If you’ve been to the Philippines, you know what a brownout is. If you’ve spent any amount of time here at all, you’ve experienced them.

For those that don’t know, and can’t guess, a brownout is when the electricity goes out. We called them blackouts back home. I’ve seen some try to explain the difference between the two, but to me you either have electricity or you don’t. It doesn’t matter what you call it, or how you explain it.

There is no doubt that where you live will determine the amount that you will have to deal with these. Samal Island (remember that place I used to write about all the time?) has more than it’s fair share of them. Expect to have some back up plans if you are going to live there, as you will be dealing with them on a regular basis. Some I know have generators, others just make due. Whatever your plan, you will need to adjust to the lack of supplied electricity.

I’ve also been told GenSan has regularly scheduled brownouts everyday. 8 hours worth. I had been through GenSan awhile back, and thought it was a pretty nice little town. I don’t think I could live in a place that had no electricity for 8 hours every day. That’s a lot more difficult than it sounds. GenSan may not be in my radar anytime soon.

Davao is generally pretty trouble free with the brownouts. A few here and there, and typically not for that long a period at a time. That hasn’t been the situation for me lately, though I do live a bit outside the city proper. It is still considered Davao out here. No, I’ve gotten more than my fair share the last week and a half.

It started on a Saturday with a scheduled brownout. Davao Light had sent around a prior notice that we would be without power for 9 hours, starting at some early time in the morning (I forget exactly what time now), until later in the afternoon. Since I was going into town for my Bisaya lesson, and after we we leaving for Buda, it really wasn’t that much of a concern. Sure things would start melting in the freezer, I’d have to take a cold shower with the bucket, but overall it wasn’t too bad, and I wouldn’t be around most of the time. We got back the next day and the electricity was on as usual.

A day or so later it was out again. I’m not sure what time it went out, but when I got home from town in early afternoon, it wasn’t on. There was no notice for this one. As evening came, still no power. That meant we’d be going to bed without aircon, or even a fan.

One thing that I’ve failed to mention so far, when we we have no power our water stops, too. It takes about 20-30 minutes for it to run dry as it gets slower and slower, but we end up with no running water or power. Double Jeopardy.

Anyway, back to the outage. After a fairly restless night, we got up and still no power yet. I obviously had no internet, and my phone was almost dead. I decided to take another bucket bath and head into Starbucks for the better part of the day. Coffee, aircon, internet and charging were met with a new appreciation. I spent the better part of the day there, and they didn’t even charge me rent, but they did consider it. Thankfully I was a good, regular customer previous to this, so they put up with me.

At some point I got a text saying that the power was back on. It had been 24 hours +, but who’s counting?

The next brownout was quite a few days later and only lasted about an hour or so. But after the first two, I had gotten a little concerned. Of course there was no way of knowing how long it would be out, as we were not getting notices of these latest ones. To the credit of Davao Light, they had sent a notice prior to this one apologizing for the last one. I’m not sure if that arrived the same day as this third one or not.

Then sometime in the middle of the night last night (Wednesday) we had another. It still wasn’t on when I got up in the morning, so I got the pleasure of another bucket bath. Somehow this one wasn’t as fun as the first two, and honestly they weren’t any fun either. Just as I had finished and was heading out the door the power came back on. That still meant we wouldn’t have running water for another 20-30 minutes, but at least I knew I’d be coming home to a working house. Well, possibly.

Overall I haven’t had these issues while staying here for these 11 months. Maybe we had a half dozen fairly short brownouts prior, but nothing really drastic. Again, it matters where you live, but any one place can have trouble, even if they didn’t before.

The Philippines is a rapidly growing country. In some ways it may be growing too fast. It would be good to remember, if you are one of those looking to make that big move, that this isn’t where you came from or what you are used to. Yes, you will be able to avail of many of the same things, but not always on a consistent basis or at the quality and price you are used to.

Unless of course you are talking about Starbucks. They come through every time!

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