Opening a can worms for sure. To start with PI, I have been living there for the past 12 years as I have been married to Margaret (Filipina) for 13 years. But, during that 12 years Margaret and I spent 3 1/2 years in Taif, Saudi Arabia. Taif was also where I had my KLR for 8 momths before we shipped it to PI at the end of that contract.
And Margaret and I then spent 4 years in Amman, Jordan, and I will finish a 2 year contract here in Riyadh in August. Thus, 9+ years on contract while maintaining a home in the Philippines.
When Margaret and I built our 1st house, we were on a semi-remote island called Guimaras Island. It was a two 1/2 hour trip (1 hr by air & the rest via both ground and a boat) south of Manila. I also rode the KLR 2 times to Manila from our little island and it takes 2 days of riding and three Roll On - Roll Off (Ro-Ro's) Ferries to complete the adventure. We were able to sell that property and then when we left Amman, Margaret and I decided to build our new home outside of Manila.
Manila is OK for shopping, but to me the pollution (sound, vehicle and environmental trash) traffic congestion just sucks. Where we live, I found a ex-pat group (guys from Aus, US, France, Germany, Greek, Austrian, Brits) to pal around with i.e. drink a couple of beers. It's a good support group for general and specific knowledge to live/retire in PI as well as a diverse skill set to help others when needed.
As for riding in PI - It's an ADVENTURE, just like driving here in Saudi. I think 1/2 the Filipinos in PI learned to drive here in the Middle East. 1st off, even in and around Manila you have a verity of road surfaces such as cement, asphalt and these surfaces are layed down very cheaply and thus break down pretty fast. When a hole develops in a cement road they fill it with asphalt and visa versa for a asphalt road. Any bike over 200cc is a Big Bike and that is due to the economics of the country. Yes there are Real Big Bikes and some dedicated riders, some of them even fast on 2 wheels.
But in my view, about 95% of the Big Bike (CBR600RR, GSX, FZ, R1) riders have spent their money to make a fashion statement and do not have the skill (mind) set to to set up, ride or maintain their ride. But they look COOL.
Best bike for overall PI Travel is a KLR (of course) or a XR650R. Due to the heat and humidity Water Cooling is a must and as you can guess decent suspension. Then you have the main issue of bikes in PI - Maintenance. There are a lot of Shade Tree Mechanics out there so by default I do all my own work and upgrades.
Sorry to All for the LENGTH. More in Part 2-if you dare. Just ask specific questions and will answer all. Regards, Chris