Comparing Small Island Life to Calbayog City

Written by John T. Van Warrebey:

Living in the Philippines is very different and difficult at times. But for some, it brings challenges daily to learn from. I can not think of any comparison to living in the Philippines and say any where in the U.S.  Living in an any small town in the U.S. does not come close to living in Calbayog City. We both had the chance of living in Subic (Olangapo City). There is a big difference there as it had businesses that were westernized for the sailors at the Naval Base. Filipinos in Subic had different attitudes compared to Calbayog City when I first visited in 1981 with my wife and daughter.

A few years ago, my wife said to me she saw a big difference in the attitudes and how Filipinos would interact with us. The Filipinos in Calbayog are more friendly compared to Manila. I can say that our two days staying at the Hyatt City of Dreams hotel in Manila was outstanding. From the room, buffet, to the great smiling Filipinos. I would recommend this hotel for any visitors, but be warned, it is spendy. After over 3 weeks on the island, it was well worth it. Hot showers, AC, outstanding food. Enough of that.

When in Calbayog shopping for supplies for the island involves using motor trikes. This past trip, we had one that we used a few trips to Calbayog and was very friendly and helpful. But then on our final trip heading home. We had a trike guy get the wife upset when he said the 50 pesos was not enough taking three of us to the Ciriaco hotel. He followed my wife into the lobby and she pissed. She asked the security guy if the driver was right. No idea what he said as I went onto the lobby to avoid “The Ugly American” response. She gave in and gave him 20 more pesos for the three little shoulder bags we had.

This has happened a few times in the past on other visits. It’s just that some Pinoys attitudes are different or can be aggressive. My wife said that is one aspect of Calbayog she does not like. 99% of the time, she lets her family pay for and deal with the trikes. But that 1% we don’t, we have issues.

Now lets compare living in Calbayog and Sto Nino island.

First there is the power difference. 24 hours in Calbayog to only 5 to 11 p.m. on the island. Biggest difference right there brings into play so many needs and niceties that many take for granted. Let’s look at my problem with me trying to get wi-fi to communicate with my kids in the states. A few times we were able to text, but no Internet to send pics and maybe Skype.

Life on the island is so relaxing with zero cars, trucks and the noises you here in Calbayog. It’s so quiet for the most part with hearing the kids playing in the water near or under the house. Able to hear motor bankas coming from a long distance from fishing or passing by. Hearing the few motorcycles taking passengers to other Barrios. At times I would think I was deaf on how quiet it was. It’s one of the many reasons I like visiting the island. Time to think or just relax and nap.

Island life brings so many challenges if you are used to American life style. My wife has no issues with visiting the island as she misses many foods we don’t get in the states. She now is more relaxed in worrying about me and what I’ll eat. She has trained her sister to cook my meals = less stress.

I could give a few other comparisons of living on the island and Calbayog.

For those expats that live on Samar or thinking of living in the Philippines. The only advice I would give is to have an open mind and be reflex able. You have to slowly adjust and not get angry or upset at the locals. You came to the Philippines to relax. So relax and enjoy.

This what I see daily from the patio on the island.

John T Van Warrenbey photo

7 thoughts on “Comparing Small Island Life to Calbayog City

  1. While I’m sure it is not as quiet as it is on the island, there are some places on the main land (Calbayog City) that are pretty quiet also. Surely not at my house, as you could tell when you were visiting (see main picture), it’s noisy here on he highway. You’re sure right about it not being even like the small towns in the US. The big cities here are more like the big cities in the US then the smaller towns are to each other. Sorry about your experience with the trike driver. If it was me, I would have just waited on another driver, they come up and down the street all the time. If you had already been paying P30 for the same trip until then, well then you were bound to get someone that would do it again. For 3 people I probably would have paid P50 anyway, but me paying them that and them asking for that much is 2 different things.

  2. The adjustment is what most have trouble “adjusting” too. It only took me one or two months here in Camboland to accept the facts. The fact that no matter how illogical they operate, do or work, logics will not change their minds. It is the way it is because it is that way! Hard to convince or change that reasoning. I now spend half my days just smiling, shaking my head and wondering how in the hell the Khmer have survived hundreds, no thousands of years. I had to adjust to accepting that it will be what it be and I shall play no part in their evolution. So today I am quite successful and satisfied at sitting down, propping my feet up, grabbing an ice cold Angkor Beer and kind of relaxing a little – while awaiting for the next mass confusion incident! (AKA Cluster EF)

    • I have had no problems adjusting, it’s that things are becoming too ordinary. Shop at the same places, eat at the same restaurants, hit the same beaches. You would have thought growing up in a town of 500 people would have prepared me for this! Somebody open up a bowling alley or pet store for crying out loud!

  3. Randy sounds like you need to take a short trip to another island for a few days…..

  4. HI ,BEEN IN SAMAR FOR THE PAST 2 YEARS,AN AUSTRALIAN HAVE TO LEAVE EVERY 11MONTHS BECAUSE OF VISA SO GO BACK TO TASMANIA ,FOR WORK ABOUT 7 WEEKS .MARRIEDTO LUCINDA HAVE NO CHILDREN ,WELL WHEN SAID LUCINDA HAD A DAUGHTER ALEXANDRA BUT WAS KILLED ONLY 8YRS THAT TOOK A GREAT TOOL ON EACH OTHER .THE BRIGHT SIDE LUCINDA FINISHING HER SCHOOLING AT UNI ,AND OF COURE I AM NOT DOING A GREAT DEAL ,A LITTLE BORING WE ARE LIVING IN AFLAT IN CALBAYOG ,THE FAMILY LIVES IN NAPURO ST MARGARETA
    OKAY WELL THATS ABOUT ALL I CAN TELL YOU REGARDS ,MAY CATCH UP

    • Hi William, I wonder how it is that we have not met yet? Anyway, you should get hooked up on the Calbayog Expats facebook page (private group) to get to know some of the expats that live around the area. The page can be very resourceful when you need it. We have a few Aussies in the group. Just request to join and John (the Admin) will approve. Sorry to hear about the little one.

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