Your problems, your fears, your flaws, and all of your positive traits go with you no matter where you are. Going abroad may be the answer for some or the beginning of the end for others. If you are not in paradise at home you will not find paradise here.
Wow! Has it really been a year already? Time flies when you are having fun, huh? Well, where to start… I had planned on retiring to Cebu, I went for xmas 2011 to check it out, and enjoyed it. Big enough to have fun but not Manila big. But then I met Melane online. Not on a dating site, or a bar ha ha. A mutual friend thought we would like each other – and she was right! I changed my plans mid-stream and went to Panay instead of Cebu. I figured if we did not hit it off I could always go to Cebu, so no worries. Hmm… it has been a year and I am still here with her. We slipped right into the most comfortable relationship I have ever been in. Exactly what I was looking for. I did not want to be a sexpat and just party all the time. I wanted to find a nice girl and settle down… wow I can’t believe I said that! But yes, it was time to settle down. So last week in Boracay, on our 1 year anniversary – and Valentine’s Day, I asked her to marry me. She must not be very smart because she said yes. Now to plan a wedding. (Valentine blog http://expatinphilippines.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/valentines-at-boracay-and-a-marriage-proposal)
I am going to ramble for a while. I wrote a 7 month look back (was supposed to have been 6 month). I will try not to repeat too much but probably will. (7 month look back http://expatinphilippines.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/reflections-on-my-first-7-months)
People ask me if living in the Philippines is what I expected. That is kind of hard to answer because I really don’t know what I expected. I had absolutely no problem with stopping work. And I don’t understand people who do. There is a mindset difference there. My dad never wanted to retire – and I never wanted to work. I am loving doing nothing, or doing whatever I want. I highly recommend it. I could be the textbook case on how not to retire overseas though. I planned virtually nothing. (yes, I realize in my 6 month look back I said I planned things – but I was wrong!) I don’t really have much monthly income, and cannot retire for another 5 years. I had no idea where I was going to live. And now, a year later, still don’t. The Philippines can be a cheap place to live, or you can easily spend as much as in the West. It is up to you how you want to live. I am in a bamboo house. But we have running water, so it is not as rustic as you might think. (not potable water, but running water) I am living about the lifestyle I wanted. Not exactly where I wanted – but the way I wanted. And except for the noisy neighbors, I am happy. But some days when I am walking the path across the rice fields, I look up at the banana, coconut, and mango trees and wonder how the hell did end up here!? Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could. So somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good.
I really think this is a great life for me but it is certainly not for everyone. Most people don’t want to leave their comfort zone. I never really had a comfort zone – I just cruise through life one day at a time. I was in college, got married, worked, had kids, joined the Navy, was a single dad, it was just life. I did stress over stuff in my youth but later I learned to just live. The expats that are the happiest seem to be about the same. Some of the guys bitch and moan all the time and don’t seem happy here – and I wonder if they were happy anywhere. It is not as glorious & paradisaical as some say, and it certainly is not all doom & gloom as others say. Your attitude makes it what it is. I came with an open mind and a good attitude and I found friendly people and a comfortable life. Now I just need to convince Melane that when I complain about the heat or the bugs I am not really complaining… Americans just like to bitch about the obvious things we can’t change. It is just in our DNA, I think.
The Two Travelers and the Farmer
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.
“What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.
“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”
“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town. Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work. Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk.
“What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.
“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”
“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.”
That really sums up life. Your expectations and attitude will create your reality. The Filipinos are generally a happy people. Most are poor, have large families, and keeping a roof over their heads & food on the table is a constant struggle. But that is no reason to be unhappy. They are happy for what they have, and enjoy their friends & family. The Western world could learn a lot from them. But my family was about the same back in the US. I knew a lot of people that were money driven and had horrible relationships etc. But most of my family is pretty laid back. Some have more money than others but no one really cared. We would get together on holidays and just enjoy visiting. My kids seem to be about the same – I hope they stay that way.
It is pretty easy to be happy when you have enough money. Try being dirt poor and see what that does to your outlook. For example I bought a set of sheets, when I got here, for p3,500. Almost $80 USD! To me that is crazy expensive but it was the only decent set of sheets I found. But I digress… p3,500 for a set of sheets, and the sales girl who sold them to me takes over 2 weeks to make that much! And Americans want to bitch about $7.25 minimum wage… shut up and go back to work! One of the biggest problems I see is that the love of money is the root of all evil. Not money – the love of money. Big difference. Money is a good thing. It pays for the roof over my head, my food, my travel. I would not want to live without it. But I have never been driven by money. Or maybe I was just the original slacker, I don’t know.
The family in Antique, Philippines
Among expats we sometimes discuss, or laugh about, our families back in the old country. My sister thought I was crazy (she may still, and may be right), my brother seemed jealous, my kids never really said much – but they grew up hearing that I was retiring overseas. Whether they believed it or not… And my work mates think I am a pedophile. Well I am no pedophile. I am 50, my fiancé is 25. Younger, but not too young. And if the age difference was reversed, in the US I would be a “cougar” and it would be considered cute. Fuck your double standards. I may be crazy… but my brother is right to be jealous. He is smarter than me, and working until he can actually afford to retire. I got out before my health got any worse. I joke with some the expats and say that no “normal” person would move 8,000 miles away from friends and family. So in a way we must all be crazy. Or are we the sane ones that escaped the insanity? Let me sip some more rum on the beach and think it over.
Let’s see… how about some annual totals… Rent for the entire year was p36,000 ($820 USD). Tourist visa extension fees p26,220 ($595 USD). Wow compared to rent the visa fees seem high! Electricity p18,820 ($427 USD). $180 mail forwarding service. $96 Netflix. Water is free. We have a well, a pump, a tank, and an electric submersible heater. You cannot drink it but when you heat it you can take a nice shower. I did not keep track of any other expenses really. Maybe it would have been interesting to do so but the root word of retired is “tired”… so it ain’t happening! This is disheartening, though. With figures that low I should be ok on my monthly income – so how did I use almost half my savings in one year? I better look into that. Retirement is still 5 years away ha ha!
Speaking of spending too much we did do some nice traveling this year. 2 trips to Boracay, 1 to Bacolod, 1 to Palawan, 1 to Manila, and a bunch of day trips around the area. Is five vacations a year too much? Nah, I don’t think so either.
We are talking about moving soon. Most of the time I really like it here, and I know she likes being near family, but the continuous loud music is killing me. One of the neighbors must have gotten new speakers for Christmas because every night music is thump-thumping into our house. Some nights he does not turn it on until 10 or 11 at night, but plays it until 6 AM! And they live in the next barangay apparently. We lost power the other night and the whole area went dark – and the band played on. There are no noise rules out here so complaining would do no good, even if I knew where they lived. So it is time to move. I did not want to end up in a gated community but I think it may happen soon. People in gated communities tend to have jobs and need to sleep at night. It is just hard to find a community that actually enforces the rules they have. No hurry, but it is time to start looking around.
I’m eating well. Food is no problem. Maybe eating too well. I have lost no weight and Melane has put on some. I lost 2 inches, from my waist, when I first got here, but don’t worry I found them and put them back. I need to make myself get out and walk more. When I first got here we walked almost every evening. Now we are both lazy. (Shh, don’t her I said this but she sleeps more than anyone I have ever seen!) When I first got here it was hard to find a lot of the food I wanted, but now I know where to get most of the foreign foods I need. Cheese and bread are still tough. The Filipino versions are horrid and the imports are available sporadically. But cheese and bread are fattening and I need to eat less of them anyway. Right? Yeah… whatever. But I no longer buy cokes for the house. I drink Tang and water only (and some rum, of course).
Anyway it has been a fun year. We had a rainy season, the worst typhoon in recorded history, some fun trips, rum is cheap, and in the summer we actually got some of the super hero and action movies from the US at the theater. And my iPod still works. That is important.
14 thoughts on “1st Annivesary. Reality v Expectations”
Thank you for your response very much appreciate your advice you sound very wise I like you am an adventurous spirit I always wanted a simpler life sounds like very nice people do you live in Iloilo?
Yes. I have lived in Iloilo about 2.5 years. It is pretty good 🙂
I met a nice province girl through a long time friend we have been talking for 6 months im going over there to meet her and her family we started talking about what ifs marriage and the sort she wanted to come live in the US I asked her if she want to stay and live there as a married couple she said yes if she were out for citizenship I think she would have run away at that point I now have her and her family on my facebook we have all grown close my daughter talks to her to my daughter now is off to college im a disabled vet like you but younger I found your articles very informative do you have any advice for me? We agreed to marry sometime after we meet live here in the US till I finish school she would attend school as well teach me the language before we return to Iloilo
Biggest piece if advice is to meet in person, spend some time getting to know her & the family, and try to size up the situation. There are more ‘good’ girls than scammers – but we all hear the scam stories. 🙂 I met my wife through a mutual friend and it worked out great. Iloilo is a nice town to live in – but I would not want to vacation here ha ha. (meaning a nice, quiet, friendly, town… but not much touristy stuff…and our beaches suck)
Hey man. Just discovered your blog the other day and found it interesting. Today I realized that you know MY story too because you left a comment on the article I published in Orange Coast Magazine two years ago about meeting and courting Ivy, my own Filipino sweetie. Your comment was very supportive and positive, which I appreciated very much given the intense criticism and negativity that piece evoked from so many other readers. So thanks for the kind words of support, and I’m glad I made the connection and we are now in touch. I’ve subscribed to your blog and will follow it; how did you happen to come across my article? Anyway, I’m very glad that things are working out so well for you over there, and congrats on your upcoming nuptials. Ivy and I have now been married six years, have a spritely three-year-old son and are doing fine. Though we still live in California, we have traveled extensively in the Phils (just came back from a trip last month, in fact) and are planning to move there, probably late next year. In fact, we bought a little lot just outside Surigao City and are in the early stages of building (or planning to build) a house there. So I am very interested in your tales of how you are faring in the Philippines, as I will very soon, no doubt, be going through some of the same experiences.Let’s keep in touch, man, and, who knows, maybe next year we’ll be drinking Tanduay together in the Philippines.
I enjoyed your article… I think a link was posted in one of the expat Facebook groups… no idea which one. Yeah, some of the comments – but hey, haters gotta hate, right?
Yeah Id have to agree, its really tough to meet a province girl. Most of use outsiders can only stay in the major cities, and usually can only meet the girls working at the hotels or in the malls …which surprisingly ive met many that had only been in the city for a few months, some only a few weeks. Alot of the hotel receptionists was brand new college grads…but the KTV bars, omg those girls are just like your typical American woman. I wish American would realize that most of the men that come to Philippines are actually really great men that want long term love. Its just the whole anti-man feminist movement has really ruined these women, they just have corrupted minds. So when I meet some of these province girls in Philippines….its like a breath of fresh air, I can’t wait to come back so I can finally meet “the one”. I never slept with any of them either, only friendly talk. Its pretty amazing though, I can talk to a beautiful woman, who has no baggage with kids or baby daddy drama, and also weighs under 150 lbs. Now in America…If i even approach a woman under 150lbs they look at me like im crazy, because im not making six figures, drives a nice sports car, and im not 6 feet tall. So to all you American ladies out there that will fall for the tattooed bad boy who will make you into a single mother…good luck with your game plan. I think I will choose a Pinay who appreciates a sweet man. Also to be fair, ive met Pinays who’s parents migrated to America with them, and they are some of the most foul stuck up women too. So im not bashing American women in general, im bashing at how America can easily warp any womans mind (but you do not have to become a product of your environment) Manila / Cebu is just as bad though, MLK said it the best.
Tukaram your story facinates me, I am 32 and a former Paratrooper, the long days of deployments really made me consider the meaning of life, and for me its to life without greed too. I went to Cebu City for 2 months, to visit a girl off a dating site, but she was always accusing me of cheating and I believed she was a scammer. So my question is…how do i meet a more wholesome girl ? I believe there are some good women in Cebu city but some of them are bat-crazy. Should I go after girls from rich familes, or girls with degrees in nursing or finance ? Or is it better to find a traditional kind province girl ? The reason why im asking is because I mostly want LOYALTY, i can be happy with any woman, but I want loyal.
Too add to my story, my friend would take me to these Japanese style Karaoke bars, and at these bars you go in, and you can request a lovely lady to sit next to you, and go up and sing with you. I wasn’t sure if these are the good type of girls to go too or not. I really felt like a fish out of the water at that city. The women there on the streets and the mall are like sharks ! I want a woman that isnt after money, for example one girl told me if a foreigner marrys a Pinay, then he must give her a minimum allowance of 10,000 peso a month. Let me know if you have similar experience in this culture or is she giving me BS haha.
I had an online friend (a Filipino) introduce me to one of her friends. A nice province girl. Not money hungry, not a scammer. There are a lot of them – but you have to look for them. The KTV girls are usually professionals. And, unfortunately, a lot of the girls that have dated too many foreigners are also ruined. Too many foreigners lie to the girls, so the girls start to play the game too. I was not looking for games.
No, don’t move to Angeles. The traffic is horrible, it’s always dusty, and the locals don’t like the expats and their gals. Lot’s of the girls there who have foreign boyfriends are bar girls. Your fiancé may not want to hang out with them.
Yeah. I can’t get her to leave Panay anyway ha ha. And I would get in trouble being that close to all those bars….
If you planning to move out,. its better here in Angeles City,. You can find a cheap and quiet place,also you can meet a lot of expats here,. dont worry about the bars,.Lol,.Good food,. Anyway,hopefully we can meet,. My boyfriend wants to meet you too,. Good luck,,
Angeles would be cool with me. I don’t think Melane wants to leave the island though…