Straight, uncensored information from those who live in Cebu.
Living In Cebu
You can live as simple, or as high class of a life as you want in the Philippines. But, that depends on you (and the amount of your available financial resources). So, are you willing to live on less money, and possibly a more simple lifestyle? Do you have the funds to support a higher class of life here? If you answered no to those questions, then keep hammering at the ol' coal mine until you have enough to retire and live on, hopefully to see that retirement. I, however, took the plunge (at 35 years of age) and came over to the Philippines because it was where I was meant to be. Now, to let you know how I lived in the Philippines, for more than a year.
This is what is commonly called a "bed spacer" room. The vast majority of people who rent these rooms are students, usually during finals that need to be taken in Cebu City. However, other residents are year round, as I was. This room was actually intended for not one, but four student boarders in each room. Each of them would pay one-forth the rent due each month.
These rooms were rented with each of the four tenants having a single bed space, one of the four cubicle storage areas, and a bit of closet space to hang clothes.
I rented my room by the month, for Php 1,500, which is a discount from the normal rate of Php 3,000 per month. As my income increased through the year, I increased my own rent. Ultimately, I was paying Php 3,000 per month, months before the end of my stay there. It just didn't feel right not paying Edna and Willy what they could get if I didn't live there. Either way, don't laugh. There are many people here who can't afford that much to rent a room.
I don't think I could live in a room this size with 3 other people. I mean, as much as I want to understand, learn, and live like Filipinos do, this ol' southern boy has to draw the line somewhere... okay, maybe I could. (I have always said that I would live in a box under a bridge in the Philippines, rather than having to return home to the US again, to live.)
While Php 1,500 isn't much money for most people (foreigners), it was a great deal of money to me at the time. This room wasn't much, but it was comfortable, clean, and warm (definitely warm!). It was quite simple, offering a single electric receptacle, one light, four airy windows, two electric fans (one for the computer) and a small closet. To give you an idea of the size of this room, it measured 4.1 meters long, by 2.6 meters wide, or about 10.66² meters. For those of you who are metrically-challenged, that would be 8.5' x 13.75' (ft), or about 116.8² feet.
Now , here is the view of my former humble abode from outside, a true Filipino-style home (as you can tell by the slippers in front of the doorway). This little place was a single building separated into 3 rooms. I resided in the middle of the three. There is one more room on the opposite side of the carport, adjacent to the landlord's house. So, they have four rooms, total, available for rent. During the year and one month I lived in the bed spacer, there were about 12 of us (tenants) living here. Then, we had the landlord's family, as well as an American and his family living in the main house within the compound.
Fortunately, that meant someone was on the property almost constantly, especially since there are two homes (in addition to the four rooms-for-rent) that are in this same compound. Both homes had full-time maids who were there, as well as other members of each household. So, security wasn't too bad. Of course, there was also a locked gate for all of us to enter through, upon returning home from a typical day out. The only thing that could make it safer, would be mounting a twin .50 caliber on the roof, and perhaps some claymores around the perimeter.
I only had one bedroom ... errrr .. one room, but I had three, count them, three CR's (comfort rooms). The three sheet metal doors you see in the picture to your right, lead into three separate bathrooms, all of which have terrific water pressure, constantly I may add.
Okay, here is the last house picture. This is the entrance to the compound where I lived. Residents would enter through the large green gate you see (just right of center) in the picture. Although I didn't take a full panoramic view of our compound, you can take my word for it that we had a complete wall around us, and with some extras for any 'would-be' intruders. One of our security measures is shown below, our neighbor, a super attack monkey. More about her in a minute.
Anyway, to sum things up, I lived in a quiet compound, on a quiet street, in a quiet neighborhood, in quiet area of Cebu City, simply. As I have said before, I know many westerners couldn't, or wouldn't live like I did. But, if necessary, I would do so again - without a second thought.
Last but not least, this (below) was my little neighbor, Ralph. She was our guard monkey. Ralf was a Long-Tailed Macaque. During the time I lived there, she was owned by Tom and Flori Nowelsky, who resided there as well. Anyway, Ralph would scream her (yes, her) head off if something isn't right outside. Believe me, it was as though she had a 150 decibel (or higher) voice!
Anyway, Ralph was cool, although most visitors who came to visit tended to be a bit scared of her. Of course she did look somewhat intimidating, weighing in at at least a kilo. Not to mention, she had those gargantuan 1/16" teeth.
Ralph was also an odd monkey, if I may say. She didn't like bananas. However, she loved eating papaya, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water melon, plain bread, and various other snacks. Oh, she had to smell everything prior to eating it. I do miss spending time with her.
Before I go, I want to say thanks Edna and Willy, the two best landlords anyone could ever have in the Philippines!
Photo Credits: All photos - Paul Petrea
Revised: 07/06/12 12:05:43 +0700