Category Archives: Manila

The Many Advantages of Being Pregnant in Manila

We’re hoping to have another baby after this one, and I can’t even imagine how different of an experience it will be.  Because being pregnant in Manila has many many advantages!

-Affordable Prenatal Care!  A doctor’s appointment here, before my insurance even kicks in, costs me $60, and that includes an ultrasound.  Oh, and that also includes going to one of the top hospitals and top doctors in the city.  Not bad right?

-Ultrasounds!  Every single appointment I have I get to see the baby.  No measuring my belly to see how things are going, ultrasound right away for the measurements.  Sure, they’re not necessary, but aside from getting another chance to see baby, the doctor measures all the body parts to make sure they’re growing ok, and also checks the other things that are important:  Is the baby in the right position?  Is there enough fluid around the baby?  Is the placenta up high?  Is the umbilical cord not wrapped around the baby?  Is the cervix high and closed?  And I get to take home a bunch of (let’s face it: creepy) pictures of the baby’s ultrasounds!  Looks like baby girl is sporting some chubby cheeks…

-Affordable Prenatal Massages!  I have talked about the great cheap massages I get here in Manila many many times before, and though it’s not easy to find a place that does prenatal massage, when you do find one, they’re affordable!  My favorite is still QiWellness, where a 90 minute prenatal massage is a little over P1,000 (about $25), there’s also Neo Spa (P1,150 for 60 minutes – about $28), and the cheapest, though I haven’t tried it yet, is Spaholics, a home massage service (P500/hour).  I have also heard of MomMassage, which is the most expensive specially for a home service at P1,200/hour, but they do lactation and post natal massages as well so I might try it after the baby is here (because postnatal massage at home would be convenient, no?).

-Chiropractor!  Sadly, the price for chiropractor here is not much cheaper than the US (about $60/session), probably because they’re so hard to find.  Luckily our (very very expensive) insurance covers a good chunk of that, so I have also been taking advantage to keep the back pain at a minimum (I got to N8).  I can’t even imagine how my back would be like without the weekly massages and chiropractor appointments, considering in how much pain I was in Australia, when I had none of that.

-Household Help!  Yep, another advantage of having a maid is that when things are all painful and uncomfortable, I don’t have to worry about laundry, cooking, cleaning…  And though I washed the baby’s clothes myself (I’m excited, what can I say?), I’m really relieved I don’t have to do anything else.  I guess a not very funny 1st World Problem is definitely “I’m pregnant, and have to clean the house on my own!” 

-Cute Baby Clothes!  If you go to the mall, you do pay a small fortune for anything baby, after all, it’s all imported.  But go off to Greenhills and Divisoria and you can buy some adorable little outfits.  Case in point, this whole bunch from Divisoria cost me a total of $50:

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-Cute Baby Handicrafts!  Today I went to the AWCP Bazaar, and among other things, I came home with these super cute fabric toys (yes, the bunny house is furnished, and the furniture is also fabric and removable):

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-The MADS Group!  MADS is an expat moms group, but they have a pregnancy/newborn group too, and it’s so much fun meeting other pregnant folks!  I have only been a member for a few weeks, and already met some amazing women and made good friends from it!

There may even be more things I’m forgetting about (so if you’ve been pregnant here, please remind me of it!).  Of course, there are many disadvantages as well – being stuck in daily traffic when you’re already uncomfortable, if you don’t have DPO you’re stuck buying all baby gear locally and that’s super expensive (things like strollers can be twice the price of the US!), the stuff you crave for might not be available, there’s no such thing as maternity clothes (the one time I asked,  I was sent to the plus sized section of the store! WTF!) and many more.  But when things get me down, I go off to my massage and I’m all good again…

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Filed under Foreign Service, Manila, Philippines, Pregnancy

It must be bidding time again…

Because my post of the 5 Pros and Cons of Living in Manila is getting the most hits this week.  And it’s funny when I read it now, damn, I was in a bad mood after flying into NAIA 1 and dealing with those crowds! 

And yes, the thought of having to go there again in May with all our luggage, a dog, a cat, a newborn and separate screening lines for male/female meaning definitely not enough hands for either of us to get through security properly does make me cringe.  I’m already dreading it, we have had many many many talks about it, and it’s still over 4 months away.

But if you’re bidding and want to know more about Manila, don’t forget to check out my post of What Makes Me Happy in Manila.  Not only I was in a much better mood, but let’s face it, there are a lot of good (great!) things about this place, even if sometimes traffic, jeepneys, pollution, and horrible arrivals/departures at NAIA makes us forget (and yes, I too am guilty of often forgetting how a wonderful experience living here has been).

I can’t wait to go to DC, see my friends again, go back to running my favorite trails, be able to take my dog on walks without kids running away screaming as if I’m walking a hyena.  But I also know our time in Asia will always hold a special place in my heart.  And though I hope we won’t get posted in Manila again (because we get to experience life in so few places, I rather not repeat!), I do hope we will live in Asia again, as I love this part of the world.

And if any of you bidders have any questions on Manila, really feel free to send me a note and I’ll get back to you – my contact info is right on the sidebar!  I have had many people emailing me through the blog, and have never not replied within a couple of days (if not a couple of hours!).

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Filed under Foreign Service, Manila, Philippines

Photography Class!

Yep, I got a Canon DSLR camera for my birthday from Karl before we were even married, and this week I finally *finally* took a photography class to let me get out of auto mode (I mean, it was so bad that I’ve only been taking my point and shoot for trips, why carry a heavy camera around if I can’t use manual mode?).

I signed up for the class at the last minute – I did my research on Friday late afternoon, and surprisingly, I got a reply back that there was still room in the class! 

One of the main reasons I hadn’t taken the class before, even though I’ve been in Manila for a while and I arrived with that on my “to do” list, is that most classes here happen in multiple weekends, usually 5 Saturdays or Sundays in a row – and I have yet to have 5 weekends in a row in Manila (I know, that’s about to change very fast!). 

Most of the classes I found go through the end of February, which is a bit too close to my due date to risk, so at the end I spent more than I wanted to spend and took a 3 day (very intensive) basic photography class at PCCI here in Makati.

And yep, I am totally comfortable using my camera on manual mode now, the only problem is I have to keep taking pictures so I don’t forget what I learned, but Manila is back to its gloomy day self today (and apparently for the next few days). 

A lot of my pictures are boring, as we had our first morning shoot in Greenbelt, a shopping mall nearby with outdoor space, and that being a place I go to once or twice a week, it was hard to find inspiration…  Plus the main goal was learning to use the camera.  We did a few portrait shots too, but they’re pretty boring, so not posting them here. Here are some of my morning photos:

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The end of the afternoon/nighttime shoot was a lot more fun (though I was EXHAUSTED by then), as we went to Roxas Boulevard (near the US Embassy) and were taking pictures of sunset and things in motion, here are a few of them:

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My best attempt at panning:

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And Manila’s one claim to fame:  its gorgeous sunsets!  (I heard that pollution helps make the sunsets prettier, so I’m not surprised there are beautiful ones here!)

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Some of my classmates…

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Nothing like a bride and groom who conveniently walk by as you’re learning to shoot!

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Capturing motion again (not perfect as I didn’t use a tripod, I need to try this on a busier street where cars are going by faster to get the cool light effect!  Maybe back in DC where traffic does move by faster?).

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Making “art” with lights…

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Bokeh:

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A couple of my classmates also got a shot of the silhouette of my bump against the sunset, and I can’t wait for them to send me those pictures so I can share it here!  (Nothing like being proud of my big belly, huh?)

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Filed under Manila, Pictures

Et tu, Manila?

Since I know not everyone who reads my blog in Manila is associated with the embassy, I figured I should spread the word…  And here I always thought Manila was a super-safe place for us!  Let’s hope this warning remains just as a warning.  (On that note, US Citizens in Manila should definitely register with the embassy to get notifications as well, more information is on the message below.)  And I guess any expat, even if not American, should have some caution.  From experience, people here often assume white = American.

EMERGENCY MESSAGE FOR U.S. CITIZENS

THE PHILIPPINES

September 28, 2012

THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO U.S. CITIZENS TRAVELING THROUGH OR RESIDING IN THE PHILIPPINES.  PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD.  THANK YOU.

Threat Against American Citizens in Manila

The U.S. Embassy advises American citizens in the Philippines that a threat against American citizens in metropolitan Manila, specifically the Pasay City neighborhood, has been detected by reliable security forces.  This threat remains in effect until October 10, 2012.

In response to the threat, the U.S. Ambassador has ordered an augmented security profile for all U.S. government facilities in Manila. 

The Embassy urges American citizens at this time to:

1.)     Exercise extreme caution in their daily routine and to maintain extra awareness regarding their own security; 

2.)       As much as possible, maintain a low profile; 

3.)       Vary travel routes and social routines; 

4.)       Consider cancelling any American gatherings, celebrations or observations that could be construed as American events;

5.)     Report any perceived security concern to Philippine authorities. 

The U.S. Embassy also wishes to remind U.S. citizens of the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.   In a message dated July 12, 2012, the Department of State recommends Worldwide Caution and reminds U.S. citizens that terrorism can occur anywhere.

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the dangers sometimes associated with public demonstrations.  Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can suddenly become violent and unpredictable.   Americans should be alert, pay attention to local news media, and avoid demonstration areas if at all possible.    The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority often provides a map of affected locations at their website, www.mmda.gov.ph/192012-rerouting.html.

We encourage all U.S. citizens in the Philippines to enroll with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.   By enrolling, you can receive the Embassy’s most recent security and safety updates during your trip.   Enrolling also ensures that we can reach you, or your designated emergency points of contact, during an emergency.   The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-301-2000.   The American Citizens Services (ACS) section’s fax number is 63-2-301-2017, and you may reach the ACS Section by email at ACSinfoManila@state.gov.   The ACS Section’s website includes consular information and the most recent messages to the U.S. citizen community in the Philippines.

U.S. citizens traveling in the region are encouraged to stay up to date on conditions across the globe by bookmarking the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings (including the Travel Warning for the Philippines, dated June 14, 2012) and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution of July 12, 2012.   Follow us on Twitter and become a fan of the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.   If you don’t have internet access, current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States, or for callers from other countries, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.   These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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Filed under Foreign Service, Manila