What I don't miss about the Philippines

There are a thousands things I miss about the Philippines. The two times I've been there it's like I've never left and that is what home makes us feel. And if home is the Philippines, no matter how much you have always craved for everything that is you, there are things that you just cannot stand anymore once you've tasted & been on the other side.

Traffic & driving in Manila. That's right, what's new? This is the national stamp of the country but when traffic has gotten a little bit better even with the humungous cars, it's the discipline & character of the drivers that made me crazy. When my mom & the driver was hit by another car from behind, the guy had the guts to ask them for 5Kphp when they saw it was an old car, a badly coiffed driver & an old lady. He even death threatened our driver. Don't care about morality, my car is more expensive & you look stupid. In the end, the guy hit & ran our driver when they were supposed to meet in the police station. Then there's the constant "I go first" attitude & nobody just wants to give way. The few times we went to Makati, we were stopped by the police twice on issues of vague rules by the stoplight eg. was there a sign on making a turn on red. And I have almost forgotten how busy the roads are in Manila. In one main road, you can have taxis, jeepneys, buses, people crossing, bicycles on the left lane, pedicabs in the middle lane, motorcycles & scooters, all at the same time, all the possibilities that can happen. And everytime I point out this madness, they always remind me how I handled it before, with craziness as well but I've outgrown this craziness due to lack of practice.

Philippine Government Agencies: BIR - if you can't beat them, join them.
You will never understand what it means to go through them until you've experienced it. Driving licenses, cedulas & the like does not count. We always find someone to do the biggies for us when it comes to the tough guys of BIR. I was left alone with my mom to do one of
those biggies, the form 1801.

For those who had to do the Estate Tax, fear is always the first reaction to it. We know it means big money especially for us common people who has a small piece of land, for privileged people with many pieces of land exactly know what it means, big lawyers & accountants. But our hired humble accountant seemed promising to help us go about the process with the
City Hall & BIR. One dry afternoon, we met her City Hall contact who was in charge of the Tax Declaration. This means the land's zonal value & improvements, apparently a very important part of the process. He then informed us, with a voice almost to a whisper while scanning quickly his surroundings, that the paperwork which will normally amount to 150-170Kphp will cost us 70Kphp. Awe was my first reaction but I thought it was reasonable even without a hint of how much the true amount is. We just want to get it over & done with. We just need to talk it over with the rest of the family then I sincerely thanked him for his help.

After one dinner & a night's sleep, the decision was to go for it. The accountant went her way to start the said paperwork. Like a reeking fish, she came back telling us that her contact raised the amount to 120Kphp. So she took it in her own hands & went straight to BIR coming back with the final amount of 90Kphp. Not only that they were all robbing us blind, they had the audacity to negociate our ignorance & situation. We don't even know who was the most corrupt, the City Hall contact, the BIR or our accountant. This caused a dispute among us & my mom insisted of gathering information among her widowed friends. I felt so bad in thanking these sharks.

One mahjong afternoon at her friend's, she was able t
o collect considerable news & a valuable lesson. Her friend gave us a copy of her form 1801, showed us how to compute & tipped us on the important estate tax table at the back of the form.

In the end, our taxable amount totaled to a negative making us exempted from paying anything at all! Pointing this to our accountant, she tried to debate & convince us of wrong computation & that in the end, it's her first time handling a biggie like the form 1801. My proud mom had the courage now to go to the BIR,
kicking out our accountant, to file our Estate Tax by ourselves.

Arriving at the BIR, there were so little signs except for where things are. I was getting too impatient & embarassed of actually being there without a clue on where to start. The best way is to inquire at the information desk without giving out too much of our file just yet. There is something about the BIR that you just cannot really trust. Fortunately, our file was almost ready except for other documents I don't even know when the lady started asking me more about our background. It made me & my mom realize that we cannot make this clean as much as we want to. There will always be something & we'll end up paying people to make things easier for us. In the end, we rehired our accountant for 20Kphp to go through all the hassle. The valuable lesson is you can never be lily white when it comes to Philippine governement agencies. Corruption is at every level. As we speak, our paperwork is still not yet finished. I've never seen corruption so raw, taking advantage face to face without shame & that went up to 120Kphp. Afterall, the BIR & the Customs are the most corrupt department in the Philippines & it will take many generations to disinfect them.

These & among other things make the Philippines. People see it in their own eyes & complain everyday but nothing is done. People live by it because it's as if there's no other choice to be what it is. Yes, what can we do? That is the spice of the country among the beautiful islands that is home.


From Manila to Paris, then to Marseille & to the Côte d'Azur, now in Singapore, clinging to a map of three worlds, where everything becomes all relative.


  1. OMG. They wanted you to pay 120K?!
    I still can't believe that you had to pay 20K for something that normally wouldn't have cost you. Damn, that just goes to show how corrupt our system is, and how normal it is to all of us. *sigh*

  2. I have clear imagination of the hassles you went through! We always say that "home is where your hearts is" but we when we experience such I could say that it's better for me to leave home especially when we are surrounded by corruption. A virus can be disinfected but I don't think that corruption will be cured not only in the Philippines but I speak on almost every country in the world where corruption is rampant !

    Never mind the traffic (I am getting used to the circulation in Marseilles anyway) samahan mo ba ng bad drivers, maliit na kalye, turnabouts! GRRRRR!

  3. These are the things that will make you hate being home and yet live with it just the same. Corruption? It will never go away.

    I'm glad to see you back. Great posts.

  4. It is disheartening when we encounter corruption in every level of the government. Paano na nga kaya ito mareresolba? Will it ever,ever go away?

  5. Grabe. That's really one thing I hate about our country.. you see, even asking for a new passport, or sending my papers to the embassy to be translated, pati yun, wala akong tiwala.. in fact, i did all the papers for louna to be registered at the phil embassy and learned just recently that she's not registered because i dont know what happened to the papers.. not only the corruption, there's also this rampant inefficiency na sobrang nakakaasar..

    just called up this afternoon and just learned that after the massive damage that the typhoon cosme caused our town.. all prices of construction materials went up - hirap na nga, pahihirapan pa lalo.. ang galing pa nating mag-take advantage ng ibang tao, hayyy..

  6. im glad your back!! :-)

    well, those are the things i hate when I am in Philippines :-( corruption, traffic, corruption and traffic..whew!! kainis

  7. Hi Makis! I found your blog while I was googling for flights from Manila to Marseille.

    I am moving to Marseille this August as a student -- do you have any tips on what airline/route I should take that is the most convenient (I am relocating so probably bringing huge luggage with me!)

    Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it!

  8. I know, Kala! Imagine if nobody helped us, we could have made a big hole in our account!

    Oo nga, Haze, you've been practiced here in Marseille but you still have to try to drive in Manila :) Walang katapat!

    Hi Leah! Great to see you here too!

    That's exactly it,Gina, corruption AT EVERY LEVEL talaga! I don't think it'll be resolved. It's a way of life!

    Ana, I never imagined the hassle talaga in dealing with pinoy paperworks. Corruption, inefficiency & simply a no standard rule on things make it really crazy! You'll see that processing your naturalization in France would be a breeze :)

    Hello Hilda! Ano, di pa tayo nagkikita para makapag wentuhan :) Let's meet up soon!

    Hi Shiela, I've never really tried a lot of airlines. Convenience wise, we always take KLM - Marseille (Marignan), Amsterdam, Manila.Hope you find you find the best route!

  9. Hi Makis!You know what, Makis, before husband and I got married in 2005, we went to Quezon City Hall, there was a lady there that was absolutely rude to us and each time I made an attempt to say something to her with regards to the document we desperately needed, she just turned away!At lunchtime, I bought her donuts with the hope that she'd change. You know what! She did! All of a sudden she started calling me 'Ma'am' and my husband 'Sir.' She smiled and hurried and apologised for the delay! Why the need for a box of donuts to be nice???? Bakit kailangan ng suhol? Also, I had to shell out, maliit lang naman pero it's proof that there's red tape, P300 for the document kasi daw ni-rush nila! Walang receipt yon!

  10. Hi, got here through Geri's blog. Golly, horror story yang kwento mo tungkol sa tax. Dapat laging may abogado o accountant sa pamilya o mga kaibigan, you can't trust other people.

  11. Len! Wow, donuts lang pala katapat! But the corruption in the Philippines has gone to its worse na talaga.

    Have not been blogging lately so I owe you lots of visits :)

    Hi Christianne! I totally agree with you. The thing is we don't have lawyers or accountants in the family within reach. Grabe talaga ang harap harapan na lokohan!

    Thanks for letting me know of your visit!

  12. when my mom hired an accountant to do our Estate Tax Return, the accountant and also the BIR person told us we need to pay P1.8Million pesos!!!

    she fired the accountant and asked the help of a lawyer uncle instead who did the same thing you did. we ended up paying P6,000 instead. it took a month of going to the BIR/City Hall every single day to get the amount reduced. laki ng kick-back noh?

  13. Makis, I thought I left a comment in this entry. What you wrote is really an eyeopener. Sometimes I do wonder why people I know allow themselves to do under the table which only empowers this corrupt governments employess and officials but situations really leaves you without a choice unless we spend the rest of our lives fighting them off for that P120 instead of living our lives. Kudos for not giving in.

  14. OMG, purplegirl! 1.8M!!! It's really crazy. Glad you found the best alternative. 20K for us is still a lot but we didn't have a choice. Thanks for dropping by!

    It's sad but true,Geri. Everybody is aware of the amazing corruption in the Philippines. The only difference is that some people are just know about it & some people experience it - and at different levels. The worse part is that there's no choice but to join them. 20K worth is not already that bad! But I still feel rage on this & I can't do anything from afar!