Bad Advice – Can Be Worse Than No Advice At All!
I seem to have this penchant for confronting people online – especially when I
suspect know they are providing erroneous advice to folks whom are looking for information. Rarely do I provide advice on issues I know little about, and when I do, at a minimum I will do a little research beforehand. If nothing else, I may provide a link to a reliable source and suggest to those individuals that they research the information that applies to their unique situation. What I do talk about mostly in my Blog, is my own experiences with the all the legalities (we faced) in moving here….and with life in general here in the Philippines itself. If you want to Live in the Philippines, you got to do good homework.
Recently I found myself challenging another’s advice on one of the many “Philippine Expat” Facebook pages I follow. In this case, an individual planning on moving to the Philippines was looking for information on taxation as it related to importing his household goods (HHG) to the Philippines. The answer that was provided to him, in essence was in the form of a blanket statement which basically said, “you can’t ship without paying big fees and taxes on your shipment.” Well, right away I felt I needed to set the record straight so, I told him (the one giving the bad advice) flat-out that he was wrong and that he shouldn’t be providing advice on topics he knew nothing about (I may not be very tactful sometimes). Because we shipped our entire HHG to the Philippines, fully tax exempt, I felt that the individual looking for the information could benefit from some of the many articles I have written surrounding our own experiences shipping to the Philippines. So I provided a link to this site and suggested to him to visit and read. Because I did not know any of the particulars pertaining to his situation, I felt it better that he read it all for himself.
It wasn’t long before I was counterattacked by the bad informant, defending himself and his information source, which was unofficially bogus by the way. He also slammed me for “advertising” the link to my site. But rather than fill up half a fb thread with multiple links and information that may not apply to his situation, I also advised him to visit the many forums and other blogs in search of the information he needed, and then posted my site’s link. Nothing nefarious about that!
SOooo…if YOU, the one reading this, are seeking information about retiring, living in, or moving to the Philippines….I can only suggest that you stay away from fb chat pages as your primary information source. Although there is some good information bantered about, all too often these pages are simply the bastion of bad, inaccurate (or outdated) information. You should rely more on the “moderated” forums and blogs that provide the specific information unique to your own situation. And you should never take one piece of advice as a given. Always verify, verify, and then Verify!
Of course there is no substitute for official information such as that found on government websites. But, I will provide one word of caution here…Verify! (some agencies in the Philippines are rather slow at updating their sites with recent changes in policy). After finding information on a government site, it might be a good idea to go back to the forums to help you determine the validity of that information. For example, this week I
happened accidently stumbled upon information about changes to Philippine Immigration policy again…and it wasn’t exactly published by authority (it’s a small change in policy and doesn’t necessarily affect all immigrants and visitors, but nonetheless, it will affect somebody).
So, in summary…if you are contemplating visiting or living in the Philippines remember this: one size does not fit all and online advice is like opinions which are like coconuts…there are more than you could count and they fall all over the place! Everybody’s situation can be different from that which might be conveyed by someone’s fb comments and such, so any information obtained should always be verified. Have I mentioned Validate?
Below are a few “official links” that can help one get started in the right direction.
- Bureau of Immigration – Travel information, visa requirements, residency, general information – www.immigration.gov.ph
- Customs – (Dept. of Finance) Importation, shipping – www.customs.gov.ph
- Bureau of Quarantine – (Dept. of Health) Advisories, programs, requirements – www.doh.gov.ph
- Official Government Directory – www.gov.ph/directory
- Foreign Embassy List (Manila) – www.philippinecountry.com/foreign_embassy.html
- Bureau of Animal Industry – Importation of pets – www.bai.da.gov.ph
Some good forums to poke around in: