I recorded this video while walking down the main staircase from the 2nd Floor to the Main Lobby. The light is pretty dim and going down the stairs makes it shaky. I figured it would be a good way to test the phone’s ability to record video in low light. It didn’t perform very well. The video is shaky and grainy. Hopefully it performs better in bright light situations.
One of the biggest problems to overcome when you’re in the US and have family and friends in the Philippines is finding a cheap way to stay in touch. There are a lot of options out there for cheap communication to the Philippines, which I’m still sorting through, but to keep things cheap for the person in the Philippines, there’s an easy option.
When I came back to the US, I brought my prepaid Globe phone with me and set it to International Roaming through their website. This allows people in the Philippines to send messages and calls to my phone at local rates. It also allows me to receive those messages at the same local rates, which in Globe’s case is free. They have no incoming fees. So, that’s 1 way communication at a cheap rate.
The problem comes in when you reply back and use up your credit, or when the credit expires. Credit added to Globe prepaid phones is only valid for a certain number of days before it expires. Either way, you eventually need to add credit to your prepaid number. As far as I know, there’s no way to do this through Globe’s website. I’ve read a few board threads here and there where people suggest buying Globe reload cards through eBay. It’s also possible to send money to your relative back home and have them get credit added to your phone there. The first way is a hassle for you, and the other way is a hassle for your relative. There is one other way, though.
You can buy a 10.99 ezetop reload card, which is powered by Fastcard. They’re the same people that do most of the online game reload cards and the local US prepaid cards. I picked up this one in a Rite Aid in New York City. You scratch off the silver stuff to reveal the PIN, call the 1-800 number, enter your PIN, the phone number you want to load, confirm the mobile operator and that’s it. Your load hits your phone as an AutoLoadMAX reload.
There’s a catch though. I went back and read the fine print after receiving confirmation of my credit being added to my phone because I was a little surprised at the actual amount I was credited with. Let’s do some math. As of today, 10.99 USD is 473.34 PHP. How much of that was actually credited to my phone? 300 PHP. That means I lost 173.34 PHP, or about 4 USD, in the transaction for miscellaneous fees. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you think about it, that’s almost 1/3 of the cost of the card.
So, what I’ve learned here is that if I’m really hurting for a reload on my Globe phone, I do have an option here in the US. However, if I’m not in a rush, the hassle I might put my relative in the Philippines through putting credit on my phone is worth it considering the fees involved with this method.
If you’re wondering, these cards work for the Globe, SMART, and Touch Philippines mobile operators.
The Philippines is sometimes called the texting capital of the world and from what I’ve seen it’s true. People in the Philippines, and Filipinos in general, seem to text non-stop. In the US, it’s most common for people to have contract based plans with cell phone carriers and those plans usually have plenty of, if not unlimited, voice minutes. Before coming to Asia, I can count the number of times I sent a text message on two hands and those were because someone texted me first. Since then I’ve sent thousands, sometimes upwards of 200 per day. Texting is the preferred method of communication in the Philippines, and other parts of Asia I’ve been to, mostly because it’s cheaper than voice calling.
Like I said, in the US most people have contract based plans. Now, texting is catching on and people have the option to get unlimited texting packages added to their monthly bill. In the Philippines, the majority of people don’t have contract plans; they use pre-paid instead. If you’ve never heard of that, pre-paid is when you pay the carrier, either by purchasing a card with a set value, through an ATM, Internet banking, or even through distributors / resellers that can transfer value to your phone. In the Philippines, this value is referred to as “load”. That’s why when you look at photos of the Philippines you’ll often see signs that say “Load na Dito!” It means “Load Available Here!”. You can go to those stores and have value added to your prepaid SIM. That’s another thing. Phones in the Philippines are all based on GSM / SIM cards. There’s no CDMA like Verizon and Sprint use in the US. At least, not that I’m aware of.
Another way to have value added to your pre-paid SIM is by transfer from a friend or family member. Well, it doesn’t have to be a friend or family member. Anyone can transfer value to your SIM and it only carries a 1 PHP fee, to be paid by the sender. This is where the scam comes in.
Now, I want to say that only an idiot would fall for these scams, but the fact that it’s an ongoing problem shows that people do in fact fall for them and fairly regularly. The exact wording of the scams vary, but it usually goes along the lines of a ‘friend’ loses their phone and gets a new one, but needs you to send them ‘load’ until they can get their own and pay you back. Sometimes they add a name to the text message, so that in the event the recipient does know someone by that name, they’ll be more likely to follow through and send a transfer.
I’ve probably received 20 or 30 messages like this in the past 4 months. I deleted most of them, but here are some recent samples:
If you ever happen to visit the Philippines and you have a GSM phone, it’s easy to get a prepaid SIM to use while you’re in the country. Just be aware that you’ll likely find yourself receiving messages like this and you shouldn’t fall for it. Of course, it’s more obvious if you’re just a tourist because who else would you know here that would ask you for load?