I made my move to the Philippines almost four years ago. I was completely unprepared; I knew almost nothing about the Philippines. What I thought I knew about the Philippines turned out to be mostly wrong.

What I found out isn’t quite what I expected but it has been better than that. I’m not as rich as I was lead to believe I would be. However, I have multiplied the opportunities in my life many times over. I have the best four years of my life. Nothing comes even close to the enjoyment that living in the Philippines has brought to me.

How I Moved To The Philippines

Expat with Filipino FamilyHowever, it does not go this way for everyone. I do not recommend doing what I did. This is a case of do as I say because what I did may have been pure luck. I had a woman in mind when I came to the Philippines but I wasn’t sure she would show up. I’ve called her angel because she has been a miracle in my life.  As many already know her name is Jessie. Though our future is not clear, I still have had four wonderful years. I don’t know what he next four years will be like if it is without her.

When I finally did make my move to the Philippines it was for me, not anyone else. I decided to go explore the world. I thought if I met a girl, that would be a bonus but my main goal was to just see the world.

It was a low point in my life. My marriage had just ended. My income is not very high and a life in the USA didn’t look like it would provide the kind of things I enjoy on that income. I have a modest pension. I’m very lucky to have it but it would not allow me much of a life in the USA.

I sold everything I could sell and just abandoned a lot of things I couldn’t move. I moved what I couldFilipina Mom and Child Swmming to my mother’s home and about six days after my divorce was final; I was on a plane to the Philippines. Except for a two week visit to Canada, I had never been outside of the USA.  I really had no idea what a developing nation was like.

I was not prepared for what I found. Hot and somewhat dirty airports were my first awakening. When I deplaned I was in the immigration area and it is often hot there. Many people I tried to speak to couldn’t speak English.  I wasn’t sure where to go next. I did manage though after a few wrong turns. Once in the terminal area, it is cooler but still hot by American standards.

My First Impressions Of The Philippines

Soon I continued to Cebu, Philippines which was my final destination. My cell phone was suppose to have international roaming enabled but when I landed in Cebu it was not working. A Filipino noticed I was having trouble with my phone. I had also tried to use a pay phone to no avail. He came over and used his airport credit card to allow me to try to reach Jessie.  Then he guided me to where she would be waiting and there she was.  The woman that was waiting for me was so much more beautiful in person than she had been in video chat. She was stunning. Over the years she has become more stunning. Perhaps it is the love I have for her.  She has gained confidence though and that too I think plays a part in my view of her.

Soon we were in a van headed to the apartment I had rented while still in the USA. Everything I saw was so different. It wasn’t like I went to the other side of the world. It was more like Mars. The poverty was overwhelming. The driving scared me so much I actually closed my eyes at points. I started laughing when I saw a bumper sticker that read “How is my driving?” I said “Your driving is horrific.” The Filipino helpers and driver that came with the van did  not seem to understand why I was laughing.

We came to an area and though the poverty was massive, I wanted to get out and take pictures. I asked “Would it be safe for me to walk around here?” It looked like a killing field if I had been in the states. They all assured me it was very safe. I didn’t get out but I wanted to. There was beauty in this poverty. I didn’t see dirty but someone else might. I saw something beautiful even though at that time it scared me.

There were hooded men on motorcycles that looked like bandits but they were protecting themselves from the sun and the dust. The vendor selling cold water with sweat pouring out from his pours struck me. I wondered why he wasn’t drinking some himself.

The first three days in the Philippines were very nice as Jessie and I got to know each other in person. We didn’t leave the apartment, didn’t turn on the computer or TV. It was just she and I one on one.

One of my first outings was just a walk to the store in Talisay at night. It might have been my first outing. I was terrified. The poverty meant danger where I came from. I asked Jessie several times, is it safe here and she said it was. It didn’t seem safe to me. It seemed like chaos and extreme danger.  Now though, that same location wouldn’t phase me. It is very unlikely anything bad will happen to me there.

It doesn’t scare me any more. I love to get out amount Filipinos and interact with them the best that I can. I love to photograph them and the men almost always love it when I do so. The women might but they can also be very shy. I do not generally look for other expats. I like experiencing the Philippines. I can hang out with Americans in America. I do not avoid expats either. I just don’t go out of my way to seek them out. I’ve always been a bit of a loner and homebody. I’m not one of those that has to stay on the go.

While it has so far gone exceptionally well for me, part of that is who I am. I adapt to change quickly. I accept the way things are but often find a way to modify them to fit my needs.

How I Recommend A Move To The Philippines

For most others, I highly recommend that you do not come for a specific girl that you have met online. Instead, make many contacts before you come or just wait until you are here. You are going to have no problem finding an interested Filipino once you are here. The pitfalls of an online courtship are just not worth dealing with once you see what is waiting for you here.  However, there are still pitfalls once you are here too. I’ve encountered some very good liars here. I’m a sucker for a pretty woman though. You need to move slowly if you want a significant other.  For most of us,  once you fall in love it is hard to let go.

First, if you can, come for a visit for as long as you can before you abandon everything you have now. I know others that had no choice but to also do what I did, through all caution to the wind and jump in. I know some that it worked for. I know others that it did not. How you deal with the culture and the changes will make a huge difference. The more you know about the cultural difference the better prepared you will be. I thought everyone was trying to rip me off. It made me defensive and to clamp down on my wallet. I clamped down too hard.

Second, I recommend that you do not rent an apartment before you come. I paid three times the rate that I should have been paying and I didn’t get the apartment I was promised. It was nice but much smaller. I recommend that you find a budget priced pension house as they are called here. These can be had for $20 to $35 a night. This gives you a private restroom, cable TV, room service, maid service and the benefits of living in a hotel. Another option is a resort that can also be within this price range. Sometimes you can find in room wireless internet too. Don’t expect a bed like you will get paying $50 plus a night in the USA, you’re not going to get that. It will be fine though.

In the Manila area many recommend Victoria Mansion in Malate. Not to be confused with Victoria court. I have not stayed there.

In Cebu City, I can recommend both Pacific Pension House and Cebuview Tourist Inn. Cebuview is in a somewhat seedy area but the rooms are decent when compared to Philippines standards and includes in room Wi-Fi for about 1000 peso a day. I prefer the staff and surroundings of Pacific Pension and it is about 800 peso a day but no in room wi-fi.  There is Wi-Fi in the lobby but it is hot there.

Once you’re hear, talk to other expats living in the Philippines and find a long term place once you are here. I really wouldn’t do it before I came. You can run into them at malls. Most are friendly and willing to help. Others are very rude even to Americans and have a very bad attitude about the Philippines. Form your own opinion.

If you want to ship your things to the Philippines, I recommend you get into contact with Jesse Pilapil at Johnny Air Cargo (JAC) with this email address: [email protected] I have used her for four years and they have never let me down. Using US mail is not reliable and I’ve had letters take up to three months to arrive. Some like to use LBS. I have paid questionable custom duties in the past and that has never been an issue with JAC. If you have a lot of items to ship, search Google for container shipping and ask Jesse if JAC provides that.

My Future In The Philippines

Living in the Philippines, for me has been extraordinary. My girlfriend has been a major reason for that. I have seen so many horror stories though that I really do not recommend you throw caution to the wind unless you must. There are many expat blogs about living in the Philippines and researching those is also a very good idea.

When I landed on the ground, I had about $300 left. I had blown through a lot of money during my cheap move to the Philippines. I’m not quite sure where it went.  I shipped some things over, including my medications via UPS.

I don’t know what my future will be. I was certain two months ago but now I don’t know. I will be fine, Rusty is a survivor. i want to return the USA for a visit, hopefully a short one and then back with Jessie. It is pretty much up to her to decide what she wants. In any case, I intend to spend most of my life in the Philippines.  I still love living in the Philippines.

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Filed under: Living In The Philippines

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