A few tips and tricks that will help you to prepare for your trip. If you have a question that we haven’t covered here – send me a message and I’ll add it!

CURRENCY

If you bring your own currency, bring big bills. You always get a better exchange rate on one $100 bill than on five $20 bills.

One thing to watch out for when exchanging currency in the Philippines is getting fleeced by someone who is very good at counting out the cash so it looks like the correct amount, when in reality it’s short a few bills – and not in your favour. These sleight-of-hand scams are especially common when using small street money exchanges. They may offer a better rate than the banks, but just be sure you count your money in front of them before you walk away.

Be wary of anyone walking up to you on the street offering to change your foreign currency into pesos. It’s not unheard of for an unsuspecting tourist to follow someone into an alley or some other dark corner in search of a great exchange rate – only to be robbed. Use common sense, and remember that those few extra pesos aren’t worth any risk.

Finally, one other scam worth noting: counterfeit bills. Here’s how it works. You give your cash to a money exchanger, who in turn says something like “Let me go check the exchange rate with my boss.” When the person returns, you are told the boss didn’t approve the exchange rate, so you are given back your money. But – and here’s the scam – instead of handing back your actual bills, he or she gives you funny money (which you don’t realize until you try to exchange it somewhere else). Moral of the story: Hold on to your cash until the actual exchange; don’t let anyone disappear with it.

How I do it? Exchange enough to cover my known costs (hotel, training, gear etc) plus a bit extra, bring some cash if I need to exchange and also a card if I can withdraw money or pay with the card (ie pay the hotel in Manila).

ATM

ATM’s are available in the Metro Manila but are more sparse in rural areas. They will also in many cases add a 200PHP withdrawal fee and sometimes they have a crap exchange rate. I always choose my currency instead of the local currency if I can.
Be street smart and check the ATM before you put your card in it. Pull on any covers and protruding parts near the card insert. If it seems dodgy, look for another one. Also bring a friend with you who can watch your back while you do the withdrawal. Don’t flash money around.
Eagle Point Resort does not have any ATM’s nearby.

How I do it? See on the above point.

TRAINING EQUIPMENT

The only gear you need to bring is sticks, mouth piece, MMA-gloves, one focus mitt each and a snorkel and mask set.

To make things easier for you you can order two pairs of sticks and a stick bag for only AU$20 for delivery at the hotel in Manila prior to camp. Please email me back with your order OR use our Facebook group (see link in the end of the email). I might pop this one into the gear shop too.

One focus mitt per person ensures that we have enough to pair up. It is smart to pair up with a buddy beforehand and sort out a matching pair.
MMA gloves should not be brand new as you might get blisters. Get some gloves, train with them, strike with them and swing some sticks with them.
Snorkel and mask set is available for purchase at the campsite but harder to organise in Manila so either sort it out before you leave or rent them at the resort (275PHP/day). Fins not needed (but bring them if you’d like to do some snorkelling on your down time. The snorkelling at the island is great!).

If you’re looking at getting training gear for yourself and/or your group/club at home, PLEASE pre-order in the gear shop.

How I do it? I have old great MMA gloves, i pair up for a set of pads with my wife and pre-order sticks for camp. I bring my dive mask, snorkel and fins. Good, reliable gear.
I pre-order all gear I want to bring back to Australia so that I only have to pay and pick up at GM Rodel’s gym.

TRAINING UNIFORM
KSI students are asked to follow our uniform code as much as possible.
Order more sets beforehand if you need more shorts, t-shirts or singlets. Please note that there is a delivery time on the goods for production so if you ask me a few days before camp I have to say no…

How I do it? I bring at least three uniform t-shirts, two singlets and two pairs of training shorts. You will not see me train without uniform. For water confidence training I may use swim shorts, haven’t decided yet.

PACK LIST

Check THIS pack list suggestion.
Pay attention to: Proper uniforms, medicines, hand sanitiser, insect repellant, good training shoes and sun protection. We are not near any stores or pharmacy etc so make sure you bring everything you think you might need! You will get blisters!

How I do it? I share some of the stuff with my team from Perth so we don’t have to bring too much and double up on everything. I’ve done this a few times now so I pretty much know what I need and what I can do without. My basic rule is: prepare everything, remove half of it, remove a few more things, see if I can cut out a few more “necessities” and then pack as light as I can. I’m not going to a fashion convention so I don’t need 6517 changes of clothes and shoes. I also expect to pick up 2-3 extra t-shirts along the way so I cut them out as well (one from the shooting, one from camp, one from GM Andy’s camp).

PAYMENT

To organise a camp in the Philippines is a bit trickier than anywhere else in the world. I have most of the details but not all.
Previous years the average price for transport to resort, resort stay with all food included, plus transport to (and from) their island for 7 nights accommodation, all food included and transport to their island was 30,650PHP, this year were at 29,500PHP. You are asked to provide the hotel fee (29,500PHP) in cash to me as I have to pay the hotel. Please prepare even money in Filipino Peso. Thank you. 
The hotel accepts other major currencies but they give a really crap exchange rate so we are all better off getting Peso beforehand. If they give me a crap exchange rate I have to give you a crap exchange rate. See how that works…?

The camp fee can be paid in AUD, EUR, SEK, GBP and USD. The fee is as per the discount given at registration. Payable to us in cash at registration in Manila or via PayPal if you would like to get the frequent flyer points from your credit card (PayPal fees of 2.4% added to cost, 3.5% if payer is outside Australia).
If you’d want to pay via PayPal, please visit THIS PAGE.
If you’d want to pay with a different currency then AUD, please check with us beforehand so that we can get you the accurate exchange rate. Oh, you googled the exchange rate? Now, please show me where to exchange at that rate… I haven’t found it yet so I’m thankful for any tips. (In Australia we use https://www.exchangenow.com.au/)

If you need an invoice to claim tax reductions etc, let us know. We will of course help you with that.

How I do it? Cash on site for everything, in local currency. Get an invoice for tax purposes.

HOTEL IN MANILA

Before and/or after camp you most likely will need to stay a night or two in Manila. For our convenience we have chosen Bayview Park Hotel in Ermita, Manila.
You can of course stay elsewhere but we have chosen hotel based on security and proximity to Rizal Park for training and excursions. If you choose to stay elsewhere it is your responsibility to transport yourself to Bayview Park Hotel on time for departure to the campsite.
The hotel is what we’d expect a modern hotel in a major city to be. Well organised, well staffed and they are used to westerners and card payment is not a problem here.

How I do it? I book at Bayview Park Hotel from arrival date to Sunday 21/4. All transports and excursions start there.
I pay this hotel by card and get an invoice at checkout.

HEALTH

The Philippines is a third world country. Avoid drinking tap water (showering and brushing teeth in it is fine). Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Use hand sanitizer.
Avoid using ice cubes unless you know they are made from bottled water. Don’t eat raw or undercooked food. The food at the hotel during camp was very good last year so we do not foresee too many problems here. 
Use insect repellent at night time. Combine this with long sleeve shirts and long pants if there are lots of mosquitoes around.
Tend to your scratches, blisters and small wounds. First aid items will not be readily available like in Thailand, bring a small kit of your own.
Bring sports tape, band aids and an antiseptic cream. We will bring a limited supply of first aid items but don’t rely on us!

How I do it? My wife is a medical researcher and a former paramedic. I’m good 🙂

LAUNDRY
The hotel has some sort of laundry service but we don’t think anyone used it as it over promised and under delivered. Bring detergent and wash your gear as you have a shower, that’s what we do!
Now, to just rinse your gear in your dirty shower water isn’t really enough. Plan ahead and bring detergent and perhaps some disinfectant for your gear. It’s not just the smell but the accumulation of bacteria that may be a problem. Skin conditions is unfortunately a reality so bring enough clothes to be able to have a cycle of dry and clean clothes all the time, several times per day.

How I do it? We use travel detergent and disinfectant in the shower. Wash all training gear, including socks, after every session (three blocks per day). Hang it out to dry in the sun. Cycle through sets of training gear so I’m never left short.

DIETARY RESTRICTIONS
Please let us know asap if you have any dietary restrictions. The Philippines is a third world country and we can not guarantee that we can organise gluten free, nut free and/or lactose free food but we’ll do our best. You may have to bring supplements that suit your diet.
There is generally good alternatives for vegetarians. 
We were very pleased with the food last year.

INSURANCE

You MUST HAVE travel insurance.
Write your insurance details, medical history and emergency contact details in the Medical Form that will be sent to you shortly. Please bring a printed copy to registration at the resort..

PHONE

You can buy a cheap SIM-card in Manila if your phone is unlocked.
If you prefer to use your normal carrier additional fees may occur. Check with your provider.

If you’re lucky you’ll have 4G, otherwise we had decent 3G on our last trip. Sometimes absolutely nothing. 

How I do it? I don’t bother. I turn off mobile data and roaming services, only use wifi when it’s available and enjoy the moment with a crazy amazing group of people…

WAIVER & MEDICAL FORM

Please bring a filled in copy of both the waiver and the medical form attached to this email to registration at the resort.

WIFI

WIFI is available at the hotels and in most restaurants & bars. At the resort Wifi is available in the lobby area but is a bit unreliable. Don’t rely on being able to send large files from the resort.
We may have heard rumours about someone who acquired admin rights on the hotel router and started to allocate data traffic towards some participants at the camp. But that’s just rumours…

SOCIAL MEDIA

Mandirigma Camp FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/mandirigmacamp/

If you’re on Facebook, please join or visit our group Mandirigma Camp Participants 2019 here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1193303784166084

If you’re a registered participant we have, or at least should have, added you to the closed group on FB specifically for Mandirigma Camp Participants 2019.

AFTER THE CAMP

On Saturday after the camp some will travel home, some head off to other adventures. There will be a trip to GM Rodel Dagooc’s gym in Bauan to train under a local GrandMaster for those who’d want that. He is also a stick maker and has a shop for all kinds of FMA gear. If you’d want some stuff, PLEASE PLEASE pre-order. It is chaotic at best and we’d prefer to not stay there all day and confuse ourselves with all stuff that may or may not be there. I’m working on updating the shop so that we can pre-order the majority of stuff (and get a grasp of the cost up front).

After the training with GM Rodel we head back to the resort and I know some head up to Manila to get a night there before flying onwards on Sunday.

Some of us travel to Calatagan to attend the Kali3D Camp arranged by GM Andy Elliott. We will stay one more night at the Eagle Point Resort (until Sunday that is) and then we transport to the other camp. The morning will most likely be spent diving, have lunch at the resort and then get to the other camp site for about 4pm.
Transportation will be sorted latest Friday.