Matalam on Mindanao

5 Oct
Matalam is a very small town (village) around thirty minutes ride from Kidapawan and about five hours bus ride from Davao City.

Matalam is a very small town (village) around thirty minutes ride from Kidapawan and about five hours bus ride from Davao City.

Let me start this article by saying that this is not a recommendation to visit this area. This is a personal view based on visiting that area for the last few years. It is also very important to say that I have always travelled the five hours by bus and NEVER had a problem. I have been to Matalam and have never had any problems at all. The only problem being a white guy here is that there is nowhere to hide.

Matalam is a very small town (village) around thirty minutes ride from Kidapawan and about five hours bus ride from Davao City. This is not an area that many tourists will ever visit. The place is just not set up to deal with foreign visitors. There are no proper restaurants and shops. There are no bars to be found (Muslim area) and no tall buildings or supermarkets that cater for anything but the basics. But it is a joy to visit.

Situated in Cotabato it is a beautiful peaceful city that does not react to modern day life. The people are exceptionally friendly and the mayor enjoys wide appeal with his constant fiestas and shows. He encourages talent competitions that bring in thousands of others from neighbouring villages and he also is liberated to hold Miss Gay competitions that bring enormous fun crowds to this city.

You note my confusion on town, city or village. I still don’t know as it depends on whom you ask.

This is a place where the bus passes through on the way to Cotabato City, but it is a place that has grown in my heart over the years. It is not a place that I expect I can live for too long, nor is it a place to spend a vacation either. It is a place where the true Filipino joy and smiles can be seen. It is a place that does not have the “give me” attitude, nor does it have signs of jealousy over money. It is a very happy place.

What the Mayor says on his website

Located at the heart of North Cotabato, Matalam accounts for the province’s big supply of agricultural products and also known to be a first class municipality. A place where people live in harmony, working hand in hand to attain a sustainable agro-industrial and commercial zone. Placing first in our priority is the satisfaction of our people, thus the municipal government makes it to a point that in addressing its dreams, the entire community becomes stakeholders and that accountability and transparency are promoted to ensure a clean, harmonious and innovating local government.


Come and discover why this municipality beckons you to visit and love it as your home. Enjoy your tour!


Sponsored by Jeff Harvie Migration Agent at Down Under Visa.


Slouch Hat Ermita Manila

1 Oct

Great Places to Eat

Slouch Hat

Slouch Hat in Ermita in the Philippines. Aussie pub and inn

Slouch Hat in Ermita in the Philippines. Aussie pub and inn

One of the most enjoyable places to go for a drink and some great tucker is the fantastic Slouch Hat Hotel in Ermita in Manila.  And let’s be clear right from the start we are talking about a bar and inn that you can take children and granny too. This is not a girly bar, as this site never deals in that side of life. We deal with places and events and areas that are for vacations and fun.

So having said all that, the bar was established is situated two blocks away from the American Embassy in the Manila Bay area at 1212 MH DEL PILLAR Street and intersects with United Nations Road. The place stands out in the road with its colourful doors and postings. It will attract you even if you did not know what it was.

The doors of the Slouch Hat first opened in 1990 and soon became a very popular haunt for expats. Mostly the first expats were Aussies, but now the reputation has grown so fast that even the English (that’s me) and visitors from Europe and America stay over at this very friendly bar come hotel.

The bar and hotel side grew in 2004 when the next door area was purchased and the hotel has now more rooms. Rooms with fan only to really impressive family rooms that are very big. The rates for the area are surprisingly good, but it is not the rooms that make it appear on this site.

By far the biggest “sell” of the place is the staff who have been coached and trained to understand so many variations of English and the somewhat strange humour of foreigners that partake their lunch or dinner there. Whether you are drinking alone, or in a couple or even if you are a single lady looking for somewhere cheerful and friendly -this is the place to stay.

Slouch Hat in Ermita in the Philippines. Aussie pub and inn

Slouch Hat in Ermita in the Philippines. Aussie pub and inn

The food is honestly a taste from home. From steak and kidney pies to Chili Con Carne. From Pinoy dishes through to Apple pie the Slouch cooks it fresh. One of my favourites has to be the Roast Lamb dinner and the taste of the proper Aussie/British Sunday Dinner.

For the non Aussies one word of warning. Big sports events means the bar will fill up quickly and the atmosphere is full of happy Aussies shouting and screaming. That in itself is fun to watch. This site fully recommends the Slouch Hat Hotel as a great place to stay and dine when in Ermita.

Sponsored by Jeff Harvie Migration Agent at Down Under Visa.

Mega Manila, Philippines

20 Sep

One of the best change I discovered during my most recent trip to Mega Manila, Philippines is the completion of Manila Ocean Park, cited to be the best tourist attraction created to date, it brought something exciting and new in the country’s capital and the main one reason why I was looking forward to my recent trip to the Mega City.

very first state-of-the-art Oceanarium, open water habitat, boutique mall, restaurant row and function facilities all located in one complex in the country. Being situated at the back of Quirino Grandstand, facing Manila Bay, it gives a perfect ambiance to the facility that brings the best of the water world can offer and a best place to see the most beautiful sunset in the world. An all in one facility for learning, shopping, dining, relaxation, fun and just about anything.

I learned about about Ocenariums on television few years back, the one that I saw that was the Oceanarium in Singapore, and was really amaze by it. From then on I dreamnt of visiting at least once im my life. The very moment I learned that an Oceanarium is about to open in Manila, I was very thrilled and happy, a dream come true.

Trip to CDO

17 Sep Another day, we did a lovely cruise

Here is another short article from Jeff Harvie our Migration Agent.

CDO is quite a nice place in Mindanao, it’s a large town (well city really), and like a lot of the Philippine cities, very spread out over a large area, with nice parts and very rough parts, with nothing much in-between.

I was staying at a resort called Cha Li Beach Resort, and it’s wonderful. It’s a place with the thatched chalets right on the beach front, nice restaurant and swimming pool at a very competitive price.

I find CDO to be a very friendly place and it caters for foreigners but not at the expense of changing its brilliant own character.

Because it is so hot and tropical here, there are snakes and lizards and spiders everywhere. I never thought I would be able to say this, but I have been able to get to the point where I can tolerate sleeping in a room where there are a couple of lizards running around the wall and ceiling!!! God, am I getting brave or what??? Mind you, one evening, I opened my chalet door and there was a spider the size of my open hand hanging on the door post. Let’s just say, I did not like the wild life (no comments thank you) and screamed a bit!!! One of the young lads had to come and remove it for me, now shameful or what, ha ha.

But apart from the mutated insects and wildlife, it was truly wonderful in Cha Li beach resort. I woke up every morning to the sound of the sea breaking on the beach right outside my windows and of course beautiful sunshine. Looking out there are fishing boats galore, and locals in the water too with their nets, all too happy to wave and smile and shout out “How you doing Joe?”

Another day, we did a lovely cruise

Another day, we did a lovely cruise

One strange thing that every morning Crabs the size of my finger tip would come up through the toilet and the sink, now let’s just say I was very very careful when using the CR.

We did a lot of swimming, we went to a place called an Eco-garden, with beautiful plants and trees and flowers and eagles and displays of local history. We also decided to be fool-hardy and go on a rope bridge, which spanned across a deep ravine. Exactly what you get out of this is anyone’s guess really, but we paid our money to do it anyway. So there we were, swaying and wobbling and clinging on and shrieking like big babies to get across. I hate to think what we looked like, but it was all good fun, and no one plunged to their death, so all ended well.

Another day, we did a lovely cruise. We caught the boat; lovely buffet lunch laid on, and then relaxed as the boat cruised up and down a big river in CDO. Very pleasant experience indeed, and a little less risky to one’s health and safety too than using the roads.

We found this fabulous bar, with live groups singing (and god can these girls and guys sing), and many beers and cocktails later we were all up, throwing ourselves around the dance floor, at an attempt to look like we were good at all the latest dance moves !!!!!! It was great fun.

Needless to say, bit of a hangover the following morning, but that was cured fairly quickly by plunging myself into the swimming pool and splashing around for a while before a late breakfast.



Jeff Harvie is an Australian Registered Migration Agent (MARN 0959797) who has given up the quiet life in Australia a few years back for one more adventurous with his Filipina wife and kids in Manila, Philippines. He runs Down Under Visa, which specialises in Australian partner visas for those Aussie men who fall madly in love with the local girls and want to bring them to Australia.

6d7d152c37f237aa7adb3cd9dca459d7 Corruption at Philippine Airports

Ilocano homeland

11 Sep


When the Spanish first encountered them in 1572, the inhabitants of Ilocos (then called “Samtoy”) were living in large villages at sheltered coves or rivermouths and were trading with the Chinese and Japanese. Although massive churches in a distinctive style give evidence of Spanish-Ilocano collaboration, the colonial period was marked by frequent revolts; the most famous of these was that led by Diego and Gabriela Silang during the British occupation of Manila in 1762–63.

Ilocanos were prominent in the nationalist movement, and many rose to high office in the central government. The greatest of these Ilocano “success stories” (as far as it went) was President Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled from 1965 to 1986.


The four provinces of the Ilocano homeland (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and landlocked Abra) stretch from Cape Bojeador at the northwestern tip of Luzon down to the Gulf of Lingayen. Most of the population is concentrated along a narrow coastal plain that has only a few good harbors. This environment is harsh, forcing Ilocanos to be hard-working and thrifty. Many Ilocanos have left their homeland to seek employment elsewhere.

The population of the four provinces is about 1.8 million. Ilocano speakers, however, numbered 11 percent of the national population of 66 million, or 7.26 million people. Among all Filipino groups, the Ilocanos are the most famed as migrants, settling since the nineteenth century in sparsely populated expanses of the northern Central Plain of Luzon (provinces of Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija) and of the Cagayan Valley in the northeast. In addition, many Ilocanos have established themselves in Manila and other major cities of the country, as well as in frontier lands on Mindanao. Ilocano men left to find work as migrant laborers on sugar plantations in Hawaii and on farms in California in the first decades of the twentieth century. They were the first Filipinos to immigrate to the United States. In the Philippines, every Ilocano town has a number of men known as “Hawaiianos,” returned migrants from the United States. These migrants courted their future wives in their home country by letter.

Australia to Philippines Vaction Fun

3 Sep

Great Customer Service

2 Sep

Today we have a guest post from Jeff Harvie my Migration Agent.

Something happened to me the other day when I was shopping in the Department store of one of the larger malls in Davao. It was such an amusing situation that I wanted to share it. It was just something simple, but we had such a laugh, it really reminded us again of how open and friendly and hospitable some of the Filipino people can be. I went looking to buy a Microwave.

I browsed the shelves and pretty soon a couple of store assistants approached me I asked questions about the various appliances. You always receive service with such a smile and friendly behaviour wherever we go in the stores and this was no exception (is it purely because we are foreigners? I don’t know).

Something that is so great here in the Philippines, is when you purchase something here, the assistant will always unpack it all and demonstrate that everything is in working order. So, yes, we got a working demo of the microwave.

The guy actually serving me was a little embarrassed because the microwave required an adapter to be plugged into the wall and he could not find one. To help ease his embarrassment while he was hurriedly searching through the drawers and shelves I began chatting and bantering with the other staff.

Suddenly a chair was produced so we could sit down, in the middle of the shop floor. The microwave was placed on the floor in front of me, waiting to be plugged in.

“What channel can we get on this?” I asked, thinking the guys would understand my humour, but at first they looked a little confused.  “This is not very good.” I continued.

“Sorry sir, sorry sir,” they were saying, obviously apologising about the wait for the adapter plug.

“No not that,” I said, “But the picture is not very good. Where is Star Movies?”

Suddenly all the guys realised what I was implying. Here I am, sitting in the middle of the store, on chairs, surrounded by them all, staring at a microwave on the floor and we were making out it was a TV. Well they howled with laughter. Most of the department seemed to come to a halt; everyone was looking to see what all the commotion and hilarity was.

Well finally the plug arrived and they set it up and put a mug of cold water inside, to demonstrate that it would heat up. They did this and handed me a mug with hot steaming water. “No good. This hot tea tastes terrible.” I said.

For a second they looked worried then again the joke was realised and they cracked up laughing and clapping. It was hilarious.

By now I think nearly all of the shop assistants in that entire department were with us. All over a microwave on the floor and us sitting on chairs having a good laugh.

It really was a pleasure to be assisted by these guys. Shaking hands, back slapping and winking went on while the fully functional microwave was repacked.

“Can I have the adapter please?” I asked knowing that I needed one and wondered if they would just throw this one in as a freebie.

“Pardon sir?”

“I need the adapter” I repeated.

Several of the guys looked really concerned.

“Are you ok sir?” There was genuine worry on their faces and awkward shuffling.

You need a doctor sir?”

“Doctor???” They thought Steve said he needed a doctor.

“I need an adapter – not a doctor!!!!”

Well – the howls and hoots and laughter must have travelled throughout the entire mall.

But it was a great situation and a true demonstration of the Filipino sense of fun. Believe me I we could do with some of that magic in the stores in the west.

Jeff Harvie is an Australian Registered Migration Agent (MARN 0959797) who has given up the quiet life in Australia a few years back for one more adventurous with his Filipina wife and kids in Manila, Philippines. He runs Down Under Visa, which specialises in Australian partner visas for those Aussie men who fall madly in love with the local girls and want to bring them to Australia.
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