Our trip to
The Philippines
with our children in 1999



  The Jeepney - Typical Philippine transportation  


This trip was done between Jan 15 and March 16 in 1999. Since we got our first child in 1993, we hadn't been to the Philippines, so my wife was really "home-sick"!

The flight Stockholm - Manila took about 20 hours, but the children could sleep much of the time without problems, and didn't care. ( If you fly a 747 with children, I can recommend the 4-seat rows in the middle !) The actual travelling - with children - was no problem. The problems came later !

After two nights in Manila, we went to Norma's home village. This means 1 hour by plane, 2 hours by bus and finally 1 hour by boat. It doesn't sound too much, but in the Philippines that's a full day ! We then reached our destination: Brgy. Beta-Ug on the island of Daram in Samar Sea, west of Catbalogan.



Catbalogan - Looking for a boat to Daram.
Two lost children in a totally strange environment.
The village Beta-Ug on Daram island.
30 bamboo cottages on a beach.



In the kitchen with my brother-in-law (standing). My children with their youngest cousin.


In Beta-Ug we stayed with my wife's brother, in a cottage with no electricity, no water and no sanitary comfort. The pigs living below the floor boards also added some "atmosphere" !

Living like this can be hard for any foreigner, and by this time we had all started to get sick. We probably caught some infection on the plane to RP, so we were now coughing and having fever around 39 deg-C. The new environment was a bit of a shock to the children, and they reacted by refusing to eat and drink almost anything. When one child got better, the other was once again back in high fever !

It probably had been better if we first had gone to a good beach resort, and there let the children get used to the climate and this country step by step. Not being prepared for these conditions, I believe, can help make the slightest infection serious.



Bed time in Beta-Ug.
My wife's sister-in-law with her two children and guests.
A sick Michael
resting in a home made hammock.


However, even if we were weak, we could still be social part of the time. Since my wife's sister-in-law is the school teacher in the village, we of course had to visit the little school. We also had lots of visitors, like my wife's sisters Leticia from Manila and Lolita from a nearby island.

The slaughter and roasting of a pig, was one day's big event. The pig was then loaded on a boat and a lot of relatives and the entire population of Beta-Ug went on pic-nic at a cemetery, visiting my wife's dead parents !!



The school in Beta-Ug.
My wife's sister-in-law teaching grade 1-3.
Leticia and Lolita,
my wife's two sisters.



On a pic-nic boat trip. - I'm sitting between my sister-in-law (Lolita) and her husband.
In front of us is my other sister-in-law (Leticia).



The typical Philippine bankas.
Taking off for the pic-nic.
A clean beach,
just hundred meters from the village.
I'm taking a swim in the background.


After ten days in Beta-Ug, our children still didn't seem to get better. They only got weaker and weaker ! On the island was no help to get, and the medical care in Catbalogan we had tried some times before and couldn't trust. The nearest "civilization" was Tacloban, which usually means a bumpy bus ride for more than 2 hours from Catbalogan. In our condition, that didn't sound too good either.

We then heard that my brother-in-law was going to borrow a big boat from his sister and her husband, and go to Tacloban to buy a new motor for his own boat. We quickly packed our things and went over to the sister on the nearby island, Zumarraga. There we had a farewell party, and were ready to join the boat to Tacloban the next morning.



Philippine Shower.
My wife cleaning Michael on the veranda.
Farewell party.
My wife dancing with her brother-in-law.


The boat trip was a little more than 3 hours, and we landed just a block away from the best hotel in town. It was still early after-noon, but we went straight to bed and slept till the next morning.

We then went to Devine Word Hospital to see a doctor. Me and my wife only got antibiotics, but the children were immediately hospitalized with phneumonia. This was not a hospital to be compared with Swedish standards. My wife had to stay with the children day and night to help them, and the food they served ....! However, the Dextros bottles the children were attached to and a lot of antibiotics made them stronger, and after a few days they started to eat bananas and chips that I brought there.



Divine Word Hospital.
The staff lined up
The breakfast coffee.
Michael doesn't seem too hungry.


For 4 days they stayed in the hospital. The bill ended at 20.000 Pesos (=4.000 SEK) which was later paid by the insurance. But there can still be a problem, when they don't accept cards and want it all in cash ! After a day in the hotel, we flew up to Manila and stayed with some Swedish friends. A nice house, a swimming pool and Swedish food for a few days, made us all feel better and the children were back to normal again.

The rest of our vacation we spent at Bauang Beach in La Union. This place could be reached by bus in 4-5 hours at our previous visits, but now it took more than 7 hours due to the increased traffic! Here it's easy to live, and a cottage can be rent for 250 P/day. The beach is not the whitest, but it's endless and safe for children. And it's not crowded with tourists !



Bauang Beach.
Inspecting the fishermen's catch.
Philippine friends.
Tom-Tom, Geobert and Michael.



Getting wet - 1.
Splashing in 29 Deg-C hot water.
Getting wet - 2.
Shower in the tropical rain.


It was a surprise to see that McDonalds had invaded the Philippines too. The children celebrated their birthdays (4 and 6) there with a "Happy Meal". One strange thing: Here everybody wants spaghetti to their hamburger, so if you want French Fries you must wait for them to fry it !

Then all good things come to an end ! Departure went smoothly, and British Airways took us safely back to a cold and snowy Sweden.



Birthday at McDonalds.
Playing more than eating.
Ninoy Aquino airport, Manila.
Departure time.


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