Spending cuts, new expenses: Updates on our life in pandemic paradise

Masboi sailboats at sunset on Boracay Island.

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen

Hello and Happy New Year, dear readers! We took some time off from the blog and weekly newsletter.

In fact, the weekly newsletter will now be monthly or bimonthly, depending on how much value info we can bring to subscribers during our travel pause.

Updates on life in pandemic paradise

We decided to stay at the Hangout Beach Resort for February 2021, but we have not committed to beyond that. While it’s an option to stay, we do need to reign in our spending this year. We blew our budget last year helping people.

Spending cutbacks

Now, we have our own expenses to address (such as taxes, property upkeep, medical tests, etc.).

The Hangout is a large two-bedroom, ocean-view apartment with oven, air conditioners, balcony, and more. It’s a great place. When Theo’s Mom Diane was here, it was spacious enough for three people.

But we can cut our rent by 60 percent with a one-bedroom apartment, if we decide to stay in Malay beyond February. We shall wait and see.

We’ve already cut back in other areas. One example: my weekly gatherings in Balusbos with the kids are done. Sharing a meal with 20-plus children and playing games is on hold indefinitely. The group is too big now, and local rules prevent large gatherings.

Mostly, we have to stop giving money away as gifts and tips because our own expenses have increased and we have a limited budget. Travel will be more expensive, as well, once we do finally leave.

Price increases, new Boracay fee

Prices are increasing here. I’ve seen notices about electric rates going up. I spend more on vegetables and grocery supplies because typhoons have pushed prices up. Tricycle (local taxi) unions are requesting fare increases in the region (can’t blame them).

There is a new ‘environmental and admission fee’ to go to Boracay Island: 300 pesos per foreign national. That’s us. And that’s hefty.

Translation in dollars: it will cost $12 (!) to go to Boracay Island for me and Theo – $6 each.

Here is the announcement posted on Facebook.

Announcement by the local government in Malay, Aklan, Philippines, about the new fee to enter Boracay Island.

Theo says he’s no longer going over. I have to – to keep my sanity, so I guess I will pay $6 once a week, and cut back on tips. The government will get the money – not people I interact with.

The ‘fee’ is really a “skin tax”, as a local friend calls it. Yet the Boracay ‘fee’ hits Filipinos, too, as my friend also points out. It’s $3 per person if a Filipino does not live in Aklan Province.

The admission and environmental fee starts on February 1.

Medical expenses

We also had medical expenses recently.

I finally saw an oncologist. I’m supposed to see a doctor twice a year, but the ‘Rona virus made that a real challenge since there are none full-time in Aklan Province. I skipped my summer check up.

It was more than a year since my last consultation and check up. (In 2019, in Cebu, Philippines.) So, to kick off 2021, I needed a bunch of tests which cost a couple hundred dollars.

Here is me in a hallway of a private clinic, waiting for an ultrasound examination of several organs. Mask and shield, hand sanitizer at the ready, distanced from others.

Ellen takes a selfie while waiting for an ultrasound exam at MMG Clinic in Kalibo.

I still need one more expensive test, but initial results seem to be cancer free. (I’ll write a separate post once that’s all done.)

Theo had a health hiccup of his own recently and needed some medical tests. I’ll let him tell you about that experience, if he feels like sharing it.

A looming expense for me: new glasses. I haven’t had new ones in nearly three years. Kind of a big deal when I wear them on my face to see the world every single day.

Pandemic Paradise

We realize many of our American brothers and sisters back ‘home’ don’t have it nearly as good as us. I have watched with unsurprised horror at developments in recent months from a virtual pandemic paradise.

Of course, every paradise has its problems, and ours is no exception. The virus lurks. We wish we could help people more. Internet and data service is ridiculously slow and it’s so frustrating. I miss travel.

I feel kinda stale having been in one spot for nearly 10 months! I am grateful for where we are at the moment. Yet I dream of Israel, Egypt, Turkey… and lately, especially my first travel love: Mexico.

Thanks for reading, “Spending cuts, new expenses: Updates on our life in pandemic paradise.”

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