Friday, June 17, 2016


My wife Lydia recently had some matters to take care of at the Bureau of Immigration, but she arrived  early and the office was still closed. So she went to a nearby Starbucks to kill time and have a refreshment until the the doors opened.  This got me to thinking: What if Starbucks operated like the BI or for that matter like most government offices in the Philippines that serve the public. I suppose the procedure for,  say, getting a cup of coffee would go something like this:

Upon entering Starbucks, proceed to Window 1. Submit  two pieces of identification plus two  1x1 photos, and request Application Form SBA in duplicate.

Complete the original SBA and file it at  Window 6.

Present  the completed SBA duplicate copy at Window 4 and request order form SBO in triplicate. If you want cream and sugar, complete Form SBCS and attach it to the SBO.

Present the completed SBO forms A,B, and C to the Cashier and pay the required amount along with a P50  Express Lane fee. Retain the duplicate copies along with your payment receipt.

Present your SBO duplicate copies B and C and your payment receipt at Window 3 for approval and  validation of your order.

To complete your purchase return to Window 4 and submit your validated SBO duplicate copy B.  Retain Copy C.

Allow 7 working days for preparation and completion of your purchase.

To receive your order, present SBO Copy C plus two forms of identification at Window 2. Your purchase will then be released.

Now wouldn't it be great instead if  Government offices were run like Starbucks? To this  end here's what President-Elect had this to say as per an article  'No Queues Please'' in the Malaya Business Insight: ''I hate seeing people queueing (sic). My proposal is that clearances and business permits will be processed within 72 hours''.  If he can institute these kinds of reform when  he takes office, imagine walking up to the counter (no more windows) of a government agency and hearing the clerk  say "Good morning, may I take your order?''

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Retired But Not Retiring

Until the early 2000's when I was still living and working in California, I never would have dreamed that I would be spending my "golden years" in the Philippines. Yet as a result of my wife Lydia's persuasiveness and careful planning, it's been more than 10 years now since we retired and expatriated to this country.And as I have mentioned in previous posts, it was one of the smartest moves we ever made.In February I will celebrate my 71st birthday. This puts me well into the senior range, which in the Philippines officially begins at age 60.

As a foreigner,  with the exception  of  20% senior citizens discount on certain goods and services,  I still receive many of the perks and privileges that come with advanced age in this country, such as access to the senior checkout and lanes  in supermarkets and priority service at government offices. Another is the option to use the senior section on the MRT and LRT commuter trains here in Metro-Manila.That is a benefit which I very much appreciate. It's not much fun to have to ride in the other rail cars which are often jam packed with passengers, face to armpit and where I was pick-pocketed not just once but twice. 

But aside from  necessary excursions outside the home where they might avail of the above services, traditionally, the elderly in the Philippines often just  stay indoors where they are encouraged to spend their remaining years in a sedentary manner while family members and / or house help take care of them. And if they do go out, it's usually with  assistance.In that regard, as seniors my wife and I are anomalies. We don't live with family members and don't have hired help. For despite our ages,  we are fortunately able to maintain an independent lifestyle.  Lydia is a few years older than I am but still moves like a teenager and does extensive housework daily. And despite an acute and occasionally painful medical condition, I still have the stamina to run errands and manage personal affairs for both of us that occasionally require day trips outside local community. Lydia also does this as well, and in addition she travels to her home province at least once a month where she is following up on a complicated legal case, and which is one that requires the  energy and knowledge that would exhaust a person half her age. To that end, I spend much of my time acting as her "gofer" to ease her burden in this matter, which of course is  the least I can do.

However,  for us as seniors,  circumstances such as physical and mental fitness can turn on a dime for the worse. So  the question is whether there will come a time when our years catch up to us and we are no longer capable of conducting our present autonomous lifestyle. Lydia's response is not to pretend that scenario can't happen but rather to enjoy life in the present while taking appropriate precautions for the future.  I  think that's sage advice which is as reasonably optimistic as it sensibleat any age.