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Our Balikbayan Journey 2019 – 3

Our Balikbayan Journey 2019 – 3

My wife and I are on our annual balikbayan trip and we are in Singapore ready for the return flight.  We were the first ones to the gate because we were there 4 hours early.  Eventually, it got full around there and the flight even left about 15 minutes early.  Our seats to Clark were the same seats we had going to Singapore.  It was a different plane, but the same airline (AirAsia), just the same seats (3B, 3C).  It was a nice flight, but I’m glad it wasn’t very long.  I was already so tired from not sleeping very much at the airport.  I just wanted to get back to Clark, get stamped in and head for the hotel to sleep.

When we arrived Lita got her wheelchair because her hip was still hurting and she just can’t walk very far anyway.  It’s a good thing too because the walk was further than we anticipated.  When we got to Immigration it seems that we got the same guy as we had when we left the Philippines.  I didn’t notice, but Lita did.  I don’t pay that much attention to the guys, but if it would have been one of the lady Immigration Officers, I probably would have noticed.  So this was the same guy that, when he checked our passports upon leaving, noticed it was our last day in balikbayan status.  When checking in he asked me why I don’t get a 13a Visa.  I didn’t really have a good answer for him, except that I didn’t really mind leaving once a year.  Anyway, we got our balikbayan marked in our passports so we are good for another year now.

When we got to the taxi outside, they wanted P500 to go to our hotel.  I thought that was a bit high and complained but I was overruled by Lita.   I thought P400 was the going rate.  Come to find out later that the guy pushing her wheelchair told her that I should not be complaining so much in public.  It could be dangerous.  Well, from my perspective, taxi drivers are always trying to rip off tourists and if you don’t complain things may never change.  I’ll have another example of that in two or three paragraphs.

At the hotel, one of the first things I did was ask the lady behind the counter what the going rate was for taxis to and from the airport.  Her answer?  P400.

We got our room, close to the front, and decided to have a light meal before going to bed.  We were there only 1 night and was leaving early in the morning.  I don’t remember what Lita had, but I had a ham & cheese omelet with extra ham and water to drink.  After we got to the room we crashed and pretty much slept until around 4 am.  We had a wake-up call at 5 am, but, as usual, it was not necessary.

Instead of taking a taxi to the airport, we took our first Grab.  It was way cheaper than the taxis, P150 vs P400.  Definitely something I will check out more in the future, along with Uber.  

Upon arrival in Tacloban, we needed to get a taxi to the Grand Tours depot.  One of the baggage handlers asked if we wanted to rent a van all the way to Calbayog for P4000.  We declined.  After we got in the van to go to Grand Tours, Lita asked the driver how much to rent the van for the day.  He said P3500.  So we did.   She had him stop at 4 different places before we got home so all in all it was worth the price.  It was still a long ride though.  I think she ended up paying him P4000 anyway, with the tip.  He did help us out quite a bit, so I had no complaints about it. 

When we got back we were so tired.  We both fell asleep shortly after arrival.  I went to sleep first.  Neneng had just changed the sheets on the bed the day before and it was all nice and fresh. 

We do have to head back to Angeles/Manila in early November to go to the Embassy.  I’ll have a post on that little adventure also.

Salamat Y’all   


  1. UJ,

    Howdy UJ, I figured you would have done the 13A visa by now also, vice scrambling to find flights etc and a hotel for a night or two in order to get that balikbayan stamp. From what I can gather, total cost to get the 13A will run about $420 bucks plus or minus a few bucks for those hidden tax stamp fees the gov always charges there. After you get the 13A, it’s good for a year, then renewal and good for 5 years at a pop after that, just required to check in with the local immigration office once a year, until the 5 year mark is up then renewal again. As we only go there about once every 5 years or so, the BB visa works fine for us cause we usually only stay about a month, then head back to tornado alley here in Oklahoma. I did however cancel this years trip just out of a feeling, the last 2 times we went there, my house here in Oklahoma was almost wiped out and had baseball size holes in my roof and busted windows etc by tornadoes and I got to watch it with about a 2 or 3 hour delay all on the local TV channels there, talk about a gut wrencher ..yikes !!

    John D.

    • John D what part of OK do you live in? I own house in North Tulsa which was own by parents built in 1923 and it seems tornadoes by pass it. Only problem is during Ice Storms when trees start falling down but knock on wood the big walnut tree growing next to it has never fell on house. My brother lives in the house and I still have relatives which live all over Oklahoma. I hated the weather in Oklahoma when growing up why as soon as I turned 17 got the hell out and never looked back. Why I decided to Retire in Southern Calif. I go back once in a while just to check up on house and visit relatives but after 2 weeks the wife is ready to leave and get back to California.

      • George,
        I live in Moore OK, the tornadoe bulls eye of OK haha. Know exactly what your talking about, the ice storms and tornadoes etc. We do have a walk in tornadoe shelter in the garage and lost all our trees to an ice storm about 4 years ago which i was glad to see happen cause i hated it when they leaves srarted falling in the fall, took me 2 or 3 days to clean em all up. I feel the same way about southern calif as you do about OK, spent a lot time there in the military around San Deigo, and being raised in central texas, calif just wasn’t my cup of tea. The military brought me here from virginia 26 years ago and i retired 2 years later and decided due mostly to the decent cost of living and the place didn’t rely on one major industry to support the local economy and jobs market is always good. Not that I’m fully retiring next year we decided to stay here as it makes no sense to pick up roots and start over someplace else.

        • John D
          I think I have relatives living in Moore I know a bunch still live all over OK city. If you want to contact me to BS some more you can E-mail me at,com. UJ might not like for us to be using his site talking about other things.

          • I love it when people talk to each other about Space-A things on here, but, yeah, I’d prefer you to talk about “other things” in “other places”.

    • I’ve considered the 13a Visa, but I don’t think I can get it unless my wife declares dual-citizenship. She doesn’t want to do that for some reason of her own. We actually had a discussion about it yesterday and she seems to be caving in a little bit because she’s getting older and tired of having to travel out. Maybe soon it will all come together. I figure that with a 13a we could still travel but whenever we feel like it not because we have to.

      • UJ have you checked into what catch 22 there are in being Duel Citizen? If Lita would also have to carry 2 Passports when Traveling entering and leaving the Philippines? Also if your require to file income Tax with both IRS and BIR?

        • I think one of her issues is about the income tax. Carrying 2 passports is not a problem. I’m sure dual-citizens do it all the time. She said something about once she hits 70 that she doesn’t have to worry anymore. I’ll have to check into all that.

Texan in the Philippines