Bantayan Island Weather Update, Tuesday July 26, 2011

A low pressure system has remained over the northern part of Cebu for more than a week that has affected the weather on Bantayan Island with cooler and wetter days and nights.

For those of us who live here, the lower temperatures have been a welcomed repose.

Sunrise walks on the white sand beaches and a leisurely afternoon swim in the warm waters of Santa Fe have been increasingly more enjoyable with the overcast skies.

Yesterday I saw a man walking on the streets of Santa Fe with a heavy jacket on. Temperatures have remained warm, but for some I suppose it feels colder.

If you are planning a trip to Bantayan Island, don’t be discouraged by the rain or overcast skies. The island is still a very beautiful and wonderful destination for relaxation, and a chance to live on an island paradise for awhile.

When Buying Property on Bantayan Island

Having just completed the purchase of a beach front lot on Bantayan Island, I have learned many things concerning the purchase of land and some of the correct procedures for doing so.

First of all, it is quite normal for a piece of land to have no title when you make an inquiry to purchase a lot or parcel of land. It may even be possible that the land has already been subdivided among family members who never formally had the land surveyed or acquired a title for each parcel.

The prospective sellers will assure you that they will give you a “Tax Declaration” and assure you that this document is enough to show ownership of the land. This is not true and should you pay the full cash price for the land and accept a tax declaration for the property, you do not own the land and may never be able to get a title for the property that you have just paid for.

There have been numerous cases in the Philippine courts where a person has purchased a parcel of land and accepted a tax declaration from the seller, that later lost the land and all of the money that they paid for the land. Under no circumstances ever accept a tax declaration as proof of ownership. You should not give the sellers the full cash price for the land before your name is on the title for the land.

It is customary and a normal part of the purchase of land in the Philippines, to have a “Contract to Sell” signed by yourself as the buyer and the seller of the land. Contained within this document are the various provisions that you and the seller will agree to upon the signing of the document.

Some of these provisions may include an agreement to give you a title upon the final payment of the amount owed on the land. At the signing of the Contract to Sell, you are formally entering into an agreement to purchase the land from the seller, and they are agreeing to sell you the property if the conditions of the contract are met. This document protects both the buyer and the seller from any future problems down the road and ensures that everything that both parties believed that they were going to receive as a part of the sale, are fulfilled.

I would suggest that you pay no more that 50% of the agreed price at the signing of the Contract to Sell. Also included would be the agreement that upon the signing of the agreement, you as the buyer will receive immediate possession of the land and have the right to start building a home or any other legal structure on the land. When I first became aware of this provision of the contract to sell, I was shocked that a seller would give the buyer possession of land that was not fully paid for and titled. I later learned that this is normal and customary in the Philippines.

It should be defined in the contract to sell, just who will pay for the fees necessary to secure the title, and how much the buyer and the seller will share in these costs. Although one would think that it is the seller’s sole responsibility to secure the title, Filipinos do not always see things this way. You may have to negotiate with your seller to come to an equitable agreement for how much they will pay and how much you will pay. Get it all in writing.

If all of the documents are in order, it should take about 3 months to obtain the title to the property you are purchasing. At least six weeks of this time are dedicated to the publication notice for a title in a local newspaper for six consecutive weeks. The other six weeks are the time that an attorney or qualified person would require to process the documents necessary to obtain the title for your new parcel of land.

As a part of and an attachment to the Contract to Sell is a “Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement” for the parcel of land you are buying. This document defines the legal area of land that you are buying in relation to the land around it. In many cases the land you are buying was originally a part of a “Mother Deed” that has never been subdivided. Although all the heirs of the land may currently be occupying the property or may have already sold their share of land to someone else, the land may not have ever been formally subdivided with a title for each parcel.

Unfortunately, you must have the signature of everyone who is an heir of the land, with their proper identity indicated on the document and have the entire document notarized by an attorney.

In the Philippines, only an attorney can notarize documents. This means that the person who will sign your documents as having authentic signatures, has gone to 8 years of college. His or her fee will be from 1-5 percent of the contract price. On a parcel of land that is being purchased for 1.5 million Pesos, the attorney can charge you from P15,000 to P75,000 Pesos. This fee is negotiable, so make sure that you find a good reputable attorney who is familiar with real estate law in the Philippines and has processed land titles in the past. It is acceptable to offer the attorney less than 1-5 percent, but many will not budge on at least 1 percent of the contract price.

The actual processing of the title will require additional documents such as a “Deed of Absolute Sale”, a complete survey of the land and subdivision of the lots on the Mother Title, and a processing fee with documents drawn up by an attorney to obtain the title. All of this can cost you from 15,000 Pesos to over 200,000 pesos depending on the attorney you hire. Take in to account these amounts when you begin your negotiation with the seller. Note the amounts or percentage to be shared between the buyer and seller on the Contract to Sell.

In future posts on this subject I will give you additional information regarding the purchase of land on Bantayan Island and the correct procedure for buying land and obtaining a title to that land. I will also discuss how to build a home on Bantayan Island and the correct procedure for the construction process.

Rob Robinson

New Future Photos From Nikon D-700

We are very excited to be back on Bantayan Island to live amongst the people and island that we have grown to love so much. We are currently renting a three bedroom house in Santa Fe and have completed the purchase of our beach front lot. All that is needed now is the funds to complete the construction of a small home for Marissa and I. As the Lord guides, He provides, so we are confident that we will have what is needed, when it is needed.

One of the plans that we have as a part of our move to the island is to produce thousands of high quality photo images of Bantayan Island to show the world what a wonderful and special place this tiny island is.

We have acquired a new Nikon D-700 Digital DSLR Camera and Nikon Nikkor 14-24mm Ultra Wide Angle Lens to capture the splendor of Bantayan. This team of Camera body and Lens should allow us to display to the world just how incredible the beauty of Bantayan Island truly is.

I have begun taking a few pictures with the new wide angle team during our recent trip on Mid-Sea Express from Bantayan Island to Cebu and back. We were able to show the beauty of the island landscape and sea in a wide angle aspect that would otherwise be impossible without the new camera/lens team. Shots from inside the aircraft of Mid-Sea air show amazing detail of the passengers and crew cabin that would be impossible to see by use of a conventional prime lens.

The pictures of the passenger waiting area on Mactan Island reveal the entire panoramic scene of the lounge because of the wide angle, that we would not be able to show you without this equipment. I must say that the Nikon D-700 and Ultra Wide Lens are the best equipment that I have ever used. I am personally very excited about what we will be able to show you in upcoming days once the weather clears up here on the island.

Bantayan Island Weather Update: July 24, 2011

For the past week, Bantayan Island has been experiencing a bout with wet weather. Beginning in the morning, clouds gather until mid morning when light rain turns into a torrential downpour by lunch time. Later in the afternoon, winds begin to pick up and by 4 or 5 pm the waves around the island have began to whitecap, bringing wave swells on to the beaches of Santa Fe.

If you are planning a ride to Bantayan Island on the Ferry, expect rough seas at best and many delays in departures at the worst.

During our last trip from Hagnaya to the port of Santa Fe, the waves and sea were quite treacherous. If it had not been for two Dramamine tablets, I would have become sea sick for sure. During the hour and 15 minute trip, many of the passengers were green in the face with nausea by the time we arrived at Santa Fe port.

This past weekend there was an obvious lack of the normal weekend tourist influx for the island, probably due to the rainy weather and rough seas.

Marissa and I took a walk on the beach today at about 4 pm. While we scanned the sand for sea shells we could feel the wonderful cool breeze on our faces from the onshore air coming into the island from the open sea. uncharacteristic swells in the waves coming on shore were nearly large enough for surfing, even though we never see anyone on Bantayan Island attempt a ride on the waves that do occasionally happen during storms like we have experienced this past week.

If you are planning a trip to Bantayan Island during the rainy periods that do happen frequently during this time of year, do not be discouraged from coming to the island. The cooler temperatures and light rain on your face will be delightful. The water is still about 80 degrees and pure joy to swim in, no matter what the weather is like.

Rob Robinson

Mid-Sea Express, Cebu to Bantayan Island

A few days ago, Marissa and I had the privilege of flying round trip on the new Mid-Sea Express Aircraft that has began service to Bantayan Island from Cebu.

What a joy it was to experience a short 30 minute flight compared to the normal 3 hour bus ride, followed by a 1 1/2 hour ferry ride to Bantayan Island.

The fare each way from Cebu to Bantayan Island is just P1,500 Pesos. When we compare this cost to those of flights in the U.S., the price seems very fair. We understand that the average Filipino may view the fare as a little steep, but when you consider what your time and safety is worth, P3,000 round trip for an extremely pleasant trip to Bantayan is a great value.

Traveling along the road from the North bus terminal in Cebu to the port at Hagnaya, one puts their life in the hands of a bus driver who seems to think he is in the Indianapolis 500 road race in America. Darting in and out of traffic with a thousand blasts of the bus horn can leave a person with frazzled nerves and a increased prayer life in thankfulness to the Lord that you finally arrived safe.

When you arrive at Hagnaya, the harrowing journey continues as two dozen porters surround you with their efforts to transport your baggage to the ferry waiting area for a few pesos.

Once you are upon the ferry to Santa Fe from Hagnaya, if the seas are rough on that particular day, you will find that the final hour and a half can leave you sea sick. Marissa and I always take a Dramamine before we board the ferry just in case.

I will leave you with a slideshow of some photos that I took on a recent round trip flight from Bantayan Island to Cebu and back. Hope you enjoy the pictures. Write us here and let everyone know about your travel experience to Bantayan Island.

Rob Robinson

A Slideshow of photos from Mid Sea Air, Bantayan Island to Cebu in July 2011

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Here is the return trip we made from Cebu back to Bantayan Island:

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The Blessedness of Simplicity

After nearly six grueling months in the States, we have finally returned to Bantayan Island where life has taken a soft slumber reminiscent of village life in the Philippines one hundred years ago.

The sale of our home completed, we packed up our few belongings and made the 20-hour journey to our tiny seven by ten mile island atol that is to be our new permanent home. I am writing to you today from our small rental home along the shores of Santa Fe Beach, on Bantayan Island.

From the moment that we stepped back upon the white sands of this beloved island, we felt a surge of peace and tranquility that we have not felt since our last stay here this past January. This morning as I prepared myself to open my Macbook and write the first article since settling in, my wife walked the short distance to the open air market to purchase our daily groceries.

Every morning at about six, the local fishermen and farmers gather in the town square to offer the public their proud display of fresh fish, meats and vegetables.

The wonderful bright colors of the vegetables, mixed with the smell of fresh fruit and meat leave you with a sensation in shopping that we have never experienced in the U.S.

colorful fresh vegetables on Bantayan Island

The people of Bantayan Island do not store a week’s worth of vegetables in their refrigerator or “Ref” as they refer to it here, they simply walk to the market every morning and buy what they need for that day. In this way they save on electricity in running a refrigerator and the unending waste that Americans experience in having unused food spoil in their refrigerators.

This past Friday we took a short 30 minute flight from the island of Bantayan, back to the larger island of Cebu. There we took a taxi to one of the very large and well supplied and modern malls.

When we arrived on Bantayan Island we brought with us a small television and DVD player from the states. These electronic appliances are manufactured to use 110 electric current. The Philippine islands supply 220 volt current. If you plug your American appliances into Philippine electrical outlets, you will immediately see a puff of smoke and hear the sound of crackling as your electronic appliance is “fried” from the inside-out.

Most Americans who bring these appliances to the islands, purchase a “step-down” transformer that lowers the 220 current of the Philippines to the American standard of 110. One of our purchases in Cebu was for one of these step down converters. Other purchases included a small German made hot water heater for our bathroom shower and sink.

In the Philippines, the majority of the 93 million people who live here, do not use any hot water in their homes whatsoever. They have grown accustomed to the shock of a cold shower and even enjoy the refreshment that the cold water gives them after a day in the hot and humid climate of their homeland.

The aircraft that we journeyed from Bantayan Island to Cebu in is a small 10-passenger plane that skims across the land and water at about 3-5,000 feet.

10 passenger aircraft from Bantayan Island to Cebu

This allows for a wonderful view of the clear emerald green waters of the islands and the lush tropical vegetation. It was a delight to be able to land in Cebu after just a 30-minute flight. The normal route to Cebu from Bantayan Island is by a 3-hour bus ride and 1 1/2-hour ferry.

Emerald green waters of Bantayan Island

After our first week back on Bantayan Island we have become aware that possessing less materially and in living a quiet and simple life everyday, is where the blessedness of life dwells.

It seems that the Lord did not create any of us to undergo the daily stress that an abundant material life provides us. It is in getting back to a simple and carefree lifestyle that we understand now just how wonderful life can be.

We look forward to future posts here in sharing with you the life and culture of Bantayan Island, as well as edifying and encouraging Bible studies and articles. Thank you to all of our readers who have patiently waited for us to complete our move, without the benefit of a flow of articles the past two months.

We look forward to sharing with you this incredible island and people from the perspective of an outsider who is daily becoming more “Filipino” in his inner man.

Rob Robinson