Pasko (Christmas) is near and I am busy here in the Philippines searching the islands for wheelchair and walker friendly venues, locations and adventures.
First and foremost there is no happier place on earth than the Philippines at Christmas time! Not only is commercialism kept to a minimum, Christmas music fills the air every place you go, and both homes and businesses are lit up. Even the homeless and orphaned children go about their rounds, singing Christmas Carols instead of begging, in an effort to earn what few pisos they may. (In Philippines, it is spelled PISO, see the above photo.)
Except for the brown faces of the Filipino people, the Philippines at Christmas is much like American Christmas of years past, specifically the 1950′s. I only wish everyone could experience it at least once in their lifetime.
Now for the task-report at hand:
So far I have scoped out 100 Islands (aka: Hundred Islands), in Alaminos, Pangasinan. and Angeles City, Pampanga, as well as a couple of locations in Manila
.Hundred Islands is now a National Park and Fish Sanctuary. It is one of the most beautiful places you will ever visit, especially if you enjoy the ocean. The location boasts more than one hundred small to medium sized islands.
To reach either HUNDRED ISLANDS or ANGELES CITY, you may take either a FIVE STAR or VICTORY LINER bus. (Those choosing Angeles City will depart at “Dau“.) We chose to ride FIVE STAR. Not only was the AIR CONDITIONED bus comfortable, and even played both American and Pilipino movies, but disabled persons are given the option to sit in the front seats, should they ask. Yes I did). To be fair, throughout the years I have ridden both bus companies, and have not had any major problems to report. VICTORY LINER also has air-conditioned (Called Express) buses and most have movies also. It is important when traveling the Philippines to remember that ALL “Express” or “Air Conditioned” buses are NO SMOKING, while the “Regular Fare” buses do jot have air conditioning and DO allow smoking The fares are only about 100 pisos ($4.00). Not only were the buses spotless, both the driver and the porter assisted me in boarding and exiting the bus. THUMBS UP for the FIVE STAR BUS company! .
You may hire a boat and boats-man for the day or even just a few hours. He will take you on a tour around the islands and bring you back to the dock. However, for those who wish a romantic and secluded getaway… YOU MAY RENT AN ENTIRE ISLAND! Your boats-man (boats here are called “banka”) will gladly run back and forth to the mainland to fetch things for you, or take you to other islands. The most expensive island being “Governors Island” which has a magnificent Casa in which you will enjoy the night. (Once you rent an island, no one else may dock there.) The people at hundred Islands are courteous, friendly and helpful. I used my walker and was assisted throughout the compound and eve by the tricycle driver I hired in Alaminos, who stayed with us the entire trip for only 300 pisos (About $12.00 as of this date. (Note that the Philippine PISO is spelled with an “I” and not an “E”).
For those of you who wish to visit FIELDS AVENUE in ANGELES CITY, the Night Life Capital of the Philippines, GOOD NEWS, be sure to watch for soon to be posted video and written reports on disco’s, clubs and hotels that welcome handicapped/disabled (physically challenged) individuals! (I will return in January). I will also report on a few to avoid. I will download these in January, upon my return.).
I also want to advise you that I traveled by CHINA AIRLINES for the first time, and I was treated EXCELLENTLY, by their courteous and smiling staff. However, despite sending them a faxed copy of both my iteniery and boarding passes, I was only given 50% of the frequent flyer miles! If you traveled as frequently as I do, that 7,000 to 8,000 miles is important! It is a shame that the frequent flyer program should undermine the great work done by the in-flight staff. I booked by ORBITZ,
Be sure to check back for more information on this trip/adventure, as I will continue to update, video and photograph my travels. Today it is raining so I thought it would be a good time to update the blog and work on the Word and Phrase Guide that will soon be available.
REMEMBER: If you have any personal experiences in which you experienced GOOD or BAD treatment while you were IN, GOING TO, or RETURNING FROM the Philippines, please feel free to tell us. But I ask that you please be SPECIFIC in names, dates and locations.
I myself am a BK amputee with recent heart surgery. But my love for this country is second to none, and I continue to guide and assist others with their travels, as well as the gathering and preparation of their immigration documents and exhibits for their immigration petitions. So, if you have been thinking about traveling to the Philippines, but think your own disability makes it impossible, just ask yourself,…If “I” can do it, why can’t you? (In fact, if you wish to have a guide-companion, just write me today!)
(Note: As much as I hate to use the words “handicapped and disabled and/or physically challenged”, such words must be used for the sake of search engines. In fact, without the use of such words, you may not have even found this page! Be sure to read the complete website at:
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FEEDBACK: As always, your comments, questions and/or suggestions are invited and greatly appreciated! Also, Should you have a “Philippine Based or Related” story you would like covered, please feel free to contact us! (Priority will be gioven to disability-related stories.). We are also interested in great Pilipino foods! If you have a favorite Carenderia or restaurant you think makes the greatest dish, let us know about it and what makes the food so great!
We are also always searching for host families in the Philippines, for our reporters/verifiers to stay (usually just 2 or 3 days) , this allows us to save money, help host families, and be neutral in reporting since it saves us from having any fiduciary interest or link to the location/s we are reporting.. Dont worry about the size of your house, or even if it is finished, we are adaptable. Even Bahay Kubo or Dampa, we have seen and experienced it all! (Any and all Host family contacts or identification is strictly confidential.)