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Old 06-29-2009, 11:09 PM   #21
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Traffic pretty much terrible most places in PI and filth even in the best of neighborhoods. Crime is almost everywhere for a foreigner in the PI.
Thought about it but after 30 of 35 years in foreign countries will just use foreign
countries for vacations. I didn't see anything of value in PI for quality living and would be more like living in poorer sections of large U.S, cities... Crime is the biggest turn off of Phillipines along with filth.
Living is what you make of it. Every place presents opportunities and drawbacks. Find the spot that works for you and you'll be happy.

If you learn to navigate a country and its culture, it's a lot more doable, but it's not for everyone. When I navigate the Philippines, and I do so solo, I don't feel any more or less at risk than when in my home state. It's all a matter of using good judgement and knowing how to blend in - which is kind of easy for me. But definitely not for everyone and should be done only after you do your homework.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:34 AM   #22
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I retired last year and came to the Phils as the first country on my list of 6 to check out as a possible place to live. I've been here 8 months, much of that in Cebu City. I'd been here before for vacation and I'd vacationed in third world countries before. I'll touch on topics not already mentioned.

The air pollution in the cities is more than I can handle. Respiratory illnesses are common here. If I stay it won't be in a city. The minor illnesses and health risk are not worth it.

Some foreigners here live in the cities, for others it would be hellish. There are places that are an hour or two drive (or ferry ride) from a large town that are a world of difference. Some of these places actually have ammenties that appeal to foreigners.

As a foreigner one has to keep a low profile. Don't argue, don't object, don't glare at the person who just tried to rip you off, under serve you or tell you it can't be done when you know full well it can. Smile and walk away. Smile and walk away. Revenge killings between locals are an almost daily occurance here. Foreigners are usually murdered as part of an early morning burglary where the hired help and wife sleep right through the whole thing. It's never discussed but I figure that what happened was the burglary was piggybacked on the revenge killing.

Some mentioned Baugio. Much cooler climate but the city is situated in an ancient caldera (remains of a volcano that blew its top) witch traps the air. The air is crap. Worse than that is the city has about 10X the population it was designed for. Morning and evening drive times are more like parking lots than roads.

The two main reasons the foreign men seem to stay here is that English is spoken and that Filipinas are happy to take foreigners as as lovers and husbands. In tourist oriented areas and businesses the English ranges from adequate to good. Outside that and I did better in Mexico with my 30 year old high school spanish than I do here with my English.

As for the girls and women. Just remember that even though you may learn to spot the scammers there is such a thing as The Long Con. 'Simple' as it applies to females is a concept that one could write a book on and still not understand it as a foreigner. There are some of the sweetest 'simple' girls and young women imaginable here. Finding an emotional and intellectual connection that would justify a long term relationship with one is a challenge. True love happens, but what also happens is two people decide that they would be happy respectfully taking care of each other.

Many of the disillusioned foreigners describe the locals as stupid and ignorant. I'll agree with them as ignorant, at least about things that a high school educated person from the first world would know. Stupid is another matter. One has to look beyond the surface to try and find a cultural justification for behavior that appears to be stupid. If one can't do that eventually one is going to snap at someone and that goes against the Prime Directive: Keep a Low Profile.

I've been to various foreigner hangouts. If it's during the day there are many men here with expressions on their face that shows they're angry that it's too early to start drinking. They're almost always the ones here just for the inexpensive English speaking bar girls. The men who are not here for that reason tend to keep their distance from those who are.

Doesn't matter what the law says, as a foreigner you have almost no rights or protections. That's one reason very few foreigners drive their own cars. Get in an accident and no matter what happened, the foreigner was the sole cause of it.

I've all but decided to move on to my next country. It's been interesting here but the cons far outweigh the pros.
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Old 06-30-2009, 06:37 AM   #23
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ItDontMeanAThing,

I agree that air pollution in larger cities is a problem, especially when you use jeepneys (diesel exhaust) for local transportation. However, I've found that using cabs and carefully choosing where you live can mitigate the pollution issues to an acceptable level. I also agree that keeping a low profile is essential. Ostentatious displays of wealth, rude and or "I'm superior than thou" behavior will nearly always lead to something unpleasant. And, no doubt there are plenty of Filipinas seeking a sugar daddy or simply a "ticket out" of the Philippines. However, you will also find some amazing women in the PI . . . women who often make excellent wives. My wife of 12 years is a former school teacher in the Philippines. She comes from a good family, she's honest, dependable, loving, caring, frugal, and I love her dearly. I've been accepted into her family and genuninely enjoy their company. As you allude to, foreigners will always be at a distinct disadvantage in most disputes as local law and custom will tend to favor the native filipino. I suspect that is true in most third world venues. Despite the "warts," I still find the Philippines to be an attractive place to live. It really depends on what you are looking for, and on how willing you are to adapt to the local environment. Once cannot "bend the Philippines" to one's own perception of the way things ought to be. You must embrace as it is, warts and all. It's not for everyone.
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Old 06-30-2009, 08:51 PM   #24
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ItDontMeanAThing,
Once cannot "bend the Philippines" to one's own perception of the way things ought to be. You must embrace as it is, warts and all. It's not for everyone.
Total agreement. The rest of your post was spot on also, IMHO.
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:48 AM   #25
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ItDontMeanAThing,

Sorry things didn't work out for you. Here are some thoughts for living not just visiting overseas.

Cities like MetroCebu are large urban complexes. Traffic and pollution and crime will seem intimidating in a city of 4 million people. I live in a city stateside of about half a million and don't like the center of town for those same reasons - I just can't get a good night sleep with the traffic and all. So to adapt, the further away from the city center you move pollution, crime and traffic tends to go down. I like the city for shopping and dining, but not for living, so I generally look for a more suburban setting. On the fringes of Cebu City or most any other big city, the kinds of problems you describe will tend to decline. And so will the price of rent. Drive 20 minutes out of the city and you will find yourself in a different environment but close to the city amenities.

As for a murder per day, that's probably low. In a city of 4 million that's a lower homicide rate than many large American cities and not appreciably better or worse than most low crime American cities. If your goal is to evaluate the risk, take the overall population into account. Now within the city, like any other city, there are very high crime areas and low crime areas. You have to get to know this. I live in a very low crime city, but there are places where I would not walk alone at night, because I know my city well.

And finally, if you do end up in Asia, most Asian cultures are non-confrontational. It would be wise not to be a loud mouthed American mouthing off at every little annoyance. In my life and profession stateside, that's how I am anyway, I've learned to deal with conflict without confrontation and manage situations that could escalate into problems with many different ethnic groups. It's not a bad way to live really, makes life a lot less stressful.

LOL ... as for bargirls ... well my home city right now is a tourist trap and we have lots of bars, bargirls, and other tourist places that cater to more hedonistic behavior. Hehe ... I rarely go into that part of town, and don't anticipate it being a part of my future life when I move abroad either. Most of my contacts in the Philippines have been with professionals and communications are just fine. I'm not looking for romance, but if I were I'd be looking among the professionals rather than the bargirls. Why some men go that route for relationships is beyond me, it seems a very high risk population for unstable relationships and problems. Yet, it represents a tiny tiny part of the population. Not sure why one would not look elsewhere when there are so many more females who represent a lower risk of romantic failure who work regular jobs.

I think in times past parts of the Philippines was home for the American sex tourist/retired GI. But that's changing throughout Asia now. I see the economy shifting away from that kind of emphasis towards bringing in foreign investment, foreign retirement communities, and development ... same way that Vegas has moved gradually away from sin city to more of a disneyland kind of tourist trap. The retirement incentives set a higher bar for retirement income - I suppose to filter out the high risk foreigners and that's fine with me.

Anyway, the point of all this is one has to adapt and seek out the opportunities same as you do in the states. Good luck in your travels and hope that you find what you need.
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:02 PM   #26
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ItDontMeanAThing,

And finally, if you do end up in Asia, most Asian cultures are non-confrontational. It would be wise not to be a loud mouthed American mouthing off at every little annoyance. In my life and profession stateside, that's how I am anyway, I've learned to deal with conflict without confrontation and manage situations that could escalate into problems with many different ethnic groups. It's not a bad way to live really, makes life a lot less stressful.
I'm sure he is thrilled to get your advice. But in case not, I hope he keeps posting, as people who are willing to subject themselves to this kind of thing aren't common. Negative (or realistic) opinions on retirement destinations are very useful; mainly because it takes nerve to walk into a windmill.

However, there are plenty people who are motivated to describe how wonderful this or that third world "paradise" is. Some because they have something to sell. Others to help deal with the cognitive dissonance produced when they come to fear that they can't afford life in a 1st world country. Or perhaps just because it takes more folding stuff to score a very young woman in the ol' USA.

So in the interest of a fair and balanced picture, maybe we could allow all views to stand unmolested?

Ha
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:31 PM   #27
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I'm sure he is thrilled to get your advice.
I saw it as comments from a different point of view. Always welcome, especially since I wrote my rant when I was in a less than sunny mood. I presented some things as black and white when there are shades of gray. It all is true, just some of it needs to be dialed back from 10 down to 8.

I rarely rant in my blog. It's all about an expat looking for a place to live with a little tourism on the side. Four Letter Nerd

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it takes nerve to walk into a windmill.
I like to think it's because of nerve, self confidence and that I have an open mind. But it might be because of a certain degree of optimistic cluelessness. I've been an adventure junkie all my life. Now that the body can't handle physical adventure I'm getting my fix by trying to fit into a third word country. A different type of adventure, for sure, but adventure nonetheless.

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However, there are plenty people who are motivated to describe how wonderful this or that third world "paradise" is. .
There are two yahoo groups about life in the Phils. This one is moderated to remove almost all negative views of the country:
LivingInThePhilippines3 : LivingInThePhilippines3

This one is unmoderated so it is filled with personal attacks, long off topic rambles, thread jacking, etc. It's also the best source I've found about what life is like here.

Philippine_Living_Island_Paradise : Philippine Living Island Paradise"PLIP"
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:45 PM   #28
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ItDontMeanAThing,
As for a murder per day, that's probably low.
It's not the murder rate that bothers me, or the crime rate in general. It's the reason people are murdered. In the typical Filipino revenge killing one man kills another over a long simmering dispute. It's so obviously an emotional act as the killer rarely takes any effort to not get caught. These murders often happen in front of witnesses. If they didn't, the police ask the victims friends who had a grudge against him. They often find the murder at home with the bloody clothes in a pile on the floor.

Murdering a foreigner is rare. But when it happens it's almost always an inside job. The live in help and the wife sleep right through it. Stab a guy 30 times and he's gonna make some noise, but the police believe the stories that the other house occupants didn't hear a thing.

The last murder I read about was a man who was running a collateral loan business. Hand him your motorcycle and title and he gives you some money, for example. One customer later decided that he couldn't pay him back and wanted his bike back, so he murdered the lender. Murders against foreigners are rarely solved, probably because everyone who mattered thought he got what he deserved. The foreigner was really ignorant to get into the loan business.
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:18 AM   #29
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China was my first pick for retirement living. But after going through 8 CD's and not learning much more than ni hao, I had a change of heart.

Heading out for the Philippines in about a month. Will spend some time in Manila then head south to settle in Cebu or Davao. Cost of living is quite nice there. And it's a nice location for visiting southeast asia and china pretty conveniently.

Anyone with any experience in the Philippines? I've made regular preretirement visits and like the country.

Third choice if it doesn't pan out ... probably Malaysia.
I met my wife online. She lived in Davao. In 2005 I went there to visit her. Married her in May 2006. We considered retiring there. It was beautiful, but the temp is pretty hot. It was 110 with almost 100% humidity. You could live like a king for sure with house maids and servants, but living the good life among all that poverty and sufferering would be hard for me.
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Old 07-03-2009, 12:38 PM   #30
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I'm sure he is thrilled to get your advice. But in case not, I hope he keeps posting, as people who are willing to subject themselves to this kind of thing aren't common. Negative (or realistic) opinions on retirement destinations are very useful; mainly because it takes nerve to walk into a windmill.

However, there are plenty people who are motivated to describe how wonderful this or that third world "paradise" is. Some because they have something to sell. Others to help deal with the cognitive dissonance produced when they come to fear that they can't afford life in a 1st world country. Or perhaps just because it takes more folding stuff to score a very young woman in the ol' USA.

So in the interest of a fair and balanced picture, maybe we could allow all views to stand unmolested?

Ha
Retiring overseas is a backup plan. As a former engineer, I still go around thinking primary plan, back up plan, and the back up plan to the back up plan. Also, just having more mental flexibility makes you less of a working robot whose success and failure rests solely on hitting the number X by the age Y. I would admit that ensuring having young hotties around in the future isn't without its allure.
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Old 07-12-2009, 04:11 PM   #31
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Very interesting thread for me. My first tour in the Navy was in the Philippines in '67 - '68. I was stationed at a small communications station at San Miguel in Zambales Province, north of the giant US Navy complex at Subic Bay/Cubi Point. (I forget how many miles we were from Subic/Cubi, but it was about an hour or more by bus over very difficult dirt roads.)

San Miguel was a great little base. We had a lovely beach on the South China sea and a few islands (the Capones) just off the shore. We would get Filipino fishermen in their banca boats to take us over there to snorkel.

Olongapo, just outside the Subic gate, was "sin city" personified. Much like Tijuana, I'm told. (Never been to TJ.) But then, its economy was based on the demands of the USN folks who had all the money. If they had demanded art museums, that's how the economy would have responded.

I got to see a number of great places, including Baguio (which was mentioned earlier in the thread.) Also made about a half dozen trips to Manila during my 18 months there. There are many beautiful natural sights that I recall and which are mentioned in some of the posts. But the crime, traffic, etc. also bring back memories from 40+ years ago.

My wife and I have talked about a trip to Australia sometime and if we do it, I want to spend a week or so in the PI to see what it looks like so many years later as part of the trip.

I also recall that when we would drive through many of the small barrios where most people lived in "nipa huts" there would occasionally be a quite nice house, probably of cinder block construction with a nicer stone facing. The word was that those houses belonged to either politicians (many of whom were alleged to be on the take) or retired Navy stewards. (In those days, most stewards in the Navy were Filipinos who enlisted in the USN knowing that they would probably stay stewards their entire careers. Many of them retired and returned to the PI where their Navy pensions allowed them to live very well.)

One final Philippines story: in 1968 I took leave and went back to the States to go to my girlfriend's (now my wife) college graduation. One night I was telling people about the violent nature of Philippine politics and how if you didn't like the person running against you, you just had him killed. Ironically, Robert F. Kennedy was killed that very night, so the PI didn't have a lot on us.

Forgive the rambling....
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:20 PM   #32
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Olongapo, just outside the Subic gate, was "sin city" personified. Much like Tijuana, I'm told. (Never been to TJ.)
Pfffft. Olongapo in early 1991 made TJ look like Romper Room. Although for a price I'm sure Olongapo could have supplied all of the Romper Room cast for whatever you had in mind.

I wonder what Olongapo has turned into these days.

I always thought TJ's main attraction was alcohol for those under the age of 21. Base commanders in SoCal used to try to obtain onbase drinking waivers for the 18-20-year-olds in order to encourage them to drink at the base clubs stay away from risky TJ behavior. Local (offbase) authorities knew that this would have 18-20s from the local colleges & high schools trying to get onbase to hang out with the sailors and then driving home afterward...
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Old 07-13-2009, 03:43 PM   #33
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Base commanders in SoCal used to try to obtain onbase drinking waivers for the 18-20-year-olds in order to encourage them to drink at the base clubs stay away from risky TJ behavior. Local (offbase) authorities knew that this would have 18-20s from the local colleges & high schools trying to get onbase to hang out with the sailors and then driving home afterward...
We had one of those waivers at the all-hands club in Winter Harbor, ME. The New Brunswick border was a couple of hours away and apparently in the old days sailors used to go there to drink and then drive back. So some previous CO had obtained the waiver from BuPers. There were pretty strict rules: only beer and wine, people had to go to an orientation class about the privilege before they got their "white card" (which they used in lieu of ID), no packaged beer or wine, ABSOLUTELY no driving afterwards. (Maine had a .02 limit for those under 21.) Seemed to work OK. The guy who relieved me eliminated the policy after a sailor drove afterwards and had an accident. (I would have hung that sailor and made an example out of him but retained the privilege for the others. But, since I was no longer in charge, it wasn't my call.
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Old 07-17-2009, 08:37 AM   #34
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Don't let the language deter you from China, just enroll in a 30 day immersion course upon arrival. Four hours per day, five days per week... the one month investment in time and expense (which shouldn't be that much) is well worth it considering how much time you'd spend there.

Plenty of other reasons people might not want to retire there but communication is solvable.
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Old 07-20-2009, 02:02 AM   #35
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Plenty of other reasons people might not want to retire there but communication is solvable.
Maybe. Tonal languages can be a huge challenge to those with worse than average hearing. Visayan is tonal. I've had a couple filipinas say the three different pronounciations of the same four letters (dile). Each pronounciation gives the word a different meaning. For the life of me, I am unable to hear the difference. I know I have a slight hearing problem. Volume is fine, I have trouble with distinguishing things in a specific frequency range.
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Old 07-21-2009, 01:21 AM   #36
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Looking for a place to be the noiance at reasonable expectations and prices?
So far it looks like homesteading in the Rv in the states and traveling when
I get the urge for 3rd world living seems best suited so far.
Going back to work for a bit to get things back to reality for a while.
Watching Adrian Boredan in Vietnam on the tube now and he seems to make things simple and enjoyable. I guess for the time being letting the dust settle and working a bit more seems to be the answer. The 7 days a week 12 hour days again should bring
more appreciation to retirement in a couple more years. Don't really need the money
just feel a last fling and something that I learned to enjoy was the right direction
to help simplify the situation at present. The last 18 months of retirement brung on very interesting times, new girlfriends, several $10+k a month 3rd world trips not much seem to match up to the kingdom of my 15 year old Rv visiting family. Going to take a break from the markets and retirement now and get things back to simple again which is work for me. Western freedoms is nice and much appreciated even if
taxes do take a toll at times. Lost in a world of pleasure and opportunity for time being....... Lifes short learn to enjoy no matter what it brings.
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:28 PM   #37
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wcv56,

Just wanted to let you know that I love your attitude; and, I may follow your lead in the near future: 3rd world living while I decompress/recover from the burn-out then some travel/w*rk here in the states when 3rd world living gets old.

I'm still trying to figure it out too...
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Old 07-24-2009, 05:05 PM   #38
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I just got an e-mail from a friend in PI now, wanting to rent my condo in Jaco beach
Costa Rica for a week. I have been enjoying work for last month now and will make
some extra stash renting the condo out too. How grand can life be, hope to find out
soon as I hit the lottery. Think I will still work a bit just to get the mind in the proper
galaxy.. Life is great and fun
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:48 AM   #39
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Looking for a place to be the noiance at reasonable expectations and prices?
So far it looks like homesteading in the Rv in the states and traveling when
I get the urge for 3rd world living seems best suited so far.
Going back to work for a bit to get things back to reality for a while.

Looks like a great life! I'm curious what kind of job allows you this much flexibility? Chef on a cruise line? Oil field engineer? I can't think of many others that doesn't require you to be plugged in all the time even when there is nothing going on and people are busy watching Hulu to appear busy.
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:33 PM   #40
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Maybe. Tonal languages can be a huge challenge to those with worse than average hearing. Visayan is tonal. (...) Volume is fine, I have trouble with distinguishing things in a specific frequency range.
I'm not trying to imply you'll be fluent, just saying if you took an immersion class for a month you'll be able to get around town, shop, say howdy to the neighbors, etc.

Mandarin tones are relatively tame compared to Vietnamese, Thai, Canto, etc. and a lot can be understood with poor tones just from context... if you said "lian xi kou yu" but pronounced the lianxi as lian2xi4 (to contact) instead of lian4xi2 (practice) you'd be understood because you're talking about kouyu.

You can do it!
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