One Year In The Philippines

I have been living in the Philippines now for a year. I came here with about $10,000 saved in the bank and it did not last long with the finishing of our home and buying my bike. Only last May did my Veterans Affairs appointments start and surprisingly I was given a small disability percentage, it does help. That payment started in July. It’s not enough by US standards if I was living in the US, but it is enough to sustain a decent life here in the Province. If you come here to live, have a plan.
I been living the simple life here with my wife. We have pigs, chickens, and grow vegetables. I have seen more of what life here was like in the provinces for the locals. Many people here living with next to nothing, surviving off the land. Growing rice, vegetables, and some livestock. Beef is expensive and not so common, but fish, chicken, and pork is somewhat abundant. I have definitely become more healthier living here. There is No fast food in Caramoan. I hope it stays that way.
The primary source of income in my area for the locals is coconuts. They dry it out and sell it by the weight. It goes towards the making of coconut oils, creams, and what ever else you can imagine with coconut extract. Like rice, coconuts are also a family affair, even children of the families will take a few days out of school to climb the trees for coconuts that are ready for harvesting. Some people make money through the small resorts and island hopping. There is a tourism industry here but it is not much as Caramoan is a bit out of the way with no airfield. The TV series Survivor has helped a lot with boosting tourism as many countries other than the US have filmed their version of Survivor here.
Many people in my area do not have much for serviceable clothing. Most men wear worn clothes full of holes and rips. Many women don’t have bras and their clothing are worn thin. Many kids have clothing that do not fit well or they are faded hand-me-downs from older siblings. Their only good clothing is usually saved for church or the school uniform, and sometimes that is handed down and not properly fit. Many young kids are barefoot here and even wear flip flops to school. I would love to help everyone if I could. But I am not a charity and I would go broke myself helping everyone here who could use the assistance. I have already given away shirts and stuff that I don’t wear or did not fit as I expected it would. Even still, the overall quality of life here is better than it is in Manila.
Just about everyone in my area is Roman Catholic or Born again Christian. There are a few missionaries in the area, even Jehovah’s Witness. I don’t see them too much in Caramoan. But near to Naga City they are more common. Even me, since being in the Philippines, I have taken more interest in Catholicism. I was not raised to be a religious man. My Grand mother was, but my mother wasn’t. I been reading more on the Catholic religion. Soon I will be baptized a Catholic. My wife is Catholic. After living in the Middle East for many years I see that Christianity is far better than Islam on any given day. Islam is cruel, Heartless in most areas, and quite sick.
My main mode of transportation here is my Motorcycle. I have a Kawasaki Rouser 200 NS which is an excellent affordable bike for someone my size. We also bought a Kawasaki Barako II 175cc. We turned that into a tricycle for transport and resupply use. I been saving and soon I hope to buy a new truck. Sometimes I am stuck at the house due to the weather. I don’t ride in the rain. A truck would better suit our needs.  When I go places like Manila, Naga City, or Tabaco City I will use the bus. Public Transportation in the Philippines is really cheap compared to other countries. I have had nerve damage in my right wrist since I was in the Army. After about an hour of riding and throttling on the bike my hand becomes completely numb and I will have to stop a while to shake it out.
As a pensioner or someone living on disability without a business; the provinces of the Philippines is a good location due to the low cost of living. Before my disability started we were able to sustain ourselves on much less than 500 USD a month. However we do own our home and have a well for water. Our only utility bill is electric and it runs far cheaper than it does in the US. On my last trip to Naga City I met an older American couple from the Los Angeles area of California who moved here because it was more affordable to live here.
To my readers, If you have been to the Philippines or live here as a foreigner, what are your experiences? Did you get a pass or fail in your endeavors?
David Lee Martin
Functional US Army Veteran

A Motorcycle Collision and Lessons Learned

A Motorcycle Collision

 Two days ago my wife and I decided to go to town to get a few necessities. It was not too much so we just took our motor bike. We did what we needed to and on the way out of town I accidentally passed up the ATM. I meant to stop by and get some money. Ahead of us was the Municipality where we could turn around and I can also check to see if I have any mail at the community post office from the office of Veterans Affairs which I am counting on as well.

I turn my turn signal on and get to the left side of the lane, look in my mirror and over my shoulder. There was a bike coming but he is far enough back and there is plenty of room to my right for him to go by. I start making my left turn and BAMM! He hit me hard, dropping my bike with my wife and I to the ground. The first thing I said before hitting the ground was, “Mother F#%ker!” I was really pissed off for the moment that I lay there. I can’t believe this dude just hit me. I could still hear his bike sliding along the concrete and then a sudden crunch of his bike against the curb of the drive way that leads into the municipality. I looked up and no one was moving at first. My first thought of the situation was not good. My bike is a 2015 Kawasaki Rouser 200NS and his was a much older Kawasaki CT 100 Bajaj. 

2015 Kawasaki Rouser 200NS


 I slid my leg out from under my bike and Asked my wife if she was ok. Thankfully she only had a decent scrape on the elbow. I looked down at my bike, the turn signal was still flashing and it was still in 1st gear with the rear tire still turning. I switched the master power switch off that is next to the throttle shutting off everything.

I looked at the other bike and seen that he was transporting 2 college girls with him. I looked at my wife and I told her to check the girls immediately as I pick my bike up from the road and get it out of the way.  The driver of the other bike was ok. The girls were a bumped up, scared, and maybe in shock a bit. The Locals here are the most helpless, useless people I have ever seen. The all gathered around to watch and get in the way, but none lifted a finger to really help the girls. They are excellent spectators and love drama but useless otherwise. The local Hospital was only 50 feet away so we had them taken there immediately to be checked. The worst of the deal was some bruising and maybe a concussion because they were not wearing helmets. The extent of my injuries was a scraped up Knee, shin, and elbow. None of which I was concerned about. I dealt with worse in the past and lived, my concern was for the girls on the other bikes.

Between the Hospital and the municipality was the police station. We went there to do a report on what happened. The other driver had no license, no insurance, a dented front rim, and no Money. He looked scared as hell and I know he would be screwed. So my wife and I covered the girls’ medical expenses and the rest was on him. He was speeding and did not observe the right away of the vehicle in front of him since it is a single lane.  The only damage on my bike was a broken after-market hand guard that I installed about 6 months ago, Front left turn signal housing came apart, and my clutch lever broke in half. I was able to snap the signal housing back together. The hand guard was a wise move as my hand did not get injured.

bike clutch
Busted Hand Guard and Clutch Lever


The lessons to be learned from this is to Observe other vehicles, pay attention to turn signals and brake lights, observe the right of way of other riders and drivers, wear helmets and other safety gear, and be insured. Your safety and those riding with you comes first above all else. Don’t be in a hurry through town or in congested areas. Try to learn some basic first aid as most of the Caramoan community was helpless and only getting in the way. If you can add features to your bike to improve your own safety, do so. 

Minor case of road rash


I am 38 years old. Been driving since I was 16. I have driven everything from Motorcycles to Army Tanks. This is my first accidental collision with a motor vehicle. I guess it happens at some point or another whether you’re at fault or not. I guess it was my turn. Thank God No one was severely injured or died. Best we can do is to do our best to be prepared in case such an event like this happens. 


David Lee Martin

Functional US Army Veteran


Living in the Philippines can be crazy when it comes to motor transportation. Many people here  drive wrecklessly and without care to others on the road. Having no kids with my wife yet and no plans to haul any major items myself I decided to just get a motorcycle for the time being.
I am a tall guy. I am 6 feet 4 inches tall. My weight is now 112 kg. I was up to 137 prior to coming to the Philippines. I was looking for a bike that was not expensive, had a good seat heighth, and enough power to push me up and down the Mountains where we live.

I looked at the Yamaha FZ 16 and the SZ 16. Both had the 153cc engine in them but had a big price gap between the two. I looked at Honda and it seems like you were buying the name and they are not much for size or looks in quality. Then I took a look at Kawasaki. I seen the Barako’s, CT 100, Boxer, and the Rouser 135, 180, and the 220. The dealer said they had a bigger body model coming and showed me the specs on the KAWASAKI ROUSER 200NS. Higher seat, good fuel capacity, 6 speed with a top end speed around 160 kmh, and recommended weight capacity of 130 kg… more than myself. I was happy to find it. I was only disappointed in there being only the 2 color schemes, black and yellow. The turning radius is really wide as well.

After buying the bike and familiarizing myself with it I would have to say that I am quite pleased over all. It gets my wife and I around to where we need to go safely. Even we exceed the recommended weight together the bike still handles well. Excellent in braking distance. The KAWASAKI ROUSER 200NS IS Great in Power and Torque  for having a small engine. For anyone looking for a great deal on a bike in the Philippines and getting better than you paid for, the KAWASAKI ROUSER 200NS is the motorcycle to get. I paid 98,000 CASH Philippine Peso for mine with about an additional 3,000 for insurance and registration at Premium Bikes in Naga City, Bicol. Not A bad shop and good people to do business with.

If you like to dress your bikes up for looks or technology there are groups all throughout the Philippines on Facebook. I have joined A few and I have went through some of the vendors selling goods in the groups. Most are reliable, just pay attention to who is doing what.

I personally recommend the KAWASAKI ROUSER 200NS, but I hope everyone finds what is right for their riding style and stay safe. Don’t  drink and ride. Be responsible, wear a helmet,  safety gear when trip requires, and do not get complacent on the Philippine roadways. Keep your eyes and ears open for observing others, others are not looking out for you.