Family & Lifestyle

Negatives of living in the Philippines

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A man by the name of “Charles” made a blog entry about some negatives about living in the Philippines that I wanted to comment on today. Here are his comments:

We hear many Philippines expats telling their audience that one of the great attractions of a new life in PH is the sensation of freedom..
But I ask myself “Freedom from what?”

Freedom from pollution?
Freedom from garbage?
Freedom from brown-outs?
Freedom from deficient internet?
Freedom from the “Filipino logic” and reasoning or lack of it,
Freedom from the frequent “out of stock”?
Freedom from the heat, the noise, the food, the scams, the traffic, the subpar health care system, the bureaucracy?

I have an interest in what it would be like to live in the Philippines because we have a retirement home there. I was in the Philippines in 2015 to marry my wife, we returned in 2016, went there in 2018 and again in late 2019. It’s not a ton of experience but it was over four different times of year and I think I have seen enough of these negatives to know if I could handle it or not. The comment made in the blog I referenced made me want to address this. In my videos and podcasts I try to not be a sunshine pumper, so I should take a similar approach to certain conditions in the Philippines.

It was brought to my attention that the vast majority of men who go to the Philippines in search of gold of some kind, don’t last too long. They might seek a relationship because they’ve seen other men do this on the internet, and for a lower cost of living and combine the two for a great life. What would make them give up? Something did.

It may have been their expectations were not realistic. Watching YouTube videos is nice and helpful, but it isn’t the same as having your boots on the ground. When I married my wife in 2015, I was not at all considering living there some day. That idea started to form about three years into our marriage. I realized how happy my wife was there and how many friends and family members she had. I realized once my mother passed then I would have very little family around so maybe it made sense to live there in retirement.

We built a house in the Philippines and actually stayed there the last trip we made to the Philippines, so I have a good idea of what that would be like. I would have to say that my interest and desire to live there full-time has continued to increase since we built the house. We would like to go again in 2021 over Christmas.

The author who made statements about some of the “downsides” to living in the Philippines, seems like they have a good handle on that. I can certainly see where they are coming from. It is a pretty complete list and while I could add something about having the mentality to not look back to the things you are familiar with, I think the things they listed are worth talking a little about.

Freedom from pollution?-I wish there was something I could do about this. I remember sitting in a side car and stopping in traffic and having all the exhaust fumes from the vehicles in front of us coming right at our faces. You can wear a mask and it is possible when we retire in the Philippines that we will do that. I haven’t noticed any specific problems personally short-term with the pollution, but that is different than living there for the rest of your life. Maybe the situation will be different in several years.

Freedom from garbage?-I don’t if they are referring to the burning of garbage here or something else, so the smell of burning garbage, but the smell of something burning has never bothered me. Where we will live, I haven’t noticed a bad garbage situation, but can’t say I was looking for it either.

Freedom from brown-outs?-I have only experienced one brown out in the Philippines and that was in Surigao (I have a video from when that occurred).

Freedom from deficient internet?-I don’t think any of us had a problem with the internet speeds at our house there. I imagine the TV was hooked up to that as well as the computers and laptops. When I was using my phone to do searches, there wasn’t anything wrong with the speeds. The only time I noticed slowness was when uploading a video to YouTube; which could take several hours.

Freedom from the “Filipino logic” and reasoning or lack of it-I don’t have much experience with this but I certainly do from living in America, where everything seems to be more difficult all the time to do. I can’t see there being much drop off here. I had two neck surgeries scheduled and both botched about eight years ago due to incompetence of office staff and an anesthesiologist who wasn’t going to talk to me about meds pre-surgery, even though that’s what I was there for, that’s routine, then after I reminded him after he said “see you in surgery”, he read me the riot act and cancelled it.

There may be something to what the author said but it can’t be too far off from America. Have you tried to call someone lately and get anything answered on the phone? I have little confidence in America with leaving a message for someone to listen to. I expect that to not go well.

Freedom from the frequent “out of stock”?-That would be frustrating. So far, I am not aware from my wife that acquiring something has been a challenge for her. I don’t if he is talking about ordering something to replace something or just looking to buy something in general.

Freedom from the heat-The good thing is that it gets dark around 6 pm then it is much more bearable. The first time I was there was during the summer in the Philippines which is around March to May or so. That was some kind of heat. However, in trips during July, August and December/January, the heat wasn’t as intense. I like cold weather and that is something I will have to give up moving to the Philippines full time.

the noise-For sure, it will be noisier in the Philippines between barking dogs, roosters and karaoke and there isn’t much you can do about that. I don’t mind the roosters at all. You can always wear ear plugs it if is particularly loud. What I don’t like is if it is going to be noisy late at night. One night I had to try to stuff something into my ears as the family was up later than I wished they were but that is something that needs to be dealt with on an individual basis.

the food-I don’t know what they meant here about the food. I am not too concerned about what to eat over there. There is fish, chicken, eggs, fruits, (I don’t know about vegetables). The grocery stores are just like they are here in America only more massive. You might want to try to avoid the outdoor markets just to be on the safe side.

the scams-Having a Filipina around helps to avoid getting scammed. Have to watch the taxi drivers. They may have been referring to dating scams. I don’t know, I am very pleased with my wife from the Philippines. People do get scammed, but they probably weren’t the type who were serious about finding a wife, and maybe were mostly interested in sex.

the traffic-There is a lot of traffic pretty much everywhere, and if you aren’t used to it you probably won’t like it much. One of the first things I can picture in my mind when I met my wife in 2015 was travelling to see her sister and it was an adventure crossing the streets. We took a bus, jeepney, walked and she had to take my hand and we’d run across the street when there was an opening. The bus we took was so full I was concerned I would be too slow to get out of my seat and exit the bus because we were wedged in there like sardines.

Personally, I didn’t mind riding in jeepneys, sitting in a side car or on the back of a scooter’ it was all new to me and I kind of liked it. My wife however, is used to driving here in America and has her own car and she wants to drive in the Philippines when we retire. I would rather not have our own car there just due to expense, but on the other hand, she wants to drive and has driven there and did an amazing job, so that gives us more freedom. We’re talking Davao City here, which is a big city. I don’t know how that compares with Cebu and I think Manilla is far worse for traffic, but when she drove us all over the place about a year ago, she did great, even at night. My wife is a skilled driver. It seems like she retains her sense of direction and memory the first time.

the subpar health care system-This one is or may be a more serious consideration. I am not convinced the health care system is subpar as that might depend on where you are and the hospital you are in. I assume Doctors Hospital in Davao is a good facility, it looks like it on the website. There are good hospitals in other countries and many doctors were trained overseas. I know this, if something happens, I want the best place to go to, especially for my wife and her family. “Health care system” encompasses more than just a good hospital here and there, and maybe there is some truth to that, in some areas.

the bureaucracy-?

I will add the water pressure-I hate it when the toilets have low pressure. That’s all I’m going to say about that. And what’s up with the scarcity of toilet paper?

I will add getting around-I mentioned this a little in “the traffic”. I know my wife wants to have a car and I’m sure we will, but for the person who isn’t married to a Filipina who can drive, he will be limited to the jeepney’s which have no windows so the pollution and exhaust can affect you while on the road, scooters and side cars, and perhaps taxis.

To me the thing that makes all the difference is that you are in the Philippines with your wonderful Filipina wife; that has to make everything more bearable. Oh, I mentioned expectations at the beginning-seeing the Philippines for yourself as opposed to YouTube videos is a big help. People have said that after a couple of years or so that many westerners can’t deal with these issues and leave the Philippines. It may be that not really knowing anyone very well is a big factor too.

After my four times in the Philippines, I have likely seen everything that I need to see to have a good idea if the Philippines is going to be somewhere that I can live out the rest of my days, hopefully years. As long as my Amazing Aiza is there with me, I could probably live on Mars. I expect that I won’t have the freedom I have enjoyed here for 59 years. I won’t have the familiarity I am used to. I am not likely to get in the car and just drive around somewhere on my own. I know I won’t be surrounded by people that follow the Husker football and basketball teams, but I can still do that with the internet.

I expect that I will need to embrace the culture of the Philippines and I want to do that. I expect that I won’t be in “my country” like I always have been, and while that is strange and a bit uncomfortable, it’s not anything insurmountable. I expect that I may not be eating all the same foods or have access to them, but I have more time to be able to ready myself for the day we are in the Philippines for good.

However, I also expect that it is up to me to go there in retirement with a good attitude and to embrace the Philippines as my new home in the last chapter of my life, and I would like it to be an interesting one. My wife and I have talked about her dreams and the few things I’d like to be able to do there, which are for her to remember me by. I expect it will be an adjustment but I already have a head start with that.

I think you have to do your due diligence to be prepared for the good and the bad. I may miss America but who cares about that once I am in the Philippines? I will need to accept being far away from what has been home, with my love beyond the sea.

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