”

Me: “Puta! It’s that simple, I feel so stupid”

Ma: “Money matters and banking do that”

In the end, that’s what I did. And I earned! Instead of RP 12,930 that xe.com reported as the rate, I got Rp 13, 230 for $1 rate. Not that it greatly matters but I know that a cent counts in these kinds of transactions. They ended up rounding my Rupiahs to $3,000 and returning an excess of Rp 630, 000. I will encash that in the airport currency exchange kiosk when I get there. So I signed a ton of paperwork speaking sadikit of Bahasa Inggris, waited for at least thirty minutes and then boom. Got what I wanted. Happy days! Man I never felt so accomplished haha! It’s the little things.

Next step, Philippines.

Cost of Living: Manila

We started with Thailand, now we are going to the Philippines to sustain this cost of living articles. Manila, the country’s capital, isn’t very popular to backpackers nor expats. I think this is because of the geographical location: It’s a ballache to go to the Philppines. You have to fly and fights are costly.

However, Manila is very different to the rest of Southeast Asia because of this coincidence. It’s the only catholic country and it is far more “Anglocized” than the rest of its neighbors, meaning, you can’t make money as an English teacher here. Maybe that’s also the reason why we don’t have a lot of backpackers.

It’s also a bit costly. When the boyfriend and I were living there, we did not save anything even if we had the Thailand lifestyle (most often that not anyway) where we eat out mor because we did not have a fully functional kitchen. Here goes!

Thank you to Ajarn.com by the way for inspiring this post.

Currency references: 33 Baht to one US Dollar
50 Baht to one Pound Sterling
37 Baht to one Euro
25 Baht to one Australian Dollar
0.74 Baht to one Philippine Peso

Working in Manila, PH

Monthly Earnings: 38,200

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I took home around 38,200 baht a month from my job as a Teaching Assistant in a British School in Paranaque, Metro Manila.I assisted EYFS, KS1 and KS2 classes.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

Before I met A, I saved 12 to 15k a month. When we got together, we splurged on food and halved expenses with him. We lived life in Makati restaurants and Salcedo Village, so none. Haha!

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I rented a room with its own bathroom for 7,500. The payment included electric and water bills. The room is a tiny 7sq meter thing.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

P1000 to P4000 a month, depending on how late I wake up in the morning. P4000 a month if I take a cab, and P1000 if I take the MRT or bus – not recommended. I use the cab. With A, we use the cab too, so P4000 a month.

b) Utility bills

As mentioned earlier, bills were part of my rent. A’s bills were paid for by the school as he was an expat. I usually pay P2000 for internet though, with wifi (dongle).

c) Food – both restaurants and supermarket shopping

P6000 because I put a P1500 budget every week. Sometimes it reaches to P10000 though. I never scrimp on food.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Oh this cost a lot as we probably have an average expenditure of P2000 per night out and we went out a lot! Maybe 15,000. Jesus Christ. Ridic!

e) Books, computers

Zero expenses because… piracy!

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

EXPENSIVE AS F*UCK. I won’t be back here.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real ‘bargain’ here?

Erm, friendship? LOL probably electronics and electronic services like repairs and open-lining your phones. Greenbelt is heaven for those kinda stuff.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

For the Philippines I think P75,000 would be comfortable. P50,000 is fine, but there will be cutbacks. If you are an expat I think P150k should be your minimum because apartments here like the one A had in Makati (normal, 35 sq meter studio) cost P75000 per month to rent! Ridiculous!