Another update, this is becoming a habit!
We are here in Miri, a short 10 day day holiday as our Philippine visa was getting towards it's limit - when we return we should get another 16 months in 2 month increments. Our trip here was an Air Asia promo, only $22 each way from Manila, plus oncosts, departure taxes, airport charges etc and the flights Davao to Manila return. Never the less good value.
we have had a few long walks here so hopefully lose a few grams of weight. The day before yesterday we visited NIAH CAVES - very huge and famous for the oldest skeleton found in Asia, 40,000 years old. You can find pictures of the caves through Google.
Time has gone by quickly in the Philippines - 3 months holidaying on the motorbike, lots of socialising on Samal & Davao, doing a few projects on the boat, and attending to health issues. We have both had some dental work done. Gay's knees are inclined to swell up if we overdo things, and I have had MRI's on my knee and neck - right knee has a torn ACL and quadricept tendon, and my neck has 2 cracked vertebrae, pinched nerve root to arm, and protruding disc that narrows the spinal canal to 8mm. Doctor doesnt want to operate until this is down to 6mm, normal about 10 - 12mm. so it is a matter of living with it and taking pain relief when necessary. I think I need to increase the rum ration!
Once back in Philippines we really should extract our digits, and plan on sailing somewhere before we forget how - Palau is to the east of us, Indonesia to the south, Borneo west, and Taiwan & Japan to the north, so there is plenty of choice. Apart from that there are of course numerous islands in the Philippines as well. There has been a bit of Separatist trouble at both the bottom and top of the Sulu Archipeligo, an attack on the Tawau area of Sabah, and also an attack on Zamboanga. Why muslim separatists would want to machine gun other muslims in Zamboanga I really don't know, but this affects our planning on which way to sail. The trade winds blow 5 months from north east then same again from the south west, with short shoulder seasons, so we can certainly use the wind paterns to get somewhere then get back again.
Some reflections and observations in Philippines:
Food - is rarely hot - this doesn't seem to be a priority, and it is generally eaten with a spoon and fork - don't expect to see many knives at the dinner table.
Roads - generally concrete. expect a 3 lane road to end and become 2 lanes, with absolutely no warning about the lane ending. In 8000 kms of traveling on our motorbike I can only recall seeing about 2 speed limit signs! Have almost never seen a sign to denote city, town, or village limits, or even town names, or road names. This makes navigation a bit difficult. Thankfully yachty friend Terry lend us a handheld GPS for our motorbike travels.
Drivers - adopt a very fatalistic approach (no pun intended) Motorbikes, jeepneys, cars will just pull into a road, without so much as a glance and expect other drivers to slow down or change lanes to acommodate them. Traffic lanes are not always marked, but this doesn't matter as the road will fill up with as many vehicles that can fit, with only millimetres between them. Expect a car to turn right from the centre lane at the last second, instead of moving into the outer lane ahead of time, and vice versa. All this is accomplished with much grace and tranquility, and seldom a horn being heard. Possibly that is also because many horns along with lights, brake lights etc are just not working. Intercity buses travel quite fast, basically forcing everything including oncoming traffic to give way. The fact that everyone expects this means that there are fewer accidents than you would expect - I guess the rule is when in Rome, drive like a Roman. In Australia the same approach would lead to road rage, and in USA you would get shot!
Beaches are hard to access because land ownership seems to include the beach, and over the water to the reef drop off! There will be stone walls between each residence or resort, making a stroll along the beach impossible. So a trip to the beach generally involves going to a resort, and playing karaoke, which most Philippinos are very good at. A friend just won 20,000 pesos at a karaoke competition - not bad when the average wage is about 200 pesos a day. A friend  with a college degree is earning 100 pesos a day managing a small hair salon, very basic board included. There are about 40 pesos to the dollar, so lots of poor people here.
Not many public toilets around, so it is common to see men urinating u against wall everywhere - where the women go I have no idea, better bladders maybe.
Car windows are heavily tinted which makes reading the traffic awkward - you just see black & can't tell if a driver is looking your way & has seen you or not. also can't read the traffic ahead by looking through the vehicle.
Anyway, those are a few observations - no criticism intended, it is what it is, and it seems to work.
We look forward to getting back to Samal, and sailing somewhere in the new year.
Cheers for now & Merry Xmas to all,
Mike & Gay