The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Archive for the tag “society”

The Feist’s Great Escape: Facebook

Life is like a book filled with chapters. In these chapters are snippets of every day life. We’ve just launched our Facebook page ‘The Feist’s Great Escape: Coron Palawan’ to share these little snippets. Here, you’ll find travel tips, get an inside perspective of what it’s really like to live on a third world tropical island and maybe get inspired.

Visit our page –

What if you could live anywhere in the world?

Man carrying world map

Where in the World? (photo: Timothy Krause)

When we decided to move to the Philippines I joined several expat forums. I wanted to find out as much information as I could to prepare us for the challenges we could face. There are many reasons people move to other countries. Many move to the Philippines because a spouse wants to be close to family. Others move because the cost of living is lower than where they come from.

One member from a particular forum posed this question. If you had no constraints (circumstance, family ties, finances, etc.) and you were free to pick any where in the world, where would you live?

I was half way through writing this post when Paris was attacked. It was afternoon and ‘The Chef’ was playing an online game on his tablet. A player from England typed, “France just closed its borders and it can’t be good.” I asked what that meant and he said something bad must be happening in Paris. I immediately googled ‘Paris’ and there on the screen were the words ‘Paris Attacks.’ It’s hard not to think about what’s happened when I think about the question now.

Over the years I’ve dreamt about living in a little farmhouse in the countryside of France. I could imagine myself gorging on local cheese and fresh bread and washing it all down with a bottle of red. It’s a romantic notion and I laugh at how cliché it sounds but we’re just musing, right?

When I was younger, wilder, more energetic and single the city life had everything I wanted. New York City in the 80s and its gritty East Village appealed to my anti-establishment, artist sensibilities. At the time I could picture myself in some loft splattering paint on some canvas.

I once gave serious consideration to moving to Bali, Indonesia. I love their deep culture, smiling people and beautiful landscape. But after ‘the Chef’ and I visited Palawan I fell in love with Coron. Palawan is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. There’s something about the easy-going nature and honesty of the people that makes me feel like my true self. In Coron I feel like life is not dictated by time, fashion or trend. It suits us well.

So, if you had your choice where would you live?

I’m Canadian, Eh? 021

Photos and thoughts about Canada.

Our environment, our experiences, and the people we choose to surround us shapes us into who we are. In this series I search the web for images about Canada, the country I grew up in.

Maple Syrup Lines, Wyebridge, Ontario

Maple Syrup Lines (photo: David Allan Barker)

Figgy duff, Saskatoon berry pie, and split pea soup are just a few of our tasty exports. ~ 12 foods Canada has given the world (besides poutine), Maclean’s, August 3, 2012

Ooh All Dressed Chips

Ooh All Dressed Chips (photo: Chinkerfly)

There seems to be some sort of confusion surrounding one of our most delicious, addictive chip flavours; Canadians know All Dressed Ruffles chips have a unique taste all their own, keeping us coming back for more (and more and more and more). ~ Americans are finally getting All Dressed Chips, but they don’t understand them…yet, The Loop, September 21, 2015


McBarge (photo: Taz)

Whatever you eat here is one sad, sad meal. This boat was once home to a rare floating McDonald’s, which was built as a shining beacon of innovation for Canada’s 1986 World Expo. Conveyer belts delivered shakes and fries, glass windows offered panoramic views, and a tiny tugboat pulled up alongside the barge to collect Big Mac wrappers and cups. ~ Abandoned Floating McDonald’s Does NOT Serve Happy Meals, Huffpost Travel, March 17, 2015

The Land Where I Was Born 020

Photos and thoughts about the Philippines.

Our environment, our experiences, and the people we choose to surround us shapes us into who we are. In this series I search the web for images about the Philippines, the country I was born in and which I am now rediscovering.

Halo halo especial

Halo halo especial (photo credit Jeff Younstrom)

Summer isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and the best way to beat this unbearable heat is with every Filipino’s undisputed favorite shaved ice dessert: the halo-halo! A medley of sweetened jewels, a gracious layer of icy granules, a heaping scoop of ube ice cream, all drowned in creamy milky goodness-it’s a sweet tooth’s dream. ~ Top 10 Halo-halo in Manila (2014 Edition), spot.PH, April 24, 2014

Power Breakfast Pinoy Style

Power Breakfast Pinoy Style (photo credit weye)

Magandang umaga! ~ 21 Delicious Filipino Breakfasts That Are Actually Hangover Cures, Buzzfeed, August 21, 2015


Lechon on the table (photo credit whologwhy)

In restaurant circles, the dreaded F-word—fusion—is usually reserved to describe some sort of disparate multi-culti combination, like sauce soubise on top of tamales. But in the case of Filipino food, there’s no stronger term to capture the essence of Asia’s most unique, idiosyncratic, and underrated culinary tradition. ~ Coconut, Vinegar, and a Whole Lotta Pork: An Introduction to Filipino Cuisine, Serious Eats, June 14, 2014

Cultural Curiosities: Searching for gas in a Coke bottle

Please do not drink.

Please do not drink.

We texted Vince. He was available to take us to a property that made it on our short list. It was well over 20 kilometres from town so we asked him if he had enough gas in his tank. We told him maybe we should put in more.

As we passed the edge of town it started to rain. We were getting pelted by raindrops from the open sides so we all tried to move strategically towards the center of the tricycle. Little beads of water started to form on the roof just above ‘the Chef’s’ head. I watched in amusement as the beads got heavy enough to fall.


Tricycle + Rain = Adventure

New gas stations seemed to have popped up since the last time we were here just nine months ago. As we reached the first station we saw it was closed. No gas. The next one was the same and so on. No one had gas. I started to get a bit worried.

No, motorcycles do not run on Coca Cola

No, motorcycles do not run on Coca Cola.

Suddenly, Vince veered off the road and stopped in front of a small roadside stand. He was handed a one litre green hued Coca Cola glass bottle and just like that we had gas! This ‘bote-bote’ (bottle-bottle) gasoline is an underground business for people who cater to motorists who want convenience. It actually makes sense when you think about how tricycle drivers try to save as much gas as they can when they transport people around. They already shift to neutral on downhill sections of road and coast. I can imagine they would be happy not to have to drive out of town for gas. It sure saved our trip.


Tricycles are the taxis of Coron.

But with these new gas stations and a recent fire that was made worse by a ‘bote-bote’ seller, the Municipality of Coron is now banning this practice. I know it’s for safety reasons but a little part of me is sad to see it go. It’s the kind of quirkiness that gives a place its character.

Boots on the Ground: The Best Way to Search for Property in Palawan

On the hunt for property.

On the hunt for property.

We got a text from Emma. We had only met her the previous afternoon at a birthday party and now she wanted to show us some properties. We said sure and off we went in a tricycle following Emma in her own personal trike. The first property was just outside the town proper. It wasn’t what we were looking for but we decided to see it anyways for comparison’s sake.

Have you ever thought about moving to an island paradise? Let me just say it isn’t easy especially if it’s in a developing third world country half way around the world. When we first visited Palawan in 2012 we casually toyed with the idea. Back then we were told property prices were still very good (very affordable by western standards ) but it was on the upward climb.

Not what we were looking for.

Out of our budget and not what we were looking for.

Fast forward just three years and with a rapidly growing tourism industry you’d be shocked at what you’d pay for a piece of land now. In the last two years prices have doubled. Land that at one time cost 50 to 100 pesos a square metre are going for 500, 1,000 and even a staggering 5,000 pesos a square meter.

The first hurdle is actually finding something. In Coron there is no form of organization. You can’t just hire a real estate broker. Believe me I’ve tried. The brokers you’ll find on the internet are based in Manila or some other big city so they may know of one or two for sale and that’s about it. They have little knowledge about the area. They may not even be legitimate.

A great property but too small for our farm.

A great property but too small for our farm.

I did find one broker who had a few listings, a splashy website and a Facebook presence and although she agreed to work with us it led to a dead end. She knew our requirements but just steered us towards her existing two listings.

While researching for properties online I was surprised to see a for sale listing for a resort we stayed at. We’re friendly with the owners and asked them about the ad. They didn’t know anything about it. Someone was trying to sell their resort. That’s something that’s common here. A property can be sold by some unscrupulous person three times to three different buyers.

It's important to develop relationships and make contacts.

It’s important to develop relationships and make contacts.

The most important thing to do is develop relationships and make contacts. You need to talk to a lot of people because someone will know somebody else who is selling property. You need to get to know people like Emma who through word of mouth can show you places.

Filipinos: Happy & Social

This is the 2nd birthday party we've been invited to.

This is the 2nd birthday party we’ve been invited to.

Filipinos are such a friendly and social group of people. I’m beginning to understand why it takes so long to get anything done. Besides the traffic, laid back attitude, bureaucracy and inefficiencies they love being social. Before flying down to Coron I wanted to open a bank account on the mainland. Thankfully, I had my aunt to guide me through the process.

Getting fingerprinted for my barangay clearance needed by the bank.

Getting fingerprinted for my barangay clearance needed by the bank.

As soon as we entered her bank we were immediately greeted by the staff. We sat at the bank manager’s desk and they brought us cold glasses of mango juice. As we sat filling out and signing form after form one by one employees would drop by and start chatting. They were catching up with my aunt and very curious about me. I didn’t know she was a ‘rock star.’ By the time we left I was viewing someone’s holiday pictures of their trip to Batanes on their cell phone.

'The Chef' starts prepping in the small kitchen

‘The Chef’ starts prepping in the small kitchen.

My aunt is a ‘foodie’ of sorts so we thought it would be a great treat to cook a nice meal as appreciation for the hospitality she’s always shown us. Besides, it was also our anniversary and we wanted to celebrate with the family. My two uncles, his wife and my cousin also live in the same house so we knew we would be cooking for them as well. Filipinos are known for their close family ties so it’s common that households are made up of lots of family members old and young.

The buffet is now open.

The buffet is now open. Everyone can enjoy.

We went shopping at the nearby SM grocery store. As we gathered our supplies we asked my aunt how many of us would be eating. She started counting, “Tito Ross, Tita Inday, Roanne, Tito Boy, Tita Nida, Tito Magno, the house staff, the driver, the staff at her internet cafe store. Seventeen people.” Holy cow! I had envisioned a nice plated dinner to showcase ‘the Chef’s’ skill. Suddenly it became a simple and rustic buffet lunch.

'The Chef' can entertain anybody.

I’m the quiet one. I’m glad ‘the Chef’ can entertain anybody.

So far the people we’ve met have been friendly, giving and hospitable whether they’re Filipino or Expat. The Filipinos love to laugh and joke around while being curiously formal at the same time. Yet it’s the simple people, like Vince our tricycle driver, who have a kind of naive honesty whom I find the most endearing.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: