Our Property Dispute in the Philippines

Our Property Dispute in the Philippines

Before one single fence post was installed, surveys were done on our two adjoining pieces of property. All of the sellers’ relatives that have lots adjacent to us were invited to speak with the surveyors before any concrete landmarks were placed. No disputes were brought up at that time.

However, months after the survey, Joery, my brother-in-law,  and his crew were harassed by two women and a group of four or five small children. The complaining contingent claimed that our crew was building a fence on their property though they had no land mark, survey, or sketch plan to prove that.

The protesters returned in the afternoon, not long after my asawa and I had arrived on the site. Joery and workers Jon and Gerry were in the back of the nipa hut, a distance away, when I heard some yelling. My wife went out to investigate and I joined her a couple of minutes later.

In no uncertain terms I told the group to leave. My wife had already told them they could go to the barangay captain if they had a complaint. I cannot repeat the profanities I hurled at them as it would probably get me banned by my advertisers. The protesters immediately scurried off like cockroaches on a kitchen counter when the lights are flipped on.


survey done on our new property in Guimaras

Before thy left they had threatened my wife. If I had known of this threat at the time, I would have been tempted to do more than yell at this mob.

Joery and his crew had been harassed all day by the riffraff. We later learned that the man that sold us our property had indeed informed the owners of the lot adjacent to us that a survey was to be done but they claimed they “were too busy.”

The clan protested to the barangay captain the next day that we had “yelled” at them and the captain sent word that he wanted to see us. The gang failed to mention that they had been screaming at our workers all day and that they had threatened my asawa.

We met with the barangay captain the next day. Barangay captains are the supreme head of any local barrio and their word is law. It is extremely important to keep on their good side as they can make life very difficult for you otherwise.

The complainants failed to show up. My wife explained to the local leader what had happened. I mentioned the threat and explained that I was extremely disturbed by this attempted intimidation. The captain declared that both parties would have their respective surveyors meet and mutually agree on the property line in question. I was fine with that but that meeting was now over a month old. A surveyor can usually come out the next day, at least in our region, and I believed the protesters did not even have a survey and sketch plan to back up their claims and were merely stalling.

The barangay captain instructed us to not complete that portion of the fence until the dispute was settled. He informed us that he presently dealing with many other property disputes in our barangay.

Last Saturday the man that sold us our lot was back in the Philippines. He works as a cook on an oil rig near Houston for two months and comes back to the Philippines for a month. Our seller went out to the section of the lot in question and met with the protesters.  Our brother-in-law Joery was in attendance along with our seller’s brother who had sold us our first plot of land.

After much discussion the protesters finally agreed to what the barangay captain had instructed everyone to do in the first place: have the two surveyors meet and agree on the location of the property line in question. After the meeting my spouse told me the one lady leading the group kept making excuses that she “had no time” to do this. Didn’t matter.  The barangay captain already told us that if the complaining party did not get their own surveyor out, we could finish the fence.

Arrangements were made to finally have both of the surveyors meet. The barangay captain or barangay officials needed to be on hand as the surveyors will not go out as these situations often lead to confrontations, according to the survey boss. This past Tuesday, our survey crew came out and met with the surveyors from the party disputing the property line. The results to be revealed in the next post.


18 thoughts on “Our Property Dispute in the Philippines

  1. This seems to be a common occurrence on Guimaras, more so than other provinces. You’re not the only one with property boundary issues of that nature there. Good luck man 🙂

    • Thanks, Rease. Yes, it is also a common problem throughout the Philippines, as you know. I’m writing the update to the story today. I didn’t expect everything to be smooth sailing once we started building and I wasn’t wrong.

    • That’s good to know, Rease.

      Btw, Manggahan will run May 11-22 this year. We should have our truck repaired by then and can pick you up at the Jordan Wharf if you’re still interested in coming. The house won’t be done but the nipa hut on the property would be available if you still make the trip over to mango land (you could leave a msg. on Melinda’s FB if you like.)

  2. Hi Dave I wondered how long it would take before someone did this,like rease said very commen here they
    Wait till you have nearly built your house and fence then complain classic, and it’s all about how much money
    They can get from the rich Kano like I said in a previous reply get to know the local mayor, barangay captain or
    Councillor it’s worked wonders for me wishing you luck i don’t think they will have a good case against you
    If they cannot be bothered to turn up at the barangay, Derek in sunny pasig.

    • Yep, property disputes in the Philippines are as common as lizard poop, Derek. I believe the whole issue boils down to the rich Kano with the ATM stamped on his forehead. If we don’t have another brown out today, I’ll have the conclusion to the story today.

  3. We had and may still have a similar problem. We had our land resurveyed after we arrived here so that I knew where my lot lines are on one side of our land we have a family who recently moved here and they claimed that their land went and followed the irrigation ditch they where there when our surveyor laid out my boundary lines and he showed them where the property line is between us. they still disagreed. after a month or so they finally got there own survey which coincided with my survey they still disagreed brought the Barangay counselor in he talked to them and told them is my land. Then we started to layout for a fence and they where threatening my workers/brothers again asked the consular to talk to them which he did then 4 days ago we where working on the fence and they said there 2 brothers where coming soon and they would settle this matter sound like a threat to me and my family so again to the councilor the next morning the Captain came down He asked me to keep the fence about a foot from the actual line told the neighbors this was our land pointed to a couple of fruit trees that would be on there side of the fence but on our land and told them those trees and all fruit belonged to us. I hope this is now the end but we still need to finish the fence. As far as other neighbors I have one with a part of there fence on my land we have both agreed this is my land there fence is on and another a corner of there house is on my land same here is my land there house till sold or she passes. One of my other neighbors found out 10′ of his front yard is my land so far no problem there. Oh the joys of being a land owner in the Philippines

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Gary. Sounds to me like you were indeed threatened. As you know, property disputes in the Philippines can sometimes lead to bloodshed. Many a person has been murdered here due to such disputes. Here’s a link to one example of this, an Ati tribe leader machine-gunned to death by a security guard working at a Boracay resort.

      I hope your issue has been resolved. Good luck and be careful. All of the property owners, aside from the one disputing this one section of our property, are relatives of the owner. They have been more than helpful and we have two of the relatives on our construction crew. But I am well aware that we could still have issues down the road.

  4. With current oil price and a lot of layoffs here in Houston, I would think that the person who sold you the lot will be in the Philippines more often than here in Houston.

    Houston, Texas

    • Good to hear from you, EJ. Well, Floro is on the rig two months and goes to the Philippines for one month before returning to his job. He’s due to return to the States again later this month. I’ve heard about the layoffs and I’m surprised he still has a job, but he’s a good man and I hope he is able to continue his employment.

  5. Am not surprised to hear this, in fact I was kinda wandering when it would happen. Seems that EVERY article I have read by bloggers there that bought land, this is the normal thing to have happen there. it just amazes me that there are so many Filipinos there that pull this same kind of thing. Seems that no matter where a foreigner buys land there, that a “neighbor” pulls this kind of thing to get money from us “rich” foreigners.

    At least by reading all you bloggers there, it has helped me to at least have a good idea of what to do and what not to do, when the time comes that we buy land there. I have bought many parcels of land here in US, over the years, and so far not one person has showed up claiming that they are the owner of any of it. It just makes me wander, are all Filipinos like that if given the opportunity, it sure sounds like most if not all are.

    • Well. Bill S, I read some of those same articles. It doesn’t take long before word gets out that a “rich” foreigner is buying property and building a house. It is extremely common in the Philippines and like you, we purchased properties in the States without any problems whatsoever. I personally believe that some people here are so desperate to survive that they will do just about anything. We know of one former neighbor that was murdered by relatives looking for money he supposedly had hidden at his home. No money was found but the poor man’s house was burned down with him in it.

      That said, I have met a lot of honest Filipinos here, such as my brother-in-law Joery, who I can trust 100% but there is no doubt that as a foreigner one always has to be on the alert. I don’t live in fear but still know that as a visitor here with no rights, I always need to exercise caution and exercise good common sense.

      Btw, Bill S, the roof issue is being resolved. I’ll have an update on that soon.

  6. Hi Dave,
    I just read about an interesting property dispute on a different Philippines website. He found out that in the Philippines, even if a Filipino holds the legal written title to a property, they may not be the actual owner as they may have sold or traded the land through a verbal agreement. Here are first two articles, he wrote that he will post the 3rd and final article later:



    • Thanks, Lance. Both of the pieces of property we purchased are from a huge section of land that both sellers, brothers, were given to by their parents. The parents have held clear title to the property for decades. A dispute could possibly come up but we have deeds of sale for both lots which have been drawn up by the Vice Governor of our province and have confidence that he can handle any problems that might arise in the future.

      The property line in question is no where near our new building construction but Melinda will be armed with a loaded Glock and we are buying a couple of Dobermans we have heard of from an expat in the area. 😉

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