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The what, who, when, where and HOWs...

Been there! Done that!

So, are you thinking about traveling to and visiting the Philippines? How about the magical island of Cebu? You don’t think you can since you use a wheelchair or even more so, you use an electric wheelchair. Think again!

I am a c4-5 quadriplegic who in October of 2000 visited my soon to be fiancée and her family on the beautiful island called Cebu. In the midst of the Philippine Islands (all 7,107 of them) I found my soul mate. I had been looking on and off for the past few years for my love. Then when I finally found her and knew we were the ones for each other, I was lost in knowing how I could go visit her. I am disabled with so many obstacles. No travel agent had any clue for what I needed to do or where for me to go. Well, after searching high and low and with a little luck, I super quad man, jumped the Pacific Ocean and had a most awesome trip I could have never expected. To top it all off, my fiancée, at that time, got engaged on November 5, 2000.

No, it is easy, and no the PI isn’t nearly as accessible as the US of A. But it is possible to have an excellent trip with a little extra preparations and planning. And by finding someone like myself how has done it before. Cebu is a great place to visit. So, get your wheelchair tuned up and ready to go.

The subjects included …  

Before you go...

Trip Planning

Wheelchair & Extras
Health Issues  
Taking an Attendant
Packing your Stuff

The Big-day...

Before Leaving HOME

At the Airport...

Prior Take-off

At Connecting Airports... 

While In Cebu...


Returning Home...


Lets get started

Before you go... 

Trip Planning

Traveling to the PI can be extremely exciting and exhausting for the everyday traveler. For the wheeler to enjoy your stay, it can be even more so.

Planning ahead and being prepared can make a world of difference in your stay. So... Here are a few ideas and helpful suggestions you might want to consider before making your trip. There is a bit of special information you should know and be ready for before going. The trip is very possible, but planning ahead is vital for a wheeler to fully enjoy their trip.

In case I missed something, please feel free in letting me know if I missed something. Your and my experiences may differ.

Travel Resources

There are many people and places that want your business.  Going to the PI for a wheeler won’t be as easy, but it is doable. Planning to go to the Philippines is not ton bad. You know your situation so only you can plan for your needs.

I would suggest gong to Amazon.com and pick up a book or two about the Philippines. Learn as much as you an about their culture and be open to their beliefs and lifestyles. It is a different country. Don’t expect everything to be accessible as here. Also, you are on the web. 90% of what I learned I found bt doing searches. But some of he books you can find at your local library or bookstore really show of this beautiful country.

Some good ones I found are at

@ Virgin Beach Resort – Ron Perry has helped quite a few guys in wheelchairs experience the Philippines. He is also a flight coordinator and tour guide for Cebu. His flight tickets are always the best and his resort is a great place to stay. Check him and his site out. Tell him Mike sent you...

@ Global Access – A great place to get valuable information to sites around the world. Updated monthly with new-featured travelers experiences. You can even join their monthly mailing list of new places to visit.

Many other Links

Choosing an Agent

Most travel Agents should be aware of the rules and regulations of the ADA and how it affects the airways. However, not all will have experiences with everyone’s exact needs. Some people wont agree with me, but I feel that it is the responsibility of the disabled passenger to wholly control and explain their own situation. 

Ask, ask and ask more questions. Explain, explain and continue to explain your needs and requirements. When contacting airlines and such I make them aware of what my needs are. If issues arise, I kindly explain to them what the laws state. I also bring along the ADA document incase I need it. The document might be extra weight, but it will go far if you get stuck with “Mr. I know it all”.

Of course those who have had past experiences with the disabled traveler can be of value. Still make sure you ask many questions and inform them of your needs.

Here are two helpful ADA resources:

@  U.S. Department of Transportation at Information for the Air Traveler with a Disability

@ Air Carrier Access Act This Act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.  

Choosing an Airline

To Cebu, you have a variety of choices to travel by airplane. Your best bet is to one, pay attention to costs, and two, pay attention to the route. Flight total flight time can very depending on which route you take. Also, beware that your selected route dose not keep you in Manila over night or you will have to get to a hotel on your own.

All airline companies flying into and out off the US must follow the ADA guidelines and the Air Carrier Access Act. But not once you are in the PI. There is not a lot of accessibility laws in the Philippines. So, it is very beneficial to treat everyone very kindly if you expect any future help.

I would suggest you contact all of the airlines involved in your trip, well in advance, and notify them of your trip intentions.  

@ You might also, after getting your ticket, information check out your connecting airports on the web. Locate your Gates so you have an idea of where you need to go.

Passenger Rights

In 1999, the Department of Transportation, DOT, began recording of access complaints for each airline carrier. These reports could be used to give disabled consumers an idea on which carrier to travel with. To get a copies of the monthly report, call (202) 366-2200. www.dot.gov/airconsumer  

To lodge a complaint with the DOT, call (202) 366-2220 or e-mail airconsumer@ost.dot.gov

Standard mail:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Dept. of Transportation
Room 4107, C-76
Washington, D.C. 20590

Another group located on the web also deals in passenger rights. From an airline, cruise ship, hotel, tour group, or car rental they will help you file a complaint and get it to the right agency. Passenger Rights

Contact Airlines

@ Always inform all the major airlines that you are coming and that you are disabled. Notifying them that you are a wheelchair passenger and that you want to make sure everyone is clear on your situation.

@ Don’t be a pain and show up with the airlines not knowing. You will be insured of a lousy trip. It just makes sense to be forward with your situation. Make sure you contact them all. Philippine Airlines has you fill out some health information forms. This is the time to mention your wheelchair information and that you will require removing the seats cushion in place of your own.  

@ The airlines will also be inquiring to make sure you will have someone to care for you during the trip. Their staff is not there to take care of your needs.  

@ For the most part, contacting the airline companies is painless. Philippine airlines wants assurances from your doctor that you are ok to fly, description of then medical equipment you will bring (i.e. wheelchair electric or manual), that the batteries are safe and that your cushion is safe from catching on fire. What ever that is for.

Further down is the discussion of the handling of your wheelchair, batteries, etc

Visa / Passports

@ Visitors with valid passports may stay 21 days without a visa. Hong Kong and Taiwan passport holders require a special permit, obtainable from Philippine embassies and consulates. 


@ Visitors with passports valid at least 6 months beyond the period you intend to stay and either a return ticket or a ticket to another destination outside of the Philippines, are allowed entry without a visa for up to 21 days. For visits longer than 21 days, a temporary visitor's visa must be secured from the Philippine embassy or consulate in your country.

@ You will require a passport to go to visit the Philippines. If you don't already have one, or yours has expired, please visit your local U.S. post office or government office for an application. Processing may take a month or longer--especially during the summer. There are ways to obtain your passport faster, however extra charges will be added.

@ They will need proof of citizenship and a certified copy of your birth certificate, including the registrar's seal. You must enclose two identical 2"x 2" inch photos of yourself. First time applicants over 18 pay $65 for a 10-year passport.  

@ If you have an expired U.S. passport, issued no more than 12 years ago, you may apply by mail. Send your old passport, new photos, and DSP-82 renewal form. The cost is $55. Allow 3-4 weeks for its arrival.

@ For more information on obtaining your passport visit…

@ A new printable passport application form can be found at…. 

Wheelchair & Accessories

The following are helpful suggestions and ideas on how to handle your shipping of your wheelchair and other necessary equipment. Make sure that all of those involved are informed of your required equipment needs.  

Make sure your chair is in good operating shape. Don’t risk it if not so. You wont find many, if any, shops that carry wheelchair parts.

Solid tires – It could be very difficult in finding new tires after having a blowout in the PI.  You don’t have to change them. But I would strongly consider doing so.

Sealed Batteries – Purchasing new sealed deep cycle batteries is a must for a safe trip. Go to Wal-Mart and safe yourself a ton of money. I find these batteries usually last longer then the medical store brand names. AND, flying on airplanes will be a much easier. Some airlines will remove your batteries and put them in “safety containers” Which they end up loosing. If you do happen to get them back, you will have to get someone to re-install them. Or, they wont even think of transport you if you don’t have sealed batteries. Best bet, enjoy your trip and safe a lot of headaches, and get some sealed batteries.

Battery Charger – Bring it, you will need it. There are many bulky wheelchair battery chargers available. You can get 220/110 volt transformers to handle your needs. The 50/60 cycle difference does make the charging slower but doable. You will also need to make sure you get plug adapter. Here we use a ( | | ) plug. In the PI, a ( o o ) plug is used. Most Radio Shack or travel stores have an assortment of plug adapters for purchase.

** I opted for a universal charger by Soneil. These chargers are very small, much better at fully charging your batteries, and come to charge at 110 or 220 volts. You will still need a plug adapter as suggested above. In the Philippines most everything is 220 volts. Some hotels have 110 volt outlets but only for smaller appliances. Soneil can be reached at : http://soneil.com/

If you have questions about converters, first check with your wheelchair manufacturer And ask them to describe what your wheelchair requirements are.

Wheelchair Seat Cushion – Make sure your cushion is in good shape. You don’t want to have a problem in the PI with a faulty cushion. In my daily life I use an air-filled cushion by Roho. It’s great for everyday use. But for flying, it has some major disadvantages.

The problem in the air is that as the airplane goes higher, the cabin pressure drops. This causes the air in your seat cushion to expand. Making your seat cushion hard as a rock. To compensate, you have to leave out the air to adjust for the low cabin pressure. When you land, you have to refill your seat cushion to the correct level to insure your health.

It is recommend that you get a gel cushion. This is not a necessity, as I did not buy a gel cushion. But if you are worried, be safe, check with your local medical supply and see which cushions are suitable and recommended for flying.  

While I was contacting the airlines of my intent, I also notified them of my need to remove the airplane’s seat cushion to be replaced by my own. At first it was a concern of theirs.  But after a kind dialog, and reassuring them that my cushion  was “Fire Safe”, everything was fine.

Why did I demand this? Seating my cushion atop of their seat made me sit so high that my head would not rest on the head rest. Having my head sit above the seat for a 12+ hour trip is very uncomfortable. If you ever receive a letter from the air carrier, make sure you bring any documentation with you onto the airplane.

Health Issues

The following are mainly suggestions but very helpful ideas to consider. Playing it safe in a country you are not very familiar with is very important.

Visitors are advised to drink bottled or boiled water. Tap water in the hotel is potable. Bottled drinking water is also available in the hotel room, compliments at most hotels. Some doctors suggest getting your hepatitis shoots and staying away from uncooked fruits and vegetables. Some also recommend staying away from pastries due to how milk is pasteurized in the PI. But all interested in visiting should consult your own personal doctor for advice and recommendations.

Hepatitis Shot  - It is better to be safe then sorry. You have to understand that the PI does not have the same standards as we do when it comes to bacteria control. Doctors will tell you to stay away from non-cooked vegetables and fruits and dairy products, even bakery products. Why? The primarily used fertilizer comes from the dung of animals. Called Cow-Dung. Here in the US of A this is not allowed. In the PI it is a common practice.

Daily Medication – Take extra. Lots of extra and have it in a few locations. If the medicines are super important, like spasm pills, place them in your carry-on luggage. Extras in your regular luggage. In case you losse one, you will have an extra set.

Bladder Medication – Incase you are susceptible to bladder infections, ask your doctor for a prescription to be filled before leaving. Just in case. You never know what could or could eat or drink that will give your bladder the fits.

Catheters & Supplies - Always take 10x more then you need. And take them with you on the airplane as take-on luggage. This is very important and true of any medications and things that are too important to loose. Cloths can be replaced, but catheters and supplies will be hard to come by.

Shower/Bowel program chair – You could travel around the world with a shower chair. But why? I purchased a plastic garden chair and had a whole cut out of it. Tada? This can be provided for you for a small fee. Most showers are not accessible. But roll up to a sink, lean forward, and have your hair washed.

Extras that could be lifesavers.

High Pressure Medication – A medicine called Viagra (yes, I said Viagra) is a great help in controlling your blood pressure on short and long flights. The higher you fly, the worse you feel. Ask your doctor for more information.

Sinus medication - Nothing is worse then flying 12-30 hours and having sinus problems.

Diarrhea Medication  - This is also a must. New and different foods. As bowel management is hard enough, don’t assume everything will be fine. Take the liquid quick response and the pills for longer needs.

The facts

Water  - Don’t drink it. Drink bottle water only. It still has a funny taste but it should be ok for everyday use.

Beer – I would advise staying away from San Miguel beer. Last time I heard they use embalming fluid to spice it up. Taste great … kills your liver. At least then rumor has it that San Miguel is made with embalming fluid that gives a kick to the beer. Your choice but it was banned from the US of A

Taking an Attendant  

The Filipino people are terrific, but not that terrific. There are many nurses available and happy to earn the money, but difficult to find. Therefore you should bring your own attendant to insure your trip is magical. Sorry, I can’t help you out here. Maybe in time will build up a number of people o help in providing care in the PI but I doubt it. The airplane companies will help you get into and out of your seat and airplane and back in your wheelchair. But they wont empty your leg-bag o fix your food. 

There are a few resources to help those who need to find an attendant. Depending on your needs, they will try and find the specialist you need.

Packing your Stuff

Traveling disabled takes a great deal of planning. Decide what you need on a daily basis but on a much smaller scale.  

Carry-On Bag

There are new stricter measurements of allowed carry-on bags. There is a (H+W+L) total allowed. Some airliners are extremely strict with there measuring. Others, as long as you don’t go overboard in your request, most stewardesses will let you bring on what you need. So check with them. Try to manage with just one carry-on piece of luggage. This might not be feasible due to all of your needs. But keep the bags small.


·        Tickets
·        Passports
·        Any documents needed to describe your requirements
·        Medicines and any other super important life necessities
·        Extra medical supplies.
·        Jewelry, camera, etc … valuables
·        A bag to place your wheelchair parts into.

Main Bag(s)

First, make sure you take the important stuff that you need no matter what. If you're a wheelchair traveler, take parts (if needed), charger, etc., and a wheelchair backpack. Personally, I take along an air mattress bubble pad and pump. This is something I find very important to keep my health up.

·        Medical Supplies
·        Nightly feet supports (if used)
·        Mattress pad & pump (if used) - 220volt  
Battery Charger - 220 volt
·        Cool Cloths (they are very cheap in the PI)
·        A set of nice cloths
·        Toiletries & Blue chucks
·        Pictures of your family.
·        Gifts .. in case you are visiting that someone special.
·         What have we FORGOTTEN...?...
·        Tummy pack – This is great to keep your valuables safe
·        Extra film

  **Your wheelchair is not counted as a bag.

The big day ...

It is important get look into as early as possible the following categories. Being a wheeler means you had plan ahead.  I do have a few links to travel and those who can help with obtaining and booking your airline tickets at a reasonable rate. They can also can help with some accommodations and will do there best to insure your happiness. Here are a few other things to consider and that you should do.  

Before Leaving HOME

Make sure you are packed. Tickets? Passport? Meds? Charger? … Cash? Credit cards? Gifts? Make sure you have gone through what you need. Once you are in the PI, don’t expect to easily find what you need.  

Strap your Manhood  (for the men) - It is far better to be safe then loose your catheter mid flight. Not good. External catheters users should use medical tape to add extra holding power.


At the Airport…

These are very import strategies to get into the airplane and getting seated.

Prior Take-off

When going to the airport, be early. They should be aware that you are coming but it can never hurt to confirm the day before. You should be asked to board the airplane first. They will take you to the door of the plane where you will transfer to an isle-chair. This is a very skinny chair that will transport you to your seat location. You can ask them to help you or have those who are traveling with you

@ Lock down your chair - When you travel by air, there is always the possibility that your wheelchair will get damaged. Not everyone, especially in smaller countries like the PI, will be trained to be expert wheelchair movers and handlers. What you tell the baggage handlers in the US won’t necessarily be conveyed to those who load your chair at the destination. So a few rules apply.

@ Take off the wheelchair anything you can that can be bent, broken or lost. I usually disconnect the main battery power. I remove both armrests placing them and the two leg rests on the wheelchair seat. Then I run the seatbelt through everything making sure nothing can come loose. I have a side support that I take on the airplane with me since there is no easy way to connect it to the wheelchair. 

@ Some people use a bag to place all of there parts into and then attach it to the wheelchair. That is fine too. Just make sure the bag has your name on it.

@ For safety and time-savings, try to bring your battery receipt explaining the battery type. It is very important that your batteries be gel/sealed type batteries. Some air carrier’s won’t let you fly or they will remove your batteries and place them in special “safety” containers. This is not such a good idea. On a past trip one of my batteries ended up getting spilled and the other was lost on the plain. Battery acid is very toxic. So save yourself some time. Go to Wal-Mart and get the better battery. 

@ On the Airplane - Remove the airplane’s seat cushion. Make sure you insist on this. You can sit on your own cushion lower and more comfortable. Some people will use a spare gel filled seat cushion. These gel filled cushions are not affected by the air pressure change as air filled cushions. You can adjust the air pressure as needed but make sure you immediately refill your cushion on landing. DON’T forget your air pump if you use a air-cushion type.

@ Visual Check – Always ask to have a visual check of your wheelchair be made to insure it’s being placed on the airplane.  

While In Cebu ...

The above link takes you to my "While in Cebu" site. 

I also have a "Things to do" site

At Connecting Airports...

@ If you have a connecting flight, especially in Manila, demand that you have your wheelchair brought to you after your international flight They won’t allow you to take there wheelchair from the International side to the Domestic side of the Manila airport. Even if you by pass Manila by going via Tokyo, it is better to make sure now that your legs are with you. Also, your chair will be more comfortable to sit in hen their low cut, one size fits all, wheelchair.  

@ More then likely you will have at least one transfer between planes. More then one unless you live in a city like Las Angeles or San Francisco where there are direct flights to and from Manila. Nowadays, almost every flight to the Philippine flies through the new Manila Airport.  

@ Here you arrive at the international side of the airport and must transfer to the domestic side. Your bags should have been checked through to your destination of your trip. HOWEVER, make sure you ask for your wheelchair. Demand it. If you get into a wheelchair belonging to the international hub, they won’t let you take it to the domestic hub. They will demand the chair back causing you to transfer again. Also the wheelchairs they have are very standard. Armrests are not removable and so are the leg rests.  

@ Ask for your chair to be brought to you at the doorway of the airplane. This will make sure it arrived safely, that you are comfortable during your stay, and that you can avoid excessive transfers. If anything is wrong, usually there is a manager close at hand,

Returning home...

@ This could be a very sad time for some travelers. Depending on your circumstances. As when you came to the PI, Be ready for a lot of security checks. Over and over and OVER again.  

@ If possible check your baggage from Cebu directly to the US. This way you wont have to pick up your bags in Cebu. I would highly recommend that you not check your wheelchair through. In Manila, the wheelchairs they have are old and don’t sit very well. Also, you are not allowed to take a domestic airport’s wheelchair to the international airport. If you do they will make you transfer wheelchairs again.

Security is extremely tight at the Manila International Airport when returning home. So bring as little as possible. The less you have, the less time digging in your things. 

Make sure you take your valuables and your high-pressure Viagra medication (Yes, I said Viagra) and other medical supplies. Viagra can help some men with low blood pressure problems in flight. Don’t ever get on a plain without your meds.

If your flight home goes via Manila, as you are approaching the stewards will remind you that on departure you will require a fee to leave. It is more like a “privilege tax” to use their airport facilities. It is only a couple of dollars (around 1600 pesos per person or $8 USD). But your life will be miserable if you don’t have it with you. So save some cash for your departure.  

@ Other then the numerous checks in the manila International Airport, if you go this way, not much take place until you get to the US for customs. As you get your wheelchair and find your bags you will then go through the US customs lines in your arriving city. Hopefully you looked ahead to where your connecting flight departs from.

Please contact me if you need further information, new questions, or anything else?


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