This post is about our life in Philippines, our trip to Cebu island, house rent and some challenges in everyday living.
It started when me and my husband Andrey came to Philippines for a holiday in September. We’ve got free diving course in Moalboal and diving in Malapascua island. During this short trip we figured out that Moalboal is a wonderful place to spend a couple months here. Panagsama Beach as a part of Moalboal an amazing spot for freediving. You can find 40+ meters depths just 50-100 meters out of coast. No boats or cars required. Also during this trip we met Steve who is an owner of The Pleasure Principle restaurant (btw we went there every day for breakfast or dinner). Steve was so kind to offer a help with house rent. Carlo and Wolfgang form Freediving Philippines offered a help with buoy and other freediving stuff. Everything looked pretty easy. It was easy finally.
What Helped us to Make the Final Decision?
A month ago we quit our jobs and left China.
A month ago we quit our jobs and left China. Now we have about six months to live for fun, until my husband is looking for a new job. In these circumstances living in Russia doesn’t make any sense. It’s pretty expensive and cold. The only advantage – it’s easy to get visas. :) So we moved here to Panagsama Beach.
Visa for Philippines
Departing to Philippines you need to remember that a return ticket is required for getting a boarding pass. I forgot about this nuance. We are lucky to arrived at the airport in advance. So we had time to solve the problem on the spot. Fortunately almost any information that confirm the ticket is OK. I booked a ticket on one of Russian booking sites with an option to purchase the ticket at the office by cash. I didn’t actually bought tickets, but the information about this booking came to my mailbox. That was enough for successful check-in.
You can enter the Philippines without a visa for 30 days.
As for the visa itself, Russian citizens are allowed to enter without a visa for up to 30 days. We wanted more. After consideering all the pros and cons, we decided to apply for a visa at the Mactan-Cebu airport. To obtain it, you need to apply to the Immigration Bureau just before passport control. It takes you 2,700 pesos and allows you to stay in the country for 59 days. Not much, but better than a month.
How to Get to Panagsama Beach in Moalboal?
Usually tourists arrive to the airport Mactan-Cebu. Most of them have a connection flight from Manila.
The airport is located on Mactan island near by Cebu City (the only place on Cebu island, which is a city). :) There are two main options to get to the hotel from the airport: take a taxi and use a public transport.
Take a Taxi
Take a taxi at the airport in Cebu directly to the hotel. Prices vary depending on the taxi company and a type of the car. My friends recommend to take a white taxi with fixed prices. The price should be 2,000-3,000 pesos, 2000 is better. :) It will take you about 3 hours to get to the place.
Use Public Transport
1. Take a taxi from the airport to Cebu South Bus Terminal. The road takes 20-30 minutes. The usual price for the trip is 300-400 pesos. In this case, you can take a taxi with the meter. One time final price for a taxi with meter was less than the fixed price (425 pesos), another time it was a little bit more than fixed. So there is as lucky. The important thing is to negotiate about the price before you reached the final destination.
2. Take a bus to Moalboal at Cebu South Bus Terminal. In case you take yellow Ceres Liner bus the final destination is Bato. Make sure that the bus goes to Bato via Barili, not via Oslob. The bus that goes to Oslob, doesn’t go through Moalboal. It costs 116 pesos, payment on the way. Ceres Liner yellow buses are equipped with air conditioning and TV, movies are shown one by one during the whole way. In English, of course, sometimes with subtitles. Video selecting is funny. Our favourite is “Cowboys VS Aliens”, the plot is even more rediculous than the title. There are other buses, without air conditioning, going the same way. They are less comfortable, but go faster. We used both options. I can’t say that Ceres Liners dramatically more comfortable, but most of the people prefer them. Ticket price is pretty much the same. Travel time 3.5-4.5 hours. I would like to warn that the conductor sometimes forgets that he was asked to announce the stop, so after 3 hours it’s better to watch the road yourself. When all banners on the road are changed from “Dumanjug …” to “Moalboal …” – it means the stop is going to be soon. The bus passes McDonald’s in Moalboal Gaisano Mall on the way from Cebu. Bus stop is 1 km after it. There are Three Sixty Pharmacy and yellow chairs opposite the bus stop.
3. Take a tricycle to go from the bus stop to your hotel. We couldn’t bargain for less than 200 pesos. Drivers said that double price was because of the luggage.
Helpers on the Street
All the people on the street who are annoyingly helping to catch a taxi, to bring laggage, to put your bags in a bus etc. do not do it just like that. They are waiting for 20 pesos for every favor, even if you caught a taxi yourself and they just shouted something like “South Bus Terminal” to a taxi driver. If you are not ready to give 20 pesos for it – just say you do not need help and do not allow to grab your bags. Philippines is a poor country, people survive any available way, and tourists always attract attention as an opportunity to earn some money.
Where to Stay on Panagsama Beach?
First two nights (and 5 nights before) we stayed in Moalboal Backpackers Lodge. This is the cheapest and the most popular place on Panagsama Beach. Decent enough for a hostel and in the middle of the beach. Everybody knows where it is, so you don’t need a map to find it as well as any other hotel here. We lived in a room for 2, we had a bathroom, a kettle, fans, a double bed with a mosquito net, a table with chairs, a few shelves, and a hammock outside. The only negative – the sun almost does not get into the room. I woudn’t say that this place is super comfortable, but it’s pretty good for a couple of nights.
Very popular place for comfortable stay is Cabana Beach Resort or Savedra Beach Bungalows. Located in the middle of Panagsama Beach, sea view, aircons, pool. The price is standard for Panagsama. For divers I would also recommend Love’s Beach and Dive Resort with private beach, pool and a dive center inside.
I decided to write a separate post about rented cottage. Here I only want to note that it is near by the beach and it cost us 13,000 ($290) pesos a month.
In general, our life here reminds me of student times: wash basins, cleaning of aluminum pans with metal brushes, insects galloping rush in the kitchen, water supply issues. Of course, I miss my ideal washing machine, which is good even for silk, my dishwasher, blender and vacuum cleaner. But it’s not a drama.
A Few Useful Things for Panagsama Tourists
- The nearest market is located 6.5 km away from Panagsama Beach in Moalboal.
- The nearest bus stop is located in the almost same place.
- The nearest supermarket is in Gaisano Mall 7.5 km away.
- You can find not only products in Gaisano Mall, but also clothing, home and sport goods and even musical instruments. McDonalds is also there.
- It takes 35-40 minutes walking to get back and forth walking. Bicycle, motorbike or tricycle are also is an option. They ask 20 pesos per person one way for motorbike, tricycle will cost you 80+ pesos one way or 150 pesos for round-trip (a driver will wait while you are shopping).
- You can withdraw money using ATM in Three Sixty Pharmacy (right at the crossroads of highway and road to Panagsama) or using a green ATM down the road toward the Gaisano. 10,000 pesos maximum, 200 pesos is a fee for transaction.
- You can exchange money in the market as well as in Gaisano. They accept USD, EUR, JPY, HKD, CNY, GBP, CAD.
- All products are cheaper in the market than in the supermarket.
- At the supermarket you can pay with card, but you need to show your ID (passport or driving license).
- The best time to go to the fish market (go from the market on the cross road towards the sea 5-10 minutes) is 4-5.30 PM. The choice at this time is better. Prices are about the same at any time, it’s better to bargain.
- Please go to a water refilling station to get the cheapest drinking water. Several of them located along the road from Panagsama to Moalboal. The price is 10 pesos for 6 liters, 20 pesos for 20 liters refilling. You need to bring bottles with you. Advance payment for a bottle of 20 liters is 100 pesos.
- There is no anti-mosquito spray in pharmacies or shops, only lotions are available. So it makes sense to bring it with you.
It Make Sense to Meet These People
- Martin and Laura. Martin works as instructor at Savedra Dive Center. He lives in Moalboal for more than 5 years. So he knows pretty much everything here. He is Latvian and speaks Russian. Martin organizes canyoning tours when he is free from diving. Helps tourists a lot. Wonderful and a very nice person. Also he and his wife Laura organize dive safari tours in Philippines, canyoning in Cebu, Kanlaon vulcano tour etc. I would say that he is the best dive instructor you could imagine. Probably even better. :)
- Steve. Steve is an englishman who was born in Marocco. So he speaks English and French. He is an owner of The Pleasure Principle restaurant. Always offers a help to pretty much everyone who come to the restaurant. I saw it a lot of times. He helped us a lot with a house rent, offered wi-fi even if we didn’t buy any food or drinks and so on. As a person who lived in several countries, he always has stories to tell.
- Susi. Susi is Filipino. She works at Pacita’s Beach Resort. Very active person, offers the best massage on Panagsama. You can find her at Pacita’s reception.
What Do We Eat?
Tomatoes are very small, expensive and yellow-green color.
To be honest, we still can not reduce the cost for food to the desired amount per month. I’m nor really good at cooking, besides there is a problem with products. Also my and Andrey’s tastes are very different. I love vegetables, fish, seafood, fruits, raw rise and other health food. Andrey doesn’t eat any fish or seafood except shrimps and prefers burgers, meat and pancakes. My favorite food is a salad with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and boiled potatoes supplemented by butter. And it’s almost impossible here. Tomatoes are very small, expensive and yellow-green color. It’s even worse with cucumbers and other vegetables that good for eating raw. Dairy expensive and imported, but it’s pretty common for Asia. Besides, you can not just go to the supermarket in the evening and buy everything you need, 7.5 km is not a very comfortable distance. So I cook pasta and potatoes with shrimps, rice, oatmeal and scrambled eggs.
But we have a few favorite restaurants. We go there when we have nothing at home. Please read this post to get more information about our favorite restaurants.
How Do I Live Here?
We spent some time to make our house comfortable, finished our freediving course, so we just started our “usual living”.
What I do here:
- Freediving and swimming
- Photos retouching
What I don’t do:
- I don’t use my phone.
- I don’t read the news.
- I don’t gossip.
- I do not know what day of the week is now and where I will celebrate New Year.
At the end I would like to say that the best thing in Philippines is sunsets. And Panagsama beach is a lovely place to make some pictures.